Friday, March 30, 2012

Azeris Strengthen Israel’s Hand on Iran

by Jonathan S. Tobin

The potential for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities may be a lot greater than skeptics may have thought. That’s the upshot of a story published yesterday in Foreign Policy that alleges Azerbaijan has granted the Israelis access to airbases in that country. If true, Israel’s ability to launch a strike from bases on Iran’s northern border would make the Jewish state’s military challenge in seeking to knock out Iran’s nuclear plants a lot simpler. The assistance of the Azeris would enable the Israelis to make repeated attacks and would eliminate the need to refuel their planes in midair in order to make the long flight from Israel to Iran.

Yet at the same time, a report in Ha’aretz insists that Tuesday’s announcement by the U.S. Defense Department that it would ask Congress for more money for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system ensures there will be no attack on Iran before the presidential election this year. While that assumption may be unfounded, along with similar speculation that followed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s meeting with President Obama earlier this month, it leaves open the possibility that Israel is heeding U.S. requests to hold off an attack. The question for Iran is, which of these stories do you believe?

On that score, there’s no question that Iran must regard the decision of the Azeris to assist an Israeli strike as being a mortal threat to their ability to defend themselves. Prior to this, all discussion of a possible Israeli strike had been tempered by the knowledge that their ability to attack Iran was severely limited by the vast distance between the two countries. When compared to the ability of the United States to project airpower from carriers stationed in the Persian Gulf as well as other bases in the Middle East, it made an Israeli attack on Iran look like a poor substitute for U.S. action. But bases in Azerbaijan completely transform the military equation between Israel and Iran. They remove the need for the Israeli Air Force to refuel planes in midair in order to secure their safe return. Support staff stationed along Iran’s northern border would also make it easier for IAF to execute repeated sorties on nuclear targets and facilitate the rescue of downed planes and pilots. The bases would vastly increase the likelihood that an Israeli air campaign against Iran would achieve a high degree of success and lower the potential for losses.

From Iran’s point of view, this is a total disaster. While they have always known they stood no chance of mounting an effective defense against a massive U.S. air campaign on their nuclear plants, an Israeli attack from 2,200 miles away did not seem as formidable a challenge. The Azeri factor does not quite put the Israeli military on a par with that of the United States but it does act as a multiplying factor with regard to Israel’s ability to launch repeated strikes.

Though the Haaretz report that spoke of Israel’s plans to attack Iran as being put on hold until next spring may encourage Tehran, the fact that the sources for the Azeri story in Foreign Policy appear to be senior U.S. military and diplomatic figures shows the Obama administration is by no means certain Netanyahu can be counted on to hold his fire until after the president is safely re-elected. The American motive for leaking the story is clear. By making public the fact that the Azeris have more or less been bribed by Israel to give them access to bases that will enable them to easily attack Iran, the United States may be hoping to accomplish two things.

One is to scare the Iranians into finally waving the white flag on its nuclear project. The story ought to make it clear to the ayatollahs there is no way they can protect themselves from either Israel or the United States if push comes to shove. The odds of the Iranians coming to their senses in this manner are slim, but the administration is determined to do whatever it can to keep the window for diplomacy on the nuclear question open for as long as it can.

The second motive is to forestall any Israeli attack. Making public the Azeri role in the military plan might force the Jewish state’s Asian ally to back away from any involvement in the project.

Whether the revelation will actually deter Israel from acting should Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak determine it is in their country’s interest to strike prior to November is still to be determined. The belief that the extra money for Iron Dome guarantees Israel won’t attack Iran this year is based on the assumption that Obama and Netanyahu came to some agreement on the issue when they met in early March. The Iranians must certainly hope this is the case. But the one thing we know today that we didn’t a few weeks ago is that Israel’s hand in this game of nuclear poker is far stronger than most people thought.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

State Department Spin on Jerusalem Meltdown is Already Wrong

by Omri Ceren

This morning, the State Department will begin to walk back the spectacular meltdown that was yesterday’s press briefing, wherein State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland gave the Palestinians a de facto retroactive veto over Israel’s 1949 decision to make Jerusalem its capital.

The talking point will be that the Obama administration, by insisting that the status of West Jerusalem is subject to final-status negotiations, was only reiterating the explicit policies of past administrations. If that were true, then Obama critics would be making the same points they’ve made throughout this White House’s diplomatic campaign against Israel: that Obama, by making controversies out of issues everyone had been content to leave quietly buried, was unnecessarily damaging the U.S.-Israeli relationship and the prospects for long-term Middle East peace.

As it so happens, the claim is false. Previous administrations have recognized Israel’s right to at least part of its capital city. The debate has turned on whether the Jewish State is entitled to “all” of Jerusalem, not whether it’s entitled to any part of the city. It was always about not prejudicing whether Israel would have share Jerusalem with a Palestinian state, not whether the entire city was up for grabs (let alone whether the Palestinians can retroactively veto Israel’s sovereign decision to make the parts of Jerusalem it controlled pre-1967 its capital).

White Houses have declined to move the embassy out of Tel Aviv because it would be treated as a symbolic acknowledgement of Israel’s rights over all Jerusalem, e.g. a statement that Israel wouldn’t have to share the city. Sitting on their hands on the embassy allowed presidents to dodge broader questions, which had the benefit of not running contrary to black-letter American law going back to 1995 recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Until now, no administration has ever put Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem as such on the table, or implied that even West Jerusalem was up for grabs. Bush even used to insert language into his waivers stating “My administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.”

Also, there’s this from President Clinton: “the benefits of the agreement… [include] the incorporation of most of the settlers into Israel, and the Jewish capital of Jerusalem recognized by all, not just the United States, by everybody in the world.”

Also, there’s this from President Bush: “Mr. Bush said the Palestinians must elect ‘new and different’ leaders who were not ‘compromised by terror’… As soon as the Palestinians changed their leadership, stopped terrorist attacks on Israel and moved towards democracy, the U.S. would boost their economy and push Israel into meaningful negotiations… He refused to speculate on the three major sticking points: Palestinian demands that Israel return the territory won in the 1967 war, share Jerusalem as the capital and allow millions of Palestinian refugees to return.”

Also, there’s this from Senator Barack Obama. Note that while he took back the part of the speech that spoke of Israel’s capital remaining undivided, even his clarification emphasized “that Israel has a legitimate claim on” at least part of Jerusalem. Apparently that position has changed in the last few years, but the administration shouldn’t be allowed to pretend this is just the way things have always been.

Omri Ceren


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

Middle East Media Sampler for March 28, 2012

by Daniel Goldstein

1) I spoke too soon

Yesterday I wrote that both the New York Times and Washington Post had ignored this year's J-Street conference. Today the New York Times covers it with a press release news story, J Street, Pro-Israel but Opposed to Attacking Iran, Takes Its Message to Washington. The gist of the article is that AIPAC's recent convention was larger, but the folks at J-Street were more sensible because they are uniformly against attacking Iran.

Also today the New York Times has an editorial Israel’s Top Court vs. Outposts:

Israel’s Supreme Court made an important contribution to justice and kept alive hope for a two-state solution with the Palestinians, when it ruled this week that Migron, an illegal outpost built by Israeli settlers, must be dismantled by Aug. 1. Now it is up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to comply promptly, while making clear to the settlers that violent resistance will not be tolerated.

During his first stint as Prime Minister, Netanyahu made an agreement with the Palestinian Authority to withdraw from most of Hebron and Netanyahu complied. I don't know why the editors of the New York Times need to exhort Israel on this. Why not use this as an occasion to treat this as a confidence building measure that Abbas should respond to by returning to negotiations?

Here's another question. Does the New York Times consider the decisions of Israeli courts sacrosanct?

Consider the case of the Museum of Tolerance. Israel Matzav and Elder of Ziyon have noted that those seeking to stop the building have lost in the courts at every turn and that they have no historical basis for their claims.

Here's how the New York Times reported on the controversy, Gravestone Removals Add Fuel to Jerusalem Museum Dispute:

The contours of the Mamilla cemetery are part of the dispute. Wiesenthal Center supporters say that there are no human remains left in the section where they plan to build, and that only part of it was ever a cemetery. They further contend that the effort to stop the project is the work of Muslim extremists seeking a foothold in West Jerusalem, and evidence of the need for such a center to spread more tolerance.

Critics of the project say it is unconscionable to build such a center on a piece of land where Muslims were once buried, even if it has not been an active cemetery for nearly a century. The museum project is going ahead after a 2008 Israeli Supreme Court decision noting that no Muslim objections had been filed when the original parking lot was built.

There remains a dispute among Muslim clerics as to whether a former graveyard can ever be built upon for other purposes.

