Thursday, July 16, 2009

The case against Obama.


by Isi Leibler

Prior to the election, many traditional Jewish supporters of the Democratic Party were apprehensive of Barack Obama's initially negative attitude to Israel and his troubling association with people like PLO ideologue Rashid Khalidi and the anti-Semitic Rev. Jeremiah Wright. However after aggressively repudiating his earlier policies, Obama convinced most Jews that he would never abandon the Jewish state. Alas, recent developments suggest otherwise.

 President Obama is adept at warming the cockles of the hearts of his Jewish constituents, many of whom seem as mesmerized by him as their forebears were by Franklin D Roosevelt. He repeatedly articulates his commitment to the welfare of Israel and admiration for American Jewry.

Yet if one probes beneath the veneer of bonhomie and analyzes the substance of his policies, they reflect an unprecedented downturn in relations towards Israel with hints of worse to come. This was reaffirmed by Obama in the course of his recent meeting with Jewish leaders (which included representatives of extremist fringe groups like Peace Now and J Street but excluded those likely to be critical of his approach). In an extraordinary patronizing manner with his Jewish aides beaming at him he told Israelis to "engage in self reflection" and made it clear that he believed he had a better understanding of what is best for them than their democratically elected government. Alas, with the exception of Malcolm Hoenlein and Abe Foxman, it appears that the majority of the others endorsed his position or remained silent. Yet only a few days earlier even a passionate Democrat like Alan Dershowitz had expressed concern "that the coming changes in the Obama administration's policies could weaken the security of the Jewish state".

THIS COLUMN is a response to American Jews devoted to Israel who remain under the charismatic spell of their president and challenged me to demonstrate how his policies are harming Israel.

President Obama's keynote Cairo address included effusive praise for Islam, highlighted Western shortcomings but omitted mention of global jihad and Islamic fundamentalism. It also legitimized the Arab narrative including its malicious and false historical analogies. By alleging that the State of Israel was a by-product of the Holocaust, the president of the United States denied 3,500 years of Jewish history and the central role of Jerusalem in Judaism. He endorsed the Arafat mantra that Israel had been inflicted upon the Arabs by the Europeans to compensate for the Holocaust, even hinting at equivalence between Jewish and Arab suffering. Obama ignored the rejectionism, ongoing wars and waves of Arab terror directed against the Jewish state since the day of its creation. He also compared the Palestinians to the US civil rights movement. When the president of the world's greatest superpower provides an imprimatur for such a false narrative it represents a major breakthrough for those seeking to delegitimize Israel.

Obama's Cairo address should be viewed as an extension of a calculated policy designed to appease the Arab world by playing hardball with Israel. Obama's response to the brutal Iranian regime's thuggish clampdown on its own people was inordinately restrained. He bowed and scraped to the Saudis, unconditionally renewed diplomatic relations with the Syrians and failed to respond to the latest brazen North Korean missile launches. His "engagement" and benign relationship with corrupt and despotic Arab regimes contrast starkly with the tough diktats conveyed to Israel.

The confrontation with Israel goes far beyond the vexed settlement issue which was wrongly linked with curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions and has been exaggerated totally out of proportion.

Israel endorsed the road map and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu unequivocally undertook to freeze settlement expansion in areas other than within the settlement blocs which the Bush Administration had implicitly agreed should remain under Israeli sovereignty. Even in these areas Netanyahu undertook to limit growth to "enabling normal life." But either disregarding or cynically abrogating understandings by the former administration, Obama's demands exceeded even those of Arafat's when the 1993 Oslo Accords were negotiated.

Today, no city outside the Islamic world denies Jews the right of residence. Yet Obama is demanding that for the first time since 1967 Jews will no longer be entitled to build a single home beyond the old armistice lines, including Jewish sections of Jerusalem and adjacent areas like Ma'aleh Adumim. No Israeli government of any political composition could conceivably accept such a demand which even opposition Kadima spokesmen condemned as outright "extortion."

