Thursday, July 24, 2014

Palestinian Suffering Used to Demonize Israel

by Prof. Efraim Karsh

Executive Summary: As long as Palestinians continue to serve as lightning rod against Jews, their supposed victimization reaffirming the latter’s millenarian demonization, Israel will never be allowed to defend itself.
RT London photo
BESA Center, July 22, 2014

No sooner had Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to stop the sustained rocket and missile attacks on its civilian population by the Gaza-based Hamas terror organization than it came under a barrage of international criticism, with tens of thousands of violent demonstrators flocking into the streets of London, Paris, Berlin, Oslo, Sydney, Buenos Aires and New York, among other places, to demand an end to the “Gaza slaughter.”

How can this be? Why do citizens of democratic societies enthusiastically embrace one of the world’s most murderous Islamist terror organizations, overtly committed not only to the destruction of a sovereign democracy but also to the subordination of Western values and ways of life to a worldwide Islamic caliphate (or umma)? Not out of a genuine concern for Palestinian wellbeing. For although the “Palestine question” has received extraordinary media coverage for decades to the exclusion of far worse humanitarian and political problems, the truth is that no one really cares about the fate of the Palestinians: not their leaders, who have immersed their hapless constituents in disastrous conflicts rather than seize the numerous opportunities for statehood since the Peel Commission report of 1937; not the Arab states, which have brazenly manipulated the Palestinian cause to their self-serving ends; and not Western politicians, the media, NGOs, human rights activists, and church leaders enticed into self-righteous indignation by an Israeli act of self-defense.

Had the Palestinians’ dispute been with an Arab, Muslim, or any other non-Jewish adversary, it would have attracted a fraction of the interest that it presently does. No one in the international community pays any attention to the ongoing abuse of Palestinians across the Arab world from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, which deprives its 500,000-strong Palestinian population of the most basic human rights from property ownership, to employment in numerous professions, to free movement. Nor has there been any international outcry when Arab countries have expelled and/or massacred their Palestinian populations on a grand scale. The fact that the thoroughly westernized King Hussein of Jordan killed more Palestinians in the course of a single month than Israel had in decades was never held against him or dented his widely held perception as a man of peace.

As the supposedly pro-Palestinian journalist Robert Fisk put it in his memoirs, King Hussein was “often difficult to fault.”

Kuwait’s 1991 slaughter of thousands of innocent Palestinians who lived and worked in the emirate (and the expulsion of most of its 400,000-strong Palestinian population) passed virtually unnoticed by the international media, as has the murder of thousands of Palestinians in the ongoing Syrian civil war and the reduction of countless others to destitution and starvation.

By contrast, any Palestinian or Arab casualty inflicted by Israel comes under immediate international criticism.

Take the blanket media coverage of Israel’s military response in Lebanon (2006) and Gaza (2008- 09, 2012) but not of the original Hezbollah and Hamas attacks triggering it, in stark contrast to the utter indifference to bloodier conflicts going on around the world at the same time. On July 19, 2006, for example, 5,000 Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in what it claimed was an action to “crush” an Islamist threat to its neighbor’s government. A month later, Sri Lankan artillery has pounded territory held by the rebel Tamil Tigers resulting in mass displacement and over 500 deaths, including an estimated 50 children following the Sri Lankan air force’s bombing of an orphanage. But neither of these events gained any media coverage, let alone emergency sessions of the UN Security Council, just as the bloodbath in Iraq at the time, with its estimated 3,000 deaths a month at the hands of Islamist militants sank into oblivion while the world focused on Lebanon, just as the current slaughter in Syria and Iraq is presently ignored. And what about the-then long-running genocide in Darfur, with its estimated 300,000 dead and at least 2.5 million refugees? Or the war in the Congo, with over four million dead or driven from their homes, or in Chechnya where an estimated 150,000- 160,000 have died and up to a third of the population has been displaced, at the hands of the Russian military? None of these tragedies saw the worldwide mass demonstrations as has been the case during the Lebanon and Gaza crises.

Nor should we forget that Hezbollah has been implicated in dozens of international terror attacks from Brussels to Buenos Aires.

Indeed, the response to its July 18, 1994, terror attack on the Israeli- Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA), a social center catering for Buenos Aires’ large Jewish population, provides an illuminating contrast to the relentless coverage of the 2006 events in Lebanon. It was the worst terror attack in Argentina’s history, killing 100 people and wounding more than 200. More died in this bombing than in any single action in the 2006 Lebanese war. Yet the BBC, which prides itself on the worldwide coverage, didn’t find the atrocity worth mentioning in its evening news bulletin. When confronted with a complaint by the normally timid Board of Deputies, British Jewry’s umbrella organization, the corporation offered an apology of sorts, blaming the omission on a particularly busy day.

What were those daily events that could have possibly diverted the BBC’s attention from the Argentina massacre? A perusal of the papers reveals the British premier of Steven Spielberg’s new film, The Flintstones, attended by the prince of Wales. This was also the day when Gavin Sheerard- Smith, caned and imprisoned for six months in Qatar after being convicted of buying and selling alcohol, returned to Britain professing his innocence, and when David MacGregor, an agoraphobia sufferer jailed for a fortnight for failing to pay poll tax arrears, had his sentenced quashed. An eventful day indeed.

