Thursday, October 31, 2013

The PA’s Deafening and Revealing Silence on Syria

...The Syrian crisis remains absent from Palestinian talking points because Palestinians are still far more intent on destroying the Jewish state–inter alia by flooding it with millions of Palestinian refugees–than in making the compromises needed to get a state of their own and absorb those refugees themselves. And that’s also precisely why peace remains impossible.

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
31 October '13..

Jonathan correctly pointed yesterday to Palestinian lionization of vicious killers as an indication of cultural attitudes that make peace impossible. But there’s another indicator that I find even more revealing–the Palestinian Authority’s deafening silence about the ongoing dispossession and slaughter of its countrymen in Syria.

As journalist Khaled Abu Toameh reported earlier this month, of the approximately 600,000 Palestinians in Syria, a whopping 250,000 have been displaced, according to no less a source than senior PA official Mohamed Shtayyeh. Additionally, over 1,600 have been killed and thousands more injured. Of the displaced, most remain in Syria, but some 93,000 have fled to neighboring countries, where they are uniquely unwelcome: Palestinians have been denied entry into both Jordan and Lebanon, and even when admitted, they face discriminatory treatment. In Jordan, for instance, they are strictly confined to camps, though other Syrian refugees are allowed to move about the country freely; in Lebanon, they are subject to numerous restrictions on employment, and often live in hiding for fear of being deported.

Ostensibly, this is an unbeatable argument for the urgency of creating a Palestinian state: Palestinians need a country to succor their refugees from Syria. Indeed, Jews used a similar argument to great effect in persuading the world of the need for a Jewish state after the Holocaust. Even today, Israelis routinely cite the world’s refusal to accept Jewish refugees, thereby abandoning them to the Nazi killing machine, as one of many arguments for why a Jewish state remains essential: There must be one country whose doors will always be open to persecuted Jews.

Yet rather than making this argument, the PA has gone to great lengths to ignore the Syrian crisis. As Abu Toameh noted, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s UN address in September devoted a mere two sentences to the subject, without ever even mentioning Syria by name (“This year and in the last few years, Palestine refugees continue to pay – despite their neutrality – the price of conflict and instability in our region. Tens of thousands are forced to abandon their camps and to flee in another exodus searching for new places of exile”). The rest of the speech was devoted to attacking Israel. Hence Abbas deplored the 27 Palestinians killed “by the bullets of the occupation,” but never mentioned the hundreds killed in Syria during this period; he excoriated the construction of new Jewish homes in Jerusalem, but never mentioned the wholesale destruction of Palestinian homes in Syria.

Israeli Drones Haunt Gazan Terrorists

...Kamal Terban, the dean of the Palestine Security Academy in Gaza, said that military activity in Gaza has become very risky because of Israeli technological advances in monitoring and targeting Palestinian factions. “Israeli drones restrict the movement of militants in the Gaza Strip and force them to move cautiously, especially given the heavy drone presence in [Gaza] airspace. The drones are very stressful to both civilians and fighters.

An Israeli air force drone is seen flying
over Gaza as seen from the northern
Gaza Strip border, April 9, 2011.
(photo by REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Hazem Balousha..
Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse..
29 October '13..

(While Al-Monitor is not necessarily the first place one goes to for accurate reporting and information, this piece originally entitled "Israeli Drones Haunt Gaza" was hard to pass by. Yosef)

GAZA CITY, Gaza — Gaza residents have grown accustomed to the sound of drones flying overhead day and night. Israel considers Gaza — a small, besieged patch of land — a “hostile entity” and tries to get as much information about what goes on there as possible, in any way in can.

Although the word “drone” suggests a plane used for spying and surveillance, drones have in fact also become tools for killing and targeting armed Palestinian elements. The most prominent drone attacks so far have been the assassinations of Hamas political leader Ahmed Yassin in 2004 and Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari in 2012.

Residents of Gaza are able to quickly identify the drones’ abrasive noise whenever they enter Gaza airspace. The drones also interfere with satellite TV signals.

Israeli drones are a serious threat to armed Palestinian factions. Drones allow Israel to monitor fighter movements and military preparations in Gaza and to bomb fighters, rocket launchers and weapons-storage sites.

Kamal Terban, the dean of the Palestine Security Academy in Gaza, said that military activity in Gaza has become very risky because of Israeli technological advances in monitoring and targeting Palestinian factions.

“Israeli drones restrict the movement of militants in the Gaza Strip and force them to move cautiously, especially given the heavy drone presence in [Gaza] airspace. The drones are very stressful to both civilians and fighters. This necessitated the development of security groups by the [Palestinian] military wings to monitor and report the entry of any type of aircraft into [Gaza] airspace and warn resistance fighters,” Terban said in an interview with Al-Monitor, adding that the warning is sent by means of communication that only the fighters have.

Statistics by human rights centers in Gaza show that Israel has lately come to mainly rely on drones to target Palestinian gunmen.

Thinking about goals for the next round in Gaza

...My guess is that the very painful conclusion may be that the goal for the next round is to destroy the monster that has developed since the retreat and create circumstances and conditions that prevent a repeat of this situation. This is not something that can be seriously discussed as the decision makers are already huddled over tactical operations maps.

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
IMRA Weekly Commentary..
31 October '13..

What with Hamas at odds with Egypt and its Iranian benefactor as it faces domestic challenges as well, it may not necessarily serve Israel's interests to launch an operation that could very well galvanize support for this radical terror semi-state.

It would, however, be a terrible mistake to only start to seriously think about the goals of such an operation when circumstances require decisions within hours.

Ever since the retreat from the Gaza Strip the goal of each Israeli operation has been limited to restoring "quiet for quiet".

To be clear, restoration of "quiet for quiet" does not require significantly reducing the offensive capabilities of the Palestinians, nor does it require that the Palestinians halt their programs to enhance their military capabilities.

"Quiet for quiet" only means that the Palestinians stop shooting (or limit the extent of their shooting) and we stop shooting (or limit ourselves to minor tit-for-tat responses).