NOT SURPRISINGLY, the Palestinians and Arabs are delighted with Obama's humiliation of Israel. Saeb Erakat, the chief PA negotiator, proclaimed that the Palestinians need make no concessions because the longer the process extended, the more they would benefit from further unilateral Israeli concessions. Washington Post journalist Jackson Diehl, not renowned as a pro-Israel supporter, observed, "[Obama] revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud."

The reality is that Arab concerns are not related to settlements or boundaries. Both Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas rejected offers to return virtually all territories Israel gained in the 1967 war - a war initiated by the Arabs to destroy the Jewish state. "The gaps were too wide" said Abbas, after Olmert offered him the equivalent of all territories beyond the Green Line, including joint control of the Temple Mount. They adamantly demand the right of return for Arab refugees, which would effectively bring an end to the Jewish state. Clearly, the overriding objective for the PA, no less than Hamas, remains, not two states but two stages leading to the demise of the Jewish state. In recent weeks there was a spate of Fatah statements on official PA-controlled media brazenly describing the negotiations as a vehicle to destroy Israel. "Peace is a means not a goal. Our goal is all Palestine," said Fatah activist Kifah Radaydeh on PA TV and also affirmed that "armed struggle" is still on the cards.

If Obama was genuinely even-handed, he would urge the "moderate" Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He would make it clear that the US would never support the repatriation of the descendents of the Arab refugees to Israel. Obama would call on Abbas to stop sanctifying martyrs and naming streets, sports teams and other projects (some of which are sponsored by the US) after Palestinian suicide killers and murderers and would monitor anti-Semitic incitement in PA media, mosques, schools and kindergartens. And most importantly, before demanding that Israel remove barriers and downgrade security in Judea and Samaria, the US would insist that the PA curb its military wings and cease all acts of terror.

But as of now, Obama's policy can be summarized as "Israelis should give and Palestinians should take." It amounts to appeasing the Arabs, humiliating Israel and in the process, undermining the security of the Jewish state.

ISRAEL IS not a superpower and needs to retain the support of the United States, in the absence of which the United Nations, Europeans and the entire international community would gang up against the Jewish state. It is no coincidence that Javier Solana, the retiring EU foreign policy chief, has urged the UN to determine the final borders, the status of Jerusalem and resolution of the refugee problem and impose their solution. That the British government has just announced what amounts to a partial arms boycott against Israel is another example.

Netanyahu is doing his utmost to achieve a compromise and has already offered to totally freeze all settlement activity beyond Jerusalem and the major settlement blocs, which the vast majority of Israelis agree must be retained. But if the Americans remain bloody-minded and refuse to compromise, Netanyahu will stand firm on this issue and will be overwhelmingly supported by the people who are outraged by the double standards applied against them.

In the meanwhile, the public reprimands and humiliations already underway are eroding the US-Israel relationship and impacting on American public support for Israel, which polls indicate is plummeting.

American Jews who voted overwhelmingly to elect Obama should not remain silent. They are entitled to press him to adhere to his commitment and treat the Jewish state in an even-handed manner. Together with other friends of Israel they should discourage their president from offering Israel as a sacrificial lamb on the altar of Arab appeasement. In urging Obama not to abandon Israel, they would also be promoting the US national interest. History cannot point to a single instance in which appeasement of jihadists or tyrants has ever borne fruit.

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


Perilous Priorities.


by Arlene Kushner

President Obama has made his opposition to Israeli settlements the centerpiece of his efforts to promote negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and much is being written about the need for Israel to freeze all building in Jewish communities in Gaza and the West Bank. The settlement issue, however, is more complicated than the administration has made out, and its exclusive focus on settlements at the expense of more pressing issues may be more of an impediment to the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” than a solution to it.

Start with Israel’s rights and obligations in regard to the settlements. The Mandate for Palestine, which endures as an article of international law, gives Jews sanction to settle in the dispute territories and allows for natural growth of the resident Jewish population. That right was honored by President Bush, who allowed Israel to engage in limited settlement building, but the Obama administration has refused to follow its predecessor.

Also significant to the settlement question is the Palestinians’ refusal to compromise on the issue. On Sunday, for instance, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu publicly invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sit with him, any place, for negotiations. But Abbas has pointedly rebuffed Netanyahu, declaring that he will not sit at the negotiating table with him until Israel freezes all building in the settlements.