To the best of my knowledge there have been no editorials demanding that Islamic institutions abide by the court's rulings. So the New York Times accepts the authority of Israel's High Court of Justice, when it agrees with it. This isn't a principled position; it is deeply cynical.

2) Zogby on the API

It's been ten years since the Arab Peace Initiative was presented to the international media. James Zogby writes about its implications for the Gulf Daily News:

For many Palestinians, Oslo was a difficult step but one they knew they needed to normalise their situation, secure the right to establish their state and rebuild their community. It was not a perfect outcome and would not, they understood, redress all of their grievances. But they believed the future they could create through the Oslo process would be better.

Ten years later, Israeli settlements in the occupied lands doubled, Jerusalem had been severed from the rest of the Palestinian lands by settlements and checkpoints, poverty and unemployment increased and it had become clear that Israel has no intention of allowing a viable Palestinian state to come into existence or engage in talks to resolve other issues – refugees, borders, etc.

The second Intifada erupted. Unlike the first, it was violent and met with oppression. Heads of state met in Beirut to issue API. They hoped that by offering the Israelis what they had claimed they wanted – peace, recognition and normalcy – API would provide incentives to restart talks for peace.

The second "intifada" didn't just "erupt." It was orchestrated by Arafat. Zogby's definition of self-defense as "oppression" is outrageous.

But let's consider some of the things that have happened since 2002.

1) Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 and its withdrawal was deemed complete by the UN. Hezbollah, instead of laying down arms built up its armaments and attacked Israel sporadically until 2006, when the threat to northern Israel became so severe that Israel was force to respond.

2) Israel "disengaged" from Gaza. Like Hezbollah, Hamas used the opportunity to arm itself and attack Israel, forcing Israel into Operation Cast Lead.

3) Israel sought approval of the Magen David Adom's red star as a protected symbol by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Arab League didn't even allow this humanitarian gesture as a humanitarian gesture.

4) During the past year we've seen the "Arab spring" in which a number of the despots, who promoted the "peace initiative," deposed and killed. Would their successors have abided by the terms of an agreement? In Egypt, where the newly dominant Muslim Brotherhood is threatening the Camp David Accords could be abrogated or changed to Israel's detriment suggests that the answer is "no."

5) It's also worth noting that between the time then Crown Prince Abdullah originally proposed the idea and the time the initiative was actually presented, he changed it, at the behest of Bashar Assad, to include a reference to Lebanon, even though Israel had withdrawn completely from southern Lebanon. If the terms of the initiative changed even before it was presented, to put a new (dishonest) demand upon Israel, how many more changes could we expect.

3) Running to asylum

This Is Just the Start by Thomas Friedman, March 1, 2011

Add it all up and what does it say? It says you have a very powerful convergence of forces driving a broad movement for change. It says we’re just at the start of something huge.

Asylum claims up from Arab nations ,

Al Jazeera, March 27, 2012 (h/t tweet from Daled Amos)

The number of people seeking asylum in developed countries has risen 20 per cent in 2011, with the Arab Spring movements fueling a sharp rise in arrivals from Libya, Syria and Tunisia, the UN refugee agency has said.

The number of asylum applications in 44 countries reached 441,300 during the year, up from 368,000 recorded in 2010, the agency said on Tuesday.

Daniel Goldstein


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

Syrian Opposition Seeks to Show Alternative to Assad

by Jonathan Spyer

Syria’s fractious opposition groups began reconciliation talks in Istanbul on Tuesday aimed at demonstrating they can provide a coherent and effective alternative to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The opposition forces have been invited by Turkey and Qatar, which hold the rotating chair of the Arab League, to talks in Istanbul to try to form a common front while their homeland is convulsed by a year-old uprising that Assad is trying to crush.

About 300 dissidents attended the welcome dinner at a seaside hotel in Pendik, a distant suburb on the Asian side of Istanbul, and more were expected to join what the Turkish hosts call an “open house” meeting on Tuesday.

Burhan Ghalioun, president of the main opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), has sought support for the meeting to end with a “national oath,” committing all the opposition to building a democratic state, without any agenda for revenge, and to seek reconciliation once Assad is removed.

“Based on the national responsibility on all the political powers in the Syrian revolution and the efforts to unite the opposition and its vision, we declare the basic principles that the new state will be based upon,” a draft declaration said.

It said the new Syria will be “civic, democratic and totally free,” with a transitional government to organize a ballot to elect a founding assembly to draft a new constitution.

“The Syrian people are proud of their cultural and religious diversity. Everyone will contribute in building the future,” it said.

There are likely to be fierce debates on the wording of the oath and on the strategy to overthrow Assad, as well as on calls for reform of the SNC, delegates said. Some delegates feel that while the SNC has more than 300 members, only a handful take decisions and that while all sectarian and ethnic groups are represented on the executive, that was little more than tokenism.

This article was also printed in the Jerusalem Post.

Jonathan Spyer


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The Toulouse Massacre, Why Did It Happen?

by Mudar Zahran

Should we come to accept that the followers of one particular religion get a free pass? Europe might do well to start calling things by their right names and recognize that anti-Semitism is still a problem in Europe today.

Last week, Mohammed Merah, a Muslim-Frenchman killed three Jewish children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. Merah reportedly held one little girl, Myriam Monsonego, by her hair to shoot her in the head. Three days before that, Merah shot dead three French soldiers of North African heritage. Under siege in his apartment by French counter-terrorism squad, France 24 reported Merah told negotiators he was connected to al Qaeda and what he had done was "only the beginning". He said that he was motivated by France's ban on wearing the burqa and that "the Jews have killed our brothers and sisters in Palestine." According to French officials, Merah expressed only one regret: "Not having claimed more victims," and said he was proud of having "brought France to its knees."

As Merah himself confirmed it was "only the beginning," it might be worth wondering: Why did Merah, born and raised in France to Algerian-French parents, commit such a ruthless massacre? Was he just an extreme fundamentalist who has taken Islamic teachings to the extreme, or is it basic Islamic fundamentals themselves that lead him to that? As a Muslim, and in an attempt to answer that question, I thought looked to the factual teaching of Islam on Jihad or "Holly war.".

Sahih Muslim, for example is a historically renowned book that gathers teachings of Prophet Muhammad that are considered "Sahih," as in "confirmed" and "authentic."

In Sahih Muslim, for example, and in the Book of Jihad, the first chapter is entitled: "Regarding Permission to Make A Raid, Without An Ultimatum, Upon The Disbelievers Who Have Already Been Invited to Accept Islam", Book 19, Number 4292:

"Ibn 'Aun reported: I wrote to Nafi' inquiring from him whether it was necessary to extend (to the disbelievers) an invitation to accept (Islam) before meeting them in fight. He wrote (in reply) to me that it was necessary in the early days of Islam. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) made a raid upon Banu Mustaliq while they were unaware and their cattle were having a drink at the water. He killed those who fought and imprisoned others. On that very day, he captured Juwairiya bint al-Harith. Nafi' said that this tradition was related to him by Abdullah b. Umar who (himself) was among the raiding troops."

Merah's un-alerted and un-provoked attack therefore is perfect in line with the Prophet's teachings.

Nonetheless, where does Merah's cold-blooded murder of children stand within the teachings of the prophet?

Chapter two of Sahih Muslim's book of Jihad speaks about Muhammad's advice to his military commanders sent on expeditions, Book 19, Number 4294:

"It has been reported from Sulaiman b. Buraid through his father that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him. He would say: Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children..."

The prophet's teachings of not killing women and children are re-enforced in another chapter, Chapter 8: "Prohibition of Killing Women and Children in War"; Book 19, Number 4319:

"It is narrated on the authority of 'Abdullah that a woman was found killed in one of the battles fought by the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him). He disapproved of the killing of women and children."

Sounds humane, right? Not so fast. Right after Chapter 8 comes Chapter 9, which reads: "Permissibility of Killing Women and Children in the Night Raids Provided It Is Not Deliberate," Book 19, Number 4321:

"It is reported on the authority of Sa'b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: They are from them."

Merah killed three Jewish children who were "from them," the "evil Jews." As Merah explained to the France 24 news channel -- while he was under siege by French counter-terrorism police -- that it had not been his original plan to kill those children, that he was originally planning to kill another French soldier but missed him, so he took the next possible target. Was Merah thinking that this made the murders "Not deliberate"?

While Merah fulfilled his wish by taking away the lives of infidels and their children, and was killed himself after that, he still succeeded in executing an equally noble goal in Islamic warfare: creating "'Terror,' which is more far-reaching than the actual body count."

