Friday, January 30, 2015

Iran - Unafraid and undeterred by Caroline Glick

...Israel’s January 18 strike on Iranian and Hezbollah commanders in Syria showed Israel’s strategy wisdom and independent capacity. Israel can and will take measures to defend its critical security interests. It has the intelligence gathering capacity to identify and strike at targets in real time. But it also showed the constraints Israel is forced to operate under in its increasingly complex and dangerous strategic environment.

Caroline Glick..
Column One/JPost..
29 January '15..

Israel’s reported strike January 18 on a joint Iranian-Hezbollah convoy driving on the Syrian Golan Heights was one of the most strategically significant events to have occurred in Israel’s neighborhood in recent months. Its significance lies both in what it accomplished operationally and what it exposed.

From what been published to date about the identities of those killed in the strike, it is clear that in one fell swoop the air force decapitated the Iranian and Hezbollah operational command in Syria.

The head of Hezbollah’s operations in Syria, the head of its liaison with Iran, and Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Hezbollah’s longtime operational commander Imad Mughniyeh who was killed by Israel in Damascus in 2008, were killed. The younger Mughniyeh reportedly served as commander of Hezbollah forces along the Syrian-Israeli border.

According to a report by Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shimon Shapira, a Hezbollah expert from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Iranian losses included three generals. Brig.- Gen. Mohammed Alladadi was the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps liaison officer to Hezbollah and to Syrian intelligence. He was also in charge of weapons shipments from Iran to Hezbollah. Gen. Ali Tabatabai was the IRGC commander in the Golan Heights and, according to Shapira, an additional general, known only as Assadi, “was, in all likelihood, the commander of Iranian expeditionary forces in Lebanon.”

The fact that the men were willing to risk exposure by traveling together along the border with Israel indicates how critical the front is for the regime in Tehran. It also indicates that in all likelihood, they were planning an imminent attack against Israel.

According to Ehud Yaari, Channel 2’s Arab Affairs commentator, Iran and Hezbollah seek to widen Hezbollah’s front against Israel from Lebanon to Syria. They wish to establish missile bases on the northern Hermon, and are expanding Hezbollah’s strategic depth from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to the outskirts of Damascus.

On Wednesday night, Yaari reported that the Syrian military has ceased to function south of Damascus. In areas not held by the al-Qaida-aligned Nusra Front and other regime opponents, the IRGC and Hezbollah have taken control, using the Syrian militia they have trained since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

The effectiveness of Hezbollah’s control of its expanded front was on display on Wednesday morning. Almost at the same time that Hezbollah forces shot at least five advanced Kornet antitank missiles at an IDF convoy along Mount Dov, killing two soldiers and wounding seven, Hezbollah forces on the Golan shot off mortars at the Hermon area.

While these forces are effective, they are also vulnerable. Yaari noted that today, three-quarters of Hezbollah’s total forces are fighting in Syria. Their twofold task is to defend the Assad regime and to build the Iranian-controlled front against Israel along the Golan Heights. Most of the forces are in known, unfortified, above ground positions, vulnerable to Israeli air strikes.

THE IDENTITIES of the Iranian and Lebanese personnel killed in the Israeli strike indicate the high value Iran and Hezbollah place on developing a new front against Israel in Syria.

The fact that they are in control over large swathes of the border area and are willing to risk exposure in order to ready the front for operations exposes Iran’s strategic goal of encircling Israel on the ground and the risks it is willing to take to achieve that goal.

But Iran’s willingness to expose its forces and Hezbollah forces also indicates something else. It indicates that they believe that there is a force deterring Israel from attacking them.

And this brings us to another strategic revelation exposed by the January 18 operation.

Oh, how cute! "Palestinian" Cartoons

...According to the Bible, Goliath was a giant Philistine warrior and David was a kid, but the future king of Israel, and they fought a millennia before the birth of Jesus, and almost two before the birth of Muhammad. David defeated Goliath with his sling, of course. Today we are supposed to believe that the great Arab nation, around 400 million strong, represent "David" and that the tiny Jewish population in the Middle East, around 6 million strong, represent "Goliath." This is what you might call an aspect of the Big Lie.

Michael Lumish..
Israel Thrives..
29 January '15..

We have to somehow make it clear that the malice within the Arab-Israel conflict is not equivalent on both sides.

That is, there is no morally equivalent "cycle of violence" between Arabs and Jews.

