Saturday, November 14, 2009

Don't Confuse Him with the Facts.


by Evelyn Gordon

Bernard Kouchner is “hurt” and “shocked” by Israelis’ “vanished” desire for peace. Israelis of all political stripes would undoubtedly be equally shocked at the French foreign minister’s ignorance — and at his willingness to hurl false accusations without even a minimal effort to check his facts.

“What really hurts me, and this shocks us, is that before there used to be a great peace movement in Israel,” Kouchner told France Inter radio yesterday. “There was a left that made itself heard and a real desire for peace. It seems to me, and I hope that I am completely wrong, that this desire has completely vanished, as though people no longer believe in it.”

Kouchner is, of course, half right: even most Israeli leftists have stopped believing peace is possible in the foreseeable future, which is precisely why the peace movement and the political Left have largely collapsed. But that is a far cry from saying that Israelis have stopped wanting peace. The desire remains as strong as ever; it’s just that most Israelis currently see no way of fulfilling it.

Nor is it really hard to see why Israelis have stopped believing. First, every territorial concession since the 1993 Oslo Accord has produced only more terror. Palestinians killed more Israelis in the first two and a half years after Oslo than in the entire preceding decade, and in 2000-04 (the height of the second intifada), Israel’s terror-related casualties exceeded those of the entire preceding 53 years. The withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 led to the Second Lebanon War, and the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 produced daily rocket barrages on southern Israel. To most Israelis, bombs and rockets exploding in their cities don’t look much like peace.

This has been compounded by the complete lack of movement in Palestinian positions since 1993, even as Israeli leaders offered ever-increasing concessions. Israeli leaders routinely tell their people that peace will require “painful concessions.” Palestinian leaders are still telling their people that peace will enable 4.7 million descendants of Palestinian refugees to resettle in pre-1967 Israel, thus destroying the Jewish state demographically. And Israelis find it hard to believe in a peace whose price, according to their supposed “peace partner,” is Israel’s eradication.

None of this is news; a simple Web search would produce thousands of articles by Israelis explaining why they have despaired. Or if Kouchner doesn’t like the Web, he could have picked up a phone: most Israelis would probably have been happy to enlighten him.

But Kouchner couldn’t be bothered with the facts; he preferred to simply accuse Israelis of not wanting peace. Perhaps it’s his background as a human-rights activist showing: hurling accusations at Israel without checking the facts is practically de rigueur among human-rights organizations these days.

Nevertheless, one would expect better of a foreign minister. After all, he has actual responsibility for setting policy. And policy works better when it’s based on fact rather than fantasy.

 

Evelyn Gordon
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Think Tank “U.S. Aids Terror Group At War With Israel”

 

by Samuel Sokol

 

A new report releaed by the Center for Near East Policy Research, a Jerusalem based think-tank, discusses the possible connection between American military aid and Palestinian terrorism. The report, Implications of US Military Training of Palestinian Security Forces, was authored by center chairman David Bedein and deals with the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC), run by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton.

This report is especially relevant following remarks by a senior Fatah official last week, stating that the Palestinian Arabs may revert to "popular warfare."

According to World Net Daily correspondent Aaron Klein, Palestinian fighters have made use of American training to engage in violent attacks against Israeli civilians.

 
Established in 2005, the USSC manages a multi-national team of advisors, whose role is to restructure the PA security forces and train personnel.

American tax dollars pay for advanced military and constabulary training for the Palestinian security forces at bases in Jericho in Israel and Giftlik in Jordan. The cost of training an entire battalion of National Security Forces (NSF) troops in Jordan is $11 million.

Since 2008 approximately 2,100 troops, enough to make four battalions, have been trained by Americans in Jordan. The American government utilizes advisors from the DynCorp International Corporation for training Palestinian forces.

Ties With Terror Groups


Soldiers enrolled in American training programs are vetted for terrorist links by the Palestinian Authority, American intelligence and the Israel General Security Services (Shabak). However, there is evidence that many people in the Palestinian security apparatus are also members of banned terror groups. According to Klein "members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist organization serve openly in the various PA militias, including in top positions."

The report elaborates. "Salam Fayyad, PA prime minister, reached an agreement with the forces of Al- Aqsa Brigades…not to arrest them as long as they maintained a low profile. Al- Aqsa people are sheltered and receive salaries from Fayyad. When PA security troops were deployed in Nablus, Al-Aqsa people who had not been trained in Jordan and were not vetted received command positions, this included one individual who had engaged in extortion."

Some members of the Israeli political and military establishment have expressed their support for general Dayton and his program, citing a decline in terror in Judea and Samaria.

In contrast, Bedein writes that the willingness to work with Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades indicates that the Palestinian Authority is not, in principal, opposed to the use of violence. Operations mounted by PA forces are most often aimed at destroying Fatah rival Hamas, rather than in reducing terrorism.

Bedein told the Five Towns Jewish Times that "The reduction of terrorism from Judea and Samaria is because of the success of Operation Defensive Shield, launched in April 2002, which placed IDF troops in strategic positions to patrol and surround every possible Arab terror stronghold, so as to prevent terror attacks."

