Saturday, May 29, 2010

Who would have thought, and yet many are thinking it.



by Lou Pritchett

 

AN OPEN LETTER FROM A PROCTER  AND GAMBLE EXECUTIVE TO THE PRESIDENT
  
Dear President Obama:

 

You are the thirteenth President under whom I have  lived and unlike
Any of the others, you truly scare me.

 

You scare me because after months of exposure, I  know nothing about you.


You scare me because I do not know how you paid for  your expensive
Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and  housing with no
Visible signs of support.

 

You scare me because you did not spend the formative  years of youth
Growing up in America and culturally you are not an  American.

 

You scare me because you have never run a company or  met a payroll.

 

You scare me because you have never had military  experience, thus
Don't understand it at its core.

 

You scare me because you lack humility and 'class',  always blaming others.

 

You scare me because for over half your life you  have aligned
Yourself with radical extremists who hate America  and you refuse to
Publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see  America fail..

 

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the  'blame America '
Crowd and deliver this message abroad.

 

You scare me because you want to change America to a  European style
Country where the government sector dominates  instead of the private sector.

 

You scare me because you want to replace our health  care system
With a government controlled one.

 

You scare me because you prefer 'wind mills' to  responsibly
Capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale  reserves.

 

You scare me because you want to kill the American  capitalist goose
That lays the golden egg which provides the highest  standard of
Living in the world.

 

You scare me because you have begun to use  'extortion' tactics
Against certain banks and corporations.

 

You scare me because your own political party  shrinks from
Challenging you on your wild and irresponsible  spending proposals.

 

You scare me because you will not openly listen to  or even consider
Opposing points of view from intelligent  people.

 

You scare me because you falsely believe that you  are both
Omnipotent and omniscient.

 

You scare me because the media gives you a free pass  on everything
You do.

 

You scare me because you demonize and want to  silence the
Limbaugh's, Hannitys, O'Reillys and Becks who offer  opposing,
Conservative points of view.

 

You scare me because you prefer controlling over  governing.

 

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second  term I will
Probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.

 

 

Lou Pritchett is one of  corporate America's true living legends- an  acclaimed author, dynamic teacher and one of the  world's highest rated speakers. Successful corporate executives  everywhere recognize  him as the foremost leader in change management..  Lou changed the way  America does business by creating an audacious  concept that came to be known as "partnering." Pritchett rose from soap  salesman to Vice-President, Sales and Customer Development for  Procter and  Gamble and over the course of 36 years, made  corporate history.

 

 

(This letter was sent to the NY Times but they never  acknowledged it.
 Big  surprise. Since it hit the Internet, however, it  has had over
 500,000 hits
. )

 

 

Is the Palestinian Authority in Violation of American Law?

 

by Lenny Ben-David

The PA's attempt to block Israel's economic achievement could theoretically backfire and endanger American military assistance to the would-be state of Palestine.

On Thursday, May 27, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Paris to formally accept the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's invitation to Israel to join the ranks of the world's leading economies.

But Israel's accession to the OECD would not have happened if the Palestinian Authority had its way, and the PA's attempt to block Israel's economic achievement could theoretically backfire and endanger American military assistance to the would-be state of Palestine. What's at stake? Approximately $100 million that was appropriated for 2010 to train and equip the PA's elite presidential guard and security forces.

During the deliberations of the 31 OECD members earlier this year, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki lobbied all the foreign ministers of the OECD countries, calling for the vote to be delayed because, he charged, Israel infringed on Palestinians' human rights and violated OECD values, Ha'aretz reported.

Israel complained that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad also called many of the leaders of OECD countries to argue against Israel's acceptance, the Ha'aretz report continued. "Fayyad's efforts to thwart Israel's participation in the organization," said Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor Party), "are extremely grave, and even more so during a time when Israel wants to begin proximity talks in order to reach an agreement and a reconciliation between the nations."

The formal Palestinian leadership, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), was also mobilized to block Israel's joining the OECD, according to the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).  "In the run-up to the OECD decision," a press release stated, "the BNC coordinated with the PLO, unions and other civil society actors in all thirty OECD member states as part of an intensive campaign to oppose Israel's membership for its persistent and systematic violations of the rights of the Palestinians."

On a basic level, the Palestinian attack on the Israel-OECD deal just doesn't jive with the peace negotiations U.S. mediator George Mitchell is attempting to kickstart.

