Saturday, February 28, 2015

A crisis with US public or actually record high support for Israel?

...The American public's support is increasing also due to the global war on terror, as Israel and the US stand together in the Western civilization's defense, and as Europe is being washed by Islam. The American public is aware of this very special alliance, which is not only built on interests but also on a shared goal to advance democracy and freedom in the world, in the spirit of Israel's prophets. Both Israel and the US are built on this noble purpose, which is exclusively unique to these two countries. The Obama administration may not share this goal, but the Obama administration will come to an end in about a year and a half from now.

Guy Bechor..
Israel Opinion..
26 February '15..

For several weeks now, we have been hearing in the media that Israel's relationship with the United States is ruined. "It's irreversible," one commentator prattled. "America has completely turned its back on us," another commented. "The relations have never been so bad," a third one added, and a fourth one concluded that "it's hopeless and finished."

The perplexed citizen asks himself how is it possible that one speech in the parliament, a place where the entire essence is to listen to speeches, managed to destroy our relationship with our great and historic friend. Can a decades-long alliance be erased in one moment?

Well, nothing of the kind has happened. America is not turning its back on us, and there have already been conflicts in the past, even greater ones, with the American administration on critical issues.

Fortunately, the prestigious Gallup research institute this week published its annual index, which at how the American public perceives Israel. The index has been published regularly for a quarter of a century now, since 1989, and includes a surprise for our commentators: A record high support for Israel. Seventy percent of Americans view Israel favorably.

A look at the Gallup ranking of the Americans' attitude towards Israel over the years points to a rise in this public's support: In 1992, the overall American level of support for Israel was 47%, in 2000 it was 54%, and since then it has continued to climb to its current level. In other words, this is a demonstrated, strong friendship.

The survey was conducted after the alleged clashes with US President Barack Obama and after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intention to address the Congress was already made public. So it seems that the commentators misled the Israeli public into thinking that we are in a crisis with the broad American public.

Is a Certain NATO Member Hosting Hamas Training Camps?

...The idea that Turkey—a NATO member—would allow military training camps on its soil for a group designated by the United States and much the rest of the West as a terrorist organization is not something that can be diplomatically cast aside. Just as states—even allied states—are designated as deficient when it comes to combating human trafficking or money laundering on the logic that they work to rectify their status, so too it is time to designate Turkey a state sponsor of terrorism with whatever sanctions incumbent levied until such a time as Turkey rectifies its behavior.

Michael Rubin..
Commentary Magazine..
27 February '15..

I was on the set of a Turkish news talk show—maybe SkyTürk or CNNTürk—in Istanbul back in 2006 when news broke that the Turkish government would welcome the leader of Hamas in Turkey. Hamas had won Palestinian elections a few weeks previous, but Turkey’s decision to host the unrepentant terrorist group took both Turks and the West by surprise.

After all, in the wake of the Palestinian elections, the European Union, the United States, and other countries had demanded that Hamas first acquiesce to the basis of the Oslo Accords—that is foreswearing terrorism and recognizing Israel—before it would be a welcome player in the international community. This was good diplomacy, after all, because the precondition of the Palestinian Authority’s existence was the Palestinian abandonment of terror and recognition of Israel. It was not an optional aspect to the agreement. Should the Palestinian Authority cease respecting that aspect of the agreement, Israel would be justified legally in returning to the status quo ante.

The reason for the surprise at Turkish actions was that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had personally promised German Chancellor Angela Merkel just days before that Turkey would not invite the Hamas leader. Erdoğan thought he would be too clever by half, however, and explained that the invitation came not at the behest of Turkey but rather by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) which dominated the Turkish government.

Friday, February 27, 2015

In Israel’s hour of need by Caroline Glick

...Netanyahu is not coming to Washington next Tuesday to warn Congress against Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, because he seeks a fight with Obama. Netanyahu has devoted the last six years to avoiding a fight with Obama, often at great cost to Israel’s national security and to his own political position. Netanyahu is coming to Washington next week because Obama has left him no choice. And all decent people of good will should support him, and those who do not, and those who are silent, should be called out for their treachery and cowardice.

Caroline Glick..
27 February '15..

It is hard to get your arms around the stubborn determination of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today. For most of the nine years he has served as Israel’s leader, first from 1996 to 1999 and now since 2009, Netanyahu shied away from confrontations or buckled under pressure. He signed deals with the Palestinians he knew the Palestinians would never uphold in the hopes of winning the support of hostile US administrations and a fair shake from the pathologically hateful Israeli media.

In recent years he released terrorist murderers from prison. He abrogated Jewish property rights in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. He agreed to support the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. He agreed to keep giving the Palestinians of Gaza free electricity while they waged war against Israel. He did all of these things in a bid to accommodate US President Barack Obama and win over the media, while keeping the leftist parties in his coalitions happy.

For his part, for the past six years Obama has undermined Israel’s national security. He has publicly humiliated Netanyahu repeatedly.

He has delegitimized Israel’s very existence, embracing the jihadist lie that Israel’s existence is the product of post-Holocaust European guilt rather than 4,000 years of Jewish history.

He and his representatives have given a backwind to the forces that seek to wage economic warfare against Israel, repeatedly indicating that the application of economic sanctions against Israel – illegal under the World Trade Organization treaties – are a natural response to Israel’s unwillingness to bow to every Palestinian demand. The same goes for the movement to deny the legitimacy of Israel’s very existence. Senior administration officials have threatened that Israel will become illegitimate if it refuses to surrender to Palestinian demands.

Last summer, Obama openly colluded with Hamas’s terrorist war against Israel. He tried to coerce Israel into accepting ceasefire terms that would have amounted to an unconditional surrender to Hamas’s demands for open borders and the free flow of funds to the terrorist group. He enacted a partial arms embargo on Israel in the midst of war. He cut off air traffic to Ben-Gurion International Airport under specious and grossly prejudicial terms in an open act of economic warfare against Israel.

And yet, despite Obama’s scandalous treatment of Israel, Netanyahu has continued to paper over differences in public and thank Obama for the little his has done on Israel’s behalf. He always makes a point of thanking Obama for agreeing to Congress’s demand to continue funding the Iron Dome missile defense system (although Obama has sought repeatedly to slash funding for the project).

Obama’s policies that are hostile to Israel are not limited to his unconditional support for the Palestinians in their campaign against Israel. Obama shocked the entire Israeli defense community when he supported the overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, despite Mubarak’s dependability as a US ally in the war on Islamist terrorism, and as the guardian of both Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel and the safety and freedom of maritime traffic in the Suez Canal.

Obama supported Mubarak’s overthrow despite the fact that the only political force in Egypt capable of replacing him was the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks the destruction of Israel and is the ideological home and spawning ground of jihadist terrorist groups, including al-Qaida and Hamas. Obama then supported the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime even as then-president Mohamed Morsi took concrete steps to transform Egypt into an Islamist, jihadist state and end Egypt’s peace with Israel.

Israelis were united in our opposition to Obama’s behavior. But Netanyahu said nothing publicly in criticism of Obama’s destructive, dangerous policy.

He held his tongue in the hopes of winning Obama over through quiet diplomacy.

He held his tongue, because he believed that the damage Obama was causing Israel was not irreversible in most cases. And it was better to maintain the guise of good relations, in the hopes of actually achieving them, than to expose the fractures in US-Israel ties caused by Obama’s enormous hostility toward Israel and by his strategic myopia that endangered both Israel and the US’s other regional allies.

And yet, today Netanyahu, the serial accommodator, is putting everything on the line. He will not accommodate. He will not be bullied. He will not be threatened, even as all the powers that have grown used to bringing him to his knees – the Obama administration, the American Jewish Left, the Israeli media, and the Labor party grow ever more shrill and threatening in their attacks against him.

