Saturday, November 15, 2014

Abbas's license to incite murder

From JPost, 13 Nov 2014, by Melanie Phillips*:

Mahmoud Abbas
Abbas - venomous indoctrinator

As if the escalating terrorist attacks in Israel over the past few weeks haven’t been bad enough, what has been so dismaying is the way the West simply refuses to acknowledge what is happening in front of its eyes.

Numerous Western media outlets described the murderous attacks by Palestinians ramming their cars into Israelis in the street as “car crashes” or “traffic accidents.”

Yet Fatah’s official Facebook page featured cartoons, lyrics and other messages encouraging Palestinians to run over Israelis with their vehicles. Preposterously, it raved that the Aksa mosque was under threat. “Run over, friend, run over the foreign settler!” it screamed. “The Jews are defiling al-Aksa – will you not rage?” As the director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry Yossi Kuperwasser said this week, the violence – which has developed into stabbing attacks – is the inevitable result of the systematic dehumanization of Jews ingrained in Palestinians’ psyche from early childhood. Day in, day out they are told that the Jews are “the descendants of apes and pigs,” that they have “no historical connection to Jerusalem,” that they are “defiling” the city with their presence and that those who kill them are heroes.

Such venomous indoctrination is being perpetrated by Palestinian school textbooks, social media, cultural activities – and by Mahmoud Abbas. This supposedly moderate Palestinian leader has now revealed himself openly as a principal instigator of violence and mass murder.

Referring to all Jews visiting Temple Mount as “settlers,” Abbas has whipped up hysteria and incited war on Israel over the most explosive place on earth by declaring: “We will not allow our holy places to be contaminated,” praising the Palestinians hurling missiles from al-Aksa as “heroes” and declaring they had “the right to defend themselves and the holy places.”

Far from being a legitimate partner for peace, Abbas makes it clear over and over again that his true agenda is not two states side by side but the annihilation of Israel. He says he will never accept Israel as a Jewish state. He says he will never cede to Israel any land whatsoever.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the death of his predecessor Yasser Arafat, he declared: “He who surrenders one grain of the soil of Palestine and Jerusalem is not one of us,” and that “Jerusalem will be solely Palestinian.”

PA TV regularly refers to all of Israel as “occupied”; Palestinian maps, insignia and educational materials depict a Palestine which obliterates Israel and erases it from the map.

The current violence is thus demonstrably part of the war of extermination being waged against Israel not just by Hamas and Islamic Jihad but by Abbas’s PA. 

So why do Western leaders and media blame it on Israel? Why do they suggest – ludicrously – that it arises from some Jews’ desire to pray on Temple Mount? Why do media outlets (such as Sky News) replace the very name Temple Mount with al-Aksa? Why do they ignore the Nazi-derived Palestinian propaganda painting Jews as utterly diabolical? In any sane universe, Abbas would be in prison for incitement to murder. Why does the West insist he is a man of peace? Why does it adopt Palestinian lies and distortions as the default narrative of the Middle East conflict? There are many plausible explanations.

There’s the stunning success of the Arab strategy of reframing the Arab war against Israel as the oppression by Israel of the Palestinians.

There’s Israel’s myopic (and arrogant) refusal to acknowledge this psychological war that has been waged against it and to adopt a proper strategy to fight it.

There’s the post-modern disdain for truth and the corresponding credulousness in the face of lies. There’s the dominance of infantile leftists, for whom violence by the developing world is “resistance” and for whom the Palestinians, whose terrorists are cast in the same romantic mold as Che Guevara, are their signature cause.

There’s the historic anti-Jew and anti-Israel animus of Britain and Europe, and their deep financial ties to the godfathers of terror in the Arab and Muslim world. And there’s the particular animus of President Barack Obama, which would take many more articles to analyze.

But a deeper explanation is surely located in the current mindset of the West. To understand that, we have to go back to the seismic shock of the First World War. Horror at the slaughter in the trenches created an instinct for appeasement which, three decades later, almost enabled the victory of Nazism.

Its eventual defeat was due in large measure to the supremely fortunate accident of history that was Winston Churchill. After 1945, however, the horror of war was greatly reinforced by the revulsion against fascism.

Bigotry, emotionalism, violence and war were all rolled together.

War became seen as atavistic, a throwback to a less enlightened time. Killing was to be avoided. In this increasingly post-moral universe, the distinction between aggressor and victim became erased. There was no absolute right or wrong. Everyone had his own “narrative” to be treated with equal respect. Disputes were to be settled by negotiation, conflict resolution and peace processes.