Given the BBC’s indifference to the massacre of Argentinean Jews by Hezbollah, it is hardly surprising that the corporation, along with much of the world’s media, ignored the almost daily rocket attacks by the same group on Israel’s northern border, not to mention the constant outpouring of rockets and missiles from Gaza since the Israeli withdrawal from the territory in 2005.

And why shouldn’t they? The killing of Jews and the destruction or seizure of their worldly properties is hardly news. For millennia Jewish blood has been cheap, if not costless, throughout the Christian and Muslim worlds where the Jew became the epitome of powerlessness, a perpetual punching bag and a scapegoat for whatever ills befell society. There is no reason, therefore, why Israel shouldn’t follow in the footsteps of these past generations, avoid antagonizing its Arab neighbors and exercise restraint whenever attacked. But no, instead of knowing its place, the insolent Jewish state has forfeited this historic role by exacting a price for Jewish blood and beating the bullies who had hitherto been able to torment the Jews with impunity. This dramatic reversal of history cannot but be immoral and unacceptable. Hence the global community outrage and hence the world’s media provision of unlimited resources to cover every minute detail of Israel’s “disproportionate” response, but none of the suffering and devastation on the Israeli side.

A profoundly depressing state of affairs indeed. But so long as the Palestinians continue to serve as the latest lightning rod against the Jews, their supposed victimization reaffirming the latter’s millenarian demonization, Israel will never be allowed to defend itself without incurring the charge of “disproportionate force” – never directed against any other besieged democracy but evocative of the classic anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews as both domineering and wretched, both helpless and bloodthirsty. In the words of the renowned American writer David Mamet, “The world was told Jews used this blood in the performance of religious ceremonies. Now, it seems, Jews do not require the blood for baking purposes, they merely delight to spill it on the ground.”

This article was first published in The Jerusalem Post, on July 21, 2014

(Photo Credit: RT)

Prof. Efraim Karsh is a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, and a professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Kings College London, and the Middle East Forum (Philadelphia). His books include Arafat’s War and Palestine Betrayed.


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Palestinians’ Prize for Terror

by Joseph Klein

Secretary of State John Kerry – who was heard last Sunday on an open mike between Sunday TV appearances disparaging Israel’s efforts to limit civilian casualties in Gaza – arrived in Cairo on July 21st to frantically cobble together an immediate ceasefire. Seeking the help of Egypt and the United Nations, and even the Hamas-friendly countries of Turkey and Qatar, Kerry is looking for some kind of consensus by the major players in the region for a peace-at-any price formula. He is insisting on a premature ceasefire before Israel is able to find and destroy all the tunnels built under Palestinian civilians’ homes, schools and hospitals, which Hamas is using to hide its weapons and as bases from which to sneak its jihadists into Israel for the purpose of abducting or killing its citizens.

“The objective here is to get the fastest possible ceasefire. That doesn’t mean that it’s going to be fast, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but that’s the goal,” a senior US official travelling with Kerry was quoted by AFP as saying on condition of anonymity.

Kerry is even throwing in additional money for Gaza to help seal the deal. On top of the half a billion dollars that the Obama administration is continuing to send to the Palestinian “unity” government in which Hamas is a partner, Kerry has just offered a $47 million bribe in the form of so-called “humanitarian” aid for Gaza. Some of the $47 million would flow through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This is the very same agency which found at least twenty Hamas rockets in one of its schools and which is reported to have returned those rockets to the “local authorities.” In Gaza, the “local authorities” are presently the Hamas operatives who govern Gaza. Presumably, UNRWA will be sharing the Kerry-provided windfall with those same “local authorities.”

As usual, while the Obama administration is prepared to reward the Palestinians, it seeks to pressure Israel into agreeing to a short term peace that will simply buy Hamas more time to build up an even greater arsenal of deadly weapons. Before Kerry left on his latest jaunt to Cairo, he was heard on the open mike issuing a not-so-subtle warning to Israel not to try the Obama administration’s patience. “I hope they don’t think that’s an invitation to go do more,” apparently referring to the Obama administration’s rhetorical support for Israel’s right of self-defense. “That better be the warning to them.”

After arriving in Cairo, Kerry acknowledged Israel’s right to defend its citizens from Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks, but then added: “We are deeply concerned about the consequences.”

Those consequences are of Hamas’s own making. It is holding its own people hostage. It has rejected one ceasefire proposal after another, including a ceasefire proposed by Egypt last week that Israel had immediately accepted. Hamas also balked at extending the humanitarian pauses that the UN had brokered in order to enable relief to reach Palestinian civilians in need.  Hamas is insisting on entirely unacceptable conditions such as the end of the blockade and opening of border crossings by Israel and Egypt, as well as the release of Hamas operatives from Israeli prisons.

Indeed, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s top leader in Gaza, offered this chilling promise of more bloodshed: “Gaza has decided to end the blockade by its blood and by its courage.”

More accurately, Hamas and its cohorts have decided to spill the blood of Palestinian children and other civilians whom they regard as pawns in their jihad to destroy the Jewish state – a goal enshrined in its founding charter. Israel is going after the tunnels, rockets and rocket launchers used by Hamas to target Israeli civilians for death. Israel is not trying to kill Palestinian civilians. To the contrary, Israel has repeatedly warned Palestinian civilians for their own safety to leave the areas that Hamas has deliberately chosen to place the entrances to those tunnels as well as the rockets and rocket launchers.