Dear Mr. Kerry - Those IR-8 Centrifuges Developed During the JPA - Oops

...And the JPA didn’t even ADDRESS placing any restrictions on Iranian activities to develop, build, test and even deploy missiles that can serve as the delivery systems for nuclear warheads to reach targets around the world. No Mr. Kerry, my prime minister didn't cry wolf on the JPA. You and Mr. Obama’s track record in making accurate assessments with regard to a broad variety of matters in our region, in sharp contrast, has been shockingly poor.

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
IMRA Weekly Commentary..
26 February '15..

Mr. Kerry and others on the Obama team are now pitching the argument that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cried wolf on the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) and thus anything he says now against the pending deal is also crying wolf.

But Netanyahu didn’t cry wolf. He was dead right.

"Iran will also in accordance with the Geneva agreement continue its activities in all nuclear research and development fields."
Ali Akbar Salehi, Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI)
April 10 2014

That’s right. The JPA placed no restrictions on R&D activities. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Under the JPA, Iran could actually build advanced equipment as long as it didn’t install it.

Consider the IR-8 centrifuges.

“…the IR8 is the latest generation of centrifuges whose enrichment power is equal to 24 Separative Work Units (SWU)”[AL: 16 times the current generation IR-1 centrifuge]
Ali Akbar Salehi - Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI)
Fars News - Dec 14, 2014

And here’s how an expert reacted to the news:

Truth Be Told, Was Netanyahu Wrong if European Jews Must Live in Fear?

...European Jews may still prefer to think of themselves as safe, free, and prosperous and the political leaders of their countries may often say the right thing about anti-Semitism. But if Jews can no longer walk the streets of Europe’s capitals while identifying themselves with their faith or fear to speak out in defense of Israel lest they face opprobrium, then they cannot pretend to be truly free. The choice whether to stay or to go is personal, and it is difficult for anyone to pick up and leave their homes even under duress. But, as it did throughout the 20th century, history continues to vindicate the cause of Zionism. The Jews of Europe cannot pretend to be secure or to be confident that worse is not in store for them. Netanyahu was right to speak up about them having a haven where they will be able to defend themselves. Those inclined to denigrate his remarks should stroll about Europe’s streets while identifying themselves as Jews before they speak.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
27 February '15..

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu took a pasting from pundits and even some Jewish leaders when he reacted to the attack on Copenhagen synagogue by repeating his call for European Jews to “come home” to Israel. Many people were uncomfortable with the prime minister’s open advocacy for Zionism. But the problem goes deeper than that. Despite the recent violence against Jews in Paris and Copenhagen, denial about what even the U.S. State Department has termed a “rising tide” of anti-Semitism still exists. But yesterday’s comments by a German Jewish leader advising fellow Jews not to identify themselves by wearing yarmulkes while walking in certain sections of the country is yet more confirmation that what Europe is experiencing is a revival of Jew hatred that can’t be ignored. If Jews must live in fear even in a country that supposedly has learned the lessons of the Holocaust, then what hope is there for Jews on the Continent other than to seek protection elsewhere.

A new Pew Research Center study shows that Jews were harassed or oppressed by their governments in 77 of the 198 countries covered by the survey. That includes a frightening total of 34 out of 45 countries in Europe. Yet the problem with accepting the reality of European anti-Semitism arises from a reluctance to place the blame for this prejudice on the haters rather than the victims.

One example came this week from “Science Guy” Bill Nye, the popular science educator and television star. On Bill Maher’s HBO show Real Time, Nye said that the problems of European Jews stem from their reluctance to make friends with those who hated them. Attacking Netanyahu’s Zionist stand, Nye said the answer was that Jews should do more “to get to know their neighbors,” as if the roots of centuries of European anti-Semitism was the unwillingness of the victims to undertake outreach to anti-Semites.

That was offensive enough, but an even better example of the mentality that tolerates this new wave of anti-Semitism came from a British Jew. Harry Potter Actress Miriam Margolyes told the Guardian, “I don’t think people like Jews” but blamed the current outbreak on Israel since it gave Britons an excuse to vent their true feelings because of anger about the Gaza war. Like most British artists Margolyes blamed Israel for defending itself against Hamas terrorism and said the backlash against Jews was therefore somehow understandable, if deplorable. Her stance was both uninformed and illogical but it reflects the attitudes of English and other European elites who have, in a strange confluence of opinion, come to share the prejudices of Muslim immigrants who have helped revive traditional Jew hatred on the continent.

Addressing the Struggle over the Iranian Nuclear Program

...Is the prime minister acting correctly? Having been closely involved in the campaign against the Iranian nuclear program from the beginning, I believe that the advantages of this course of action outweigh its disadvantages, although these should not be belittled. Certainly the coarse intervention in the decision-making processes of Congress represents a last resort, one which Israel has refrained from using throughout the discussions up to this point, partly in response to requests to do so from the administration, and partly in recognition of the damage it might cause. But in light of the seriousness and urgency of the threat, it would seem that the use of irregular means is justified. There is not likely to be a second chance to get things right, and the situation is similar to the question of whether to resort to “special means” (i.e., a nuclear strike) on the eve of the Yom Kippur War.

Yossi Kuperwasser..
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 289..
26 February '15..


It is incumbent on Israel to use all the diplomatic and political tools at its disposal to halt the signing of an accord with Iran that leaves Teheran with the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

We are currently at a decisive stage in the struggle over the fate of the Iranian nuclear program, with the center of attention being the negotiations over the future of the plan between the great powers, with the United States at the forefront, and Iran. The question currently being aired is whether Iran will be willing to accept a watered-down list of restrictions on its nuclear activity, in return for the incremental lifting of a range of sanctions currently in place against it.

At the heart of this question is the width of the proposed Iranian nuclear threshold, that is: Under the terms of the proposed agreement, how many months will it take for Iran to acquire sufficient quantities of weapons-grade enriched uranium for an initial nuclear explosive device, and then to weaponize it, should it choose to do so? Such a step would of course be in breach of Iran’s declarations and commitments, but these are in any case widely considered to be entirely unreliable and inconsequential.

A large number of parameters will determine the answer to this question, among them: the number of centrifuges that Iran will be able to maintain, their type, the connections between them and how they are operated; the level of enrichment to be allowed; the quantity of enriched material that Iran will possess at any given time, and what will be done with any enriched material beyond the permitted amount; the kinds of research and development to be conducted on uranium enrichment; the future of the secret Iranian facilities, in particular the underground enrichment facility at Qom; what will be done with the decommissioned centrifuges, and with the physical infrastructure on which they are constructed; the future of the components of the plutogenic track, in particular the reactor at Arak; how Iran is to report its past nuclear activity, with an emphasis on the possible military dimensions of this activity (PMDs); which limitations will be placed on Iran in terms of developing ballistic missiles; the length of time that the agreement will be valid, in terms of the restrictions it places on Iran; the mechanisms for inspection and supervision of the agreement’s implementation; the restrictions to be placed on Iran’s nuclear cooperation with other countries; and how the sanctions are to be lifted.

The way in which the parties involved relate to these parameters reflects both their own policies, and the way in which they understand the policies of the other parties to the process. I will describe the policies of the main parties below, foremost among them being the United States and Israel, and accordingly their attitudes toward the parameters underlying the debate. But first it is worth examining the framework within which the discussion of this important issue is being conducted. This framework comprises the current status of the Iranian nuclear program, and the history of the struggle over its future; the current status of the international and regional systems; and the worldviews of the relevant leaders who hold decision-making roles regarding the future of the program.