"Ever wonder why the shelling stopped from Beit Jalla on Gilo in Jerusalem? For only one reason: Simply put, the IDF took back Beit Jalla, quietly and without fanfare."

Fatah recently has been attempting to reconcile with Hamas, creating the possibility of American trained forces being merged into joint units with Hamas fighters.

There is also a risk of American trained forces turning on Israel. As Abbas stated, he "reserve[s] the right to resistance" if negotiations do not turn out the way he likes.

This occurred during the second Intifada when Yassir Arafat had failed to gain his demands by negotiations. During that period, American training was also used against Israeli civilian targets.

In a discussion with Klein, a senior Palestinian commander stated "I do not think that the operations of the Palestinian resistance would have been so successful and would have killed more than one thousand Israelis since 2000 and defeated the Israelis in Gaza without these [American] trainings."

Israel commentators have surmised that Fatah has stepped down its direct involvement in terrorism in expectation of American pressure on Israel by the new Obama administration.

In the report, Bedein commented that human rights have not improved in the Palestinian Authority since the inception of the program.

"Palestinian and other human rights organizations report brutality, torture and arbitrary arrest by those PA security forces trained by both the United States and European Union."

Building A Palestinian State

General Dayton looks on his Palestinian charges with pride. During a military ceremony he announced to Palestinian forces that he "couldn't be more proud of the fact that you stepped up to be the founders of a Palestinian state."

However the nature of that state remains to be seen. A new plan for Palestinian statehood, written by PM Fayyad, discusses restoring unity with Gaza [Hamas] and of implementing Sharia law.

The report quotes a "prominent Palestinian journalist" as saying that the association between the Americans and Fatah could give Hamas a boost in the polls in the next election. This would certainly prove detrimental to efforts to create a demilitarized Palestinian state as envisioned by Benjamin Netanyahu.

Moreover, every officer in the Palestinian forces is required to swear an oath of allegiance to Fatah. This had led to "elite PA forces trained in Jordan [being] unwilling to stop Fatah militia operations, including extortion and abductions."

Israeli Maj. Gen. (Res.) Ya'akov Amidror commented regarding the Palestinian security forces efforts to reduce terror.

"There is a huge difference in the Palestinian view between law enforcement, which is seen as legitimate, and anti-terrorism, which is not seen as legitimate…The U.S. confuses the two."

Clan Versus State

In the report Dr. Mordechai Kedar of the Began-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University is quoted as saying that American trained forces cannot be expected to fight against terror when members of their own clans participate in terror organizations.

"…when (not if) there will be domestic problems in the PA/Palestinian State these people will be loyal primarily to their clan [Arabic: hamula] rather than to the state, since they will never shoot their brothers or cousins… you can surely say that their loyalty will be according to the context of the event in which their participation will be required."

Dr. Kedar spoke with the Five Towns Jewish Times regarding the USSC and its role in the peace process.

"On one side, it [the USSC] is good because it strengthens those sectors that might work with Israel, especially the security forces. But on the other side, no one can guarantee that these weapons which the Americans are giving those Palestinians will not be turned against Israel," Kedar stated.

He continued "Nobody, even the Americans, can give any guarantee that these weapons will not be turned against Israel, and this is the bad point about it."

When asked about the unwillingness of American trained forces to act against the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Kedar responded by saying that the PA forces "can become very easily a terror group against Israel…with all respect to Dayton and his efforts, this is a mine which is being implanted in this area."

"I'm pretty sure that they will be the front power against Israel when the day comes."

Asked if he believed that American training will be used in a war scenario against Israel, Kedar responded in the affirmative.

Breaking the Law?

Bedein's research indicates that current aid to the Palestinian security forces is in direct contravention of American law.

Congress, in making appropriations for Palestinian training, instituted a caveat that "None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be provided to support a Palestinian state unless the Secretary of State determines and certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that…the elected governing entity of a new Palestinian state…is taking appropriate measures to counter terrorism and terrorist financing in the West Bank and Gaza, including the dismantling of terrorist infrastructures…"

Continued Palestinian Authority support for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades means that it would be impossible for the Secretary of State to honestly certify that this provision has been met.

According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service report "Congress wants to ensure that U.S. assistance is used for legitimate humanitarian projects and that no U.S. aid is diverted for military or terrorist use against Israel."

A Mission to Washington DC

Bedein recently traveled to Washington to present his report's findings. He spoke with staffers of 25 key members of the US Senate and House and presented copies of his report to make them aware that, in his words, "US military aid to Fatah may backfire."

Despite being cleared for terrorist ties, some recipients of American training are former leaders of banned terror groups that have received amnesty from Israel as a gesture to build up Mahmoud Abbas. Some have said explicitly that their training will likely be used to kill Jews.

 

 

Samuel Sokol

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

 

Iran and Syria Are Up; Egypt and Saudi Arabia Are Down. And this is Israel’s Fault?