"Quiet for quiet" is a very popular goal for policymakers both because of its simplicity and low requirements for success. It also lets the leadership of both sides claim some form of victory as both the Israelis and the Palestinians can argue that the restoration of "quiet for quiet" is proof that their strength has deterred the enemy.

The downside is that "quiet for quiet" facilitates the ongoing enhancement of the military capabilities of the Palestinians in Gaza.

In the first round after the retreat from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians were equipped with crude rockets with small payloads and short ranges launched using methods that were subject to relatively easy monitoring.

Today, with almost all the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egyptian Sinai closed and relations with Iran seriously impaired, a burgeoning Gazan domestic military industry is producing rockets that can reach Tel Aviv from concealed launch sites. At the same time huge resources have been devoted to establishing a network of attack tunnels against Israel along with a massive network of tunnels, bunkers and underground launching pads in the Gaza Strip.

What we face today is not what we will face tomorrow.

Still promoting the myth of a non-violent first Intifada

...The promotion of the myth of a non-violent first Intifada is of course by no means limited to the BBC: the same myth is promoted by both anti-Israel activists and lazy journalists. They, however, are not bound by editorial guidelines of accuracy and impartiality. Despite clearly breaching BBC editorial guidelines, this article has remained on the BBC website for nearly thirteen years. It is time for that to be rectified.

Hadar Sela..
BBC Watch..
29 October '13..

As can be seen in the list of twenty-six Palestinian prisoners convicted of violent acts and scheduled to be released in the framework of ‘confidence building’ measures which we recently published, fifteen of them carried out their acts during the time period between December 9th 1987 and the signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993 – considered by many observers to be the extent of the first Intifada. Seven of those prisoners were found guilty of murders carried out by shooting.

That small sample is indicative of the broader picture.

“The intifada uprising that started in 1987 was, from the start, far more violent than commonly reported. Televised images of youths with rocks defined the violence for many, but during the first four years of the uprising, more than 3,600 Molotov cocktail attacks, 100 hand grenade attacks and 600 assaults with guns or explosives were reported by the Israel Defense Forces.”

Now consider the statement below which comes from an article written in December 2000 (over two months into the second Intifada) by the former BBC Online Middle East Editor Tarik Kafala – now head of BBC Arabic – which is still available on the BBC website.


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The bogus manufacture of heroes and legends

...The list of atrocities we assembled above is incomplete. But they are enough to make the point: it's baffling how media professionals can absorb these dry and hideous facts (assuming they have made the effort) and reconcile them with the naked process now underway in Palestinian Arab circles of placing these very low men on high pedestals.

Heroism of a more truthful era 
Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
30 October '13..

26 Palestinian Arab convicts were freed by Israel last night, and are now on Day One of their conversion into giants of the Palestinian Arab blood-lust. That's not what most parts of the mainstream global media are calling them, but it's the truth.

Over at this morning, in a report headlined "Jubilant crowds welcome Palestinian prisoners", they say, typically of the genre:

Jubilant celebrations kicked off on Wednesday morning in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where the prisoners are seen as heroes who fought for independence, and were received by their families and Palestinian leaders. "We greet and welcome our brothers, and we confirm that they will return to their homes and nowhere else," Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said in a speech to a roaring crowd in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "Today we talk about the 104 prisoners, and our journey will not be completed until all the rest of the prisoners are released," he said. "There will be no agreement while there is still a prisoner who remains behind bars." []

Associated Press says

The decision to release the 26 has triggered anguish and anger in Israel, where many view the men as terrorists who have committed grisly crimes against Israelis. But jubilant celebrations erupted in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where the prisoners are seen as heroes who fought for independence, and were received by their families and Palestinian leaders.

How rational is it for journalists to tell their readers that the men freed today are viewed as heroes? And that it is only in partisan Israel that they are seen as terrorists? It seems to depend on whether the writers and reporters have actually read the details of what put these so-called pre-Oslo terrorists behind bars.


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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Deadline looms for helping the Methodists with their Israel boycott questionnaire

The UK Methodists have put out a questionnaire to help them construct a briefing on the arguments for and against boycotting Israel. As the deadline looms we offer some help

The Commentator..
30 October '13..

British Methodists have until November 4, to complete a questionnaire on what they think about BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) against Israel. We thought we'd offer a bit of help. Here are the questions with our answers underneath them and in italics:

Consultation Questions

The wider context around Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

1. What do you understand to be the motivation/inspiration behind the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in relation to Israel?

Ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry.

2. In your view, what would be the essential elements of any peace agreement in Israel/Palestine?

The Palestinians would need to end decades of rejectionism. They must finally accept the legitimacy of the Jews' right to self-determination in their historic homeland. With that enormous obstacle out of the way, other matters can be the subject of reasonable compromise.


3. Do you support a boycott of products produced within Israeli settlements?

No. Do you support a boycott of products made in Northern Ireland, another disputed territory, or in Cyprus, or in...etc etc?

4. Do you support the call for a wider consumer boycott of all Israeli products?


5. If you answer 'Yes' to Question 4, what changes would you need to see to be content to end your boycott?

If one has answered "yes" to question 4, the only thing that would make anyone content to end their boycott would be the complete destruction of the Jewish state, which is what BDS is ultimately about

6. What are the arguments against a consumer boycott of all Israeli products? What are the risks?

The main argument against a boycott of all Israeli products is that it is bigotry pure and simple. It specifically singles out the state of the Jews. This would be unacceptable at any time, but as the Egyptian coup leaders shoot opponents on the streets and Assad's Syria continues to massacre people, it is nothing short of obscene.

Where petty politics rates more attention and concern than the spilling of Jewish blood

...Tellingly, under her byline, Times readers are not given close-up views of the victims until the 18th paragraph. A single paragraph at the tail end. In the world of Rudoren and the New York Times, petty politics rates more attention and concern than the spilling of Jewish blood.

Leo Rennert..
American Thinker..
30 October '13..

