Archive for March, 2011

US Mideast goals — what are they?

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

It’s fun to speculate on what drives our administration’s varied responses to unrest in the Middle East.

For Iran, whose regime is trying to develop nukes, take control of the region, push out US influence and eliminate Israel (supposedly a US ally); where political rallies often include chants of “death to America”: a stolen election and murderous violence against honestly pro-democracy protesters was met with mild verbal rebukes. After attempts to apply effective sanctions failed, the administration seems to have forgotten about the Iranian nuclear program.

For Syria, whose dictator helps insurgents kill our soldiers in Iraq, murders politicians in Lebanon, supplies Hizballah and Hamas, stockpiles chemical weapons and tries to develop nuclear ones, and orders security forces to shoot demonstrators: our government renews relations and tries to help it get possession of the strategic Golan Heights from Israel.

For Egypt, in which a mildly brutal dictator (in comparison to Syria’s Assad, for example) mostly supported American interests and opposed Iran: the US encouraged the dictator’s removal, despite clear warnings (that are beginning to come true) that the alternative was not democracy, but Islamism.

In Libya, we jumped head-first into a civil war and only afterward decided to figure out on whose behalf we are intervening.  The first week or so has already cost us $600 million, and our guys (whoever they may be) seem to be losing.

For Israel, a truly democratic and friendly country which could be hugely helpful to the US in keeping a foothold in a region whose resources are essential to its economy, a country which has been under attack for years by forces that want to kill its people and take its land: the US applies pressure to give in to terrorist blackmail, cede territory and weaken security measures.

What’s happening in the Mideast is that authoritarian regimes are mostly weaker than they look. Their opponents — Islamists, ethnic groups other than the presently dominant one, opportunists and democrats — are trying to replace them. Whichever one can get the support of the most powerful armed groups or is the most ruthless will win. This will very rarely be the democrats! In Israel it’s a bit different since the government is democratic. But the groups that want to overthrow it — a segment of the ‘Israeli Arabs’ and the Palestinian Arab factions — are also made up of of Islamists and Arab nationalists.

The important question for US policy is “which of these groups is most likely to support US interests and oppose Iran?” But it doesn’t look like they are asking this question in Washington.

If I had just stepped out of an alien spaceship, I could be excused for thinking that the US is following the lead of countries like Turkey, and joining the Iranian bloc.

The stuff about trying to protect civilians looks good on TV, but doesn’t explain why we did nothing in the case of Iran and intend to do nothing about Syria. There has also been deadly violence in Yemen and Bahrain, but we’ve not intervened there (and a good thing, too). Of course there’s a lot of oil in Libya, but there is in Iran as well.

In the case of Israel, the establishment of a Hamas-Fatah terror state in Judea and Samaria will produce more terrorism and even war, just as the withdrawal from Gaza did. The best way to protect civilians there would be to prevent this from happening, not encourage it.

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Shorts: demolishing J street, killing racists

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Buy Israel Day

Today is BUY ISRAEL DAY. Go out and buy lots of Israeli products. Now.

Yaakov Lozowick demolishes J Street

There are three kinds of bloggers: those who can’t write, those who can’t think and those who can neither write nor think. And then there are the exceptions, like Yaakov Lozowick, who explains exactly what’s wrong with J Street in a short but devastating post. Read all of it, but I’ll quote a little (OK, more than a little) to give you an idea:

First, Meretz positions sound different and more acceptable from Israelis. The reason the party has lost most of its voters is that we’ve empirically tested its proposals, and lots of people have died as a result – not once, but repeatedly, in 1993-6, in 2000 (twice, once in Lebanon and once with the Palestinians), in 2002, in 2005, and in 2006; arguably also in 2008. Having its basic assumptions serially disproved has discredited Meretz, but if after all that some Israelis still wish to hang on, that’s their right; the rest of us don’t take them seriously, and that’s our right…

The J Street people seem not to have noticed any of this, which is either very peculiar or very disturbing. If they’ve simply not been watching, what gives them the right to have an opinion about life and death matters they can’t make the effort to understand? If they’ve been watching and refuse to accept what is there to be seen, how exactly do they portray themselves as being on our side?

Second, there’s a consistent tone of disdain of Israeli society coming from these people which I find arrogant and very distasteful. Americans left and right have lost their civility in political discourse; Israelis, admittedly, never had it. Yet there are codes in language, deeper than mere words, and the subtext of these J Street spokesmen when discussing Jews from Russia, religious Jews and centrist Jews, is ugly. I find no other word for it. Just as their compassion for Israel’s Arabs (the citizens) is odd. There’s a level of identification with them which is totally lacking when they talk about the majority of the Israeli Jews. I say this as someone who wishes only the best for Israel’s Arabs.

Another widespread sentiment they’ve got about Israelis is moral superiority. We American Jews, we understand human rights, democracy, dignity and so on, not like our benighted Israeli cousins who need to learn from us because they’ve turned into an embarrassment. I’m not going to respond in detail to this, but it needs to be rejected vehemently. It’s the opposite which is true. Israeli Jews, unlike American ones, live in a hard reality which beats down on those admirable human values and could easily smother them. Yet it doesn’t. Israelis know more about raising children to be moral human beings at time of adversity, more about respecting one’s enemy’s dignity, more about respect for law under extreme duress, than most American Jews can even begin to imagine. How could they? When are they ever faced with true moral quandaries, or required to pay a price for preserving their values? Do Israelis sometimes fail? Of course. Are American Jews ever put in situations where they’re ever even tried? Perhaps, but they don’t spring to mind.

