Thursday, June 5, 2008

Foreign secretary David Miliband "queries" Barack Obama's Iran policy

The Times (of London)

British Foreign secretary David Miliband has raised questions over Barack Obama's policy on Iran, which officials in Washington and Europe fear threatens to undermine the tough stance adopted by the West towards Tehran over recent years. The Foreign Secretary, on his visit to the US this week, has held talks with all three presidential campaigns, including those of Hillary Clinton and John McCain. But when he met Mr Obama's team of foreign policy advisers on Wednesday, Mr Miliband is understood to have queried the presumptive Democratic nominee's declared willingness to meet leaders from rogue states such as Iran.

... British intelligence chiefs are understood to have identified Iranian nuclear proliferation as the second greatest security threat, behind Islamic terrorism but ahead of renewed aggression from Russia. There is also deep concern about Iran's support for Iraqi Shia militias or terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. "The role of Iran as a source of instability in the region is undoubtedly a concern," Mr Miliband said this week. "No one can watch armed militias coming on to the streets in defiance of UN resolutions with equanimity."

Exact accounts of the conversation with Mr Obama differ and there is certainly acute anxiety on the part of the British not to be seen as stoking political controversy in America's presidential elections. In the past week Mr McCain has repeatedly hammered Mr Obama for what he claims is a "naive" commitment to hold direct talks with foreign dictators.

In a televised debate last summer, Mr Obama was asked if he would be willing to meet the leaders of countries such as Iran and Cuba without preconditions during his first year in office. He replied: "I would." But this week he appeared to pull back, saying he would still be willing to meet Iranian leaders but not before what he described as "preparations" and not necessarily with President Ahmadinejad. Nevertheless, Mr Obama says that "tough but engaged diplomacy" of the type carried out by President Kennedy or President Reagan with the Soviet Union would represent "a different approach, a different philosophy" to the "failed Iran policy" of the current administration.

Mr Miliband, in a press conference with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, reiterated Britain's support for the united front on Iran adopted by the US and its European allies, which he believes is beginning to pay dividends. "Our position, jointly, has always been that as long as Iran exercises responsibilities, then it will be able to forge a more productive and positive relationship with the international community," Mr Miliband said.

An aide later told The Times that the Foreign Secretary was being very careful to avoid direct criticism of any presidential candidate's positions. But the same source added: "We know Obama wants to engage more, but we don't know what route he will take or what he means by 'no pre-conditions'. It has not unravelled yet and, when it does, we will be able to see where it converges or conflicts with what we're doing."

A Foreign Office spokesman later said: "I just want to stress that David Miliband is not confused about Obama's policy. It would be quite wrong to say that."

Mr McCain's foreign policy chief, Randy Scheunemann, would not comment on his own meetings with Mr Miliband. But he said: "Obama's position is obviously different to that of Britain and France. Otherwise Prime Minister Brown and President Sarkozy would have already met the President of Iran without conditions.

Although Britain
, unlike the US, maintains diplomatic relations with Iran, the West has been more or less united in seeking to isolate the Iranian leadership. The US, Britain, France and to some extent Germany have pressed for tighter sanctions against Iran, including measures directed against the country's ruling elite, for failing to comply with UN resolutions calling for a halt to its uranium enrichment programme.

British intelligence chiefs are understood to have identified Iranian nuclear proliferation as the second greatest security threat, behind Islamic terrorism but ahead of renewed aggression from Russia.

There is also deep concern about Iran's support for Iraqi Shia militias or terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

"The role of Iran as a source of instability in the region is undoubtedly a concern," Mr Miliband said this week. "No one can watch armed militias coming on to the streets in defiance of UN resolutions with equanimity."



The Problem With Talking to Iran

By Amir Taheri

The Wall Street Journal




In a report released this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency expressed "serious concern" that the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to conceal details of its nuclear weapons program, even as it defies U.N. demands to suspend its uranium enrichment program.


Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama " in lieu of a policy for dealing with the growing threat posed by the Islamic Republic " repeats what has become a familiar refrain within his party: Let's talk to Iran.


There is, of course, nothing wrong with wanting to talk to an adversary. But Mr. Obama and his supporters should not pretend this is "change" in any real sense. Every U.S. administration in the past 30 years, from Jimmy Carter's to George W. Bush's, has tried to engage in dialogue with Iran's leaders. They've all failed.


Just two years ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice proffered an invitation to the Islamic Republic for talks, backed by promises of what one of her advisers described as "juicy carrots" with not a shadow of a stick. At the time, I happened to be in Washington. Early one morning, one of Ms. Rice's assistants read the text of her statement (which was to be issued a few hours later) to me over the phone, asking my opinion. I said the move won't work, but insisted that the statement should mention U.S. concern for human- rights violations in Iran.


"We don't wish to set preconditions," was the answer. "We could raise all issues once they have agreed to talk." I suppose Ms. Rice is still waiting for Iran's mullahs to accept her invitation, even while Mr. Obama castigates her for not wanting to talk.


The Europeans invented the phrase "critical dialogue" to describe their approach to Iran. They negotiated with Tehran for more than two decades, achieving nothing.