In their Oct. 29 editions, the Washington Post and the New York Times each devotes a half page of copy and picture to Israel's release of 26 Palestinian terrorist prisoners convicted of killing Israelis.

But that's where the similarities end.

At the Post, Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth devotes a couple of paragraphs high up in his article -- the fifth and sixth paragraphs, to be precise -- to identification and description of some of the victims, including a Holocaust survivor, and the horror of their last moments. Later in his piece, Booth goes on to inform his readers about the releases' emotional impact among Israelis, including public criticism by some members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet ("Israel to free 2nd batch of Palestinian prisoners as part of deal" page A9)

The happy, moderate, peace-loving Abbas poses with murderers of Jews

...Photos that would instantly torpedo the career of any other politician on the planet are not newsworthy when the politician is "President of Palestine."

Elder of Ziyon..
30 October '13..

The purported leader of a state that virtually the entire world agrees must exist greets people who have murdered Jews.

That's not news anymore.

What is amazing is that no western leader finds these images to be disgusting.

No academic notes the hypocrisy of a "peace partner" welcoming, in person, murderers and terrorists.

No mainstream journalist or editorialist says the obvious - that a people who lionize murderers are clearly not deserving of any Western support, let alone a state.

There is not one word of condemnation from the enlightened West that Mahmoud Abbas - personally and proudly - poses with and praises people with blood on their hands.

Photos that would instantly torpedo the career of any other politician on the planet are not newsworthy when the politician is "President of Palestine."


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The essential matter has always been about Israel’s right to exist

...But the Arab world as a whole, while lurching slowly toward recognition of Israel's existence, has never budged from its principled refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the land of Israel. This sweeping, absolute, relentless rejection expressed itself over the years in three different, sometimes complementary, forms.

Emmanuel Halperin..
I24 News..
26 October '13..

We negotiate. Perhaps even make some progress. Yet the Palestinians persist in their refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the state Israel. We won’t do it under any circumstances, declare the PLO chiefs, echoed by Hamas leaders, who are not involved in the talks. Certain "realists" believe that we should not get caught up in this matter of principle, that agreeing on borders and getting guarantees for Israel's security should suffice. They are wrong. For this has always been the essence of the conflict. Nothing will be resolved until this issue is resolved.

It is true that it took Israel a long time to recognize the "legitimate rights of the Palestinians" (see the Camp David Accords in 1978). But the Arab world as a whole, while lurching slowly toward recognition of Israel's existence, has never budged from its principled refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the land of Israel. This sweeping, absolute, relentless rejection expressed itself over the years in three different, sometimes complementary, forms.

There was the initial hope of razing Israel to the ground. Conventional military armies were supposed to wipe off the map, in one fell swoop, this tiny state that the Jews had established in their homeland. After an attack by an Arab coalition failed on all fronts in 1948, its plans were foiled twice more - in 1967 and 1973.

Following those painful defeats, the Arab world left the field wide open to Palestinian terrorism: violence directed primarily against Jews in Israel and abroad. The goal of this second form of armed struggle, a return to which the leader of Hamas is calling for today, was to scare the Jews into packing their bags by burning them to death in bus bombings. This goal was not achieved. Israel managed to contain the terrorist warfare - the first state in the world to do so - at the price of a policy of repression that has tarnished its image internationally.

Image: that is the third war, the one of words, symbols and slogans, of ideological essentialism. Israel is portrayed as an accident of history, a denial of justice, the intolerable result of an original sin. What sin? Asserting the rights of a people that does not exist, the "Jewish people," with quotation marks that serve to denote irony. Removing them, a French intellectual explained to me, would imply recognition of Israel's right to be what it is.

In this battle, Israel finds itself in a difficult position, twice handicapped.

The high price demanded for the maintenance of the U.S. alliance

...It is they who should be explaining why they think it is all right to ask Jerusalem to do something that no American leader would dream of doing if the freedom of 9/11 murderers and accomplices were in question, as it is for those who perpetrated similar crimes against Israelis. Doing so encourages terrorism and rewards those who promote violence rather than encouraging peace.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
29 October '13..

As the New York Times reports today, Naftali Bennett, the head of the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi Party, is getting blasted in the Israeli media as a hypocrite for opposing the Israeli government’s decision to honor its promise to release more Palestinian terrorist murderers. Bennett happens to be a member of that government and his critics may have a point when they say that if he is as outraged about the release as he purports to be, he can always resign his Cabinet post. It is in that context that the Times and other outlets prefer to view the protests about the freeing of these killers as mere exploitation of the anguish of the families of their victims rather than an expression of genuine outrage, as it probably deserved to be understood.

Whether his detractors like it or not, Bennett can afford to have his cake and eat it too. Netanyahu can’t afford to fire him and probably wouldn’t want to even if he could, since doing so would not make his government any more manageable since that would strengthen Justice Minister Tzipi Livni more than he might like and tilt it farther to the left than he might like. But the hoopla over Bennett’s admittedly futile efforts to derail the release illustrates something a lot more important than the way members of the Israeli Cabinet love to grandstand. Even those who dislike Bennett’s politics and agree with Netanyahu’s decision need to acknowledge that this painful move is far more indicative of the high price of the Obama administration’s good will than the alleged hypocrisy of right-wing politicians. Having forced Netanyahu into a corner by demanding the prisoner release in order to get the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table, Washington’s blindness to the consequences of this act is the real issue at stake in this debate.

The comments from those who are defending what Netanyahu admitted had been one of the toughest decisions he has ever made illustrated the dilemma. Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who is often viewed as a hardliner on territorial issues, said the release had to continue because it had to be seen as part of a “long term strategic view” of his country’s position. That might be interpreted as a defense of the peace process. But it is more probably a reference to the fact that Israel’s geostrategic position is largely dependent on its ability to rely on its alliance with the United States.