Then there’s the matter of having enemies. Nothing I heard in all those speeches gave any cause to believe the speakers understand what an enemy is; they certainly can’t imagine the Palestinians are such…There’s a war on, it’s not over, and it’s not something that can be talked away with nice sentiments. War mean enemies: a concept – I repeat myself but it’s a crucial distinction – the J-Street people seem quite oblivious of. So far as I can tell, they can’t imagine an enemy, astonishing as that may sound.

Are you listening, Rabbi Richard Jacobs?

Is it permitted to kill a ‘racist’?

You may remember that the assassin of Meir Kahane, El Sayyid Nosair, was acquitted of murder in 1991 while being found guilty of assault and a firearms violation:

State Supreme Court Justice Alvin Schlesinger said the jury’s decision to acquit the immigrant, El Sayyid A. Nosair, of murder last month “was against the overwhelming weight of evidence and was devoid of common sense and logic.”

Saying he wished he could have given a longer sentence, Justice Schlesinger said, “This was not a simple case of gun possession,” but was instead “a case of extreme violence visited on this city.”

“I believe the defendant conducted a rape of this country, of our Constitution and of our laws, and of people seeking to exist peacefully together,” the judge said as he peered sternly at the 36-year-old defendant clad in Arab attire at the defense table. — NY Tmes (1/30/92)

Nosair was tried again in 1994 for criminal conspiracy in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and convicted. The murder of Kahane was included as part of the conspiracy, and he received a life sentence. But what happened in 1991?

At first, William M. Kunstler thought the evidence against El Sayyid A. Nosair for the murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane appeared so overwhelming that he advised his client to plead insanity. When the case went to the jury on Wednesday, he was pessimistic.

Yesterday, as he jubilantly reviewed the trial’s ending — a Manhattan jury’s verdict on Saturday acquitting Mr. Nosair of murder and attempted murder charges but convicting him of lesser charges , Mr. Kunstler called the split verdict “strange, irrational, inconsistent and repugnant” and said the convictions would be appealed.

Mr. Kunstler, in a telephone interview yesterday from Puerto Rico, where he is on vacation, said the selection of jurors was the defense’s critical move.

He said that he and the co-counsels, M. Shanara Gilbert and Michael W. Warren, strove for a jury of “third-world people” and “people who were not yuppies or establishment types.”

“These jurors understand life as it is lived,” Mr. Kunstler said of the jury of nine women and three men.

Except for a woman who had worked for an Israeli bank, Mr. Kunstler noted that the defense, through challenges, eliminated potential jurors who supported Israel and might have been biased against Mr. Nosair because he is an Arab. — NY Times (12/23/91)

A classic case of jurors ‘nullifying’ the application of a law that they don’t agree with. Apparently in their minds, killing a ‘racist’, especially a Jewish one, is not a crime.

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What to expect this summer

Monday, March 28th, 2011

News item:

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel is considering annexing major West Bank settlement blocs if the Palestinians unilaterally seek world recognition of a state, an Israeli official said Tuesday — moves that would deal a grave blow to prospects for negotiating a peace deal between the two sides.

Israel has refrained from taking such a diplomatically explosive step for four decades. The fact that it is considering doing so reflects how seriously it is concerned by the Palestinian campaign to win international recognition of a state in the absence of peacemaking…

Israel annexed east Jerusalem, home to shrines sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, immediately after seizing it. But it carefully avoided annexing the West Bank, where 300,000 settlers now live among 2.5 million Palestinians.

The Arabs are playing a serious game, and we need to see several moves ahead if we are going to beat them.  Unfortunately they played the opening and most of the mid-game much more competently than we did, and our present position is poor. We gave up a lot when we in effect ceded the Temple Mount in 1967, and more at Oslo. But no use crying over spilt milk.

We have to deal with some facts that are unchangeable as premises:

  • There can be no accommodation with any Palestinian Arab faction. All of them are committed to the elimination of the Jewish state.
  • The West almost universally believes (or pretends to believe) that Israel could survive within 1949 lines and that areas outside them ‘belong’ to the ‘Palestinians’. These propositions are both false, but it’s a waste of time trying to change their minds.

A unilateral declaration of ‘Palestine’, even if approved by the UN, will not immediately establish the 1949 lines as borders. The West is much more likely to agree to a new Mandate, in which some power — perhaps the Quartet — will implement a gradual phase-in and adjustment of borders. Some settlements may be permitted to remain, with land swaps. Basically it will be the ‘Obama plan’, except that it will be imposed, not agreed upon.

It goes without saying that this will be highly disadvantageous to Israel, because there will only be lip service paid to Israel’s security concerns, and none at all to the importance of some sites to Judaism (only Islam gets to have religious sensibilities taken into account. Muhammad’s hitching post is more relevant than Abraham and Sarah’s tomb).

I’m not sure if it will be possible to forestall this by annexing settlement blocs — or by any other practical action — today. After all, the ‘international community’ still insists that Israel’s annexation of eastern Jerusalem in 1980 is null and void.

However there are issues that make annexation of territory important. There is the  strategic imperative that Israel must control the Jordan Valley as well as high ground near Israeli population centers. It will not be acceptable to withdraw to what have been called ‘Auschwitz borders’. There is the need for an IDF presence and infrastructure to protect what are likely to become the new borders of the state — and they will not be quiet ones.

From a psychological and morale point of view it is absolutely necessary to minimize any expulsion of Jews from the territories, particularly from areas of religious importance like Hevron. Remember that Palestinian Arab leader Mahmoud Abbas has said that “no Israeli presence” will remain in ‘Palestine’.

There are those who say “just take over all of Judea and Samaria and kick out the Arabs.” But an attempt to do so would probably bring about direct intervention on the Libyan model. Annexation of critical areas should be done with minimal, if any, displacement of Arab populations.

Israel must prepare itself for the establishment of a new Gaza — a confrontation state — to the East. I can’t see a way to prevent it, so the best approach will be to reduce the strategic dangers it will pose as much as possible.