A peace process, though, must have credible partners. If not it collapses, which may lead inevitably to war. But since war is now unthinkable, nothing can be allowed to scupper the peace process.

Underlining that fixation is the West’s existential belief in rationality – and also that the West is the sun around which other cultures merely revolve. Believing itself to be the acme of reason, and assuming that everyone in the world basks in its reflected radiance, it believes therefore that every other culture is governed by rationality and self-interest.

So it simply cannot understand religious fanaticism. It cannot understand the deranged, psychotic nature of Muslim Jew-hatred.

It cannot understand the absolute, implacable desire to wipe Israel off the map.

So it must deny that Israel is the victim of irrational, fanatical forces. It must deny that Iran really does mean to commit another Jewish genocide. It must deny Abbas’s Jew-hatred.

It must deny Palestinian incitement. It must deny that the Palestinians have broken every commitment and Israel has broken none. It must deny that Palestinianism is built on a murderous lie. It must deny the Islamic threat to the entire free world.

That is why the West is currently such a menace, not just to Israel but also, remarkably, to itself.

*Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK). approved by a moderator before being published on Disqus users can post comments automatically.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Palestinian Arab Music Video encourages murder

From PMW, 7 Nov 2014:

Song with visuals encourages terror against Israelis: "Run [them] over, destroy... blow them up"

"You (i.e., Israelis) ran over a two-month-old, we paid you back twofold
For you, glorious Al-Aqsa
We’ll run over settlers
Run over the settler! Run over the settler!
Lay an ambush on the road And run them over, Allah will aid you
The whole Arab nation is telling you: Al-Akari, bless your [soul]
Run over the settler! Run over the settler!...
Abd Al-Rahman Al-Shaloudi ran over a Jewish settler
He did it for his country with his limited means
Run over the settler! Run over the settler!...
Today, the entire people demands a hero willing to fight with weapons
He began fighting with a car, running them over like rabbits.
Run over the settler! Run over the settler!...
Run them over, burn the next in line
Don’t leave a single settler
In Gaza they [Hamas] took away their dignity.
In the [West] Bank we want to wipe them out.
Run over the settler! Run over the settler!
Wait for them at the intersection
Let the settler drown in red blood
Terrorize them, your heart is strong.
Careful: Show no compassion
Run over the settler! Run over the settler!
Mutaz Hijazi didn’t neglect [his duty] when he wielded his weapon and took control
Mother [of Hijazi], let’s hear cries of joy Mutaz has been promised Paradise.
Run over the settler! Run over the settler!...
Run [them] over, destroy, annihilate, blow them up;
Don’t let the Zionist live long
O Al-Aqsa, we’re your defenders
O son of Jerusalem, cry ‘Allah is great’!
Run over the settler! Run over the settler!...
Netanyahu, tell your people, your soldiers have gotten lost in the [West] Bank
Every day we’ll run over one of your soldiers, O Palestinians, O proud ones
Run over the settler! Run over the settler!
Refuel your car and run over the settlers
Until my country’s land returns, for your sake, Palestine.
Run over the settler! Run over the settler!‎"

Note: Ibrahim Al-Akari - Hamas terrorist from East Jerusalem who carried out a terror attack by car on Nov. 5, 2014, at a light-rail station in Jerusalem, killing two and injuring at least 13 others. He was shot and killed by Israeli police officers who arrived on the scene.

Abd Al-Rahman Al-Shaloudi - On Oct. 22, 2014, Al-Shaloudi deliberately ran over people waiting at a light-rail station in Jerusalem with his car, killing three-month-old Israeli-American Haya Zissel-Brown and Karen Mosquera, 22, of Ecuador, and injuring 7 others. He was shot by police while attempting to flee, and later died of his wounds.

Mutaz Hijazi – Islamic Jihad member and released prisoner who attempted to assassinate Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a prominent activist working to assure rights for Jews to visit and pray on the Temple Mount, on Oct. 29, 2014. The assassination attempt took place following a conference on establishing times and places for Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. Glick was seriously wounded in the attack; Hijazi was killed soon afterwards when he opened fire on an Israeli police force that was attempting to arrest him.

Jews murdered. US urges 'all parties to exercise restraint'

(Read carefully) from the transcript of the US State Department Daily Press Briefing by Jen Psaki, Spokesperson, Washington, DC, November 10, 2014:

...QUESTION: On Israel.

MS. PSAKI: Israel. Sure, go ahead.

QUESTION: Just the latest developments in Jerusalem --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- and the stabbing in the West Bank.

MS. PSAKI: Sure, sure, sure.

