Archive for March, 2012

US sabotages Israel’s deterrence

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Last week I asked “why is the administration helping Iran deter Israel from bombing its nuclear facilities?”

I suggested that the leak of a war game scenario that began with an Israeli attack on Iran and ended with several hundred dead Americans — of course this is only one possible outcome among an infinite number — was a deliberate attempt to influence sentiment in the US against Israel exercising its right of self-defense.

This particular leak is just one of many. But in addition to the proliferation of reports that an Israeli attack would be ineffective, Iranian retaliation would be devastating, etc., there is a much more dangerous tactic that is apparently being used. Ron Ben-Yishai tells us,

Indeed, in recent weeks the Administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel’s public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran. This “surgical strike” is undertaken via reports in the American and British media, but the campaign’s aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF to carry out a strike, and what’s even graver, to erode the IDF’s capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties…

The damage has to do with the revelation of secret information and assessments that would require an expensive, risky intelligence effort for the Iranians to acquire. To sum up, the American publications caused the following damage:

• Iran now has a decent picture of what Israel’s and America’s intelligence communities know about Tehran’s nuclear program and defense establishment, including its aerial defenses.

• The Iranians now know about the indications that would be perceived by Washington and Jerusalem as a “nuclear breakthrough.” Hence, Iran can do a better job of concealment.

• The reports make it more difficult to utilize certain operational options. These options, even if not considered thus far, could have been used by the US in the future, should Iran not thwart them via diplomatic and military means.

In other words, while President Obama told AIPAC that “Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat,” and affirmed “Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs,” he apparently has reserved the right to sabotage Israel’s self-defense if he believes it to be in his interest.

And make no mistake, we are talking about a narrow political interest, not the long-term interest of the US. Here’s why:

Sanctions alone cannot deter the Iranian regime from their nuclear program, because a totalitarian regime that can shoot down dissidents in the street can allocate resources however it wants to. Sanctions are always leaky, and the Revolutionary Guard can be well-fed and its vehicles full of fuel no matter how deprived ordinary Iranians may be.

The only way there is hope for diplomatic efforts to be successful is for sanctions to be coupled with a credible threat of military action. Israel’s threat to attack Iran’s nuclear program, based on its perception of an existential threat, would be credible.

Iranian leaders doubt — almost certainly correctly — that the US itself will contemplate using force, at the very least until after the election. So today only two things are likely to stop Iran from developing a weapon: fear of an Israeli attack, or, if that doesn’t work, an actual attack.

And now the US is sending a clear message to Iran:

Not only will we give you a year or so to work on your weapons, to disperse and bury your laboratories and improve your defenses, but we will make sure that Israel doesn’t strike within that time period either.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has indicated that a point will be reached later this year by which the Iranian program cannot be stopped by the means at Israel’s disposal. Therefore the administration’s actions, if successful, will ensure that Israel will not be able to attack, or even credibly threaten to attack, Iran. They will keep either diplomacy or force from being effective.

They will also nullify Israel’s ability to defend itself as a sovereign power, complete its transition to satellite status, and enable the US to dictate concessions that Israel must make to the Palestinians.  But that’s another issue.

The additional time, plus whatever it can gain by pretending to negotiate, by delaying the very last steps in weapon assembly, etc., will make it very much more likely that Iran will become a nuclear power. Iran will tough out the sanctions, because it will know that in the short term it will have nothing to fear. And in the long term, the political and economic advantages of becoming a nuclear power — and the preeminent power in the Middle East — will outweigh the immediate discomfort.

I am expecting that by next year we will start hearing that this isn’t really all that bad, after all, Pakistan has nukes and they are an irresponsible Islamic nation, the Iranians are rational and can be contained, etc.

I don’t think I have to emphasize what it will mean for the US, and indeed for the West in general, to empower the champion of revolutionary Islamism with the ultimate weapon. And yet, this is the likely outcome if the administration’s strategy succeeds!

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Jerusalem … on Mars?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

In the 1947 UN partition resolution, the General Assembly recommended that Jerusalem be made a corpus separatum, a political entity under international control, apart from the proposed Jewish and Arab states. This was reaffirmed at the time of the 1949 armistice agreements, but nobody paid attention to it — Jordan annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem, and Israel of course included the western part, which became its capital.

The US did not vote for the corpus separatum resolution in 1949, but nevertheless was not happy with the situation. In 1962, the State Department issued a statement which said, in part,

The United States undertook, however, to give due recognition to the formal acts of the General Assembly and the Trusteeship Council relating to Jerusalem and has since maintained its position that the Holy Places in the Jerusalem area are of international interest to a degree which transcends ordinary considerations of sovereignty.

…the status of Jerusalem is a matter of United Nations concern and no member of the United Nations should take any action to prejudice the United Nations interest in this question. Our objective has been to keep the Jerusalem question an open one and to prevent its being settled solely through the processes of attrition and fait accompli to the exclusion of international interest and an eventual final expression thereof presumably through the United Nations.

I have always suspected that the State Department — many of whose employees were the children of missionaries — simply couldn’t handle the idea of the holy places in the hands of Jews and Muslims. Be that as it may, at some point the position changed — probably with the passage of UNSC resolution 242 in 1967 — so that the status of Jerusalem would be decided by negotiations between the parties concerned, and not by the UN.

The parties, in 1967, were Israel and Jordan. With the Oslo agreements, the status of Jerusalem became a “final status issue” to be negotiated by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This is today’s official State Department line.

Note that in respect to sovereignty, the State Department has never distinguished between the eastern and western parts. Neither are part of Israel. The 1962 statement explains that

As a consequence of this policy, when the Department learns that a government for the first time is contemplating the establishment of a diplomatic mission in Israel, we inform that government of the historical background of United Nations attitudes toward Jerusalem and express the hope that, in deference to United Nations attitudes, its mission will be established in Tel Aviv, where most other missions are located.

