Friday, April 25, 2014
by Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaacov Amidror
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 245
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: An accord between the P5+1 and Iran that would allow Iran to maintain a full nuclear fuel cycle is unacceptable to Israel. None of assumptions behind the emerging accord are sound: Neither the assumption that a monitoring regime could guarantee identification in real time of Iranian violations; nor the assumption that the US would act with alacrity if a breach is identified; nor the assumption that in the real world Iran will truly be deterred by US threats. An agreement along these lines would be far worse than no agreement, and could force Israel to respond independently.
Ostensibly, official US policy on Iran’s nuclear program is clear: The US will not allow Iran to produce a nuclear bomb. Moreover, President Obama has said that, for this purpose, “all options are on the table” – implying a military option as well. In addition, according to many report in American newspapers, President Obama has ordered the development of diversified US military capabilities with which to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, far beyond what existed in the previous administration – providing further evidence of the President’s seriousness.
But many people do not understand the meaning behind the vague statement, “We will not allow Iran to manufacture a nuclear bomb.” When will this happen? Who will decide that ‘this’ is the time for action? How? What does “manufacture” mean?
Robert Einhorn seeks to answer these questions in a 56-page comprehensive paper just published by the Brookings Institution (Preventing a Nuclear-Armed Iran: Requirements for a Comprehensive Nuclear Agreement). This paper cannot be ignored, since until a few months ago Einhorn was one of the top officials on Iran in the Obama administration, and he is very knowledgeable on the topic. (Einhorn was the Secretary of State’s special advisor for nonproliferation and arms control. During the Clinton administration, he was assistant secretary for nonproliferation).
In addition to analyzing Iran’s intentions toward nuclear weapons and discussing the principal issues in the negotiations, Einhorn outlines the key requirements for an acceptable comprehensive agreement that, in his view, “would prevent Iran from having a rapid nuclear breakout capability and deter a future Iranian decision to build nuclear weapons.”
According to Einhorn, the essence of an agreement between Iran and the P5+1 could be as follows: Iran will retain the capability to produce the material necessary for a bomb (full fuel cycle), so theoretically it will be able to produce a bomb should it decide to do so. But the agreement that the US should try to reach will include the most sophisticated and exacting controls and monitoring, which will immediately spot any breakthrough in Iran’s nuclear program. The capability that Iran will be permitted under the agreement will be greatly reduced compared with its current capability (for example, far fewer centrifuges), so that from the moment of the breach and its identification, the US will have enough time to respond with very severe sanctions, and with force too, if necessary.
In order to dissuade the Iranians from advancing towards a bomb, it will be made clear to them by various means that Iran will pay a heavy price for violating the agreement, and that the US will respond quickly in the event of a violation to prevent any possibility of the Iranians from reaping the rewards of the violation.
Mr. Einhorn proposes a new world of “deterrence” – not against the use of nuclear weapons, but against producing nuclear weapons. This deterrence is needed because this approach would permit the Iranians to keep the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. The West (and Israel) will have to live with this Iranian production capability, because it is a fact which, Einhorn says, cannot be changed.
In short, violating the agreement will be cause for penalizing Iran, not the fact that Iran will have the capability to produce a nuclear weapon.
In my opinion, Israel should oppose such an agreement for three reasons.
1. The proposal assumes that it will be possible to build a control and monitoring system that the Iranians won’t be able to deceive. This system will be partly built on the basis of monitoring arrangements agreed to by the Iranians, stricter than what the International Atomic Energy Agency currently carries out; and partly based on covert intelligence efforts that have been in place for many years.
However, the reality in other places as well as Iran itself indicates that there is no such thing as monitoring system that cannot be sidestepped. There is no way to guarantee that the world will spot Iran’s efforts to cheat. American intelligence officials have publicly admitted that they cannot guarantee identification in real time of an Iranian breakout move to produce a nuclear weapon.
The Iraqis, Syrians, Libyans, and North Koreans, just like the Iranians, succeeded in tricking the world and concealing large parts of their system for building nuclear capabilities – for a very long time. Israel also failed to discover these nuclear programs for a long time. In each of these cases, there are specific reasons how and why the West did not see what was happening. But the accumulation of cases forces the assessment that Iran too will be able to deceive the West even after signing a monitoring agreement, and in my opinion is likely to do so, with a high degree of probability.
2. Assuming that a violation of a nuclear agreement is identified, will the US respond immediately? Or might the US administration be likely and naturally begin a plodding process to clarify, verify, and confirm the alleged violation? Afterwards, won’t the US, with or without its P5+1 partners enter into negotiations with Iran about the situation? Would not the US, in line with international practice, compromise under the new circumstances? Such compromise can be expected to further facilitate slow but steady progress of the Iranian nuclear effort, to the point where it will be completely impossible to stop Iran’s program.
Anyone who thinks that a US administration would respond immediately to an Iranian agreement violation, without negotiations, is deluding himself. This will be especially true of a US administration years down the road in the indeterminate future, which will undoubtedly be less committed to the dictates of the agreement than its predecessor. Israel cannot accept the existential threat caused by this delusion. Our experience in this matter in clear and unequivocal.
How do I know that such an erosion in P5+1 determination to halt the Iranians will develop in the future? Doesn’t everyone want to prevent Iran from going nuclear? Yet I know and fear an erosion of P5+1 resolve with near absolute certainty from a thorough study of the ongoing chain of P5+1 concessions ever since the negotiations with Iran began 15 years ago. Over time, first the Europeans, and then the P5+1, together and separately, including the US, repeatedly lowered their demands of Iran.