The one possible benefit to Israel of the release is that it probably strengthens the position of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas vis-à-vis his Hamas rivals. Like the ransom Hamas extracted from Israel in order to gain the freedom of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit that boosted the Islamist group, it is supposed that this gesture will be seen as a triumph for Abbas and his Fatah Party. But since it is highly unlikely that Abbas would use this advantage to justify genuine progress toward peace, the utility of such tactical moves is limited.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tzipi Livni's political strategy by Caroline Glick

Livni promised that she will never quit politics again. Let’s hope her word on that score is as solid as her national security credentials.

Caroline Glick..
28 October '13..

For Justice Minister Tzipi Livi, all politics are personal.

She can be trusted, because she is good. Her opponents must be rejected, because they are evil.

In her speech at The Jerusalem Post’s Diplomatic Conference in Herzliya last Thursday, Livni insisted that the only “legitimate” basis for opposing a Palestinian state is ideological. Livni stridently rejected the notion that one can oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state – in the two-state solution framework – for security reasons.

As she sees it, everyone cares equally about security. And since she cares about security just as much as her political opponents do, the question of whose policy will better protect the country is illegitimate.

She’s nice. She cares. So she’s just as competent as the next guy.

There’s just one problem with Livni’s claim.

She has a track record.

ISRAEL ENACTED two major strategic initiatives that have her signature on them: the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, and UN Security Council Resolution 1701 from 2006 that set the terms for the end of the Second Lebanon War.

Both were massive failures. Both caused Israel’s national security to deteriorate. And in both cases, Livni’s political opponents warned that her strategies were wrong-headed, dangerous and unhinged from strategic realities.

Can we imagine if Israeli TV referred to Palestinian Muslims as “evil”, “barbaric” animals?

...The disparity in moral accountability, in which Muslims in the region are routinely denied moral agency, by journalists covering the Middle East not only suggests a troubling degree of liberal racism, but also serves to egregiously distort the West’s understanding of the conflict.

Adam Levick..
CiF Watch..
29 October '13..

Just for a moment, imagine if the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) aired a show with the following exchange between a young Jewish Israeli girl and a reporter:

Israeli TV reporter: “Let’s meet this girl here in the park who wants to recite a short poem.” 
Young Israeli girl: “I do not fear the rifle because Muslim throngs are in delusion and ignorant herds.Jerusalem is my land, Jerusalem is my honorOh, you Muslims who murdered pious JewsOh, you Muslims who were brought up on spilling bloodYou Muslims have been condemned to humiliation and hardship.Oh Sons of Allah, oh most evil among creationsOh barbaric monkeys, wretched pigsJerusalem vomits from within it your Muslim impurityAnd Jerusalem, you Muslims who are filth, is clean and pure.I do not fear your barbarity.

Do we really even have to wonder what kind of reaction with ensue if it this fictional account was real? Such an ugly expression of hate towards Muslims would be justly criticized as state sanctioned racism – and an act of incitement against Palestinians - in newspaper editorials in Jerusalem, London and New York.

Well, here is real clip from a program on Palestinian Authority TV (mirroring the faux exchange above) which was broadcast on July 3, 2013, and which hasn’t been covered by the Guardian or other liberal broadsheets:

Of course, that highly disturbing exchange represents Just one example of state sanctioned antisemitism out of literally hundreds available at the site of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).


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If American "espionage among friends" is legitimate, when is Pollard coming home?

...Adviser Lisa Monaco promises the democratic world that the U.S. is "collecting information because we need it and not just because we can."...Jonathan Pollard, who, not because he could but because he thought he needed to, relayed information to a very close ally of the U.S. while he was working for Navy Intelligence. This information served Israel in preparing, among other things, for attacks by Arab nations with weapons of mass destruction, in operations like the bombing of the PLO headquarters in Tunisia on Oct. 1, 1985, or in responding to a string of terror attacks.

Smadar Bat Adam..
Israel Hayom..
29 October '13..

When reports surfaced suggesting that the U.S. was eavesdropping on dozens of Western leaders, among them the leaders of its closest allies, sending shockwaves through the West, and a U.S. State Department spokeswoman responded by saying they would look into the reports from the perspective of "our friends and partners around the world," I was reminded of another convoluted remark made by an American figure: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." That is what then-President Bill Clinton said back in 1998. I was reminded of that instance because of the Americans' unique way of presenting things they have done that are forbidden or immoral.

Now the U.S.'s friends are angry. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reprimanded U.S. President Barack Obama and told him that the trust between their two countries has been severely compromised. Obama claims he was not aware of the National Security Agency's eavesdropping, even though he directly oversees that office. When it emerges that he was actually notified as early as 2010, he will have to call Merkel again and say, "Whoops, sorry, I wasn't aware that I was aware."

French President Francois Hollande is also unhappy. He is inviting additional European countries to join a no-spying agreement France and Germany seek to impose on the Americans.

In short, the U.S. messed up.

It is with all that in mind that every word uttered by U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki should be analyzed. Pay close attention when she says the U.S. "will continue to gather the information necessary to protect the American people and their allies." The Americans are doing damage control. Or when Obama orders a re-examination of the country's surveillance program, and his Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco promises the democratic world that the U.S. is "collecting information because we need it and not just because we can."

The PA's "Diplomatic Intifada" Against Israel

...With such an intifada raging against Israel, it is hard to see how the peace talks could ever result in an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. Abbas obviously does not believe that the talks will produce an agreement. That is why his strategy these days is, with the help of the international community, to try to impose a solution on Israel.

Khaled Abu Toameh..
Gatestone Institute..
29 October '13..

As the US-sponsored peace talks continue, the Palestinian Authority has launched a worldwide campaign to promote sanctions against settlements in the West Bank and Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.

The latest campaign is mainly aimed at persuading the European Union [EU] to activate its new "guidelines" that call for imposing sanctions on any Israeli institution or organization that operates over the pre-1967 lines, namely east Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights. The EU regulations are expected to go into effect on the first of January, 2014.

But the Palestinian Authority fears that the EU, under pressure from the Americans, may delay imposing the restrictions out of fear that the move could harm the peace talks. That is why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week visited a number of EU countries in a bid to convince their leaders not to delay implementation of their anti-settlement "guidelines."