There is a more immediate Arab move to prepare the ground for the declaration of ‘Palestine’. This is a (probably already planned) outbreak of violent riots and terrorist attacks both among ‘Israeli Arabs’ and Arabs in the territories. This will be presented along the lines of the ‘Arab spring’ in which oppressed people are fighting for their freedom against oppressors.

Inside Israel the cries will be against ‘discrimination’ and for the conversion of the ‘apartheid’ state into one in which Arabs will have their ‘full rights’. This will be a ‘de-Zionized’ state, following the principles already laid out in the ‘Haifa declaration’ (see here and here). In the territories, it will be a demand for the declaration of ‘Palestine’ according to 1949 lines.

Israel’s attempts to control demonstrations and to prevent and respond to terrorism will be presented as oppressive actions by a dictatorial regime intent on preserving its control over a subject population. There will be cries of pain, atrocity stories and calls for immediate intervention. We can expect support for the Palestinians from the entire Muslim world.

So once again the Arab war to get the Jews out of the Middle East will be recast as a narrow conflict between a powerful Israel and oppressed Palestinian Arabs.

It isn’t possible to forestall this either. But preparations should be made for containing it, for deterring Hamas and Hizballah from opening additional fronts, and for getting the true story out to what’s left of Israel’s friends in the West.

It is going to be a very difficult summer and fall.

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Quote of the year (special edition): Hillary Clinton

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

On the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Madame Secretary spoke of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad thus:

Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.

One wonders: is she talking about our Bashar al-Assad, the one that lives on Earth? The one who recently got caught building an illegal nuclear reactor with North Korean help? The one who had the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri, as well as numerous members of the Lebanese Parliament, murdered? The one that supplied Iranian arms to Hizballah, making the Second Lebanon War possible, and who resupplied them (and way more) after the war, making the next one possible? The one that allows free passage into Iraq for Sunni ‘insurgents’ so they can place IEDs in the path of American soldiers?

That one?

Well, I bet you think that makes Mrs. Clinton really dumb. But she has competition. The article linked above continues:

A key supporter of Mr. Assad in Washington has been Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The former presidential candidate has held nearly a half-dozen meetings with Mr. Assad in recent years, according to this staff. The two men have sought to map out the terms of a renewed Syrian-Israel peace track.

Even this month, as protests starting gripping Syria, Mr. Kerry said he thought Syria’s president was an agent for change.

“President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had,” Mr. Kerry said during a March speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “I think it’s incumbent on us to try to move that relationship forward in the same way.”

I should mention that after all of these meetings, after President Obama sent an ambassador to Syria (the previous one was recalled after the Hariri murder), Assad has not stopped supplying Hizballah, has not stopped helping terrorists kill Americans and Iraqis, has not actually done anything that we’d like. Instead, he’s moved closer to Iran.

Syria is in every way a police state. Dissenters go to jail or just disappear. The ruling family enriches itself at the expense of an impoverished nation, including masses of bitterly poor people, former farmers who moved to the cities when stupid and venal policies combined with a drought dispossessed them. Assad’s security forces have shot down dozens of protesters. This is a “reformer?”

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Don’t activate Iron Dome

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Israel has deployed the ‘Iron Dome’ system, which is intended to intercept and destroy short-range rockets like Qassams and Grads, near Be’er Sheva. President Obama has promised to ask the US Congress for $205 million in aid to pay for additional systems.

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It’s an incredible feat of engineering: to detect a rocket within a few seconds of launch, determine if it is headed for a populated area, and intercept it if so. It’s possible that it could save Israeli lives.

Nevertheless, there are technical and political reasons to not turn it on today:

  • At present it can’t intercept missiles with flight time of less than 15 seconds. Rockets can be launched from Gaza against nearby towns which can arrive in less time than this.
  • Each interceptor that is fired costs $100,000. Hamas and friends could launch large numbers of cheap Qassams as an effective form of economic warfare.
  • Such a system would be most useful in wartime, when large rocket attacks are expected. But if it is activated now, the enemy will gain information about how to defeat it.
  • The presence of such a system makes it possible for Israel to tolerate what is actually an intolerable situation. Hamas and Hizballah will continue to build and stockpile rockets, build fortifications, etc.
  • From the US and international point of view, especially if the US funds additional systems, any actions that Israel takes against terrorists and their infrastructure, will be assumed to be unjustified and ‘disproportionate’.

One plan that was discussed was to use Iron Dome or similar systems only to defend airfields and other military installations. This would be a rational policy, on the assumption that the IDF will retaliate against rockets fired at civilian targets. The area of these bases is smaller, they are easier and cheaper to protect, and in the case of war their defense could make the difference between victory and defeat. But of course it’s impossible to tell people (at least in an open society) that you have the means to save their lives but won’t do it for reasons of cost!

Given the cheapness of the short range missiles, the response of the enemy to the deployment of this kind of system will be to fire ever more of them. Because of the political consequences mentioned above, Israel will be loathe to strike back aggressively. The lack of retaliation will, in turn, lead to  — no surprise — still more rockets.

I would prefer to see the first systems deployed to protect military assets. As more are built, they may be deployed around civilian areas. But the latter should not be turned on yet — they should be kept in reserve in case of war.

Meanwhile, Israel should become even more aggressive in its responses to missile attacks on civilian targets, using disproportionate force against Hamas infrastructure and personnel.

Israel’s traditional philosophy has been that of active self-defense — to preempt enemy attacks and to carry war into the enemy’s own territory. This doctrine is necessitated by Israel’s small size and lack of strategic depth and resources. There would not be an Israel today were it not for this approach.