The current excuse for a lower threshold of demands from Iran is not that the threshold is sufficient, but rather the very sad admission that “The Iranians will not agree to a higher and more strict threshold.” This statement reveals the defeatist mindset of today’s P5+1 negotiators. In other words, for the world, the agreement is more important than the content; and in order to secure this desired agreement, it is worth waiving or forgoing the demands of Iran that two or three years earlier were considered essential. And thus, instead of asking how to bring the Iranians to a good agreement, the threshold of world demands is constantly lowered.
The Iranians understand this, which is why they are dragging out the negotiations as long as possible while intensifying their efforts to get closer to the bomb. Over the years they have won significant concessions even before starting serious discussions about an agreement. According to US Secretary of State John Kerry, the Iranians are just two months away from a bomb; a reality which is the end result of years of negotiations.
3. The third leg on which the conciliatory approach rests is this: The deterrence of Iran from going for a nuclear “breakout.” The deterrent is based on the assumption that Iran will understand that, if a breach is identified, the US will get into the thick of things and respond extremely harshly, up to and including the use of force against Iran.
Is this assumption valid in the contemporary world? Does anyone believe that the use of force is a possible option for the US? What are the chances that the US would obtain the support of the Security Council for the use of force against Iran? What are the chances that Washington would act without UN support? Is there any reason to think that at the moment of truth Iran would truly fear American military action for violating the agreement in a way that does not include an act of war or violation of the sovereignty of a neighboring state?
What if the circumstances that will be chosen for violating the agreement by the Iranians will be when the US is engaged in another international crisis? In that case, would the administration really have the necessary energy to apply military force?
Today, we more or less know that the Iranians assess the likelihood of an American military action against Iran’s nuclear program as very, very low; close to negligible – unless Iran precipitates hostilities in the Persian Gulf. Why should Iran think that the chances of this will increase in the future? If the past proves anything, it proves that the chances of American force in the future will only diminish.
Finally, we cannot ignore the fact that the world is dealing with Iran, a murderous Shiite revolutionary regime that seeks regional and even global hegemony; that sponsors international terrorism and stands behind the slaughter in Syria on Bashar Assad’s side; and that has purposefully deceived the West time and time again regarding its nuclear program. Thus Iran can hardly be trusted to abide by any accord with the West.
Thus, the solution to the Iranian crisis proposed in the Brookings Institution paper – which I fear represents mainstream Administration thinking – is unsound. None of its assumptions can be used as a good basis for an agreement: Neither the assumption that a monitoring regime can guarantee identification in real time of Iranian violations; nor the assumption that the US will act with alacrity if a breach is identified; nor the assumption that in the real world Iran will truly be deterred by US threats.
Mr. Einhorn’s proposals for an agreement with Iran are important because of his expertise, and they are worrying because they probably represent mainstream thinking in today’s Washington. In any case, the proposals fall far from meeting the needs of Israel on this existential matter. An agreement along the lines proposed in the Brookings paper would be far worse than the absence of an agreement, because it would improperly calm the nations of the world and permit full commercial relations with Iran.
With such a flimsy agreement, I wonder what will be left of Western commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And Israel will have to draw its own conclusions.
BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family
(Photo Credit: United States Government)
Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaacov Amidror is the Anne and Greg Rosshandler Senior Fellow. Until the end of 2013, he served as National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel and chairman of the National Security Council. Previously, he was commander of the IDF Military Colleges, military secretary to the Minister of Defense, and director of the Intelligence Analysis Division in IDF Military Intelligence.
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Posted by Sally Zahav at 3:22 AM
by Yaakov Lappin
The trouble for Hamas is that it is not alone. With the aid of Iranian funds and training, Islamic Jihad has built up a fighting force of 5,000 guerrillas with over 2,000 rockets. Those numbers are growing.
These groups are, it seems, outraged by what they see as Hamas's soft policy in Israel, and have pledged soon to resume hostilities against it.
Under the rule of the Hamas regime, the Gaza Strip has transformed itself in recent years into one of the world's most active terrorist havens, and this radical enclave is destined to burst.
Currently, Israel's government and defense establishment are choosing to contain, rather than uproot, the extensive terrorist infrastructure that has taken root in the Hamas-run enclave.
Hamas is so far cooperating with this approach. It is seeking to expand its local rocket production industry; increase the number of its gunmen, and consolidate its grip on power. All of these long-range goals require time and stability.
Israeli defense officials have acknowledged, however, that containment is a time-limited tactic.
A Hamas military parade in Gaza.
In addition to Hamas, Gaza hosts an array of radical Islamist armed organizations, such as Iran's direct proxy, Islamic Jihad, and a growing assortment of armed groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda -- all of which reject the legitimacy of a truce with Israel, and which seek to challenge it.
The ease with which smaller terror groups can challenge a ceasefire was apparent in recent days, when Gazan terrorists fired several rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot. The attack set off air raid sirens and sent civilians fleeing for cover. This assault was accompanied by a rocket-propelled grenade attack directed at an Israel Defense Force [IDF] patrol operating along the fence that separates Israel from Gaza. That attack failed to cause injuries.
The Israel Air Force [IAF] responded within a couple of hours, uncharacteristically launching daytime air strikes on targets in south and central Gaza.
Hamas, for its part, acted to restore the calm.
