Archive for August, 2013

Saudi Arabia’s dual goals

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
Brack Obama bows to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, April 1, 2009

Barack Obama bows to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, April 1, 2009

What I’m going to write is highly speculative. I have no way of knowing if it is true, and it might sound far-fetched. But it does have some explanatory power. First, some background.

A question that always bothers me is this: just what is it that causes the US State Department and every administration since the 1970’s to put so much emphasis on getting the Jews out of territory conquered in 1967 — emphasis which is not justified by rational American interests, and indeed which might even work against those interests?

The Obama Administration has been particularly unbalanced in this regard, using the IRS against charities suspected of giving money to ‘settlers’, and risking embarrassment by running after an Israeli-PLO agreement like a dog in heat at the most inauspicious time possible.

I have suggested in the past that at least some of the pressure in this direction comes from Saudi Arabia. Ever since Roosevelt’s meeting with King Ibn Saud in 1945, the Saudi position that there should not be Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East has been clear. Indeed, Roosevelt even made a statement that the Saudis interpreted as a promise that the US would not support the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Truman’s ‘failure’ to keep the promise was bad enough, from the Saudi point of view. But the actual expansion in 1967 of the ‘cancer in the heart of the Muslim world’ as the Iranian regime likes to put it, was too much. After the additional frustration of 1973, when the Arabs almost succeeded to regain the lost territory by force, the Saudis deployed the oil weapon against the West and made it clear in no uncertain terms that it would pay for its ‘perfidy’. The era of cheap oil was gone forever, and worse was threatened if Israel were not pushed back to its pre-1967 size — a size that would, they hoped, make Israel’s ultimate destruction by Arab armies possible:

The Arab success was the result, at least to some extent, of their improved military capabilities–an improvement due to their obtaining from the U.S.S.R. the large quantities of modern, sophisticated equipment necessary to fight a “first-class war.” The relationship between quality and quantity was highlighted by the early fighting in which Israeli qualitative superiority was offset, to some degree, by Egyptian and Syrian quantitative superiority. Therefore, while Israel retained its military advantage, the margin of that advantage had diminished, and, in the light of the sharp increases in Arab oil revenues, the possibility arose that the Arabs might achieve military parity or perhaps even superiority in the longer-term future by combining qualitative improvement with quantitative dominance.

In the October War, however, a U.S.-sponsored cease fire prevented the Israelis from gaining a clear cut military victory over Egypt by isolating the Second Army as well as destroying the already trapped Third Egyptian Army. This, plus U.S. insistence on opening supply lines to the latter army, and the decisions to resupply Israel and to extend it $2.2 billion in emergency aid represented a carefully designed effort to create a situation conducive to a revitalized U.S. peacemaking effort. Soon after, Kissinger made the first of his many trips to the Middle East. — Dr. Joseph S. Szyliowicz and Major Bard E. O’Neill, “The Oil Weapon and American Foreign Policy

In return for ending the oil boycott, Kissinger promised the Arabs “full implementation” of UNSC 242, which of course is understood by the Arabs as complete withdrawal from all territories captured in 1967, especially Jerusalem.

This is the second American ‘promise’ to the Saudis, and judging by official and unofficial US policy since then, we have been trying mightily to fulfill it. This is no accident: Saudi influence in the US, despite the diminishing importance of Saudi Arabia in today’s oil market, is immense (making the ‘Israel lobby’ look insignificant in comparison).

This influence comes from years of direct lobbying by the Kingdom, and via oil companies like Aramco, originally a subsidiary of Standard Oil, bought by the Saudis in the 1980s. But that isn’t all they bought: many American universities also found their way into the Arabian shopping cart, with donations of tens of millions of dollars to schools like Harvard and Georgetown. Politicians, too, including former Presidents have benefited from recycled petrodollars in the form of contributions to libraries, speaking engagements, etc. The Saudis are not shy about letting them know what awaits:

A hint of the problem comes from none other than Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The Washington Post reports that he boasted of his success at cultivating powerful Americans: “If the reputation . . . builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you’d be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office”… [my emphasis]

Ex-Washington hands paid handsomely by the kingdom include such figures as Spiro T. Agnew, Jimmy Carter, Clark Clifford, John B. Connally and William E. Simon. A Washington Post account lists other former officials, including George H.W. Bush, who have found the Saudi connection “lucrative.” It also quotes a Saudi source saying that the Saudis have contributed to every presidential library in recent decades.