Her enemies understand this quite well and have carried out a systematic campaign in the political and information arenas to undermine this. The Goldstone report and the way the majority of world media spun the Mavi Marmara affair are examples of how they have succeeded in recasting self-defense as aggression, completely inverting reality in both cases.

It’s not surprising that the Obama administration — at best, thinking wishfully and at worst hostile — is pleased to help Israel pay for more Iron Dome systems. It would be happy to see Israel hunkered down inside passive defense systems, which in the event of war might or might not work. At least there would be no embarrassing targeted killings or accidental civilian Arab casualties.

But if they don’t work, there is no place to fall back to.

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Moty & Udi: Contingencies

Friday, March 25th, 2011

One of the things they stay up nights to do in the kiriya, the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, is contingency planning. What if Hizballah and Hamas launch their missiles in a coordinated attack? What if the new Egyptian government allows Hamas to get even more sophisticated weapons (this one appears to be moot already)? And so forth.

I hope that the policy people are doing similar planning. For example, what if the UN — in the form of the Security Council or the General Assembly — recognizes the state of ‘Palestine’ according to the 1949 lines?

Actually, I don’t think the question is a ‘what if’ — it’s a ‘when’. And when is probably before the end of 2011.

Although a UNSC resolution could have ‘teeth’ that a GA resolution normally wouldn’t, like the imposition of sanctions on Israel if it doesn’t agree to dismantle settlements within some time frame, even a GA resolution can be used as a justification for action by member states, even military action, as Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz explains here.

But, you say, they can’t do that — the territory is disputed, it is part of the original Palestine Mandate, there are numerous resolutions calling for agreement between all concerned parties, etc.

Forget it. It doesn’t matter. Nations will do what they want and create legal justifications afterward. This is always how it has been. And Palestinian statehood is a (really bad) idea whose time has clearly come.

As I’ve said before, this would be very disadvantageous to Israel compared to the status quo or even to a negotiated pullout — which would be bad enough. It would include no concessions to Israel’s security needs, such as control of the Jordan Valley, a demilitarized ‘Palestine’, control of airspace, etc. And it would not force an end to further Arab claims on Israel, such as the demand to resettle ‘refugees’ in Israel. Even if lip service were given to these issues, that’s all it would be — there would be no concrete guarantees.

Another possibility is that the UN might not impose the ‘solution’ itself, but rather give the job of working out the messy details to another entity, like the Quartet. The difference between this and the Road Map would be that this new Mandatory Power would have the ability to force the parties to accept its dictates.

Ehud Barak has suggested that it’s still possible to prevent this by getting the Arabs to agree to bilateral negotiations now:

“Israel’s de-legitimization is in sight. It’s very dangerous and requires action,” Barak stated. He warned against an attempt to push Israel into the same corner South Africa once occupied.

“A political initiative will minimize the chances along the way. We have not tried to put all core issues on the table in the past two years. Israel must say it is ready to discuss security borders, refugees and Jerusalem and it will get a chance. If it fails, responsibility will be placed on the other side.” — YNet

The problem with this is that from the Arab point of view there’s no reason to make a bilateral agreement. If the objective were the rational maximization of benefits to both sides, the kind of “New Middle East” that Shimon Peres envisaged, then this would be the way to go. But the objective of the Arab side is different. In fact, they are prepared to make significant sacrifices in almost every area in order to bring about the end of the Jewish state. They don’t want to maximize their benefits, they want to weaken Israel as much as possible.

They know that in areas related to Israel’s security they will get a better deal from the UN, the Quartet or anyone else than they will from Israel. So the probability of meaningful negotiations is zero.

It’s likely that the UN will want to ‘unify’ the Palestinians, and certainly both factions will pretend to get along well enough to permit this. My guess is that without the IDF to protect it, Fatah is history, unless perhaps it gets new leadership. But as I argued recently, it really doesn’t matter which faction ultimately gets control of the Palestinian entity — both are committed to the elimination of the Jewish state.

Right now the question is what to do about Hamas. Should Israel exercise restraint, knowing that Hamas will ramp up terrorism? Or should it invade Gaza again to re-establish deterrence?

It’s not an easy question. The precedents of Cast Lead and the Mavi Marmara show that international pressure to stop before Hamas is completely neutralized will be immense, and condemnation afterward will be severe. It would certainly reinforce the movement for the UN to establish a Palestinian state. In fact, regardless of how careful the IDF is to prevent civilian casualties, accusations of massacres and war crimes will be made loudly and immediately. These could even conceivably be used to justify intervention according to the model of Libya, that is, the need to ‘protect’ Arabs from Israel. It’s also been suggested that Israeli action against Hamas would strengthen the hand of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

On the other hand, Hamas is getting stronger every day, thanks to the porousness of the Egyptian border, and fully intends to use its weapons against Israel. Maybe it’s a good idea to nip them in the bud before they become a part of ‘unified Palestine’.  War with Hamas is unavoidable. If not now, when?

Of course, any such campaign would have to be carried to completion. Do Israel’s leaders have the guts to do this in the face of pressure from the US? How far would the US and Europe go to stop it? Can Hizballah be deterred from joining in?

Lots of questions.

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Why the West is crazy

Thursday, March 24th, 2011
An Israeli border police officer is burned by a firebomb thrown by a 'Palestinian' demonstrator in Jerusalem, March 18. The officer survived.

An Israeli border police officer is burned by a firebomb thrown by a 'Palestinian' demonstrator in Jerusalem, March 18. The officer survived.

There is a tiny country surrounded by enemies. The official position of all Western governments is that this country is a nation no less legitimate than their own, having been established in accordance with international law. The country is a member of the UN in good standing. The country has contributed enormously to science and culture, particularly in the area of medical science. Prior to its establishment, its people were subject to persecution and racism wherever they were found, including the largest mass murder of a single ethnic group in human history.