Since the seat of Israel’s government is in western Jerusalem, the only reason to do this is because State believed that Israel is not sovereign in any part of Jerusalem, east or west.

This was reinforced more recently by the case of Menachem Zivotofsky. Zivotofsky was born in Shaare Tzedek hospital in western Jerusalem. His parents requested that his passport read that he was born in “Jerusalem, Israel,” but the State Department refused to issue a passport with this description, despite a law passed by Congress in 2002 directing it to change its policy.

Now, one can argue that the status of eastern Jerusalem is in dispute, but all of Jerusalem? Apparently the US State Department thinks so. Watch spokesperson Victoria Nuland try to wiggle and dance her way out of some expert questioning by AP reporter Matt Lee:

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The part in which she will not say whether Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is priceless. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R. FL), chairperson of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, responded “Where does the Administration think Jerusalem is? On Mars?”

But interestingly, in other contexts — like Israel thinking about building apartments in Jerusalem neighborhoods outside of the Green Line — they do seem to be able to make the east/west distinction quite clearly!

Some commentators have pointed out that if “all of Jerusalem is a final status issue” — as reporter Lee cannot get Nuland to deny — then the Palestinian Authority in effect is given a veto power over Israel’s possession of its own capital.

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Can the world afford the Palestinians?

Monday, March 26th, 2012

News item:

In a surprising decision, the High Court of Justice on Sunday rejected a compromise agreement struck between the government and residents of Migron, the largest illegal outpost in Judea and Samaria. The agreement would have allowed the residents to remain in their outpost several years after a mandatory evacuation deadline, but was struck down on the grounds that no group of people is above the law…

This 50-family community, located several miles north of Jerusalem, has become a bone of contention since its establishment in 1999. Left-wing groups claimed the families who set up the community’s first bungalows had illegally trespassed onto privately owned Palestinian land, whereas the residents claimed that they had obtained the necessary authorization to establish the new community. Last August, the High Court of Justice ruled in favor of the left-wing organization Peace Now, which petitioned the court on behalf of the alleged Palestinians [sic] owners of the property. The state was ordered to evacuate the residents and dismantle the site by April 2012, in what was hailed by some as the most important court decision on disputed construction in Judea and Samaria in years.

Without going into all the details, I want to note a few facts.

First, only a small part of the community is built on land that may belong to Palestinians, but the government decided that all of it must be ‘dismantled’.

Second, no Israeli court ruled on the substance of the case — on the question of whose land it was. The government made its decision on the basis of a report written in 2005 by one Talia Sasson, who was head of the state prosecutor’s office at the time.

Sasson is a board member of the New Israel Fund, a member of the Public Council of Yesh Din, a foreign-funded left-wing NGO which carries out ‘lawfare’ against Israel in the name of ‘human rights’, and a Knesset candidate of the fringe New Movement-Meretz party (which has 3 seats out of 120 in the Knesset). She is a professional opponent of the Jewish presence in the territories. Her objectivity is more than questionable, it is non-existent.

Migron residents claim that the land in question was distributed by King Hussein in the 1960’s, was never cultivated or built on, and that the Palestinians that ‘owned’ it were not aware of this until ‘reminded’ of it by Peace Now.

They suggest that if a similar situation had arisen inside the Green Line, an agreement for compensation would have been worked out, rather than an order to ‘dismantle’ the entire community.

The original filing was made by Peace Now, and it provided the attorney.

Peace now is one of numerous organizations ‘watching’ settlements and their residents, listening to and documenting Palestinian complaints, filing lawsuits (as in the case of Migron), producing reports, talking to journalists, etc. Other groups include B’Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Yesh Din, etc. which are active in or in connection with issues concerning communities in Judea and Samaria.

These organizations are staffed by extreme left-wing Israelis, Arabs and international volunteers. They have almost no support in Israel, and are funded — with millions of Euros and dollars — from European governments, the EU, the US-based New Israel Fund, etc. In a sense, they are the shock troops of the worldwide anti-Israel movement on the ground in Judea and Samaria.

There are also numerous other NGOs, specializing in Jerusalem, Gaza, Arab citizens of Israel, the IDF, etc. NGO Monitor has tirelessly documented their activities and funding.

This is just one area in which Western money is deployed against Israel. Of course the Palestinian Authority (PA) itself — arguably a hostile entity — receives billions of US dollars each year. At a 2007 “donor conference” the international community pledged $7.7 billion for the period of 2008-2010! Keep in mind that the PA pays salaries of employees in Gaza who are either doing nothing or working for Hamas, as well as stipends to activists who are in Israeli prisons for offenses including murder and terrorism.

But even that isn’t all that the world — primarily the US and the EU — is doing for the Palestinians. There is UNRWA, the special Palestinian refugee aid organization, whose function is to encourage growth in the population of stateless Arab ‘refugees’ and prevent their resettlement in any country — except their ‘return’ to an Israel that 95% of them have never seen. UNRWA’s budget in 2009 was $1.9 billion.

What about the special UN organizations in addition to UNRWA, like the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and the Division for Palestinian Rights? The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People? The United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL)? Don’t forget the salary of the antisemitic Richard Falk, “UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967″.

What proportion of the UN budget is concerned with the Palestinians? More than you think, when you look at the inordinate attention paid to resolutions condemning Israel in the General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council, and numerous other agencies.

The Palestinian culture is all about destroying the Jewish one in Israel. I once called them the “anti-Jews” because they invert reality and claim the history, the land, even the Zionist strategy of the Jews. They imitate us in almost every way, except that their story is a lie.

Many elements were complicit in creating and amplifying the Palestinians, from the Nazis that worked together with Haj Amin al-Husseini to plan a Final Solution for the Middle East, and the antisemitic KGB that taught Arafat how to appeal to the Western Left, to the naive do-gooders who still think that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is fundamentally a human-rights issue.