 

by Barry Rubin

The Aztecs of Mexico believed that if they didn't sacrifice human victims each day the sun wouldn't come up the next morning. This seems to be the principle governing how Western elites blame Israel for everything that goes on in the Middle East and propose as a remedy even more U.S. concessions.

A remarkable example is how the New York Times tries to explain what is in fact a very important development in the region in an article entitled, "Influence of Egypt and Saudi Arabia Fades." Wow! I could have told you that back in 2000.

But why has it faded? Could it be because of such long-term problems as these regimes' corruption, incompetence, rejection of reform, and inability to break from radical stances? Could it be that the fact that these regimes keep feeding anti-Americanism, hatred of Israel, militant interpretations of Islam, and extremism generally rebound against them?

 And might it be that radical forces—like Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah—have shown, with help from the United States and Europe, that hardline positions and violence pay?

Could it possibly be, in the shorter term, that the apologies, concessions, and refusal to confront the extremist Islamists have emboldened them and demoralized the relative moderates?

No. Guess who is blamed?

"With Israel having rebuffed American calls to freeze settlement-building, and with the prospects for substantive peace talks fading, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are increasingly viewed in the region as diminished actors whose influence is on the wane, political experts say."

These experts have obviously not been following the news. Seems to me that Israel did agree to freeze building on settlements (the word "settlement-building" implies Israel is building more settlements and expanding existing ones which isn't true). Remember that speech Secretary of State Hilary Clinton just made in Jerusalem praising this concession?

Oh, that's supposedly part of the problem also.

The great promise of President Obama's June speech in Cairo, officials and political commentators said, was severely damaged when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on her recent trip to the Middle East, praised as "unprecedented" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to slow the building of settlements. That left the leadership of Saudi Arabia and Egypt — the two regional American allies most committed to negotiating with Israel — exposed, embarrassed and weakened, [Egyptian] political analysts and government officials said.

So let me get this straight. Really! If Israel doesn't freeze construction on settlements, that's bad. But if Israel does freeze construction on settlements and the U.S. government praises this concession, well that's bad, too.

I guess the only thing Israel could do right in these people's eyes is to disappear off the map entirely. Oh? Yes, I guess so.

But seriously, the problem isn't that the Obama Administration is too soft on Israel but that it is too soft on, well, let's let the Times explain it:

"[Egypt and Saudi Arabia] have been challenged by Iran, opposed by much smaller Arab neighbors, mocked by Syria and defied by influential non-state groups like Hamas and Hezbollah."

Yes, these are the enemy. They are the enemy of almost all the Arab states, they are the enemy of Israel, they are the enemy of America, and they're even the enemy of Europe. If the United States doesn't work against the Iran-led bloc, they are going to challenge, oppose, mock and defy everyone else in the region plus the West.

And those whom they challenge, oppose, mock, and defy are going to lose influence and lose heart.

So, let's see now, might the following have something to do with the decline of Egyptian-Saudi influence:

--Hamas takes over the Gaza Strip, attacks Israel, world stands by and eventually boos Israel.

--Iran develops nuclear weapons. West offers engagement and seems afraid even to increase sanctions.

--Iran and Syria kill American soldiers in Iraq. The United States looks the other way.

--Palestinian Authority rebuffs U.S. calls to come to negotiating table and not to push the Goldstone report at the UN. (Notice only Israel does the "rebuffing" and the Times can never bring itself to allow criticism of the Palestinian leadership.)

--Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan rebuff U.S. calls to make some concession to Israel in exchange of freeze.

--U.S. and European governments don't back moderate March 14 coalition in Lebanon so it has to give in to Iran, Syria, and Hizballah.

And these are just the highlights! Is this really all so hard to understand? And why is the establishment's answer to bad mistakes in U.S. Middle East policy usually the demand that it make even worse ones?

Heed the words of William Shakespeare in "Henry V":

"In Peace, there's nothing so becomes a man,

As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of War blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the Tiger."

The problem is that the United States has been teaching friend and foe alike, lately, that it is a paper tiger. No wonder, then, that its foes prosper and its friends tremble.


Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Root Causes of Anti-Western Islamic Terrorism.

 

by Yoram Ettinger

 

1.  Contrary to the "Palestine Firsters" school of thought, Islamic terrorism is raging the Middle East and the entire globe, irrespective of the Arab-Israeli conflict, independent of the Palestinian issue and regardless of US-Israel friendship, Israel's policies or Israel's existence. The 1,400 year old Islamic terrorism is not driven by despair, but by local, regional and global religious, political and territorial ambitions, terrorizing Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Jews.

 

2.  Fact: 100 persons were murdered in an October 28, 2009 bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan, the third largest Muslim-majority country in the world. 

 

3.  Fact:  According to the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management, 2,809 Pakistanis were murdered by Islamic terrorists in 2008, 2,120 in 2007, 933 in 2006, 511 in 2005, 619 in 2004 and 164 in 2003.

 

4.  Fact:  According to the Institute for Conflict Management, 24,879 Indians were murdered (mostly) by Islamic terrorists during 1994-2005, 1,492 in 2006, 1,413 in 2007 and 1,391 in 2008.