The Arabs, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have been negotiating with the mullahs for years â?" the Egyptians over restoring diplomatic ties cut off by Tehran, and the Saudis on measures to stop Shiite-Sunni killings in the Muslim world â?" with nothing to show for it. Since 1993, the Russians have tried to achieve agreement on the status of the Caspian Sea through talks with Tehran, again without results.


The reason is that Iran is gripped by a typical crisis of identity that afflicts most nations that pass through a revolutionary experience. The Islamic Republic does not know how to behave: as a nation-state, or as the embodiment of a revolution with universal messianic pretensions. Is it a country or a cause?


A nation-state wants concrete things such as demarcated borders, markets, access to natural resources, security, influence, and, of course, stability " all things that could be negotiated with other nation-states. A revolution, on the other hand, doesn't want anything in particular because it wants everything.


In 1802, when Bonaparte embarked on his campaign of world conquest, the threat did not come from France as a nation-state but from the French Revolution in its Napoleonic reincarnation. In 1933, it was Germany as a cause, the Nazi cause, that threatened the world. Under communism, the Soviet Union was a cause and thus a threat. Having ceased to be a cause and re-emerged a nation-state, Russia no longer poses an existential threat to others.


The problem that the world, including the U.S., has today is not with Iran as a nation-state but with the Islamic Republic as a revolutionary cause bent on world conquest under the guidance of the "Hidden Imam." The following statement by the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the "Supreme leader" of the Islamic Republic " who Mr. Obama admits has ultimate power in Iran " exposes the futility of the very talks Mr. Obama proposes: "You have nothing to say to us. We object. We do not agree to a relationship with you! We are not prepared to establish relations with powerful world devourers like you! The Iranian nation has no need of the United States, nor is the Iranian nation afraid of the United States. We ... do not accept your behavior, your oppression and intervention in various parts of the world."


So, how should one deal with a regime of this nature? The challenge for the U.S. and the world is finding a way to help Iran absorb its revolutionary experience, stop being a cause, and re-emerge as a nation-state.


Whenever Iran has appeared as a nation-state, others have been able to negotiate with it, occasionally with good results. In Iraq, for example, Iran has successfully negotiated a range of issues with both the Iraqi government and the U.S. Agreement has been reached on conditions under which millions of Iranians visit Iraq each year for pilgrimage. An accord has been worked out to dredge the Shatt al-Arab waterway of three decades of war debris, thus enabling both neighbors to reopen their biggest ports. Again acting as a nation-state, Iran has secured permission for its citizens to invest in Iraq.


When it comes to Iran behaving as the embodiment of a revolutionary cause, however, no agreement is possible. There will be no compromise on Iranian smuggling of weapons into Iraq. Nor will the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps agree to stop training Hezbollah-style terrorists in Shiite parts of Iraq. Iraq and its allies should not allow the mullahs of Tehran to export their sick ideology to the newly liberated country through violence and terror.


As a nation-state, Iran is not concerned with the Palestinian issue and has no reason to be Israel's enemy. As a revolutionary cause, however, Iran must pose as Israel's arch-foe to sell the Khomeinist regime's claim of leadership to the Arabs.


As a nation, Iranians are among the few in the world that still like the U.S. As a revolution, however, Iran is the principal bastion of anti-Americanism. Last month, Tehran hosted an international conference titled "A World Without America." Indeed, since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, Iran has returned to a more acute state of revolutionary hysteria. Mr. Ahmadinejad seems to truly believe the "Hidden Imam" is coming to conquer the world for his brand of Islam. He does not appear to be interested in the kind of "carrots" that Secretary Rice was offering two years ago and Mr. Obama is hinting at today.


Mr. Ahmadinejad is talking about changing the destiny of mankind, while Mr. Obama and his foreign policy experts offer spare parts for Boeings or membership in the World Trade Organization. Perhaps Mr. Obama is unaware that one of Mr. Ahmadinejad's first acts was to freeze Tehran's efforts for securing WTO membership because he regards the outfit as "a nest of conspiracies by Zionists and Americans."


Mr. Obama wavers back and forth over whether he will talk directly to Mr. Ahmadinejad or some other representative of the Islamic Republic, including the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Moreover, he does not make it clear which of the two Irans " the nation-state or the revolutionary cause " he wishes to "engage." A misstep could legitimize the Khomeinist system and help it crush Iranians' hope of return as a nation-state.


The Islamic Republic might welcome unconditional talks, but only if the U.S. signals readiness for unconditional surrender. Talk about talking to Iran and engaging Mr. Ahmadinejad cannot hide the fact that, three decades after Khomeinist thugs raided the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, America does not understand what is really happening in Iran.


Amir Taheri

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


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Israel, Europe and the future.

By Ami Isseroff


The star of America may be declining, and American policy toward Israel will probably be less friendly in the future than it has been of late (see The future of US-Israel Relations). These issues are not directly related to the announced stands of current presidential candidates, though the emergence of Barack Obama as the Democratic party candidate for president has underlined the problem. The choice of Obama, after all, tells us something about how Americans view Israel. His rhetoric is designed to appeal to the American public.

Obama didn't succeed by saying things people don't want to hear. When he speaks about Israel, he speaks for America, as does John McCain, who says about the same thing, in more Republican language. Americans are fond of Israel, but not its settlements. No American administration has ever backed Israeli claims to Jerusalem, much less the Golan or the West Bank.

