Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kushner - From Israel: A Broader View

Arlene Kushner
Arlene from Israel
18 July '11

As we sludge through the muddle that passes for news these days, I think we have the latitude to look at matters a bit more broadly, and to perhaps catch up on some material.

For some time we've been subjected to the popular wisdom that maintains that Israel lost the Second Lebanon War of 2006 because Hezbollah was not taken out completely -- Israel having stopped too soon for political reasons. We've been consistently told that this terrorist organization, which is now part of the Lebanese government, has come back stronger than it was before the war.

But now we have a different, more assuring, take:

This week, Yediot Ahronot reported (in Hebrew, with translation by Daily Alert) that:

"Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who just completed five years as commander of the IDF's Northern Command, said in an interview that since the Second Lebanon War in 2006: 'Hezbollah has doubled its rocket capacity, but I think the improvements we've made - in terms of range of targets, firepower, and maneuverability - are greater in the long run. Today we are in a much better position opposite them. Our intelligence picture of the organization has greatly improved. Our target bank has also improved and Hezbollah understands this.'" (emphasis added)


I don't agree with everything Yossi Melman, writing in Haaretz says on this same subject. He claims, for example, that "international forces" (i.e., UNIFIL) created a barrier to Hezbollah after the war, while I see UNIFIL as little more than a bad joke.

But he makes one point worthy of note: A major consequence of the war was exposure of the connection between Hezbollah and Iran. "It was Jordan's King Abdullah who coined the term 'Shi'ite Crescent' to stress Iran's expansion into Lebanon via Iraq and Syria."


Thanassis Cambanis, writing in National Interest, expresses the opinion that Syria's Assad will take Hezbollah down with him. Assad, who is today deeply in trouble in his own country, has armed and supported Hezbollah.

"... a tottering Assad regime could severely curtail Hezbollah’s military room for maneuver...if Hezbollah continues to ally itself with Assad, rather than Syria’s popular will, it begins to look like a movement that prefers Arab tyrants to the Arab Spring.

"...the Arab political renaissance underway...could produce movements well positioned to steal Hezbollah’s anti-Israel thunder with a resistance program free from the party’s sectarian, militant baggage."



So, while an unstable Syrian regime has been pouring weapons into Lebanon at an unprecedented rate, the fact is that matters are so unstable that it's impossible to predict how it will all play out. Crystal balls have suddenly gotten very cloudy.


Equally significant for its implications is the article "Egypt's Military Holds onto Power" by Daniel Pipes in National Review Online:

"It’s been my contention since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in February that (1) this was a military coup d’état against the prospect of Mubarak’s son taking power and (2) the military brass intend to hold on to power. On the latter point, I wrote in April: 'The soldiers have become far too accustomed to power and the good life to give up these perks. They will do whatever it takes...to keep power.'"

Pipes cites a July 16 article in the New York Times by David Kirkpatrick that "explains just how the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces plans to keep its power — by pre-empting the constitution..."

What Kirkpatrick describes is military control over the drafting of the constitution, so that the role of the armed forces in the government is spelled out and the defense budget is potentially shielded from public scrutiny.

"Proposals under consideration would give the military a broad mandate to intercede in Egyptian politics to protect national unity or the secular character of the state...."

If this report is accurate, we can breathe a deep sigh of relief. For "the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group considered Egypt’s best-organized and most formidable political force...was poised to win a major role in the new Parliament" (and would have had a major hand in the shaping of the new constitution).

But -- as the military is set to retain considerable control -- the projected situation also seems a death-knoll for the "Arab Spring" in Egypt, with scant opportunity for the advancement of genuine liberal democracy. (This possibility was little more than wishful thinking, in any event, given the political composition of Egypt.)

As Pipes puts it, "It's business as usual."


Quite frankly, as the Brotherhood would likely have had the upper hand, "business as usual" -- with control in the hands of a military that seeks stability -- is the best we can hope for.

So, let's hope...

