Archive for March, 2011

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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