The actual question has almost nothing to do with the Palestinian Arabs and whether they have a state. It has to do with whether the Jews can continue to have one. There is a huge amount of human energy and financial resources that are being wasted in support of the Palestinians. It wouldn’t be necessary if the world could simply get used to the idea of a Jewish state.

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Why I support Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has proposed yet another investigation of Israel’s ‘crimes’, this one in respect to settlements. It passed by a vote of 36 in favor, one opposed (the US), and 10 abstentions. Israel has announced that it won’t cooperate, and is considering withdrawing its ambassador to the UN office in Geneva.

I am not particularly interested in writing another post excoriating the UNHRC or the UN itself, which is a vile institution, far less than worthless. Rather, I want to summarize some important issues about ‘West Bank settlements’ — that is, Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria — and why I support them. Here are a few reasons:

International law — and justice

The League of Nations Mandate called for ‘close settlement’ (see also here) of the land by Jews. UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 call for secure and recognized boundaries for all states in the region, including Israel, to be established by direct negotiations between the parties. Neither the Jews nor the Arab states accepted the 1949 armistice lines as borders, and the ethnic cleansing of Jews in 1948 followed by the illegal Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria until 1967 did not make them so. Jews lived in the territories before 1948, and have as much right to live there today as then.

The argument that the 4th Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of Jews into ”occupied territories” fails for several reasons, including the status of the Jewish presence there and the original intent of the Geneva Convention.

The Palestinian Arabs wish to establish a state in the territories where Jews will not be permitted to live (statements to the contrary are disingenuous), indeed from which they will be expelled. This is racist.

Security

The Palestinian leadership — Hamas and the PLO — do not hide the fact that they are committed to the replacement of Israel by an Arab state. Further, Hamas’ founding principles include genocide against the Jews, arguably everywhere, not just in Palestine. The withdrawal from Gaza provides a lesson about the consequences of Palestinian sovereignty close to Israel’s population centers. The topography of the area (which contains hills overlooking Israel’s coastal plain and the Jordan valley) makes it strategically essential for the defense of the Jewish state (so is the Golan, incidentally).

There is no doubt that a Palestinian state in the territories will become a base for both terrorist and diplomatic attacks on the remaining state of Israel. The Palestinians have said so more than once. The only way to insure that they will remain in Jewish hands is to populate them with Jews.

Zionism

Judea and Samaria (and of course Jerusalem) are of paramount importance in history of the Jewish people. Although the Jewish state was founded in part to provide a place for Jews to live normal lives free of antisemitism, it was founded here and not in Africa or Siberia for a reason: to remind Jews of their history and peoplehood. This isn’t limited to religiously observant Jews, although today, unfortunately, they tend to be almost the only ones who take Jewish peoplehood seriously. But you can ask — and the Palestinians do — what would happen to Zionism and Israel without the connection to Jewish history and holy sites.

But…what about all those Arabs?

The overriding reason given by Zionist opponents to Jewish communities across the Green Line is that if Israel were to annex the territories, there would be even more Arab citizens of Israel, ultimately a majority. Israel would then be faced with the choice of maintaining its democracy, or remaining Jewish by denying Arabs the vote.

There are reasons to doubt this: the Palestinian authority lies about how many Arabs live there (what else is new), the Arab birthrate is not as high as they say and is trending lower, and the Jewish birthrate is relatively high there. But there is a much more important reason that this is not a critical issue:

There is no necessity for Israel to annex all of Judea and Samaria. The great majority of Arabs (97% or so) live in areas (designated A and B) that are under the administration of the Palestinian Authority (PA). They already have a (poorly, but that’s their problem) functioning government. There are very few Arabs in the areas where the Jewish communities are located. Israel could simply make “area C” a part of Israel, and offer citizenship to any Arabs living there.

Of course this would not make it possible for the Palestinians to have the contiguous state they claim to desire. Which brings us to the next topic:

Why should a ‘Palestinian’ state be created on the backs of the Jewish People?

Israel does not owe the Palestinian Arabs a state, in part because the Palestinian narrative in which ‘their land’ was ‘stolen’ is false, and in part because a ‘people’ whose culture is based on hatred and whose highest honors are given to the most vicious murderers are not owed anything by a civilized world.

Keep in mind that when offers of a contiguous sovereign state were made, including evacuation of many Jewish communities (2000 and 2008), they were not accepted because they did not include right of return or other conditions that were incompatible with the continued existence of a Jewish state next door.

The political organization appropriate for the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria is probably not that of a sovereign state. I believe that the best that can be offered today is some kind of autonomy, in a framework of Israeli security control.

There are other ‘peoples’ that don’t have their own state, for various reasons. There are 22 Arab states in the Middle East — all of which define themselves in ethnic or religious terms (or both), by the way. Why create yet another, at the expense of the one tiny state of the Jewish people?

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Toulouse and NPR, ideology, and Fayyad

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

The murderous rampage of Mohammed Merah has been weighing on my mind.

It has been widely reported (for example, here) that Merah, the young Islamist terrorist who killed three French soldiers two weeks ago, and four Jews (including three children) at the Otzar HaTorah school in Toulouse this week, murdered Jews “to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children.”

But NPR went one even better, reporting — in the words of “All Things Considered” host Robert Siegel — that “the gunman told officials that he killed his victims in part to avenge slain Palestinian children.”

As far as I can tell, there is no direct quotation available from the terrorist (not ‘gunman’), or even a second-hand report that included an equivalent statement. NPR’s correspondent on the scene, Eleanor Beardsley, said (in the same segment) that

He’s been speaking to police and he told police that he’s angry about children in Palestine, he’s angry at France being in Afghanistan, he’s obviously angry at Jews, he’s angry at fellow Muslims who would wear the French uniform…

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, who should know what Merah told the police, said that he

wanted to avenge Palestinian children and take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions.