Most Americans, especially policy makers, think Arabs are only angry about the occupation, producing a conflict which is a "sore" that can be eliminated by ending the occupation. History for them began with the Six Day War. The American Middle East dream since that war has been to engineer a peace settlement by getting Israel to give up territory, after which everyone will live happily ever after, with the US enthroned as the leading power in the Middle East. Never mind the reality of history before 1967, when there was no occupation. Americans don't really really "get" organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah and did not see the danger of letting Hamas participate in Palestinian elections. That was not Obama who did that, it was the Bush administration that so loves Israel. More harm is often done out of ignorance than out of hate.

But whatever the attitude of the United States toward Israel, it is certain that US influence in the Middle East is on the wane. I have often noted the problematic dependence of Israel on the United States (see for example The United States Mandate for Palestine) We are not the economic disaster area that we were when we obtained massive US aid following the peace with Egypt. As the years go by, the dollar value of the aid remains the same, but the real value has shrunk considerably and its proportion in the Israeli budget keeps shrinking. Increasingly, it becomes a liability that prevents us from entering a multilateral world and makes Israel vulnerable to cheap political attacks in the United States. Isn't it absurd that the country with the strongest currency in the world is still receiving billions of dollars of US charity each year? There is more to sovereignty than annexing this or that bit of territory and there is more to independence than grousing about US pressure and advocating "in your face" politics. If we want to be independent, we have to show we can be independent, rather than acting out like disturbed teenagers who continue to live off the family largess. Israel is of age. We need to go out into the world and 'seek our fortune.'

Israel will have to diversify its allies and trading partners, an imperative that has already been noted by others, and which Israel is doing something about (see here for example). A big part of the future alliance has to be the European Union. But if Americans don't "get" the Middle East, it seems equally true that Israel and its supporters don't "get" Europe entirely. They see Europe through sometimes distorting glasses - distorted both by past history and by American views of Europe. Robin Shepherd provides an example of the sort of thinking about Europe that typifies many supporters of Israel. To a great extent it is true or half true, but it doesn't help us much.

Certainly many European radicals are anti-Zionist and perhaps anti-Semitic. But European governments are not run by the Red Army faction or even Ken Livingstone. Certainly Europeans are not enthusiastic about Israeli nationalism. But lecturing Europeans on their failings is not going to solve our problems with them, and neither with hoping for a re-emergence of European nationalism. The European right is not characterized by love of Jews necessarily, and betting on a return to nationalism in Europe is probably betting on the wrong horse. When Europe understands the threat posed by Jihadist radicals, the response will have to be made by a more or less unified "European nation" - and that is precisely how the threat is seen by many - as a threat to European values.

We also must take into account that an increasing number of Europeans ARE Muslims themselves, and that Turkey may be eventually a part of the European union. Israeli policy and the quest for allies must be based on what exists and will exist, not on what he think ought to exist. In every situation, there is a way for astute statecraft to create opportunities, if the situation is understood.

Alliances are based on needs and common interests. If Israel wants European support, it must position itself to be useful to Europe and it must demonstrate to Europeans that it is useful and show that we have common interests, rather than delivering sermons on the foibles of radicals and the resurgence of anti-Semitism. Of course Israel has enemies in Europe, and of course cynical, Machiavellian and defeatist politics have been part of the European scene for a few centuries, and of course anti-Semitism has been indigenous to Europe for even longer. But we also have friends, and we must be sensitive to changes. Jacques Chirac is gone and even if Mr Sarkozy does not have a bright political future, it is doubtful if another Chirac will return. Italy has just elected a friendly government. Germany is consistently supportive of Israel, and in Germany we have strong intellectual spokesmen and advocates for the Jews and Israel like Matthias Kuntzel. Even those who disagree with Israeli policies, like Miguel Moratinos, are basically supportive of Israel. We should not be lumping all Europeans together into a demonic stereotype of Ulrika Meinhof, Carlos the terrorist and the UK UCU with its perennial Israel boycott motions. We need to preserve some proportion - the latest boycott motion was condemned by the UK education minister. We must be aware of the problematic nature of European attitudes to Israel and the alarming rise of anti-Semitic manifestations, but we need to stop waving our arms and yelling "gevalt!" We must focus on finding allies and on changing the situation.

Should we, for example, be providing the European security establishments with our expertise and contacts in fighting terrorism, a problem that will loom larger and larger in the European consciousness if our understanding of Islamism is correct? Can we interest Europeans in opportunities to improve their armaments by applying battle-tested Israeli solutions? Can we, for example, trade more European leverage and influence in the peace process for a more balanced and rational European approach to the Middle East? Can we also make Israel a convenient gateway for Europeans who want to trade with India, China and Asia, and vice-versa?