As Israel’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN said to the Security Council on July 22nd:
What other nation supplies millions of tons of humanitarian aid or sets up a field hospital to treat the wounded on the other side even as its enemy fires on it indiscriminately?

What other nation sends messages to warn exactly where it will strike – giving the enemy time to set booby-traps and deploy snipers?
Israel spent four days warning Palestinians in northern Gaza that the military would soon enter their neighborhoods to uproot Hamas. That gave Hamas four days to prepare an assault on our troops.
Every time we drop a leaflet or make a phone call or send a text message warning of an imminent attack, we are endangering our soldiers so that we may keep their children safe.
The Palestinian observer state representative Riyad Mansour did not even try to refute these incontrovertible points in his own statement to the Security Council. Instead, he pushed every emotional button he could, including reading off names and ages and holding up pictures of Palestinian children killed in Gaza in just the last few days. He neglected to mention that the blood of all of these children, shed since Hamas rejected the Egyptian ceasefire proposal last week, is on Hamas’s hands alone.

Yet President Obama is telling Israel that, since in his uniformed view Israel has done enough “significant damage” to Hamas’s military infrastructure, it’s time that Israel stop in its tracks for the sake of the civilians.

Hamas is also scoring a propaganda victory, thanks to the Obama administration’s decision to discourage travel by Americans to Israel.  Perhaps fearful of a repeat of the tragic downing of the Malaysian passenger plane over territory controlled by the armed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine last week, the Federal Aviation Agency is also requiring all U.S. airlines to suspend their flights to Israel. This followed confirmation that at least one Hamas rocket landed near Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. The FAA notice read:
Due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza, all flight operations to/from Ben Gurion International Airport (LLBG) by US operators are prohibited until further advise.
Some European countries are doing likewise.

This is a gift to Hamas, which is now able to brag that it has been able to bring a key portion of Israel’s economy to a virtual halt and effectively isolate Israel from the world air transportation system.

Nevertheless, Israel has little choice but to soldier on until Hamas’s tunnel network and military infrastructure are largely destroyed, whether it takes a week or two as currently estimated by former Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Dr. Ephraim Sneh, or longer. In the meantime, the current blockade and securing of the border crossings against the flow of all but truly humanitarian aid must continue. They cannot be eased so that Kerry can go home with a premature ceasefire in his pocket.

Joseph Klein


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Hamas Attack Tunnels: Analysis and Initial Implications

by Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, delivered a revealing speech on March 23, 2014, in which he stressed the strategic importance of the Hamas attack tunnels, which, he argued, have changed the balance of power with Israel, when taken together with his organization’s military build-up. In the meantime, the IDF’s war against the tunnels continues. On Monday IDF forces thwarted another terror attack after two groups of Hamas operatives (numbering about ten) infiltrated from Gaza to Israel through a tunnel, apparently on their way to carry out a mass casualty attack at Kibbutz Erez and/or Kibbutz Nir Am.

Since Operation Protective Edge began, IDF forces have foiled several other attempted attacks by Hamas near Kibbutz Sufa and Kibbutz Nirim that also made use of attack tunnels, while uncovering and blowing up dozens of tunnels in Gaza along its border with Israel. These tunnels penetrate deep into Israeli territory, sometimes reaching a length of 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles).

Hamas has accumulated a great deal of experience in using the tunnels for operational purposes. Since 2000, hundreds of tunnels have been dug along Gaza’s border with Egypt, providing a lifeline for Hamas’s military buildup. The tunnels have been a main conduit for Palestinian imports from Egypt on a scale of millions of dollars annually, and for smuggling military supplies (from ammunition to missiles) and the construction materials needed to build the network of attack tunnels in Gaza.

Importation through the tunnels (it was in Egypt’s political interest that this be referred to as “smuggling”) was fully controlled by the Hamas government, which levied a tax on the items and used its huge profits to accelerate its military buildup and preparation for hostilities with Israel.

During the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000, Hamas made use of attack tunnels that were dug opposite IDF positions along the Philadelphi Route. These tunnels enabled Hamas to lay powerful explosive charges beside the IDF positions in an effort to destroy them. On June 25, 2006, a joint Hamas/Jaish al-Islam (an al-Qaeda affiliate) unit infiltrated from Gaza to Israel through a tunnel whose opening was about a hundred meters from the border in Israeli territory, near the Kerem Shalom crossing. In that attack, an officer and a soldier were killed and the soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted.

Hamas built tunnels to smuggle weapons under the Philadelphi Route from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. In recent years it has also dug attack tunnels from Gaza into Israel.

Hamas, Hizbullah and even North Korean Tunnels

Based on Hizbullah’s experience in the Second Lebanon War, and with the assistance and guidance of Iran, Hamas has also made use of the tunnels to build an underground network of missile launchers. During the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah greatly expanded its underground fortifications in Southern Lebanon with the aid of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) and even North Korean engineers, who also provided guidance in how to incorporate the tunnels into Hizbullah’s military doctrine.1

Tunnel warfare provided armies facing a technologically superior adversary with an effective means for countering its air superiority. For example, a tunnel is opened only briefly to launch rockets and then immediately closed to prevent detection of the launchers’ location by the IDF. The concealment of these launchers in tunnels, in the heart of the civilian population, makes it very difficult to detect them in real time and attack them.

The rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt during 2012-2013 was a golden age for Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood.  During the tenure of President Mohamed Morsi and his foreign policy adviser Khaled al-Kazaz (a resident of Canada), missiles and a great deal of ammunition moved through the tunnels to Gaza, along with the materials needed to construct plants and manufacture missiles.

In addition to receiving close to half the budget of the Palestinian Authority, the economic aid the Hamas government received from international actors, including European countries, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, has helped it channel significant resources to its military buildup and the construction of the attack tunnels.

Also of help to Hamas were Israeli and international human rights organizations, which constantly pressured Israel to allow the entry of cement and iron into Gaza for purposes of civilian construction. In reality, these materials mainly went into building the attack-tunnel network, instead of houses for the Palestinians.

The attack tunnels create a new equation in the power balance between Israel and Hamas. They give Hamas an ability to infiltrate Israel and carry out strategic attacks involving mass killing, along with an ability to launch missiles from locations concealed within civilian population centers that serve, in effect, as human shields. Should Hamas retain in the future 20 tunnels, and dispatch 50 operatives in each, they could deploy 1,000 men behind Israeli lines. The tunnels would allow Hamas to wreak havoc if they are left in place.

Hizbullah’s tactics, learned from Iran, have been replicated in Gaza, particularly the use of the tunnels to provide “breathing space” in waging the military campaign. The Hamas-Hizbullah-Iranian aim is to cause as much harm as possible to the civilian population and weaken Israel by damaging its economy. Like Hizbullah, Hamas in the current round has tried to strike strategic targets in Israel and inflict mass casualties, including the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the chemical plants in Haifa, and Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Despite the reconciliation agreement with Fatah and the establishment of the unity government, one of Hamas’s objectives in the war is to ignite another intifada on the West Bank aimed ultimately at the toppling of Palestinian Authority rule and instituting a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian national movement. This current round of fighting highlights the importance of continued Israeli security control of key areas of the West Bank to prevent a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority, and the maintenance of minimal defensible borders should a Palestinian state be established.

1 “Carl Anthony Wege, “The Hizballah-North Korean Nexus,” Small Wars Journal, Jan, 23, 2011

Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi


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Presbyterian Church Slams Israel —- Ignores Christian Persecution

by Raymond Ibrahim

Originally published by

Days before the recent Israel/Hamas conflict erupted, the Presbyterian Church in America withdrew $21 million worth in investments from Israel because, as spokesman Heath Rada put it, the Israeli government’s actions “harm the Palestinian people.”

Soon after, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and was asked if he was “troubled” by the Presbyterian Church’s move.Netanyahu responded:
It should trouble all people of conscience and morality because it’s so disgraceful. You know, you look at what’s happening in the Middle East and I think most Americans understand this, they see this enormous area riveted by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions. Then you come to Israel and you see the one democracy that upholds basic human rights, that guards the rights of all minorities, that protects Christians—Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East. So most Americans understand that Israel is a beacon of civilization and moderation. You know I would suggest to these Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference. And I would give them two pieces of advice, one is, make sure it’s an armor plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christians.
It’s difficult—if not impossible—to argue with Netanyahu’s logic. Indeed, several points made in his one-minute response are deserving of some reflection.

First, the obvious: why is it that self-professed Christians completely ignore the horrific Islamic persecution of fellow Christians in the Middle East, while grandstanding against the Jewish state for trying to defend itself against the same ideology that persecutes Christians?

And he is absolutely right to say that the persecution of Christians in the Mideast has reached a point of “savagery of unimaginable proportions.” Perhaps the only thing more shocking than the atrocities Mideast Christians are exposed to—the slaughters, crucifixions, beheadings, torture and rape—is the absolute silence emanating from so-called mainline Protestant churches in the U.S.

Note also the nations Netanyahu highlighted for their brutal persecution of Christian minorities: Libya, Syria, and Iraq. Indigenous Christians were markedly better off in all three nations before the U.S. got involved, specifically be empowering, deliberately or not, Islamist forces. Now,according to recent studies, Christians in all three nations are experiencing the worst form of persecution around the globe:
  • Libya: Ever since U.S.-backed, al-Qaeda-linked terrorists overthrew Gaddafi, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. It’s “open season” on Copts, as jihadis issue a reward to Muslims who find and kill Christians. This was not the case under Gaddafi.
  • Syria: Christians have been attacked in indescribable ways—wholesale massacres, bombed and desecrated churches, beheadings, crucifixions, and rampant kidnappings—since the U.S.-sponsored “Arab Spring” reached the Levant.
  • Iraq: After the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein, Christian minorities were savagely attacked and slaughtered, and dozens of their churches were bombed (see here forgraphic images). In the last decade, Christians have beenterrorized into near-extinction, with well over half of them fleeing Iraq.
If the Presbyterian Church has problems with governments that persecute people—in this case, the Israeli government’s purported treatment of Palestinians, hence the Presbyterian Church’s divestment from Israel—perhaps it should begin by criticizing its own government’s proxy war on fellow Christians in the Middle East.

Christians are also being targeted in the P.A. territories—by the very same elements the Presbyterian Church is trying to defend.