On another level, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas launched a campaign this month to boycott products made in Israeli settlements. Fines and even jail time await Palestinians who use the enemy products or work in neighboring Jewish communities. While Abbas claims that the boycott is not directed against Israel "with whom we have relations," it is difficult to prevent a boycott of settlement goods from sliding into a boycott of all Israeli goods which may use components or ingredients made in Judea/Samaria a few miles away.

The boycott was also declared at a time when Israel is opening checkpoints and encouraging economic development in the West Bank. This week, Tony Blair's Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem welcomed Israel's decision to implement a package of measures to ease movement and access restrictions in the West Bank. OQR Head of Mission Robert Danin welcomed the development, saying, "Some of these steps are significant and should improve the economic and living conditions of the West Bank Palestinian population." [Source: a press release not yet posted on the Quartet website.]

Some 25,000 Palestinians work in the Jewish communities in the territories, most in the settlement blocs, which will be kept under Israeli control if a peace agreement is reached. The boycott will not only cost them their jobs, but may also deep-six the prospect of joint economic projects in the future.

When President Mahmoud Abbas visits Washington next month, he will certainly be quizzed by congressmen and senators about the OECD attack and the boycott, particularly since they challenge American law on the boycott. The 2009-2010 Omnibus Appropriations Act, State Department Appropriations section, states:

The Arab League boycott of Israel, and the secondary boycott of American firms that have commercial ties with Israel, is an impediment to peace in the region and to United States investment and trade in the Middle East and North Africa; all Arab League states should normalize relations with their neighbor Israel. … The President and the Secretary of State should continue to vigorously oppose the Arab League boycott of Israel and find concrete steps to demonstrate that opposition by, for example, taking into consideration the participation of any recipient country in the boycott when determining to sell weapons to said country.

Ultimately, the boycott of Israel is also damaging to the Palestinians, foreclosing the possibilities of cooperation with one of the world's most dynamic economies.

Perhaps the tragic example of thousands of Israeli hothouses in Gaza should be remembered. When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the bountiful hothouses were purchased by well-meaning, peace-making tycoons, including Bill Gates, Mort Zuckerman, James Wolfenson, and Leonard Stern. They planned to turn the $200 million enterprise over to the Palestinian Authority. Within days of Israel's withdrawal, the hothouses were pillaged and destroyed. The tools for a better Palestinian future became targets for wanton destruction. Today, the Palestinians economic attack on Israel will have little impact on Israel's burgeoning economy, but it will destroy the trust and cooperation needed for better future.

 

Lenny Ben-David

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

 

GPO advises foreign journalists on luxurious Gaza restaurant

 

by Yaakov Lappin

Move part of bid to stir awareness of anti-Israeli slant.

 

In a bid to stir awareness of anti-Israeli slants in foreign media coverage of Gaza, the Government Press Office sent an e-mail on Wednesday to members of the Foreign Press Association in Israel containing a guide to a luxurious restaurant in the Strip and a recently opened Olympic-sized pool.

The e-mail was based on a recent dispatch by journalist and commentator Tom Gross, in which he highlighted what he described as “the manipulative agenda of the BBC and other foreign media agencies.”

In the dispatch, sent on Tuesday, Gross added that much of the foreign media coverage was “deliberately misleading global audiences and systematically creating the false impression that people are somehow starving in Gaza, and that it is all Israel’s fault.”

Gross sent the dispatch ahead of the imminent arrival of a flotilla of boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists attempting to reach Gaza to deliver what they say is humanitarian aid to the Gazan people.

“In anticipation of foreign correspondents traveling to Gaza to cover reports of alleged humanitarian difficulties in the Hamas-run territory, and as part of efforts to facilitate the work of journalists in the region, the Government Press Office is pleased to bring to your attention the attached menu and information for the Roots Club and Restaurant in Gaza,” the GPO missive read.

“We have been told the beef stroganoff and cream of spinach soup are highly recommended.  You may wish to enquire of a possible discount upon presentation of a valid press card. There is also the possibility of an enjoyable evening on the Greens Terrace Garden Cafe, which serves ‘eclectic food and fresh cocktails,’” it continued.

“Correspondents may also wish to enjoy a swim at the new Olympic size swimming pool as reported in the Palestinian media to have been opened last week,” the e-mail said.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Seaman said he not surprised to receive several outraged responses from foreign journalists.

“Those who act as spokespeople for Palestinian propaganda were furious with self-righteous indignation and were angry,” Seaman said. “This was to be expected.”