QUESTION: Or Tel Aviv and – Tel Aviv and the West Bank.

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, there are, unfortunately, a couple of events.


MS. PSAKI: So let me just speak to all of them. We strongly condemn the stabbings – the stabbing today in the West Bank and we deeply regret the loss of life. Our condolences go out to the victim’s family. It is absolutely critical that parties take every possible measure to protect civilians and de-escalate tensions.

We are also seeking additional information surrounding the incident of the Israeli Arab who was shot with – who was shot as well with a live bullet. We’re looking for information surrounding this incident. We’re in touch – close touch with the ministry of justice. And of course, we urge all parties to exercise restraint. Obviously, these events happened over the course of the last 12 to 24 hours, so I don’t have more details than what’s been out there at this point.

QUESTION: All right. I’m just going to assume – but correct me if I’m wrong – that when you say all parties’ restraint, you’re talking about the – who are you talking about?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re talking about the Israelis, the Palestinians – any who are involved in these tension-raising, rhetoric-raising incidents.

QUESTION: Okay. But, I mean, if you’re standing at a bus stop or something and someone runs a car into you or comes up and stabs you, I don't know how – I mean, those people aren’t – don’t need to exercise restraint, do they?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think I’m referring to the fact that we know that there have been – there’s been rising tensions in the region --


MS. PSAKI: -- that has led to some of these incidents. I think we all are aware of that, so --

QUESTION: All right. In terms of the restraint and the rhetoric, are you seeing any – I mean, last week, you were pretty down on both sides, or you were up on – you were pleased with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s calls and the stuff that he did with the Jordanians about getting the tensions around the Temple Mount down, but you weren’t particularly happy with President Abbas. Has that changed?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, as I also said last week, I was speaking to one incident --


MS. PSAKI: -- of Prime Minister Netanyahu.


MS. PSAKI: Obviously, there have been a range of issues and events that have led to the rising tensions in the region that both sides need to do more to fix.


MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Still. And can you point to anything significant along those lines over the course of the – over the weekend?

MS. PSAKI: Positive steps?

QUESTION: Positive or negative.

MS. PSAKI: There aren’t any positive steps I have to --

QUESTION: There are no positive steps, correct?

MS. PSAKI: No additional, no.

QUESTION: Let me ask you, though – this area, like, in Hebron is not under the authority of the Palestinian Authority. So basically, it’s – it is the Israeli occupation forces that are responsible for that area. Would you call for the Palestinians perhaps to exercise more authority and perhaps they can stop these incidents from happening, to make sure they look after the bus stops and other places where Israeli settlers may be exposed to danger or to attacks?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Would you call for a more --

MS. PSAKI: Said, I think we don’t have a lot of details at this point in terms of why these events happened, who’s responsible. So it’s hard to assess what the solution should be without having more details.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's time to end the indoctrination and incitement fuelling decentralised terrorism

From Caroline Glick, Friday, November 7th, 2014:

A Driver Rams His Car Into Pedestrians In Suspected East Jerusalem Terror Attack
A Driver Rams His Car Into Pedestrians In Suspected East Jerusalem Terror Attack

In the postmortems of the terrorist car attacks in Jerusalem, it is easy to see the writing on the wall.

Ibrahim al-Akary, the terrorist who on Wednesday ran over crowds of people waiting to cross the street and catch the Jerusalem Light Rail, was the brother of one of the terrorist murderers freed in exchange for IDF hostage Gilad Schalit. He had placed the photograph on his Facebook page of Moataz Hejazi, the terrorist killed by police after shooting Yehuda Glick outside the Begin Heritage Center last Wednesday.

A few days before Abdur Rahman Slodi got into his car and mowed down three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and a dozen other pedestrians two weeks ago, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas exhorted the Palestinians to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, by all means possible. Slodi had served time in prison for terrorist offenses and was active on social media where he expressed murderous hatred for Jews and a desire to kill them.

So yes, the writing was on the wall. But unfortunately, the writing is on all the walls, or Facebook walls. It is not at all clear how Israeli security services could have known to distinguish these men from the thousands of other Palestinians and Jerusalem Arabs who hate Israel, support the murder of Jews and identify with various terrorist organizations.

On Thursday security forces arrested several people in villages around Hebron with suspected ties to Akary. So he may not have been acting on his own. But all the same, neither he nor Slodi seem to have been directed to carry out their attacks by a cell commander who himself was directed by a higher level terrorist operative. Rather, in all likelihood, something triggered both men to carry out attacks in a wholly independent or semi-independent manner.

The question is, what was the trigger and how was it pulled?