On examination, this is a strange demand. In the year and more following the November 2007 peace conference at Annapolis, Abbas sat with then-prime minister Ehud Olmert a number of times, even though building was going on in the settlements. So, why does he refuse to do so now? The impetus for this new, more stringent Palestinian pre-condition for talks is clear: The man in the White House has set a hard tone on settlements and in effect sanctioned Palestinian intransigence. 

 Indeed, there are those who believe that Abbas expects Obama to deliver Israel on a silver platter, ultimately forcing the Jewish state to accept refugees and move back to the Green Line. Thus, goes this argument, Abbas is in no rush to negotiate what he will be able to achieve largely without negotiations.

But another theory is more credible: Abbas, a weak leader, is in no position to negotiate a state. The disarray in the PA is actually so great that IDF intelligence currently predicts that Abbas is going to postpone elections scheduled for 2010 to 2012. Factor in the presence of Hamas, with whom the PA has not been able to come to terms in a unity government, and Abas’s position seems weaker still. Under these circumstances, delaying negotiations with Israel would suit Abbas just fine.

That seems to be true in the long term, as well. Had Palestinian leaders like Abbas and Arafat really wanted a state for their people, they could have had it in 2000, with Ehud Barak’s offer, and again last year with Ehud Olmert’s offer. Abbas is quite content playing the victim, accepting record-breaking sums of international largesse, and not having to wrestle with the need to compromise or to assume responsibility for a sovereign state.

What Obama has done is provide Abbas with the hook that allows him to back off from negotiations and to make it seem like Netanyahu’s fault, to boot. In a word, Obama has made it possible for Abbas to proceed without accountability. Ironically by insisting so adamantly that a settlement building freeze must be in place at the beginning of the peace process, Obama is making it less likely that this process will succeed – or even begin.

Yet there’s even more going on, and it is considerably more serious than all of Abbas’s stalling and machinations. Obama, by insisting that settlements constitute the major stumbling block to a peace agreement, has shifted international attention away from the emerging Islamic state in Gaza. The Arab Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh recently observed that “Hamas is gradually turning the Gaza Strip into a Taliban-style Islamic entity that poses a threat not only to Israel, but also to the Americans, Europeans, and moderate Arabs and Muslims.” According to Toameh, The high profile controversy over Israel's policy of building new homes in Jewish settlements has in fact facilitated Hamas's mission.”

Toameh quotes a Palestinian journalist in the Gaza Strip as saying, “The Americans and Europeans are fighting against Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan while Hamas is building a new fundamentalist entity here. The settlements may be an obstacle to peace but Hamastan will soon become a major threat to stability in the region.”

How to explain Obama’s confused priorities? One answer lies in his clear intent to demonstrate to the Muslim and Arab worlds that he is tough with Israel and capable of imposing his demands upon the Jewish state. With this ruthless power play, in which Israel serves as a reluctant pawn, Obama is able to score considerable points abroad. The problem is that, by turning his back on rising Islamic radicalism in Gaza, Obama is doing inestimable damage to the genuine interests of the United States.


Arlene Kushner, who lives and writes in Jerusalem, has just completed her latest documented report on Fatah for the Center for Near East Policy Research.  Her articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, Azure, The Jewish Exponent, YNet, and other venues.


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


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The big truth.


by  David Frankfurter


Over the years we have seen Israel on the losing end of an ongoing propaganda war that has increasingly besmirched its image in the media and has increasingly affected the realpolitik of the world in which we live and operate.


The pattern is consistent.  The Palestinian lobby starts with a lie which is so unbelievable that we belittle it – or even ignore it.  The lie is repeated often enough until the world believes it – and even our natural supporters in the Jewish Diaspora begin to adopt it, repeat it and reinforce it.  It then becomes a reality we have to deal with.  Eventually even the Israeli government toes the line.  Frankly we are fools.  And if we ever thought “never again!”, why don’t we fight back?


Let’s understand how it works.  The “big lie” was most famously defined by Hitler – in fact in a “big lie” hidden within a “big lie” – he accused the Jews of using the tactic:


“…in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation… would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.” —Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X


United States Office of Strategic Services wartime description of Hitler’s Psychological Profile showed how he used the tactic:


“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”


And the Palestinians adopted Hitler’s ways.  Amongst their own public and in the international arena.


