Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oren decries ties between LAF, Hizbullah


by Hilary Leila Krieger

After border clash, US defends aid to Beirut for weapons.

WASHINGTON – The distinction between the Lebanese Army and Hizbullah has become “cloudy” and advanced weaponry given to the Lebanese military could find its way to the Islamist group, Ambassador to the US Michael Oren warned on Wednesday.

But Oren, when asked on a conference call whether the US had any plans to stop providing arms and assistance to the Lebanese Army, said “there’s no indication yet” of that happening.

Earlier on Wednesday, US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley defended American assistance to the Lebanese military despite its shooting of two IDF officers, killing one and seriously wounding the other, as they cut down a tree along the northern border on Tuesday. The IDF returned fire and killed two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist.

“I don’t think this fundamentally changes the support that we’re providing to the government of Lebanon,” he said.

“We are committed to Israel’s security, but we’re also committed to Lebanese sovereignty.

These interests are not mutually exclusive. They’re not in contradiction.”

He added, “Unfortunately, from time to time, you have these flashpoints. But it doesn’t change our long-term strategic interest in the region.”

Asked about reports that the Lebanese snipers used American- issued guns to shoot at the IDF, Crowley said he couldn’t confirm the accounts, but noted, “We have provided support to Lebanon to strengthen the ability of the Lebanese government to exercise its own sovereignty. This is in our interest.

We certainly do not want to see the kind of exchanges of fire that occurred yesterday.”

A desire to avoid a recurrence is also getting the attention of Capitol Hill, where some legislators are taking a closer look at US military aid to Lebanon.

Rep. Ron Klein (D-Florida) told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, “It certainly is going to come up in our conversations in the Congress about the continued support of the Lebanese Army.”

US has boosted military aid to Lebanon in recent years

The US has boosted military assistance to Lebanon in recent years as it has sought to bolster the parts of Beirut’s governing coalition most in step with the West. Though the Lebanese Army and Hizbullah have traditionally been in different camps, Hizbullah has exercised increasing influence within the country’s political institutions and power structures.

About $100 million in military assistance, plus smaller amounts for counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations and training, is being considered, consistent with the amount allocated last year.

Klein and other Capitol Hill sources said the degree to which the Lebanese attack was sanctioned by army and government higher-ups and how those officials responded would inform the view Congress takes on assistance being considered for next year.

Oren indicated, though, that the problematic behavior of the Lebanese Army extended beyond Tuesday’s incident.

He said that the Lebanese military has aimed shoulder-fired rockets at Israeli installations and permitted its soldiers to stone patrolling Israeli soldiers in recent incidents.

Oren described increasing ties between Lebanese military officials and Hizbullah members.

“Israel tends to view the distinction between the Lebanese Army and Hizbullah as increasingly cloudy,” he said on the conference call with the the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “The Lebanese Army shares all its intelligence with Hizbullah. There are highranking officers in the Lebanese Army who are closely associated with Hizbullah.”

He continued, “Our assumption is that particularly advanced weaponry in the hands of the Lebanese Army could very well find its way into the arsenals of Hizbullah.”

In the case of an outbreak of full hostilities between Israel and Hizbullah, Oren concluded, “The Lebanese Army has thrown in its lot with Hizbullah in any future conflict with Israel.”

And on Thursday, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) called the Lebanese Army's actions "troubling and problematic." Like Klein, Towns was on a Congressional trip to Israel and was briefed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the violence along the border.

Towns, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the committee's oversight authority can be used "to ensure that United States assistance does not go to states and entities that are hostile to Israel."

Hilary Leila Krieger

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




Hizbullah: Hating Israel... and Palestinians

 

by Mudar Zahran 

While waving Palestinian cause flag and supporting 'right of return to Palestine,' Shi'ite group has been obstructing every attempt to improve livelihood of Palestinians in Lebanon.

 

In his latest press extravaganza, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah exposed what he called evidence of Israel's involvement in the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. The footage Nasrallah presented showed that Israel was monitoring areas in Lebanon since the late 1990s, a fact Israel has never denied. Nonetheless, the footage failed to tackle the most critical element of any crime; motive. Since day one, Hizbullah has been viewed as the prime suspect in Hariri's assassination, and for good reason; Hariri was a Sunni leader who revived the strength and momentum of Lebanese Sunnis, as well as Saudi influence in Lebanon as a major Arab Sunni force, thus making himself a significant obstacle in Hizbullah's quest to control Lebanon.

Still, the fact that Hizbullah has been successful in intercepting Israeli UAVs proves, once again, its access to advanced military technology. Furthermore, Hizbullah stands out as a very organized terrorist group with a clear strategy. Much of this stems from the fact that it receives substantial financial and logistical support from a very capable country – Iran – which has a lavish history of state terrorism and a relatively advanced military.

 

Today, Hizbullah is also well-established militarily. Yet what gives the group its edge is its propaganda tactics, which is exactly what Nasrallah was demonstrating with his latest press conference. In fact, Hizbullah has been playing the media game in a manner unprecedented by any other terror group.

In 2000, when Israel withdrew its troops from the buffer zones in southern Lebanon, Nasrallah appeared on most Arab TV screens chanting that "the mission had not been accomplished yet as Jerusalem and Al-Aksa mosque were still under Zionist occupation."

This turned him into the poster child for pan-Arab nationalism, Islamism, and even Leftist forces in the Arab world. It created a dramatic shift in Arab public opinion, reviving the so-called "moral of resistance" against Israel that evolved into an entire change of heart by most Arabs, who are predominantly Sunni, towards the Shi'ite sect and principles. Several Arab countries reported cases of denomination conversion to the Shi'ite faith, alarming major Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Hizbullah's confrontation with Israel in 2006 brought the ultimate media trophy for Nasrallah. The fact that he remained alive weeks after of a strong assault by the region's strongest military force, and that many "martyrs" fell in the process, played into Hizbullah's media machine very effectively, eventually portraying Hizbullah as victorious and as the protector of Arabs and Muslims. Nonetheless, several Sunni Muslim scholars stood against it then, calling it "a destructive Shi'ite force" and still cite the same slogan today.