The current status of the Iranian nuclear program is the result of 27 years of Iranian investment on the one hand, and, on the other, efforts to halt it, mainly by Israel. There was a brief period between 2003 and 2005 when European pressure, backed by a US military threat, resulted in Iran first accelerating its program, and then agreeing to slow it down; and also a three-year period from 2012 onwards, of more serious international involvement in attempting to slow the pace of the program. Although this latter involvement was largely a case of too little, too late, it has led to the current situation in which the program is being examined.

The glass-half-full for Iran is that, over these decades, its scientists have successfully overcome a raft of technical hurdles, often with the help of foreign experts, and have accumulated essential knowledge in missile technology and nuclear enrichment, as well as apparently acquiring a significant proportion of the technologies necessary for creating a warhead and fitting it to the Shahab 3 missile. Throughout this period, Iran’s leaders have acted to take advantage of Western laxity and to create a previously unthinkable reality in which the international community, and in particular the United States, is prepared to accept the existence of an active Iranian nuclear program, one that supports a leap to nuclear weaponization, and thus in effect to accept – and even grant formal legitimacy to – the reality of Iran as a nuclear threshold state.

In the “Joint Program of Action” (JPOA) from November 2013, agreement was reached on the principle that a final agreement about the Iranian nuclear program would allow it to enrich uranium in line with its practical civilian needs, despite the fact that it is clear that there is no such civilian need; and the Iranians would be allowed to continue part of their R&D activities in enrichment and to operate the Qom facility; while at the same time no agreement was reached regarding Iran’s ballistic missile array. All of the above stands in complete opposition to the decisions of the UN Security Council, which are still in force.

Thus Iran: continues to develop its arsenal of missiles; avoids providing information about its weapons activity and achievements; continues to enrich uranium using around 9,000 centrifuges of a relatively low-yield model, including at the Qom facility; maintains around 10,000 additional centrifuges that have been installed but are not yet active, most of them of the same type, but some more advanced; continues to develop different types of more advanced centrifuges, which it will be able to make operational should it need to do so; and continues to hold some 7.5 tons of enriched uranium to a level of 3.5% (which represents around half the investment in enrichment required for military-grade material). Once brought up to a 90% enrichment level, this would be sufficient fissionable material to make four or five atomic bombs.

Indeed, two years ago the situation was even more serious in certain respects. At that time Iran had accumulated close to 200 kg of enriched uranium at a level of 20% (representing around 75% of the effort required to achieve military quality), but its activity was then considered illegal, whereas now it is carried out with the agreement of the international community. The practical upshot of this situation is that Iran is today only several months away from producing sufficient fissionable material for the creation of its first nuclear warhead device, and maintains the capabilities required to develop nuclear weapons.

The glass-half-empty for Iran is that it suffers, although increasingly less so, from the effects of the economic sanctions placed upon it by the West.

It is possible to say that the fact that Iran has not yet developed nuclear weapons, in spite of the 27 years in which it has been trying to do so, is due in no small part to Israel’s efforts, which will be discussed in more detail below. Thus the claims made that Iran’s success in proceeding towards the attainment of nuclear weapons represent an Israeli failure, are themselves worthy of ridicule. Without Israel’s actions, Iran would have obtained nuclear weapons several years ago, and moreover, it is thanks to Israel’s actions that Iran is unlikely to obtain nuclear weapons for many years to come, even if an agreement is reached that does not meet Israeli expectations.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Oh, to be Abdullah! by Sarah Honig

...Ashton, Obama, Earnest and Psaki prefer that Jewish victims be swept into the dust bin of history. In contrast, the world saw the king from Amman suffer a single loss and enthusiastically affirmed his right to retaliate. Oh, to be Abdullah!

King Abdullah in combat mode: The
buzz was that Clint Eastwood’s royal
torchbearer would himself participate
in airstrikes [Royal Hashemite Court]
Sarah Honig..
Another Tack..
26 February '15..

Jordan’s King Abdullah may be barely hanging in there – thanks mostly to Israel’s tacit support – but there are times when we Israelis must envy him. His PR is peerless. We see him posing in camouflage combat gear and the entire civilized world can’t applaud the macho-man loudly enough.

In a photo circulated by his palace, Abdullah strikes a daunting figure – the great hope of the world’s democracies. Their hype/hope is that Abdullah will fight their fight against Islamic State (ISIS a.k.a. ISIL). To boot, Abdullah is a Muslim which is awfully handy for the spin that IS barbarities shouldn’t color our attitudes toward Islam.

But Muslims have always been fighting Muslims in numerous internecine wars between rival factions of Islam. Abdullah, moreover, isn’t the only Muslim headliner who today wages war – such as it is – on IS. Damascus despot Bashar Assad does the same.

Assad’s anti-IS tactics have included gassing thousands of his own compatriots. Does that make him a good-guy? Do Assad’s Hezbollah foot-soldiers also deserve rehabilitation because they form the actual backbone of the anti-IS campaign? Does Iran, Assad’s and Hezbollah’s senior patron, get into our good-Muslim list because it too is so incontrovertibly against IS?

The Middle East confounds our predilection to regard our enemy’s enemy as a friend.

Such configurations never work in the mutually destructive Muslim sphere. Most of the combatants on the many battlefields all around us are intrinsically the worst of the world’s bad-guys. When the bad-guys fire at worse-guys, their Muslim devotions – each in his doctrinaire manner – don’t prove Islamic goodwill. They establish nothing about who purportedly perverts Islam’s message and who doesn’t.

None of the warriors on Iraq’s, Syria’s, Libya’s or Yemen’s killing fields do. They all shed blood without compunction. They all are Muslim to the core and the Islamic realm was always violent.

But back to Abdullah, this half-British scion of the Arabian Peninsula’s Hejazi lineage might not win popularity contests in the Mideast but the West positively adores him.

No sooner was caged Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kassasbeh burned to death publicly by IS, than Abdullah vowed retribution. Members of the US House Armed Services Committee attest that immediately upon having heard of his pilot’s horrific execution, Abdullah (then the Committee’s guest in Washington) quoted Clint Eastwood’s character Bill Munny in the 1992 movie Unforgiven:

“Any man I see out there, I’m gonna kill him. Any son of a bitch takes a shot at me, I’m not only going to kill him, I’m going to kill his wife and all his friends and burn his damn house down.”

Imagine if Binyamin Netanyahu swaggered thus. Indignant condemnation of Bibi’s fascist pose would have dizzyingly whirled around the planet and picked up more vehemence with each furious rotation. But what’s unthinkable for some is only to be exhorted in others.

Abdullah avenged al-Kassasbeh by promptly hanging two convicted terrorists and the enlightened ones everywhere extolled his true grit and dogged determination. Liberal Israel doesn’t execute even the most heinous of terrorists but is mercilessly trashed by the same enlightened ones. Murderers like Marwan Barghouti, convicted by Israel’s super-liberal courts, are depicted as prisoners of conscience and Netanyahu is pressured excruciatingly to let more convicted murderers loose as “goodwill gestures” to terror masterminds.

Corruption, terrorism and the truth about the PA’s 'imminent financial collapse'

...When donor countries look the other way or dismiss the evidence of their monies being used for terrorism, incitement, and personal enrichment, they finance the perpetuation of the conflict rather than its resolution. When John Kerry echoes the Palestinians’ manipulative arguments, he not only corroborates the “Kerry Rule.” He also confirms to the Palestinians that they shall never be held responsible for their behavior.

Dr. Emmanuel Navon..
i24 News..
25 February '15..