Some time after the attack and 24 hours before the police raid in which he was killed, Merah called the newsroom of French TV station France 24, where he spoke to News Editor Ebba Kalondo (video in English here). He gave his reasons for his actions, a litany of Muslim complaints against France, particularly including the ban on Islamic veils. With regard to the Otzar HaTorah murders, she said,

As for the attack on the Jewish School, he was adamant that it was revenge, for the killings of what he termed “my little brothers and sisters, in Palestine.”

In the absence of a direct quotation from Merah, NPR host Siegel could have quoted Kalondo or Gueant — or used a more neutral paraphrase. The phrase “slain Palestinian children” is more than journalistic exuberance: it implies that there is an equivalent, deliberate and vicious, action on the Israeli side to avenge. It suggests the narrative that “both sides are engaged in tit-for-tat violence” that NPR is always at pains to promote.

Although it is a staple of anti-Israel propaganda that Israel deliberately kills Arab children, the proposition is a blood libel and a case of reality inversion, given the long list of Israeli children targeted by Palestinian Arab terrorists. NPR shouldn’t help it along.

***

Of course, there is also the incredible craziness of the idea of ‘avenging’ the actions of France or Israel by grabbing an 8-year old girl by the hair and shooting her through the temple. The various news reports seem to accept this as expected in the world of Islamist terrorism.

Our administration seems to think that only al-Qaeda shares the ideology that works this way. But what is the ideology behind the random launching of rockets into Israel, a staple of Hamas, Hizballah and other Arab terror groups? What was the ideology of the terrorists that slaughtered the Fogel family, including 4-month old Hadas?

If we are not already numb, there’s this:

Merah, born in Toulouse of Algerian parents, told police negotiators he had murdered three small Jewish children, and a teacher, outside a school on Monday to “revenge Palestinian children”. However, he also, chillingly, told police that he had attacked the school in a random act of frustration after he failed to locate a soldier to continue his series of street killings of off-duty paratroopers.

So we have an ideology in which it makes sense to murder little children to ‘avenge’ actions by other people with whom they share an ethnicity, and the selection of Jews as the default murder victims when the preferred ones are not at hand.

Think about being the default murder victims when you wonder if the government of Israel is paranoid about Iran, for example.

***

Finally, there is the technocratic Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, so moderate that Hamas would not have him in a unity government, who made  this statement on the murders:

It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life.

Either he is a hypocrite or entirely non-representative of his movement, because the official media of his own Palestinian authority this very month found it appropriate to honor terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who murdered 37 Israelis, including 13 children.

Perhaps the real Palestinian leadership should pay attention to his words.

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Preemption is better than defense

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Egyptian aircraft destroyed on the ground in 1967. Is Israel changing its traditional military doctrine?

Egyptian aircraft destroyed on the ground in 1967. Is Israel changing its traditional military doctrine?

When Iron Dome was first deployed, I was concerned. Now that it has proven itself in battle, perhaps saving countless lives, I am even more concerned.

This is not to say that Israel should not add more Iron Dome and other defensive systems. Every life is valuable. But Iron Dome’s success also has a downside.

Israel’s traditional military doctrine is based on the need to defend a small nation with a small regular army and little strategic depth. For this reason, the IDF has tried to take the war to the enemy, to fight outside of Israel’s borders, and to win quickly and decisively. This doctrine also makes it possible for the IDF to fight less often, by maintaining a posture of deterrence.

A primarily defensive strategy, even if supported by effective technology, turns this doctrine upside down. And this is not reasonable, neither from a military and technological standpoint, nor from a political and psychological one.

Every advance in offensive ability, either technological or tactical, has a defensive response; which, in turn, is overtaken by new offensive capabilities. Iron Dome shoots down a remarkable percentage of short-range missiles, but at a severe economic disadvantage. It can be saturated by a massive bombardment, there can be technical failures, etc.

It is impossible to rely on defense alone, because Israel simply isn’t big enough to absorb the damage when the defensive systems are not 100% effective. More importantly, a strictly defensive posture has zero deterrent ability. Why not fire rockets at Israel if the worst that can happen is that they will get shot down?

Now of course the Israeli government and the IDF will tell you that they are not replacing the traditional aggressive doctrine with a more passive one. Did not the IDF go after rocket teams in Gaza aggressively during last week’s barrage?

Yes, it did. But the response was aimed at the smaller terrorist militias and a few of their personnel. The terrorist infrastructure in Gaza was left in place, just as Hizballah is allowed to have tens of thousands of rockets aimed at Israel and an elaborate structure of bunkers, communications systems, arms depots, etc. poised in southern Lebanon, ready to take the next war to Israeli territory. Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah has even threatened ground incursions into Israel.

Israel is not hunkering down into a totally defensive posture. But it’s impossible to doubt that a change in the balance is taking place.

To be fair to Israel’s leaders, there is enormous international pressure on Israel not to fight offensively. One of the main reasons that Operation Cast Lead was terminated without overthrowing Hamas was pressure from the incoming Obama administration. But at least the fighting was in Gaza and not in the streets of Sderot.

The Obama administration approves the idea of a primarily defensive posture for Israel, and will probably be happy to help fund additional anti-missile batteries. My guess is that if they could pass a law that would permit Jews to have only defensive, not offensive, weapons, they would do so.

Nevertheless, it is essential that Israel return to its traditional posture of preemption and aggressive defense, despite the effectiveness of its defensive technology and the pressure from outside. More important even than the military aspects are the psychological effects of the shift, both on Israelis and their enemies.