WHILE MANY, including some Israelis, seem to believe that Nasrallah loves the Palestinians, and would fight for their cause, the facts on the ground reflect a totally different reality. Hizbullah represents the Shi'ites in Lebanon, who describe themselves as an extension of the global Shi'ite body, with strong emotional and ideological ties to Iran. The Shi'ites in Lebanon have always felt threatened by the Palestinians, who are strictly Sunnis, and whose presence in Lebanon is viewed as adding demographic heavy weight to Lebanese Sunnis. While Lebanese Shi'ite figures never mention this fact, they have been vigorously working against it in practice; they even took up arms against the Palestinians during the Lebanese civil war. In fact, Lebanese Shi'ite were responsible for some of the most notorious atrocities against the Palestinians, with welldocumented massacres and the siege of the Palestinian refugee camps. Ironically, when they ended these in 1987, Shi'ite leader Nabih Berri told the press that this was "a gift for the Intifada."

Hundreds of the war criminals that were involved in those massacres are now affiliated with Hizbullah, some in senior positions.

The group has been ruthless in its efforts to marginalize and control the Sunni Palestinian population in Lebanon; its leaders insisted on confining 400,000 Palestinians to the refugee camps as a condition for ending the civil war in 1989.

Before his latest press conference, Nasrallah was promoting that his faction would "punish" Israel if it obstructed a Lebanese aid flotilla headed for Gaza. This comes as one of an endless series of media stunts in which Nasrallah portrays himself and Hizbullah as the defenders of the Palestinian cause.

While Nasrallah claims he wants to see food items and medications delivered to Gaza, Palestinians in Lebanon are literally locked up inside their camps every evening. Banned from working legally, Palestinians in Lebanon have to depend on international aid and donations, which Lebanon monitors and restricts. This has resulted in intolerable living conditions. The post- Syrian Lebanese governments exhibited a tendency to improve the living conditions for the Palestinians on its soil; nonetheless, Hizbullah has been most fierce in fighting that trend. Waving the flag of the Palestinian cause, and staunchly supporting the "right of return to Palestine," Hizbullah has been obstructing every attempt to improve the livelihood of Palestinians in Lebanon.

Furthermore, it has been igniting and financing unrest between Palestinian factions, as Hamas is not shy in showcasing its alliance with both Hizbullah and Iran.

Today, while Nasrallah and Hizbullah are considered iconic symbols of the fight against Israel and the defenders of the Palestinian cause, Palestinians in Lebanon are dying young, uneducated and poor, all in the name of preventing them from being naturalized in Lebanon in order to "keep their love for Palestine."

This tactic for persecuting the Palestinians is not unique to Hizbullah; it has been played by many Arab countries and in fact by some of the countries claiming to be most friendly to the Palestinians.

The question is; with such friends, who needs enemies?


 

Mudar Zahran  is a Jordanian of Palestinian heritage, is a researcher at the University of Bedfordshire.

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

 

Oppose the Ground Zero Mosque?

 

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

News that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has come out in opposition to the planned construction of a 13-storey 'Córdoba House' or 'Park51' mosque, two blocks away from 'Ground Zero', should prompt us to ask whether it is truly right to oppose the building of this particular mosque.

To begin with, it should be noted that there is no basis for opposing its construction on legal grounds. That said, a distinction needs to be made between legality and morality. The key question therefore is: would the mosque fulfill the apparent, declared intention of fostering outreach and mutual respect between people of various faiths?

The answer, however, should be a clear 'No'. To be fair, some of the opposition from the Tea Party movement to the 'Ground Zero' mosque is undoubtedly rooted in anti-Muslim bigotry: for instance, radio talk-show host Mark Williams, who resigned from 'Tea Party Express' over a month ago, described Allah as a 'monkey god' and characterized all Muslims as 'animals'.

Nonetheless, it is evident that there is also considerable popular opposition from New Yorkers themselves. For example, according to a poll by Quinnipiac University, on average 52% of New York voters oppose the construction of the Ground Zero mosque. Moreover, even in Manhattan, where there is most support for the project, only 46% are in favor of building the mosque. Amongst Americans in general, a majority oppose the planned construction, as the New York Times notes. Of course, resistance is particularly strong amongst families of the victims of 9/11, whose anguish ought to be taken into account here.

Such opposition is not at all surprising. Even supposing good intentions on the part of those behind the project, one could ask why they did not simply choose a site in Manhattan somewhat further away from Ground Zero. A suitable analogy would be as follows: how would Bosnian Muslims feel about proposing the construction of a Serbian Orthodox church at Srebrenica? Indeed, there are many parallels between the Srebrenica Massacre of 1995 and 9/11. The former was the killing of over 8000 Bosnian Muslims by Serb militias who justified their aggression on the pretext of defending their faith. In reality, however, the goal was to create a Greater Serbia by ethnically cleansing or exterminating Bosniaks and Croats from regions of the former Yugoslavia with mixed populations.

Similarly, the jihadists who perpetrate atrocities such as 9/11 purport to act in self-defense, but actually seek the eventual subjugation of the world under Shari'a. This is apparent from the declarations and writings of the leaders of jihadist groups. A case in point is Osama Bin Laden himself. When addressing Westerners, he normally justifies his actions by naming the usual grievances (e.g. the presence of Western troops in the Arabian Peninsula, U.S. support for Israel etc.), but when appealing to Muslims, he frequently invokes the idea of jihad, whether offensive or defensive, as a religious obligation.

For instance, in response to Saudi intellectuals who called for dialogue with the West in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Bin Laden wrote: "There are only three choices in Islam: either submit [i.e., convert to Islam], or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die. Such, then, is the basis and foundation of the relationship between the infidel and Muslim. Battle, animosity, and hatred-directed from the Muslim to the infidel-is the foundation of our religion." Similar sentiments were echoed by Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to bomb Times Square, when he stated in a tape released by Al-Arabiya that 'you'll see that the Muslim war has just started...until Islam is spread throughout the whole world.'

Nevertheless, the evidence suggests that Imam Abdul Rauf, the chief proponent of the mosque project, would do nothing effective to counter the broad elements in classical fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) that justify the doctrines of jihad as explained by Osama Bin Laden and Faisal Shahzad above. Indeed, in a 2000 treatise on Shari'a, and a 2004 book entitled 'What's Right With Islam', he has praise for figures such as the Sufi jurist Al-Ghazali, Ibn Taymiyyah and Al-Wahhab, all of whom formulated rationales for the notion of jihad as warfare to expand the realm of 'Dar Al-Islam'.