Israel’s decision to suspend the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority (PA) was met by the latter’s claim that it is about to go bankrupt, as well as by the threat that it would have no choice but to disband itself. US Secretary of State John Kerry has publicly endorsed both the claim and the “threat” of the PA. What I call the “Kerry Rule” (i.e. if he says it, it must be wrong) has been confirmed yet again: the PA is not bankrupt and it will not disband itself.

The PA will not disband itself because its chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, will not kill the cow that he and his cronies have been milking for years. From the moment it was established in 1994, the PA has diverted foreign donations and tax revenues to fill personal bank accounts, to purchase weapons, and to finance incitement and terrorism. The 1994 Paris Agreements put Israel in charge of transferring export tax revenues to the PA, but then-PLO Chief Yasser Arafat asked Israel to transfer the money to a bank account accessible only to him and to his personal advisor Mohammed Rashid. According to Israeli journalists Ehud Ya’ari and Ronen Bergman, some $3 billion were transferred to this account between 1994 and 2000. Arafat used some of this money, among other things, to support his wife’s lavish lifestyle in Paris.

This corruption didn’t abate under Abbas. As former director of the PA’s anti-corruption department Fahmi Shabaneh declared in 2010: “Abbas has surrounded himself with many of the thieves and officials who were involved in theft of public funds and who became icons of financial corruption” (as reported by The Jerusalem Post on 29 January 2010). By dismantling the PA, Abbas and his entourage would have to renounce the millions they siphon every year from foreign aid.

World Bank reports consistently rate the Palestinians as the world’s top per capita recipients of foreign aid. The taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the PA only constitute a fraction of the PA’s budget. By way of comparison, $7.4 billion were pledged to the PA at the December 2007 Paris Conference, while the taxes collected on behalf of the PA by Israel amounted to about $300 million as of July 2007.

A recent paper authored by Prof. Hillel Frisch from Bar-Ilan University’s BESA Center shows that, in 2013 alone, the PA received $2 billion in foreign aid, which means that the average Palestinian received nearly fourteen times more foreign aid per capita than the average Ethiopian ($476 vs. $35). Yet the average Ethiopian is far needier than the average Palestinian: Ethiopia’s GDP per capita is $500, as opposed to $2,800 for the West Bank and Gaza combined. As Frisch notes, these figures are not only discriminatory, they are also inconsistent with the West’s declared policy of struggle against terrorism, since Ethiopia is at the forefront of this struggle, while the Palestinians produce terrorism.

Possibly An Island of Normalization in the Mideast?

...Having long since despaired of the dream that the cold peace with Egypt would someday thaw into normalization, most Israelis figured the new and improved security coordination was as good as it gets and expected nothing more. And yet, improbably, more seems to be happening. After all, it’s hard to imagine anything more “normalized” than a joint booth at a trade fair. And it offers hope that just maybe, something good can emerge from the current Mideast madness.

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
25 February '15..

An imploding Middle East would seem an unlikely setting for finally realizing the Zionist dream of progress toward normalization with Israel’s neighbors. So I had to rub my eyes when I read the following report: Last week, Israel and Egypt ran a joint booth at the world’s biggest apparel trade fair, in Las Vegas. In addition, they’re discussing plans to double textile exports from the Egyptian-Israeli Qualifying Industrial Zone, and also to expand the zone to other products, like foodstuffs and plastics. Given that normalization with Israel has long been anathema in Egypt, this is an astounding turnabout.

The QIZ, which the U.S. created 10 years ago in order to bolster Egyptian-Israeli peace by encouraging economic collaboration, allows Egypt to export textiles to America duty-free if Israel contributes a certain percentage of their value. But until now, Egypt has kept its cooperation with Israel as low-profile and limited as possible due to the sweeping consensus against normalization.

After all, this is a country where a leading author was expelled from the writers’ union and saw his books banned for the “crime” of traveling to Israel and writing about his experiences. It’s a country where translated Israeli books sparked such outrage that the culture minister had to defend himself from accusations of “normalization” by saying the translations were intended only to enable Egyptians to “know their enemy” and promising that the project would involve no contact with Israeli publishers, but only with the Israeli authors’ foreign publishers. It’s a country where every candidate in the 2012 presidential election vowed to either scrap or “renegotiate” the peace treaty with Israel. And none of this was long ago.

Yet now, suddenly, Egypt is running a joint booth with Israel at a trade fair and discussing ways to expand the QIZ.

In part, this may indicate that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi is more serious about trying to improve his country’s battered economy than he’s often given credit for–to the point that he’s even willing to bolster cooperate with Israel to do so, despite the risk of antagonizing the anti-normalization trolls, who quite definitely still exist.

A step closer to making the PA unable to keep funding its terror addiction

...Back in 2011, Palestinian Media Watch presented data to US Congressional lawmakers showing the monthly PA outlay on salaries to convicted and imprisoned terrorists came to more than $5 million per month. Assume it has not shrunk since then, and we are talking of about $65 million per year at least. Now terminate that illegal and immoral policy immediately and the PA will have been able to set aside enough in the next decade to satisfy its liability under the verdict. (But holding breaths would probably be a mistake.) The day their financial condition renders them unable to keep making those payments (may it come soon!) will be one of celebration for those Palestinian Arabs who understand the corrosive effect on their lives of the Arafat/Abbas/Hamas circles' addiction to terror.

Aftermath of a January 27, 2002 human bomb
attack on central Jerusalem's 
Jaffa Road,
directly across the street from the Sbarro pizzeria, 

[Image Source]
Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
25 February '15..

Many readers will already know about the major legal victory ["Palestinian Groups Are Found Liable at Manhattan Terror Trial"] achieved on Monday when the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization were found liable by a jury in Federal District Court, Manhattan, for the roles they played in knowingly supporting six terror attacks in the Jerusalem, Israel, area between 2002 and 2004.

A relevant terrorism law provides for the automatic tripling of the $218.5 million damages awarded by the jury. (The plaintiffs’ attorney sought an order of $350 million.) So the defendants are ordered to pay $655.5 million. According to the New York Times report,

In at least two previous cases, in which judges entered default judgments against them for more than $100 million, the groups reached confidential settlements, court records show.

So there's some history of extracting money from them. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that if the Palestinian Arab entities fail to pay, the groups’ assets can be seized in the United States and elsewhere.

This case was filed by the plaintiffs in 2004. A decade is a long time for a case to run its course, but the likelihood is there will be still more delays before the court-ordered damages are collected. To no one's great surprise, the PA have said they will appeal. Mahmoud Khalifa, their deputy minister of information, says the PA are

"confident that we will prevail, as we have faith in the U.S. legal system and are certain about our common sense belief and our strong legal standing. This case is just the latest attempt by hard-line antipeace factions in Israel to use and abuse the U.S. legal system to advance their narrow political and ideological agenda..." [New York Times]

But meanwhile, it's clear that several things of enduring importance have been achieved.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why do people still back Netanyahu? The question the left refuses to face

...a stellar record? No. But neither is it a bad one. And I’d take it any day over the disastrous grand initiatives of Rabin, Barak and Sharon. This, then, is the question leftists must answer if they hope to woo Likud voters: Why should we believe that the diplomatic initiatives and/or unilateral withdrawals you advocate today won’t make our lives significantly worse, just as those earlier ones did? I’ve yet to hear anyone provide a convincing answer. And that’s why Misgav and his fellows would really rather not know why many Israelis still support Netanyahu. Because dismissing Likud voters as idiots is much easier than having to honestly confront that question.

Evelyn Gordon..
Analysis from Israel..
24 February '15..

Why do people still back Netanyahu? Because in statecraft, as in medicine, the first rule is ‘do no harm’

The outcome of next month’s election is currently anyone’s guess. But if Benjamin Netanyahu ends up becoming prime minister again, it will have a lot to do with the attitude exemplified by Haaretz columnist Uri Misgav.