Please see Khaled Abu Toameh's piece, "Why The Palestinians Do Not Want Fayyad," in Hudson-NY. It's an eye-opener. If you don't already have second thoughts about what the nature of a Palestinian state would be, you will after reading this:

"In Palestinian society, it is much more important if one graduates from an Israeli prison than from a university in Texas. This is the reason that the two Palestinian governments, both Hamas and Fatah, are dominated by graduates of Israeli prisons who hold senior positions.

"...Many Palestinians are...opposed to Fayyad because, they say, he was never part of the 'revolution.' They see him as an 'outsider' who was imposed on President Abbas by the Americans and Europeans.

"Fayyad's main problem, however, is that he did not participate in any violent attacks on Israel. Nor did he send his sons to take part in the intifada against Israel.

"The longer the time one serves in an Israeli prison, the higher his or her rank is in the Palestinian security forces. This has been true ever since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. And this is how people like Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub became commanders of the Palestinians' Preventative Security Force. (emphasis added)

"In the West Bank, most of the senior officials running the ministries have either spent time in Israeli prisons or taken an active part in anti-Israel violence.

"Because of this policy, many educated Palestinians who have never been to an Israeli prison are forced to search for jobs in the US, Europe and the Arab world.

"There is no shortage of well-educated Palestinians who could contribute enormously to the establishment of proper institutions and good government. Yet they have almost no role in the 'uniform culture,' where many Palestinians continue to admire those who were part of the 'revolution' more than university graduates and former World Bank officials such as Fayyad."



A subject of major importance to which I -- occupied by other issues -- have given scant attention is the radicalization on US campuses. We have seen an alarming stifling of free speech and in some cases threats to Jewish students.

The link below is for a video that is not new. But it's superb and merits attention. This is the "Palestinian Wall of Lies" from the David Horowitz Freedom Center:



One news item:

I had written about the fact that Israel and Turkey were attempting a diplomatic reconciliation, which has not been going well.

Turkey's original demand was that Israel apologize for the Mavi Marmara incident and pay compensation to the families of those "activists" killed in their violent confrontation with IDF soldiers. Israel had refused to apologize but had been willing to consider payment to families as long as it was structured so that it did not imply further obligation or leave individual soldiers liable for legal action -- already too much in my book.

Now Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has added a new demand in the course of a speech to the Turkish parliament: Israel must lift the Gaza blockade. Obviously, this demand -- which is not even a bi-lateral Turkish-Israeli issues -- will not be honored. There was speculation in Jerusalem that this was a sign that Turkey wasn't even serious about resolving the Israeli-Turkish conflict.

However... according to YNet, the two sides have discussed, but not yet agreed upon, a formula for apology that "would not be for the whole military action, but rather for isolated 'operational mishaps.'"

Forgive me, but that could make one barf.

For the record, Foreign Minister Lieberman is opposed to any apology.


I end, then, by recommending a piece by Professor Efraim Inbar, "Let's Get Tough with Turkey":

"Within the framework of the new Turkish foreign policy, good relations with Israel are a burden. Indeed, Israel-bashing has become a tool with which to overcome the historic suspicions of Arabs and Shiites toward the Sunni Turks. As such, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hardly lets a week pass without disparaging or criticizing Israel or the Jews, which undoubtedly fits well with the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiments prevalent in the Muslim world.

"Therefore, an unjustified Israeli apology will not repair the relations, as Turkey is no longer interested in a strategic partnership with Israel. Moreover, such an apology will be used to humiliate the Jewish State and to strengthen the position of the Turkish premier as a champion against Israel. Israel’s reluctance to enter in a duel of words with Erdogan is construed as weakness and only invites additional diatribes.

"The new Turkish leadership is taking advantage of the weakness displayed by the Obama administration in its rejection of American regional preferences ...Furthermore, the tensions between Jerusalem and Washington lead the Turks to believe that they can get away with a strong anti-Israeli posture..."



© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

No comments:

Post a Comment