“There is much hypocrisy in the coverage by international media of Gaza, and unfortunately, to some extent, the Israeli media plays a part in it. We are receiving political, slanted coverage. This message could help them wake up and do a better job,” he added.

“The same journalists who constantly point a finger at Israel were outraged by this. One journalist asked me in response, ‘don’t you have rich and poor areas [in Gaza] like everywhere else?’ I responded by asking her, ‘Why don’t you write about the affluent parts of Gaza?”

 

 Seaman stressed that his aim was to “make it possible to bring a few facts about other realities in Gaza to come to light, beyond the agenda that some members of the foreign press keep pumping out.”

Seaman added that over the past week, Israel has released a number of press statements from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories highlighting humanitarian aid which had been delivered by Israel to Gaza.

“These get very little exposure in the foreign media,” he said. “I assume this [e-mail] will get more mention.”

 

 

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

 

Netanyahu, Obama's newest prop

 

by Caroline Glick

Netanyahu must not permit Obama’s public relations campaign to divert him from this mission.

 

The Democratic Party is feeling the heat for US President Barack Obama’s hostility towards Israel. In an interview with Channel 10 earlier this month, Democratic Party mega-donor Haim Saban characterized the Obama administration as ideologically aligned with the radical Left and harshly criticized its treatment of Israel.

Both Ma’ariv and Yediot Aharonot reported this week that Democratic congressmen and senators are deeply concerned that the administration’s harsh treatment of Israel has convinced many American Jews not to contribute to their campaigns or to the Democratic Party ahead of November 2’s mid-term elections. They also fear that American Jews will vote for Republican challengers in large numbers.

It is these concerns, rather than a decision to alter his positions on Israel specifically and the Middle East generally, that now drive Obama’s relentless courtship of the American Jewish community. His latest move in this sphere was his sudden invitation to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to visit him at the White House for a “warm reception” in front of television cameras next Tuesday.

It is clear that electoral worries rather than policy concerns are behind what the White House has described as a “charm offensive,” because since launching this offensive a few weeks ago, Obama not changed any of his policies towards Israel and the wider Middle East. In fact, he has ratcheted up these policies to Israel’s detriment.

TAKE HIS goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. On Friday, the UN’s monthlong Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference is scheduled to adopt a consensual resolution before adjourning. According to multiple media reports, Israel is set to be the focus of the draft resolution that will likely be adopted.

The draft resolutions being circulated by both Egypt and the US adopt Egypt’s demand for a nuclear-free Middle East. They call for a conference involving all countries in the region to discuss denuclearization. The only difference between the Egyptian draft and the US draft on the issue is that the Egyptians call for the conference to be held in 2011 while the US calls for the convening of the conference in 2012-2013. The draft resolution also calls for all states that are not members of the NPT – Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea – to join the NPT as non-nuclear powers.

So while Iran is not mentioned in the draft resolution – which must be adopted by consensus – in two separate places, Israel’s purported nuclear arsenal is the target of an international diplomatic stampede.

In 2005, Egypt circulated a draft resolution that was substantively identical to its current draft. But in stark contrast to today’s conclave, the NPT review conference in 2005 ended without agreement, because the Bush administration refused to go along with Egypt’s assault on Israel.

Particularly in light of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the Iranian regime’s expressed goal of destroying Israel, the Bush administration preferred to scuttle the conference rather than give any credence to the view that Israel’s purported nuclear arsenal is a greater threat to global security than Iran’s nuclear program – which, as in today’s draft, wasn’t mentioned in Egypt’s resolution five years ago. The Obama administration has no problem going along with Cairo.

Obama’s willingness to place Israel’s nuclear program on the international agenda next to Iran’s is par for the course of his utterly failed policy for contending with Iran’s nuclear program. After his diplomatic open hand policy towards Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was met with a clenched fist, Obama’s attempt to convince the UN Security Council to pass “smart sanctions” against Iran has been checkmated by Iran’s nuclear deal with its newest strategic allies, Turkey and Brazil.

That deal, which facilitates rather than impedes Teheran’s nuclear weapons program, has ended any prospect that the Security Council will pass an additional sanctions resolution against Iran in the near future. But then, in order to secure the now weakened Russian support for his sanctions resolution, Obama exempted Russia from the sanctions and turned a blind eye to continued Russian and Chinese nuclear proliferation activities in Syria, Turkey and Pakistan. Furthermore, Obama agreed to make most of the remaining provisions non-binding.