Hamas's desire for a break from direct conflict with Israel appears genuine.
According to Israeli intelligence estimates, Hamas has amassed over 5,000 short-range rockets and dozens of medium-range rockets that all can reach greater Tel Aviv, and place 70% of Israeli civilians in its range. There is little doubt that Hamas would like to build more rockets. Any renewed clash with the IDF, however, would put these assets in immediate jeopardy; the IAF would destroy them.
Additionally, Hamas is exploiting the calm to build extremely long attack tunnels into Israel. They stretch for more than a kilometer, and can be used to inject terror cells into Israel to carry out terror attacks or kidnap soldiers. Hamas pours millions of dollars into these tunnels. The IDF often discovers and destroys them.
Hamas's fighting divisions consist of some 16,000 gunmen. In a full-scale conflict with Israel, their fate would be compromised -- meaning that should war erupt, Hamas's very existence as a government could be undermined. Hence, Hamas seems to prefer to keep the truce going.
The trouble for Hamas is that it is not alone. With the aid of Iranian funds and training, Islamic Jihad has built up a fighting force of 5,000 armed guerrillas. Islamic Jihad has more than 2,000 rockets, and that number is growing. Should Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, give the order to Islamic Jihad, a confrontation in Gaza could quickly begin, leaving Hamas with the option of either trying to face down a fellow terror organization or joining it in a war against Israel.
There are also 4,000 or so members of smaller Gazan terror groups, each armed with its own mini-arsenal of rockets, bombs, and assault weapons. Many of these groups are loyal to the vision of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri of an Islamic caliphate, and maintain ties with fellow jihadis in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula.
These groups are, it seems, outraged by what they see as Hamas's soft policy on Israel, and have pledged soon to resume hostilities against it.
Therefore, even if Hamas wanted to extend a truce for years, its ability to do so is seriously in doubt. Further, as Israel's policy of containment is founded on the idea of a deterred Hamas reigning in the other terror organizations, a failure by Hamas to do so would lead to a collapse of that approach.
It is for this day that the IDF is preparing around the clock. In the meantime, as Gaza continues to fester with radical terror organizations, its unfortunate population continues to pay the price.
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Posted by Sally Zahav at 3:21 AM
by Michael Curtis
It is difficult to believe that the Palestinians really want peace with Israel. One excuse after another is given for their refusal to enter into or to continue peace negotiations. The latest excuse has come a result of Palestinian unilateral action after the delay in the release that had been expected on March 29, 2014, of 26 prisoners, including 14 Arab citizens of Israel from Israeli jails. This was to be the last batch of the 104 security prisoners that Israel had on July 28, 2013 agreed to release as a confidence-building goodwill gesture to encourage the Palestinian leadership to come to the negotiating table.
The Israeli Government had taken action to delay the release of this last group of prisoners because the Palestinians had refused to extend the negotiations beyond the April 29, 2014 deadline that clearly left insufficient time for final agreement. In response, Mahmoud Abbas, the non-elected “president” of the Palestinian Authority, in suspiciously unprecedented celerity, acted in unilateral fashion. He announced on April 1 that he had taken steps to sign and apply for membership in 15 international treaties and protocols, thus preempting the whole point of the negotiations.
The black comedy continues as the Palestinians refuse to take “yes” for an answer. The Palestinian Minister of Prisoners, Issa Karaka, has threatened to take the delayed prisoner release issue to the United Nations and other international organizations. At the same time, the 40th anniversary of Palestine Prisoners Day was held in London on April 17, 2014 to express solidarity with Palestinians “imprisoned by the Israeli occupation.”
Saeb Erekat, member of the PLO Executive Committee and so-called “negotiator,” is often the leading man in the spectacle of this non-stop comedy. He enacted his familiar fantasy that “Israel has oppressed millions, in many varying ways,” before his heartrending climax that the “plight of the prisoners reflects the plight of the Palestinian people as a whole.” Forgetting that 78 prisoners had already been released, his rapturous conclusion was that the release of the Palestinian prisoners (the remaining 26) would be the first signal that “freedom is on the way.”
Erekat’s role in the drama was upstaged by Hanan Ashrawi another familiar performer in the Palestinian drama, whose well-delivered utterances as a Palestinian spokesperson are still taken seriously by the Western mainstream media, especially the New York Times and the BBC. Like Erekat, she is also a member of the PLO Executive and one assumes she has inside knowledge of its functioning. Surprisingly, she has forgotten her lines in the comedy that concern the urgent need to deal with the corruption, internal feuding, and inefficiency of the Palestinian authorities. Instead, she has substituted the lines that the release of prisoners remains the PLO’s top priority. Ashrawi commended the bravery and determination of all Palestinian prisoners and “their continued steadfastness and commitment to freedom in the face of the belligerent occupier.” She ended her performance by calling on the audience, the members of the international community, to “expose Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners.”
Through her rhetoric drawing attention to that treatment, Ashrawi gave the “international community” the opportunity to learn about these prisoners who she said had demonstrated “bravery and determination.” She omitted that these qualities had been displayed not in strikes against the Israeli military but in attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.
Courtesy of Ashrawi, the international community can now examine the bravery of those released from Israeli prisons. Of those in the first batch of 26 prisoners, released in August 2013, 20 were convicted of murder, four were accessory to murder, one was guilty of throwing explosives, and one of abduction. In all, these brave individuals murdered 38 innocent, unarmed people.