The task of statecraft is not to bemoan a bad reality, but to see the means to change it and make it work to your advantage. In the past, the Zionist movement was skilled in seeing opportunities even in disastrous situations, and using them to gain advantages even when our numbers were few and our real influence was negligible. The Zionist movement is no longer a group of penniless and eccentric Eastern European intellectuals, as it was when it obtained the Balfour declaration. Israel is no longer a collection of unarmed farmers and refugees as it was when we obtained recognition from both the United States and the USSR in 1948. The IDF is no longer based on a junkyard mixture of surplus B-17s and superannuated Sherman tanks as it was when we obtained British and French cooperation in the Suez Campaign, and French cooperation in building a nuclear reactor. The "bad guys" of Europe will probably be there for a long time to come. They are only influential and important if we let them be so. A lot of their power arises from the overly close bilateral relations that Israel cultivated with the United States, and the desire of European governments to ensure their place in the sun of the Middle East. We can change that, and we won't necessarily lose our American friends by seeking additional ones. Quite the contrary - alliances are stimulated by competition.

Israel can survive and prosper if we assert our independence in constructive ways, use our strengths and demonstrate our worth to potential allies rather than moralizing and bemoaning the errors of European intellectuals.

Ami Isseroff


Original content is Copyright by the author 2008.

The real danger from Iran.

By Ami Isseroff

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni have delivered themselves of the now pro forma warnings against Iranian nuclear weapons. When they speak of Iran, the United States officials and presidential candidates are likewise all focused on the nuclear weapons issue, as if that is the only threat posed by Iran and the most urgent one. The ultimate option for dealing with that threat which is debated most heatedly is an air strike against nuclear weapons facilities.

Of course, the prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iranian Mullahs is frightening. But why is it frightening? The United States, Russia, Britain, the USSR, India, Israel and Pakistan all have nuclear weapons, and North Korea probably does as well. So what? The prospect of Iranian nuclear weapons is frightening because of what the Iranian government - the Islamic Republic of Iran - stands for, and because of the goals that it announces day and night, and its apparent readiness to achieve them by all means possible: a world without Zionism and America, an international Islamic caliphate, a Middle East dominated by Iranian radical Shi'ism.

Iran after an air strike that destroys all of its nuclear facilities, would still be Iran ruled by religious fanatics with the same program. Iran would still have its IRGC, its Hezbollah, its Hamas and its Islamic Jihad.. Iran would also have a very much bigger chip on its shoulder, and it would have earned sympathy in the Middle East among the anti-American crowd as a victim of the United States. No Arab regime, and no Muslim regime, regardless of its real opinions, could openly support an attack on another Muslim country by outsiders.

But Iran is not just, or primarily, dangerous because it might develop nuclear weapons. Iran is dangerous because it is trying to undermine the United States and the west, and allies of the United States, including but not limited to Israel. The nature of the Iranian program was dramatically illustrated only a few weeks ago in the Hezbollah takeover of Lebanon, quietly blessed by the Doha agreement. While most of the Arab world and the west looked on with benign unconcern, some Arab clerics voiced their deep concerns. Iran's supreme leader has again insisted that Iran is not seeking to make nuclear weapons, and that just might well be true. So what? Imad Moughnieh and Hassan Nassrallah and their activities represent the real danger from Iran.

The nature of the Iranian ideology and the threat it poses is described in a recent book by Ronen Bergman - "Point of no Return" (in Hebrew) - the English version is "The Secret War with Iran" - the 30 year struggle with the west. Bergman emphasizes that many analysts believe Israeli and American emphasis on the Iranian nuclear program is misplaced. The threat posed by Iranian terror activities and propaganda is underestimated. The nuclear program is only a means to an end, the end being domination of the Middle East. In a sense, destruction of Israel and propaganda against Israel is also only a means to an end, since it is intended to position Iran as the champion of Muslim and Arab rights, allowing it to occupy the seat of leadership once occupied by Nasser's Egypt. Since the Khomeini revolution in 1979, and especially after it emerged from the Iraq-Iran war, Iran has pursued its goals of combating the West, Israel and moderate Islam with singular persistence, by ingenious and effective means, most of which do not involve spectacular hi-tech weaponry. The situation is analogous to the misreading of terrorist groups before 9-11, when the US was obsessed with the idea that terrorists were seeking nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Huge resources were directed at this issue. In the end, Osama Bin Laden's devastating attack was carried out with inexpensive knives and simple primitive techniques. Hezbollah did not need any atom bombs to take over Beirut - only relatively primitive AK-47 assault rifles. This is the real life threat that is in place now. The preaching of Hassan Nassrallah and the suicide bombings and rocket attacks used to back it up are real and present dangers, whereas the nuclear threat is only an emerging one.

And what if Iran "only" attains the nuclear fuel cycle and renounces nuclear weapons? What if they strike a deal with the west - no nuclear weapons, in return for economic support? Will Iran become a benign country? Picture Iran with no nuclear weapons, but as rich as Germany or France, and still committed to overthrowing the influence of moderate Islam, the west and Israel. Picture a world in which Iran controls the price of oil and decides who gets it, and installs radical Shi'a regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other countries. Yet they haven't dropped a single atom bomb on anybody and they do not have any bombs. That scenario is far more realistic and probable than a nuclear attack on Israel, and it represents a devastating threat. Iran already controls Syria and Lebanon, and they bid fair to control the Palestinian authority. Who is next?

I do not offer solutions here. The first step in solving the problem is to understand the real danger. By offering to "trade" other concessions for a pledge not to develop nuclear weapons, and by focusing only on this issue, the west is playing into the hands of Iran.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2008.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Anti-Christian 'Cleansing' Campaign Picks Up Pace in Gaza.

by Gil Ronen

Attacks on Christian targets and those identified with Western culture have grown more frequent in Gaza in the past two years, and especially since the Hamas takeover in June 2007, experts say. The targets have included churches, Christian and United Nations schools, the American International School, libraries and Internet cafes.