He furthermore hails the implementation of Shari'a in society, including in America itself. Thus, he is no better than the evasive Tariq Ramadan, who is wrongly lionized as a genuine moderate. After all, praising uncritically thinkers who justified noxious doctrines of warfare and subjugation of non-Muslims in writings intended for Muslims is no way to counter Islamism in any form, as it is their works that have been made so readily available by Saudi petrodollars.

In conclusion, the mosque is an unnecessary act of provocation at best and a project with a dubious agenda at worst, something that will certainly not achieve the supposed goal of improving interfaith relations. It is therefore morally right to stand with groups like the ADL in opposition to the construction of this mosque, whilst at the same time 'condemning unequivocally individuals like Mark Williams who are largely motivated by religious bigotry.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a student at Oxford University, and an intern at the Middle East Forum.

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

 

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's Not the Hasbara, It's the Reality

 

 

by Daniel Greenfield

 

Hasbara or Pro-Israel PR has become the great obsession of Pro-Israel activists and the Israeli government. One article calls for Israel to spend as much effort on communicating its message, as it does on its defense budget. Another castigates the many failures of Israeli diplomats in getting their message across. Still another features Frank Luntz who has been brought to tell Israeli leaders that they need to use kinder and gentler language to win the debate. Stop saying "security" and start saying "protecting innocent life", and everything will be well. Except of course it won't. Because the problem is not in the message, it's in the reality.

No doubt Israel's PR could use some work. Like most Western countries, Israel's diplomatic corps consists  of incompetents who are there as a political favor, and left wingers who are good at what they do, but hate their own country and sympathize with the enemy. Like most Western democracies confronting terrorist groups, it also suffers from allowing a plurality of opinions, which means there will be no shortage of Israeli politicians, activists and reporters who actively work on behalf of the terrorists. On top of that the personality of the average Israeli has much in common with that of the average New Yorker, while the terrorists have no shortage of Marxist academics educated abroad who know exactly how to talk to European diplomats and reporters.

But none of this is really the point, because Hasbara is not really the point. Israel is not suffering from a communications problem. It isn't losing the debate because it can't get around to explaining that terrorism is wrong. It's losing the debate because the media and Western governments don't agree that terrorism is wrong. They don't agree that Israelis shouldn't be under fire or that terrorists shouldn't be rewarded for killing people. The terrorists aren't scoring points because Israel isn't communicating its message. The terrorists are scoring points because their core audience in Europe and in some cases America, agrees with their message.

Israel has repeatedly shot itself in the foot PR wise, but no more so than most of the countries it's trying to convey its message to, have. Because the PR really doesn't matter that much. Whether or not people take Israel's side or that of the Muslim terrorists has little to do with the PR, and a lot to do with their politics, their view of Jews and Muslims, and the legitimacy of terrorism.

That is why most Americans continue to support Israel, even when confronted with a barrage of negative media coverage. It is why sizable numbers of Europeans dislike Israel. European media coverage is more overtly hostile to Israel, and supportive of terrorists-- but not by nearly enough to explain the difference.

A poll that shows Europeans rank Israel as the biggest threat to world peace, has to be tied in with polls which show Europeans blame Jews for the economic crisis, and a range of other things. Which is to say that negative views of Israel are likely to emerge from a negative view of Jews, either due to conventional bigotry or political bigotry on the right or the left. That is the same reason why American media coverage of Israel is at odds with the general attitude of Americans toward Israel. The American media skews to the left. The same left which dislikes the military, and has longstanding issues regarding Jewish identity as well. Which is to say talk of better Hasbara is all well and good, but all it means is learning to do a better job of arguing with bigots.

 

The numbers on Israel have less to do with PR, and more to do with innate attitudes by religious and political groups. Americans and Europeans who are more conservative are more likely to be pro-Israel. But they're also more likely to be supportive of countries fighting terrorism in general. The picture skews inversely when it comes to the left. The radicalization of liberalism, means that there is much less support among liberals for Israel, not so much because Israel has changed, but because what used to be the hard left is now mainstream liberalism.

Europe did not become hostile to Israel somewhere around 1967 or 1981. It was always hostile to Israel. One only needs to read H.G. Wells or George Bernard Shaw's comments about Israel and the Jews to see that, long before the modern state even existed. And American liberals were traditionally more supportive of Israel than their European counterparts, because they were less likely to be bigots, less likely to be anti-religious-- and less likely to be knee jerk anti-military. Two out of three of those factors have changed dramatically. The third is wavering. And this is what accounts for the growing antipathy among liberals for Israel. As American liberals become more like their European counterparts, that translates into hostility toward Israel.

In Europe some liberals like Nick Cohen try to calmly and reasonably explain the situation, only to receive a round of namecalling in return. That is because you can't argue with people's prejudices. Cohen warns the left about the dangers of Islamism, communicates a rational and concise view of the position that Israel finds itself in-- and receives exactly the responses at the Observer, that he would have received in Der Sturmer in 1939 trying to explain that Jews really didn't cause the Great War. And very few Israeli spokesmen or activists are going to be able to communicate half as well as Cohen does.

It is always good to know how to answer a bigot, so long as you understand that you will not convince the bigot of anything. The bigot is not interested in a reasonable discussion, only in venting his hatred on a favored target. Jews have been that target for a very long time. If you understand that, you can humiliate a bigot in front of a large audience, as David Horowitz did. If you don't understand that, you'll be stuck justifying everything Israel has ever done-- which is a mug's game, because every country has its black spots, and bigots love nothing more than to use them to paint the entire country black.

 

Calling emergency Hasbara conferences are a waste of everyone's time. And rephrasing everything in Frank Luntz's Compassionate Conservative Bushisms are the sort of thing corporations do to polish up their image during a crisis. Unfortunately this entire emphasis on Hasbara mirrors corporate behavior. Inviting people in to teach you how to say things in a kinder and gentler way comes off as dishonest weaseling, rather than tackling the problem. Israel's problem is not Hasbara, it is reality. Its problem is that it is engaged in an indefinite terrorist conflict in a media saturated environment, with foreign and domestic activists on the ground helping the terrorists. Until it changes that reality, Hasbara will do little good.