Its enemies wish to destroy it because of religious and ethnic prejudice and because of a false historical narrative in which they portray themselves as dispossessed. They have rejected every attempt at compromise or coexistence. They are obsessed with hatred, and have brought about enormous misery for their own people in order to use them as weapons. They have created a culture — the ‘Palestinians’ — which, if it was a person, would be considered psychopathic in its obsession with death and revenge.

This ‘Palestinian’ culture has been attacking the people of the tiny country since before the country was officially founded. The attacks take the form of terrorism, in which random victims are murdered — with especial emphasis on children whenever possible — as brutally as possible, sometimes blown up, sometimes butchered like farm animals.

There is also continuous racist incitement to murder in ‘Palestinian’ media, mosques, schools, etc. The Terrorist murderers are national heroes and schools, streets, football fields, etc. are named after them. The ‘Palestinian’ government gives monetary rewards to the families of ‘martyred’ terrorists.

Now we come to the crazy part.

One would think that the enlightened, cultured, educated, abundant, successful Western nations, the dominant culture on the planet, which professes to favor the continued existence of the tiny nation and to admire its people, would also give it concrete support against its vicious enemies. That would be the rational thing to do.

But instead, this is what they do:

• They provide welfare assistance for ‘Palestinian refugees’ — most of whom are in no way refugees — according to a formula which encourages explosive (pun intended) population growth, while at the same time acquiescing in the ‘Palestinian’ obsession that they will not be settled anywhere else but in the besieged tiny country.

• They pay one ‘Palestinian’ faction — one which is committed to the destruction of the tiny country for revanchist and nationalistic reasons — large amounts of money, making it possible for them to continue terrorism and incitement to terrorism. Much of this money is transferred to another ‘Palestinian’ faction, this one motivated by religion and committed to jihad against the tiny country.

• While they verbally condemn the jihadists for their refusal to even pretend to renounce terrorism, they have prevented the tiny country from trying to force them from power either militarily or by nonviolent embargo.

• Their leaders and diplomats try to force the tiny country to make concessions to its enemies, in the unrealistic belief that this will damp down the conflict, when historically such concessions have always  made it worse. While giving lip service to the tiny country’s right to exist, they push ‘solutions’ that are likely to result in its dissolution.

• Their media almost universally report the conflict in a distorted way, suggesting that the tiny country bears the primary responsible for the attacks against it.

• In some parts of West — the UK and Europe — incitement in the media against the tiny country almost reaches the level found in the media of its declared enemies.

• In Western academic society, where concepts of anti-racism, self-determination and human rights are given enormous importance, opinion leaders almost universally turn reality upside down and support the racist aggressors who want to destroy the tiny nation and kill or disperse its people.

Is this crazy or what?

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Why the escalation of terrorism?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Earlier today a Grad missile — a relatively large, accurate weapon — hit the center of the city of Be’er Sheva, injuring one person. Residents were told to go to bomb shelters in anticipation of more attacks. Yesterday, another one struck Ashdod. Saturday, a total of 49 mortar shells hit southern Israel. And just moments ago today, a bomb placed next to a busy bus stop in Jerusalem exploded, killing at least one person and wounding 50 others.

There have also been other instances of Qassam rockets and mortars falling in Israel in the last few days that I haven’t bothered to list, at least 16 today (according to IDF Spokesperson). Each one of these constitutes an act of attempted murder.

This comes after the vicious murder of five members of the Fogel family two weeks ago.

The usual suspects will say that there’s a ‘cycle of violence’, since Israel has been bombing Gaza on and off to destroy tunnels under the border fence, tunnels that Hamas is digging in order to infiltrate Israel to kidnap soldiers or perpetrate terror attacks. And yesterday, IDF fire directed at a rocket launching team also killed several civilians that were in the area (one could ask why rockets were launched near civilians, but you know the answer to that).

Except in the upside-down world of Arab terrorism in which Israel’s very existence is a provocation, there’s no ‘cycle of violence’. So what’s behind the recent escalation?

There are various theories, such as that with the rest of the Arab world aflame the Palestinian Arabs are trying to focus attention once again on their ‘plight’. Or that it has something to do with the ongoing struggle between Hamas and Fatah.

I think the object is to provoke Israel into a reaction, so that the Palestinians can ask for a UN response, either politically — to further their bid for  unilateral declaration of statehood — or even militarily, following the model of Libya, where the UN called for action to ‘protect’ Libyan civilians.

[Incidentally, the way the US jumped to do the UN’s bidding without even a Congressional resolution was shocking.  Keep in mind that we don’t even know who we are supporting there, what we will do if Qaddafi is removed, etc.]

The Arab strategy now seems to be to get the world to give them the land that they are not willing to negotiate with Israel for. In this sense, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are actually cooperating, where Hamas is playing the ‘bad cop’ and the PA the good one. Once they succeed in prying loose Judea, Samaria and as much of Jerusalem as possible, then they’ll continue the struggle between them. My guess is that if the IDF leaves the territories, it won’t take long for the well-motivated Hamas to push aside the US-funded and trained, but uninspired, PA forces.

Even if Hamas were to vanish into thin air, a UN-approved unilateral declaration of statehood would be a bad thing. In its long history of terrorism, Fatah has murdered more Israelis than Hamas. Since it was adopted in 1974, the PLO’s ‘phased plan‘ for the elimination of the Jewish state has been reaffirmed many times. Yasser Arafat referred to it until at least 1998. The plan is usually summarized as follows:

  1. Through the “armed struggle”, to establish an “independent combatant national authority” over any territory that is “liberated” from Israeli rule. (Article 2)
  2. To continue the struggle against Israel, using the territory of the national authority as a base of operations. (Article 4)
  3. To provoke an all-out war in which Israel’s Arab neighbors destroy it entirely (“liberate all Palestinian territory”). (Article 8)

The plan has never been dropped, and in the platform produced by the sixth Fatah conference in 2009, the importance of “armed struggle” was stressed, and it was decided that Fatah would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state nor give up the “right of return.”