Let’s take, as an example, the “illegal” settlements beyond the 1967 armistice line, in what is “rightful Palestinian territory”, that have become in the world’s mind the only “obstacle to peace”.  If Israel would only abandon the settlements, the world would support Israel, peace would miraculously descend from heaven resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, magically diffuse over the entire Middle East, and the Messianic era would usher in world peace. Leaving aside whether one thinks that settlements are a good idea, a bad idea, should be dismantled or not, are a blessing or a curse – the fundamental assumptions are simply balderdash.


The Arab world rejected Israel and launched non-stop wars and terrorist campaigns against Israel’s citizens before a single settlement  existed beyond the 1967 armistice lines.  At least some “post-1967 Settlements” were re-established on Jewish owned lands, where the surrounding Arab neighbours had massacred the inhabitants during one or another of these violent attempts to purge the region of Jews.  There are many eminent international lawyers who would contend that the vast majority of the settlements in Judea and Samaria are perfectly acceptable under international law.


Most telling, however, is the experiment which thoroughly tested and disproved the idea that removing settlements or Jews from “Palestine” will somehow magically lead to peace.  In September 2005, all the settlements in the Gaza strip were voluntarily abandoned. The Gaza strip was made completely “Judenrein” or Jew-free.  


We all know the results.  The world “rewarded” Israel by allowing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon address a near-empty plenum of the UN, and then promptly placed all blame for Palestinian failures on Israeli shoulders.  Instead of an opportunity for state-building, the Palestinians chose a path of self-destruction and terrorist war against Israel.  Rocket attacks, suicide bombings, and internal violence and corruption didn’t let up for a moment.  And the infant Gaza economy was deliberately destroyed from the inside. 


But, we are told, Hamas did all of this, and that the Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) led Palestinian Authority is “different”, “moderate” and “responsible”.  


Another big lie. 


The very same Abbas led Palestinian Authority was in power in Gaza when Israel left.  Hamas didn’t come to power until June 2007 – some twenty months later!  And AbbasFatah political party, which also controls the Al Aqsa terrorists, has (in Arabic only, of course) consistently agreed with Hamas.  Just last week, a Fatah activist once again declared on PA Television that they don’t want peace.  As Fatah strong man Mahmoud Dahlan explained on PA Television in March, the Palestinians will not recognise Israel; any contrary statements are purely designed to obtain international funds and support.  Is it any wonder that Abbas refuses Benjamin Netanyahu’s unconditional invitation to meet to discuss peace?


Don’t misunderstand me.  I am in favour of anything that has a reasonable chance of bringing peace to our region.  But Israel is being pushed to make huge one-sided high-risk concessions, for which it gets little or nothing in return; all on the basis of a web of lies that have been thoroughly disproved, but repeated often enough, loudly enough and from high enough places that the world either pretends to or really does believe.


And this is just one the most recent example of the way the Palestinians and the world have adopted Adolf Hitler’s “big lie” principle to outflank the Jews.


But how to fight back?  The only way I can think of is to tell “the big truth”.  Start calling out the truth loudly enough, clearly enough, often enough that it begins to stick.  Call every bluff in no uncertain terms. Don’t defend.  Fight back.  But it takes each and every one of us to do it.  Loudly.  Publicly.  Every time.



David Frankfurter

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


Rubin: New US Mideast Policy Great in Theory, Bound to Fail


by  Barry Rubin


A clear, consistent, and carefully formulated U.S. strategy is emerging in the Middle East. Unfortunately, it’s a badly flawed one that won’t work. Probably, the Obama administration will spend the next six months finding out what I’ve just told you. Hopefully, it will learn and change as a result.

Let’s consider the interrelated U.S. policy regarding Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict. On Iran, the U.S. plans to build sanctions against Iran, going slowly to keep Europeans on board and to win assent from Moscow.

The other arm of this policy has been a careful effort to avoid friction with Tehran. Some in the administration think that engagement might work but probably more and more view it simply as a way to show the world that America has tried and that Iran is intransigent (something the world should already know).