The longest serving prisoner, Fayez Mutawi al-Khur, former head of a Fatah terrorist cell, was jailed in November 1985 for one murder and another attempted murder in the Gaza City market. While in prison, he was also convicted of planning to kill then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
Another brave prisoner, Atiyeh Salem Musa, used an axe to murder a 67 year old Holocaust survivor during Passover 1994 in Petah Tikva. A third brave prisoner, Midhat Fayez Barbakh, ambushed his Israeli employer in Rishon Lezion in January 1994. He stabbed his 61 year old employer with a knife and a pair of pruning shears.
The list of the “brave” prisoners continues. Salah Ibrahim Ahmed Mugdad, was arrested in June 1993 for murdering a 72 year old security guard at a hotel in Netanya. He struck the victim on the head with an iron bar and then stole a television set from the hotel. Salameh Abdallah Musleh was convicted in 1993 of the murder of a grocery store owner in Petah Tikva. He bound the victim’s arms and legs, and beat him to death. Several other murders were committed by using an ax, one was against a 79 year old man sitting on a public bench in Kfar Saba, another on an 84 year old man in the Sharon region.
One looks forward to the international community’s verdict on these men who have demonstrated “their commitment to freedom” and their bravery and determination, although that bravery seems to be limited to murdering elderly Jewish civilians or innocent tourists, such as the French woman tourist stabbed to death in a restaurant in which she was dining. That community will judge if the action of these former prisoners constitutes what Ashrawi has called “a proactive method of nonviolent resistance that is essential to the Palestinian struggle for equality and freedom.”
What is so troubling about this issue is not simply learning of the murderous and brutal acts of the Palestinian prisoners. It is also witnessing the hypocrisy of Palestinian authorities and spokespersons in not disavowing that brutality. For some years the Palestinian Authority has granted a monthly salary to all Palestinian prisoners put in jail for security and terror-related offences. No salary is given to those imprisoned for theft, but only to those who have committed murder. Priority in funding is given to the families of “Martyrs,” the honored terrorists, or more disingenuously the “heroes and self-sacrificing fighters.”
The money comes out of the PA’s general budget, some of which comes from the international community. The European Union provides 11 million euros for Palestinian salaries and pensions. Even the PA felt uncomfortable on the issue. For public relations purposes it changed the name of the funding from “salary” to “assistance.”
The “freedom loving” Palestinian prisoners must have been startled by the freedom and the comfortable conditions to which they were “subjected” in Israeli jails. After all, Hanan Ashrawi had told them of Israel’s “criminal treatment… the flagrant breach of the rights of Palestinian prisoners… of the cruel and dehumanizing measures that constitute war crimes.” The prisoners must be annoyed at Ashrawi, who did not know that according to international reports conditions in those jails generally meet international standards. Prisoners have reasonable access to visitors, including relatives from the West Bank who can come into Israel for visits. They can participate in their religious observance. They can submit a petition to judicial authorities about prison conditions, and those petitions are then investigated.
Even more surprising, especially for bigoted boycotters of Israel, is that many prisoners in Israeli jails today have access to the Open University. Israel pays their tuition in full for extensive programs and allows students to do work towards their degrees on computers. Yet there are limits regarding those who have committed violent crimes. Until recently even those incarcerated for terrorism could participate in this program and receive free college education. But in December 2012 the Israeli High Court ruled that terrorist security prisoners were not eligible for free university education in Israeli schools. The Court refused the lawsuit by three of these particular terrorist prisoners who claimed discrimination because they were not allowed to enroll in an Open University program and have their tuition paid. No doubt, Erekat and Ashrawi will lose no time in pointing out that these restrictions are “human rights abuses,” and are violations of international law.
Palestinian spokespersons may enjoy playing their role in the comedy of the “brave” murderers who are prisoners in Israeli jails. They surely cannot enjoy the continuing tragedy caused by fellow Palestinians. On April 14, 2014 an Israeli man was killed and his wife and son were wounded while they were on the way to a Passover Seder, by a well-planned terrorist attack near Hebron. To his credit Mahmoud Abbas condemned the violence. However, the Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, saluted the “heroes of Hebron” and said that the killing “brought back life to the path of resistance.” He warned of more attacks against Israel.
Yes, it is difficult to believe that the Palestinians really want peace. When will the “international community” recognize the true purpose of Palestinian roadblocks to the peace process?
Michael Curtis is author of Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East.
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Posted by Sally Zahav at 3:20 AM
by Richard N. Weltz
Jerusalem is once again the subject of U.S. Supreme Court consideration.
In January of 1950:
By a vote of 60-2 with members of Mapam and Herut abstaining, the Knesset adopts a proclamation declaring Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel. In December 1949, the cabinet had drafted the resolution following a compromise between those who wanted an official legislative act declaring the city as capital of the country and those who felt that such an action was unnecessary.After the recapture in 1967 of the portions of Jerusalem that had been under illegal occupation by Jordan, the government hemmed and hawed over whether any further legislative action was needed, but in 1980 passed a law declaring that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel".
Nevertheless, except for a couple of small nations, no country in the world has yet recognized the Jewish State’s traditional and proclaimed capital. The United States, for example, refuses to accept Jerusalem as the capital and keeps its embassy in Tel Aviv.
This is despite numerous Acts of Congress, most of them bipartisanly unanimous, directing the Department of State to relocate our embassy to Jerusalem and recognize that city as the capital of Israel. These instructions have been uniformly ignored by president after president, including most recently George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
All the same, Obama has made it a point on several occasions to state clearly that he insists that Jerusalem “must remain” the capital of Israel, and that it “must remain undivided.” That turned out to be just campaign pandering to American Jewish groups.