In a Hadith, Prophet Muhammad said he was given things that no other prophet has been given before including "I was supported with terror."

The concept of what Islamists terrorists do, therefore, is simple: create fear and terror -- which far surpass the size of the actually committed terrorist act. The expense of counter-terrorism, fr instance, is far beyond the cost of terrorist acts, and has created huge US expenses to counter terrorism, and which is now facing cuts as a result of the US economic crisis, despite threats still being present.

On a social level, the BBC reported that since the shootings,many Jewish children in France have been afraid to go to school; and Jewish teenagers have reported fears of being recognized as Jews by the way they dress.

Merah's claim-- that he had not planned in advance to attack the Jewish school — is disturbing, even if it were true. As he said, he wanted to kill a French soldier, but when his plan to kill a French soldier failed, he chose the next available target. In other words, the Jews in Toulouse were a soft target, like fish in a pond, for Merah. It does matter what the fish do: the fish do not need to do anything to "provoke" the fisherman; they are simply there for him. The fish may think that if swims more slowly or with prettier loops, that these actions might not "inflame" the fisherman, but of course there is nothing that he can do to influence the fisherman or to change how the fisherman will view him.

The image of Jews being "a soft target" seems evident in the UK as well, at least according to one British Jewish mother writing in the British newspaper, the Daily Mail, last week. In her account of anti-Semitism in the UK, she says, "In the end, I'm afraid I believe that our children are a target because no one fears a Jewish reprisal. Or, as the comedian Jackie Mason once said, "Nobody ever crossed the street to avoid a group of Jewish accountants." She then adds significantly, "We (Jews) don't make excessive demands for the State to absorb our culture. We just want to live a peaceful coexistence." Ironically, unlike the Islamists to which Mohammad Merah belonged, Jews accept the culture of the nations they live in and do not try to impose their ways, yet it is people like Merah who get acceptance and tolerance.

More alarming were the comments made by the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week. At an event in Brussels on Monday organized for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees -- a UN entity, known as UNRWA, with an appetite for supporting anti-Zionism — Ashton paid tribute to children around the world, including a coach crash in Switzerland which killed more than 20 Belgian children, the Syrian conflict, the Toulouse shooting and "what's happened in Gaza." Ashton's comparison of children under ten years of age dragged by the hair and then killed at point-blank range in their school merely for being Jewish, to children killed in the conflict in Gaza, displays the most staggering duplicity. she knows, or should know, perfectly well that the children in Gaza are not targeted by the Israeli army, but, on the contrary, that Hamas, in deliberate violation the Geneva conventions as well as all universal norms of human rights, places the children near ammunition depots and the like, so that the children will be human shields, and appear to the world as victims of Israel instead of Hamas, where the blame actually belongs, while Israel tries to defend itself from literally thousands of rocket attacks launched by Islamist militants in densely-populated areas.

Later, Ashton said she "unreservedly" condemned the murders and said she drew no parallel between the shooting in Toulouse and the situation in Gaza. Still, the damage had done: Ashton had put the deliberate crime in Toulouse at the same level as the deaths of Palestinian children manipulated by Hamas's malignity toward its own young people; and she had put Israel on the same immoral level Merah and Hamas. Ashton nevertheless received stout support from many European parliamentarians who claimed that her comments "were taken out of context"! – a claim that should probably tell you all you need to know about many European Parliamentarians.

Looking farther into Mohamed Merah's role in fundamentalism and eventually terrorist acts, connections to other European courtiers emerge, particularly in the UK and Belgium. Mohammad Merah's brother, Abdelkader, now in the custody of French authorities, may have met radicals in the UK; and both Scotland Yard and the British internal intelligence, the MI5, seem to believe he was in the UK to meet British Muslim radicals.

Mohammad Merah and his brother were also both known to the French authorities as members of the radical group, Forsane Alizza, ["The Knights of Pride"], a radical organization associated with the fundamentalist groups Sharia4UK and Sharia4Belgium, indicating that Merah was probably right when said his attacks were "only the beginning.

In the wake of Mohammad Merah's killing spree, French intelligence authorities have come under pressure for failing to detect such an active Islamists who have been to Pakistan and Afghanistan and other training centers. Further, Merah was a suspect of the first murder of a French soldier days before he went on butchering Jewish children; nevertheless he was not detained, or even questioned.

The question is, Was [were] these oversights a mere intelligence failure which even the best of intelligence entities might encounter? Or was the fact that Mohammad Merah was a Muslim a major factor in causing French authorities to be reluctant to point a finger at him? Is the world reluctant at pointing the finger at Islamic terrorism and Islamist fundamentalist in Europe simply because to some, it might seem politically incorrect in the eyes of some? Should we come to accept that the followers of one particular religion get a free pass? When Mohammad Merah started his attacks by killing three French soldiers who were Muslims, the French authorities suspected three former French soldiers who had been dishonorably discharged because of their affiliation with neo-Nazi groups.

Far-right French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, commenting on the massacre, said, "Entire districts are in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists and the danger is underestimated.". She is right about the threat of Islamists in Europe being underestimated, especially when entire British towns are becoming Islamic fundamentalist strongholds.

Europe would do well to start calling things by their right names; start recognizing that Islamist ideology is spreading throughout Europe and is a threat to the European way of life. acknowledging that many Muslims in Europe are falling to integrate or accept their adoptive countries, and that anti-Semitism is still a problem in Europe today.

Mudar Zahran


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

Ethnic Cleansing of Syrian Christians

by Frank Crimi

Syrian President Basher Assad isn’t the only target of Syrian rebels as Syria’s Orthodox Christian Church reports “ongoing ethnic cleansing of Christians” by al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant groups in the embattled Syrian city of Homs.

The report from the Vatican news agency Fides says Brigade Faruq, which has links with elements of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Islamist mercenaries from Libya, has expelled 90 percent of Christians living in Homs, nearly 50,000 people.

Reportedly, the armed Islamists went door to door in the Christian neighborhoods of Hamidiya and Bustan al-Diwan informing the homeowners that if they did not leave immediately they would be shot. Then pictures of their corpses would be taken and sent to al-Jazeera, along with the message that the Syrian government had killed them.

As such, the men, women and children — denied by the Islamists from taking any of their belongings — were forced to flee to mountain villages 30 miles outside of Homs, their homes occupied by the militants who claimed the owners’ possessions as “war-booty from the Christians.”

According to reports by Barnabas Aid, a relief agency assisting Syrian Christians, the forced Christian exodus from Homs has been ongoing since the beginning of February when armed Islamists murdered more than 200 Christians, “including entire families with young children.”

At that time a representative of Barnabas Aid pleaded, “Christians are being forced to flee the city to the safety of government-controlled areas. Muslim rebel fighters and their families are taking over their homes.”

Unfortunately, Islamist attacks against Syria’s Christian community, including kidnappings and murder, have occurred almost from the onset of the popular uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad which began in March 2011.

These murders, which have killed over 100 Christians, include the hanging of a 28-year-old man; a 40 year-old father of two shot dead; two young men killed while waiting in line at a bakery; and a 37-year-old father with a pregnant wife, his body cut into pieces and thrown in a river.

Most recently, a car bombing targeted the Christian district in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, killing three and wounding 30. As Giuseppe Nazzaro, the Vicar Apostolic of Aleppo, said, “In this situation the Islamist and terrorist movements are making headway,” adding “These are bad times for religious minorities.”

Unhappily, these sectarian attacks on Christians have sparked fears that Syria could become like Iraq, where church attacks, kidnappings and forced expulsions by armed Islamist militant groups after the US invasion in 2003 drove Iraq’s Christian population from 1.4 million to less than 300,000 today.

For its part, leaders of the Syrian opposition have denied sectarian motives against Christians, noting that, even though the Syrian insurgency is rooted in the nation’s Sunni Muslim majority, all groups are welcome to join the Syrian rebellion.

Not surprisingly, that open invitation to join its ranks has gone largely unanswered among Syrian Christians who make up 10 percent of Syria’s 23 million, mostly Sunni Muslim populace.

Specifically, Syrian Christians have long viewed Assad’s secular regime as being generally more tolerant of Syria’s religious minorities, a belief certainly buttressed by the current anti-Christian violence being perpetrated against them by Syrian Islamists.

To that end, despite the Syrian government’s horrific, murderous crackdown on civilian protesters, Syrian Christians have mostly stayed away from the street protests, worried that the alternative to the Assad regime is, according to former Israeli ambassador Itamar Rabinovich, “chaos, civil war, and possibly a radical Islamist takeover.”