At any rate, starting in September the administration intends to spring its trap! Everything will be ready: allies coordinated, rationale laid. Tougher sanctions will be raised against Iran; stronger warnings will be made.

Yet if one puts aside all the atmospherics and personalities, doesn't this put the Obama administration in October 2009 about where the Bush administration was regarding Iran in October 2008? In other words, U.S. policy will not be noticeably more likely to affect Iranian behavior now than it was then.

The big difference is supposedly that Obama's popularity and the fact that he tried engagement with Iran will translate into strong European support for sanctions.

But even with their liking Obama, how much more will Europeans do? Moreover, Obama is neither wildly popular nor has he made progress with the two biggest barriers to strong sanctions: Russia and China.

Foreign support for getting tough with Iran is not just a function of disliking former President George Bush or thinking Iran hasn’t been given enough chance to repent. Europeans have spent years at engaging Iran.

No, their motive is:

--Economic self-interest. There are big profits to be made from trade and investment.

--Desire to avoid confrontations with Iran, a country that has a lot of money and which kills people who oppose it.

--Belief that a nuclear-armed Iran can be managed.

As for Russia, it views Iran as an asset. Tehran buys its nuclear equipment, weapons, and helps subvert U.S. policies. In China’s case, aside from the profit motive, is fear of setting a precedent with sanctions which some day might be used against itself over human rights, or Taiwan, or Tibet.

True, Obama has a plan for winning over Russia. It just isn’t a good one. His advisor on nuclear issues, an able, decent expert (but not on international politics) named Gary Samore says, "I think the effort to reset the relationship with Russia... can have the effect of making it more likely that Russia will cooperate with us in dealing with Iran."

More likely, "very slightly less likely" rather than "more likely," but it still won't happen in any meaningful way.

Samore continues:

"That strategy of working on a new START treaty in parallel with efforts to improve our coordination on Iran seems to be working and we'll find out later this year whether that ends up being successful."

But is Russia going to trade, as the Obama team hints, a nuclear treaty in exchange for serious cooperation over Iran? No. Reducing America's nuclear arsenal, which is not a desperate need for Russia any way, would already be paid for by Russia's reducing its own arsenal!

[Update: I was right! Russia rejects this deal completely:

In other words, no matter how charming Obama is, no matter how many concessions he makes to the Europeans and Russia, no matter how much he proves himself willing to be friends with Tehran, it won’t change that much.

Furthermore, just how tough will be the sanctions Obama will request, much less get? They are not likely to be "killers" to start with and then will get watered down further to win broad support. And then after being announced they will be watered down even more in order to ensure adaption. And then after being agreed to they might well not be completely enforced.

In short, Tehran isn't trembling.

But let’s take the best-case outcome. Suppose everyone is ready to agree to tougher sanctions. These would still be far too low to force Iran to give in. Moreover, the new Iranian government is tougher than ever and less inclined not only to compromising away the nuclear weapons’ drive but even to slowing it down. Having crushed demonstrations in Tehran these aren’t leaders to be cowed by finger-wagging from diplomats in suits more expensive than the average Iranian makes in a year.

Meanwhile, Obama’s general rhetoric and overall approach to international affairs convinces Tehran that the West is weak. Ignore it, say the mullahs. Full speed ahead! Then when we have nukes, who cares what the West says, If it even dares complain.

So this Iran policy, though it seems brilliant to its creators, is hopeless.


Now, let’s turn to Arab-Israeli conflict policy. Alexander Pope wrote: "A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again."

In other words, the Obama administration has learned part of the truth but this has made things worse.

What it understands correctly is that most Arab regimes (excluding Iran’s little buddy, Syria) are more worried about Iran and radical Islamist groups than about Israel.

In light of this correct insight, the administration has devised a brilliant—in its own mind—plan.

This policy is not a repeat of the old panacea--bash Israel and get peace—is a mistake. It is a more updated, softer (but not necessarily more sophisticated) strategy which can be summarized as: get Israel to make one concession and everything will fall into place.