During a press conference in Brussels with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, Abbas called on international firms that do business with settlements to stop "violating international law."

Abbas's EU tour coincided with reports that the Palestinian Authority leadership has prepared a "blacklist" of 500 international companies that have business ties with settlements. The Palestinian Authority is threatening to take legal action against these companies.

So while the Palestinian Authority is conducting peace talks with Israel, its leaders are busy waging a fierce campaign in the international arena against settlements .

Yet what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not telling the European leaders is that he himself agreed three months ago to drop his demand for a full cessation of settlement construction as a precondition for returning to the negotiating table. For four years, Abbas refused to resume peace talks with Israel unless the Israeli government agreed to a full cessation of settlement construction. He eventually abandoned this demand after coming under heavy pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

An Autocratic Islamist Bigot - Turkey's Erdogan

...Thus, even if the US clings to the fantasy that Turkey represents a moderate, democratically influenced form of Islam, we should not delude ourselves. Erdogan is running an anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli regime that supports Hamas and the Moslem Brotherhood. As long as he remains in power, Israel-Turkish relations will remain cold at best.

Isi Leibler..
Candidly Speaking From Jerusalem..
29 October '13..

After over 50 years of Israeli-Turkish intelligence co-operation and sharing, the Turkish disclosure to Iran of the identities of Mossad operatives – apparently subsequently executed, illustrates the depths to which Israel-Turkey relations have descended under Islamist autocrat, Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan.

Erdogan seeks to conceal his true intentions and convey the illusion that he is himself a role model for an enlightened Islam which blends with democracy.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Erdogan is a fanatical Islamist and a vile bigot who lavishes praise on the Moslem Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah and whose behavior is more reminiscent of an Ottoman Sultan than a democratically elected leader.

Erdogan has employed Islamist demagoguery to win three elections and has exploited his power and position to intimidate the media and destroy the opposition. He has purged the Army of its secular officers through primitive show trials and brutally repressed freedom of speech. Today, there are more imprisoned journalists in Turkey than in Communist China and perhaps any other country in the world.

Erdogan’s brutal response to environmentalist protesters against the redeveloping of Gezi Park in central Istanbul a few months ago, injuring over 4000 peaceful demonstrators, exemplified his authoritarianism and brutality. Der Spiegel quotes Turkish human rights organizations attesting that he subsequently engaged in a campaign to punish journalists, teachers and other activists involved in the protests, arresting at least 3000 people including children.

Since his demagogic outburst against President Peres in Davos live on TV in January 2009, followed by his dramatic storming out of the meeting, Erdogan’s attitude towards Israel has dramatically deteriorated. He shamelessly allies himself with the genocidal Hamas and refers to Israel as a “terrorist state” which “massacres children” and “knows well how to kill”. Only a few weeks ago, Erdogan hosted Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Turkey for the third time in twelve months.

Clearly, he reached the conclusion that as a major Israel global basher he reaps dividends amongst the Arab masses and furthers his dream of becoming head of a new Ottoman Sunni empire.

Erdogan’s anti-Zionism is a natural extension of his anti-Semitism. As far back as 1974, he directed and played a leading role in a play entitled Maskomya, based on the evil global influence of Jews, Communists and Freemasons. As Mayor of Istanbul in 1998, he stated “Today the image of the Jews is no different from that of the Nazis”. In 2006 he endorsed the popular virulent anti-Semitic film “Valley of the Wolves” about an American Jew who trades in body parts. He blamed the Gezi Park environmental protest on the “interest rate lobby”, the “dual loyalists” and the “rootless cosmopolitans”, clear references to “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. His deputy explicitly attributed the blame for the riots on the Jewish diaspora.

Questions for the State Department, a moment before more terrorist beasts are freed

...A last thought. When those first 26 unrepentant terrorists walked free, they were brought straight into a series of official Mahmoud Abbas-hosted PA public receptions where they were despicably feted as heroes, just as we feared and predicted. Has Abbas, Israel's "peace partner", been instructed by the Americans to avoid such obscene celebrations this time? If not, why not?

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
28 October '13..

A week ago, we wrote here (see "21-Oct-13: Incredibly, maddeningly, convicted terrorists are about to be freed again") about some life-and-death themes that we said we are not afraid to harp on.

We're harping on them again now.

The brief verbatim extract in the following paragraph comes from a media briefing [full official transcript and a video are linked here] that took place at the State Department in Washington on August 14, 2013. Unless someone can prove differently, we say it's an accurate snapshot of how the Obama administration looks at the killers and other convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists about to be launched back out onto the streets.

Persistent reporter: ...Most of these people have been convicted of murder, of killing people. And the Israelis are very clear on the fact that they think that these people are terrorists, even though they’re releasing them. The Palestinians say that they are political prisoners and... have instructed their ambassadors, all their representatives around the world to refer to them as freedom fighters, political prisoners. And I want to know, if you don’t have a position... if there isn’t anything that you call them, do you object to the Palestinians referring to them as freedom fighters?

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf: The answer is, I don’t know and I will endeavor to get an answer for you on that as well.

It's bad that Ms Harf and the State Department are not sure whether the convicted killers of Israelis, men who have been in prison for years, are freedom fighters and/or political prisoners, or whether they are terrorists. It's worse that, as far as we can tell, they have not figured it out in the past three months.


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Monday, October 28, 2013

Free construction, not terrorists by Nadav Shragai

The fact that we prop building in the land of Israel and Jerusalem on the crooked foundation of freeing murderous terrorists who could turn around and kill us is a moral distortion, a crooked formula. We could argue about trading captives for terrorists. But to talk about deals or understandings, even informal ones, where we "free construction" for releasing murderous terrorists?

Nadav Shragai..
Israel Hayom..
28 October '13..

The news about renewed building in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem is good news. The news about the next wave of releasing wretched murderers is not. The link that was created between the two is problematic, to say the least -- a depressive flaw in values. Have we reached a new era where we trade one terrorist for one apartment? Fifty terrorists for a whole neighborhood?