In 2012, for example, a pastor noted that “animosity towards the Christian minority in areas controlled by the P.A. continues to get increasingly worse. People are always telling [Christians],Convert to Islam. Convert to Islam.” And in fact, the kidnapping and forced conversions of Christians in Gaza is an ugly reality.”

More recently, nuns of the Greek-Orthodox monastery in Bethany sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urging him to respond to the escalation of attacks on the Christian house, including the throwing of stones, broken glass, theft and looting of the monastery property. “Someone wants to send us away,” wrote Sister Ibraxia in the letter, “but we will not flee.”

Sadly, the hypocrisy exhibited by the Presbyterian Church is not limited to that denomination. Some time back, fifteen leaders from various U.S. Christian denominations—mostly Protestant, including the Lutheran, Methodist, and UCC Churches—asked Congress to reevaluate U.S. military aid to Israel, again, in the context of supporting “persecuted” Palestinians.

Yet nary a word from these same church leaders concerning the rampant persecution of millions of Christians at the hands of Muslims in the Middle East—a persecution that makes the Palestinians’ situation pale in comparison.

Other “leftist” Protestants do find time to criticize Muslim persecution of Christians—but only to blame Israel for it. Thus, Diarmaid MacCulloch, a Fellow of St. Cross College, wrote an article in the Daily Beast ostensibly addressing the plight of Mideast Christians—but only to argue that the source of Christian persecution “ in the Middle East is seven decades of unresolved conflict between Israel and Palestine.”

In reality, far from prompting the persecution of Christians, the Arab-Israeli conflict is itself a byproduct of the same hostility Islamic supremacism engenders for all non-Muslims. The reason hostility for Israel is much more viral is because the Jewish state holds a unique position of authority over Muslims unlike vulnerable Christian minorities who can be abused at will (as fully explained here).

Little wonder, then, that more Arab Christians—double the number of each of the preceding three years—are now joining the Israel Defense Forces.

They know they can count on basic human rights protection from Israel than from many of their fellow Christians in the West. After all, beyond the sophistry, distortions, and downright lies emanating from some of these Christian denominations, the fact remains: both Jews and Christians are under attack from the same foe and for the same reason: they are non-Muslim “infidels” who need to be subjugated.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).


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Preventing an Israeli Fifth Column

by Charles Bybelezer


As IDF troops were preparing to enter the Gaza Strip, with the goal of stopping incessant rocket fire on Israeli cities and neutralizing the threat caused by Hamas’ extensive tunnel infrastructure, Balad MK Haneen Zoabi penned an op-ed for the Hamas-affiliated felesteen news site imploring Palestinians to “besiege” the Jewish state (which she referred to throughout her article as ‘Israel,’ in quotations).

“‘Israel’ will in no way eliminate Hamas, the motives for the resistance or the motives for [pursuing] liberation,” she wrote. Zoabi justified Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians as a means to ending the “soft occupation” on the Strip.

In response, Hamas spokesman Husam Bardan praised Zoabi as a “Palestinian patriot worthy of the respect of our people.” He expressed hope that other Israeli-Arab politicians would follow her lead.

And indeed they have.

One day after the launch of Operation Protective Edge, MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) accused the IDF of “committing war crimes in Gaza, including blowing up houses and killing entire families intentionally.”

During the same Knesset plenum, his fellow MK Ibrahim Sarsour read aloud the names of Palestinians who had been “murdered by IDF soldiers,” a scene bearing an eerie resemblance to the Yad Vashem exhibit in which the names of those who perished in the Holocaust are recited.

Arab MK Masud Gnaim, also from Tibi’s party, accused Israel of perpetrating a “massacre” in the Strip.

These outbursts parallel the Israeli-Arab leadership’s collective response to the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens.

Zoabi again was front and center, describing the abductors not as terrorists, but rather as beleaguered people “forced to use these means until Israel will wake up a little.” When pressed in an interview whether she was openly siding with the kidnappers, Zoabi responded: “I’m surprised you’re still walking around freely.”

She went so far as to endanger the life of her own relative, rejecting seventeen-year-old Mohammad Zoabi’s call for the three boys’ immediate release as “stupid” and “twisted.” (Mohammad subsequently received multiple death threats, necessitating a round-the-clock security detail.)

For her actions, Zoabi did not receive so much as a slap on the wrist; this, despite the fact that a police investigation determined that sufficient evidence exists for Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to investigate her for incitement.

Never to be outdone, Tibi too weighed in, responding to the kidnapping by denouncing the IDF’s “shooting of civilians and demonstrators” during its recovery mission in the West Bank. Hadash MK Afo Agbaria, like Zoabi, referred to Hamas not as a terror group, but rather as a “liberation organization.”

Despite this overt hostility by Israeli-Arab leaders, the public nevertheless responded with shock when riots subsequently broke out last month against Operation Brother’s Keeper.

Residents of Umm el-Fahm, one of the country’s largest Arab cities, threw stones at police, called for additional hostage-taking and repeatedly chanted, “With spirit and blood, we will redeem you Palestine.”

Arab MK and Hadash chairman Muhammad Barakei, who was on hand, described the violence as a “protest against the brutality of the IDF and against [its] illegal arrests and unlawful activities in the territories.”

Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka hailed the riot as the implementation of “our right and duty to protest against Israeli crimes.” Balad’s secretary-general, Awad Abderfattah, called it a legitimate expression of support for Palestinian prisoners.

The radicalism that reared its ugly head in Umm el-Fahm is the direct result of years of government inaction, the refusal of Israeli-Jewish leaders to punish their Arab counterparts for their provocations.

The case of Umm el-Fahm is particularly revealing, given the city’s former mayor is Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch, which is essentially the Muslim Brotherhood in Israel.

For decades, Salah was permitted to spew his anti-Israel invective with impunity. He urged young Arabs to wage war against Israel so they may die as martyrs, and accused Jews of “eating bread dipped in children’s blood.”

Salah was previously convicted of collaborating with, and raising millions of dollars for, Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood.

For his ongoing crimes, this past March Salah was given an eight-month prison sentence. Upon receiving the verdict, he affirmed: “Blessed is God—I got off cheap!”

Despite calls by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman for the Umm el-Fahm rioters to “be treated as terrorists in the full sense of the word,” they, not unlike their leaders, will not be.

The reason is, partly, due to external pressure, given the international community’s pro-Arab disposition, and the influence of people like Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On, who accused Liberman of racism for attempting to hold to account those calling for Israel’s destruction.

The government’s failure to address the issue has allowed a virtual powder keg to form in the heart of the country. The volatility of the situation primarily accounts for the ongoing reluctance to take action against Israeli-Arab agitators, as doing so, at this late juncture, would have serious consequences.

This reality was reinforced by the widespread violence that erupted in the wake of the brutal murder of teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a heinous crime that was in all likelihood a revenge killing by Jews.

But even before a motive could be determined, rioting broke out in Jerusalem and continued there for days. In the so-called Triangle communities, including Taibe and Tira, Arab residents burned tires and attacked security forces.

The violence extended from the country’s center all the way up to the north.

This past week saw similar outbreaks of violence against Operation Protective Edge. In Jerusalem, young Arabs threw Molotov cocktails at police in Isawiya, Shuafat and At-Tur. A rally attended by thousands in Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab city, saw demonstrators hold up placards reading, “Israeli army commits genocide in Gaza,” while some 200 masked protestors threw stones at security forces.

In Haifa, over a thousand Israeli-Arabs clashed with police as they attempted to block roads into the city. For her involvement, Zoabi was arrested and taken away in handcuffs and fellow Balad MK Zahalka was lightly injured in the rioting.

Apologists seek to justify such rampant and violent anti-Israel actions by Arabs as the byproduct of inequality; however, this argument simply confuses cause and effect.

While racism indeed exists in Israel—as it does in every other country—the “plight” of Israeli-Arabs, like that of the Palestinians, is primarily of their own making.

Since Israel’s founding, Arab parties have refused to form part of any ruling coalition, at the obvious expense of a smaller slice of the government pie. Israeli-Arab leaders have also failed their constituencies miserably by incessantly demonizing Israel—historically within the context of the greater Arab-Israeli conflict and today in relation to the Palestinians—which effectively prevented Arabs from integrating into society.

By contrast, had Israeli-Arab leaders ever agreed to sit in the government—especially between the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the start of the second intifada in 2000, when peace was formally made with both Egypt and Jordan and the Oslo Accords were signed with the PLO—they would have had much greater influence over the distribution of, and thus access to, state resources.

Had they shown even the slightest desire to embrace Israel as their own, their communities would almost certainly be far better off both socially and economically.

At the very least Israeli-Arabs would not be so openly disaffected.

Instead, Israel’s Arab leadership continues to maintain, and promote, rejectionist positions that view, and treat, the country as an abomination.

This reality was perfectly encapsulated by Tibi, when after being asked to quiet down during a recent Knesset debate by Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, he responded: “You’ve been disturbing us since 1948,” suggesting Israel’s reestablishment was an affront to Arab sensibilities.

Increasingly commonplace, and explicit, opposition to Israel’s fundamental right to exist is not about to cease unless concerted action is counter-taken from the top-down; namely, by holding Arab leaders, especially parliamentarians, accountable for their anti-Israel incitement.

If sedition is otherwise permitted to continue unabated and without consequence, it will not be long before Israeli-Arabs become radicalized to such an extent that mini-Gazas begin popping up within a stone’s throw away from the country’s major population centers.

Charles Bybelezer is a correspondent for i24News, a recently-launched international television network that broadcasts out of Tel Aviv.


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Israel Must Not Repeat the Mistakes of Lebanon

by Jonathan F. Keiler

The fighting in Gaza has now escalated into a full-scale ground war. For supporters of Israel, this is a good thing, despite the loss of life to Israel’s brave fighting men, as well as Arab civilians put in harm’s way by Hamas. However, this bloodletting will have been in vain, if Israel does not see things through to the end, which is to say, by militarily defeating Hamas.The question is will Israel pursue its military objectives as it did say in the 1967 or 1973 Wars, or will it succumb to self-doubt and international pressure as it did in the 2006 Lebanon War? 

The 2006 Lebanon War is widely perceived internationally, certainly within the Muslim world, and even in Israel, as a victory for Hizb’allah, and an Israeli defeat. Israel did not lose the war by conventional military standards. It inflicted greater casualties on the enemy, and its forces controlled some enemy territory at war’s end, while the enemy controlled no Israeli territory. Yet such measurements don’t always tell the whole story. By such measures, Germany won World War I. 