 

5.  Fact: According to France's domestic intelligence service (DST): Jihadists from Afghanistan, Algeria, and Pakistan returned to (generally pro-Palestinian) France, trained and indoctrinated in handling arms and explosives. They constitute a grave threat for France (NYT, April 8, 2008).

6.  Fact: (generally pro-Palestinian) Britain has become a focus of Islamic terrorism. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who opposed the war in Iraq and supports Palestinian demands, was inaugurated in June 2007 and was greeted by three (Muslim terrorists-engineered) car bombs in July 2007. According to MI5 British Security Service (The Guardian, August 20, 2008), "the most pressing current threat is from Islamist extremist groups who justify the use of violence 'in defense of Islam'... They are mostly British nationals, not illegal immigrants and, far from being Islamist fundamentalists, most are religious novices… Nor are they 'mad and bad…"

7.  Fact:  Sunni Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorize Shiite regimes, while Iran-supported Shiites terrorize Sunni regimes in the Gulf region, as well as in Egypt and Jordan, in order to facilitate Iranian domination of the Gulf.

 

8.  Fact: Yemen has become a center of Sunni and Shiite terrorism, logistically and operationally, agitating Yemen and the entire region.

 

Is it realistic to assume that rogue Muslim regimes, which have employed terrorism since the 7th century, in order to settle their domestic and inter-Muslim conflicts, would not employ terrorism in order to settle their conflicts with non-Muslims, irrespective of the Palestinian issue, Israel's policies and Israel's existence?!

 

 

Yoram Ettinger

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Obama's failure, Netanyahu's opportunity.

 

by Caroline B. Glick

Once again, US President Barack Obama has demonstrated his intention of "putting light" between America and Israel. His hostility towards Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during the latter's visit to Washington this week was breathtaking.

It isn't every day that you can see an American President leaving the Prime Minister of an allied government twisting in the wind for weeks before deciding to grant him an audience at the White House.

It isn't every day that a visiting leader from a strategically vital US ally is brought into the White House in an unmarked van in the middle of the night rather than greeted like a friend at the front door; is forbidden to have his picture taken with the President; is forced to leave the White House alone, through a side exit; and is ordered to keep the contents of his meeting with the President secret.

Ahead of Obama's meeting with Netanyahu, the Wall Street Journal reported that Obama was effectively attempting to blackmail the Israeli premier by conditioning the meeting on Netanyahu's willingness to make tangible concessions to the Palestinians during his speech before the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.

Although the report was denied by the Obama administration, if it was true, such a move by the White House would be without precedent in the history of US relations with Israel. And if untrue, the very fact that the story rings true is indicative of the wretched state of US relations with Israel since Obama entered office.

Obama's hostility was evident as well during his meeting with fifty Jewish leaders at the White House this week. In an obvious bid to split American Jewry away from Israel, Obama refused to discuss Israel or Iran with the concerned American Jewish leaders. As far as Obama was concerned, all they deserved from him was a primer on the brilliance of his economic policies and the worthiness of his plan to socialize the American healthcare industry. His foreign policy is none of their business.

Obama's meeting with American Jewish leaders was supposed to be a consolation prize for American Jews after Obama cancelled his first public address to American Jews since taking office. The White House claimed that he cancelled the speech because his visit to the Fort Hood memorial service made it impossible for him to attend. But then the conference was a three-day affair. The organizers would probably have been happy to reschedule.

Instead, as Iran races to the nuclear finish line, America's Jewish leaders were forced to sit through White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel's kitschy Borscht Belt schmooze about his bar mitzvah.

The ironic thing about Obama's nastiness towards Netanyahu and his arrogant treatment of the American Jewish community is that while it has made him the first US president to have no credibility among Israelis and has caused a 14 percent drop in his support among American Jews, it has failed utterly to earn him the trust of the Muslim world.

Today the Fatah movement is in disarray. Last week its leader Mahmoud Abbas announced his intention to retire and has placed the blame for his decision on the Obama administration as well as on Israel. Key Palestinian spokesmen like Saeb Erekat have declared the death of the peace process and called for the renewal of the jihad against Israel.

As for the larger Muslim world, a report this week in the New York Timesstated that the US's key Arab allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been perilously weakened since Obama took office. Their diminished influence has been accompanied by the rapid rise of Iran and Syria. Both of these rogue states have been on the receiving end of continuous wooing by Obama administration officials who seem ready to do just about anything to appease them.

In the meantime, Iran's Hizbullah proxy in Lebanon has again managed to regain control over Lebanon's government despite its defeat in last June's parliamentary elections. Making full use of the fact that it fields the most powerful army in the country and owing as well to the US's decision to abandon the pro-Western March 14 movement in favor of an approach that makes no distinction between America's friends and foes in Lebanon, Hizbullah strong-armed its way back to the driver's seat in the new Lebanese government.