We can argue as to whether phases 1 and 2 have already been completed, but it’s clear that any expansion of Arab-controlled territory adjacent to Israel will be a strategic advantage for the Arabs — especially if this can be accomplished without agreeing to any of Israel’s security requirements. This is exactly what they will get with a UN-approved unilateral declaration of statehood.

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New URJ leader’s appalling ideology

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

The new head of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Richard Jacobs of Scarsdale NY, is a member of the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet and a former member of the board of directors of the New Israel Fund (NIF), presently chair of its ‘Pluralism Grants Committee’ and (former and possibly also present) co-chair of its Rabbincal Council.

The URJ announcement says that he is “deeply committed to the State of Israel.” From what we know about the phony ‘pro-Israel’ J Street and the NIF (which funds numerous groups that are explicitly anti-Zionist or engage in delegitimization of the Jewish state, it is hard to understand how his associations can reflect this commitment.

Especially at this very dangerous time in Israel’s history, is it a good thing that the man chosen to head the largest Jewish denomination in the country with the greatest population of Jews in the world is active in groups which by an objective evaluation are anti-Israel?

This past Yom Kippur, Rabbi Jacobs gave a sermon called “Standing together for Israel” in which he explains his position clearly. He calls J Street “pro-Israel, pro-peace” and suggests that Ambassador Michael Oren was unwise when he declined to speak to their convention (which he did because they opposed sanctions on Iran).

He quotes approvingly a tendentious article by Peter Beinart, and says that he “agrees with Beinart’s thesis.” Beinart thinks that the reason young people don’t support Israel is that it is becoming theocratic and antidemocratic, and does not see Arabs as human beings. Apparently Rabbi Jacobs thinks so too.

Among his reasons to criticize Israel are the Rotem conversion bill and the “disastrous marriage of religion and political power in the Jewish State,” the treatment of the Women of the Wall, etc. — issues which are of far more concern to liberal American Jews than to Israelis, who have existential threats to worry about.


Earlier this summer, as Jerusalem was preparing for the peace of Shabbat, I joined 150 protesters in Sheikh Jarrah, a  Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem.  In August 2009, 53 Palestinians, including 20 children, were forced out of their homes by Israeli authorities, who handed over the seized property to Jewish settlers.  Every Friday since, there is an organized protest.   The day I was there, 8 Israelis were arrested.   Professors, writers and activists braved the oppressive heat to stand up for the deepest ideals of the Jewish State. [my emphasis]

Rabbi Jacobs leaves out some facts:

The neighborhood in question is also called shimon ha-tzadik. Many Jews lived there, on land purchased in the 19th Century, until 1948 when Jews were forcibly expelled by the Jordanian army. Their homes were given to Arabs. After 1967, the land was returned to its original owners.

The Israeli Supreme Court, a body which is often strongly criticized for pro-Arab bias, decided that the Arabs were ‘protected residents’, but they had to pay rent to the Jewish owners. Some did, but the ones who were ultimately evicted have squatted there for years, claiming that Ottoman documents showed that the land was theirs. The Court ultimately decided that the documents were forged. The Arabs were evicted after they continued to refuse to pay rent.

This issue has become a cause célèbre for Israeli leftists, visiting radicals and nationalist Palestinian Arabs who have been demonstrating there, sometimes violently, for several years. Rabbi Jacobs’ participation in this demonstration (and his use of the obnoxious phrase ‘Jewish settlers’ for Jews trying to live in their capital) is profoundly disquieting — especially since he seems to count this toward his ‘pro-Israel’ credentials.

Rabbi Jacobs commented on the ‘peace process’ as well:

For me and many other pro-Israel American Jews, the West Bank settlements are a tremendous obstacle to peace.  What happens next Sunday with the moratorium on building in the settlements [the proposed extension for an additional 3 months] will be a critical moment in the latest round of peace talks.   I know there are many Israelis and many American Jews who feel that President Obama has been stinting in his love and support for Israel. I think we’d all be wise to wait at least till a year from now to see where Obama’s chess match called the Middle East peace process leads.

Did Rabbi Jacobs not notice that the Palestinian Authority had refused to negotiate while the moratorium had already been in force for the preceding ten months? Did he miss its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, or give up ‘right of return’? And yet he cites the settlements, not Arab intransigence, as a ‘tremendous’ obstacle to peace!

A year hasn’t passed, but it’s looking more and more as though Obama’s approach is going to lead to a UN-supported unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood in which Israel’s security and political considerations will be ignored or given only lip service. It is not helpful for a spokesman for American Jews to blame Israel for the failure of negotiations.

The heart of the solution to the conflict for Rabbi Jacobs seems to be found in this, which is the ‘moral’ of a story about young Israeli Jew and Palestinian Arab:

Avi and Sami had planned to live together this past summer, travel in Israel and the West Bank in their mission to understand each other’s stories, and educate each other that “an enemy is someone whose story you have not yet heard” – a lesson Avi learned from his father. [my emphasis]

I can’t think of a worse ‘lesson’ to help us deal with the realities of today’s Middle East.

First, there are not just ‘stories’, there is objective historical fact. And history tells us that the Jewish state is legitimate and is not stolen property which must be returned, as the Arab story says.

Second, the conflict is not just been Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs — it is between Israel and the whole Arab and Muslim world, where Israel and Jews are viciously hated, to a degree that’s hard for most of us to imagine. Will we tell them all our story and suddenly they will stop hating us?