As a matter of practicality, although Jerusalem is and should be Israel’s capital, Congress can pass acts and resolutions until it’s blue in the face; and the Executive Branch has no need to follow them, as foreign relations fall under the White House’s purview.
The present Supreme Court case, however, is not about whether or not Jerusalem is Israel’s capital; it is about whether Jerusalem is in the State of Israel at all.
In 2002, Congress passed a law that permitted the State Department to list Israel as the place of birth for Americans born in Jerusalem. When President Bush signed the bill into law, however, he made clear he viewed it as advisory, since a mandate would infringe on the president’s authority on foreign relations.The case at hand is that of a young man, an American citizen, who was born in Jerusalem and wants the U.S. State Department to note in his passport that Israel was his place of birth, something which they have steadfastly refused to do, listing his birthplace simply as Jerusalem, as if that city exists in some sort of geographical limbo, and as if that city nor any part of it lies within the State of Israel and is instead some kind of fictional “international city.”
As a result, his administration – along with President Obama’s – declined to move forward with the suggestion. Since both Israelis and Palestinians claim the city as their own, the US has refused to recognize any country’s sovereignty over Jerusalem in the absence of a negotiated deal between the two parties. Current US policy is to list Jerusalem as a place of birth but to exclude the country name.
This is a particularly tough case for SCOTUS, although I think the basic issue is clear. The days of “international cities” such as Danzig or Trieste, are long gone. If Jerusalem is not in Israel, then, indeed, where is it? If it’s not in Israel, then how can that country have its seat of government outside itself any more than the United State would locate its capital someplace in Mexico or Canada?
In my book, the Executive Branch is all in the wrong morally and practically. Bush ought to have and Obama should fully recognize Jerusalem as being a part of Israel and being its capital. Obama was quick enough to accept the annexation of Crimea by Russia; why can he not turn his campaign lies into action by accepting the annexation of the recaptured parts of Jerusalem to re-create Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, as it had been for so many centuries.
But the Supreme Court is not being asked to do what is right. It is being asked to do what is legal under our Constitution. Technically, Congress has no authority (other than the powers of war and appropriations) to dictate the conduct of foreign relations; and campaign promises are hardly enforceable. Yet, the Court has been known to bend the Constitution when it suits its purpose – as when a majority managed to turn a “penalty” into a “tax” in the ACA case.
A strict constitutional interpretation would have the Congress unable to direct the Executive in this area. A president who wasn’t busy shoving Israel under his favorite bus would be having his State Department do the right thing by moving our embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing it as the capital, and noting in Jerusalem-born Americans’ passports that they were, indeed, born in Israel.
Richard N. Weltz
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Posted by Sally Zahav at 3:19 AM
by Isi Leibler
It is a damning reflection on the civilized world that one rarely hears a word of condemnation of the criminal Palestinian society in which the murder of Jews is not only considered laudable, but has today effectively become a vehicle towards achieving upward social mobility, both socially and financially.
Let us relate hypothetically to Ahmed, a typical youngster in a large and impoverished Palestinian family.
Like his peers, Ahmed has been brainwashed - since kindergarten and throughout his schooling, by the mullahs at his mosque and in the daily media - into believing that the highest level of piety is attained by killing the Israeli enemy.
He knows that if he were killed in attacking a Jew, he too would become a Shaheed – a martyr - and be compensated for his sacrifice by the rewards and pleasures bestowed on him in Paradise. Moreover, his family will be honored and receive a lifelong state pension from our “peace partner”, Mahmoud Abbas and the PA.
Ahmed will recollect the interviews he watched on the PA state television of mothers displaying pride in their offspring’s sacrifice on behalf of Islam and their frequently expressed hope that some of their remaining children will follow the example of the blessed martyr.
Furthermore, PA officials will ensure that even if he had brutally murdered innocent Israeli civilians, he would be portrayed as a saintly hero of the Islamic nation and Palestinian people. Ahmed’s family name would become memorialized as city squares, roads, schools, cultural centers and even football teams will be named in his honor.
Of course, death is the worst outcome. If Ahmed is fortunate enough to be captured rather than killed, he gets to have the best of all worlds.
His family will continue to visit him in prison where he is likely to receive better food than he had at home. He will even be provided with amenities such as television. Moreover, he will be able to educate himself and enroll in University courses and obtain a degree – which would have been inconceivable in his former habitat
And for all this “suffering” the PA will pay him a handsome salary (using funds received from the US, EU and other donors) for every day that he remains in jail. In fact, the longer his sentence, the higher his monthly salary.
In recent years the deterrent for terror attacks was further eroded as successive Israeli governments released large groups of brutal murderers, including cold-blooded killers of infants, in return for an Israeli hostage and more recently as a prerequisite to Abbas merely agreeing to negotiate with Israel. These releases have become such a routine that Ahmed is now confident that if imprisoned, it is highly unlikely that he would serve his full term.
He sees that upon his release, instead of being obliged to express remorse for his crimes, Palestinian television audiences will approvingly entreat him to describe to them in detail the ghoulish murders he committed.