The most recent incident occurred this past Saturday, May 31, when gunmen attacked the guards at the Al Manara school, stole a vehicle belonging to the Baptist Holy Book Society which operates the school and threatened the society's director. The Hamas leadership is not acting to stop the attacks and no one has been brought to justice.

Global jihad involvement
An Israeli intelligence report determined that there has been an increase in the number of attacks on Christian figures and institutions, as well as those associated with Western values. The attacks are being perpetrated by elements identified with the global jihad and radical Islam. In the past two years, groups associated with Al-Qaeda took responsibility for attacks upon Christians and Christian institutions with the expressly-stated goal of driving Christians out of Gaza.

The Christian community in Gaza numbers around 3,000. According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC), the attacks on Christians have included the following:

  • May 18, 2008: a large bomb exploded at the entrance to a fast-food restaurant near Al-Quds Open University in the center of Gaza City. The restaurant was completely destroyed. According to the owner, it was the second time his establishment had been attacked.
  • May 16, 2008: a bomb exploded in the Rahabat al-Wardia school run by nuns in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City. Hamas condemned the incident and a call was made to the police to bring the criminals to justice. The previous year, when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, the school was subjected to thefts and an arson attack.
  • April 3, 2008: a monument in the Gaza Strip's foreign nationals' cemetery was blown up. Hamas promised to investigate.
  • February 15, 2008: Three gunmen from the "Army of Islam in the Land of Ribat," a network headed by Mumtaz Dughmush, broke into the YMCA library in Gaza City and set off a bomb which caused extensive damage. Hamas police condemned the event, calling it "a criminal act" and promising to investigate. The Hamas security forces detained a number of Army of Islam operatives but released them shortly thereafter, following a threat to use force to free them. After the event, senior Hamas figures met with senior Christian figures to express solidarity.
  • January 10, 2008: a group called "Army of the Believers -- the Al-Qaeda Organization in Palestine," attacked the International School in Beit Lahiya twice, burning vehicles and stealing equipment. According to a statement issued two days later, the school was accused of spreading polytheism and hatred for Islam. The attacks were timed to coincide with U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to Israel.
  • December 31, 2007: the "Friends of the Sunnah Bayt al-Maqdis" issued a manifesto on the Pal-Today Website, affiliated with Islamic Jihad, threatening to attack anyone who participated in New Year's Eve celebrations.
  • October 6, 2007, elements linked to Hamas abducted Rami Khadr Ayad from his home and shot him to death; he was a Christian who worked for the Holy Bible Society. The Hamas administration condemned the murder and opened an investigation whose results are so far unknown.
  • June 19, 2007: during the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip Hamas gunmen attacked and vandalized a monastery and church.
  • April 21, 2007: elements linked to the global jihad attacked the American International School in Gaza City.
  • April 15, 2007: a group calling itself "The Swords of Truth in the Land of Ribat" set off bombs in two Internet cafes and a store selling Christian books, causing damage.

Gil Ronen

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


Monday, June 2, 2008

Do Arabs want peace ?




The spirit of  Peace – Palestinian style.


If the Palestinians wanted peace, the incitement in the textbooks, in the newspapers and TV that promote hatred and murder against Jews and Israelis would have ended.


Their goal is Israel's destruction and that is why nothing has worked, nothing will work and nothing can work.


In order to be informed click on :


The Golan Hights - Historical Rights and Legitimacy .


The Golan is where the tribes of Dan and Menashe settled, and Israeli kings ranging from Saul to Herod ruled there. The Golan saw consecutive Jewish settlement for 800 years; 300 Jewish communities from the time of the Mishna and Talmud were discovered there, along with the remnants of 27 synagogues. Later, 1,000 years of desolation followed, until the Jews returned. In the 16th century, the Ottoman Turks came in control of the area and remained so until the end of World War I.


The Golan belongs to Israel because it is the estate of the Jews forefathers and not only by the power of occupation in a defensive war against an aggressor, like America in Texas and Poland and former German territories.


Syria controlled the Golan for only 21 years, half the period it has been under Israeli rule. Almost half of its territory has been purchased by Rothschild and later robbed by the Syrian government. Jews settled in the Golan as early as 1886 (long before the Syrian Arab Republic existed)  but they were expelled, massacred, or fled because of malaria.


In 1886, the Jewish B'nei Yehuda society of Safed purchased a plot of land four kilometers north of the present-day religious moshav of Keshet, but the community, named Ramataniya, failed one year later. In 1887, the society purchased lands between the modern-day Bene Yehuda and Kibbutz Ein Gev. This community survived until 1920, when two of its last members were murdered in the anti-Jewish riots which erupted in the spring of that year. In 1891, Baron Rothschild purchased approximately 18,000 acres (73 km²) of land in the Hauran, about 15 km east of modern Ramat Hamagshimim. Immigrants of the First Aliyah (1881–1903) established five small communities on this land, but were forced to leave by the Ottomans in 1898. The lands were farmed until 1947 by the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA) and the Jewish Colonization Association, when they were seized by the Syrian army.