Many ex-U.S. ambassadors to Riyadh have received substantial sums of money since John C. West set the gold standard by funding his personal foundation with a $500,000 donation from a single Saudi prince, plus more from other Saudis, soon after he left the kingdom in 1981. — Daniel Pipes, “What Riyadh buys [in Washington]

Now for the speculative part.

The House of Saud is still interested, and will always be interested, in eliminating the Jewish state. But today it is perhaps even more concerned with a direct threat emanating from Iran and its proxies, Hizballah and Syria.

Iran represents a danger to the Saudi regime for a multiplicity of reasons, religious, political and economic. Its objective today is to take the leadership of the Gulf — indeed, the whole Middle East — away from the Saudis, who have been able to hold it thanks to American muscle. The Saudi king was even quoted as telling American officials that he wanted us to “cut off the head of the snake [Iran]” for him.

But what if the Saudis could kill both the Israeli and Iranian ‘snakes’ with a single blow? There are several ways that this could come about, all of which involve making use of the powerful Saudi influence on US policymakers:

Possibility 1: Israel could be allowed attack the Iranian nuclear program, doing significant damage. Then it might suffer greatly in the ensuing retaliation by Hizballah and Iran (perhaps also joined by Syria and Hamas). This scenario could explain what otherwise looks like US stupidity in going along with Iranian stalling while it gets closer to having the bomb.

Possibility 2: Iran could be allowed to develop a bomb, but Israel could be restrained from attacking. Then Iran might actually use its bomb against Israel. The US then would come to the aid of its ‘ally’, destroying the Iranian regime’s ability to fight and possibly even overthrowing the regime. This would explain US stupidity as above, as well as its reluctance to give a green light to Israel to attack until it is too late.

Possibility 3: The US could provoke a war between Israel and Syria, which would involve Hizballah. Both Israel and the Iranian proxies would suffer damage, although doubtless Israel would win. This would explain the puzzling behavior of US officials leaking details of Israeli attacks on weapons transfers to Hizballah.

There are other variations on the same theme.

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Cancer imagery and Jew hatred

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Jerusalem day 2013

Rowhani’s comment about Israel being a ‘sore’ (whether or not he added that it should be removed) expresses a popular meme in the Muslim world. The idea is expressed explicitly in the Hamas covenant, and it often appears in PLO media. Palestinian Journalist Khalid Amayreh published an article in 2010 on an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood website in which he called  Jews “an abomination, a cancer upon the world.” Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday called Israel a “cancerous gland” which must be “excised,” echoing Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Other Iranian officials also use this language on a regular basis.

The idea persists, despite the fact that — by any objective standard — the behavior of Israel is anything but expansionist and invasive. Although Israel ‘grew’ at the expense of the Arab nations in 1967, it has eagerly abandoned most of the territory conquered in the name of ‘peace’, even when that goal proved illusory. It would probably have given it all up if the Arabs had been more focused on strategic advantage than honor and vengeance.

Since 1948, the Arabs (and from 1979, the Iranian regime) have persisted in trying to ‘cure’ the Jewish ‘cancer’, sometimes by war, sometimes by diplomacy and often by both at once. The Arabs seem to have learned by successive humiliations (which only deepen their hatred) that direct means will not be successful. Now they have adopted a multi-pronged strategy of military pressure combined with delegitimization to reduce Western support for Israel, along with diplomatic offensives at the UN and with the US to obtain a solid territorial base. Once this is achieved, they expect to finish the job in another regional war.

The Arabs in particular have never been terribly original. First they borrowed the anti-Jewish ideology of the Nazis, exemplified by Palestinian Arab leader al-Husseini’s relationship with Hitler and the Nazi scientists and war criminals who found sanctuary in Egypt, Iraq and Syria after the war.

The rest of the world was understandably repelled by Nazi ideology, but in the late 1960’s Yasser Arafat was instructed by the KGB to present his gang as a movement of national liberation for a distinct ‘Palestinian people’, and Zionism as a form of imperialism. The international Left followed the KGB’s lead, and this marked the beginning of the Left’s fanatic anti-Zionism.