Ahmed will hear how correspondents from Western newspapers, like Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times, wrote a lengthy article humanizing a released terrorist, the brutal murderer of an elderly Holocaust survivor. Rudoren noted that the murderer had been “demonized as a terrorist by the Israelis”, relating sympathetically to his complaint that as a national hero (he was elevated to the honorary rank of a PA brigadier general), the “$100,000 grants and monthly payments” received from the PA were insufficient to buy him an apartment.
The Winograd Commission reviewing the Second Lebanon War explicitly urged the enactment of legislation to prevent the premature release of convicted terrorists because of political and other considerations. Alas, these recommendations were completely ignored, thus intensifying the incentive to murder Jews.
It is inconceivable for a self-respecting country to behave in such a demeaning manner. Would the Obama Administration, which pressured our government to release these murderers, dare act in this fashion towards convicted mass murderers in their jails? And what hypocrisy! The US pressured us to release these monsters and yet cautioned us against releasing those who had murdered American citizens. And as a further sickening display of duplicity, the Obama administration even stooped to the level of exploiting Jonathan Pollard – who they should have been released many years ago – as a pawn to pressure us.
Fifteen years ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu published a book warning that releasing terrorists would embolden extremists and encourage them to intensify their activities. Now he himself is doing precisely that.
Nobody envies the pressures currently confronting our Prime Minister. There are unsubstantiated rumors that the Obama administration, which obscenely lays the blame on Israel for the failure to move forward in negotiations, has threatened that unless Israel toes the line, it will impose its own solution. There were also murmurs that the US could abandon support for Israel in international forums which would open up the doors for sanctions to be applied against us.
Nor should one underestimate Netanyahu’s challenges in seeking to maintain a government comprised of parties which are all jockeying to maximize voter support for an election in the not too distant future.
It has been claimed that Netanyahu chose to release terrorists rather than impose any kind of construction freeze, even in outlying settlements, in order to retain his coalition. Moreover, he was - and possibly still is - contemplating releasing Israeli Arab terrorists in order to placate the Americans and Abbas.
The tension surrounding this issue reached boiling point after the murder of Baruch Mizrahi outside Hebron on Passover eve. When his murderer is ultimately apprehended, he will be sentenced to life imprisonment, but he will have grounds for confidently anticipating that within a few years, he too will be released and embraced as a hero by his people.
That Abbas only mumbled that it would be premature on his part to condemn the latest murder until such time as a “full investigation of the incident was concluded” should be considered the ultimate affront.
The onus rests on Netanyahu to display leadership. Continuing to release murderers undermines our national dignity and inflicts unbearable pain on families of victims.
The erosion of deterrence now impinges directly on the security of Israeli citizens, which must be the primary concern of any government. The current trend is creating an environment where terrorists feel that the risks and penalties they are likely to incur in shedding Jewish blood have now been dramatically minimized.
Netanyahu must reverse this policy of releasing murderers to placate the Americans and appease the Palestinians or he will be accused of standing by passively as increasing numbers of Palestinian Ahmeds feel that there is an incentive for them to murder Jews as a means of achieving upward social mobility and enhancing their family status.
Failure to act now will compromise Netanyahu’s leadership and undermine his legacy.The writer’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com.
This column was originallyy published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom
Jewish Leaders Down Under not intimidated (April 15, 2014)
Blaming Israel for the Collapse of the Peace Negotiations (April 6, 2014)
The Disastrous Outcome of the “Peace Negotiations” (April 1, 2014)
The Radicalization of the Haredi World (March 26, 2014)
Isi Leibler may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Posted by Sally Zahav at 3:18 AM
by Timon Dias
"Freedom of speech is a great thing and we have said nothing that is not allowed." — Geert Wilders, MP and leader of the Party of Freedom.
Now, the police have apparently decided to become part of the prosecution. They have drafted pre-filled "Wilders forms" to press charges and have offered to come to people's homes to help them fill out the paperwork.
Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders again made international headlines. Nazi comparisons are rampant, self-proclaimed victims are lining up to sue and now more than ever there is a chance that Wilders actually might be convicted of hate speech.
In an interview on the Dutch Public News Service [NOS] on March 12, Wilders said (10:10): "[People] will now be voting for a safer, a more social, and... in any case a city with fewer costs, and, if at all possible, with fewer Moroccans."
Geert Wilders is interviewed while campaigning, March 12, 2014. (Image source: Video screenshot from Dutch Public News)
Wilders has the numbers to support his concern. Statistics show that 65% of all Moroccan youths have been arrested by police, and that one third of that group have been arrested more than five times.
Wilders emphasizes the inordinate costs associated with the disproportionately high number of Dutch Moroccans registered as social welfare beneficiaries and who are implicated in welfare fraud.
Based on those numbers, Wilders seems to imply that if there were not such a large number of Moroccans, Dutch crime rates and social welfare costs would significantly drop.
Wilder proposes that Dutch Moroccans who are habitual criminal offenders should be deprived of their Dutch passports and sent back to Morocco, an act that is possible as all Moroccans and their descendants are, by Moroccan law, prohibited from relinquishing their Moroccan passports.
Dutch Moroccan criminals are known to be highly indifferent to sentences in Dutch prisons, which are known for their comfort. In a majority, Dutch prisons are populated by Dutch Moroccans.
Moroccans also apparently derive status from prison sentences. Evidently, upon their release, many gloat. Apparently it is only the thought of having to trade the luxury of the Netherlands -- even prison -- for Morocco that strikes terror into the hearts of potential offenders. In Italy, the same threat is already in effect and acts as a successful deterrent. It seems as if it is only the threat of deportation, more than any other measure, that is likely to deter young Moroccans from a life of crime.