The far larger Arab nation, which gobbled up the entire Middle East shortly after the death of Muhammad, has kept its imperial boot on the head of the Jewish people - thereby keeping our numbers artificially low - in that region for fourteen centuries, until the fall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I and the seemingly phoenix-like establishment of Israel in 1948.

Arab and Soviet propaganda, since at least the 1960s, has slowly convinced well-meaning western liberals that the children of Holocaust survivors are the bad guys and, weirdly enough, use an inversion of a biblical story to do so.

Everyone knows the legend of David and Goliath.

According to the Bible, Goliath was a giant Philistine warrior and David was a kid, but the future king of Israel, and they fought a millennia before the birth of Jesus, and almost two before the birth of Muhammad.

David defeated Goliath with his sling, of course.

Today we are supposed to believe that the great Arab nation, around 400 million strong, represent "David" and that the tiny Jewish population in the Middle East, around 6 million strong, represent "Goliath."

This is what you might call an aspect of the Big Lie.

The Big Lie, of course, is that the Jews are persecuting the Arabs when the exact opposite is obviously the case. Jewish Israelis want nothing more than for Arabs to stop throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at them so that they can get on with the business of living their lives.

It is not the Jews who are the victimizers here, but the supposed Arab victims, themselves.

Look at the cartoon above.

Again, Why Outsourcing Israel’s Security to Peacekeepers is a Non-Starter

...Quite apart from the fact that the UN appears to have a total disregard for the safety of Israelis–as seen with both UNIFIL and UNRWA–it will always be the case that international forces acting on behalf of international organizations, as opposed to national self-interest, will be woefully ineffective. A catalog of recent genocides are a sorry testament to the way UN forces are much better at observing and monitoring atrocities than they are at preventing them.

Tom Wilson..
Commentary Magazine..
29 January '15..

Following yesterday’s attack by Hezbollah on an Israeli military convoy, in which two Israeli soldiers were killed, there have been growing concerns of a major escalation along the Lebanese border. During the exchange of fire between the IDF and Hezbollah that followed the attack, a United Nations peacekeeper was also killed. As fears grew that the attack by Hezbollah might signal the beginning of a major new conflagration to Israel’s north, the death of the peacekeeper was a reminder that in such circumstances the UN forces would be completely impotent in preventing such an escalation. Worse still, the UN in Lebanon will have contributed to the severity of any hostilities by allowing Hezbollah to have proliferated under its watch. This too should be a reminder of the ineffective nature of any international forces deployed on Israel’s borders.

UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which was created during Israel’s first Lebanon war, was subsequently emboldened with a reinforced mandate following the second Lebanon war in 2006. As well as maintaining the peace in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL was also tasked with assisting the Lebanese army in consolidating Lebanese government sovereignty throughout that part of the country. This presumably should necessitate the rolling back of the mini-state that Hezbollah terrorists have created for themselves in Lebanon’s south. Yet not only has UNIFIL utterly failed in that regard, but there are also serious questions about whether or not UNIFIL has in fact been complicit in assisting Hezbollah in various ways. Most egregious of all was UNIFIL’s conduct during the second Lebanon war itself, when UNIFIL publicly broadcast the movements of the IDF, knowingly exposing Israel’s troops to attack by Hezbollah fighters.

Ever since 2006 Hezbollah has been remilitarising well beyond the levels it had reached prior to the second Lebanon war, and it has been doing it directly under UNIFIL’s noses. UNIFIL therefore has not only failed to assist with reasserting the authority of the Lebanese state in the south of the country; it has allowed for the unfolding of a situation that will almost inevitably undermine a key aspect of UNIFIL’s mandate: to ensure peace and security in that territory.

Even before war broke out in Syria, Hezbollah had–with the assistance of Iran–been drastically increasing its stockpiles of weapons, the range and force of its missile capabilities, and the numbers of trained fighters within its ranks. Then, when Hezbollah was brought into Syria to help Assad retain power, a new channel for the flow of weapons opened as Hezbollah was able to move some of Assad’s weaponry into Lebanon itself. Indeed, from the outset of UNIFIL’s renewed mandate in 2006, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had always made clear that the force wouldn’t intervene to stop the flow of weapons from Syria unless specifically instructed to do so by the Lebanese government.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

(Video) What Shutting Down Free Speech on Campus Looks Like

...An open and safe atmosphere for dialogue and ensuring that students feel free to express their love of Israel without being attacked is still uncertain for CPP students, but the future looks brighter.