Here's the grand plan: The United States will force Israel to freeze construction on Jewish settlements on the West Bank, then using this proof of evenhandedness, will go to Arab regimes and say: You see we’re ready to push Israel, now your job is to push the Palestinians toward compromise, convince Israel of your own readiness for peace, and stand with us more vigorously in containing Iran.

Arab rulers will reply—indeed, the Saudis, Egyptians, and Jordanians have already done so—“not by the hairs on your chinny-chin-chin,” as the three pink mammals, whose species cannot be mentioned in these Politically Correct times, put it in the nursery rhyme. Or in more scientific language, “You get bupkis!”

They'd probably say this any way but can do so more easily knowing that Obama is not going to huff, and puff, and blow their houses down. At the same time, they know that the Iranian regime and their own people are far scarier than Barack Obama.

And so this strategy, too, will fail.

I certainly agree that forming an alliance of the West, Israel, and most Arab states is the central task in the Middle East today, but Obama and his colleagues hugely underestimates the difficulty in doing so.

It wasn’t just mean old George Bush that prevented the Arab-Israeli conflict from being solved but Palestinian and Syrian intransigence plus Arab state passivity.

It wasn’t just mean old unpopular George Bush that prevented Arab states from doing more to help U.S. policy to stabilize Iraq and contain Iran. It was the self-interest of those regimes that did so.

At best, while most Arab regimes agree that the main danger is Iran and radical Islamism, they aren't going to stick their necks out, especially now that the United States seems weak and uncertain about providing real leadership. And they are still content to let America do all the work.

If this analysis were a cartoon, then, the caption would be: "Smithers, it is a carefully composed, comprehensive, detailed, and internally logical plan. Congratulations. Unfortunately, it is a very bad plan and it won't work."

Think of how an alternative might look. Last May 27 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:

"With respect to settlements, the President was very clear....He wants to see a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions....That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly...And we intend to press that point."

What would this approach would sound like if applied to Iran’s regime:

"With respect to nuclear weapons and sponsorship of terrorism, the President was very clear....He wants to see a stop to nuclear weapons--not some nuclear weapons, not just the warheads, not just the missiles....That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly....And we intend to press that point."

Or how about Syria’s regime?

"With respect to Syrian sponsorship of terrorism, the President was very clear....He wants to see a stop to Syrian sponsorship of terrorism–not just training terrorists, not just financing terrorists, not just ordering them to attack, not just giving them safe passage across the border, not just against Lebanon, not just against Syria, not just against Israel....That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly....And we intend to press that point."

But of course such a policy would require some real toughness against enemies on real big issues, not just gigantic posturing against an ally on a really small issue. U.S. policy neither intends nor in the end will sell out Israel. The problem is much worse from an American standpoint: it is dangerously subverting its own interests.

There's a problem when any serious and well-informed observer should be able to see six months ahead of time that U.S. policy isn't going to work.

There’s an even bigger problem when administration officials and the media are so busy congratulating the genius of the current administration that no one notices the train is speeding toward a chasm without a bridge.

So, Mr. President, save this column and read it again in six months. It will make more sense to you.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

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


Beware wishful thinking.


by Yoram Ettinger


Unstable Mideast makes Judea, Samaria crucial for Israel’s security


In 1967, Israel demolished the military forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Consequently, Israel developed the "Low Probability Arab Offensive" concept. The 1973 War - along with Mideast unpredictability and objective intelligence constraints - devastated that concept, threatening the Jewish State with oblivion.


In 2003, following the US occupation of Iraq, Israel recycled the "Low Probability" concept. Israel assumed that the US military in Iraq precluded the possibility of a conventional Arab offensive on Israel's eastern front – a lethal threat to Israel's "soft belly" (Jerusalem and greater Tel Aviv).


However, in 2009, that concept has been rendered obsolete by the gradual US evacuation of Iraq and by the lowered US military profile in the Mideast, which have energized Mideast radicals. The gradual US withdrawal from Iraq should free Israel from the "Low Probability" delusion, thus preventing a 1973 War-like disaster. It should put to rest the illusion that the US military presence in Iraq is a fixture, thus supposedly permitting dramatic cuts in Israel's defense budget, while lowering the critical significance of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria to Israel's survival.