According to the Agreement of San Remo,(April 1920) The mandate for Palestine comprises an area incorporating what is now the entire state of Israel, including the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The mandate specifically states that a national homeland for the Jewish people should be established in Palestine, but that the rights of non-Jews should be protected. In 1923, Britain ceded the Golan Heights (1,176 square kilometers of the Palestine Mandate) to the French Mandate of Syria, in spite of the specifications of the San Remo agreements and the  Mandate for Palestine which was conferred on Britain in 1922 by The League of Nations. Jews were also barred from living there. Jewish settlers on the Golan Heights were forced to abandon their homes and relocate inside the westerb area of the British Mandate.


Claims that the Golan is Syrian land has no geographic or historical basis. All theese evens should be known before we talk about strategy and security.


And the situation today?


A poll found that 48% of the public said they would refuse an order to evacuate the Golan. This strengthen the Golan loyalists, and it appears to undermine Israel's right to hand over parts of the country to other states.


With the exception of Stalinist Russia, states only expelled the populations of enemies defeated in war, rather than their own citizens. And just like depriving a person of his rights and freedoms is forbidden, "cleansing" the Golan off Jews would not only be a national sin, but also a crime against humanity, which allows for the right to resist. Should Golan leaders not internalize this, the Gush Katif tragedy shall repeat.

Land, law and death

Martin Sherman analyzes MK Eldad's call to enforce death penalty over territorial concession


By Martin Sherman



The recent furor over MK Eldad's call to enforce the death penalty against politicians promoting territorial concessions has given the above clause stark relevance and ignited fierce public debate - fueled mainly by ignorance. Thus an orderly debate of the matter seems both urgent and appropriate


The existing Israeli Penal Code - 1977, Article 97(b) explicitly states:

 A person who, with intent that any area be withdrawn from the sovereignty of the State or placed under the sovereignty of a foreign state, commits an act calculated to bring this about, is liable to life imprisonment or the death penalty.


Regarding the severity of the penalty prescribed, it ought to be pointed out that Article 96 sets forth the following limitation:


Notwithstanding the provisions of this Chapter (State Security, Foreign Policy, and Official Secret—MS) the Courts will not impose the death penalty unless the offence is committed in a period in which military actions are being conducted by Israel or against it.


Clearly even without the recent official declaration of Gaza as a "hostile entity," it is difficult to see how the current period cannot be considered as anything else but one "in which military actions are being conducted by Israel or against it."


Another aspect of the severity of the penalty prescribed in article 97 is reflected in Article 98 (Causing War) which states:


A person who, with intent to bring about military action against Israel, commits an act to bring this about is liable to fifteen years imprisonment; if he intends to aid and abet the enemy he is liable to the death penalty or life imprisonment.


From this, two things emerge. The first is that Israeli law considers the bringing of war upon the country a lesser offence than an attempt to remove territory from its sovereignty - since it carries a far lighter sentence. The second is that in the eyes of the prevailing law in Israel, the removal of territory from Israeli sovereignty is equivalent - at least in terms of the severity of the prescribed penalty - to aiding and abetting the enemy.


At this point it is difficult to avoid broaching several disturbing questions, for it would seem that almost all Israeli governments (or at least numerous ministers and prime ministers who served in them) since the 1977 Camp David Agreements - and certainly during the last decade and a half since Oslo - have grossly violated article 97(b) of the Penal Code…and are thus liable for the penalties prescribed therein.


Clearly, given today's political realities, no one realistically expects the wholesale execution of government ministers - past or present. Yet the failure of the Israeli legal establishment to activate - or alternatively, to eliminate - such a grave and far-reaching clause raises serious doubts as to the criteria that guide the conduct of the affairs of the nation and in particular the equitable dispensation of justice.

In this regard it should be pointed out that since its enactment in 1977, the Israeli Penal code has been continuously updated - including during Olmert's incumbency - yet there has be no attempt to remove, or modify, Article 97.


Of course, one could try to explain away some of the inaction by more abstruse legal interpretations. One could, for example, claim that the legislative intent was to include only areas over which Israel officially claimed sovereignty. But what about the Golan and east Jerusalem – areas over which Israel has effectively extended its sovereignty? Should not those who purposefully act to remove these areas from Israeli sovereignty or place them under the sovereignty of a foreign state be considered in violation of the law? And if not, why not?


Some, like Ariana Melamed, in her recent article "Words can kill" invoke Article 94 which translates roughly into the following:


"An act will not be considered a violation according to this article if it reflects an act of good faith or if it is committed in good faith with the intention to bring about, in ways that are not illegal, changes in the mode of operation of the state or any one of its organs, of a foreign state or one of its organs, or any institution or organization of states"


However in interpreting Article 94 it must be noted it refers to other articles such as:

Aiding and abetting the enemy in war(99); Intention to commit treason (100); Serving in forces of the enemy (101); Helping enemy prisoners of war escape (102) ; Dissemination of subversive propaganda (103).


This of course raises some intriguing questions:


1. How is one to reconcile "good faith" with acts of aiding and abetting the enemy in war; intending to commit treason; serving in enemy forces…? What does this entail for the validity of Article 94, its interpretation and scope?