Although the proposal is being used by Wilders's opponents as either a laughing stock or beating stick, the merits of the proposal are rarely elaborated on, including even by Wilders. A recent poll showed 76% of Dutch voters to be in favor of the measure.
The NOS, interviewing Wilders again on March 14, asked him if he actually meant what he had said regarding Moroccans in general, possibly expecting him to say that he had only been referring to Dutch Moroccan criminals. But Wilders stood firm. He emphasized that his concern lay with the number of Moroccans currently flooding the crime statistics, and repeatedly stated, "The fewer Moroccans, the better."
"Can you imagine that people are startled by your remarks?" he was asked.
"It is unfortunate if people are startled by the truth," he said.
This latest round of anger against Wilders began after the announcement of voting results on March 19. At the end of his victory speech, Wilders remarked, "And the third question is, and I'm actually not allowed to say this, because I'm being sued, and there might even be Social Democrat DAs that would prosecute me, but freedom of speech is a great thing, and we have said nothing that is not allowed. We have said nothing that is not accurate. So I am asking you now: Do you want, in this city and the Netherlands, more or fewer Moroccans?" The crowd replied: "Fewer, fewer, fewer!"
That time, however, after the event, Wilders did nuance his views. He stated that he was referring to criminals, and only in favor of the voluntary repatriation of law-abiding Moroccans.
Now the police have apparently decided to become part of the prosecution. They have drafted pre-filled "Wilders forms" to press charges and have offered to come to people's homes to fill out the paperwork.
Is Wilders a racist? He recently tweeted: "Support for Moroccan businesswomen Elou Akhiat. It is a shame she receives death threats over opening a wine bar."
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Posted by Sally Zahav at 3:17 AM
by Daniel Greenfield
Tony Blair’s latest speech on Islam is significant as much for what it doesn’t mention as for what it does. Not long ago, a speech of this sort would have been rich with contrasts between dictatorship and democracy. Democracy, the audience would have been told solemnly, equals freedom and modernity.
Instead Blair mentions the word ‘democracy’ only three times.
The first time he’s referring to Israel and the second time he disavows the entire program of dropping elections on Muslim countries and expecting their populations to make the right choices. Instead he argues,
“Democracy cannot function except as a way of thinking as well as voting. You put your view; you may lose; you try to win next time; or you win but you accept that you may lose next time. That is not the way that the Islamist ideology works.”This is very much a post-Arab Spring speech and though he offers obligatory praise of that over-hyped phenomenon, the lessons he has drawn from its failure make for a changed perspective.
How changed? Blair endorses the Egyptian popular overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood and urges support for the new government within the larger context of “supporting and assisting” those who take on “Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood”.
That’s an impossible position in Washington D.C., but it emerges naturally out of an understanding that democracy isn’t enough and that an Islamist political victory inherently dismantles democracy.
“Islamist ideology”, Blair says, has an “exclusivist” ultimate goal, which is “not a society which someone else can change after winning an election”. The Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups, he says, are both part of an “overall ideology” in which “such extremism can take root”. They are all totalitarian group that differ on “how to achieve the goals of Islamism” rather than on “what those goals are.”
Democracy is downright destructive in a political landscape in which Islamic political forces compete. Instead Blair’s new doctrine replaces democracy with religious freedom.
The former British Prime Minister calls for supporting “the principles of religious freedom and open, rule based economies. It means helping those countries whose people wish to embrace those principles to achieve them. Where there has been revolution, we should be on the side of those who support those principles and opposed to those who would thwart them.”
That position, Blair continues, leads him to support the Egyptian uprising against the Muslim Brotherhood and even interim Assad rule until a final agreement is concluded.
While that may not seem like much, imagine the last 15 years if the obsession with using democracy to replace dictatorships had instead been turned to promoting religious freedom at the expense of Islamic rule. Imagine if we made tolerance for Christians and other religious minorities into the defining line instead of the meaningless one of holding majority rule Muslim elections.
The Blair Doctrine surgically replaces democracy with religious freedom while leaving the larger worldview so common in European and American political circles untouched so that it does not seem like a shift, but a natural adaptation to the failures of the Arab Spring.
Blair cannot and will not say that the problem with democracy in countries with an Islamic majority is the tyranny of the majority, nor does he ever use the word ‘secularism’, and his rhetoric is largely dependent on assumptions made in the aftermath of the Cold War by a comfortable West.
He speaks positively of globalization, without conceding that the UK has a terrorism crisis largely because of it. He briefly mentions the export of ‘radicalism’ from the Middle East, but aside from the Muslim Brotherhood’s growing power in Europe, he doesn’t elaborate.
To a multicultural left that already embraces Burkas and FGM, his speech is rage fodder. But while Blair may have helped turn Islam into a problem in the UK, it’s his foes on the left who have championed its worst aspects.
Tony Blair is no Geert Wilders and the UK’s problem with Islam is in no small part of his making due to his government’s immigration policies, but revolutionary ideas are more likely to be accepted from thoroughly establishment sources.
In his speech, Blair argues that reactionary Islamic rule is the problem, rather than mere tyranny. It’s a shift that invalidates the entire political Islam movement behind the Arab Spring. And for all the many ways that he covers his tracks, subdividing Islam from Islamism, he does hold a nearly firm line on Islamic rule. That is a rarity in a world order which had come to embrace political Islam as the future.