In the meantime, and in spite of the fact that his sanctions bid is in shambles, Obama has asked congressional Democrats to stall their sanctions bills for another month. So, too, Obama prevailed on his Democratic colleagues in Congress to exempt Russia and China from their sanctions bills.

AS PART of the administration’s attempt to woo American Jews back into the Democratic Party fold despite its anti-Israel policies, last week a group of pre-selected pro-Obama rabbis was invited to the White House for talks with Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and with Dan Shapiro and Dennis Ross, who hold the Palestinian and Iran dossiers on Obama’s National Security Council, respectively. According to a report of the meeting by Rabbi Jack Moline that has not been refuted by the White House, the three men told the Democratic rabbis that the administration has three priorities in the Middle East. First Obama seeks to isolate Iran. Second, he seeks to significantly reduce the US military presence in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq. And third, he seeks to resolve the Palestinian conflict with Israel.

These priorities are disturbing for a number of reasons. First, isolating Iran is not the same as preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. By characterizing its goal as “isolating” Iran, the administration makes clear that preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is not its goal. Moreover, as Iran’s deal with Brazil and Turkey makes abundantly clear, Iran is not isolated. Indeed, its foreign relations have prospered since Obama took office.

In his write-up of the meeting, Moline indicated that Ross and Emanuel view Obama’s rejection of Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in Jerusalem as motivated by his goal of isolating Iran. So in the view of Obama’s Jewish advisers, his preferred method of isolating Iran is to attack Israel.

Add that to his third priority of establishing a Palestinian state by the end of next year and you have a US president for whom bashing Israel is his first and third priorities in the Middle East.

When one factors in his willingness to put Israel’s purported nuclear arsenal on the international chopping block, it is clear that there is no precedent for Obama’s hostility towards Israel in the history of US-Israel relations.

THIS BRINGS us to Obama’s meeting next Tuesday with Netanyahu. Obama’s continued commitment to his anti-Israel policies indicates that there are two possible scenarios for next week’s meeting. In the best case, the meeting will have no substance whatsoever. It will be nothing more than a public display of presidential affection for the Israeli premier.

The more likely scenario is that Obama will use the meeting as an opportunity to pressure Netanyahu not to attack Iran’s nuclear installations; not to attack Hizbullah’s and Syria’s missile depots, launchers and silos; and to extend the prohibition on Jewish building in Judea and Samaria beyond its September deadline and expand the prohibition to Jewish home construction in Jerusalem.

Regarding the latter scenario, it can only be hoped that Netanyahu has learned from his previous experiences with Obama. In December, in the hopes of alleviating US pressure, Netanyahu announced an unprecedented 10-month ban on Jewish building in Judea and Samaria. For his efforts, Netanyahu was rewarded with an escalation of American pressure against Israel.

After he pocketed Netanyahu’s concession on Judea and Samaria, Obama immediately launched his poisonous assault on Israeli rights to Jerusalem.

Likewise, Netanyahu’s willingness to outwardly support both Obama’s effort to appease Iran and his efforts to pass anti-Iran sanctions in the Security Council gained Obama a year and a half of quiet from Jerusalem. During that time, Iran has moved within months of the bomb and the US has abandoned its goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

This experience has one clear lesson: If Obama seeks policy concessions from Israel during their meeting, Netanyahu must reject his entreaties. In fact, it may even be counterproductive for Netanyahu to abstain from responding in the hopes of buying time.

If on the other hand, Obama avoids discussion of substantive issues and devotes his meeting with Netanyahu to a discussion of Michelle Obama’s war on obesity, Netanyahu should consider what Obama did to the family of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl while the president signed the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act last week.

Pearl was decapitated in 2002 by jihadists in Pakistan. Among other things, his killers claimed he had no right to live because he was Jewish. At the ceremony, Obama barred Pearl’s father, Judea Pearl, from speaking. In so doing Obama reduced Daniel Pearl’s family to the status of mere props as Obama vapidly and reprehensibly proclaimed, “Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is.”

This appropriation of Pearl’s murder and denial of what it represented served Obama’s purpose of pretending that there is no jihad and that radical Islam is not a threat to the US. And by silencing Pearl’s father, the president turned him into an unwilling accomplice.

Netanyahu should take two lessons from Obama’s behavior at the ceremony. First, Netanyahu must do everything he can to avoid being used as a prop. This means that he should insist on having a joint press briefing with Obama. He must also insist on having a say regarding which journalists will be included in the press pool and who will be permitted to ask the two leaders questions.