29 January '15..

(Please share) Students at Cal Poly Pomona invited two Israelis to speak about their experiences. They shared stories of fighting terrorism and saving both Israelis and Palestinians. Representatives of American Muslims for Palestine attempted to silence them.

The Dean of Students and VP of Student Affairs have since workedwith CPP Hillel and Broncos for Israel to create a chain of command for dealing with protest response and have finalized their policies towards any disturbance in the future.

An open and safe atmosphere for dialogue and ensuring that students feel free to express their love of Israel without being attacked is still uncertain for CPP students, but the future looks brighter.


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“We Stand with UNIFIL” - A Marvel of Moral Equivalency and Confusion

...Then, the confusion: State “strongly condemns” Hezbollah and blames it for this incident and for generally inciting violence and instability. So what is to be done about all those actions by Hezbollah? Is Israel supposed to strike back or “refrain from any action that could escalate the situation?” Israel has a “legitimate right to self-defense” but it must “respect the Blue Line.” Given that Hezbollah is just across the Blue Line, that’s impossible; Israeli self-defense must include hitting Hezbollah, or “self-defense” means sitting in bunkers.

Elliott Abrams..
Pressure Points..
29 January '15..

The recent violence between Hezbollah and Israel elicited a statement from the State Department yesterday. It’s a marvel of moral equivalency and confusion.

Here it is, in full:

Connecting the Dots Between Iran Talks and Hezbollah Violence

...An Iran that is permitted to become a nuclear threshold state will not only be vastly more powerful than it is today but in a position to directly threaten Israeli security and that of Jordan and perhaps even Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The fighting along Israel’s northern border is just a tease of what may come once Hezbollah is protected by an Iran that believes the U.S. has granted it impunity to pursue its aggressive agenda.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
28 January '15..

The instinct in Washington is to dismiss the latest flare-up in violence along Israel’s northern border as just another incident in a long-running cycle of violence involving Hezbollah and the Israel Defense Forces. The State Department will condemn the attack on Israel but it will call for restraint and calm. Their expectation, echoed in much of the media, is that once the smoke clears, the combatants will return to an armed and hostile truce enabling diplomats to concentrate on more important things like the administration’s pursuit of détente with Iran. But whether or not the shooting continues in the coming days, this incident, in which two Israeli soldiers were killed by terrorists firing over an international border, must be understood as intrinsically connected to the broader issue of U.S. relations with Iran and its nuclear program. The fighting is a wake-up call to the West alerting it to the fact that Tehran’s real purpose is not, as President Obama hopes, “to get right with the world,” but to dominate the region and threaten Israel and moderate Arab nations.

The border violence is generally being reported as part of a tit-for-tat exchange between Hezbollah and Israel. Today’s incident, in which anti-tank shells were fired at Israeli vehicles travelling on a civilian road from three miles away inside Lebanon, is seen by many as retaliation for Israel’s strike at a Hezbollah missile base inside Syria last week in which, among others, an Iranian general was killed. Iran has warned Israel that it would retaliate and it is thought that today is proof that they meant what they said.

But there is more to this than the need for Hezbollah to do the bidding of its Iranian paymasters or even for it to gain revenge for the death of the terrorists slain with Tehran’s ballistic missile expert, one of whom was the son of a slain commander of the group. The point of setting up that base in Syria, near the Golan Heights, was to create a launching pad to hit the Jewish state without bringing down the wrath of the Israel Defense Forces on Lebanon, as was the case during the 2006 war that was set off by similar cross-border raids. But the reason why Hezbollah and Iran were so interested in strengthening their ability to rain down destruction on Israeli civilian targets is that Tehran sees itself as being locked in a permanent war with Israel as well as with Arab states in the region.

This is more than obvious to anyone who pays the slightest attention to Iranian policy as well as its use of terrorists to advance its policy goals. Hezbollah is an arm of Iranian foreign policy as proved by its use as shock troops in the effort to preserve the rule of Tehran’s ally Bashar Assad in Syria.

Israeli Program Educates and Supports Palestinian Farmers. Where's the Coverage?

...This kind of economic cooperation and productive educational exchange just doesn’t match the storyline that Israelis oppress Palestinians at every turn. Therefore, rest assured you won’t be reading about it and we’ll have to ask… Where’s the coverage?

Sarit Catz..
CAMERA Snapshots..
28 January '15..