Hasbara is not capable of reversing the leftward drift of American and European liberals, who also dominate the media and foreign policy establishments. Which means it's best to focus on smart solutions to ending the terrorism, rather than trying to market Israel's War on Terror as a War Against Cruel People. Most people have already decided where they stand, with the terrorists or against them. Hasbara will not significantly change that either. Most people who support the War on Terror, support Israel's War on Terror, and vice versa, most of those who oppose America's War on Terror, oppose Israel's right to defend itself against terrorists as well.

The only way to win at PR against a pro-terrorist left and its Islamist allies, is to take the war off the table by winning it. Because an indefinite crisis will bring enemies out of the woodwork, and give bigots plenty to feed on. That's the cold hard reality of it. The only way Israel can win the PR war, is by defeating the terrorists. Trying to win the PR war in order to be able to fight the terrorists, has been a common mistake in the Israeli paradigm. Dispensing with that paradigm as quickly as possible and winning the fight, is the only way to get the monkey of hate off Israel's back.

 

 

Daniel Greenfield

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

 

Hands off Abbas

 

by Sarah Honig

 

We have no tangible proof that the White House had indeed applied brutal pressure on poor Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority's teeter-tottering Ramallah half. This remains unsubstantiated. American officials haven't confirmed news reports and derivative innuendo from both Israeli and Palestinian sources. But if we set aside our skepticism and assume, for argument's sake, that Obama and crew did indeed twist Abbas's arms, we ought to be outraged.

The very notion of dragging an unwilling interlocutor to the negotiating table should be unthinkable, certainly no cause for glee among Israelis.

This is akin to a shotgun wedding. However, it's even less likely to lead to harmony than forced nuptials are to result in matrimonial bliss. We've been there, seen this.

TEN YEARS ago Bill Clinton had dragged a kicking and screaming Yasser Arafat to Camp David, where he also leaned on then-PM Ehud Barak to make egregious offers to reward Arafat for his "cooperation."

To the amazement of both American and Israeli wishful-thinkers, Arafat spurned the outstretched hand and Israel's mad magnanimity.

Unlike the Americans and Israelis, Arafat wasn't out to end the dispute. That was the last thing on his priorities list. Indeed right at the top of said list was perpetuating and escalating the dispute. No sooner did the Camp David powwow flop, than Arafat unleashed his premeditated second intifada.

Violence raged and claimed lives in an unremitting bloodbath until Israel did the "non-peaceful" thing and launched Operation Defensive Shield.

Arafat was a super-icon, not only locally but throughout the Arab world. Abbas precariously survives by virtue of the protection accorded him by the very Israel he compulsively demonizes whenever speaking in Arabic. It's folly to expect pathetic Abbas to deliver what revered Arafat couldn't. Making concessions to Abbas is no different from making concessions to an effigy of our own creation.

Arafat feared being branded a traitor if he relinquished the right to overrun Israel with the progeny of supposed refugees and if he recognized the legitimacy of a Jewish state in what is claimed as exclusive Arab dominion. Whatever was untenable for Arafat is ten times worse for his ineffectual successor.

But not only would coercing Abbas prove counterproductive; it's a perilous precedent which sooner than later would be turned against Israel.

Let's assume, again for argument's sake, that Abbas grudgingly "relents" and proceeds to engage in direct contacts with the vilified Netanyahu. Abbas will thereby score popularity points worldwide and probably also secure concessions for just agreeing to palaver – like continuing the freeze on Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. It'll cost us to make him look pretty. We lose twice: by enhancing Abbas's image and paying his price.

And after we cleverly manage to bamboozle ourselves, the pressure will be turned on us – way more ruthlessly than on Abbas. The construction freeze could become a permanent fixture with no advantage gained on our part but with spiraling disadvantages from here on.

Israeli leaders must step back from the immediate agenda of ingratiating themselves with Obama. Promoting negotiations with an unwilling peace-partner to the be-all and end-all is shortsighted and risky. Israeli leaders capable of perceiving the bigger picture ought to fume – in public, for the whole wide world to hear – against coercive interference from outsider busybodies, whoever they may be. Israeli leaders ought to speak up for Abbas's right to decide, without pressure, whether or not to negotiate.

ISRAELI LEADERS ought to stand tall both for our sovereignty and for the sovereignty of any Arab interlocutor. No outsider possesses the right to impose anything on any of us. This will not only serve us well and eventually deflect pressure from Israel too, but it's the ethical stand to take. Moreover, it may preempt deception. It may forestall situations in which the Arab side garners PR points because it seems to be accommodating but in fact does precisely the reverse of what it broadcasts.

The bottom-line result will anyhow be the same, whether Abbas is coerced into a talkathon or whether he is allowed to avoid the ordeal. No peace will emerge in any case – not from an Obama-led sequel to Clinton's Camp David extravaganza and not from a continued Abbas refusal to meet face-to-face.

You can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink. You can pull Abbas to a conference room somewhere but you can't make him sign on the dotted line and, more so, you can't make him deliver.

All that Obama would accomplish would be to destabilize Ramallah's honcho. Abbas will be put in the same quandary as Arafat was by Clinton.

Perhaps he'll have to redeem himself by triggering the Third Intifada.

If he doesn't, Hamas will seize the initiative to make political hay. The enticement to undermine the remnants of Abbas's position and sabotage any restarted "peace" process, will reinvigorate Hamas's lust for blood. That, in turn, will oblige Abbas's own hotheads in Fatah's Aksa Brigades and their like to prove to Hamas that they can spill no less Jewish blood. The competition will be on for the glory of who can inflict more pain on Israel.

Either way, meddling from abroad will stir a mammoth hornet's nest here. When rank amateurs try their hand at dabbling where they can only cause damage, the fiasco is inevitable.

Obama's Mideast record proves this incontrovertibly.

Anything this Midas-antithesis touched turned out disastrously.

His obsequiousness to the Arab/Muslim world hardly stimulated greater moderation. The opposite is true (i.e., Turkey). Obama's sucking up to Arabs/Muslims and iciness toward Israel failed to impress Iran, Syria, Syrian lackey Lebanon, etc.

Even in Gaza and Ramallah, he's mocked as a nonentity.

The Mideast's bad boys don't fear Obama.