As was the case in Libya, that latter possibility becomes more of a reality as Islamist terror movements in and out of Syria are vying to gain influence over the Syrian revolt in hopes of gathering power if Assad falls.

For example, Sheikh Adnan al-Arour, a Syrian Salafi cleric exiled in Saudi Arabia, has been calling for jihad against the “infidel” Assad regime. Al-Arour’s exhortations have garnered him the open allegiance of several Syrian Islamist rebel brigades, including “Supporters of God Brigade” in Hama, which has praised him as “the leader of the revolution.”

In eastern Syria, the “God is Great” Brigade proclaimed its formation in an internet video that declared their fight to be a “jihad,” and which they exhorted “our fellow revolutionaries…to declare jihad in the path of God.”

The Syrian Islamist brigades are also getting assistance from outside terror organizations and mercenaries from Iraq and Libya, aid which Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged in February when he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that “al-Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria.”

That terrorist reach was on display recently when the Al-Nusra Front, a front group for al-Qaeda in Iraq according to US intelligence officials, claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing in Damascus that killed 27 and wounded more than 100.

Finally, evidence of the rising Islamist influence in the Syrian uprising was on view when several prominent figures quit the Syrian National Council (SNC), the most widely-recognized coalition of anti-regime forces, alleging that the Muslim Brotherhood had “hijacked” the SNC agenda.

It should be noted that the news of the Islamist crackdown on Christians comes at the same time that the UN is reporting that Syrian rebels are using children as fighters and are kidnapping, torturing and executing supporters of Bashar Assad and members of his security forces.

Nevertheless, President Obama has reacted to the growing sectarian violence in Syria by recently pledging to send “non-lethal” aid to the Syrian rebels, such as communications help and medical aid.

However, given the attacks it has suffered at their hands, the President may want to earmark some of those humanitarian supplies to Syria’s besieged Christian community.

Frank Crimi


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

Iran and Hamas’ Genocidal Fellow Travelers

by Daniel Greenfield

In the spring of 1948, Arab Muslim armies and militias invaded the Jewish State in order to destroy it. Now after the Arab Spring yielded an Islamic Winter, efforts are being made to focus this spring on a renewed assault on Israel.

The Global March to Jerusalem is being billed as a peaceful march, but in reality it’s a Muslim crusade calling for the ethnic cleansing of a Jewish city and a number of its organizers have Hamas ties and have made genocidal statements about the Jews.

Tipping its hand is the logo of the Global March which encompasses all of Israel from Kiryat Shmona in the north all the way down to Eilat in the south, making it quite clear that this isn’t just about one city; it’s about all of them and all the land around them. It’s about the complete destruction of Israel.

The March has fairly clear echoes of the Arab invasion of Israel in 1948 and the Mufti of Jerusalem’s Holy War Army. It also follows up on the Gaza Flotilla’s aim of challenging Israeli sovereignty to provoke incidents and claim victimhood. Or as Abdul Malik Sukaryeh, the march’s Lebanon media co-coordinator, said in an interview on a Hezbollah website, while threatening a third intifada, “Is Israel going to massacre us? …This would be genocide, a real Holocaust not a pretended one.”

While ties between Hamas and its godfathers in Iran have been tested by the Syrian civil war, the Global March shows that cooperation continues between the Mullahs and the Brotherhood arm. For Iran the Global March helps shift focus from its own domestic troubles and international conflicts to the Muslim world’s chief scapegoat. And Hamas, which has found itself having to explain its position on Syria, can refocus attention on a common enemy.

Like the Gaza Flotilla, the Global March depends heavily on harnessing Western useful idiots, whom it needs in order to avoid looking like the Iran/Hamas ethnic cleansing project that it is. Like revenants summoned from their crypt, the living dead of the left, widely discredited, morally bankrupt and repugnantly shrill, rise to the call of their Islamic masters.

The Global March has already been endorsed by George Galloway and Cindy Sheehan, along with fellow Code Pink ghoul and Democratic Party fundraiser, Medea Benjamin. 9/11 Truther Richard Falk has signed on the dotted line, along with radical racist theorist Cornel West and Obama’s former mentor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

What these useful idiots are endorsing is nothing short of blatant bigotry, ethnic cleansing and genocide. That is made clear by statements from the Global March on Jerusalem organizers.

Ahmad Abo Halabiya, a Hamas figure who heads the Global March committee in Gaza and sits on the march’s International Central Committee, has said, “Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them.”

Ahmad Bahar, who sits on the Global March’s advisory board, and a Hamas leader who served as the speaker of the united Palestinian parliament, has proclaimed, “Make us victorious over the infidel people… Allah, take hold of the Jews and their allies, Allah, take hold of the Americans and their allies… Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don’t leave even one.”

The advisory board also includes Sheikh Raed Salah, who heads up the Muslim Brotherhood inside Israel, and has accused Jews of using children’s blood in baking matza, an ancient blood libel, along with former Malaysian prime minister Mahatir Mohamad who claimed that, “the Jews rule the world by proxy.”

But that kind of company may not be too repugnant for the likes of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who stated that Obama won’t talk to him because he’s controlled by the Jews, another endorser, Desmond Tutu, who has a long history of anti-Semitic statements, and Cindy Sheehan who has claimed that her son died to benefit Israel.

Or for Judith Butler, who has waged a war to boycott the Jewish State, and has bizarrely said that, “understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.”

Making for some middle ground on the North-American end of things is Hatem Bazian, who terrorized Jewish students in his journey from campus organizer to professor, and whose Hamas connections and events targeting Israel have made him a fixture during Israeli Apartheid Week. Also listed is Edward Peck, who received credit from Jeremiah Wright for inspiring some of his more inflammatory statements, and who has described Hamas leaders as “moderate.”

Then there’s the always reliable leftist Noam Chomsky, who has nevertheless built bridges to Holocaust deniers, Richard Falk, the 9/11 Truther who has posted anti-Semitic materials online, Francis Boyle, who has described Israel as “Jewistan” and cheerfully predicted its destruction.

That anti-Semitism is a common element among both the Islamic core of the Global March and its Western useful idiots, who like Judith Butler, are busy pretending that the March is as progressive and leftist as Hezbollah and Hamas. That toxic combination of hatred and self-hatred has been on display throughout all the attempts to camouflage the campaign against Israel in peaceful colors.

But can a campaign against the Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem be seen as anything but anti-Semitic and can a movement whose logo entirely eliminates Israel while its leading activists make genocidal statements be seen as anything but genocidal?

Jerusalem is the heart of Israel. Its history is tied to that of the Jewish people. The Islamic crusade against that heritage and history should be seen within the context of the Arabization and Islamization efforts in Asia and North Africa which wiped out the identities and cultures of entire peoples. As long as Jerusalem exists by its true name, rather than Al-Quds, a generic bastardization, it stands in opposition to Mecca and the wave of genocide and ethnic cleansing that left millions without any culture and creed but that of their conquerors.

Jerusalem represents an ongoing resistance to that original march of hate, as both a city and the capital of a nation, where people of all religions and no religion at all enjoy equal rights and political freedom. That is what drives Mecca in its insane campaign of hate against Jerusalem. And that is what unites the madmen and madwomen of the far left who want to plunge the West into darkness to join in the march against Jerusalem.

Daniel Greenfield


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

Iran Must Be Stopped

by John Bolton

Recent advances in Iran’s nuclear weapons program show that events are moving extraordinarily swiftly, as Tehran nears the end of its decades-long quest to possess a lethal WMD capability. One thing is certain: If Iran succeeds, the Middle East – and the world – will be far more dangerous and unstable, with substantially increased prospects for further nuclear proliferation. That is why we are facing difficult, risky, and uncertain decisions.

Iran has pursued nuclear weapons since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 overthrew the shah, replacing the monarchy with an authoritarian, theocratic regime.

The mullahs placed the nuclear program (camouflaged as a “civil nuclear power” project) under the increasingly powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a force independent of lran’s regular army, devoted passionately to preserving the revolution.

Iran today is the world’s central banker for internation­al terrorism. It funds and arms terrorist groups worldwide, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Shia terrorists in Iraq, and the Sunni Taliban and other radical in Afghanistan.

In February, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that Iran even had a “shotgun marriage, or marriage of convenience” with al­ Qaida.

Given Iran’s global sponsorship of terrorism, a nuclear Iran could easily deliver nuclear weapons via ballistic missiles (which it has developed in cooperated with North Korea) and by providing them to terrorists for use around the world.

Iran’s objectives in seeking nuclear weapons are clear.

First, Tehran prizes them as the ultimate trump card against Israel (the “little Satan” in the words of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 Revolution) and the United States (the “great Satan”). President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” and he has speculated about “a world without the United States” or Israel.