Earlier this month, The Jerusalem Post reported:

A group of 30 Palestinian farmers […] came to Israel for a two-day continuing education program in the Sharon region, to learn about some of the strawberry-growing methods used in Israel. The group, predominantly from the Tulkarm and Jenin areas, met with farmers developing commercial seedlings and others experimenting on new growth techniques – both employing hanging systems and traditional in-ground planting methods.

“I came to study new things today,” said Abed al-Salam, who is from a village near Tulkarm, where he grows both strawberries and vegetables.

The tour was organized by Israel’s Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, the principle facilitator for similar such collaborative ventures between Israeli and Palestinian farmers.

Nasser Bsharat, from Al-Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley, stressed how much there is to learn about the different types of strawberries that can be grown – pointing out that there are 42 different types being cultivated at their first stop of the day, the Romano Strawberry Nursery.

The nursery, sandwiched between Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak and the Neveh Hadassah Youth Village in the Hof Hasharon Regional Council area, develops and markets strawberry seedlings to growers.

Bsharat said the farmers are keen to learn new techniques for growing strawberries both within greenhouses and in fields, as well as disease-prevention mechanisms.

Stressing not only the importance of cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian farmers, but also the routine nature of such relationships, Bsharat said the Jiftlik community lives “as neighbors” with the residents of the nearby Masu’a settlement.

“If I have any problem [with my farm], I ask my neighbors,” he said.

Well, this is certainly not the image of Israeli-Palestinian interaction promoted by most of the mainstream news media. How does this square with the apartheid narrative? How does this fit with the story of Israeli “settlers” persecuting Palestinian Arabs? It doesn’t. Better not report it then. And the popular press does not. Not a peep about any of the cooperation and positive contact.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The World According to B’Tselem - Presumed Guilty Until Proven Innocent

...In other words, it admits that preventing civilian casualties under these circumstances is nearly impossible, but declares that unless Israel can accomplish the impossible, it effectively has no right to defend its citizens against a terrorist organization. And self-defense may be an even more fundamental human right than the presumption of innocence. But in B’Tselem’s view, evidently, Israelis have no rights. They are only and always guilty.

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
28 January '15..

One of the worst things about many “human rights” organizations is the way they actually undermine some very fundamental human rights. A prime example is B’Tselem’s new report on Palestinian civilian deaths during this summer’s war in Gaza. Few people would disagree that the presumption of innocence is an important right, but when it comes to Israel, B’Tselem simply jettisons it. In fact, the group states with shocking explicitness that it considers Israel guilty until proven innocent.

Take, for instance, one incident the report discusses, an attack on the a-Dali building in Khan Yunis. B’Tselem doesn’t mention any combatants being present, but an alert Jerusalem Post reporter recalled that Amnesty International had identified one fatality as a combatant. He asked about this discrepancy, and here’s his account of B’Tselem’s response:

Without addressing the specific incident, a B’Tselem representative said there were cases where the group suspected that fighters may have been involved, but it was only reporting their involvement where the evidence was hard and clear.

In other words, if B’Tselem isn’t certain whether the victims were combatants or civilians, it lists them as civilians and then accuses Israel of war crimes. In fact, it does this even if it “suspects that fighters may have been involved.” In short, it presumes Israel’s guilt unless proven otherwise.

Moreover, the report stressed repeatedly that B’Tselem “has no way of knowing” why Israel struck any particular target, and evidently, it doesn’t care. But as NGO Monitor pointed out, the “why” is crucial: If, say, the building was used to store weapons or launch rockets at Israel, then it was a legitimate military target. Without knowing whether the building was targeted legitimately or indiscriminately, it’s impossible to accuse Israel of war crimes–unless, of course, you simply presume Israel’s guilt.

But B’Tselem goes beyond merely presuming Israel’s guilt; it also deliberately omits exculpatory evidence. Take, for instance, the attack on the Kaware home in Khan Yunis. As the report accurately says, the family left after receiving an IDF warning, but other civilians subsequently entered, and the IDF realized this too late to abort its strike. What B’Tselem left out, however, was that those civilians came deliberately to serve as human shields for the building, which the IDF claimed was a Hamas command center. The surviving Kawares said this explicitly, and several prominent media outlets reported it at the time. “Our neighbors came in to form a human shield,” Salah Kaware told the New York Times. Yet this all-important fact–that civilians had deliberately returned to serve as human shields, a development the IDF couldn’t have predicted–was simply omitted from the report.