I have already mentioned the fact that a strong deterrent can obviate the need to fight at all (which is why Israel must never give up its nuclear weapons), but it is also important for the self-respect of the population. Someone who sees himself as a target, albeit a well-protected one, begins to think that he deserves to be a target — or that he should live and work somewhere else, where he would not be a target.

The much-derided concept of “the new Jew” of the early Zionists, although it had silly and misconceived aspects (like the anti-religious stream), was correct in demanding an end to the idea of the Jew as passive victim.

Israel’s enemies are strengthened when defense is overemphasized. Their contempt for Jewish victims and their belief that it’s acceptable to try to exterminate them are augmented. Jews and Israelis are different from anyone else. What happens when you shoot, for example, at Russians?

There is a media phenomenon that was prominent during the 2006 Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, in which civilian casualties on the Arab side were exaggerated, often invented by elaborate scams. Of course part of this was simply in order to create hatred for Israel, but it was also intended to deter an active (as opposed to passive) self-defense. It may have succeeded by causing the US to ramp up pressure for a cease-fire.

IDF policy to combat this by reducing the percentage of civilian casualties is self-defeating. It can’t be 100% effective (and even if it is, the Arabs and their media supporters can invent atrocities). But insofar as it forces operations to be less aggressive in nature, it reinforces the primarily defensive posture.

This trend must be reversed. As the next war draws nearer, one hopes that Israel will strike preemptively, take the war to the enemy’s territory, and win quickly and decisively in keeping with its traditional doctrine, relegating defensive technology like Iron dome to its secondary function of protecting military bases and the home front — while the offensive capability of the IDF puts a permanent end to the threats facing the nation.

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The US is a slim reed to lean on

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
The USS Dwight Eisenhower. Do the Iranians really want to fight the US?

The USS Dwight Eisenhower. Do the Iranians really want to fight the US?

AP item yesterday:

JERUSALEM – Israel views the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran with greater urgency than the rest of the world, Israel’s defense minister said Monday.

Ehud Barak also reiterated recent Israeli assessments that Iran’s nuclear program is on the verge of becoming immune to disruptions by a possible military strike.

New York Times item yesterday:

WASHINGTON — A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.

Do we have a problem here? Is the Obama Administration using its favorite mouthpiece to warn Israel that if it attacks Iran, then — as Bret Stephens put it in today’s Wall Street Journal [subscription required] — “American blood will be on [its] hands?”

Here is how it might happen, according to the leaked war game story:

The two-week war game, called Internal Look, played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans, according to officials with knowledge of the exercise. The United States then retaliated by carrying out its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Hmm, wouldn’t it be really, really stupid of the Iranians to piss off the US Navy? I think so, but the real story here is not what is theoretically possible — after all, an Iranian missile could hit a  ship of the Great Satan tomorrow, if the Iranians were that dumb.

The real story is “why is the administration helping Iran deter Israel from bombing its nuclear facilities?”

Certainly Iran has threatened that it would retaliate against an Israeli attack by attacking US forces. But actually carrying out this threat would be suicidal. Sure, the American people don’t want another extended war, but they would happily approve a punitive bombing campaign that would wipe out the nuclear program, and a bunch of other military assets.

The Iranians know this, the US administration knows this, and both sides know the other knows it. The point of the Iranian threats is not to influence our government or military, but to generate sentiment in the US against an Israeli attack and against Israel. And apparently the administration wants to help them do that, which is why they leaked this story to the Times.

I don’t know for sure what the administration’s reasoning is. Certainly their conservative Sunni allies would like to see Iran defanged. Probably the US is telling them “don’t worry, when the time comes, we’ll take care of it.”

One obvious reason is that the administration simply doesn’t want any trouble or uncertainty before the election. But the time frame involved is such that this puts Iran into Ehud Barak’s “immunity zone,” in which an Israeli attack would not be effective.

To put it another way, the US wants Israel to give up its ability to be “[master] of our fate,” in the words of PM Netanyahu, in order to help re-elect the President.

The election is not the only issue. The administration wants Israel dependent on it so that it can pressure it into making concessions to the Palestinians, so that it can realize its wish — based on ideology and an (unattainable) desire to make friends in the Muslim world — to force Israel back to 1949 lines. A triumphant Israel which has eliminated, or at least seriously delayed, the Iranian nuclear threat — and most likely also destroyed much of the capability of Hizballah — will be in a much stronger position in negotiations.

[Although the nuclear threat is more dramatic, the sword hanging over Israel's head from the Iranian-controlled Hizballah is almost as dangerous, and more immediate. It will certainly also be a target if Israel chooses to strike Iran.]

Israel is facing one of the most difficult moments of its life. Once again, as in 1967 and other times, an Israeli PM is faced with choices that may make the difference between life and death for his nation and his people. Once again, the US is proving to be a slim reed to lean on.

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Beinart’s anti-Zionist boycott

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Peter Beinart has a new piece in the New York Times. He insists that he is a Zionist and supports Israel. But there is little truth in his analysis and a huge amount of fantasy in his prescriptions.

Beinart calls for boycotting Jewish communities (‘settlements’) beyond the Green Line, because he wants to end what he calls “undemocratic Israel,” where Palestinians “are barred from citizenship and the right to vote in the state that controls their lives.”

This is quite a step for an alleged Zionist to take. Ambassador Michael Oren has said that it

…places him well beyond the Israeli mainstream, the moderate left, and the vast majority of Israelis who care about peace. The call for boycotting all products made by Israeli communities outside of Jerusalem and beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines is supported only by a marginal and highly radical fringe.

But Beinart believes that the nondemocratic nature of the regime east of the Green Line delegitimizes all of Israel, including the democratic part of it to the west, and that continued Israeli control of Judea and Samaria will result in a worldwide loss of support for the state itself.