Second, Netanyahu must not become Obama’s spokesman. As part of his unsuccessful bid to convince Obama to change his policies towards Israel, Netanyahu and his advisers have gone on record praising Obama for his support for Israel. These statements have stymied attempts by Israel’s US supporters to pressure Obama to change those policies.

The Israeli official who has been most outspoken in his praise for Obama and his denial that Obama’s policies are hostile towards Israel has been Ambassador Michael Oren. Oren has repeatedly praised Obama for his supposedly firm support for Israel and commitment to Israel’s security – most recently in an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday. Moreover, according to eyewitness reports, in a recent closed-door meeting with American Jews, Oren criticized the Republican Party for attacking Obama for his animosity towards Israel.

 

 This quite simply has to end. As foreign officials, Israeli diplomats should not be involved in US partisan politics. Not only should Israeli officials not give Obama undeserved praise, they should not give Republicans undeserved criticism.

At the end of the day, American Jews have the luxury of choosing between their loyalty to the Democratic Party and their support for Israel. And in the coming months, they will choose.

The government of Israel has no such luxury. The government’s only duty is to secure Israel and advance Israel’s national interests in every way possible. Netanyahu must not permit Obama’s public relations campaign to divert him from this mission.

 

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

 

The Limits of Anti-Israel Activists' Compassion

 

by Jonathan Tobin

For those who wish to end the continued existence of a sovereign Jewish state on the shores of the Mediterranean, there is only one cause worth caring about: breaking the limited blockade that both Israel and Egypt have placed on Hamas-ruled Gaza. No one in Gaza is starving. All are fed by a United Nations Agency — UNRWA — specifically set up to ensure the continued existence of a Palestinian refugee problem. Gaza is poor, but the region, which Israel evacuated in 2005, is now an independent entity ruled by the Hamas terrorist group. For years, it served as a launching pad for missile attacks on Israeli civilians in southern Israel. But after Israel’s counteroffensive in December 2008, the Islamists who run Gaza have mostly held their fire. This is done partly out of fear of more Israeli counterterror operations and partly because the blockade imposed on the area — a blockade that allows in food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies but not construction materials that could aid Hamas’s homegrown weapons industry — has made it difficult for them to replenish their arsenal.

Thus, efforts to break this blockade and the international isolation imposed on this Hamasistan, created to force Gaza’s rulers to renounce their allegiance to a program pledged to the violent destruction of Israel, have little to do with sympathy for Gazans and everything to do with fueling anti-Israel propaganda. Though European sympathy for the “plight” of besieged Gaza is commonplace, support for breaking the blockade means freedom for Hamas, not the people who must live under the rule of Islamist tyrants.

But that hasn’t stopped anti-Israel activists from attempting to stage propaganda incidents highlighting their opposition to the blockade against Hamas. The latest is a so-called Freedom Flotilla of eight ships that left Istanbul, Turkey, this week. Al Jazeera, whose peppered a “news” report about the launch editorialized about how the “issue of Gaza moves Turks more than any other single issue,” noted that the convoy “is from the UK, Ireland, Algeria, Kuwait, Greece and Turkey, and is comprised of 800 people from 50 nationalities.” Though the rhetoric from the organizers centered on the supposed lack of food and medicine in Gaza, the report also noted that the ships are carrying 500 tons of construction equipment. Omitted from the Al Jazeera article was the fact that high-ranking members of the Hamas leadership also attended the festive launch of the ships. It is no surprise that Israel has said its Navy will prevent the ships from landing at Gaza and delivering their cargo. If they persist in trying to land, they will be diverted to Israel, where the passengers will be sent home, and any actual humanitarian supplies (as opposed to construction material) will be sent on to Gaza.

But though they claim they are trying to help people in need, there are limits to even the boundless compassion for humanity exhibited by those taking part in the Freedom Flotilla.

A lawyer representing the family of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas in 2006, approached the organizers of the Free Gaza flotilla. The Shalit family asked the pro-Palestinian group to bring letters and food packages to the kidnapped soldier, who has been denied Red Cross visits by his Hamas captors. In exchange, the family, which has the sympathy of all Israel and the ear of the Israeli government, offered to lobby to give the flotilla docking rights in Gaza. The response from these “humanitarians”: no!