As for Hizbullah's Iranian bosses, far from convincing them to moderate their policies, the Obama administration's efforts to appease the ayatollahs have emboldened Iran's theocratic leaders to adopt ever more radical positions against the US. As senior US officials try to make light of the fact that in the past week Iran has thrice rejected their latest offer to have the US, Russia and France enrich uranium for them, the Iranians announced that they will try three hapless American hikers for espionage. The three young Americans were abducted by Iranian security forces along the Iran-Iraq border in Kurdistan four months ago.

The fact that Obama's policies have all failed so spectacularly presents a unique opportunity for Israel to move its policies in a bold new direction. Many commentators and policymakers have claimed that it falls on Israel to help Obama succeed where he has failed. In their view, Israel must go out of its way to establish a Palestinian state during Obama's term of office or accept the blame for any renewal of the Palestinian terror war against it. Such voices — most strongly represented this week by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman — have tried to blame the failure of Obama's attempt to reinstate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on Israel's alleged intransigence.

In response to these allegations, this week Netanyahu expressed profound and urgent interest in holding negotiations with Abbas. This move was ill-advised. Although it is true that by proclaiming his devotion to the so-called peace process, Netanyahu was able to deflect some of the White House's attacks against him, the short-term advantage it brought him this week in Washington is eclipsed by the long-term damage such an approach causes the country. In the long-run, Israel is harmed when its leaders promote the fiction that it is possible to reach an accord with the Palestinians that will bring about the formal and peaceful establishment of a Palestinian state.

As Netanyahu prepared to fly off to Washington, Abbas made clear that he will not make any concessions to Israel for peace. Together with his fellow Fatah members, Abbas made clear that like Hamas, Fatah does not recognize Israel's right to exist, does not support peaceful coexistence with Israel, and shares Hamas's dedication to continued war against Israel.

For their part, pro-Palestinian lobbyists Robert Malley and Hussein Agha are now arguing that the two-state solution has failed and that the time has come for a one-state solution in which Israel ceases to exist as a Jewish state by accepting the Palestinians as full citizens in one bi-national state.

The Israeli Left, as well as the State Department and several European governments have now embraced the unelected Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's plan to unilaterally declare Palestinian independence in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem in two years. The aim of the Fayyad plan is to coerce Israel into abandoning all the lands it took control over during the 1967 Six Day War by implicitly threatening to deploy international forces throughout "Palestine" that will be charged with "protecting" the new Palestinian state from the IDF.

Both the Fayyad plan supporters and the one-state solution crowd believe that their plans can indirectly advance the so-called peace process. In their view, frightened of both a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence and of a bi-national state, Netanyahu will abandon his demand for a demilitarized Palestinian state and for defensible borders for Israel and voluntarily withdraw the IDF and the 250,000 Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria to within the 1949 armistice lines. But the fact is that there is no reason for Netanyahu to fear their plans. Indeed it is high time for Israel to call their bluffs.

The shocking truth is that the demographic threat is an empty threat. The demographic doomsday scenarios for Israel are all based on falsified Palestinian census data from 1997 that inflated the number of Palestinians in Israel, Judea, Samaria and Gaza by 50 percent. As the independent American-Israel Demographic Research Group demonstrated in early 2005, Israel has no reason to be concerned that by maintaining its control over Judea and Samaria, it will become a majority Arab state. Today, the combined population of Israel and Judea and Samaria leaves Jews with a two-thirds majority. With Jewish immigration and fertility rates rising, negative Arab immigration rates, and decreasing Arab fertility rates, the long-term projections for Israel's demographic viability are all positive.

As Netanyahu knows, there is consensus support among Israelis for his plan to ensure that the country retains defensible borders in perpetuity. This involves establishing permanent Israeli control over the Jordan Valley and the large Jewish population blocs in Judea and Samaria. In light of the well-recognized failure of the two-state solution, Hamas's takeover of Gaza and the disintegration of Fatah accompanied by the shattering of the myth of Fatah moderation, Israel should strike out on a new course and work towards the integration of Judea and Samaria, including its Palestinian population into Israeli society. In the first instance, this will require the implementation of Israeli law in the Jordan Valley and the large settlement blocs.

Replacing the military government in these areas with Israel's more liberal legal code will also advance Netanyahu's economic peace plan which envisions expanding the Palestinian economy in Judea and Samaria by among other things reintegrating it into Israel's booming economy. This plan would reward political moderation while marginalizing terrorists in Palestinian society. In so doing, it will advance the cause of peaceful coexistence over the long-term far better than the failed two-state solution. Far from engendering peace, the two-state paradigm empowered the most corrupt and violent actors in Palestinian society at the expense of its most productive and moderate citizens.

Obama's disgraceful treatment of Israel and, for that matter, his atrocious treatment of the majority of America's allies in the Middle East and throughout the world, has strengthened the hands of America's worst enemies and made the world a much more dangerous place. But his obvious failures provide Israel with an opportunity to take control of events and change the situation for the betterment of Israel and the Palestinians alike.

Applying Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and the major Israeli population blocs in Judea and Samaria will probably not win Netanyahu many friends in the Obama White House. But if we learned anything from Obama's insulting treatment of Netanyahu and American Jews this week, we learned that regardless of what Israel does, the Obama administration has no interest in being his friend.

Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Keeping Fayyad Out.

 

by Khaled Abu Toameh

In a “dramatic” speech to his people last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he had “no desire” to run for another term in a new election slated for January 24, 2010 – a  threat was directed first and foremost toward the US Administration, which he and his top aides accused of being “biased” in favor of Israel.
 
Abbas’s message to the Americans: You either endorse my policies entirely or I won’t run in the next election. He has convinced himself that without him the world would stop and the Palestinians would never be able to move forward.
 
Abbas’s departure from the scene would, in fact, benefit the peace process and bring the Palestinians closer to fulfilling their aspirations. But he does not seem to in a hurry to retire.
 
The Palestinian leader is upset with Washington because of its failure to force Israel to freeze all construction in Jewish settlements and neighborhoods in the West Bank and Jerusalem. He has refused to resume peace talks with Israel unless  construction in these areas is halted completely.
 
But the US Administration, along with some Arab leaders, insists that the Palestinians must return to the negotiating table with Israel unconditionally.
 
Abbas is now finding it difficult to meet this demand, especially in light of the fact that he had been telling his people, almost on a daily basis, that he would never resume the peace negotiations while construction in the settlements and Jerusalem was continuing.
 
Abbas’s move is seen by many Palestinians as a ploy aimed not only at pressuring the Americans, but also at boosting his standing among his constituents. Some said that he was trying to imitate ex-Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who announced his resignation after his country’s humiliating defeat in 1967, only to retract the decision the following day following massive demonstrations throughout Egyptand the rest of the Arab world.
 
It has been quite a long time since any Palestinian was seen demonstrating in favor of Abbas in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Abbas’s credibility and popularity have in fact suffered a series of major blows over the past few months, prompting prominent political analysts to render him irrelevant.
 
Yet there is another reason why Abbas is upset with the US Administration. In recent weeks there have been unconfirmed reports various Arab media outlets that Washington was trying to replace Abbas with his independent and reform-minded prime minister, Salam Fayyad.
 
Even before Abbas made his televised speech, his senior aides had instructed their supporters to take to the streets to “urge” the president to withdraw his threat. Placards with Abbas’s portraits were prepared days in advance, as were the slogans and graffiti used by his loyalists. It later turned out that most of the demonstrators were members of the Palestinian security forces, trained, financed and equipped by American and European taxpayers’ money.

 
Abbas and his Fatah faction see Fayyad as a real threat to their status, particularly because of the wide respect the prime minister enjoys in the international arena and because of his tight control over the Palestinian Authority budget.
 
The pro-Abbas demonstrations in the West Bank are intended to send a message to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that there is only one address in Ramallah: Mahmoud Abbas.
 
For now, no one in Ramallah is taking Abbas’s threat to stay away from the next election seriously. It is even not clear how he was planning to hold new elections without the Gaza Strip, where Hamas has already declared its intention to ban the vote. So Abbas is actually threatening not to participate in an election which he knows that he has almost no chance to hold.
 
Abbas’s aides are now talking about the possibility that he may “reconsider” his decision if the Palestinian masses and the international community put enough pressure on him. This way he can stay in power for at least another five years by arguing that Hamas will not allow new elections and that he’s being forced to “succumb” to public pressure not to quit. Under such circumstances, it would be impossible for a new leadership to emerge. And Fayyad would have to continue to do his work with Abbas breathing down his neck.

 

Khaled Abu Toameh
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Analysis: Coalition agreement not withstanding, Hizbullah will continue to hold sway in Lebanon.

 

by Jonathan Spyer  

Lebanese factions agree on unity government

The announcement that a deal has been reached on a unity government was made by the Hizbullah-led March 8 opposition movement after a meeting on Friday.

The details of the deal have not yet been made clear, but it appears that the main stumbling blocks have been overcome.

The formation of a new government will bring to an end four months of political paralysis in Lebanon, following the victory of the pro-western March 14 coalition in general elections in June.

However, the new government will have no bearing on the key political fact looming over Lebanon today: namely, the existence of a parallel state maintained by Hizbullah, which makes its decisions without consulting the nominal rulers of the country.

The deadlock regarding the formation of the government was itself related to the agenda of the Hizbullah parallel state. It is worth remembering that agreement for the formula of cabinet appointments was reached in July. But this agreement solved little.

Hariri was determined to prevent the opposition from obtaining veto power in the new government. To exercise a veto over cabinet decisions, the opposition needed to control at least 11 portfolios in the 30-member cabinet - that is, one-third plus one of the cabinet seats.

In July, both sides accepted a formula of 15 portfolios for the March 14 coalition, 10 for the opposition, and five to be appointed by President Michel Suleiman.

The key issue then became the identity of the ministers to be appointed by the president. If only one of them were to be inclined toward the opposition, this would mean that Hizbullah would effectively have kept the veto it exercised before June. Since the final names have not yet been announced, it is too soon to draw any firm conclusions in this regard.

It looks likely, however, that Hariri has compromised in another key area.