And yet Blair’s speech isn’t really that revolutionary. It’s a reaction to current events such as the degeneration of Erdogan’s Turkey, once used by Western diplomats as a model of Muslim democracy, into a brutal tyranny whose abuses the world is no longer able to ignore, the collapse of the Arab Spring and the failure of elections to bring peace to the religious conflicts in the Muslim world.
The establishment parties and pundits have had little to say about it. The Obama-Romney foreign policy debate has been largely mirrored across the ocean in Europe. Widely hated by his own party, Blair has little to lose by offering a shift that seems very mild, while explaining the failures of the past 15 years in terms of a new paradigm. It’s much more graceful than Cameron’s episodes of unconvincingly bellicose rhetoric, to say nothing of his opposite number, and yet for all its shortcomings, it’s also very promising.
If religious freedom replaces democracy as the metric by which we judge Muslim countries, if we put as much effort into protecting the rights of minorities as we did into promoting elections, we will finally be on the right track. And even if we accomplish little, the metric effectively blocks the political ambitions of the Muslim Brotherhood and its various front groups.
And that is no small thing.
The Blair Doctrine, while paying ample lip service to the peaceful nature of Islam, would block the rise of Islamic political parties. It would make pluralism into the new democracy and “religious extremism” into the new tyranny. It would be far less interested in majority rule elections and far more cognizant of protecting the diversity of political and religious expression.
It would apply the very metrics that the modern left insists on applying to the West, but refuses to apply to the Third World, to the Muslim world.
Republicans could do worse than put copies of the speech into the hands of presidential candidates still mumbling confused nonsense about the region. Blair offers much of the same rhetoric, but with a clear focus on the lack of religious freedom. If Romney had been operating from the Blair Doctrine, he might have been able to put forward a polished and reasonable worldview in the debate.
There are plenty of things wrong with Blair’s speech. He believes the Saudis are reformers, that the Palestinian Arabs want peace and that the issue isn’t Islam as a religion. But he is also surprisingly honest about Egypt, Syria and Libya; and about the links between Islamic power and violence.
And the Blair Doctrine’s shift from democracy to religious freedom could fundamentally change our relationship with the Muslim world.
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Posted by Sally Zahav at 3:16 AM
by Jack Kerwick
It won’t surprise readers of this column to learn that the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCG) insists that unless “global warming” is addressed, the planet promises to suffer all manner of evil. Courtesy of “coastal flooding” and “storm surges,” “urban populations” especially are susceptible to “the risk of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods [.]”
To a far greater extent than any other issue, that of Global Warming reveals what makes the leftist mind tick.
That the leftist aches from the very marrow of his being for the consolidation of power and authority in a central government is a no-brainer. While there are ways in which governments use their power to which he objects, the leftist has never known a limit on the amount of power at a government’s disposal with which he could rest comfortably.
So, the leftist has always wanted Big Government. And this insatiable lust for unlimited government is inseparable from his disdain for the nation-state and its concomitant “nationalism”: national boundaries impose a limit on the extent to which government can expand. The logic of Big Government has a life all of its own, pointing beyond the nations in which it takes root toward the rest of the planet. It is self-perpetuating, much like a disease that can’t desist from moving from host to host until it dies.
There is no issue short of a conflict with an extraterrestrial race that better serves the global aspirations of Big Government than that of Global Warming.
The conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott contrasts two fundamentally different models of a modern (“nation”) state. On the one hand, modern states have been looked upon as “civil associations,” associations of human beings doing their own thing and bound together by nothing more or less than the law. The latter, in turn, doesn’t tell associates what they must do, but only how they must do, or refrain from doing, whatever it is that they choose to do. Since laws are not policies designed to bring to fruition some grand master plan or vision for the nation, government, from this perspective, is not visionary or activist.
Rather, government serves the function of an umpire or a referee: it exists solely to ensure that the rules (laws) of the association are observed by all of its members.
Modern states have also been thought of as “enterprise associations.” The government of an enterprise association is visionary, activist. It leads by policy; it doesn’t rule by law. The members of an enterprise association are not related to one another as one law-abider to another, but as “joint-enterprisers,” comrades-in-arms, fellow-travelers.
“Global Warming” is made for the idea of the state-as-enterprise association.
Even war, the stuff of which collectivist dreams are made, isn’t quite as amenable to the lover of Big Government as is Global Warming. War insures the centralization of power and the transformation of government into an agent of activism. However, from the perspective of the leftist, the zealot of Big Government, war—because it always pits one actor against another—exacerbates “nationalism” and, thus, actually limits the growth of government.
Global Warming is another proposition altogether. The term “Global Warming,” far from being descriptive, is chock-full of imagery of death and destruction of epic proportions. The term is what logicians since Aristotle have referred to as an “appeal to force,” a rhetorical device designed to at once circumvent rational argumentation and coerce people into bending to the will of its apologists. It is the secular equivalent of Hell or Armageddon in both the images that it calls to mind as well as the uses (i.e. the instillation of fear and the consolidation of power) to which it is put. Like Hell or Armageddon, there is no one that is safe from its clutches—unless they turn to, not Almighty God, but Almighty Government.
And since Global Warming is, well, global, it provides the golden opportunity for the governments of the world to either join forces or synthesize with one another.
In the process, national sovereignty and individual liberty will be relegated to the dustbin of history.
Global Warming is the gift that keeps on giving to the leftist. This is why he will never give it up.
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Posted by Sally Zahav at 3:15 AM