Given these plainly stated intentions, if Iran were to achieve the capability to launch what former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called a “nuclear Holocaust,” only the hopelessly naive would not see Iran as an existential threat to Israel, and as a grave terrorist menace to America. For the United States, Iran would not be a serious military risk, but it would constitute a classic example of an asymmetric threat, aimed at our innocent civilians rather than military targets.

Second, nuclear weapons would give Iran a firm foundation for Middle East hegemony, and would make it a significant global power. In the centuries-old regional struggle between Persians, Arabs, and other ethnic groups, these weapons would dramatically shift the local balance of power. The threat posed by a nuclear Iran would permit it to dominate the small Arab monarchies across the Persian Gulf, increase its already significant presence, malign influence over Iraq, and challenge Saudi Arabia for dominance throughout the entire theater. Iran’s reach would be not only political, but also economic, as its clout grew dramatically within OPEC, with potentially enormous consequences for the international price of petroleum and the West’s economy.

Third, nuclear weapons would provide Iran and its Shiite faith an enormous advantage in the struggle against Sunni Muslims for dominance within Islam. This battle is currently being fought out in Syria, where Iran’s support for the Assad family dictatorship constitutes a proxy war against the Sunni majority. In Bahrain, a small island off Saudi Arabia’s coast (and once a province of an earlier Iranian empire), the Sunni Arab king rules a population that is 70 percent Shiite. There, “democratic” reform could well bring a pro-Tehran regime to power.

Already, even before Iran acquires nuclear weapons, the Obama Justice Department has indicted IRGC officials for conspiring to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington; one can imagine what Iran’s behavior will be once it crosses the nuclear finish line.

For these reasons, Saudi Arabia and the other oil-exporting nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council do not want Iran to have nuclear weapons any more than Israel does.

Many Westerners, whether or not intending to act as propagandists for Iran, downplay the threat, contending Iran would never actually use nuclear weapons. Some argue that Iran seeks nuclear capabilities purely for defensive purposes, given America’s massive atomic arsenal, and the nuclear assets of dangerous neighbors like Israel and Pakistan.

Of course, Iran itself, by joining the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), committed to eschew nuclear weapons – one of those ‘solemn treaty obligations” rogue states violate casually and with impunity.

But even more importantly, Iran does not actually need to use nuclear weapons to change the balance of power in the Middle. East (and globally) in profound way’s.

Consider, for example, how Europe would have responded in the 1990s to the breakup of Yugoslavia, if President Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia had possessed nuclear weapons. Merely holding such a capability gives Iran an advantage its aggressive use of terrorism and powerful conventional forces along cannot provide.

Faced with dangerous consequences of a nuclear Iran, the United States and others have tried for decades to prevent it. Nonetheless, despite rhetoric, diplomacy, and economic sanctions, Iran has .made steady progress. Tehran is now at the point where even Leon Panetta, Obama’s secretary of defense, said in January that Iran could fabricate a nuclear weapon “within about a year.”

Many analysts believe it could come sooner.

Why have we allowed Iran to come so close to its goal? Successive U.S. presidents – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Obama have repeatedly put their faith in diplomacy to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Obama said in his inaugural address, “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” But this has always been delusional. Iran was never going to be talked out of its nuclear program, no matter how many carrots were placed before it.

Iran understood that Russia and China were fully prepared to fly political cover for it in the U.N. Security Council and elsewhere, and that it could play “the Israel card” by arguing its nuclear weapons were purely defensive, a favorite line of Iran’s Western friends.

Of course, it is more than ironic that these Westerners are justifying a “defensive” nuclear weapons program that Iran has repeatedly denied it even has.

During George W. Bush’s administration, Britain, France, and Germany repeatedly tried to persuade Iran to give up its uranium-enrichment efforts (a key element in the nuclear fuel cycle, and the route to nuclear weapons through highly-enriched uranium). Iran simply used the lengthy negotiation process to overcome the scientific and technological obstacles it faced.

In 2006, Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s former nuclear negotiator, disdain­ fully and publicly declared: “While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the [uranium conversion] facility, but we still had a long way to go to complete the project.

“In fact, by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work at Isfahan.”

Iran’s successful strategy of deception shows that negotiations have costs as well as benefits. Europe and the United States – which continuously supported and encouraged Europe’s diplomacy failed to recognize this.

Iran gained both time and legitimacy, and made progress toward obtaining nuclear weapons. In return, the West gained nothing.

By 2006, faced with the potentially catastrophic failure of these negotiations, the Europeans and the United States turned to the U.N. Security Council to adopt economic sanctions against Iran. Russia, China, and other council members, however, watered down the sanctions, rendering them weak. To be effective, sanctions must be comprehensive and swiftly applied and vigorously enforced, none of which has been true to date of the penal­ ties against Iran.

Even oil sanctions recently adopted by the Europeans, and financial- institution sanctions forced on the Obama ad- ministration by Congress, are filled with loopholes, exemptions, and waiver provisions. Many key countries with important oil and other business dealings with Iran, such as China, India, and Turkey, have essentially said they will simply ignore any sanctions not imposed by the Security Council.

Clapper testified to the Senate in January that “The sanctions as imposed so far have not caused [the Iranians] to change their behavior or their policy.” Accordingly, all the spin and hype about the impact of sanctions to date has been just that, with­ out any substance whatever.

Even now, the goal of Obama’s sanctions policy is simply to get Iran back to the negotiating table.

The administration does not even try to argue that sanctions will stop or roll back the nuclear weapons program itself. What if diplomacy did resume? It may well be in Iran’s interest to restart negotiations, given its previous successes in buying time and political legitimacy. But what is the acceptable “compromise” between Iran, clearly striving to acquire nuclear weapons, and the West, which wants to prevent just that? Iran gets to keep a, small nuclear weapons program? That is plainly unacceptable.

Iran gets to have a “peaceful” nu­ clear power program? That would be a fool’s paradise. Given its decades­ long duplicity and complete indigenous mastery over the nuclear fuel cycle, Iran could “break out” of any commitment to purely civil use with relative ease.

International monitors could not prevent cheating, as rogue states like North Korea have shown, by hiding extensive nuclear weapons programs even with U.N. inspectors in-country. And if Iran expelled the inspectors and renounced the NPT, as Pyong­yang did in 2003, what then?

The unpleasant reality is that both diplomacy and sanctions have failed, are failing, and will fail to halt’s Iran’s steady march toward nuclearization. Indeed, the most likely outcome today is that Iran will achieve nuclear weapons, perhaps even earlier than predicted by Defense Secretary Panetta. The only surprise is that its progress has been so stately and measured, thereby showing Iran simply does not fear outside interference.

In February, on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Ahmadinejad announced what was already suspected: advanced centrifuges were enriching uranium at the hardened . and deeply buried centrifuge halls at Fordo, near Qom, and that Iran had successfully fabricating fuel rods for the Tehran Research Reactor.

Could regime change, overthrowing the Islamic Revolution, succeed before Iran gets nuclear weapons? While it should obviously be our goal, regime change is not like turning a light switch on or off. The IRGC brutally suppressed unarmed civilians demonstrating against Iran’s obviously fraudulent June 2009 presidential elections, which gave Ahmadinejad a second term. Had earlier U.S. administrations worked more extensively and effectively to aid Iran’s opposition, President Obama might have been capable in 2009 of using the massive popular unrest in Iran to overthrow the regime.

Unfortunately, no such preparation had been made, and Obama himself, apart from rhetorical flourishes, did little to oust the mullahs. Sanctions could facilitate regime change and warrant support for that reason. But regime change will not come in time to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear finish line.

In fact, the regime is wildly unpopular. Economic mismanagement since 1979 (and not recent sanctions) has thwarted economic growth in this potentially powerful, wealthy country, creating shortages of goods and services that regularly prompt strikes and other disruptions.

Iran’s young people (those under 30 constitute over two-thirds of the total population) are educated and sophisticated, and know from foreign media and their own travels that they could enjoy a vastly different lifestyle if the Islamic Revolution collapsed.

Finally, there is widespread ethnic dissatisfaction. Persians constitute only half of Iran’s people. The Azeris, Kurds, Arabs, Baluchis, and others have long chafed under discriminatory policies.

While these sources of discontent do not .coincide exactly, their very magnitude shows why the regime must cling to power through military force, which it is perfectly prepared to do. After all, the mullahs represent God’s view. Why worry about mere popular opinion? .

The unfortunate reality is that the only real alternative to a nuclear Iran is pre-emptive military force to break its control over the nuclear fuel cycle. The Obama administration has made it plain that it does not plan to take military action, which leaves Israel to take the initiative.