Unfortunately for his argument, he mischaracterizes the political situation east of the Green Line; actually it is already two ‘states’ and has been thus since 1994. The part where 97% of the Palestinians live is under Palestinian Authority (PA) administration and the residents are citizens of the PA. The rest, where all of the ‘settlers’ live is under Israeli administration, but has few Arab residents.

The PA issues passports, and if it gets around to holding elections, the citizens can vote. It has massive ‘security’ and police forces. It even has Olympic teams. Many UN members recognize ‘Palestine’ as a state.

Israel does not “control the lives” of the 97% in the PA areas — the PA does. What Beinart considers “systematic oppression” and “human rights violations” are Israeli security measures like checkpoints, bypass roads and the security barrier, which he sees as ethnically-based differential treatment.

On the other hand, it is possible to see them as a reasonable response to an Arab insurgency which is aimed at repeating the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Jordanians in 1948, and indeed extending it to all of Israel. It is possible to imagine them going away if the security problem went away.

In addition, Beinart mischaracterizes the nature of the Jewish communities there. They are not alien colonies on ‘Palestinian land’ as the Arabs and their supporters constantly repeat, and they are not ‘illegal under international law’ as the media like to say.

It’s not as though Jews never lived in Judea and Samaria until they became ‘settlers’, either. They were there before the Jordanian Army kicked them out. They were granted the right to live there by the League of Nations Mandate, which recognized their historical presence in the land of Israel long before that.

Beinart wants to ‘restore’ Israel’s legitimacy by surrendering Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria, mitigated by some small border adjustments. This is basically the same plan proposed by the Obama Administration and the EU. If ‘settlers’ don’t like it, says Beinart, “they should move.”

In addition to the fact that the Arabs will never view any Jewish state in the Middle East as ‘legitimate’, there are a few other problems with this this plan:

  1. It is essentially racist, in that it calls for establishing a Jew-free Palestinian state
  2. It violates international law (the Mandate) and the spirit of UN resolutions calling for defensible borders
  3. It sacrifices the well-being of Jews that live beyond the Green Line for the nationalist aspirations of Arabs
  4. It precludes Israel’s ability to defend itself, since it would make a Gaza-like terrorist entity of Judea and Samaria (only much worse strategically)
  5. It ignores the oft-expressed intention of the PA leaders to use such a state as a steppingstone to the elimination of Israel

Point 4 was underlined last week when Iranian-inspired terrorists fired hundreds of missiles into Israel from Gaza. Think about how much worse it could be if the high ground east of the Green Line could be used to launch short-range rockets directly into Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport, etc.

The Oslo paradigm of a two-state solution was discredited by the rejection of reasonable offers by the Palestinian leadership in 2000 — when Arafat chose war instead of statehood — and 2008. They continue to press their demands  for 1949 lines, right of return for Arab refugees, no demilitarization, refusal to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, etc. as preconditions to negotiation. There is no intersection between the maximalist demands of the PA and the continued existence of a Jewish state of Israel.

Beinart’s plan to end the settlements by outside pressure only rewards the intransigence of the PA. Why isn’t he boycotting them (true, they don’t have any products or culture to boycott) until they agree to negotiate in good faith? Why pick on the settlers?

Of course, the PA doesn’t want a real peace. If you think that the Palestinian leadership — the PA, not just Hamas — just wants to “end the [1967] occupation,” you simply have not been paying attention. Official Palestinian media (see here) are filled with statements to the contrary, as well as praise for the most murderous terrorists and vicious anti-Jewish lies.

Beinart says that “Boycotting other Jews is a painful, unnatural act, [but] the alternative is worse.” While he is very concerned about “oppression” of Arabs, he doesn’t seem to feel the pain of the tens of thousands of Jewish settlers — in the best possible case — who would be expelled from their homes if the two-state plan with swaps were actually implemented.

By insisting on a plan whose imposition would almost certainly mark the beginning of yet another war, by demonizing and punishing the Jewish ‘settlers’ who have every right to live where they do, by calling for a boycott because Israeli security measures constitute “oppression,” Beinart’s approach is anything but ‘Zionist’!

Update [Mar 19 2012 2213 PDT]: Rewritten for clarity.

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Direct from Tehran

Sunday, March 18th, 2012
Parchin test facility near Tehran. Courtesy of Challah Hu Akbar. Click the picture for details and more photos.

Parchin test facility near Tehran. Courtesy of Challah Hu Akbar. Click the picture for details and more photos.

The New York Times reports,

Today, as suspicions about Iran’s nuclear ambitions have provoked tough sanctions and threats of military confrontation, top administration officials have said that Iran still has not decided to pursue a weapon, reflecting the intelligence community’s secret analysis.

FresnoZionism has decided to help the Obama Administration find out what’s really going on in Iran by applying its until-now secret technology: a drone so small that it can pass as a fly.

Here is a transcript of an audio report sent back to FZ headquarters from Tehran recently (unfortunately all of the drone’s 20,000 compound eye lenses were focused on the cookies on the table and we are unable to determine the identities of the speakers):

Iranian 1: Your Excellency, I bring you greetings from the Pure Research for the Good of Mankind Center located in Parchin.

Iranian 2: Wonderful! How are the tests of the new device to, er, cure cancer, proceeding?

I1: Well, we managed to achieve almost-simultaneous — within one microsecond — detonation of high-explosive shaped charges.

I2: Great! That should take care of those pesky cancer cells. There isn’t any other area of research that this could possibly be useful for, is there?

I1: No, Excellency. Only curing cancer. Or very rapidly increasing the density of a chunk of, er, heavy metal, if we should ever want to do something as pointless as that.

I2: Of course. What good would that be? What else?

I1: We had Molly Maids come out and vacuum the place. We were practicing compressing heavy metals — as if we would want to do that! — and some of the heavy metals escaped the containment vessel — er, the laboratory — and dirtied up the dirt around it.