In 2001, a new element was added with the development of the Durban Strategy by anti-Israel NGOs. Gerald Steinberg explained it thus in 2005:

The Durban conference crystallized the strategy of delegitimizing Israel as “an apartheid regime” through international isolation based on the South African model. This plan is driven by UN-based groups as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which exploit the funds, slogans and rhetoric of the human rights movement.

On this basis a series of political battles have been fought in the UN and in the media. These include the myth of the Jenin “massacre,” the separation barrier, the academic boycott, and, currently, the church-based anti-Israel divestment campaign.

Each of these fronts reflected the Durban strategy of labeling Israel as the new South Africa.

Since then the campaign has expanded greatly, despite the complete absence of parallels between Israel and apartheid South Africa.

It’s important to understand — and the cancer imagery makes this clear — that despite the various guises that the Arab-Muslim-Palestinian cause affects, there is one basic element that underlies it: an extreme hatred of the Jewish people and the desire for another genocide against it.

In this they will be unlikely to succeed — unless Israel first tears itself apart by internal conflict.

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Is this the behavior of an ally?

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

The always-perceptive David Gerstman connects some dots for us:

First the sequence:

a) Israeli Airstrike in Syria Targets Arms Convoy, U.S. Says by Isabel Kershner and Michael Gordon – January 30, 2013

Israeli warplanes carried out a strike deep inside Syrian territory on Wednesday, American officials reported, saying they believed the target was a convoy carrying sophisticated antiaircraft weaponry on the outskirts of Damascus that was intended for the Hezbollah Shiite militia in Lebanon.

The American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Israel had notified the United States about the attack, which the Syrian government condemned as an act of “arrogance and aggression.” Israel’s move demonstrated its determination to ensure that Hezbollah — its arch foe in the north — is unable to take advantage of the chaos in Syria to bolster its arsenal significantly.

b) Israel Bombs Syria as the U.S. Considers Its Own Military Options by Michael Gordon, Eric Schmitt and David Sanger – May 3, 2013

Israel aircraft bombed a target in Syria overnight Thursday, an Obama administration official said Friday night, as United States officials said they were considering military options, including carrying out their own airstrikes.

U.S. apologized for leaking details of Israel. US officials told that they review the matter.The leak forced Assad to react harshly.
— Chico Menashe (@chicomenashe) May 19, 2013

c) Israel Airstrike Targeted Advanced Missiles That Russia Sold to Syria, U.S. Says by Michael Gordon – July 13, 2013

Israel carried out an air attack in Syria this month that targeted advanced antiship cruise missiles sold to the Syria government by Russia, American officials said Saturday.

The officials, who declined to be identified because they were discussing intelligence reports, said the attack occurred July 5 near Latakia, Syria’s principal port city. The target was a type of missile called the Yakhont, they said.

d) Some Syria Missiles Eluded Israeli Strike, Officials Say by Michael Gordon – July 31, 2013

American intelligence analysts have concluded that a recent Israeli airstrike on a warehouse in Syria did not succeed in destroying all of the Russian-made antiship cruise missiles that were its target, American officials said on Wednesday, and that further Israeli strikes are likely. …

The officials who described the new assessment declined to be identified because they were discussing classified information.

On four separate occasions this year, administration officials talking to Michael Gordon (and other reporters) of the New York Times revealed information about Israeli striking Syria. In three of the cases it’s acknowledged explicitly that official speaking to Gordon would not identify him or her self. Yet only once did the United States apologize. Still, in three separate instances the administration deprived Israel of deniability about the strike. The most recent case, suggested that Israel would strike Syria again. The suggestion [is] hardly something that helps Israel.

Israel’s objective in these strikes is not to take sides in Syria’s civil war, nor is it to humiliate Bashar al-Assad or provoke war between Israel and Syria. It is simply to prevent advanced weapons from reaching Hizballah. In particular, Israel has not claimed any of these operations because it does not want to put Assad in the position of having to defend his honor by striking back.

When US officials leak intelligence information that identifies Israel as the perpetrator, it becomes harder for Assad to ignore these attacks or claim they are the work of rebels.