The Israeli media are obsessed with the question of whether or not we are experiencing an third Palestinian terrorist onslaught, or intifada. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch insists that we are not. Others insist that we are. Whatever we want to call it, we are seeing a new form of Palestinian terrorist warfare against Israel, which in many key aspects mimics the larger jihad carried out by al-Qaida and its affiliates and spin-offs.

In a recent article in the online Small Wars Journal, Maj. Nicholas Pace from NATO’s Joint Forces Command discussed how al-Qaida and Islamic State have decentralized their terrorist networks.

Due to the superior signals intelligence fielded by the US, Pace explained, al-Qaida and Islamic State have diffused and decentralized their networks into smaller hubs that operate independently. The role of terrorist chiefs like al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is to inspire and incite, and to a degree direct, operations, rather than plan and order them.

Today the main factor unifying al-Qaida and Islamic State and their sister groups and followers in the region and worldwide is ideology. They all share the same hatred of the West, of all religions other than Islam and of all competing forms of Islam. They all seek the establishment of a global caliphate that will rule the world under the banner of Islam.

As Pace notes, this shared ideology was all that US Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan needed to feel that he was a member of al-Qaida when in 2009, after have a few Internet communications with al-Qaida ideologue Awar al-Awlaki, he walked onto the Fort Hood military base in Texas and massacred his fellow soldiers.

Pace argues that Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria also operate along a decentralized model of operations, and the more they are directly targeted by the US and its allies, the more they will decentralize and compartmentalize their force structure.

The operational advantage of this model is that it gives enormous flexibility and independence to operatives in the field to maximize their resources. The drawback is that those resources tend to be less sophisticated than those that can be brought to bear by a centrally organized and resourced military organization.

But this isn’t really a problem for jihadists.

As Pace notes, they see themselves as soldiers in a long-term struggle. Their goal is not necessarily to conquer their target populations. Rather they seek to make life impossible for target societies. Mass chaos sowed by constant, low intensity, near-scatter-shot attacks can over time be sufficient to break the will of a targeted society or military organization to fight them.

Certainly this has been the case for the Iraqi military that has melted away in the face of Islamic State’s fanatical troops.

For such a decentralized military system to work, the leadership needs two things: a shared ideology, and communications capabilities that enable them to incite and loosely directly violence.

Ideology is not something that people pick up or discard quickly or easily. For a person to be attracted to the jihadist cause he has to undergo indoctrination over a significant period of time. You cannot incite a person to strike if he hasn’t already been indoctrinated in a manner that makes him amenable to your incendiary call to action.

And this brings us back to the Palestinians and the trigger for the attacks conducted by independent or semi-independent terrorist operatives.

With the exception of Pakistani students in madrassas, few societies have undergone the mass indoctrination that the Palestinians have undergone over the past 20 years of Palestinian Authority rule. From the cradle to the grave, and most significantly in the school system, Palestinians are indoctrinated to hate Jews and seek the violent destruction of Israel. They are told that it is an Islamic duty to fight Jews and destroy Israel. This is as true in regular PA schools as it is in schools run by the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA).

We are experiencing today in Jerusalem a decentralized terrorist campaign rooted in the 20-year indoctrination of the Palestinians.
Yes, Hamas and Fatah still operate terrorist cells and units that are members of terrorist hierarchies. But at the same time, they have used a model similar to al-Qaida’s in developing semi-independent and wholly independent networks of operatives and operational cells. These independent cells are highly motivated and are willing to wait until they receive generalized signals from their leadership to strike.

So it was for instance in June with the kidnapping and murder of the three teenagers in Gush Etzion. A few weeks before the kidnapping took place, from his home in Qatar, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal remarked that Hamas needed more hostages to trade for jailed terrorists.

The terrorists in Hebron were motivated to strike. With the financial assistance of Saleh al-Arouri, the Hamas ideologue and operational commander in Turkey, they were able to purchase what they needed for the kidnapping. And when Mashaal said the time had come to kidnap Israelis, the countdown to the kidnap and murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah began.
The cell was isolated and tiny. Mashaal’s order was indirect.

In the case of the violence in Jerusalem, indoctrination in UNRWA schools in places like Shuafat refugee camp where Akary lived, not to mention throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza, has raised generations of Arabs who hate Israel and Jews.

Owing to this indoctrination, when presented with mass incitement by preachers in the mosques, and most importantly by the official Palestinian Authority media, these calls for violence are immediately embraced on a massive scale. Indeed, the comfort level that the Arabs of Jerusalem feel today in supporting terrorism may well be unprecedented.