Had they agreed to pass on the letters and packages from Shalit’s family, the pro-Palestinian group could have bolstered their shaky credibility as humanitarians. But by refusing, they have revealed themselves as nothing more than people bent on aiding and abetting an international terrorist group.

 

Jonathan Tobin

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

 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bogus 'pro peace' organizations undermine Israel

 

by Isi Leibler

Of late, the western media has provided inordinate prominence to Jewish fringe organizations like J Street and its European clone, JCall, which define themselves as "liberal" and "pro-peace", but concentrate on castigating the Israeli government and undermining mainstream Diaspora pro-Israel Jewish organizations.

These bodies are primarily controlled by anti-Israeli activists, but also include many well-meaning but confused liberal fellow travelers. They also attract uninformed Jews and members of the anti-Zionist chic influenced by constant negative media depictions of Israel.

Their core message is that the Jewish establishment is alienating the bulk of the Jewish street, by blindly supporting the policies of an extremist right wing Israeli government and indulging in "McCarthyite" tactics to excommunicate anyone who dares to criticize Israeli policies.

These unrepresentative bodies receive widespread favorable exposure by a media which relishes quoting Jews beating up on Israel. Whenever Jewish writers or academics condemn Israel or castigate their own community, they are portrayed as heroic voices of conscience resisting a harsh and bigoted Jewish leadership. One only has to compare the enormous media coverage provided to the European J Call petition criticizing Israel with a counter petition by Italian MP Fiamma Nirenstein which contained many more signatories and was effectively ignored.

This was also exemplified in the US by the extraordinary media coverage extended to former New Republic editor Peter Beinart who wrote a lengthy essay titled "The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment" in the New York Review of Books, a periodical renowned for its longstanding hostility to successive Israeli governments. Beinart selectively chose extremist remarks from Israeli hawks, falsely alleged that Prime Minister Netanyahu repudiated the Oslo Accords, quoted the "renowned" Hebrew University professor Ze'ev Sternhell - a bitter post-Zionist - alleging that Israel has "fascist characteristics" and accusing the Israeli government and Jewish leadership of alienating the younger generation of liberal Jews.

There is an uncanny parallel between these "pro-peace" groups and the bogus peace councils sponsored by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, which also claimed to be the true custodians of peace and succeeded in duping many "fellow travelers" into becoming accessories in promoting the global objectives of the Evil Empire.

Today these pseudo "pro-peace" bodies seek to undermine the only liberal democratic state in the region and divert attention from the reprehensible behavior and denial of human rights practiced by Israel's enemies.

In the battle of the war of ideas in which electronic media images of the suffering of the underdog blur moral considerations of right and wrong and disregard the source of conflicts, these groups distort the case for Israel and undermine the Zionist narrative.

They call on the global community to pressure the government of Israel to make further unilateral concessions. They insist that the core of the problem rests with the settlements, an issue which does divide Israelis. However, the suggestion that peace and goodwill would be achieved if Israel unilaterally withdrew from territories across the green line is absolute nonsense and detracts from the real obstacle to peace which is the absence of a genuine Palestinian peace partner and the ongoing Arab obsession with bringing an end to Jewish sovereignty.

The "pro peace" groups ignore the fact that Netanyahu has steered the government to a genuine centrist position and achieved a broad consensus that aside from the major settlement blocs, Israelis would compromise on territories in return for genuine peace and security. That sentiment prevails despite the awareness that until now territorial concessions have only yielded further terror and aggression.

The repeated wails by the "pro peace" groups that they encounter McCarthyism and are denied the opportunity to express themselves are specious and particularly hypocritical coming from those who unhesitatingly slander and seek to intimidate their critics. There has always been vigorous dissent amongst Jews on all political issues. But it was during the formative years of the state when the social-democratic Mapai ruled the roost, that a consensus prevailed that Diaspora Jews, who do not face the life and death consequences arising from decisions relating to Israel's defense, were morally obliged to allow the people of Israel through their democratically elected government to determine such issues.

Today, that concept is regarded with contempt by the "pro peace" elements, who claim to have a better appreciation of what is in the best interests of Israel than Israelis themselves. Indeed, these self appointed formulators of Israel policy articulate views that are sometimes more extreme than those of Meretz, the most far Left political party in the Knesset, holding only 3 out of 120 Knesset seats.