Consider the terrorists that murdered the Fogel family last week. Let’s compare them to a right-wing Israeli Jew that I know, the kind that Rabbi Jacobs disapproves of. He’s a young man who believes that it is important for both spiritual and practical reasons that Israel should hold on to all of Judea and Samaria. He strongly opposed the withdrawal from Gaza. He thinks that Jerusalem and especially the holy places should remain undivided under Israeli rule.

I doubt that he thinks much, if at all, about the problems faced by the Women of the Wall or the non-Orthodox religious movements in Israel (although he himself doesn’t wear a kippa and only rarely goes to synagogue).

This man, like Rabbi Jacobs’ friend Avi, was also a lone soldier and served in an elite combat unit in the IDF. After the army he joined a police counter-terrorism unit. One day he was driving along a peaceful road when his beeper went off. There had been a bus bombing a short distance up the road. It turned out that he was one of the very first to arrive at the scene.

I can’t describe it — I’ve never seen such a horror myself, but he told me what it was like, the bus still burning, the screams, the body parts. And he told me how he felt:

I wanted to kill the ******* that did this. I would do it with my bare hands.
But I didn’t want to kill their wives and children.

This isn’t a question of different stories. It’s not something that can be solved by listening, by encounter groups or classroom study. It has to do with cultural differences, with generations of indoctrination to hate on one side. It has to do with one side making sacrifices over and over, in the name of coexistence, while the other side responds with violent rejection. The solution is not to try to learn more about the enemy’s twisted ‘story’, but to defend what’s rightfully yours, whatever that takes.

I do not know Rabbi Jacobs and I don’t doubt his sincerity in working for what the announcement calls “global social justice.” But I’m appalled by his ideology and sorry that the URJ chose him.

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The Abu Sisi mystery

Monday, March 21st, 2011
Dirar Abu Sisi, Hamas engineer abducted from the Ukraine

Dirar Abu Sisi, Hamas engineer abducted from the Ukraine

News item:

Tel Aviv – Israel is holding a Gaza engineer kidnapped in the Ukraine, Israeli media reported Monday after an court partially lifted a gag order on the case.

Senior Palestinian engineer, Dirar Abu Sisi, 42, was reportedly kidnapped by Israeli secret agents from a train several weeks ago.

Media reports Monday were allowed to confirm that he was being held by Israeli authorities, but not the details of his capture, after a Sunday ruling by a court in Petah Tiqva, east of Tel Aviv. — Monsters & Critics

Abu Sisi is said to have been born in Jordan and received a doctorate in Electrical Engineering in the Ukraine, where he married a Ukranian woman. He has six children.

More information is here:

In Gaza, fellow engineers and neighbors described Abu Sisi as a Hamas supporter, pointing to his senior position. He served as the deputy head of the electric power station and posts are traditionally staffed by Hamas loyalists…

Veronika Abu Sisi said the family decided to return to Ukraine after life in the Gaza Strip became unsafe for their three daughters and three sons and her husband flew to the Ukraine to apply for citizenship in January.

Several questions immediately pose themselves:

  • Was Abu Sisi worried about Israel, or about Hamas? Why was it ‘unsafe’ for him to stay there?
  • Why did Israel take the not-inconsiderable risk of sending agents to the Ukraine to abduct him?

Abu Sisi’s wife said that

the Israeli secret service Mossad carried out the abduction in order to sabotage a key electric power plant in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip where he worked as a senior manager. “I don’t suspect it, I am sure of it,” [Veronika] Abu Sisi told the AP in a telephone interview. “My husband was the heart of the only electric station in Gaza, or rather its brain. It’s a strategic object and they wanted to disable it.”

This is nonsense. If Israel wanted to disable the power plant, which is very unlikely, it could be done with one helicopter-fired missile.  The case of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Hamas operative assassinated in Dubai, illustrates the risk of a covert operation. Even if Ukrainian authorities cooperated, it would be expensive and politically dangerous. Given this, we can conclude that Israel was very anxious to get its hands on Abu Sisi.

What is really behind this? Here are some possibilities:

  1. Abu Sisi is involved in the transfer of weapons — perhaps even chemical, biological or radiological ones — from Iran to Gaza.
  2. Abu Sisi is involved in development of weapons by Hamas itself.
  3. Abu Sisi has detailed information about Hamas’ offensive and defensive plans and fortifications.
  4. Abu Sisi has information about the location of Gilad Shalit.
  5. Abu Sisi has defected and is cooperating with the Mossad. In this case the abduction and detention is a smokescreen and he will be returned to the Ukraine or another ‘safe’ place after he has told them what he knows.

I don’t know which of these alternatives or something else is true. At some point we may find out, and I think the facts will prove very interesting indeed.

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Why are they so insecure?

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

The other day my son remarked that TV reports of Syrian protests showed protesters shouting “Alawi Jews.”

As you may know, the Assad family which has ruled Syria since 1971 belongs to a small minority Islamic sect, the Alawis (or ‘Alawites’). About 75% of Syrians are Sunni Muslims, and many do not even consider the Alawis true Muslims. Bashar al Assad, like his father Hafez,  has always tried to keep on the good side of the Muslim world by supporting the most radical Islamist elements (who were crushed brutally, of course, when they tried to get power in Syria). Nobody actually thinks the Assads are Jewish.

In Libya, opponents of Muammar Gadafi could credibly claim that their enemy is a homicidal maniac. You’d think that would be a good enough reason to depose him. But they have a better argument: they are claiming that he is actually a Jew.

When an American woman journalist was brutally beaten and raped in Cairo’s Tahrir square, it was reported that her attackers shouted “Jew!” The crowd had no reason to think that she was Jewish (she wasn’t, as if it matters). Other foreign journalists were also accused of being Jews.