In an op-ed earlier this month, Misgav wrote that he could understand voting for any other party, but “I find it very difficult to explain what is going through the minds of those who are planning to vote for Likud headed by Netanyahu … Despite serious efforts, I am unable to understand them, or even to imagine their ideological and emotional world … In the name of God: Who are you, Likud voters, and why?”

A week later, another left-wing Haaretz columnist, Kobi Niv, published a blistering retort. Too many “members of the broader Ashkenazi liberal Zionist camp” simply dismiss Likud voters as idiots, and that’s no way to persuade them to switch their allegiance, Niv wrote. Nor are any of the common variations on this theme: that people vote Likud “because they came from countries without a tradition of democracy … because their parents didn’t found the state, because they don’t know right from wrong,” etc.

But the problem goes much deeper than the patronizing attitude Niv correctly skewered. Because after all, Misgav is a journalist, and obtaining information is the essence of a journalist’s job. Thus if he truly wanted to know the answer to his question, one would expect him to make some effort to find it – for instance, by tracking down a few Likud voters and asking them. Yet his column offers no indication that he did so.

And that’s no accident; it’s the heart of the problem: Many Israeli leftists don’t want to know why people vote for Netanyahu, because confronting the reasons would force them to honestly confront the problems created by their own policy prescriptions. People who still believe in territorial withdrawals with religious fervor don’t want to admit that the results of previous pullouts could pose legitimate questions about their wisdom. Yet that’s precisely what most Likud voters would tell them if they asked.

None of the Likud voters I know – myself included – are big Netanyahu fans; we’d happily vote for a better candidate if we saw one. We all think he’s done some things he shouldn’t have done and failed to do some things he should have done.

But he also hasn’t perpetrated any major disasters on the scale that almost all his recent predecessors have. And in statecraft, as in medicine, the first rule is, “Do no harm.”

(Excellent) A shattered Palestinian society: Interview with Bassem Eid

An absolutely fascinating interview with Bassem Eid, any number of thoughtful and interesting insights, the ring of truth definitely present throughout, and an interview worthy of seeing a wider audience.

Fred Maroun..
Times of Israel..
25 February '15..

Anyone who has met Bassem Eid in person or who has seen him speak knows that he is personable, direct, and charismatic. Mr. Eid is a human rights activist and a political commentator who would be a privilege for any country to have, but he happens be a Palestinian who grew up in a refugee camp.

Mr. Eid has been fighting for the human rights of Palestinians for decades, and his courage was noticed particularly during the first Palestinian Intifada because as a researcher for B’Tselem, he was reporting human rights violations by Palestinians as well as human rights violations by Israelis. As a result of his even-handedness and honesty, Bassem was called a “collaborator” by Fatah. After his freedom to criticize the PA was restricted within B’Tselem, he founded the Palestinian Human rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG), but PHRMG later lost funding because its sponsors were uncomfortable with his criticism of the PA.

I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Eid after his last publication, which is a blog on Times of Israel that received a great deal of attention and that was the most popular blog for four days running.

In this interview, Mr. Eid provides an insider’s view of a Palestinian society that is divided and full of contradictions. Perhaps the biggest contradiction is that while Palestinians are still pursuing violence and revenge against Israel, they also have strong economic and even friendship ties with Israelis, and their culture has become strongly influenced by and integrated with the Israeli culture.

This interview and Mr. Eid’s work in general provide a view of the conflict that is starkly different from much of what is said by either side. It leads to us to realize that no one has ever really worked towards a feasible long-term solution for the Palestinians, not Israel (which is hardly unexpected considering the long-standing Arab hostility towards Israel), not the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), not the UN itself, not the international community, not the so-called pro-Palestinian activists in the West, not the regional powers, and not even the Palestinians’ own politicians and leaders.

Mr. Eid’s perspective uncovers a Palestinian world that is badly divided and dysfunctional, in urgent need of a solution when none is forthcoming and when no one in any position of authority, either locally or internationally, really cares. If there were any doubts about the seriousness of the Palestinian condition and its need for real answers, Mr. Eid dispels those doubts. Sadly we are left wondering how long it will take before those who claim to support the Palestinians start listening to Palestinians like Mr. Eid rather than to terrorists and crooks.

Fred M: Bassem: Your first blog in Times of Israel was extremely popular, and it received overwhelmingly positive responses from Jewish readers. But do you know if many Palestinians have seen it? Would many Palestinians agree with your blog?

Bassem E: The Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza know me very well and know my thinking. Since the year 2000 I have been participating every two weeks in a show called “Dialog” on Israel’s television Channel 1 in Arabic with two Israelis and two Palestinians. All the ideas that I raised in the blog, I said them thousands of times in Arabic on television. There are many Palestinians who agree with me, but there are many who disagree. Palestinians are living under a kind of shattered hope. They don’t know exactly what they are hoping for, which makes their situation very complicated. If you take the issue of peace process since Oslo, the PA doesn’t know what they want from the Israelis. Do they want a state or do they want to trash the state of Israel? Unfortunately it looks like there are more Palestinians going in the direction of trashing Israel and dismissing it. There is a lot of hatred between the Israelis and the Palestinians left-over from the intifada in 2000; a lot of tragedies happened on both sides. Many Palestinians want revenge against Israelis rather than peace, which worries me. This makes my situation very sensitive because I live between Israeli friends and their enemies from the Palestinian side.

As you probably know, many Jews are concerned with what they see as a culture of antisemitism among Palestinians. One example is the festive Palestinian reaction to the kidnapping of three Jewish teens by Hamas last year. Many Jews see this as the main stumbling block to peace. Do you agree that it is an issue? And if yes, what can be done about it?

I agree that this is an issue. When this tragedy happened with the three Jewish youths in June of last year, the Palestinians almost crossed a red line. Later when Mohammed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and burned alive, a lot of Israeli buses full of Jewish people came to give their condolences to the family of Abu Khdeir. I was near the house, and I saw it. I hoped that Palestinians would start as a result of this event to want peace with Israelis. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. In November of last year, when two Palestinians went into a synagogue and killed four rabbis while they prayed, I thought that some religious Muslim Palestinians should have gone to give their condolences. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. I wrote about that incident. I said that I wished to see Muslims offering their condolences at the synagogue, but unfortunately, Palestinians are still under the influence of incitements from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Fatah’s Palestinian Authority. Palestinians are not able to follow their own conscience when such incidents happen. Palestinians should be more courageous and more human. We must realize the fact that there is no other choice, for both Israelis and Palestinians, other than living together. It is the time for the Palestinians to prove that we are ready to live in peace with the Israelis. We must start building the bridges of trust towards Israeli public opinion.

Both Yesterday and Today - Purim in Persia and Iran

...It is difficult to understand why some elected members of Congress are peevishly unwilling to listen to all views about the Iranian nuclear ambition. Perhaps they have not heard the demonstrations in the streets of Iran on February 11, 2015, commemorating the 36th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with the shouts of “Down with America,” and “Death to Israel.”...A speech by the Israeli prime minister in Congress is an opportunity to open a realistic debate on the negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. Permitting Netanyahu to speak is not advocacy for a military strike on Iran or for inducing the U.S. to put “boots on the ground” there. It is not interference in U.S. political affairs, though a group of Democrats are currently interfering in Israeli affairs by advising the political opponents of Netanyahu. The speech may, as a minimum, lead Congress to discuss flaws in the ongoing nuclear discussions with Iran, or about the urgency of the instillation of a strong inspection process of Iran’s activities.

Dr. Michael Curtis..
American Thinker..
23 February '15..