Hariri announced after the election that he was determined to keep the Telecommunications Ministry for his party. The Hizbullah-led opposition was equally determined to obtain this portfolio for themselves.

Hizbullah maintains a large-scale independent communications network which is an essential part of its military stance vis a vis Israel. Its determination to keep this network away from government scrutiny was one of the factors that triggered the fighting in Beirut in May 2008.

Hizbullah at that time acted decisively to prevent any government interference with its independent communications. Possessing the telecommunications ministry is a way to ensure no further possible unwanted scrutiny.

Reports suggest that Hariri has conceded this portfolio to the opposition. The prime minister-elect has apparently prevailed in his demand that Jebran Bassil, son-in-law of former Gen. Michel Aoun, not occupy this post. But the portfolio looks set to go instead to another member of Aoun's party, which is aligned with Hizbullah.

Hizbullah itself, it appears, will have two posts in the new cabinet.

Hariri, in a recent statement to the media, sought to display his Arab nationalist colors, asserting that Hizbullah would be in the cabinet, whether Israel liked it or not. It is also the case that Hizbullah will continue to do what it wants in Lebanon - whether Saad Hariri likes it or not.

In the May 2008 fighting, Hizbullah reconfirmed that its parallel structures are off limits to the government of Lebanon. It did this by demonstrating its effective monopoly of the means of violence.

Such a monopoly remains the ultimate source of political power. This was the case before the June elections, remained the case after them, and will remain so regardless of the precise coalition arithmetic.

As the seizure of the Francop arms ship last week showed, Hizbullah and its backers are busily engaged in preparing for the next round of fighting with Israel. The precise timing and nature of the conflict to come will be determined without reference to the wishes of the new Lebanese cabinet, whatever its eventual makeup.

A report in a British newspaper on Sunday quoted Hizbullah fighters as openly admitting the extent of their rearmament efforts. In a statement which says much more about who makes the key decisions in Lebanon than any details regarding the coalition, a Hizbullah gunman was quoted as saying "Sure, we are rearming, we have even said that we have far more rockets and missiles than we did in 2006."

This statement confirms Israeli assessments. By making it, the unnamed Hizbullah man cheerfully shows his contempt for Security Council Resolution 1701, the UN forces deployed to enforce it, and those Lebanese who might want their country to be something other than a springboard for war.

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, as a famous Chinese leader once said. In Lebanon, the guns are in the hands of Hizbullah.

 

This is the salient point. All else is detail.

 

Jonathan Spyer is senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Right Way to Investigate Gaza.

 

by Evelyn Gordon

A group of South African immigrants to Israel submitted a novel proposal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week. Netanyahu, they said, should accede to the UN’s demand that Israel investigate its own actions during January’s war in Gaza. But it should do so in the only way that makes sense: not by focusing on Israel’s actions in a vacuum but by comparing them to those of other Western military campaigns in populated areas – for instance, American operations in Iraq and Afghanistan or NATO’s bombing of Serbia.

“I particularly mention Serbia, where the number of bombs dropped on a civilian population was tremendously high,” Charles Abelsohn, one of the proposal’s authors, told Haaretz. “This is how war is conducted. But all of a sudden, when Israel is involved, there is a law of human rights that doesn’t appear to apply anywhere else.”

The South Africans are right: The Gaza war can only be understood comparatively. Only by analyzing how the level of civilian casualties and efforts to minimize them compared with casualty levels in other Western military campaigns, only by assessing how Hamas’ efforts to use civilians as cover compare with those of other terrorist groups in other conflicts — only then can a fair determination be made about whether Israel is a war criminal, as the Goldstone Report claims, or whether it “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare,” as British Col. Richard Kemp claims.

Abelsohn is also right that such data would “assist those who are fighting the good fight on Israel’s behalf.” Without comparative facts and figures, Israel’s assertion that its Gaza operation was a model of morality will not convince anyone not predisposed to believe it – unless, like Kemp, they have the firsthand knowledge needed to make their own comparisons. But because most people have no combat experience, they have no basis for comparison.

During World War II, according to historian William Hitchcock, the British bombing of one single city, Rouen, on one single day, April 19, 1944, killed 900 allied civilians. And that figure, which was not atypical, does not even include combatants and enemy civilians.

By comparison, according to IDF figures, Israel killed 1,166 Palestinians in Gaza over the space of three weeks, of whom 709 were combatants. Hence, even if, as Palestinians claim, the total casualty figure was higher and the proportion of combatants lower, Israel would clearly not fare badly in an international comparison.

I doubt that would matter to the Goldstones of the world. But it would matter to those who would like to think well of Israel but are troubled by the endless stream of accusations, which Israel has done too little to counter. Israel needs to produce the necessary comparative data, and its friends need to make sure it gets disseminated. Indeed, this should have been done long ago. But better late than never.

 

Evelyn Gordon
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Islamist Perfidy and Western Naivety : Which Is More Lethal?