Israel has twice before struck preemptively against hostile governments seeking nuclear weapons, first against Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor outside of Baghdad in 1981, and then in September 2007, against a nuclear reactor in Syria being constructed by North Koreans.

If anything, Israel may have already waited too long, by allowing Iran’s Bushehr reactor to be loaded with nuclear fuel rods and operations to begin, thus potentially providing Iran with the plutonium route to nuclear weapons.

Even more seriously, Iran may already have built deeply buried, hardened facilities beyond the reach of Israel’s military capacity. Israel and the United States may be completely unaware of them.

There is no doubt that Washington could shatter Iran’s nuclear program, thus potentially buying years of valuable time. Israel acting alone, how­ ever, would be straining at the limits of its capacity. And time is growing short as the window for a military option closes.

Israel does not have to destroy Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure, but only break it at key points. These include the little-publicized, but absolutely vital, Esfahan uranium-conversion plant, the uranium-enrichment halls at Natanz, and the heavy-water production facility and reactor under construction at Arak.

All but Natanz are above ground, and even Natanz’s buried facilities are well known, having been subject to repeated IAEA inspection.

The highly sensitive centrifuges there are the key targets, not the physical structures.

Israel knows exactly what it must do to destroy or irreparably damage the centrifuges, even if the hardened steel-and-concrete works largely survive an attack. The Fordo nuclear facility is harder, but it can be severely impaired, its tunnel entrances closed, and repeatedly closed in subsequent months and years should Iran try re­ opening them.

Obviously, everyone worries about Tehran’s potential response, and a regime not rational in Western military terms is capable of almost anything. Careful analysis, however, shows that Iran’s real options, post-attack, are limited. Retaliating against U.S. military personnel or facilities in the region (including Iraq or Afghanistan), or launching terrorist attacks worldwide, would all invite a devastating American response – as would any Iranian effort to blockade the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran’s most likely answer would be to unleash Hezbollah and Hamas to rocket innocent Israeli civilians, thus posing a fearful threat. That is why Israel must count on the prompt re­ supply of planes and ordnance lost or expended over Iran, so it can control the airspace over Lebanon and Gaza to thwart Hezbollah or Hamas.

While the Obama administration has implicitly threatened to with­ hold that resupply to pressure Israel against using force, Congress will overwhelmingly come to Israel’s side if it strikes Iran. Nonetheless, even the risk of a delay in replenishment causes Israel enormous concern, obviously complicating its decision on whether to attack.

Panetta’s recent prediction to The Washington Post that an Israeli attack would be in the April-June period likely shows that private pressure has failed and that, not squeamish about squeezing a close ally faced with an enormous threat, Obama has turned to pressuring Israel publicly.

Contrary to the Obama view, how­ ever, the United States can and should support Israel, and there would be enormous public support to do so. But ideology, not strategy, drives Obama, and his antipathy to Israel is strong and deep. He apparently fears an Israeli strike more than an Iranian nuclear weapon.

President Obama’s plan B is to contain and deter a nuclear Iran. This is delusional. A regime prizing life in the hereafter more than life on earth does not play by classic deterrence theories. The Soviets’ atheist mindset in the Cold War at least made them more sensitive to entering the darkness of nuclear war, a sensitivity the mullahs do not register. The complexity of deterrence strategies obviously goes beyond simple psychology, but relying on deterrence against anti­ Western religious fanatics is not a winning play.

Moreover, Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Iraq and radically shortening our time horizons in Afghanistan hardly lends credence to an Obama “commitment” to long-term containment.

But even if, contrary to all the evidence, a nuclear Iran could be contained and deterred, that is still in­ sufficient. The nuclear threat doesn’t stop with Iran. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and perhaps others in the region would get nuclear weapons if Iran did.

Thus, in a relatively short period of time as these things go, five to 10 years, the volatile Middle East could have over half a dozen nuclear weapons states, an inherently dangerous and unacceptably risky outcome.

And, of course, even regime change that results in representative government in Tehran will not allay fears of a nuclear Iran in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere.

Their incentive to obtain their own nuclear weapons will persist, thus emphasizing the imperative of stop­ ping Iran from getting nuclear weapons in the first place.

We are thus down to very unattractive options. Unfortunately, the choice is not between the world as it is today versus a world after a pre- emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. That choice would be easy. Unfortunately, however, the world as it is today is disappearing, soon to be replaced by a world where Iran has nuclear weapons.

The choice in reality, therefore, is between that nightmare world, and a world after a pre-emptive strike. As dangerous and hostile as the world after a strike might be, a world where Iran has nuclear weapons would be far more dangerous and hostile.

Israel will soon have to make that choice, and America, either under Obama or under his successor, will have to deal with it.

Time will tell -and time may well be growing short.

This article was originally published by Newsmax.

John Bolton currently is a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute and a Fox News contributor.


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

False Advertising: The Daily Beast and “Open Zion”

by Dovid Efune

"Open Zion" Editor Peter Beinart. Photo:

Following its merger with Newsweek, The Daily Beast may be on its way to becoming something of an American news media institution. It was therefore a simultaneous source of wonder and pride to me that the paper would launch a blog entitled “Open Zion,” recently changed from “Zion Square,” and subtitled “a new conversation about Israel, Palestine and the Jewish future.”

It is not often that I end up quoting a Reform Rabbi, but Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue made a similar point in a sermon last week when he asked, “How has the New York Times become the paper of record not only for American society but the paper of record for when Jews want to speak to Jews about Jewish matters?”

Is it so that these subjects are of such interest and import to the American public that they demand so much attention and even the establishment of dedicated platforms in mainstream publications?

If this is the case however, it is no small travesty that the Daily Beast has done a remarkably shoddy job at delivering an even remotely accurate or fair representation of Zionist or Jewish discourse in this country and certainly in Israel. In fact after a brief review of the top listed entries, a more accurate sub label for the venture might be “an old conversation about Israeli crimes, Jewish power and the Palestinian Arab problem.”

The posts are replete with misleading references, half truths and dubious presuppositions and assumptions. Editor Peter Beinart, who has recently published a highly controversial book entitled “The Crisis of Zionism,” has not a semblance of credibility in fulfilling his self professed role of “challenging liberal Zionism from the left and the right,” as in recent years he has been trumpeting his strongly held and one-sided opinions on the subject matter from just about every soap box that will have him. He says that he aims to “launch a conversation,” but the blog reads more like a Beinart tirade.

One example of Beinart’s incapacity is his selection of – in his description – “the hawkish Israeli historian Benny Morris,” to carry the contemporary mainstream Zionist banner. However, the interesting thing about Morris is that in an interview with Haaretz in 2004, he labeled himself as left wing and was described in the introduction by Ari Shavit as follows: “Benny Morris is the dean of Israeli ‘new historians’, who have done so much to create a critical vision of Zionism – its expulsion and continuing oppression of the Palestinians, its pressing need for moral and political atonement.” Additionally as of now, he only has one blog post that appears on the site, whereas an anti-Zionist contributor like Hussein Ibish has four.

Beinart’s editorial misdemeanors are many, and one could write books on the details. Indeed, I have read a number of capable and pointed critiques of the enterprise. What I would presently like to focus on is the Daily Beast’s misleading and false portrayal of the blog’s content and focus, by allowing the title “Open Zion.”

It seems that for the most part, the overall collective definition on the platform of the term ‘Zionism,’ was best captured by “Open Zion” blogger Jay Michaelson, in a blog entitled “Can You Be a Zionist If No One Thinks You Are?” He writes, “there’s a shrinking constituency that still believes Zionism can mean what it used to mean: the ideology that there should be a national home for the Jewish people in its historic homeland. The Left equates that ideology with the Right’s iteration of it…..(this) is what the Left means by “Zionism” and why it equates the term with racism.”

The problem however with the Zionism that Michaelson iterates is that it has subjective definitions, and that is because it is not guided by a defined purpose. What does he mean when he refers to a national home? And what are the parameters of the historic homeland he speaks of? What does the cause of Zionism represent today if Jews have reclaimed ownership of their ancestral Holy Land over 60 years ago?

Historian Alexander J. Motyl describes Zionism’s purpose in the Encyclopedia of Nationalism, “as a means for Jews to be liberated from anti-Semitic discrimination, exclusion, and persecution that has occurred in other societies.”

Michaelson and his fellow bloggers on Open Zion must accept that it is this definition of the Zionist purpose that should guide the boundaries of the ideology and its modern day manifestation. Simply put, the meaning of Zionism today is to ensure that the establishment of a Jewish state does not turn out to be an exercise of geographic convenience for those that wish to annihilate the Jewish race.