Of late, it is increasingly alleged that the new generation of younger Jews is turning against Israel. This is highly misleading. Obviously the passion for Israel amongst Jews of this generation is less intense than those who witnessed the Shoa and the struggle to create a Jewish State. However, it was always only 25 to 30% who comprised the activist element within Jewish communities and were at the forefront of Zionist and pro-Israel activity. Assimilated or less involved Jews were understandably less involved and somewhat apathetic, only becoming galvanized during periods of acute crisis such as the Six-Day War.

With some modifications, this remains true today. Jewish youngsters actively involved in Jewish life remain overwhelmingly supportive of Israel. Those ignorant or indifferent to Judaism are more susceptible to the impact of hostile influences surrounding them, especially on the university campuses, and many recoil from involvement with Israel.

However, the dramatic response by the activist American Jewish community to the negative attitude displayed against Israel by the Obama administration was astonishing. Despite the fact that 78% of them supported him, at a grassroots level many committed Democratic Jewish supporters have displayed anger and frustration against the administration for having reneged on Obama's electoral undertakings concerning Israel.

However, one should not underestimate the potential for damage that small numbers of determined Jewish anti-Israel activists can inflict. The message that they seek to impart is that Israel is controlled by extremist right-wing bigots and that it is incompatible for liberals to support such a regime. They compound this by directly or implicitly giving credence to canards accusing supporters of Israel of dual loyalties as well as allegations that Israel is endangering American lives. In fact, there are already disturbing signals that today the traditional bipartisan support towards Israel is eroding and that Democrats are far less committed to Israel than the Republicans.

Needless to say, this requires urgent attention. Both the government and the Jewish Agency should map out a strategy which takes account of the enormous damage these groups can inflict if they are not marginalized. One of the most effective means would be for the government to sponsor a global solidarity meeting with Jewish leaders, intellectuals and key activists to demonstrate that the vast majority of committed Jews remain fully dedicated to supporting the Jewish State. Israel must be able to rely on the ongoing support of world Jewry.

 

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

 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Moscow’s opportunism in the Middle East

 

by  Tony Badran

After a deliberately much-trumpeted visit by its president to Syria last week, Russia has been heralded, for the umpteenth time in recent years, as making a Middle Eastern comeback through Damascus. However, it would be more accurate to say that Russia sees Syria for what it is, a chip with which the Kremlin can play a game it masters with bigger players: perpetually leveraging arms sales to rogue regimes to extort never-ending concessions and to maximize its advantage at a time when the US, under the Obama administration, is entirely missing in action.
 
The fact that every so often we revisit this narrative of Syrian triumphalism on the back of a Russian regional resurgence ought to be enough to show that this isn't about Syria or tilting the regional balance of power to its advantage. Rather, this is about Russian leverage against the US and Israel, and opportunism at a moment of American fecklessness. Arms sales are Russia's instrument of influence in the region, not Syria.

Moscow sees a weak US administration in retreat from the region and is stepping into the void to see what it can claim for itself. Russian diplomacy has so far managed to balance the US, Israel and Iran, while safeguarding its commercial interests, which in turn allows it to continue extorting all three states in the future.

In return for effectively meaningless sanctions on Iran, the Obama administration lifted sanctions on four Russian companies, including state arms trader Rosoboronexport, which had been sanctioned for arms sales to Iran and Syria. Russia continues to string along the Iranians over the delivery of the S-300 air defense system, which Israel does not want to see in Tehran's hands.

And the Israelis have something the Kremlin wants: airspace technology – specifically in developing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Moscow has purchased 15 Israeli drones for testing, and last month, state technology corporation Rostekhnologii expressed interest in possibly establishing a joint venture with Israel Airspace Industry to produce UAVs. According to media reports, Russia had invested $172 million in developing a drone project of its own that was a bust.

In fact, Russian avionics are inferior and their products suffer from poor quality control. Russia has teamed up with India to manufacture a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet. Part of the avionics is sourced from Israel, which is also one of India's top defense suppliers. The final product could rival the US-made F-35 fighter jet, which Israel has sought to buy. But it also wishes to update it with Israeli avionics, which has caused some complications (reportedly now resolved). So, Israel has been involved in a delicate dance between its traditional ally, the US, and a potential future partner: Russia.