 

by Raymond Ibrahim

In a blog entry for Islamist Watch, David J. Rusin shows how the word "jihad" continues to be euphemized in the West. Despite Islamic law's unequivocal portrayal of it as a military endeavor to empower Islam, jihad is still being peddled as "nothing more than a student laboring to pass algebra, a mom driving her kids to soccer practice, or, in the words of the Cambridge study, a civic-minded person engaged in 'lobbying, activism, and writing' — a community organizer of sorts." Rusin concludes by observing: "Why Islamists peddle such specious definitions should be clear. More baffling and disturbing is why they gain traction among so many Westerners."

 

Indeed, therein lies the irony: Islamist perfidy is only to be expected; Western naivety, on the other hand, which, if anything, should have begun to dissipate in our post-9/11 world, has burgeoned to the point of nearly making the former unnecessary. For while there is no doubt that Islamists (and their misguided Western cronies) distort the meaning of jihad, increasingly, even when the true meaning is in plain sight, America's leaders and media still fail to discern it. In other words, apathy — or willful blindness — regarding jihad has become so deep-seated in the West that Islamists need no longer actively dissemble.

 

Consider: When President Barack Hussein Obama addressed the Islamic world from Cairo on June 4, 2009, he said: "As the Holy Koran tells us, 'Be conscious of God and speak always the truth' [Sura 9:119]. That is what I will try to do — to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us." Let us for the moment put aside the fact that Sura 9, from whence Obama quotes, contains the most violent and intolerant exhortations in all the Koran (which is saying something). The problem here is that the original Arabic text of Sura 9:119 says absolutely nothing about "speaking the truth." The word "speaking" is nowhere in the text, and "truth," as an abstract, is a wrong translation for sadiqin, which refers to people. The verse most literally translates as "fear Allah and be with the truthful." In other words, Muslims should stand firm with fellow Muslims ("truthful" serving as a Koranic epithet for "Muslims" the same way "believers" often does). It is, as ever, a call for divisiveness — of Muslims (the "truthful") versus infidels (the "false").

 

Had Obama or his Mideast advisors and speechwriters simply bothered to read this verse in context — verse 9:111, a jihadi all-time favorite, looms just above, promising believers paradise in exchange for their killing and being killed — or if they had bothered consulting mainstream Muslim exegeses, they might have known that this verse is part of a Koranic segment that deals exclusively with fighting infidels: Muhammad and several Muslims were preparing to invade Byzantine territory; some Muslims wanted to stay behind. It was then that Allah/Muhammad threatened them with this verse to "fear Allah and be with the truthful" (i.e., join ranks with your fellow Muslims on the warpath). Sentences later, this exhortation culminates in one of the most famous calls to violence in all the Koran, regularly evoked by modern-day jihadis: "O you who believe, fight those infidels who dwell around you, and let them find harshness in you!" [9:123].

 

Incidentally, the infidels mentioned here are the Christians of Byzantium (or in Arabic, al-Rum, "the Romans"). That modern-day jihadis, such as Osama bin Laden, often liken the United States to Byzantium, which for long thwarted the caliphate's expansionist designs into Christendom, makes Obama's choice of verse — "be[ing] with the truthful" — further ironic.

 

Speaking of infidels and irony, here is a more recent, a more comical, anecdote: On September 11, 2009, NPR ran a story called "For NYC Muslims, a New Kind of Police Attention," which tells of how "the NYPD hosts an annual Ramadan program, during which the police get to know members of the Muslim community and Muslims are free to speak their minds." Lest the theme of this story eludes you, words such as "outreach," "diversity," and "building bridges" predominate.

 

Here's the problem (first brought to my attention by the Washington Times' Diana West): In the audio version of this report (around 0:25-0:50), the NPR narrator says that "there was not an empty seat to be had at the NYPD's auditorium at One Police Plaza.

 

NYPD brass, Muslim clerics, and community members all stood and listened to the cadences of the call to prayer from the NYPD's imam," Khalid Latif. While this is being said, you can hear part of the imam's Arabic recitation from the Koran in the background.

The narrator's enthusiastic talk of NYPD brass standing in awe of the "cadences of the call" makes it difficult to discern exactly which verse is being recited. Only the last few words — qawm al-kaffirin, "nation of infidels" — are crystal clear, raising red flags. Thanks to my trusty Arabic-Koranic concordance, I have placed this phrase as part of Koran 2:286, which supplicates Allah "to make us [Muslims] victorious over the nation of infidels." Bear in mind that, from an Islamist point of view, the United States is the "nation of infidels" par excellence.

 

And there it is: From an American president who publicly defines his mission by quoting a jihadi-related verse, to American-Muslim leaders who publicly pray for the subjugation of non-Muslims (in the middle of an NYPD auditorium, no less), it is clear that the ultimate threat comes more from Western carelessness and indifference — in a word, naivety — than it does from active Islamist machinations. In short, Islamists peddling misleading interpretations for the word "jihad" is but the very tip of the iceberg.

 

 

Raymond Ibrahim is the associate director of the Middle East Forum and the author of The Al Qaeda Reader, translations of religious texts and propaganda.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

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