At most they see him as a feeble sissy. If anything, radicalism in Arab/Muslim spheres only swelled in the year since Obama's landmark Cairo speech.

A victim of his own mystique, Obama pretentiously cast himself in the mold of some of America's greatest statesmen of yesteryear, but there's nothing concrete to show for all the posturing.

Obama talks the talk grandly but fails to walk the walk. He's clueless about this region.

He convinced himself that honeyed blandishments will send seduced Arab/Muslim autocrats into his arms. This was never going to happen. Obama conjectured – objectionably – that Israelis are wary of him because of his middle-name. The truth is that more than Israelis are put off, Arabs didn't fall for the American President's Arab moniker.

Obama doesn't get it. But this only makes this tenderfoot's intervention all the more dangerous.

He'd do both Israelis and Arabs a favor to treat us as adults who can handle our own business – if we want to. That is our choice to make.

The best all buttinskys everywhere can do is to keep their noses out of our life-and-death tribulations.

 

 

Sarah Honig

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



 

The War on De-legitimization


by Gerald M. Steinberg

We must name, shame hardcore anti-Israel activists who use façade of morality

The political war aimed at delegitimizing Israel, and at preventing the IDF from acting to stop terror attacks, is now recognized as a major threat. These are not the sentiments of alarmists; this is the conclusion drawn by Eitan Haber, a close advisor to prime ministers, including Yitzhak Rabin ("IDF isn't enough in face of global de-legitimization campaign faced by Israel.")

Haber's analysis only scratches the surface of the de-legitimization campaign waged against Israel. These efforts are not new; since the 2001 UN "World Conference Against Racism" in Durban, South Africa – international NGOs and some within Israel have introduced into the public lexicon slogans referring to Israel as an "apartheid state" guilty of "war crimes" that does not have the right to exist.

The campaign is gaining strength, and as Haber notes the importance of mobilizing the Jewish people "to fight back against the ubiquitous de-legitimization process, against the indifference, and possibly also against the despair among us."

Examples of NGO campaigns are, unfortunately, plentiful. The recent "Free Gaza" flotilla incident demonstrated the sophisticated use of the "humanitarian," "peace" and "non-governmental" labels to cover a preplanned attack on IDF soldiers, resulting in injuries and deaths. Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation) – a Turkish "charity" with close links to Hamas, jihadist groups, and the Turkish government – led the efforts in this instance.
 
Working with European and American anti-Israel campaigners, including the confrontational International Solidarity Movement (ISM), they tapped into a wider diplomatic and political campaign driven by the false charges of "war crimes" and "collective punishment."

NGOs orchestrate these incidents, stripping away the context of terror and hate, and placing Israel and its supporters on the defensive. This strategy is coupled with ongoing efforts, such as the boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, to single out and isolate Israel.
 
A parallel tactic, promulgated by Israeli-Arab NGO Adalah (funded by the New Israel Fund -NIF and the European Union) portrays "Israel as an inherent undemocratic state." Similarly, NGO "lawfare" cases against Israeli officials in foreign courts attempt to delegitimize the Israeli justice system.

Detailed research reports published by NGO Monitor document the damage caused by powerful NGOs that use the façade of liberal agendas, and the funders that enable these campaigns. European governments provide tens of millions of dollars annually, without the necessary transparency, to many of these NGOs.
 
'Soft power' war

Many of these groups, including the NIF, are attempting to prevent the Knesset from adopting legislation that would provide transparency regarding how and where NGOs receive their funding. These groups fear that they too would lose their funding and impact, and placed their private agendas and interests above the right of the public to know who is paying for the de-legitimization efforts.

Haber's is a welcomed voice, joining the growing mainstream chorus that has highlighted the power of NGOs in the "soft power" war against Israel. Other prominent liberals in the US - including NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who echoed the criticism of Human Rights Watch by founder Robert Bernstein -have criticized the "foul… trend, both deliberate and inadvertent, to delegitimize Israel - to turn it into a pariah state, particularly in the wake of the Gaza war."

 Criticism and debate on particular policies is an appropriate part of all democratic societies. Blanket de-legitimization is not. The fact that Friedman, Bernstein, Haber, and others are calling attention to this danger shows that the mainstream Left and Right in Israel and the Diaspora have found an issue around which they can unify.

It also means those who care about Israel should follow their lead and take action. This includes demanding the implementation of NGO funding guidelines based on transparency and assurance that their donations will not be used for de-legitimization. Other guidelines reject the BDS campaign and international "lawfare" cases in all forms and arenas; offer criticisms of Israel in proper context; and use the vast resources available to assist those whose human rights truly are being infringed upon, in Iran, Sudan, Europe, and elsewhere, but are overshadowed by the obsessive emphasis on Israel

Haber's call for a military-type effort and a "huge body" to "fight back" against the de-legitimization process is understandable. But size is less important than intelligence, in both senses of the word. Israel and the Jewish people, working in partnership, need to think and act strategically, to name and shame the hardcore anti-Israel activists who use the façade of morality to promote their racism.
 
The funders and enablers, particularly the anonymous officials in European governments, need to be similarly exposed. In parallel, we need alliance with those who agree on the wider principles of Israel's place among the nations, despite polity differences, including on settlements and other issues.

The alternative to this war strategy would consign us to watching from the sidelines as Israel's place among the nations erodes further, and our ability to defend citizens against mass terror becomes more difficult. This alternative, as Eitan Haber has discovered, is unacceptable.

Prof. Gerald Steinberg is president of NGO Monitor and professor of Political Science at Bar Ilan University.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Speculation About Israel Attacking Iran Misses the Point

 

by Jonathan Tobin

 

Jeffrey Goldberg takes nearly 10,000 words in the current Atlantic to ruminate about whether Israel or the United States will ever use force to stop the Iranian drive for nuclear weapons. His answer is that if the United States doesn't act, sooner or later, the Israelis will. No surprise there.

As for whether the Obama administration is capable of launching a strike to forestall Iran from going nuclear, Goldberg professes he is closer to believing that it is possible. That was certainly the intent of many of those in the administration who discussed it with him. But, like much of the spin being delivered by both American and Israeli sources quoted by Goldberg, that strikes me just as likely to be disinformation as not.