I2: Oh, Molly Maids? I hear they do a good job. Wasn’t that expensive, though?

I1: Yes, but it was necessary. Those IAEA pests were bothering us about inspecting the site again.

I2: They just want to steal our secret cancer-fighting technology!

I1: Yes, Excellency. We won’t let them.

I2: The Americans want to steal it, too. I understand they have agents everywhere. Well, listen to this: I HAVEN’T DECIDED ANYTHING! NOTHING IS DECIDED! I NEVER DECIDE! Get it?

I1: Yes, Excellency.

I2: Damn it, there’s a fly eating my cookies! Swat it at once!

At this point, the transmission ceased. But we are presenting it in the hopes that top administration officials can make sense of it.

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Women harassed by Arabs, leftists

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

It’s been an open secret among pro-Palestinian activists that the attitudes of the people they are trying to liberate from ‘occupation’ are somewhat less than enlightened. A recent article in Ha’aretz details the complaints of some female international and Israeli activists who have found themselves demeaned, sexually harassed, and even raped by their Arab counterparts.

I am sure that the situation is even worse than described in the left-wing Ha’aretz newspaper, whose description is bad enough.

There are also complaints against left-wing Israeli activists, and fury at an incredibly vulgar poster created by the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement. Even women sharing their political viewpoint were outraged by the normalization of anti-woman violence implicit in the posters.

The usual excuses are being made. That women should understand that the goal of ‘ending the occupation’ is more important than these unfortunate phenomena, and they should be quiet. Or even that the Arabs (does this go for the non-Arab leftists too?) have been damaged by ‘occupation’ and therefore it is, naturally, the fault of Israel and particularly of ‘settlers’.

Similar claims are made by anti-Israel gay activists that ‘occupation’ causes Palestinian homophobia, while Israel’s tolerance of gays and lesbians is cynical ‘pinkwashing‘.

Because protest movements often are driven by young males, there is often a certain amount of macho posturing. In 1964, Stokely Carmichael famously said that the only position for women in his movement was “prone.” Eldridge Cleaver — in his case it was more than just posturing, as he admitted committing violent ‘political’ rapes of white women — remarked that women were useful because they had “pussy power.”

The Arab culture is a different story. Women are traditionally respected only insofar as they are protected by male relatives. One way to show disrespect for someone — or for an entire nation — is to steal his property, which includes ‘his’ women — wives, sisters, daughters. So Arabs steal cars and sheep from Jews, and rape their women.

The international and Israeli female activists are in a difficult position, because with no husbands or brothers around to protect them, they are nobody. Not even whores that have to be paid. Any unprotected woman is in danger, as Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy found out in Tahrir Square:

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The affair of the posters may have irritated the women activists enough that they will insist that the European and Israeli men at least pretend to understand their concerns if they want continued female participation in the ‘movement’.

But the idea that women are property — a particularly sensitive form of property whose damage besmirches family ‘honor’ (a grotesque form of male pride) — is deeply embedded in Arab culture and results in countless murders of women by their own family members throughout the Arab world, including the Palestinian Authority and even among Arab citizens of Israel.

It would probably behoove both female and male activists to think a bit about the real nature of the Palestinian Arab culture that yearns to  replace Israel, and ask themselves if they are really sure that this is the outcome they prefer.

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The ongoing war with Iran

Thursday, March 15th, 2012
PM Binyamin Netanyahu speaks in the Knesset this week

PM Binyamin Netanyahu speaks in the Knesset this week

A war between Israel and Iran is not something that may or may not occur in the future. It is in progress now.

PM Netanyahu said as much in a speech he made yesterday to a special session of the Knesset:

Understand, the dominant factor that motivates these events in Gaza is not the Palestinian issue.  The dominant factor that motivates these events in Gaza is Iran.

Gaza equals Iran.

Where do the missiles come from?  From Iran.
Where does the money come from?  From Iran.
Who trains the terrorists?  Iran.
Who builds the infrastructure?  Iran.
I have said this many times: who gives the orders?  Iran.

Gaza is a forward operating base for Iran.

I heard some people say that a third- or fourth-rate terrorist organization is acting against a million citizens in the State of Israel.  That is not true.  Iran is operating against us.

I hope that if not all, at least most members here and the public understand that the terrorist organizations in Gaza – Hamas and Jihad, as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon – are taking shelter under an Iranian umbrella.

Gaza is just one front in the ongoing war. On March 30, there will be a “Global March to Jerusalem” (GMJ):

GMJ, scheduled for March 30, 2012, is an anti-Israel publicity stunt that aims to have a million people marching on Israel’s borders from all the surrounding countries – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt – with the aim of reaching Jerusalem. Concurrently, demonstrations are planned in the Palestinian-administrated [sic] territories and against Israel’s diplomatic missions in major cities throughout the world.

Every imaginable anti-Israel individual and organization — Muslim, leftist, or just antisemitic — from the ANSWER coalition to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, is supporting or taking part in this project, which could well mark the beginning of yet another Palestinian Intifada. Naturally, one of the major supporters is the Iranian regime.

On yet another front, From May 2011 through February, 2012, Iran and its Hizballah proxy have attempted to carry out terrorist strikes against Israeli targets in various parts of the world, the most recent being the February 13th bombing of the car in which the wife of an Israeli representative in India was riding.

Of course Israel has not been idle, almost certainly being behind some or all of the recent violent setbacks suffered by the Iranian nuclear program. In yesterday’s speech, the PM made it clear that Israel will not permit Iran’s umbrella for terrorism to become nuclear:

Now imagine what will happen if that umbrella becomes nuclear.  Imagine that behind these terrorist organizations stands a country that calls for our destruction and it is armed with nuclear weapons.