During his visit to the White House on March 5, 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave President Barack Obama a copy of the Book of Esther (the Megillah), the biblical story of the plan by the chief minister of the great Persian Empire to annihilate all the Jews in the kingdom. To understand the Middle East today, it’s worth reading.

The story relates that the King Ahasuerus (perhaps Xerxes 1), after executing his wife Queen Vashti, married Esther who did not mention she was Jewish. Haman, the king’s vizier (chief adviser), was annoyed that Mordechai, her cousin, had refused to bow to him. As a result, Haman convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all Jews. This genocide was to be implemented on one day, the 13th of the Hebrew month of Adar, a date chose by lot (in Persian, pur)

Haman’s behavior was a harbinger of both Nazi ideology and the paranoia of Joseph Stalin. His words echo those of Adolf Hitler: “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people’s, and they do not observe the king’s law; therefore it is not fitting to tolerate them.”

Stalin may not have been contemplating genocide but in 1953 he was planning to deport Jews to Siberia. However, he suffered a stroke on the eve of Purim, March 1953, and died a few days later.

Queen Esther, with Mordechai, changed Jewish history by preventing the genocide from happening. She revealed her Jewish identity to the king, while Mordechai, who had saved the king’s life in an earlier plot to assassinate him, told him of the evil plan of Haman. They convinced the king to arrest Haman and to issue a second decree. By this the Jews were permitted to defend themselves and kill those who were preparing to annihilate them. They did so on 13th Adar and celebrated the next day on 14th Adar. This day of deliverance is now commemorated as the Jewish festival of Purim, a day of rejoicing. It is a carnival-like festival when gifts are exchanged. When the Megillah is read in the synagogue, the name of Haman, mentioned 54 times, is greeted with noisemakers (graggers) and stamping of feet to get rid of the evil name.

By coincidence, Prime Minister Netanyahu is due to speak before the Joint Session of Congress on 13th Adar, which is March 3, 2015, the eve of Purim, on the subject of Iran, the modern state that was originally the Persian Empire. The use of analogies in politics is always perilous, but it worth remembering the historical events that took place in the great Persian Empire with its 127 provinces, in the context of today’s Islamic regime, and the invitation to the Israeli prime minister.

Queen Esther was forbidden to speak to the king without being summoned. Netanyahu was not summoned by the U.S. head of state, who is unwilling to meet him, but only by the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. She realized the plight of the Jewish people in Persia who were threatened by Haman’s plan for annihilation. Netanyahu recognizes the current plight of the Jewish people in Israel whose survival is endangered by the threat of annihilation from Iranian nuclear bombs.

Mossad vs. Netanyahu. Why the Fake Story? Why Now?

...Thus at this moment, damaging Netanyahu’s credibility, even if it means shading the truth or inventing a contradiction when there is none, has become vital for those who believe confronting Iran over its nuclear program is a mistake. No matter how many brickbats are hurled at him by the media or how many tactical mistakes he and his staff may make as they are being outmaneuvered in Washington by the White House, the fact remains that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a deadly threat to the security of the West and the moderate Arab nations as well as an existential challenge to Israel’s existence. But the president’s apologists will have to do better than a misleading Mossad story if they are to succeed in silencing the critics of Obama’s Iran appeasement.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
25 February '15..

Yesterday the headlines in the Guardian and Al Jazeera trumpeted what seemed like a very juicy story. According to leaked South African intelligence cables obtained by Al Jazeera and shared with the Guardian, the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad had come to conclusions that “contradicted” Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assertions about Iran’s nuclear program in his 2012 speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations. The charge was repeated today in a story published by the New York Times. If true, then Netanyahu’s speech, best remembered for the cartoon bomb illustration he brandished, would be exposed as political hyperbole. But a closer look at the speech and the leaked cable shows that the headlines aren’t justified. In fact, they are downright false. That leads us to ask the question why major media outlets are seeking to discredit Netanyahu with misleading stories just at the moment when details about President Obama’s latest nuclear offer to Iran has become public. The answer reveals a great deal about both the bias of the press and the stakes in the Iran nuclear debate.

Unpacking the assertions in the Al Jazeera/Guardian story isn’t difficult. As Mitch Ginsburg points out today in the Times of Israel, the crux of that story is that the leaked documents say that in 2012, the Mossad told its South African counterparts that, “Iran at this time is not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.” That led both papers (dutifully echoed by the Times a day later) to claim that Netanyahu’s “inflammatory rhetoric” and “alarmist tone” about the prospect of an Iranian bomb was not only unjustified but a lie made out of whole cloth.

That is damning stuff indeed. But what exactly did Netanyahu say in September 2012 while brandishing a picture of a Wile E. Coyote-style bomb?

By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move[d] on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.

Let’s be clear about this. Netanyahu did not say that Iran would have a bomb in a few months. He just said they were enriching enough uranium to create a bomb. That is not a minor distinction. And on that point, there was no disagreement between the Mossad and the prime minister. Which is to say this big story is no story at all. But the much-ballyhooed “contradiction” which was not actually a contradiction is still being reported throughout the world and on cable news networks as a flaw in Netanyahu’s arguments and a blow to his credibility.

It is true that the heads of Israel’s intelligence agencies have at times clashed with Netanyahu. That was particularly true in 2012 when rumors were rife that the prime minister and his former rival and then coalition partner Ehud Barak, serving as defense minister at that time, were thinking seriously about ordering a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The spooks were worried that such a plan couldn’t work, would alienate the United States and, more to the point, might be rendered unnecessary by covert activities such as cyber attacks on the Iranian program and assassinations of scientists. As it turns out, the spy agency and its American counterparts overestimated the damage that their Stuxnet attack on the Iranian computer systems could do. Though Tehran experienced a setback, all indications are that covert action conclusively failed to halt the Iranian program.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Empowering Women, Palestinian Gaza-Style

...Hamas wants the international community to fund the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip under the pretext that it does not have the resources to participate in the effort. But when it comes to arming and training women and teenagers, Hamas and other Palestinian groups somehow always seem to find enough money to purchase weapons and run training camps. As for the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, they continue to act as if they are living on another planet, and that what is happening in the Gaza Strip is none of their business. Yet this does not stop them from pursuing their effort to convince the world to support a Palestinian state where women and teenagers are being trained to become the next "martyrs" in the fight to destroy Israel.

Khaled Abu Toameh..
Gatestone Institute..
24 February '15..

It is not easy to be a woman living under the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.

Women face many restrictions, including not being able to go to the beach alone or even smoke in a public place. In addition, it is forbidden for a woman to be seen in public with a man who is not her husband, father or brother.

Women are also forced to adhere to a strict Islamic dress code in public, which includes a cloak and a veil covering their hair (hijab), especially at university and college campuses and work offices.

However, these severe restrictions do not apply to women who are prepared to become "martyrs" in the fight against Israel. So while a woman is barred from smoking in a café or restaurant, or walking in public unaccompanied by a male relative, she is permitted to join a military training camp in preparation for war against Israel.

This is exactly what is happening in the Gaza Strip these days, where women are undergoing training with various types of weapons, including rifles and mortars. The women are also taught how to plant land mines and explosive devices on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

A woman at Gaza's Nasser Eddin Brigades camp trains on a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher.

So far, 40 Palestinian women have "graduated" from the military training camps, while another 40 are still being taught how to become jihadis and sacrifice their lives for the sake of wiping Israel off the face of the earth.

While the Israeli left's strategy is a nice try, it still won't wash

...And why would Israel’s inevitable military operations in the West Bank after such partial withdrawal produce less civilian victims, less Goldstone reports and less outraged media coverage than previous military operations in Gaza? Trying to force oneself out of a Catch-22 situation is legitimate and even praiseworthy, but defying logic is neither.