It is forbidden to free murderous terrorists. Period. They relapse, returning to kill us, sowing the seeds of slaughter in our streets. That's how it was, how it is, and, unfortunately, how it appears it will always be. This was proven in the recent and distant past. Once bitten, twice shy. It's unclear why we haven't learned our lesson. These are facts. We are not lacking examples. There's no point repeating the very same mistakes. The current releases are even more intolerable because they are happening after the recent string of terrorist attacks. A release such as this, specifically after a wave of terror, adds fuel to the fire of terrorism, increasingly propping it up, torpedoing peace efforts and the diplomatic process rather than bringing peace closer. The fact that the very purpose of this round of releases is simply to keep the Palestinians in the room with us, to be so kind as to continue the conversation, adds insult to injury.

The second issue here is not related to the first, and it is forbidden to connect the two. We must continue to build in Jerusalem and Zion, because settlement and developing the land are the lifeblood of Zionism, the cornerstone and very foundations. The link between releasing terrorists and building in the land of Israel is like mixing the impure with that which is holy. The Zionist narrative has known its fair share of settlement activities born in peril, terrorist attacks and war. The map of Israel is covered with hundreds of towns and neighborhoods established as monuments to civilians, soldiers and heroes who fell in war and terror. We found comfort after mourning building settlement after settlement. We saw how the Zionist reaction was appropriate, leaving one eye crying while the other laughed. As it says in the book of Jeremiah, even at "the time of Jacob’s trouble," facing his obstacle, "he will be saved" (Jeremiah 30:7). Our consolation is developing the land.

A Real Class Act - NY Times Likens Orthodox Jews to the Devil

...It's one thing to disagree with the political influence of the ultra-Orthodox. But it's beyond the pale to call ultra-Orthodox Jews "forces of darkness."

Leo Rennert..
American Thinker..
28 October '13..

In its Sunday, Oct. 27, edition, the Times runs an opinion piece by Shmuel Rosner about political battles in Israel over daylight saving time. Secular Israelis favor a lengthier DST period. Ultra-religious Jews favor a shorter DST period that ends before Yom Kippur. Otherwise, it means an extra hour of fasting ("Israel Duel on the Sun" page 11, Sunday Review)

So far, so good, although Rosner makes clear which side he favors -- the secular one obviously. But it's an opinion piece; so he's entitled to his opinion.

What he's not entitled to but what evidently reflects a deep-seated bias of Times editors is the last paragraph of his piece that celebrates the current extension of DST beyond Yom Kippur -- a victory for the secular side.

Fresh reminders of what to expect from the release of convicted killers of Israelis

...Alternatively, one can look on with deepening sorrow and observe that our side is providing incomprehensible encouragement to the killers of women and children in the name of a disgraceful kind of political expediency.

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
28 October '13..

The news here, Monday morning, is dominated by analysis of Israel's decision to release another 26 Palestinian Arab convicts into the hands of the PA in Ramallah and (in the case of at least five of them) the Hamas regime in Gaza. The names on the latest walk-free list were published in the early hours of this morning. We plan to write later about some of the men and what they did to the lives of their victims.

Meanwhile there is more recent news, and in Israeli minds it's hardly unconnected. (Forget about international reaction; as of this hour, there is a barely a mention of the following in any non-Israeli news channel.)

During the early hours of Monday morning, an as-yet-unspecified number of terrorist rockets were fired into the Hof Ashkelon region of southern Israel as well as in the precincts of the city of Ashkelon. Terrorist rockets are the sort that are fired by men with no particular objective or discernment other than to have them crash as close to where ordinary civilians on the other side of the fence live and - given the hour - sleep, and to do the greatest possible amount of damage. There is rarely a strategic objective to such attacks beyond trying to kill and maim as many of the hated enemy's people as possible.


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Is it still possible to relate to the danger with a modicum of seriousness?

The next round of talks with Iran on November 7-8 should help clarify whether the U.S. and its European allies are capable, even at this late date, of relating to the danger with a modicum of seriousness. Israel, for its part, should be thinking about forestalling the nuclear nightmare without even an amber light from Washington.

P. David Hornik..
25 October '13..

AP reported this week (last Wednesday) that Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi “predicted…the nuclear talks could take as long as a year…with the first milestone coming in three to six months and negotiations concluding within the year.”

That “prediction” should come as no surprise. The same report says “significant gaps remain between what the Iranians offered” in last week’s first round of talks and what the P5+1 countries are seeking “to reduce fears Iran wants to build nuclear weapons.”

In other words, Iran’s strategy is to make an offer it knows even its eagerly “peace”-seeking interlocutors are quite capable of refusing—and then take lots of time seemingly whittling down that offer toward something more acceptable. Meanwhile Israel—if this goes according to plan—gets diplomatically closed out of taking military action and incurring universal wrath by wrecking “peace” and “progress.”

Also this week The New Republic posted a long interview with Amos Yadlin, Israel’s previous chief of military intelligence and current head of its leading security think tank.

Interviewer Ben Birnbaum notes that in September 2012, when many thought an Israeli strike on Iran was imminent, Yadlin told an Israeli journalist: “They say that time has almost run out, but I say there is still time. The decisive year is not 2012 but 2013. Maybe even early 2014.”

That is, a direct clash with Araghchi’s assessment of another leisurely year for talks.

Now official: 26 more convicted killers to be handed over to PA and Hamas

...If you're in Israel, and you are as angry and outraged as we are by the reality of this government decision, and the manner in which it was adopted, please consider joining us on Monday evening at a major mass protest event to be held outside the Ofer Prison on Jerusalem's northern edge. Ofer is where the Palestinian Arab prisoners are being assembled in the next 24-36 hours, prior to being released.

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
28 October '13..

The Prime Minister's Media Adviser issued a statement a few hours ago saying that the government had tonight approved the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners from prison, "pursuant to the Government's 28 July 2013 decision to resume the diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority".