Much of the piece centers on whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be forced by circumstances or by his father, the 100-year-old, formidable scholar Benzion Netanyahu, to pull the trigger on Iran. For all of his considerable knowledge of Israel, Goldberg is still stuck on the trope of figuring out how right-wing Bibi is, even though this issue transcends the right/left divide of Israeli politics because it is literally a matter of life and death.

More to the point, the endless speculation about an Israeli strike is at the same time both unhelpful and misleading.

It is unhelpful because, as Shimon Peres seems to be telling Goldberg in the conclusion to his essay, dealing with Iran is America's responsibility, not Israel's. The consequences of an Iranian bomb are enormous for Israel, but they are no less scary for the United States. A nuclear Iran would destabilize the Middle East, start a chain-reaction of nuclear proliferation among other countries in the region, and empower Islamist terrorists. If America stands by and meekly attempts to contain Tehran once it has the bomb, it won't be just international law that won't mean a thing, as Christopher Hitchens has pointed out. America's credibility as a great power will be shredded. Putting the onus on Israel to act to save the day also has the unfortunate side effect of lessening the pressure on Obama to face his responsibilities.

Even worse, the impulse to let the Israelis do the dirty work — while the United States and its moderate Arab allies stand by tut-tutting about Likud hardliners as they reap the benefits of a preemptive strike — also creates the illusion that Israel can do just as good a job as America in terms of achieving the military objective. We should not shortchange the Israeli Defense Forces. As history has shown, the Israeli military can do amazing things. But there is simply no comparison between its capabilities and those of the armed forces of the United States. Knocking out or significantly damaging Iran's nuclear facilities is a job for the Americans, not the Israelis.

And for all the bravado that emanates from Israel about its military, not everyone there is all that confident about the IDF's ability to perform such a task. As one Israeli friend pointed out, it is more than optimistic — it is probably delusional — to expect this of a country whose intelligence agencies weren't able to coordinate their efforts to deal effectively with a flotilla of small ships on their way to Hamas-run Gaza; that isn't able to locate and rescue Gilad Shalit in a Hamas hideout only kilometers away from IDF bases; that didn't make mincemeat out of the Lebanese army after it participated in a cross-border murder of an Israeli soldier last week; and whose top army command could go to a general who hired a political consultant to help him campaign for the job. Under these circumstances, many Israelis rightly see America as the world's only hope for preventing the nightmare of Ahmadinejad and the mullahs who run that tyrannical regime acquiring a nuclear option.

Rather than wasting time worrying about whether Netanyahu's daddy will shame him into preventing another Holocaust, as Goldberg has done, what is needed now is focusing all our attention on whether Barack Obama has the wisdom — and the guts — to do what needs to be done about Iran.

 

 

Jonathan Tobin

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

 

Looking Ahead at U.S.-Israel and "Peace Process" Issues

 

by Barry Rubin

What will be the next developments regarding U.S.-Israel relations and the Israel-Palestinian "peace process," and Israeli politics. It's possible to make some good predictions, or at least to present the most likely scenarios.

On September 26, Israel's one-year freeze on building inside West Bank settlements will end. Last October, the original commitment was extended to any construction in Jerusalem outside the pre-1967 ceasefire lines. The Palestinian Authority (PA) now demands this freeze be extended as a precondition for it entering direct talks with Israel. The PA also insists that Israel accept the 1967 borders as defining the boundary between itself and a Palestinian state and an international force to patrol them.

The PA's goal is to use the bait of direct talks to get the United States to accept these and other preconditions and force them on Israel or, just as good, to blame Israel for not giving in and creating a rift in U.S.-Israel relations. Israel does not have a similar option since whatever happens this U.S. government won't publicly criticize the PA.

Even if Israel were to meet these conditions, it is not entirely clear that the PA would then talk directly, and either way it would still not have made any compromises of its own on issues vital to Israel. This is, then, the old Palestinian leadership's game of demanding Israeli concessions, yielding nothing even if it won them, and then insisting that what Israel has given up is now the irreversible basis for future talks during which even more unilateral Israeli concessions are demanded.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is thus presented with an unpalatable option. It is definitely not going to agree in advance to accept the 1967 borders as the final frontier before negotiations commence. This is beyond what the Israeli government offered at the 2000 Camp David talks and in the Clinton plan of that year, when it proposed what are historically known as "minor border modifications" and later spoke of "territorial swaps."

Israel is certainly not going to make such a major concession when the issues that it wants resolved—resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the state of Palestine, an end to the conflict, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state (in exchange for recognition of Palestine as an Arab state), the status of Jerusalem's Old City and the Western Wall of the Temple, and security arrangements—have not even been discussed.

This situation also presents a challenge for U.S. policy. The Obama Administration cannot support all of the PA's preconditions and succeed. Yet if it doesn't meet them all, the PA can just keep refusing to talk. And despite the "pressure" Obama is reportedly putting on, given his worldview and strategy, he is unlikely to do anything no matter how the PA behaves. Of course, the PA leadership understands this and, at any rate, is more afraid of its own people and Hamas calling it a traitor than of Obama's phone calls to Abbas.

This sets up the ridiculous situation--but one common in the era of self-blaming and appeasement-oriented Western diplomacy--in which powerful Western states must beg far weaker and dependent Third World counterparts (or even groups like Hamas or Hizballah) to give them concessions and favors.

After all, supposedly the Palestinians are suffering under an occupation (which mostly ended in 1994-1996) and yearning for a state. Shouldn't they be eager for a deal, ready to compromise with the United States and make concessions to Israel in order to get their independence? Instead, the bizarre misreading of the situation seems to put the PA, which is now reduced to half the territory (without the Gaza Strip) it claims to rule, in the drivers' seat.

In Lebanon, Hizballah pushes around a UN force mandated by the world community. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas celebrates its reduction of the embargo by firing rockets at Israel while much of the world criticizes Israel and pleads with Hamas to accept concessions and money.

And so in this topsy-turvey situation it is mostly Netanyahu who will face difficult choices. If he reinstitutes a freeze—despite the fact that there has been absolutely no progress during the one-year of his unilateral concession—there could be serious domestic political repercussions. One or more parties might well walk out of the coalition, forcing him to find substitutes, though he could survive politically far easier than foreign observers think.

Nevertheless, this situation is at odds with Netanyahu's longer-term plan. He has been hoping to continue in office into 2011, call elections at some point, win, and take another term as prime minister. If he's in office until 2015 there is plenty of time to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat.