Are you ready for this?  I am not ready for this!  And any responsible leader understands that we cannot let this happen – because of nuclear terror and the nuclear threat, but also because of the strengthening of conventional terror and the firing of missiles at us.

In an interview on “60 minutes” this week, former Mossad head Meir Dagan repeats his contention that the consequences of a preemptive Israeli attack on Iran will be grave, and he argues that it is more difficult than many think. “There are dozens of sites,” he said. He indicates that he would much rather see an attack carried out by the US than by Israel. And he suggests that non-military options, like assisting opponents of the regime, should be emphasized.

But he does not say that Iran should be allowed to become nuclear. That is not an option for him any more than it is for Netanyahu.

While everyone would prefer that Iran give up its program peacefully, perhaps stopped by sanctions — which is simply not possible — or regime change, which is unlikely to occur in time and might not end the nuclear program in any event, this outcome is unlikely. So when the red line is crossed, Israel will have to act.

Both Netanyahu and Dagan would probably agree with Israel Hayom editor Amos Regev, who wrote this:

Nuclear weapons in the hands of Islamists is a danger to Israel. They live history. In their view, the Crusader invasion is a recent event, and as they see it, we, not to our credit, are also considered cursed Crusaders. They live this myth and are working to hasten the messiah – theirs. Give them nuclear weapons and they will use them. This is what they say. Whoever thinks this is simply “for internal propaganda purposes,” may he revel in his belief. But just as a reminder, a short while before the attack on the World Trade Center, an explicit threat was posted on al-Qaida’s Web page saying the organization was about to carry out an attack that would shock the world.

Many actors on the world stage do not want to see Israel attack Iran. There is Iran itself, of course. There is President Obama, who doesn’t want anything upsetting to happen between now and November. There is J Street, with its mysterious funders, which once lobbied against sanctions on Iran and is now pulling out the stops to oppose military action. “Wait for sanctions to take effect,” they say today.

Ideology is important. Islamist ideology (as well as traditional geopolitical ambition) is pushing Iran into war and pushing it toward nuclear weapons. But one cannot ignore the ideology of Israel’s leadership either, the ideology growing out of the historical experience of the Jewish people, that insists that threats against Israel must be taken seriously, and that the country cannot depend on anyone else to defend it.

The war is ongoing, and anyone who does not expect escalation into more open conflict is dreaming.

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The uses of military force

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

I know that those of us who have not been in combat for extended periods don’t understand the level of moral, emotional and physical stresses that those who fight face. So I am going to be very careful in this post not to speculate about the personal factors the led an American soldier to kill numerous Afghan civilians for no apparent reason on Sunday morning. But I think I am qualified to comment on the political aspects.

Until very recently, armies had a highly focused objective: to destroy enemy forces, to conquer and hold territory, and to defend ‘friendly’ territory and peoples against opposing armies.

Treatment of noncombatants has always been a secondary concern, varying over the centuries from the massacre of enemy men and enslavement of women and children common in ancient times, to what we hope is the more civilized behavior of Western armies today.

When an enemy army was defeated in the past, the winners brought about the political consequences that they desired, annexing territory or establishing a new regime, moving populations, exacting tribute, killing or imprisoning the former ruling groups, etc. These changes were enforced by violence or threat of violence. Since very few governments were democratic, the civilians involved could only hope that the new monarchy or dictatorship would be more benign than the previous one.

This pattern was followed in WWII, with the occupation of Germany, Japan and the Warsaw pact nations an example of the imposition of new regimes (the fact that the Western bloc managed to extricate itself peacefully from its occupations doesn’t change their essentially coercive nature).

More recently, a new paradigm is emerging, particularly in the case of the US: military forces are sent to a country which is ‘misbehaving’ in some way — in Vietnam, threatening to join the Soviet bloc; in Afghanistan, sheltering terrorist militias.* The objective of the military is to suppress the forces that are opposed to our goals, while winning the support of uncommitted groups.

Unfortunately these fundamentally contradictory goals — killing and making friends — place a huge burden on our soldiers. In order to stay alive, they must be killers when they face the enemy. Then they are expected to return to base and become Peace Corps volunteers.

This is exacerbated by the fact that these ‘police actions’ are by nature insurgencies without front lines. So the soldier never knows which form of behavior is called for.

And it gets even worse than this: while our troops are being trained in ‘cultural sensitivity’ in order to become capable of making friends with the ones who are supposedly on our side, we are facing Middle Eastern honor-shame cultures in which such ‘sensitivity’ appears as weakness and stupidity, leading to even more hatred and violence.

The icing on the cake is that our enemies understand all this, while we apparently don’t. So of course the accidental burning of Qurans or a massacre of civilians — which is standard operating procedure in the Muslim Middle East, by the way — provokes huge outbursts of rage. So we apologize, which provokes even more rage.

[Aside: No, I don't condone massacres, and I don't think that what the so-far-unnamed US soldier did is acceptable. But when Muslims kill Muslims, as they are doing in large numbers every day in Syria, Iraq and other places, the rage in the Muslim world is muted.

The principle is the same in Gaza, where Palestinian terrorists are applauded for trying to commit mass murder of Jews, but when those same terrorists are killed by the IDF, Egyptians are furious. Christians, Jews and other infidels are not allowed to kill Muslims -- it turns their world order upside down.]

I think we in the West need to understand that we cannot expect our armies to both fight and act as social workers, especially in the Middle East.

Where there is an objective that can be achieved by military force, we must apply that force as aggressively as possible, and minimize contact between our soldiers and civilians. Compare the first three weeks of the invasion of Iraq with the other nine years of our involvement there.

But if we want to translate military victories into political gains, then we must be prepared to follow up by behaving as conquerors, not as helpers or allies. If we are not able to do this, then probably we don’t have a good reason for military action in the first place.

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* The case of Iraq is more complicated, but I believe it fits the paradigm.

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