Dr. Emmanuel Navon..
For the Sake of Zion..
18 February '15..

The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a leading Israeli think-tank, hosted its annual conference this week on Israel’s regional and international challenges. INSS’s policy recommendations are of special significance this year because its Director, Amos Yadlin, was designated by the joint Labor-Hatnua list as its candidate for the position of Defense Minister in the next government. Whether in the unlikely scenario of a Labor victory or in the less unlikely scenario of a national unity government, INSS’s policy recommendations might be implemented (even partially) after the elections, and must therefore be gauged.

On the issue of the stalemate with the Palestinians, INSS expressed its views ahead of the conference in a short paper authored by Gilead Sher and Liran Ofek (“An Integrated Political Strategy: Regional, Bilateral, and Independent”). Sher, a practicing lawyer, is a senior fellow at INSS and served as Israel’s chief negotiator during the failed 2000 Camp David summit and Taba talks. While Sher witnessed firsthand the failure of the 2000 negotiations, and while subsequent negotiations failed as well (including the 2007-2008 negotiations under the Olmert government and the 2013-2014 negotiations under the third Netanyahu government), Sher is adamant that “a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … can be achieved” though he himself admits that, in practice and “at present,” the likelihood of such a solution is “slim.”

According to Sher, the stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians is detrimental to Israel because it threatens Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic country, and because it undermines Israel’s international standing. Therefore, Sher suggests, Israel should initiate a move meant to neutralize the “demographic threat” and to ease international pressure. While the initiative proposed by Sher is not a mere replication of the 2005 unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, its outcome would unlikely be significantly different.

Like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sher talks about “regional opportunities.” Unlike him, however, he considers the so-called Arab Peace Initiative to be a serious and valuable offer. This “initiative” was first issued by the Arab League thirteen years ago. Since then, the Arab world has turned into one big war zone. Iraq, Syria and Libya have imploded. Iran has become a threshold nuclear state that controls four Arab capitals (Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sana'a). Saudi Arabia, generally considered the main promoter of the “Arab Peace Initiative,” is surrounded by Iran’s allies in the north (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon) and in the south (Yemen). Its economic clout has been affected by falling oil prices. Who, seriously, is supposed to deliver peace on behalf of the Arab world in 2015?

Mysterious un-named Zionist attack dams and the mess that the receding flood waters reveal

...No one was killed. But the affair gives a useful - if depressing - insight into how packaged news on the Arab/Israel conflict (and many other matters) gets its character and makes its way into our living rooms and heads. There is much to fear from today's industrialized mainstream news channels.

The Anadolu (Turkish news agency)
caption reads: 
"Hundreds of Palestinians
were evacuated from their homes
Sunday morning after Israeli authorities
opened a number of dams near the
border, flooding the Gaza Valley in the
wake of a recent severe winter storm.
Anadolu/Ashraf Amra"
Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
24 February '15..

Here's some follow-up to a post ["23-Feb-15: Dam!"] we published yesterday about the uncritical, lazy and irresponsible way some news agencies carry stories, often originating from notoriously partisan sources, that pin damaging allegations against Israel without bothering themselves to check whether they're true or made-up.

First, a clear and unambiguous assertion: yesterday's widely published news about Israel opening up dams in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip are in the made-up category. The story, based on allegations that no reporter claims to have investigated or proven, exists in order to validate perpetual claims from the Palestinian Arab power structure - in this case, from Hamas - of Palestinian Arab victimhood and Israeli malevolence.

Once invented and handed to gullible reporters and editors, stories like the one about Israel's "attack dams" go public and become part of the news cycle. Their anti-Israel character, it seems, is enough to overcome the absence of a factual basis and the nonsense logic underpinning them.

(Continue Reading)

Updates throughout the day at 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.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work as well as a big vote to follow our good friend Kay Wilson on Twitter

Palestinian Terror Verdict Ends Abbas Masquerade as a Force for Peace

...Put simply, the U.S. courts have decided not to let the Palestinians get away with murder. Nor should the administration. Peace will come the moment the Palestinians decided to abandon their opposition to a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. Until then, they should not count on an unending U.S. revenue stream or impunity for their involvement in terror. Justice prevailed in a New York courtroom today. As painful as it may be for him to admit that it is Abbas and not his bête noire Benjamin Netanyahu who is the problem, it’s time for President Obama to stop engaging in denial about Palestinian reality. Support for peace or sympathy for the Palestinians should not cause the administration to seek to obstruct that verdict.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
23 February '15..

Today’s (Monday) verdict in a federal court in New York City won’t end Palestinian terrorism. Nor will it force the Palestinian Authority or its foreign cheerleaders to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state or to cease working for its destruction. But the results of the trial in which a jury rightly held the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization responsible for terror attacks carried out during the Second Intifada, in which several Americans were killed and wounded, should remove any doubt about the fact that so-called Palestinian moderates are as connected to terrorism as more extreme factions like Hamas. As significant as the stunning $218.5 million in damages (that will be automatically tripled to $655.5 million under U.S. law because it involves terrorism) assessed against the defendants, the really important point is that the decision strips away the veneer of respectability that figures such as PA leader Mahmoud Abbas have acquired from both the Obama administration and the mainstream media.

The case was the work of Shurat HaDin — The Israel Law Center, which, under the leadership of Israeli attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has waged an effective legal campaign against the perpetrators of terror. Darshan-Leitner and the American lawyers who have tried some of these cases have been able to bring the terrorists, their sponsors, as well as their enablers to the bar of justice. Last fall’s verdict in the case against The Arab Bank set down a precedent in which financial institutions could be held accountable for knowingly processing transactions that allow terror groups to do business. In this case against the PA and the PLO, they have brought to light the direct involvement of these institutions in the organization and financing of terrorism.

The reaction from the Obama administration to these verdicts is likely to be consternation. The federal government has opposed all efforts on the part of terror victims to get justice in these cases. But the State Department will be particularly motivated to aid the defendants now. The PA is a kleptocracy run by people like Abbas and his predecessor Yasir Arafat, who have looted the billions in U.S. and Western aid given to the Palestinians over the last two decades. Yet the gravy train never stops for Abbas and company since they are viewed by the Israelis as a necessary evil without whom they would be forced to govern the West Bank themselves while the Obama administration continues to promote the PA as a courageous force for peace even though the record demonstrates they are the principal obstacle to reconciliation.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The bottom line? That Israel must rely only on itself

...There are those who expect our small and brave country to pay, once again, the price for the blindness and indifference of nations of the world to the fate of the Jews. It is shameful and unfortunate that there are those among us who display, for petty political agendas, that same carelessness, and try to divert the public's attention from the basic fact that Iran does not differentiate between Left and Right and not even between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

Dr. Haim Shine..
Israel Hayom..
23 February '15..

The U.S. government is involved up to its neck in Israel's upcoming elections. U.S. President Barack Obama and his advisers have been trying to grab our country by the throat in an attempt to coerce Israel to act against its existential interests.

The White House prefers that the weak Left win the March 17 elections and establish a leftist government that would have no problem with making dangerous concessions such as returning to the 1967 borders, dividing Jerusalem and granting the Palestinians the right of return.

At a time when the whole world is under attack by Islamic terrorism, Obama is determined to sign a deal with the regime of the ayatollahs in Iran that would enable Iran to continue advancing its nuclear program without interference. An American president who enables terrorists to get their hands on nuclear weapons would be signing a death warrant for Western civilization.

Furthermore, Obama has yet to free himself from the misguided notion that has been dictating U.S. policy in the Middle East for many years, according to which a resolution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict based an Israeli return to the 1967 borders would turn the region into the most peaceful place in the world. This line of thought is something only Israel would pay the price for when reality sets in.