It is this conversation that so desperately needs to permeate Jewish discourse, and is for the most part so glaringly absent from the “Open Zion” project. As for the Daily Beat, the publication’s flippancy in allowing for the false labeling of a dedicated blog that is neither “Open” nor “Zionist” is simply disgraceful.

Dovid Efune is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at


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

Islam's Tenuous Connection to Jerusalem

by Eli E. Hertz

The Global March to Jerusalem - Part III [1]
To see "Global March to Jerusalem - Part I click here.
To see "Global March to Jerusalem - Part II click here.
The Global March to Jerusalem, scheduled for March 30, 2012, is an anti-Israel publicity stunt that aims to have a million people marching on Israel's borders from surrounding countries - Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt - with the goal of reaching Jerusalem and highlighting the so-called "Judaization of Jerusalem."

Despite 1,300 years of Muslim Arab rule, Jerusalem was never the capital of an Arab entity. Oddly, the PLO's National Covenant, written in 1964, never mentioned Jerusalem. Only after Israel regained control of the entire city did the PLO "update" its Covenant to include Jerusalem.

Overall, the role of Jerusalem in Islam is best understood as the outcome of political pressure impacting on religious belief.

Mohammed, who founded Islam in 622 CE, was born and raised in present-day Saudi Arabia, he never set foot in Jerusalem.

His connection to the city came years after his death when the Dome of the Rock shrine and the al-Aqsa mosque were built in 688 and 691, respectively, their construction spurred by political and religious rivalries. In 638 CE, the Caliph (or successor to Mohammed) Omar and his invading armies captured Jerusalem from the Byzantine Empire. One reason they wanted to erect a holy structure in Jerusalem was to proclaim Islam's supremacy over Christianity and its most important shrine, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

More important was the power struggle within Islam itself. The Damascus-based Umayyad Caliphs who controlled Jerusalem wanted to establish an alternative holy site if their rivals blocked access to Mecca. That was important because the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca was (and remains today) one of the Five Pillars of Islam. As a result, they built what became known as the Dome of the Rock shrine and the adjacent mosque.

To enhance the prestige of the "substitute Mecca," the Jerusalem mosque was named "al-Aqsa." It means "the furthest mosque" in Arabic, but has far broader implications, since it is the same phrase used in a key passage of the Quran called "The Night Journey." In that passage, Mohammed arrives at "al-Aqsa" on a winged steed accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel, from there they ascend into heaven for a divine meeting with Allah, after which Mohammed returns to Mecca. Naming the Jerusalem mosque "al-Aqsa" was an attempt to say the Dome of the Rock was the very spot from which Mohammed ascended to heaven, thus tying Jerusalem to divine revelation in Islamic belief. The problem however is, that Mohammed died in the year 632, nearly 50 years before the first construction of the "al-Aqsa" Mosque was completed.

Jerusalem never replaced the importance of Mecca in the Islamic world. When the Umayyad dynasty fell in 750, Jerusalem also fell into near obscurity for 350 years, until the Crusades. During those centuries, many Islamic sites in Jerusalem fell into disrepair and in 1016 the Dome of the Rock collapsed.

Still, for 1,300 years, various Islamic dynasties (Syrian, Egyptian, and Turkish) continued to govern Jerusalem as part of their overall control of the Land of Israel, disrupted only by the Crusaders. What is amazing is that over that period, not one Islamic dynasty ever made Jerusalem its capital. By the 19th century, Jerusalem had been so neglected by Islamic rulers that several prominent Western writers who visited Jerusalem were moved to write about it. French writer Gustav Flaubert, for example, found "ruins everywhere" during his visit in 1850 when it was part of the Turkish Empire (1516-1917). Seventeen years later Mark Twain wrote that Jerusalem had "become a pauper village."

Indeed, Jerusalem's importance in the Islamic world only appears evident when non-Muslims (including the Crusaders, the British, and the Jews) control or capture the city. Only at those points in history did Islamic leaders claim Jerusalem as their third most holy city after Mecca and Medina. That was again the case in 1967, when Israel captured Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem (and the Old City) during the 1967 Six-Day War.

[1] To see more about The Global March to Jerusalem Click Here.
For the entire Jerusalem pamphlet and notes, please Click Here.

Eli E. Hertz


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

Kofi’s Cloak of Terror

by Farid Ghadry

A real peace plan is one that dispenses justice, fairness, and equity upon the victims and punishes severely the perpetrators of crimes.

A real peace plan separates two sides but does not provide the possibilities of more terror and more tyranny.

A real peace plan is struck between two groups or countries because they are convinced of its utilitarian purpose in the service of BOTH interests.

What elementary school did Kofi graduate from?

Does anyone Have Kofi’s email to thank him for perpetuating terror against Syrians and calling himself a man of peace?

To get a clear picture of what his plan will produce, a good reading is the latest from David Schenker on the CNN Blog.

Kofi’s negative effect is multi-fold. One can start with this broad stroke title:

Kofi single-handedly forgives Assad for his Genocide, sparks more religious extremism, secures more terror in the future, demoralizes victims of terror, pats himself on the back and goes home with the west leaving Syrians and others to be slaughtered.

That pretty much sums-up Kofi Annan and his plan. Thank you Ghana for producing a son who confuses peace with terror.

There are those who have begun questioning whether the Assad regime will fall or stay in power. Some base their analysis on information related to the negotiations between the Obama administration and the Khameini regime of terror, which may have ushered Kofi into the picture; some are just plain mercenaries of the pen campaigning for their terror master Assad, and some have this uneasy déjà vu written all over their sad faces, especially the Lebanese who can see this dark shadow on the horizon in the form of a monstrosity some in the west are willing to defend and protect.

How cowardly are our leaders when they cannot muster the courage to protect a whole region from a known terrorist and work behind the scenes to extend his life at everyone’s expense?

Even though our revolution is young, the sturdiest of revolutions have a certain shelf life.

In 1921, when the sailors of Kronstadt, after defeating the Whites in support of the Bolshevik Red Army, attempted to start a third revolution against Lenin for betraying the principles of the first anti-Romanov revolution, the Russian people were too tired, after almost five years of fighting, to come to their aid. Their lack of will helped usher the most horrific form of governments ever to exist and the most abhorrent men of violence the world has ever witnessed.

As the world paid a heavy price for the Bolsheviks, the highest price remains to be paid if Assad is kept alive. When just revolutions fail, they produce the most inhuman actors.

Assad is 43 years old. To those western leaders and policy makers unable to turn simple math into reality, it means Assad has another 30 years ahead of him to punish, to take revenge, to kill, to terrorize, to kidnap, to bomb, to torture, and to commit more Genocides if necessary. I pity the Lebanese and all those whom he will start targeting from the ruinous mount called Syria.

In spite of these odds, our people are not quitting and are as determined as ever in spite of the fact they lack paper and steel. Syrians are more resourceful than the world expects us to be, more stubborn than the world has tolerance for, and more oxygenated by the air of freedom than the world apparently wishes for us. To the mercenaries of the pen and to the men with an angled, one-way peace plan, I say we will shatter your plans into dust and we will spoil your inglorious agendas.

The serenity of knowledge has no foes. In the case of the Syrian people, serenely silent for 41 years in the face of atrocities and tyranny very few in the world have witnessed, many know today there is no turning back. Kofi or no Kofi, his plan of terror will fail miserably.

In fact, I am of the belief that Kofi just merged the majority of the Syrian population with al-Qaeda. Instead of helping people achieve their most basic of rights for freedom under whatever human rights laws we apply, Kofi just delivered Syria to religious extremism.

This is real terror cloaked as peace.

Farid Ghadry


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

Final Blow to Anti-Israel Linkage Myths?

by Omri Ceren

Of the two pivots in debates about Middle East geopolitics – which side is responsible for continued Israeli-Palestinian hostilities, and in which direction does the “linkage” between those hostilities and Iranian-driven instability run – the Obama administration entered office taking an anti-Israel position on both.

The White House immediately identified the Israelis as the intransigent party. The president put the onus for new concessions on Jerusalem, established “daylight” between the U.S. and the Jewish State, and demanded that Israel implement a full construction freeze beyond the Green Line. Built as it was on shrill ideology rather than sober analysis, that diplomatic offensive failed to the tune of detonating the peace process. The White House eventually grudgingly reversed course.

“Linkage” is an analytic disagreement over direction and a pragmatic question of sequencing. Meeting with Obama in 2009, Netanyahu insisted no progress could be made on Israeli-Palestinian peace as long as Iran had a free hand regionally, since the mullahs would always use their Hamas and Hezbollah proxies to spoil negotiations. Obama answered by explicitly declaring “if there is a linkage… it actually runs the other way,” and that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations built on Israeli concessions were necessary for mobilizing a regional coalition against Iran.