This seems to be a realistic scenario. There's no other viable candidate. Defense Minister Ehud Barak is widely disliked in his own Labour Party; Tzippi Livni has been a failure as opposition leader and her Kadima party has no alternative policy to offer.

Within his own Likud party, Netanyahu has been able to manage rebellious right-wingers. And the prime minister is popular among a public that understandably sees no other route, is skeptical of more unilateral concessions, and has no illusions about the PA's willingness or ability to make peace. Terrorism is down and the economy is doing remarkably well, whatever its shortcomings, compared to other countries.

So the problem for Netanyahu is: can he find some formula that will please the United States without causing an internal political battle? An example is to have a freeze without formally announcing it or promising to sustain it a given length of time. In doing so, he knows that this will not result in peace but merely will avoid having Israel shoulder the blame if the PA still refuses to talk.

The PA will, of course, look for any possible way to blame Israel while it happily does everything possible to avoid direct talks. Indeed, it prefers a strategy of blaming Israel plus not negotiating over a strategy of making peace and obtaining a state. If there are talks it will make big demands knowing that the negotiations will break down. Then it will wait for the world to hand it a state on a silver platter. It is willing to wait decades. And that's probably what will happen.

It is possible that U.S. and European policymakers understand this reality, but for reasons of their own want to pretend that peace is possible in short order. What they really want is direct talks as fast as possible so they can claim something is happening.

Supposedly, this makes the Arab world like them, shows them to be great statesmen, and lets them get on with other issues like Iraq, Iranian nuclear, and Afghanistan.

The Obama Administration is desperate to claim some diplomatic success before the November congressional elections. It will probably not bash Israel before that date. If it has direct talks or has thrown up its hands at frustration with the PA by then, good U.S.-Israel bilateral relations may well continue well into 2011.

For possible scenarios consult the list below:

Here's the situation: There may be a three-way meeting at which the PA will try to convince the US: You can have wonderful direct talks if you only make Israel give us everything we want. Don't you want a great diplomatic success before the November elections?

Option 1: US agrees, presses Israel for some unilateral concessions. Netanyahu offers something.or even meets US requests.

A. US accepts Netanyahu compromise (maybe gives something to Israel), PA says No. No direct talks. US blames PA but says nothing publicly. Mahmoud Abbas tells cheering Palestinian crowd: We were steadfast!

B. US accepts Netanyahu compromise (maybe gives something to Israel), PA says No. No direct talks. US blames Israel. Hopes perhaps government falls and Kadima comes into power or coalition ready to make bigger concessions (don't bet on that happening.) Avoids open rift in U.S.-Israel relations until early 2011.  Mahmoud Abbas tells cheering Palestinian crowd: We were steadfast!

C. PA accepts Israeli concessions and asks for US promises and assurances. Gets more. Goes to talks. Sabotages talks. During talks, President Obama points to ongoing negotiations as proof of his diplomatic success. U.S.-Israel relations remain good. PA happy with gains which it will use as a basis in the next round. Mahmoud Abbas tells cheering Palestinian crowd: We were steadfast!

Option 2: US asks Israel to give the PA everything it wants. Netanyahu offers part.

A. US accepts Netanyahu compromise (maybe gives something to Israel), PA says No. No direct talks. US blames PA but says nothing publicly. Mahmoud Abbas tells cheering Palestinian crowd: We were steadfast!

B. US angry that Netanyahu doesn't give everything for nothing. US blames Israel but avoids open rift in U.S.-Israel relations until early 2011. Mahmoud Abbas tells cheering Palestinian crowd: We were steadfast!

C. PA takes what is offered then demands even more before going to talks. US angry at PA but says nothing publicly. Mahmoud Abbas tells cheering Palestinian crowd: We were steadfast!

D. PA accepts Israeli concessions and asks for US promises and assurances. Gets more. Goes to talks. Sabotages talks. PA happy with gains which it will use as a basis in the next round. Mahmoud Abbas tells cheering Palestinian crowd: We were steadfast!

Option 3: Many meetings, speeches, leaders flying around the world. Plans. Absolutely nothing happens. U.S.-Israel relations remain good. Mahmoud Abbas tells cheering Palestinian crowd: We were steadfast!


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.

 

Guide to the Perplexed

 

by Caroline B. Glick

 

Israel's leaders are reportedly concerning themselves with one question today: Are there any circumstances in which US President Barack Obama will order the US military to strike Iran's nuclear installations before Iran develops a nuclear arsenal?

From Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu down the line, Israel's leaders reportedly raise this question with just about everyone they come into contact with. If this is true, then the time has come to end our leaders' suspense.

The answer is no.

To all intents and purposes, there are no circumstances in which Obama would order an attack on Iran's nuclear installations to prevent Iran from developing and fielding nuclear weapons. Exceptions to this statement fall into two categories. Either they are so implausible that they are operationally irrelevant, or they are so contingent on other factors that they would doom any US attack to failure.

Evidence for this conclusion is found in every aspect of Obama's foreign policy. But to prove it, it is sufficient to point out point three aspects of his policies.

First of all, Obama's refuses to recognize that an Iranian nuclear arsenal constitutes a clear and present danger to US national security. Obama's discussions of the perils of a nuclear Iran are limited to his acknowledgement that such an arsenal will provoke a regional nuclear arms race. This is certainly true. But then that arms race has already begun. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, the U.A.E., and Kuwait have all announced their intentions to build nuclear reactors. In some cases they have signed deals with foreign countries to build such facilities.

And yet, while a nuclear arms race in the Middle East is bad, it is far from the worst aspect of Iran's nuclear program for America. America has two paramount strategic interests in the Middle East. First, the US requires the smooth flow of inexpensive petroleum products from the Persian Gulf to global oil markets. Second, the US requires the capacity to project its force in the region to defend its own territory from global jihadists.

Both of these interests are imperiled by the Iranian nuclear program. If the US is not willing to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, it will lose all credibility as a strategic ally to the Sunni Arab states in the area. For instance, from a Saudi perspective, a US that is unwilling to prevent the ayatollahs from fielding nuclear weapons is of no more use to them than Britain or China or France. It is just another oil consuming country. The same goes for the rest of the states in the Gulf and in the region.