The ongoing attempt to hide America's conduct over Iran should raise serious concerns in every human being. America's demonstration of weakness and fatigue in the negotiations, its treachery towards its allies, and its strong desire to create a facade of peace and tolerance poses a serious threat to the entire world.

There are those who expect our small and brave country to pay, once again, the price for the blindness and indifference of nations of the world to the fate of the Jews. It is shameful and unfortunate that there are those among us who display, for petty political agendas, that same carelessness, and try to divert the public's attention from the basic fact that Iran does not differentiate between Left and Right and not even between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

The return of the mysterious un-named Zionist attack dams

...Stand by to see those newsagencies listed below promptly issue a prominent correction, and express thanks to COGAT for relieving widespread regional concerns about malicious Zionist use of attack-dams. Kidding aside, shouldn't they?

Flooding in a Gazan urban street: Not this week,
 and not because of any
Israeli dams
 (there are none in the area) but because
of heavy rain in November 2014 
and chronic
Hamas municipal malfeasance [
Image Source]
Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
23 February '15..

The "independent" Palestinian Arab news agency Ma'an (about whom we had some comments just a few hours ago) ran this story as its main lead during the evening hours yesterday (Sunday):

Hundreds of Palestinians were evacuated from their homes Sunday morning after Israeli authorities opened a number of dams near the border, flooding the Gaza Valley in the wake of a recent severe winter storm.

Aljazeera ran with a similar report, as did Agence France Presse, the Chinese Xinhua news agency, Russia's RT and Egypt's al-Akhbar. All quoted Gaza ministries. None of them named the dams. None of them said their reporter saw anything to confirm the central claim. But all were able to report that this was malicious and intended to increase Gazan suffering.

It's not the first year we are hearing of un-named Zionist dams that are opened at precisely the same time as torrential rains wash through Gaza's under-invested, sewer-deficient communities bringing havoc in their wake. See "How Hamas used the weather to defame Israel" from last winter, as an instance.

There were also torrential rains in the area at the start of the winter, just a few weeks ago. The reliably hostile UNRWA published reports [here] about the damage along with appeals for more help, without once mentioning an Israeli hand in the disaster. That's because there was none. Of course, it might have been helpful if they had said what they know about Hamas' chronic and deliberate failure to improve infrastructure, facilities and life for the unfortunate Gazan population living under their rule. But that's not in UNRWA's charter.


Updates throughout the day at 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.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work as well as a big vote to follow our good friend Kay Wilson on Twitter

Submission to the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict by Richard Kemp

...Many people believe that your findings are a foregone conclusion, as the findings of the 2008-09 Commission regrettably proved to be. They believe that you will roundly and without foundation condemn Israel for war crimes while at best making only token criticism of Hamas and other Gaza extremist groups. If you genuinely want to contribute to peace and to improve human rights for the people of Gaza and of Israel then you must have the courage to reject the UN Human Rights Council’s persistent and discriminatory anti-Israel programme and produce a balanced and fair report into these tragic events.

Colonel Richard Kemp CBE..
20 February '15..

I was a Colonel in the British Infantry. Much of my 29 years’ military service was spent countering terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Great Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Macedonia. I was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan in 2003. I fought in the 1990-91 Gulf War and commanded British troops in Bosnia with the UN Protection Force and in Cyprus with the UN Force.

From 2002 – 2005 I was seconded to the UK Cabinet Office working on intelligence relating to international and domestic terrorism. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were among the extremist groups that I monitored and assessed in this role, and I had access to all secret intelligence available to the UK on these and other Palestinian extremist groups.

I was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen in 1994 for counter terrorist intelligence services and Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2006 also for counter terrorist intelligence services.

I was in Israel for much of the summer 2014 Gaza conflict, specifically from 14 July – 8 August and from 27 August – 5 September. During these periods I met, was briefed by and questioned Israeli political leaders, senior officials and Israel Defence Force (IDF) soldiers from general officer down to private soldier. I spent a considerable amount of this time close to the Gaza border where I also met, was briefed by, questioned and observed many IDF officers and soldiers immediately before and after they had been in combat.

I was in Israel also for much of the Gaza conflict in 2012. I visited IDF units and held meetings with many IDF officers, government officials and political leaders before and since then. I have been acquainted with the IDF and the Israeli intelligence services for many years, both during and after my military service.

This submission to the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict is based on observations on the ground during the conflict, 29 years’ military experience of conflicts of this type, intelligence work relating to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, knowledge of the IDF and Israeli intelligence services, study of the Israel-Palestine conflict and observations on the ground during the 2012 Gaza conflict. I should add that I have no formal, paid or unpaid, connection with the IDF or with any other organ of the Israeli government.

In my opinion the actions taken by the IDF were necessary to defend the people of Israel from the ongoing, intensive and lethal attacks by Hamas and other groups in Gaza. It is the inalienable duty of every government to use its armed forces to protect its citizens and its terrain from external attack.

In this case there was a sustained assault on the Israeli population from rockets and mortar bombs; attacks on Israeli military posts using tunnels; apparent plans to launch further attacks on Israeli military posts and on civilian settlements also using tunnels; and attempted attacks from the sea.

As the Gaza Strip is effectively a separate state, outside of Israeli control, these actions amounted to an attack by a foreign country against Israeli territory. In these circumstances I know of no other realistic and effective means of suppressing an aggressor’s missile fire than the methods used by the IDF, namely precision air and artillery strikes against the command and control structures, the fighters and the munitions of Hamas and the other groups in Gaza. Nor have I heard any other military expert from any country propose a viable alternative means of defence against such aggression.

The only other options, which I do not consider realistic in these circumstances, would have been:

A strategy of carpet-bombing to force Hamas and the other groups to desist from their attacks.

A large-scale ground invasion to find and destroy the offensive capabilities of Hamas and the other groups.

Either of these means would have resulted in far greater civilian casualties, and a ground invasion would also have incurred significant numbers of Israeli military casualties. The destruction of Hamas would also have left Gaza under full Israeli control, which would have needed an investment in military resources that Israel could ill afford given the wide range of threats and potential threats that the country faces, including from Iran, from Hizballah in Lebanon and Syria, from the Islamic State in Syria and from Islamist extremists in Sinai.

In reality, the offensive missile capabilities of Hamas and the other groups could never have been totally destroyed using air operations alone. Recognising this, the IDF commanders and their political leadership calculated that to have eradicated the threat completely would have required a ground offensive that would have caused large numbers of casualties among Gaza civilians – far more than were sustained during the operation in the summer. They also took account of predicted Israeli military casualties which would have been substantial.

The consequence was an acceptance that while it would be possible to halt Hamas’s aggression on a temporary basis, there would in the future be a resurgence of such activity, forcing yet another defensive operation along the lines of 2008-09, 2012 and 2014, and causing further Israeli and Palestinian casualties. Though unsatisfactory in the longer term, this was a proportional and pragmatic response – indeed in my opinion the minimum possible response – to the rocket fire from Gaza.

While Israel can act to reduce the prospects for such future action, including by trying to prevent munitions or materiel with the potential for offensive military use entering Gaza, it cannot fully achieve this. In the interests of a lasting peace I would strongly urge the Commission to recommend effective international cooperation against the continued re-militarization of the Gaza Strip.

It is grossly irresponsible of international actors to rely on accusations against Israel of a so-called illegal blockade and occupation of Gaza, and demand that Israeli control of Gaza’s borders be lifted, when it is clear that Israeli action is necessary to prevent the re-armament that will lead to further attacks by Hamas and other groups. It should be noted that Egypt takes similar preventive action against Gaza extremists for the same reason as Israel.