For instance, until this Wednesday night, every time terrorists in Jerusalem used motor vehicles to murder Israelis, their families and neighbors insisted that they were not terrorists but hapless drivers. There had been no attack, merely a traffic accident.

On Wednesday night when reporters went to interview Akary’s family and neighbors, they were met by shouts of praise for his murderous act. He was embraced as a martyr. And just as important, his act inspired mob violence in Shuafat and other Arab neighborhoods against police forces. For the first time, support for terrorism outweighed concern about alienating their Jewish neighbors or forcing police retaliation.

On Thursday Fatah’s Facebook page was full of images calling for Palestinians to run over Jews. As Palestinian Media Watch reported, one used a play on words between the Arabic acronym for Islamic State and the Arabic word for running something over, thus positively associating the terrorists who run over Jews with members of Islamic State.

Hamas – Fatah’s partner in the PA’s coalition government – was similarly quick to praise Akary and call for more such attacks.

In dealing with this burgeoning, decentralized terrorist campaign, aside from taking action to protect bus stops with various barricades, Israel needs to go after the triggers.

It needs to break up the indoctrination system.

And it needs to destroy the Palestinian leadership’s ability to communicate their incendiary messages.

Since UNRWA schools operating in Jerusalem engage in anti-Semitic indoctrination, Jerusalem municipal authorities must give them the choice of using Israeli textbooks or shutting down. If Israel wishes to assert its sovereignty, UNRWA schools would be a good place to start. Beyond that, preachers in mosques who incite murder and call for the destruction of Israel should be arrested.

As for the PA’s communications networks, all of the radio and television signals operating in the PA come from the Israeli electromagnetic spectrum. It is time to shut them down. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Wednesday, Abbas is directly inciting the murderous attacks on Jerusalem through the PA media organs. The way to protect Jerusalem is to remove him and his Hamas partners from the airwaves.

There has been a lot of talk over the years about providing positive and negative incentives to convince the Palestinians not to engage in terrorism. But now is not the time for incentives. The population mobilized through incitement has become too fanatical to engage with reason.

The terrorists who take the wheel and run over pedestrians know that they will more than likely never come home. And they don’t care. They certainly don’t care that Israel will destroy their homes. And they also certainly won’t be impressed by discounted mortgages if they integrate into Israeli society.

In the long term, it is imperative that Israel provide incentives to both the Jerusalem Arabs and the Palestinians to integrate peacefully with Israeli society. But before the government can seriously engage in this task, it needs to destroy the triggers of this terrorist onslaught. It is not enough to complain about Palestinian indoctrination and incitement. It is time for Israel to end them.

Jabhat al-Nusra: A Sunni Hezbollah?

From The Jerusalem Post, November 9, 2014, by Jonathan Spyer:

Jabhat al-Nusra, like the Lebanse Shi'ite organization, is emerging as a movement that combines uncompromising jihadi ideology with tactical flexibility.

Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamist group which constitutes al-Qaida's "official franchise" in Syria, this week carried out a successful offensive against Western-backed rebel militias in northern Syria. Key areas were captured.

Islamic State and its activities further east continue to dominate Western media reporting on the war in Syria. But in northwest Syria, Lebanon and the area immediately east of the Golan, it is Nusra which is becoming the main Sunni jihadi force on the ground.

There are significant differences in the praxis of these two movements, despite their near-identical ideological stances.
Islamic State prefers to rule by straightforward terror ... Nusra is no less brutal when it deems it necessary, but follows a different, more sophisticated trajectory.
This requires Nusra to at times cooperate with other Sunni groups (including Islamic State), and at other times fight them.

The assault against rival rebel groups began on Saturday and was mainly focused against the Syria Revolutionaries Front (SRF), led by former construction worker Jamal Ma'arouf. Ma'arouf, who hails from the Jebel Zawiya region of Idlib province, emerged as a successful warlord in one of the heartlands of the Syrian Sunni rebellion.

According to sources in northern Syria, however, Ma'arouf is seen by many as a corrupt figure who has personally enriched himself in the course of the Syrian war.

The tensions between Nusra and SRF in the north are of long standing, and have claimed lives on both sides.

They are concerned with power, and the control of populations, land and resources.

Nusra's forces made rapid progress into Jebel Zawiya, capturing Ma'arouf's home village of Deir Sunbul; the smaller Harakat Hazm militia also abandoned a number of villages in the wake of the group's advance. Nusra is now just a few miles from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey.

Ma'arouf [SRM] was known to have been in contact with Western officials, though the extent of aid to his movement is not clear. Hazm, however – which numbers only around 5,000 fighters – was the recipient of direct Western help, including a number of BGM-71 TO W anti-tank systems delivered this past spring.