Their names (and those of whom they murdered. Y.) are now published on the Israel Prisons Service website.

The prime minister, according to the Jerusalem Post, told ministers from his Likud party that when it comes to this issue, "promises must be kept".

He refrained however from making any comment to them about how a politician (Binyamin Netanyahu) can have made public statements in books and political speeches in which he boldly outlined a no-holds barred strategy of firmly resisting pressure to give in to the demands of terrorists, and then done precisely what he and his books warned against doing.

If Binyamin Netanyahu is embarrassed by the duplicity of his political turn-around, he and his staff are doing a first-rate job of concealing it.

We asked here in July why an extraordinary decision to free unrepentant killers, one that brutally overturns basic notions of justice, has met with such thundering silence. The answer cannot be that there is no other way. We are certain there is another way, and we have strong support from the acknowledged leading thinker in the field of how to deal with the terrorists.


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Painfully obvious there is nothing to talk about

But the Palestinians are still stuck on what is, in essence, among the first principles of any peace deal: recognizing the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. Part and parcel of that would mean discarding the right of return.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
27 October '13..

The silence couldn’t last forever. The one thing that was conspicuously successful about the peace negotiations initiated by Secretary of State John Kerry was the way the Israelis and the Palestinians managed to keep their mouths shut about what’s been discussed since they agreed to start meeting again in July. While some reports have surfaced indicating that there has been no progress, today’s scoop by Israel’s Channel 2 gives us a lot more insight as to where the parties stand. And what we’ve learned makes it obvious that the meetings are every bit the fool’s errand that most observers thought they would be all along. According to the Israeli TV station, a “disgruntled Palestinian official” has leaked the Palestinian proposals offered for peace. As the Times of Israel reports:

According to the report, the Palestinians are also insisting that they gain control over water, and control at their sides of the Dead Sea and border crossings; that a Palestinian state be able to sign agreements with other states without Israeli intervention; that Israel release all Palestinian prisoners it holds; and that all Palestinian refugees and their descendants be granted the right to choose to live in Israel or the Palestinian territories as part of a final agreement.

Let’s digest that for a minute. Not only did the Palestinians arrive at the peace table not prepared to compromise on their ability to militarize their putative state or join in offensive alliances against the smaller and more vulnerable Israel that would result from a peace treaty authorizing the birth of “Palestine.” They are also insisting that the millions of descendants of the Arab refugees of the 1948 War of Independence be allowed to “return” to Israel and effectively end the existence of the Jewish state. If that’s peace, what’s their idea of war?

Ignoring reality, investing in terror, not peace

...The Palestinian ideology has formulated the concept of Nakba, catastrophe, resulting from the Arab defeat in their war against Israel in 1948-49. Left unsaid is the crucial reality that it was Arab armies that had invaded Israel on its creation and caused the catastrophe. The Palestinian state, because of Arab refusal, never came into existence 66 years ago, as proposed by the UNGA resolution of November 1947, but the refugee problem did.

Michael Curtis..
American Thinker..
27 October '13..

Among ideology, a fundamental belief system, and recognition of reality, there has always been a huge intellectual gap. History is full of instances when all too many people have refused to recognize the disastrous consequences of adhering to an ideology, usually based on myth, regardless of a reality that contradicts their firm beliefs. The key problem is that individuals espousing some ideological point of view may have invested so much emotional attachment to it that they not only abandon objectivity, but also are incapable of renouncing a viewpoint, a myth, or a false political religion that has been discredited or may be irrelevant. They do not want to disavow the part of themselves that has accepted falsity.

This is now true of the ideological believers in the Palestinian narrative of victimhood. Almost everyone recognizes the mistakes of "true believers" in refusing to admit the horrors of the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union and the Mao Zedong years in China. Supporters of and apologists for those regimes persisted in ignoring the reality that they were totalitarian, savagely cruel, responsible for systematic terror, and engaged in the slaughter of tens of millions of their innocent citizens held to be enemies.

Adherence to the ideology of Communism meant both condoning the horrors and cruelty as inevitable and refusing to accept any possible compromise or qualification of that ideology. Nor could adherents accept that this ideological view, though partly rational, was largely a myth, albeit one capable of mobilizing people.

Today, that mixture of reason and myth is present in a Palestinian ideology of victimhood, an ideology that seeks to mobilize political support by insistence that Palestinians are being persecuted by Israel, a state that must be rejected. Supporters of the Palestinian cause can argue as part of that ideology for Israeli withdrawal from disputed or occupied territory captured in 1967, for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and for a solution to the Palestinian refugee question by a Palestinian right of return.

But the ideology departs from objectivity in referring to Israel as a colonial power from which Palestinians must be liberated. That power is said to oppress Palestinians and to engage in terror against them. The reality is that it is Palestinian terrorism that has accounted for the murder of more than 1,500 Israelis over the last twenty years.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pressuring Israel to endure discrimination at UN Human Rights Council

Israel does not owe the United States and Europe a green light to hang a “no Jewish state allowed” shingle outside of their UN meetings, let alone validate the suggestion that it is Israel threatening the integrity of this “human rights” process.

Anne Bayefsky..
Op-Ed Contributors/JPost..
27 October '13..

The United Nations is gearing up for yet another attack upon Israel – even more outrageous on this occasion because it has been arranged in the name of equality. The so-called “Universal Periodic Review” (UPR), will take place in Geneva on October 29, 2013, under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council. The label is intended to evoke the equal treatment of all UN member states, notwithstanding the actual treatment of the UN’s favorite whipping boy.

The UPR was concocted after the credibility of the Council’s predecessor – the UN Human Rights Commission – finally took a fatal hit. On March 15, 2006, with the United States and Israel voting against, the General Assembly pushed the Commission out one door and dragged the Council in through another. The “reform” of the UN’s top human rights body was fundamentally flawed, however, since American efforts to condition membership on some degree of actually protecting human rights, were totally rejected.