And Now Introducing the Paligandist Who Peddles Paliganda

Yisrael Medad..
26 January '15..

With a little help from friends, I will attempt to introduce some new terms for your use.

The detractors of Zionism and those who denigrate Israel have been employing “hasbarist”.

Here is a use:

There are thousands of hasbarists, official, covert and volunteer, who leap with zeal on any comment that might be seen to contradict the official Zionist party line.

It’s used as a hashtag on Twitter.

Already in 2007, anti-Zionist Matthew Duss, now with FMEP, wrote the phrase “peddling hasbarist myths” and in 2009, it was used by a hateful, duplicitous and prevaricating Jewish anti-Zionist so “N.Y. Times Publishes Hasbarist’s Dream Op Ed on Iran”. Border-line nazist, Max Blumenthal, uses it regularly. And it was used in 2008, too. A friend of mine was called a ‘hasbarista’, a spiteful play on barista. You can find this: “Israel Mad Machine of Hasbarists” and Abe Foxman was described as “the Anti-Defamation League's hasbarist-in-chief”. It can get linguistically nasty: “You stupid Askenazi. There are lies, damned lies and hasbarist propaganda”.

Well, there may be now a counter-term.

Pasbara was one suggestion (I would use Palsbara as I employ ‘Pals’ instead of “Palestinians”).

Some Thoughts Concerning Why the Media Ignores Jihadists in Israel

Why does the Times continue to relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

26 January '15..

Summary: According to the Times, terrorists in Europe and Israel are very different and have different motivations. If they weren’t, the hope that two states (Israel and Palestine) could live side-by-side in peace would obviously disappear.

The New York Times has taken to breaking the universe of Islamic terrorists attacking civilians into two camps: those that are hardened and trained to commit attacks, and those that do so as a result of their personal situation as opposed to their beliefs. Curiously, that line is defined by geography.

Consider the January 17, 2015 reporting about the raids that prevented a terrorist attack in Belgium. The Times discussed “the expanding threat from radical jihadists, many of them battle-hardened in Syria and Iraq.” Another article on the same day questioned why Lunel, a small town in France “has come to earn the dubious distinction as a breeding ground for jihadists.” A third article that day clearly stated that attacks in Paris against the magazine Charlie Hebdo were by “jihadist gunmen”. In Europe, the Times is clear that attacks against civilians are done by radical jihadists. While the articles discussed Muslim anger at the insult to their prophet Mohammed by the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that ultimately instigated the attacks, that anger was only the final motivating factor to unleash actions embedded in the radical jihadist philosophy.

The Times does not view attacks against Israelis the same way.

On January 23, 2015 the NY Times explored the motivation of a Palestinian who stabbed a dozen Israeli civilians on a bus in Tel Aviv. Over and again the Times referred to the man as “angered by the war in Gaza… and tensions over the revered Aqsa Mosque.” The article stated that “the family was in debt and struggling” and described this assailant as well as another who attempted to assassinate a Jewish activist as stories of “dislocation”. The New York Times deliberately kept the motivations away from any categorization of “radical jihad” by saying that the assailant “was not considered an extremist.

This description fits consistently with the Times narrative as written in its editorial page on January 1, when it described the Palestinians as “desperate.” The opinion piece suggested that the Palestinians are “deeply frustrated” by their lack of a state. The Times does not feel that Palestinians are engaged in a radical jihad against Israel in the same way European cities are facing Islamic extremism. It is curious that they arrive at such a conclusion when there are Palestinian polls and elections that consistently show an overwhelming support for Hamas, which mentions “jihad” against Israel 36 times in its charter (see the FirstOneThrough article below).

Several articles in the Times mentioned the anti-Semitism harbored by Amedy Coulibaly, the French Muslim who shot a policeman and four Jews in a kosher supermarket in Paris. They discussed his allegiance to the Islamic State which seeks to build a new state in the Middle East ruled by Islamic sharia law. However, the New York Times never mentioned that the Palestinians are the most anti-Semitic people in the world, with 93% of the population holding anti-Jewish views. It neglected to inform its readers that the popular Hamas party seeks to completely destroy Israel and set up an Islamic state ruled by sharia law.