Hizb’allah began the war shooting rockets into Israel, and ended the war the same way. Israeli vows to cripple the Shi’ite movement went unfulfilled, and Hizb'allah’s hard fighting guerillas earned both Israeli and international respect for military prowess, if nothing else. On the other hand, Israel inflicted sufficient losses on Hizb’allah that it has remained relatively quiescent since, though whether this is due to Israeli deterrence, internal problems or the Iranian pressure for Hizb’allah to keep its powder dry, is open to debate. On balance, Israel’s 2006 Lebanon campaign was at best a draw and at worst a significant victory for Hizb’allah. And the fact remains, that Hizb’allah remains a serious threat to Israeli security and a strong deterrent to Israeli action against Iran. 

Hamas has very much sought to emulate Hizb’allah. But in previous encounters with the Israel Defense Force (IDF) it lacked the training, munitions, and defensive infrastructure to wage a sustained campaign against the Israelis. Israel responded to Hamas provocations with very measured responses over the years, which rather than deterring the Islamist organization, only succeeded in emboldening it. Hamas, over the same period, with extensive assistance from Hizb’allah and Iran, it cured the shortcomings listed above. 

Even though Hamas “rules” Gaza, it is not a government and distains the drudgery and petty details of administering the territory under its control. It prefers the idea of “resistance.” Like Hizb’allah, it is a radical and violent Islamist movement. It happily and absurdly maintains -- with the idiotic support of Western leftists -- that Gaza is still under Israeli occupation, the better to justify its aggressive military activities. Thus, it was only a matter of time before Hamas, like Hizb'allah before it, would want to take Israel on again. It’s objective is nothing other than to fight Israel hard, inflict casualties, and survive to do it again. So long as Israel allows Hamas to survive, Hamas will continue to act this way.

In 2006, facing off against Hizb’allah in similar circumstances, Israel blinked, let Hizb’allah off the hook, and allowed the Islamist organization to claim victory. The reasons Israel blinked were both military and political, and are being repeated to a large extent in Gaza right now. Focusing mostly on the military side of things, the question is, will Israel blink again, or see the campaign through?

What happened in Lebanon that led to Israel to back off? First, Israel entered that war unprepared for Hizb’allah’s sophisticated weaponry, defensive fortifications, and tenacity. For a quarter century the IDF had fought nothing but a relatively weak Palestinian Arab insurgency and had lost its edge for conventional combat, from the effective use of armor and artillery, to logistics. Secondly, it operated under a new and controversial doctrine that confused its officers, and which did (and does not) seek military victory in a traditional sense. Instead of destroying the enemy, the doctrine seeks to convince the enemy, through military action, to change its behavior. Third, the civilian government, led by the Ehud Olmert, was weak and indecisive. Fourth, Arab civilian casualties brought strong international pressure to bear. And finally the fifth and often overlooked factor is that neither the IDF nor the Israeli public could abide significant military casualties. 

If we look at these considerations in Gaza today, Israel is actually in much better shape than it was in Lebanon in 2006. Israeli forces have good intelligence on Hamas’ capabilities, have trained extensively to confront them, built up significant strength before launching a ground campaign, and don’t appear to have logistics problems. While the IDF still operates under its new “messaging” doctrine, that doctrine at least no longer confuses Israeli officers, and appears to have been tweaked and moderated to give Israeli forces some more leeway in hard fighting. The Netanyahu government is stronger, more decisive and more determined than Olmert’s. International pressure, while growing, has been (by the standards that Israel has confronted in the past) moderate, with Israel actually having the tacit support of many Arab countries to decisively finish the campaign. 

The real sticking point might be the fifth factor. Will the IDF and the Israeli public countenance the casualties Israeli forces are bound to suffer in order to see this campaign through? In the past few days, IDF forces have taken modest, but still painful losses, in a difficult and heavily fortified urban environment. Many soldiers regard a fortified urban area as the most difficult operational environment possible, and significant losses to an attacker are inevitable. The U.S. suffered nearly 200 fatalities in Fallujah against an enemy not as well trained, prepared, armed, or fortified as Hamas. 

In Lebanon, when Israeli forces encountered tough Hizb’allah resistance and took losses, Israeli offensives ground to a halt. Evacuating casualties overcame mission accomplishment as the principal objective. It happened at repeatedly, in battles at Maroun al-Ras, Bint Jbeil, and the Saluki Gorge. None of these objectives were secured, the IDF seems to have lost its confidence, and the political echelon caved in to international and domestic pressures.   

Now in Gaza, some of the same Israeli units that took heavy casualties in some Lebanon battles (e.g., the Golani infantry brigade) have taken similar losses in Gaza. At least one source reports that these losses, rather than demoralizing Israeli troops and their leaders, have invigorated them. It appears that well organized, supplied, and independent IDF battle groups are continuing to push into Gaza, despite taking losses. And so far, Netanyahu appears to be sticking to his guns as well. 

The next few days will tell whether this reporting is accurate, or whether it is just wishful thinking. Israel had a rare opportunity to crush Hizb’allah in 2006, but failed to do so. It has a similar opening now against Hamas, and the military capability to do it. The only question is does Israel have the determination and the will.