The Arab loss of faith in US security guarantees will cause them to deny basing rights to US forces in their territories. It will also likely lead them to bow to Iranian will on oil price setting through supply cutbacks. In light of this, the Iranian nuclear program constitutes the greatest threat ever to US superpower status in the region and to the wellbeing of the US economy.

Then there is the direct threat that Iran's nuclear program constitutes for US national security. This threat grows larger by the day as Iran's web of strategic alliances in Latin America expands unchallenged by the US. Today Iran enjoys military alliances with Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia.

As former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton has argued, at least the Soviets were atheists. Atheists of course, are in no hurry to die, since death can bring no rewards in a world to come. Iran's leaders are apocalyptic jihadists. Given Iran's Latin American alliances and Iran's own progress towards intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran makes the Cuban missile crisis look like a walk in the park.

In the face of this grave and gathering threat, Obama cancelled plans to deploy anti-ballistic missile shields in Poland and the Czech Republic. He has shunned the pro-American Honduran and Colombian governments in favor of Nicaragua and Venezuela. He has welcomed Brazil's anti-American president to the White House. He cancelled the F-22.

The fact that Obama fails to recognize the danger an Iranian nuclear arsenal poses to the US does not in and of itself prove that Obama would not attack Iran's nuclear installations. After all, the US has fought many wars and launched countless campaigns in its history against foes that posed no direct threat to the US. In most of these cases, the US has fought on behalf of its allies.

In the case of Iran's nuclear weapons programs, because the Iranians have openly placed Israel first on their nuclear targeting list, US debate about Iran's nuclear program has been anchored around the issue of Israel's national security. Should the US attack Iran's nuclear installations in order to defend Israel?

Given the distorted manner in which the debate has been framed, the answer to that question hinges on Obama's view of Israel. Three recent moves by Obama and his advisors make clear that Obama takes a dim view of Israel. He views Israel neither as a credible ally nor a credible democracy.

First there is the character of current US military assistance to Israel and to its neighbors. In recent months, the Obama administration has loudly announced its intentions to continue its joint work with Israel towards the development and deployment of defensive anti-missile shields. Two things about these programs are notable. First, they are joint initiatives. Just as Israel gains US financing, the US gains Israeli technology that it would otherwise lack. Second, as Globes reported last week, the Obama has actually scaled back US funding for these programs. For instance, funding for the Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile program - intended to serve as Israel's primary defensive system against Iranian ballistic missiles -- was cut by $50 million.

The defensive character of all of these programs signals an absence of US support for maintaining Israel's capacity to preemptively strike its enemies. When the Pentagon's refusal to permit Israel to install its own avionics systems on the next generation F-35 warplanes is added to the mix, it is difficult to make the argument that the US supports Israel's qualitative edge over its enemies in any tangible way.

An assessment that the US has abandoned its commitment to Israel's qualitative edge is strengthened by the administration's announcement this week of its plan to sell Saudi Arabia scores of F-15 and F-16 fighter jets for an estimated $30 billion. While the US has pledged to remove systems from the Saudi aircraft that pose direct threats to Israel, once those jets arrive in the Kingdom, the Saudis will be able to do whatever they want with them. If one adds to this equation the reduced regional stature of the US in an Iranian nuclear age, it is clear that these guarantees have little meaning.

Obama's moves to reduce Israel's offensive capacity and slow its acquisition of defensive systems goes hand in hand with his rejection of Israel's right to self-defense and dismissive attitude towards Israel's rule of law. These positions have been starkly demonstrated in his administration's treatment of Israel in the wake of the IDF's takeover of the Turkish-Hamas Mavi Marmara terror ship on May 31st.

In the face of that blatant display of Turkish aggression against Israel as it maintained its lawful maritime blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza's coastline, Obama sided with Turkey and Hamas against Israel. Obama demanded that Israel investigate its handling of the incident. Moreover, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that Israel was incapable of credibly investigating itself and so required Israel to add non-Israeli members to its investigative committee.

Yet even Israel's acceptance of this US humiliation was insufficient for Obama. His UN envoy Susan Rice then demanded that Israel accept a UN investigative panel that is charged with checking to see if the Israeli committee has done its job. And if the UN panel rejects the Israeli commission's findings, it is empowered to begin its own investigation.

As to the UN, as former Obama and Clinton administration officials Ray Takeyh and Steven Simon explained in an article in the Washington Post last week, Obama's national security strategy effectively revolves around subordinating US national security policy to the UN Security Council. In the remote scenario that Obama decided to use force against Iran, his subservience to the UN would rule out any possibility of a surprise attack.

Although in theory the US military's capacity to strike Iran's nuclear facilities is much greater than Israel's, given its practical inability to launch a surprise attack, in practice it may be much smaller.

All of these factors constitute overwhelming evidence that there are no conceivable circumstances under which Obama would order a US strike on Iran's nuclear installations to forestall Iran's development of nuclear weapons. And this reality should lead Israel's leaders to three separate conclusions.

First, and most urgently, Israel must attack Iran's nuclear installations. Iran's nuclear ambitions must be set back at least until 2017, the latest date at which a new -- and hopefully more rational -- US administration will certainly be in office.

Second, given the fact that the US will not take action against Iran's nuclear installations, there is no reason for Israel to capitulate to US pressure on lesser issues. The Obama administration has nothing to offer Israel on this most important threat and so Israel should not do anything to strengthen its position. Among other things, this conclusion has clear implications for Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, Israel's future responses to Lebanese aggression, as well as for Israel's continued cooperation with the UN probes of the Turkish-Hamas terror ship.

Finally, Obama's behavior is a clear indication that Israel was wrong to allow itself to become militarily dependent on US military platforms. Former defense minister Moshe Arens wrote recently that Israel should strongly consider abandoning plans to purchase the F-35 and restore the scrapped Lavi jetfighter to active development. Arens suggested that in doing so, Israel may find willing collaborators in the Indians, the French and even the Russians.

No, the US has not become Israel's enemy - although the Obama administration has certainly struck an adversarial chord. Polling data suggests that most Americans disagree with Obama's treatment of Israel and recognize that Iran is a threat to the US.

But polls aside, the answer to Israel's desperate queries is that it is up to us. If the Obama administration teaches us anything, it teaches us that we must rely first and foremost on ourselves.



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.

 

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