Poster of Hosni Mubarak with star of David held by Tahrir Square demonstrator (courtesy European Jewish Press)

Poster of Hosni Mubarak with star of David held by Tahrir Square demonstrator (courtesy European Jewish Press)

Cairo demonstrators were reported as shouting “leave, leave, ya Mubarak. Tel Aviv is waiting for you,” and “leave, leave, you American and Israeli traitor.” Clearly Mubarak is neither Jewish, Israeli or American.

In Pakistan,

In October 2009, Mahnama Banat-e-Aisha, an Urdu-language monthly magazine which is part of the Haftroza Al-Qalam group of publications belonging to the militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad, alleged in a lengthy article that the international polio eradication campaign was a “dangerous Jewish conspiracy.” The article, “Polio: Disease or Dangerous Jewish Conspiracy,” read in part:

“The Jews, who dream of ruling the world, have invented different types of vaccines, drugs, and injections in an organized way to weaken Muslims in their beliefs on spiritual, practical, and moral levels, and make their bodies contaminated…” — MEMRI

Reverses suffered by the Pakistani cricket team have also been blamed on Jewish plots.

In Indonesia,

A book bomb was found Thursday at the house of musician and producer Ahmad Dhani in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta. The book titled Yahudi Militan (Militant Jew) was sent to Dhani’s residence Tuesday but was only opened on Thursday. Dhani, like Patriotic Party chairman Yapto Soerjosomarno who received a book bomb on Tuesday, is believed to have Jewish ancestry…

University of Indonesia intelligence expert Andi Wijayanto said the targets of the bomb attacks were carefully chosen by the terrorists. “All of the books were about the enemies of Islam. So it is likely that the senders thought these four men personified the enemies of Islam,” he said.

Ulil, the recipient of the first bomb, is the founder of the Islam Liberal Network (JIL), which has been accused of receiving funding from Jewish organizations and the US government. Gories, who received the second bomb, formerly headed the National Police’s Detachment 88 counterterrorist unit, which has also been accused of being funded by Jews and the US.

Andi said this speculation could be true. “We can connect the dots and see the connection. These men could easily represent enemies of Islam, in this case, Jews,” he said. — Jakarta Post

I could go on… and on and on. Jew hatred in the Muslim world is out of control. And it is not especially related to the condition of the Palestinian Arabs, although atrocity stories about them are often used to stir up hatred among Muslims in other places.

During the 2008-9 war in Gaza, Aljazeera broadcast continuous footage showing horribly wounded and dead Arabs. Some of it was from previous Arab-Israeli wars and some was Paliwood fakerey, but the effect was to create an enormous amount of hatred against Israel and Jews.

But one cannot make the Palestinian connection with Pakistani cricketeers, popular Indonesian singers and Muammar Gadafi.

There are 1.4 billion Muslims in the world and perhaps 13 million Jews. They outnumber us by more than 100 to 1. Why are they so insecure?

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Moty & Udi: at the Purim party

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Not everyone is a Star Wars fan, but we are all familiar with the double standard under which it is just fine to accuse ‘Zionists’ of every despicable behavior imaginable, while it is considered inappropriate — and often dangerous — to talk about the Arab and Muslim propensity to terrorism.

For example, a newspaper in the UK has had a complaint filed against it at the Bedfordshire police department because it published a piece by Melanie Phillips containing this:

Today the massacred Fogel family was buried in Jerusalem. And as anticipated, the moral depravity of the Arabs is finding a grotesque echo in the moral bankruptcy and worse of the British and American ‘liberal’ media – a sickening form of armchair barbarism which is also in evidence, it has to be said, on the comment thread beneath my post below.

Overwhelmingly, the media have either ignored or downplayed the atrocity – or worse, effectively blamed the victims for bringing it on themselves, describing them as ‘hard-line settlers’ or extremists. Given that three of the victims were children, one a baby of three months whose throat was cut, such a response is utterly degraded.

The complainant, the head of an organization called “Muslims4UK,” Inayat Bungalawa, said

Her words went far beyond just denouncing the killings. It was a far more generalised racist outburst against Arabs as a whole.

Well, Bungalawa has a blog of his own, called “Inayat’s Corner,” and a filthy little corner it is indeed. Here are some quotations I found there without looking very hard:

(3/11) The Israel lobby views any progress made by UK Muslims in this country’s political life as being against their interests. The only permissible Muslims are those who are prepared to remain silent about the crimes perpetrated by the apartheid state of Israel.

(2/11) Robert Halfon [a British MP] – you are a total and utter coward, much like the members of the murderous Israeli Defence Forces. Whereas the IDF like to hide inside their tanks while firing shells at little children, you hide inside the House of Commons while making your libellous comments.

(10/10) David Cameron spoke out against any calls to punish Israel for its continuing occupation of Palestinian lands, its illegal Jewish settlements, its cruel and barbaric treatment of the besieged and repeatedly bombed people of Gaza and its known stockpile of nuclear weapons.

(9/10) Four Israeli land-thieves killed

All the main news outlets are currently carrying the story of the killing of four Israeli colonist-settlers yesterday by the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, near the Palestinian city of Hebron.

(5/10) It is not difficult to imagine that the UK govt’s reaction would have been rather different if it had been, say, Iran that had massacred a group of aid volunteers [on the Mavi Marmara].

If we had the kind of hate speech and libel laws here as they do in the UK (thank goodness we don’t), I’d file a complaint against Bungalawa on behalf of Israel and the IDF.

Almost everything he says is anti-Israel, but I’ve excerpted only those quotations which appear libelous. He is also remarkably rude to Melanie Phillips — perhaps she should sue him too?

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