Why does the Times continue to relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

Examining Kerry’s Diplomatic Protection Racket and Netanyahu’s Reelection Campaign

...The same paranoia and psychological projection seems to infect all those involved in Obama’s political campaigns: they assume American Jewish donor money is behind all opposition. It does appear to be an escalation, however, for the State Department to be pressuring Netanyahu into making concessions to the Palestinians while funding groups working to defeat him. I would say it’s a conflict of interests, but it’s more like a concert of interests—all the levers of the Obama administration’s anti-Netanyahu efforts pulling in the same direction.

Seth Mandel..
Commentary Magazine..
27 January '15

The U.S. political scene churns out quite a number of battle-tested campaign strategists. And we export them. Hence, when the dust settled on Israel’s surprising 2013 Knesset elections, the Forward noted that the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat were felt acutely by several Americans: “[Mark] Mellman led Yesh Atid’s campaign; Finkelstein and his partner, George Birnbaum, worked on Netanyahu’s campaign; the Labor Party relied on the services of Stanley Greenberg, and Kadima hired David Eichenbaum.” So the newsworthy part of the revelation that an Obama campaign field director is in Israel working against Netanyahu’s reelection this year is not that fact itself, but rather that this group has been receiving money from John Kerry’s State Department.

As our former COMMENTARY colleague Alana Goodman notes over at the Free Beacon, Haaretz this week broke news that an American organization called OneVoice International has joined up with an Israeli organization called V15. OneVoice has received two State Department grants in the past year, and Jeremy Bird, a former national field director for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, will be working with the effort from an office in Tel Aviv, according to Haaretz. The groups are believed to be behind the “anyone but Bibi” mantra floating around left-of-center political circles in the leadup to the election. Goodman writes:

While V15 has not endorsed any particular candidates, it is working to oppose Netanyahu in the March elections.

“We’ve formed a partnership with [V15], but it’s important to know we’re absolutely nonpartisan,” Taler told the Washington Free Beacon. “Our biggest emphasis and focus right now is just getting people out to vote.”

OneVoice said in a press release on Tuesday that it is teaming up with V15 because Israel “need[s] a prime minister and a government who will be responsive to the people.”

It is tempting to see this story in light of the ongoing feud between Obama and Netanyahu in which both men have stumbled in trying to win each news cycle devoted to the drama. But if Obama even knows who Bird is, it’s doubtful he’s taking any direction from the president. It’s not inappropriate for Bird to follow in the footsteps of numerous other campaign veterans to find some work in Israel during American off-years.

What is more interesting is that the group involved has been receiving grants from the State Department. OneVoice didn’t have a convincing rejoinder to the news, so they gave Goodman the following canned response:

Taler said the group is not using this money for its Israeli election-related efforts.

“No government funding has gone toward any of the activities we’re doing right now whatsoever,” she said.

It’s silly, because of course money is fungible. But what could she say? More concerning is that this fits into a topic we’ve covered here extensively: the peace process, especially as led by John Kerry, resembles nothing so much as a diplomatic protection racket. There was his claim to Israeli TV that the alternative to more Israeli concessions was a “third intifada,” giving the prospect of anti-Semitic violence dangerous credibility. (The country seemed on the verge of just such an intifada after Kerry’s talks predictably failed.) And then there was the American warning that Kerry’s diplomatic initiative was the only thing holding back EU sanctions against Israel. Should Kerry come away without a deal, there would be no stopping European retaliatory actions against Israel.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Concerning That Netanyahu Invitation to Address Congress

...But the White House’s whining about Boehner’s invitation is amateurish, and for the reasons Mead explained it will persuade few Americans beyond the Beltway. Given the situation in the Middle East and the state of nuclear negotiations with Iran (where the United States has abandoned almost every red line it ever set), it’s no wonder Obama would like to silence Netanyahu–and no wonder that Netanyahu wants to speak about Iran and that the Speaker wants to hear him.

Elliott Abrams..
Pressure Points..
26 January '15..

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last addressed a joint session of Congress in 2011. At that time Walter Russell Mead wrote a remarkable comment on the speech Netanyahu made and the reception he received. Mead’s comment, in his blog at The American Interest, included this passage:

Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth. Well beyond the American Jewish and the Protestant fundamentalist communities, the people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul. The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism. The belief that God favors and protects Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America.

It means more. The existence of Israel means that the God of the Bible is still watching out for the well-being of the human race. For many American Christians who are nothing like fundamentalists, the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land and their creation of a successful, democratic state after two thousand years of oppression and exile is a clear sign that the religion of the Bible can be trusted.

Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-American and pro-faith. Substantial numbers of voters believe that politicians who don’t ‘get’ Israel don’t ‘get’ America and don’t ‘get’ God.

Obama administration officials who are trying to argue that Netanyahu’s invitation from Speaker Boehner is outrageous and political (just a few days after the president got British prime minister Cameron to lobby Congress directly) will lose the argument. Iran’s nuclear program is one of the most significant national security issues we face and an even larger issue for Israel, and Israel is one of this country’s closest allies.

Iran's Continuing Efforts to Encircle the Gulf and Israel

...Iran is not interested in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip or providing shelter to thousands of Palestinian families who lost their homes during the last war. The only thing Iran is interested in there is turning Hamas into another Iranian-backed army that would be used to attack Israel. This is all happening at a time when the Obama Administration is busy preparing for another round of talks with Iran over its nuclear program. It is obvious by now that Tehran is using these negotiations to divert attention from its efforts to deepen its involvement in the Middle East, with the hope of taking over the oil fields and eliminating Israel.

Khaled Abu Toameh..
Gatestone Institute..
27 January '15..

As U.S. President Barack Obama continues to seek a negotiated deal on Iran's nuclear program, the Iranians have been working hard in recent weeks to infiltrate the Palestinian arena and re-establish ties with their erstwhile ally, Hamas.

Emboldened by Obama's obsession with the nuclear negotiations, which are set to resume next month, Iran's leaders apparently trust that the Obama Administration is prepared to turn a blind eye to whatever they do.

So the Iranians are apparently feeling free to meddle once again in the internal affairs of the Palestinians, to strengthen their hand still further in the Middle East.

With bases in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, Iran has surrounded Saudi Arabia and all the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. This encirclement can be comfortably backed with Iran's ongoing nuclear weapons program.

Tehran's main goal is to regain control over the Palestinian Islamist movement so that it can turn itself into a player in the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The Iranians already have Hezbollah sitting on Israel's northern border. All they need now is another terror group in Gaza to the south, in order to create a similar encirclement. And they are working hard to achieve this goal.

Relations between Iran and Hamas had become strained after Hamas's refusal to support the regime of Iran's client, Syria's Bashar Assad, in his fight against the Syrian opposition forces.

Iran and Hamas need each other badly. Iran wants Hamas because it does not have many Sunni allies left in the region. An alliance with Hamas would enable Iran to rid itself of charges that it is leading a Shiite camp fighting against the Sunnis.

Hamas, for its part, is desperate for any outside support, especially in wake of its increased isolation in the Palestinian and international arenas.

Hamas is also beginning to feel the heat at home in light of its failure to rebuild the Gaza Strip after last summer's war with Israel. Hamas leaders are now hoping that Iran will resume its financial aid to the movement and avoid a situation where Palestinians might revolt against it.

Egypt's tough security measures along its border with the Gaza Strip, including the demolition of hundreds of smuggling tunnels and the creation of a security zone, have also tightened the noose on Hamas.

Hamas leaders say they have taken a "strategic" decision to restore their ties with Iran. Ismail Haniyeh, the former prime minister of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, announced recently that his movement is working toward establishing "open relations" with Iran.

Who Might Ask Whether It's Misguided to Fight for Jewish Rights?

...Indeed, who is the only source Rudoren can produce to justify the headline about the Law Center’s efforts being “misguided?” The Israeli attorney who had been defending the Palestinian Authority in cases relating to its financial support for terrorists described her as a “nuisance.” I’m sure his clients and others who believe those who commit terrorism against Jewish Americans and Israelis feel the same way. But it’s hard to see why anyone else would view her activities in that same light.

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

Lawfare is the term for the practice of employing legal proceedings to wage a kind of war on a country or cause. For the most part, the State of Israel has been on the receiving end of this effort as non-governmental organizations and others purporting to support the cause of human rights have attempted to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist and to self-defense with specious efforts to arraign before the bar of justice. But not everybody in Israel believes the best way to counter these attacks is to play defense or simply ignore it. Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner founded Shurat HaDin—the Israel Law Center in 2004 to use the law to not only work for the rights of Jewish victims of terrorism but also to make the terrorists, state sponsors, and enablers in the business world pay for their crimes. For this she was rewarded with an article profiling her activities in yesterday’s New York Times that posed the question in its headline as to whether her work was “misguided,” a clear indication of the opinion of the paper’s editors. But that verdict can only be sustained if you believe those who support terrorism deserve legal impunity.