2. While the legality of certain unspecified acts in the context of these articles may be debated, the act of "removing land from Israeli sovereignty" is a specified action which has been designated illegal and carrying the heaviest of penalties. How then can any act of this kind be considered falling under the provisions of Article 94 as being "not illegal"?


3. Surely the existence of "good faith" should be required to be demonstrated in court - unless any act in contravention of Article 97 is to be considered "in good faith"? And even if one might have assumed "good faith" in the heady days of the early '90s, how can one assume it today after decade-and-a-half of disastrous failure of the policy of transfer of land to non-Israeli control. Surely at some stage "good faith becomes "bad judgment"?


One could also raise the possibility that the legislative intent was to preclude official government organs and personnel from the prohibitions prescribed in article 97(b). But even if we embrace this improbable position, thorny problems persist. For if this was the original intent, why was it not explicitly specified? Moreover, why was/is the law not enforced against those individuals who were not part of the governmental apparatus and overtly acted to foster transfer territory from undisputed Israeli sovereignty to that of an alien entity?


It was only in 1999 the Administration and Law Arrangements Law passed in which appears to specify conditions under which the government can withdraw sovereignty from territories where it previously prevailed (an absolute majority in the Knesset and a referendum - once the Basic Law specifying the conditions for the conduct of referendum, is passed.)

 However, even if the later law is seen as taking precedence, this still leaves open the question of the status of those individuals and organizations (government and non-government) that acted to transfer territory to foreign sovereignty prior to 1999, and of that non-government ones who did so after 1999.


These are questions that cannot be left unanswered. For if the legal establishment genuinely wishes to address and curb the growing erosion in the public trust and confidence it enjoys, it must act vigorously to narrow the growing gap between its own code of conduct and the prevailing public perceptions of common sense and precepts of elemental natural justice.


Martin Sherman

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


Sunday, June 1, 2008

The 'nakba' of the Jews of Arab countries and Iran - now on Youtube.


 ( ' n a k b a  ' is the word the Palestinians have recently used to describe Israel's Independence Day. It means something like 'disaster' for them. They let thousands of black balloons go up over Gaza as they called it their black day.) 


At last somebody has responded to the incessant 'nakba' propaganda of the Palestinians with a Youtube video on the ethnic cleansing of a million Jews from Arab countries and Iran, explained in a few moving frames. Click on the link:



Hezbollah and Lebanon: Hope against hope


By Ami Isseroff

31.05. 2008


Hope is an admirable quality and a vital ingredient in human life. The Zionist movement recognized the importance of hope when they made Hatikva - the "hope," their song, a song that was later adopted by the state of Israel as its anthem. In the depths of concentration camp despair, our people sang "Do not say this is your last trek, that daylight has been overcome by the clouds for the day that we have yearned for will arise and come..." and "Ani Ma'amin" - I believe. Soldiers fighting the desperate battles of 1948 sang "Believe me, a day will will come when it will be good - I promise you" - the promise of a big brother to his sister.


Eventually, for many, it really was good - but not all stories have a happy ending, and wishful thinking is not what made it good. The need to maintain hope should never be confused with, or subservient to, the need for a realistic understanding of every situation.


The revolting victory of the Hezbollah in Lebanon is insidious, because it is taking place on installments. The first installment was the takeover of Beirut by Hezbollah thugs. This was followed by the Lebanese army "compromise" that gave Hezbollah what it wanted so it could withdraw its soldiers and allow them, and all other wishful-thinking Lebanese, to pretend that they were not using force to get their way. This was followed by the Qatar agreement that put the stamp of approval on the "compromise," and additionally gave the Hezbollah veto power over any government action, as well as setting up the next elections so that Hezbollah supporters would have every advantage possible. The latest humiliation to date was the glowing approval of the shameful agreement was given by the UN Security council.


A number of commentators in Israel, the Arab world and elsewhere have insisted that the Hezbollah "lost" the encounter when they turned their arms on fellow Arabs, a view summarized by David Kenner in The New Republic. Eventually, it is argued, the right-thinking Lebanese of the majority will force the Hezbollah to lay down its arms.


However. the fantasy of the Hezbollah laying down its arms will probably never happen. Hassan Nasrallah and the Hezbollah are not stupid. They understood exactly how far they could go. We can also trust that they would not make an agreement that would put them out of business. They cannot exist without their guns, so they would not allow any agreement that disarmed them.


They have engineered the takeover in such a way that they no longer need force. They have veto power over any government decision according to the terms of the Doha agreement. In effect, they almost passed an "enabling law" similar to the one that Hitler used to take dictatorial power in Germany. The government will be packed with pliant politicians, and the army already proved its pliancy. Therefore, it is almost inconceivable that they will be induced to lay down their arms.


While their might be a lot of dissatisfaction with the Hezbollah in Lebanon, this is meaningless unless it can be translated into armed force. Many Germans were dissatisfied with Hitler. For that matter, many slaves - and others - were dissatisfied with the Roman Empire, but they did not have any political or military power. Spartacus, Tacitus, Bar Kochba and others challenged the power of the Romans or groused about the emperor. Sure enough, it only took about five hundred years or so (or a millennium, depending how you count) for Rome to fall. All that is needed is patience, I suppose.