Jonathan F. Keiler


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Has Hamas Ended the Prospects for a Two State Solution?

by Alan M. Dershowitz

Hamas's decision to fire rockets in the direction of Ben Gurion Airport may well have ended any real prospect of a two-state solution. Whether the regulators and airlines that have stopped flights to and from Israel are right or wrong, this stoppage cannot possibly be tolerated by a democratic country that relies so heavily on tourism and international travel. It is of course a war crime to target an international civilian airport, as Hamas has clearly done. Israel has every right to keep that airport open, employing all reasonable military means at its disposal. Since Hamas fires its rockets from densely populated civilian areas, there will be more Palestinian civilian deaths.

Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel. 
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

This of course is part of Hamas' grand strategy: by targeting Israeli civilians and international air travel from its own civilian areas, Hamas leaves Israel no choice but to take military actions that risk the lives of innocent Palestinians. There will be even more innocent Palestinian deaths now, as Hamas has raised the stakes considerably for Israel. Every country in the world would do everything in its power to keep open the airports, which are the lifelines to its economic viability. Hamas knows this and welcomes Israeli military action that produces more dead Palestinian civilians and hence more international criticism of Israel.

Even more importantly, Hamas' actions in essentially closing down international air traffic into Israel, considerably reduces the prospect of any two-state solution. Israel will now be more reluctant than ever to give up military control over the West Bank, which is even closer to Ben Gurion Airport than is Gaza.

Were Israel to end its military occupation of the West Bank—as distinguished from its civilian settlements deep in the West Bank—it would risk the possibility of a Hamas takeover. That is precisely what happened when Israel removed both its civilian settlements and its military presence in Gaza. Hamas took control, fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilian targets and have now succeeded in stopping international air traffic into and out of Israel.

Israel could not accept the risk of a Hamas takeover of the West Bank and the resulting Hamas rocket attacks at the nearby Ben Gurion Airport. It may still be possible to create a two-state solution whereby Israel withdraws its civilian settlers from most of the West Bank and agrees to land swaps for areas that now contain large settlement blocks. But Israel will have to retain military control over its security borders, which extend to the Jordan River. It will also have to maintain a sufficient military presence to assure that what happened in Gaza does not happen in the West Bank. These military realities do not have to exist forever. Israel's military presence could be reduced if the Palestinian Authority were to maintain effective control over the West Bank and prevent terrorists from using that area to send rockets and terrorists into Israel.

The new reality caused by Hamas' shutting down of international air travel to and from Israel would plainly justify an Israeli demand that it maintain military control over the West Bank in any two-state deal. The Israeli public would never accept a deal that did not include a continued Israeli military presence in the West Bank. They have learned the tragic lesson of Gaza and they will not allow it to be repeated in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority, however, is unlikely to accept such a condition, though it should. This will simply make it far more difficult for an agreement to be reached.

It was precisely one of the goals of the Hamas rocket and tunnel assaults to scuttle any two-state agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The Hamas Charter categorically rejects the two-state solution, as does the military wing of Hamas. In this tragic respect, Hamas has already succeeded. By aiming its rockets in the direction of Ben Gurion Airport, Hamas may well have scuttled any realistic prospects for a two-state solution. It cannot be allowed to succeed.

The international community, which has a significant stake in protecting international air traffic from terrorist rocket attacks, must support Israel's efforts to stop these attacks—permanently. If Hamas is allowed to shut down Israel's major airport, every terrorist group in the world will begin to target airports throughout the world. The shooting down of the Malaysian airliner over the Ukraine will be but one of many such tragedies, if Hamas is allowed to succeed. An attack on the safety on Israel's airport is an attack on the safety of all international aviation. Israel is the canary in the mine. What Hamas has done to Israeli aviation is a warning to the world. In its efforts to prevent Hamas from firing rockets at Ben Gurion Airport, Israel is fighting for the entire civilized world against those who would shoot down civilian airliners. The world should support Israel in this noble fight.

Alan M. Dershowitz


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IRS Experts: Lois Lerner's Hard Drive only 'Scratched' and Data mostly Rrecoverable

by Thomas Lifson

The behavior of the IRS is looking more and more like a cover-up. Byron York reports in The Examiner:
Top IRS officials told congressional investigators that Lois Lerner's hard drive -- the one containing emails that could shed light on the IRS targeting scandal -- was irreparably damaged before it was destroyed completely in 2011. But now, investigators have had a chance to talk to the technical experts inside the IRS who actually examined Lerner's computer, and the experts say the hard drive in question was actually just "scratched," and that most of the data on it was recoverable.
The IRS computer experts also told the committee that they had recommended seeking outside help in recovering the data from Lerner's computer — something IRS management declined to do.
It gets worse:
In addition, the committee says it has come across evidence that, at least for some period of time, Lerner's computer was listed as "recovered" in an internal IRS IT tracking document. The committee says IRS experts were not able to say whether "recovered" meant that the hard drive had actually been saved or whether it had met some other fate.  In any event, committee aides say they have consulted with "former federal law enforcement and Department of Defense forensic experts" about the matter, and their conclusion is that the majority of information on the drive could have been saved.
At what point does this become criminal? Perhaps the past tense is more appropriate.

Thomas Lifson


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