Assad isn’t stupid. He knows that Israel does not want to intervene in his civil war, and he has plenty to deal with without adding another enemy. He knows that if he hits back against Israel, it will retaliate in turn. He doesn’t need this when he believes that he is making good progress in pushing back the rebels. Yet he loses face and deterrence every time he absorbs an Israeli strike without responding.

My speculation is that he is thinking that he will settle scores with Israel later, after he defeats the rebels. But who knows how far he will allow himself to be pushed?

What are the motives of the US officials who are leaking this data?

• Is this a rogue operation, or are they doing it at the behest of the administration?

• Are they trying to provoke a war between Israel and Syria?

• Are they trying to deter Israel from interdicting weapons shipments to Hizballah?

• Are they trying to punish Israel for resisting efforts to force it out of the territories?

Whatever it is, it is extremely dangerous for Israel, which is facing tens of thousands of missiles aimed at it from both Syria and Hizballah.

Is this the behavior of an ally?

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Obama Administration wants to rerun 1948 ethnic cleansing of Jews

Friday, August 2nd, 2013
Expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem, 1948

Expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem, 1948

Recently, Mahmoud Abbas said (again) that ‘not one Israeli’ would remain in “our lands.” For Abbas, there is no hypocrisy in demanding at the same time that the descendents of 1948 Arab refugees should ‘return’ to the Israel where they never lived, because — why should we be surprised? — he believes that everything between the river and the sea is “our lands.”

Let’s make no mistake about the significance of the Obama/Kerry ‘peace’ process: if something like the formula of borders ‘based on’ the 1949 armistice lines with land swaps is implemented, then some undetermined number — perhaps 100,000 — of the 300,000 Jewish residents of Judea (excluding Jerusalem) and Samaria will be expelled from their homes, farms, businesses, etc. If Jerusalem is divided, then perhaps another 200,000 will be forced to leave.

In other words, the US is trying — it is one of the highest-priority foreign policy goals of the Obama Administration — to implement a plan to ethnically cleanse the area of Jews.

When the Jordanian army illegally invaded this area in 1948, this was precisely what happened: Jews were driven at gunpoint from land that was promised to them by the international community in the Palestine Mandate. Since 1967, of course, this injustice has been undone as Jews returned to their historic homeland. Now our government is trying to expel them yet again!

Although Western supporters of the PLO make much of the fact that Abbas has only said ‘Israelis’ and not ‘Jews’, anyone familiar with the content of Palestinian media in Arabic knows that the PLO’s motives are frankly racist. It is shocking that a country like ours which exhibits such exquisite sensitivity to the slightest whiff of prejudice would pretend not to notice and proceed with a plan that is racist in the extreme.

Well, they say, it’s absolutely necessary because the status quo is unsustainable. Millions of Arabs are living ‘under occupation’. It can’t continue!

But actually, some 95% or more of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria live in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (which is dominated by the PLO). ‘Occupation’ impinges upon them only where it must to prevent terrorism against Israelis. What the Palestinians want (among many other things) is

• Complete sovereignty, including the ability to make military alliances, control airspace, etc.

• Removal of all Israeli security measures, such as the security barrier, all checkpoints, etc.

Really, is it the case that ending Palestinian ‘frustration’ at the inability to make war on Israel is so important that it justifies the ethnic cleansing, for the second time, of hundreds of thousands of Jews? Where is the urgency? Couldn’t many of the grievances of the Arabs be ameliorated if they were to stop their daily attempts to murder Jews?

In fact, why is it so urgent to grant a sovereign state to a ‘people’ most of whose ancestors moved to ‘Palestine’ no earlier than 200 years ago from Egypt or Syria, who have defined themselves as a people in opposition to the Jews and whose sovereignty is intended to undo that of the Jews in their homeland, and who have expressed their new-found nationalism in the most violent and ugly ways possible?

Make no mistake, if this plan is implemented the damage to Israel’s security and to its social cohesion will be incalculable. This, of course, is the intent of Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO, who have never wavered from their objective of destroying Israel and replacing it with another Arab dictatorship (which will probably shortly become another Islamist theocracy under Hamas).

Is this how our country, which prides itself on its embrace of freedom, justice and democracy, promotes those values beyond its borders?

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