It used to be that these competing theories were up for debate, with at least coherent arguments on both sides and insufficient evidence to choose one over the other. Not so much any more.

We’ve known since WikiLeaks the Obama administration and its water carriers were more or less lying about Sunni unwillingness to endorse anti-Iran efforts in the absence of Israeli concessions (or at least administration officials were more or less lying; foreign policy experts in think tanks and media outlets may just have been casually inventing anti-Israel and pro-Iran pseudo-sophistication out of habit). Saudi officials were in fact aghast at the president’s naive confidence in Iranian engagement and his languid approach to Iranian nuclearization, seeing him as a blustering amateur stumbling into one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.

And now we know that, for their part, the Israelis were right about the role that Iran plays as a spoiler:

Iran paid the Islamist group Hamas to block a deal with the rival Fatah movement that would have ended a five-year rift between the two main Palestinian factions, a Fatah spokesman said on Tuesday… “We have information that Iran paid tens of millions of dollars to Zahar and Haniyeh in their visits to Iran,” said Ahmed Assaf, referring to Hamas leaders Mahmoud al-Zahar who visited Tehran last week and Ismail Haniyeh who was there in February.

Ironically, even if the president was right at the outset, his public linkage declaration guaranteed he would become wrong (a neat little example of Heisenbergian dynamics in international diplomacy: leaders aren’t free to analyze global affairs without changing them). By signaling that Israeli-Palestinian progress was a prerequisite to regional action against Iran, he incentivized Tehran to either begin or continue interfering in the peace process. Under the oft-repeated assumption the president is a Spock-like Grandmaster playing 3-Dimensional Geopolitical Chess while the rest of us struggle to follow along, he must have known as much. Maybe he just couldn’t help himself.

Omri Ceren


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

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hamas' Parent Comes to America

by IPT News

Get caught providing aid to Hamas and you'll find yourself hauled into federal court where a lengthy prison sentence awaits. Win elected office in Egypt as part of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party – the parent organization of Hamas – and you'll find yourself flown to Washington to be feted by academics and government officials.

Such is the case on April 4, when an "Official delegation of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)" is slated to visit Washington, D.C. at the invitation of Georgetown University's Saudi-funded Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

The visiting Egyptians, whose party won strong pluralities in recent parliamentary elections, also are expected to meet with U.S. government officials.

Although Georgetown quickly sent out an updated invitation to the event declaring that the MB would not be in attendance, it does not change the fact that the FJP is the Muslim Brotherhood. A few Copts have been interspersed in the group's leadership, the bulk of those setting the party's agenda and the agenda itself are Brotherhood. The FJP is a new political player in Egypt, but its support for terrorism and violence is indisputable – which is perhaps the reason for the duplicitous invite from Georgetown – promote the FJP while distancing it from its real roots and MB agenda.

The invitation seems to fly in the face of Hamas' strong relationship with the Brotherhood and the FJP. Hamas was created as Brotherhood offshoot. The group reinforced that connection in December by declaring itself "a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood – Palestine."

"Our alliance with the Brotherhood threatens the Israeli entity," Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, said in December during a visit to Cairo. Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie said his group viewed Hamas as a role model and "has always embraced issues of liberation, foremost the Palestinian issue."

In an August interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, FJP Vice Chairman Essam el Erian called Hamas a "resistance group fighting for freedom and liberation of their lands from occupation." He also stated that "the West must revise their knowledge about Hamas, [so] that war and terrorism will come to an end. And mixing cards and putting [designating] Hamas and other resistance groups among terrorist groups, this was a fatal mistake of the West."

Support for Hamas has been illegal in the United States since 1995, when President Bill Clinton signed an executive order decrying "grave acts of violence committed by foreign terrorists that disrupt the Middle East peace process" and threaten American national security.

In addition, the United States has had no formal dealings with the government in Gaza since Hamas took control there in 2007.

But the Brotherhood/Hamas connection does not appear to be a consideration in granting the FJP members visas to visit the United States. Nor does FJP's rhetoric, which often is hostile toward the United States and its interests. For example, we have not granted visas to other political organizations like the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood or their South Asian equivalent Jamaat-e-Islami, despite their strong role in their nation's civil societies.

"It is no secret that the events of contrived sectarian strife and the numerous security breaches which occur from time to time in Egypt, in an almost organized and suspicious form, are unequivocally masterminded through the work of intelligence by the United States and Israel," claimed an October article on the FJP website. The piece goes on to blame a secretive "Western and Zionist intervention" that would not "leave the Egyptian revolution alone or let the Egyptians enjoy their revolution, which affects their [American] interests in the region, without ruining their [Egyptian] lives for them!"

The administration has chosen to ignore remarks like those, in favor of the ones they want to hear. By January, the FJP was singing a different tune to visiting American officials, promoting better relations between the United States and providing them with an overview of their political plans. Some Egyptian papers even claimed that the United States would help the FJP develop an economic program to secure the country and to keep the Islamist party in power.

Most of the hateful and violent rhetoric of the FJP is regurgitated from the 80-year-old ideology of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which formed the party. Just as the MB often says one thing in English and another in Arabic, the FJP has followed suit by saying the right things to American visitors and something completely different to party members and average Egyptians.

As the largest party represented in Egypt's parliament, the FJP will be the dominant coalition partner for any future Egyptian government, giving it enormous weight in shaping Egypt's new constitution and future.

The party has also shown a strong desire to move beyond rhetoric and into formal pro-terrorism indoctrination in Egyptian society. A study appearing on the group's webpage last July, and drafted by FJP member Abdul Muti Zaki, advocates "fostering the spirit of jihad in the nation" through a nationwide program of conscription and ideological indoctrination. The program declares goals like:

- "continuing intellectual and psychological preparation to encourage Jihad and awaken a desire for it."

- "the imposition of compulsory conscription on all the youth of the nation and training them in the latest types of weapons."

- "linking jihad to the ideology that the nation believes in and lives for, and in whose way death is pleasantness… The doctrine of our nation is Islam. Therefore it has only succeeded in its history by jihad 'in the way of Allah.' The messenger of Allah explained the meaning of 'in the way of Allah' saying 'he who fights that the word of Allah be supreme, he is in the way of Allah.'

The group's 2011 election platform also embraced anti-Western terrorism, referring to it as "resistance," particularly against America and Israel. As part of its intention to play an "active and influential" role among the Arab states, the group promoted:

- "Affirming the rights of the Palestinian people to liberate their land, and highlighting the duty of governments and people of the Arab and Muslim countries, especially Egypt, to aid and support the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance against the Zionist usurpers of their homeland."

- "Providing all means of support for the Iraqi people until the last soldier of the U.S. occupation departs, until Iraq's national decisions are free from foreign interference, until Iraqi safety and territorial integrity are secured, and until Iraq is rid of violence and sectarian strife."

The platform also gave FJP's reasons behind its support for terror, by blaming Egypt's current weakness on supporting the United States' vision of the Middle East. "Indeed, Egypt turned against its own history and powerful potential. It started supporting occupiers and colonizers, through its presence in the so-called axis of moderation, which is sponsored by the United States," the document stated. "Egypt laid siege to resistance, freedom-fighters and revolutionaries. Hence, our program seeks to restore glory and leadership and status to Egypt, under the banner 'Indeed, this nation of yours is but one nation' [Quran Chapter 21, Verse 92]."

The FJP has also met with Hamas several times and advocated for them abroad. "I want an office of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to be opened in Cairo and I would very much welcome it," FJP Chairman Muhammad Mursi said on Feb. 29. "Support for the Palestinian cause is a duty upon us [which] we will discharge. In fact, the Egyptian role for Gaza and Hamas after the revolution is a distinct one."

The FJP's website even carried an article about how the party's secretary Mohamad Katatni preached violence against Jews last August.

At the demonstration, the crowd roared chants of "Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jew, the army of Muhammad is right here," and "Patience, patience, Jews. The Egyptians will dig your grave."

Katatni told the demonstrators, "The Egyptian revolution represents the beginning of the end of the Zionist entity, stressing that the strength of Islam is only one capable of eliminating the Zionist entity and liberating Palestine." Where the Jews had defeated the Arabs time and again in pre-Islamic times, he claimed, Islam provided a new strength. "The Arabs were only able to defeat them after Islam came, and the Arabs and Muslims began to confront the Jews with the strength of faith," he told the crowd.

IPT News


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

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