Which brings us back to Syria. The Assad regime is clearly nowhere near this league. For one, Syria is broke. Besides, Bashar al-Assad had tried to enter this level of play in 2008 in the aftermath of the Georgia crisis with Russia. He transparently urged the Russians to station Iskander-E batteries on Syrian soil and was curtly turned down. Two years later, the type of weaponry discussed with Syria remains the same: the Pantsyr-S1 air defense system, anti-tank weapons and MiG-29 fighter jets, of which Syria already has 50. The unreliability of the MiG-29 is causing nations to refuse or retire them, and last year Russia had to ground them due to crashes. Syria wants but cannot afford upgrades, nor do Syrian pilots stand a chance against the Israel Air Force anyway, and so in many respects, this is a sucker deal.

As for the Pantsyr, it would be a nuisance especially if transferred to Hezbollah (assuming they don't have them already), but it would not seemingly be a game changer.

This is the Russian game of leveraging arms sales for concessions that David Samuels described so well last year. The fanfare of President Medvedev's visit to Syria could be in part Russia's way of signaling displeasure or impatience with Israel over avionics cooperation and drone technology.

A possible hint of this dynamic came in a report in As-Sharq al-Awsat. The paper's correspondent in Tel Aviv related disagreements between the Israeli Foreign and Defense ministries over Russia's move with Syria. The Foreign Ministry, according to the report, blames Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his aides, "for they have rejected proper military cooperation with the Russians, and refused to modernize old Russian fighter jets, and refused to buy anything for the Israeli Army from Russia." 

The Defense Ministry insists that since none of the weapons Russia promised to Syria were game changers, there was little to worry about. It's also arguable that such a decision by Israel, if true, was a concession to the Pentagon.

If this is indeed the game being played, then it would be another instance of Russian opportunism at its finest. Russia cannot rebuild its old empire any more than it can bury the US. However, it sees local actors like Turkey and Iran asserting themselves, while the US flounders and hemorrhages influence. So it moves in to secure a cut for itself, gathering bargaining chips that, depending on how the regional scenario plays out, it will cash with the US and Israel.

Last year, Asia Times columnist Spengler summarized this dynamic as follows: "The game now is in the hands of the spoilers … and first among them is Russia." The Obama administration's policy, Spengler wrote, is allowing "the unimaginable to occur": Russia's influence in the Middle East rivaling that of the US.

This is what a world without American power looks like. Regional middle powers trying to act like super powers, while opportunists move in like hyenas over the carcass of the American order.

 

Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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

 

Hezbollah’s Maritime Threat

 

by  J. E. Dyer

As Hezbollah's Nasrallah issues new threats to commercial shipping in the Levant, it's worth recalling the events of July 2006. During the conflict that summer with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel's INS Hanit, a Saar-V class corvette, was hit by an anti-ship missile launched by Hezbollah from the Lebanese coast. Haaretz reported that a Cambodian-flagged freighter was hit by another missile in the same July 14 attack. The freighter sank afterward; its Egyptian crewmen were rescued from the Mediterranean, but four Israelis were killed in the attack on Hanit.

Austin Bay, who writes frequently on defense matters, posted this excellent analysis of the shipping attacks at his blog. The missiles Hezbollah used were a Chinese-designed C802 cruise missile, which Iran has produced for a number of years as the "Noor" missile, and the Iranian "Kosar" version of the Chinese C701 missile.

No question remains as to whether Iran has supplied anti-ship missiles to Hezbollah. The only question is whether Hezbollah is now being supplied with Iran's newer anti-ship missiles. China and Iran launched a production facility in March 2010 for the "Nasr" missile, Iran's version of the Chinese C704, a newer cruise missile with a passive homing capability. Iran's navy fired the Nasr missile in its Persian Gulf exercise in April, a move similar to the introduction of the Kosar missile in the major naval exercise in April of 2006. Three months after that 2006 exercise, Hezbollah used the Kosar off the coast of Lebanon.

Israeli warships can defend themselves against Hezbollah's cruise missiles. Hanit's failure to do so was attributed to the constraints of an Israeli forces operating policy, which had been put in place to prevent unintentional firing on friendly aircraft.

But merchantmen have no defense against such weapons. Nasrallah's threat is far from empty, as Hezbollah has already proved. The coastal region off Lebanon and Israel, through which ships approach the Suez Canal, is one of the busiest in the world. The likelihood is very real that the U.S. will find it necessary to take action if Hezbollah starts launching missiles at commercial ships. It bears noting that whether that task is approached passively (e.g., with defensive escort) or through active counterattack on Hezbollah's positions ashore, the weapon systems suitable for the problem are the Aegis warships and aircraft carriers Defense Secretary Gates wants fewer of. No less-capable platform can handle the mission.

 

J. E. Dyer

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

 

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