The piece by Jodi Rudoren does provide us with yet another tortured food metaphor from the paper’s Jerusalem bureau chief. In describing her relentless efforts to keep probing legal foes for weaknesses and to adopt the best strategies, Darshan-Leitner made an analogy to baking challah for the Sabbath. Rudoren uses that one line to attempt to gain some insight on her subject’s career but it doesn’t work.

Even less convincing is Rudoren’s effort to put down Darshan-Leitner as either a worthless publicity hound/profiteer or an impediment to the peace process. Indeed, who is the only source Rudoren can produce to justify the headline about the Law Center’s efforts being “misguided?” The Israeli attorney who had been defending the Palestinian Authority in cases relating to its financial support for terrorists described her as a “nuisance.” I’m sure his clients and others who believe those who commit terrorism against Jewish Americans and Israelis feel the same way. But it’s hard to see why anyone else would view her activities in that same light.

Reporting on the ‘Ordinary Life’ of a Palestinian Terrorist at the NY Times

...It seemed so obvious, especially to a Times reporter in Jerusalem, when she explained: “All the Palestinian people are following what’s happening in Al Aqsa and Gaza, and he is one of the Palestinian people.” Ms. Kershner did not care to note that nothing is happening in Al Aqsa, except for Muslim prayer. And Gaza has been quiet for months, while Hamas doubtlessly prepares to dig more tunnels and rebuild its rocket supply. Matrouk was “said to be pious” and “prayed regularly at mosques.” And, his mother reported, “from a young age, we have always said we should do good things in order to go to paradise. In his opinion, this was a good thing.” Strange how paradise for Muslims is filled with murdered Jews.

Jerold Auerbach..
The Algemeiner..
26 January '15..

Even when New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren is otherwise occupied, its coverage of Israel is worse than dismal; it is palpably distorted, if politely biased. Case in point: Isabel Kershner’s report (January 22) on the 23-year-old Palestinian whose knifing rampage on a Tel Aviv bus resulted in the stabbing of a dozen Israelis, several of whom are still hospitalized with serious wounds.

Terrorist assailant Hamza Matrouk, readers were informed, lived an “ordinary life” in a simple farming village in “the Israeli-occupied West Bank” (also known as biblical Judea and Samaria). Residents indicated that he was “quiet and introspective.” Yet “for young people and others in the village,” who were “angered by the war in Gaza” (now months ago) and by “recent tensions over the revered Aqsa Mosque” (tensions fomented by Palestinians on the Temple Mount, the holiest Jewish site), the knife-crazed assailant had become, predictably, “an instant hero.” As a neighbor declared: “We are proud of him. . . . Every Palestinian should be proud of him.”

Judging from her reporting, Ms. Kershner may also be proud of him. Matrouk must now be included among those individuals whose “spontaneity” is unencumbered by any organizational backing – as though Hamas, Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Al-Aqsa Brigade, among others, provide insufficient inspiration for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. He “was not considered an extremist” nor, Kirshner was informed, was he “known to be affiliated with any Palestinian political or militant faction.” He was just an ordinary 23-year-old, she reported, who found electrical work where he could and considerately helped his mother in her Ramallah clothing store.

Under arrest for his terrorist rampage, Matrouk cited the Gaza fighting, Al-Aqsa tensions, and “radical Islamic content on the Internet” as inspiration for his knife-slashing assault on innocent Israelis. To Ms. Kershner, however, his “story” has nothing to do with Palestinian or Islamic incitement and Hamas rocket attacks against Israelis: “it is one of dislocation in a conservative society.” But that may say more about her than about him. To be sure, his parents are divorced; his mother and children lived in a refugee camp for six years before moving to the simple village of Al Jib, which Ms. Kershner takes pains to point out is within view of “the high-rises of a nearby Jewish settlement.”

Ms. Kershner compares Matrouk to another “recent assailant” (a.k.a attempted assassin), who tried to kill Rabbi Yehuda Glick for his temerity in advocating Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. Muataz Hijazi by name, he “also experienced a form of dislocation” after his family returned to Jerusalem from the United Arab Emirates. She concedes, however, that other Palestinian terrorists “had lived in the same houses since birth.” Unwittingly, she undercuts her own empathy for “dislocated” Palestinian assailants by including them with comfortably rooted terrorists.