These systems may well now be in the hands of the al-Qaida- associated Nusra, following Hazm's abandonment of areas of northern Idlib province in the wake of Nusra's advance against the SRF.
The future of Hazm and SRF in the rebel heartland of northwest Syria now looks uncertain. 

Nusra appears uninterested in proclaiming an "Islamic state" of its own any time soon, but it is clearly deeply interested in capturing and holding ground in this area – and is doing so.

Oddly, in other areas, Nusra cooperates with the very forces it fights in the north. In western Syria and the Lebanese Beka'a, for example, Nusra and Islamic State work together in the Qalamun mountains area, and in frequent forays into Lebanon.

There, they seek to secure a link between pro-rebel Sunni towns in the Beka'a and the jihadi fighters in the mountains, so as to ensure a supply route throughout the winter.

Nusra recently killed around 10 Hezbollah fighters in a hitand- run raid on a position near Britel. It also took part, together with Islamic State, in a large-scale raid on the town of Arsal in August, capturing a number of Lebanese soldiers.

Nusra leader Muhammad al-Jowlani issued a statement on Tuesday, promising further incursions into Lebanon.

Addressing Hezbollah directly, Jowlani said,
"The real war in Lebanon is yet to begin, and what is coming is so bitter that [leader] Hassan Nasrallah will bite his fingers in remorse for what he has done to Sunnis."

Further south, Nusra is a key element in the rebel forces that have been enjoying considerable success against the regime in recent weeks. The organization played a major role in the capture of the Quneitra crossing at the end of August.

Some reports have since suggested the organization has ceded control of areas bordering Israel to other rebel forces. But if this is so, it has taken place not by coercion, but because Nusra appears to be aware of the general rebel desire for Western support, and is willing to adjust its own positions accordingly.

The movement also continues to enjoy contact and probably also support from the Emirate of Qatar, a key backer following Nusra's emergence in 2012. 
Certainly, the Qatari role in paying ransoms for the release of 45 Fijian soldiers captured by Nusra in the taking of Quneitra would seem to attest to, at the very least, ongoing contact between Doha and the jihadis.

So in three key fronts – Idlib province, Qalamun and Quneitra/Deraa – Nusra is playing a pivotal role, challenging both Syrian President Bashar Assad's army and other rebels where it deems it profitable.

By avoiding targeting Westerners, the group has largely managed to avoid the hostile attention of the West.

By adjusting its activities to local realities and power structures rather than immediately challenging them head-on, it has also avoided the fear and hostility which Islamic State engenders among many Sunnis in both Syria and Lebanon.

So what happens next? Jowlani clearly has his eye on Lebanon, where 1.5 million Sunni refugees from Syria may provide willing recruits to the movement, particularly if that group begins to find itself needing some kind of sectarian defense against local Shi'ite hostility. Nusra is becoming the controller of rebel northwest Syria – yet it is likely to continue its more cautious path in the south, where its rivals are stronger.

It is also by no means impossible that Nusra could, at a certain point, turn its attention to Israel. Certainly, the current attempt by Palestinian organizations to refocus attention on their struggle through the prism of Pan-Islamic concerns for the Aksa Mosque makes such an outcome more likely.

Jabhat al-Nusra seems determined to emerge as a kind of mirror image of the Shi'ite Hezbollah – combining an uncompromising jihadi ideology with tactical flexibility and an ability to work with its own public (Sunnis), rather than simply terrorize them into submission.

Israeli and Western governments should be watching the organization very carefully.

*Jonathan Spyer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mass hallucinations in Rabin Square

Rabin memorial
Thousands rally at the memorial for slain premier Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv. 
(photo credit:BEN HARTMAN)

'But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked. ‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’ ‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’ – Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

The annual ritual to commemorate the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin that took place last Saturday night in the square in Tel Aviv which now bears his name, was a bizarre affair. It was a shameful – and shameless – endeavor to wring the last few drops of political mileage from the abuse of the fraying fabrication of Rabin’s “legacy.”
Act I: Remembering the Real Rabin

As if in a parallel universe...
The rally, dubbed “Returning to the Square and Bringing Back Hope,” was organized by the Israeli Peace Initiative, a group purportedly promoting regional peace, co-founded by Rabin’s son, Yuval.