In the showdown, the army sided with Hezbollah, working out a near-bloodless capitulation to Hezbollah demands, that only required that they remove their troops from the streets. Saad Hariri, leader of the pro-government and anti-Hezbollah forces, had no say in the matter. He was a prisoner in his own house, and his Future TV was put off the air. As Hezbollah had won all their demands, there was no reason for them to keep their troops in the streets. How many divisions has Saad Hariri's Future TV? None. It was shut down in fact by Hezbollah thugs. Political power in Lebanon grows out of the barrel of a gun, and the guns of the army have sided with those of Hezbollah.


Moreover, one must take into account the apparently limitless capacity of Lebanese and their politicians to delude themselves. One has only to read the Beirut Daily Star to understand that a significant element of Sunni Arabs and Christians are willing to make believe that the Hezbollah are really working for the unity of Lebanon and that the Qatar agreement is a "good thing." This is no doubt preferable to opposing the Hezbollah, which has often proven to be very bad for the health of journalists and politicians. Whatever solution is adopted, even if and when Hassan Nasrallah is president of Lebanon and Fadlallah supreme leader, this chorus will continue to maintain that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.


Hezbollah has managed to take power by terrorizing and assassinating its most important enemies and then using just enough armed force to make clear who is in charge. Rather than disarmament of Hezbollah, it is far more likely that if Hezbollah ever "surrenders its arms" it will be because its own troops have been absorbed in, and have come to dominate, the Lebanese army. At that point, there will be nothing left of Lebanese sovereignty. The issue of popular support doesn't matter. Islamic Republics like Iran are not dependent on the support of a democratic electorate. They maintain their rule at gun point. The Kalatchnikov assault rifle and the terrorists bombs, rather than the ballot and the public opinion polls, will decide the future of Lebanon, just as they have now decided the Doha"agreement."


The next stage in the Hezbollah show will apparently be a triumph similar to the ones enjoyed by ancient Roman duces and imperators. It will be, with little doubt, the humiliation of Israel. Israel and Hezbollah are apparently negotiating an agreement for "exchange" of hostages. If all goes as planned, in a few weeks, the vicious and unreprentant serial murderer Samir Kuntar will stand free in Beirut with Hassan Nasrallah, along with a Lebanese Jewish spy, and accompanied by the release of a large quantity of Palestinian prisoners. A gala victory celebration will enthrone Nasrallah and Hezbollah forever as the the saviors of Lebanon and heroes of the resistance. It is probable that preparations for this landmark event are already underway. Over a million people with a sea of Hezbollah banners and Nasrallah posters will throng the streets of Beirut. Nobody will forget it, nor will they be allowed to forget it. Nasrallah and Hezbollah will again be the heroes of the Arab world if they are not now, for nothing succeeds like success.


A 'minor' consequence of this prisoner exchange fiasco will be to declare that Israel lost the Second Lebanon War - a very humiliating retroactive defeat, as if the triumph of Hezbollah were not itself sufficient evidence of that defeat. Israel sacrificed the lives of over 150 soldiers and civilians precisely because of Israel's refusal to exchange Samir Kuntar and others for the kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. However regrettable it is, all evidence indicates that there is almost no probability that Regev and Goldwasser survived the attack on them. IDF analysts who examined the site of the attack and the vehicles surmised from the damage to the vehicles and the bloodstains. that they must at least have been quite severely wounded. It is unlikely that if they were alive then, they got reasonable medical care. There has been no sign of life from the supposed captives since. Even if the captives are alive, an unlikely contingency, the Hezbollah will be handed a huge victory by the exchange. It will tempt them to carry out further kidnappings, and endanger hundreds of lives for the two that were saved. It is difficult to understand what might be motivating the Israeli government to make any such deal. Human concern for our two captured soldiers should not be put above the lives of hundreds of people that will be lost in future wars that are made inevitable by capitulation to Hezbollah demands.


In these circumstances, those who continue to find a 'silver lining' in the Hezbollah coup in Lebanon are truly whistling in the dark. A very dangerous enemy with clear goals of the most sinister kind has achieved all of its objectives, frustrating and humiliating not only Lebanese patriots and Israel, but also the will of the Arab world as well as the international community. Hezbollah intends to set up an Islamic Republic in Lebanon by their own admission. This monster state will without a doubt be a poppet of Syria and Iran and an exporter of radical Islamism and terrorism, producing a very hazardous situation for Israel as well as for most of the Arab world. Deluding ourselves will only make matters worse. It would be far more constructive to make the most sober assessments, to recognize the damage that has been done, and to see what may be done about it. The least that we can do is make certain that all of us have a realistic appraisal of what happened - and will happen - in Lebanon.


The denial of the Hezbollah triumph by commentators and politicians is perhaps the most frightening aspect of the whole sorry mess. A person who has a minor ailment is concerned and treats it. A person who knows they have a terminal illness relies only on hope, and clings to it stubbornly, because that is all they have. A country that is successful but has the usual problems is blessed with a chorus of whiners and doom sayers. A country or a people that see themselves as doomed and desperate are usually the best candidates for singing "Do not say it is your last voyage" as they are marched off to their doom. The Hezbollah takeover of Lebanon is not inevitable, and it is not the end of the world. The sky is not falling yet, but we had better all wake up and do something before it does fall.


Ami Isseroff


Original content is Copyright by the author 2008.