The UPR has been called the Council's most important innovation. Then President of the General Assembly, Swede Jan Eliasson, said of the UPR just before the vote: “Such a mechanism would ensure equal treatment with respect to all Member States and would prevent double standards and selectivity.” The European Union was also enthusiastic, claiming the Council was a glorious “opportunity to build new trust by addressing human rights in a spirit of honesty, equal treatment and the avoidance of double standards.”

The assurances were untrue.

From the start, Council members included states like China, Russia, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. Less than half of current members are even free democracies, according to Freedom House. The Islamic bloc of states has continually held the balance of power by controlling the groups that have the majority of seats.

The Council soon adopted a short permanent agenda that governs every regular session. It contains one item for censuring Israel alone, and one general item for all other 192 UN countries combined. Thirty-five per cent of all the resolutions the Council has passed that are critical of specific states have been directed at Israel – compared to nothing on states like Russia, China, or Saudi Arabia.

The Council sponsored the poisonous Goldstone report (subsequently recanted by its lead author) which alleged Israel’s response to eight years of rocket fire from Gaza wasn’t legitimate self-defense, but an effort to deliberately target Palestinian civilians. The Council has chosen 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Boston marathon-bomber apologist, Richard Falk, to be the chief “expert” on Israel’s alleged human rights violations for the past six years.

One more institutional bias at the Council is the handiwork of European and other Western governments. UN members are organized, off-camera, into five regional groups where they share information, negotiate, and distribute important jobs and resources. At the Council these bodies meet regularly prior to public sessions – but the only one of 193 UN members not admitted to any of them is Israel.

This exclusion is an obvious violation of the UN Charter’s promise of equality for “all nations large and small.” Nevertheless, the geographically disparate “Western European and Others Group” (WEOG) refuses to admit Israel. The primary holdout at the moment is reported to be Turkey.

In short, UN Human Rights Council discrimination and double-standards against Israel are ubiquitous.

Why does the timing not surprise us? Mortar fire from Gaza this afternoon

If you were a middle manager in a Gaza-based terror gang, today would be a happy, happy day for you.

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
27 October '13..

Two mortars from the Gaza Strip crashed into the Eshkol region of Israel's western Negev at about 1:30 p.m. today, Sunday.

The good fortune of them landing in open fields meant, according to a report just now from the Israeli military, that no injuries or property damage are reported. This was of course, of course, not the desired outcome from the standpoint of the hatred-driven terrorists who risked their lives bring the mortars into firing range, preparing and priming them, and firing them off at considerable risk to their lives. They did this, as they have done thousands of times before, in order to kill them some Jews.

It's worth pausing for a moment to note the cynicism of those giving the order to fire, and those blessing the mortar-firing terrorists with prayers for successful kills.


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The United States is Losing the Middle East Coalition by Mordechai Kedar

...With the ruling family in Saudi Arabia enraged toward the United States and the West, and the regime in Egypt furious with the United States and searching for friends in other places, with Turkey behaving as if it is part of the Iranian effort and when so many Israelis have the uncomfortable feeling that the United States and Europe are acting against Israeli interests, it is not clear that the United States and the West has a coalition in the Middle East.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar..
Mordechai Kedar in English..
25 October '13..

Ever since the seventies, the world has become accustomed to the split in the Middle East, between those countries that support the West - Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Israel, and we might add Turkey to this list as well. This coalition was strong mainly because of the dangers posed by those countries that were members of the opposing, Soviet, coalition: Syria, Libya, Iraq and South Yemen. Lebanon was then between the democratic hammer and the Syrian anvil.

Despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of the eighties, there were no big shifts in political orientation, and the countries that were faithful to the Western bloc led by the United States remained faithful to it until recently, mainly because a new hostile bloc was formed, led by Iran and supported by Russia and China. The stronger the Iranian threat became, the more the pro-Western countries depended on America for support.

Lately, however, the pro-Western coalition has begun to crumble, and two key countries - Saudi Arabia and Egypt - are searching for a new political crutch, ever since it became clear to them that the American crutch is nothing but "a broken reed" (Isaiah, 36:6). A few more countries can be added to this list, mainly Turkey and the Gulf Emirates.

Saudi Arabia

In an unprecedented move, the Saudi kingdom has refused to become a member of the most powerful body in the world, the Security Council of the UN, a body authorized to deal with the world's security problems and, with the power of the authority vested in it, can even declare war as a world body on a country that violates its resolutions. The question that immediately arises is: why did Saudi Arabia refuse to become a member of the body that is perhaps the only one capable of dealing with Iran's military nuclear project? Why did Saudi Arabia reject the opportunity to influence events in Syria from within the Security Council? Why doesn't Saudi Arabia take advantage of the most important stage in international policy in order to take action against Israel?

The superficial reason is that which the Saudi foreign office published, expressing an ethical position: the kingdom will not agree to enter the Security Council until the Council undergoes reforms that will enable it to fulfill its role, which is to maintain world peace. The obsolete apparatus, the wasteful practices, and double standards used by the Security Council all prevent it from fulfilling its role. There are many examples of this: the Palestinian problem has not been solved despite it having been created 65 years ago, and despite the fact that the wars stemming from it have threatened the peace of the entire region and the world several times. The Council allows the Syrian dictator continue slaughtering his citizens for almost three years without imposing effective sanctions, and the Council has failed to achieve the goal of turning the Middle East into an area free of weapons of mass destruction because it has not managed to create an effective method of oversight for military nuclear projects.

Despite the fact that the Saudis do not speak specifically about Iran in their official announcement, it is clear that their reference is not to Israel, from whom they fear no danger, but to Iran, whose nuclear plans do keep them awake at night. However, it is specifically the Iranian nuclear issue which should have pushed Saudi Arabia to become a member the Council; membership could have granted them an active role in making decisions against Iran, so why not join?

In part, the reasons relate to the way that the Saudis see the international alignment of countries recently but is also connected to the customary culture of honor in the Middle East, without which it would be impossible to understand the behavior of the Saudis, proud sons of the desert.