Regional peace. Hmmm – doesn’t that sound eerily reminiscent of a previous “vision” – now widely discredited and largely discarded – of the Peresian delusion of a New Middle East? (It has always been a source of puzzlement to me whether these “regionalists” have ever actually looked at a map of the war-torn, blood-drenched region before attempting to resurrect the demonstrably daft delusion of regional peace – but that is a topic for another column.) The rally’s organizers proclaimed that the event was meant to urge the government (the Israeli one of course, not, heaven forfend, the Palestinian one) to promote a “peace initiative.”

It was in this vein that co-founder Rabin Jr. addressed the crowd in a speech so detached from reality it could well have been made in a parallel universe where Islam is really the “religion of peace.” He informed PM Benjamin Netanyahu that he “no longer has the strength to hold his tongue,” and felt morally compelled to demand a “daring diplomatic initiative” that blithely ignored “the Iranian threat at our doorstep and ISIS [Islamic State], Hamas and Hezbollah who threaten to destroy us.”

Depressing display of denial and dishonesty

The unmistakable implication was that, had Rabin Sr. not been assassinated 19 years ago, he would have mustered the necessary “daring” required to conclude a peace agreement with the Palestinians. (Strange, isn’t it, that in the political discourse on Israel, “daring” somehow always refers to a willingness to capitulate to enemy demands rather than stand firm on one’s own.) Although I am loath to use harsh language in referring to such a solemn event, there is little other way to describe what was explicitly said, and implicitly insinuated, than as a distressing display of denial and dishonesty that totally distorts Rabin’s views on the issue of a settlement with the Palestinians, which he held right up to the time of his death.

Indeed, were the much-maligned Netanyahu to embrace, verbatim, the parameters of the “permanent solution,” specified by Rabin shortly before his assassination, he would be dismissed today as an unrealistic extremist.

Thus, in his last address to the Knesset, on October 5, 1995, after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and hailed as a “valiant warrior” for peace, he sought parliamentary ratification of the Oslo II Accords. In it, he laid out his vision for the final formula for resolution of the conflict, and his views on Palestinian statehood, the fate of Jerusalem, borders and settlements.

Recalling Rabin’s recipe
What follows are excerpts from his Knesset address, setting out his positions on these issues: 

• Palestinian statehood: Rabin rejected the notion of a Palestinian state, declaring: “...the permanent solution... will include... a Palestinian entity, which will... be an entity that is less than a state...”

• The pre-1967 borders: “We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines... And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution...,” which he went on to detail.

• United Jerusalem: He was unequivocal: “First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’aleh Adumim and Givat Ze’ev – as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty...”

• Jordan Valley: Rabin was adamant: “The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.”

• Existing settlements: Rabin envisioned changes being made to Israel’s final borders to include existing settlements under permanent Israeli sovereignty. He specified “changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Betar and other communities, most of which are east of what was the Green Line prior to the Six Day War.”

• Construction of new settlements: Rabin not only advocated redrawing Israel’s frontiers to include existing settlements, he urged construction of new ones, calling for “the establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.”

Rabin’s real legacy

Rabin’s use of the term “Judea and Samaria” – and not “West Bank – is both significant and instructive. His reference to Gush Katif, the bloc of settlements razed by Sharon in the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, is significant, and poignant.

This then, is Rabin’s real legacy, and no crafty choreography – however cunningly crafted – can obscure that. The disingenuous attempts to reconstruct it as an antithetical negation of itself serve only to make it a surreal and grotesque distortion of what it really was.

Act II: Peres-Past pronouncements, present perfidy? 

Shimon Peres, until recently president of the state, and Rabin’s Nobel co-laureate, also addressed the gathering.

Trapped in Oslowian time-warp?

As if trapped in an Oslowian-era time warp, and oblivious of ongoing realities – the slaughter in Syria, the Salafists in Sinai, Islamic State in Iraq, to name but a few – Peres railed on about how Israel must embrace the two-state solution. Apparently unmindful of the thousands of Israelis who, over almost a quarter-century, have paid with life and limb in the perverse pursuit of that fatally failed formula, he fulminated that the only way for Israel to achieve lasting peace, prosperity and social harmony was to agree to bring Ben-Gurion Airport into range of Palestinian mortar fire and the Trans-Israel Highway into reach of their attack tunnels...

As manifestly unfounded and dangerously detached from reality as Peres’s speech was in its own right, when compared to his past pronouncements on the perils of a Palestinian state, the imperative of settlements and territory for the security of Israel, and the worthlessness of agreements with the Arabs, it was breathtakingly surrealistic.

In previous columns I have cited several of Peres’s past positions on these issues. However, given the current political context and against the backdrop of ongoing efforts to warp the past beyond all recognition, I feel there is considerable value in reminding The Jerusalem Post’s readership of the political perceptions that prevailed and the beliefs that the nation’s leaders publicly embraced.

