Sunday, March 1, 2015

Why the Manufactured Crisis Between the United States and Israel?

...Perhaps this manufactured crisis will diminish after Netanyahu’s speech, where he is likely to say things that many Democrats still agree with. Perhaps it will diminish if Iran rejects any deal, even on the terms the Obama administration is offering. Perhaps Netanyahu will lose his election and a new Labor Party-led government will appear in Jerusalem. But more likely, the remaining 23 months of the Obama administration will be months of continuing tension between Israel and the United States. That is because the administration desires that tension and views it as productive. The problem is not Netanyahu’s speech, which right or wrong to deliver should be a minor and passing factor in bilateral relations. The real issues are deeper and far more serious. This president has fostered a crisis in relations because it advances his own political and policy goals. That is what his subordinates and many Democrats in Congress are trying very hard, and with real success, to obfuscate.

Elliott Abrams..
The Weekly Standard..
26 February '15..

The crisis between the United States and Israel has been manufactured by the Obama administration. Building a crisis up or down is well within the administration’s power, and it has chosen to build it up. Why? Three reasons: to damage and defeat Netanyahu (whom Obama has always disliked simply because he is on the right while Obama is on the left) in his election campaign, to prevent Israel from affecting the Iran policy debate in the United States, and worst of all to diminish Israel’s popularity in the United States and especially among Democrats.

Suppose for a moment that the Netanyahu speech before Congress is a mistake, a breach of protocol, a campaign maneuver, indeed all the bad things the White House is calling it. Grant all of that for a moment for the sake of argument and the behavior of the Obama administration is still inexplicable. Clearly more is behind its conduct than mere pique over the speech.

First comes the personal relationship and the desire to see Netanyahu lose the election. Recall that Obama became president before Netanyahu became prime minister, and it is obvious that the dislike was both personal and political before Netanyahu had done anything. Obama does not like people on the right, period—Americans, Israelis, Australians, you name it. Obama also decided immediately on taking office to pick a fight with Israel and make construction in settlements and in Jerusalem the central issue in U.S.-Israeli relations. Remember that he appointed George Mitchell as his special negotiator one day after assuming the presidency, and Mitchell was the father of the demand that construction—including even construction to accommodate what Mitchell called “natural growth” of families in settlement populations—be stopped dead. A confrontation was inevitable, and was desired by the White House.

Obama has overplayed his hand, in the sense that in poll after poll Israelis say that they do not support his Middle East policies. Historically, an Israeli prime minister loses domestic support when he cannot manage relations with Washington. This year may be the exception, the time when Israelis want a prime minister to oppose U.S. policies they view as dangerous. They may also believe that the Obama administration is simply so hostile that no prime minister could avoid confrontations.

More Than Flawed, More Than Wrong - Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

...Attacking the Jewish faith is not a path to peace. Antisemitic calls for banning Jews from anywhere – let alone places they consider holy and lived in for thousands of years – is disgraceful. The “Human Stain” is Kristof’s and those that share such sentiments.

Judean Desert down to the Jordan Valley
FirstOneThrough..
Israel Analysis..
27 February '15..

On February 26, 2015, Nicholas Kristof wrote an op-ed in the New York Times called “The Human Stain” that was more than flawed- it was wrong; it was more than anti-Israel, it was anti-Semitic.

Among the many incorrect and racist statements were his claims that the “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem” were Arab. Here are some quick thoughts about his statement that “nibbling of Arab land is just plain wrong.”

Geography

The west bank of the Jordan and eastern Jerusalem are not part of the Arabian Peninsula. That landmass is located east of Israel. The borders of the region are surrounded by water on three sides (the peninsula) and the northwestern edge of Saudi Arabia is the land border.

The countries that constitute the Arab land in addition to Saudi Arabia are: Oman; Kuwait; UAE; Bahrain; Qatar; and Yemen. The Arabian Plate on which the peninsula rests includes parts of southern Jordan and southern Iraq.

Neither the Arabian Peninsula nor the Arabian plate cross the Jordan River, hence there is no geographical basis for referring to any land west of the Jordan as “Arab Land.”

Population

The “Arab Nation” spread beyond the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th and 8th centuries when Muslim invasion of neighboring lands brought Islam and Arabs to those areas. Those Muslim conquests brought Arabs to southern Spain called Andalusia. No one refers to Spain as Arab land today.

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Updates throughout the day at http://calevbenyefuneh.blogspot.com. 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
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Facts, dam facts, and non-factual inventions aimed at the gullible

Affairs like the attack-dam myth get propagated widely because, for the professionals of the news reporting industry, their anti-Israel character is enough to overcome the absence of a factual basis and the nonsense logic underpinning them. For those of us who depend on them (to whatever extent) for information and ideas, we have much to fear from today's industrialized mainstream news channels.

Friday's revised AFP report on that Gaza flooding
[Screen capture from this source]
Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
01 March '15..

A number of news channels reported this past Monday ["23-Feb-15: Dam!"] about a malicious Israeli "attack dam" strategy. With Hamas regime spokespeople in Gaza as their source, they dutifully repeated serious charges about Israel opening the gates of its dams in southern Israel so that floodwaters would pour into the teeming communities of the wretched Gaza Strip.

Not a single reporter saw anything to confirm the claims. Nor were the dams named or located. None of this, however, prevented some of the most respected names in journalism from reporting that Israel's actions were malicious and calculated to increase Gazan suffering.

We followed up a day later ["24-Feb-15: The mess that the receding flood waters reveal"] with some observations about how some of the silly media people were dealing with having been conned:

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Updates throughout the day at http://calevbenyefuneh.blogspot.com. 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
.

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..
CarolineGlick.com..
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..







EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

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.

(Continue)