Not off-the-cuff slip-of-tongue 

What follows is a catalogue of views expressed by Peres on a range of topics impinging on the feasibility of the two-state principle. In perusing them, readers should bear in mind that these were not off-thecuff remarks or some slips-of-tongue. Quite the contrary, almost all the citations come from a programmatic book written by him in Hebrew and published in 1978, Ca’et Mahar (“Tomorrow is Now) – befitting his obsession of being seen as futuristic. Based on an earlier lengthy interview in the then-influential, now defunct, Labor Party daily Davar, it sets out his ideas of how the affairs of the nation should be conducted.

• Dangers of a Palestinian state I: Peres cautioned with chilling accuracy: “The establishment of such [a Palestinian] state means the inflow of combat-ready Palestinian forces (more than 25,000 men under arms) into Judea and Samaria; this force, together with the local youth, will double itself in a short time. It will not be short of weapons or other [military] equipment, and in a short space of time, an infrastructure for waging war will be set up in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Israel will have problems in preserving dayto- day security, which may drive the country into war, or undermine the morale of its citizens...” p.232.

• Dangers of a Palestinian state II: He predicted: “If a Palestinian state is established, it will be armed to the teeth. Within it there will be bases of the most extreme terrorist forces, who will be equipped with antitank and antiaircraft shoulder-launched rockets, which will endanger not only random passersby, but also every airplane and helicopter taking off in the skies of Israel and every vehicle traveling along the major traffic routes in the Coastal Plain. It is of course doubtful whether territorial expanse can provide absolute deterrence.

However, the lack of minimal territorial expanse places a country in a position of an absolute lack of deterrence. This in itself constitutes almost compulsive temptation to attack Israel from all directions...” p. 255.

• Dangers of a Palestinian state III: In his later book The New Middle East, published the very year the Oslo Accords were signed (1993), he warned with commendable prudence: “Even if the Palestinians agree that their state have no army or weapons, who can guarantee that a Palestinian army would not be mustered later to encamp at the gates of Jerusalem and the approaches to the lowlands? And if the Palestinian state would be unarmed, how would it block terrorist acts perpetrated by extremists, fundamentalists or irredentists?” p.169

• Strategic importance of territory: He correctly noted that the greater firepower, mobility and range of modern weaponry does not detract, but enhances, the strategic importance of territory: “In 1948, it may have been possible to defend the ‘thin waist’ of Israel’s most densely populated area, when the most formidable weapon used by both sides was the cannon of limited mobility and limited fire-power... In the 20th century, with the development of the rapid mobility of armies, the defensive importance of territorial expanse has increased... Without a border which affords security, a country is doomed to destruction in war.” pp. 235, 254.

• Economic importance of territory: Peres recognized the economic implications of defensible borders: “The resources available to a country are finite. In the absence of a strategic border, the investment in security that a country requires comes at the expense of other needs. This difference in levels of investment in security creates... a qualitative change in the general level of a nation – in terms of its economy, its society and education...

A country that has the advantage of a strategic frontier can invest less... in fortifications, maintenance of battle-ready armed forces, armaments...” p.235.

• Strategic importance of settlements: It will surprise many to learn that Peres was the father of the settlement enterprise beyond the pre-1967 lines, and its greatest champion.

He expressed the need “to create a continuous stretch of new settlements; to bolster Jerusalem and the surrounding hills, from the north, from the east, and from the south and from the west, by means of the establishment of townships, suburbs and villages – Ma’aleh Adumin, Ofra, Gilo, Bet-El, Givon... to ensure that the capital and its flanks are secured, and underpinned by urban and rural settlements... the settlements along the Jordan River are intended to establish the Jordan River as [Israel’s] de facto security border; however it is the settlements on the western slopes of the hills of Samaria and Judea which will deliver us from the curse of Israel’s ‘narrow waist.’” p.48.

• Value of agreements with Arabs: But perhaps the most startling of all is Peres’s assessment of the value (or the lack there of) of any pact with the Arabs: “The major issue is not [attaining] an agreement, but ensuring the actual implementation of the agreement in practice. The number of agreements which the Arabs have violated is no less than the number which they have kept.” p. 255 

Curiouser and curiouser

In light of the dismal experience since then, one can hardly believe that his faith in the value of agreements has been in any way enhanced. So why would the former president be advocating the creation of a situation, which he himself designated as one that “constitutes almost compulsive temptation to attack Israel from all directions...”??? Especially in light of the prescient accuracy of his past predictions...