The potential implications of the drastic change in US policy – from an offensive and defiant posture to one of retreat and engagement – highlight the unpredictable, treacherous and brutal nature of the Mideast. It mandates a very high security threshold, especially for the besieged Jewish State.


For instance, in 1969, Libya was transformed abruptly from a US to a Soviet ally. The largest US (overseas) air force base, Wheelus, became, overnight, a Soviet base. In 1979, Iran was switched violently from the "US Policeman" in the Gulf to a chief "Anti-US Gangster." In 1980, Iraq invaded Iran in violation of their peace treaty, while avoiding US surveillance facilities in the region.


In 1989, the Communist USSR collapsed and policy-makers deluded themselves about peace dividends and the end of the war era. However, the globe and particularly the Mideast, have become less-certain, less-predictable, less-stable, less-familiar and therefore much more threatening.


In 1990, Iraq violated its peace treaty with Kuwait, plundering and raping the sheikhdom. In 1993, the Israel-PLO Oslo Accord was concluded and Shimon Peres authored "The New Middle East," claiming that borders and territory lost their significance. But, instead of peace, the Oslo Process ushered in an unprecedented wave of hate-education, non-compliance and terrorism. The IDF and Israel's Secret Service had to reenter Judea and Samaria, in order to defend Israel's "soft belly" in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the 9-15 miles coastal plain (pre-1967 Israel).


In 1948-9, Jordan's King Abdullah broke his commitment to Golda Meir to refrain from fighting the Jewish State. In 1966, King Hussein breached his commitment – to the US – to prohibit US-made tanks from crossing the Jordan River. In 1967 and in 1973, King Hussein was forced by Egypt and Syria to join the wars against Israel.


During 1968-1970, King Hussein provided the PLO with logistical and operational bases for anti-Israel terrorism. In 1990, King Hussein collaborated with Saddam Hussein. How would the toppling of Jordan's Hashemite regime (by pro-Iran, pro-Syria, or pro-Hamas or PLO terrorists) impact the Israel-Jordan peace treaty and the potency of the Eastern Arab Front threat on the Jewish State?!


The expected completion of the US retreat from Iraq and the minimization of the US as a global policeman would exacerbate local, regional and global conflicts in the Mideast, would intensify pro-Arab Russian, Chinese and North Korean involvement, would escalate Iranian and Syrian belligerence and would fuel Islamic terrorist subversion against Arab regimes in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Sheikhdoms.


The progressive US withdrawal from Iraq sheds light on the potential of uncertainty, instability, treachery, non-compliance and violence in the Mideast, irrespective of Israel's policy or existence.


Mideast precedents behoove the Jewish State to base its policy on realistic Mideast scenarios and not on lethal wishful thinking, such as the "Low Probability Concept." The Mideast requires (especially) Israel to maintain a high security threshold, which protects its most vulnerable eastern flank: The mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which constitute the "Golan Heights" of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; the most effective tank obstacle in the region (3,000ft steep slope dominating the Jordan Valley in the east); a dream platform for invading the 9-15 miles sliver of flat land along the Mediterranean Sea (2,000ft moderate slope in the western mountain ridge).



Yoram Ettinger


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


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Do Palestinians want peace?


by  Ami Isseroff

 It's not the first time Palestinian officials or Fateh officials have said frankly that they have no intention of keeping a peace agreement, and probably it won't be the last.  According to Palestinian Media Watch,  Fateh  activist Kifah Radaydeh said,

"Fatah is facing a challenge, because [Fatah] says that we perceive peace as one of the strategies, but we say that all forms of the struggle exist, and we do not rule out the possibility of the armed struggle or any other struggle. The struggle exists in all its forms, on the basis of what we are capable of at a given time, and according to what seems right...

What exactly do we want? It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; and the goal is Palestine. I do not negotiate in order to achieve peace. I negotiate for Palestine, in order to achieve a state." 


The young lady is convincing, engaging and well worth watching. Click to see video if it is not displayed below.


Others have said it much more explicitly in the past. In April of 2006, one "Abu Ahmed,"  Fatah member and leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in northern Gaza was quoted as saying:


The base of our Fatah movement keeps dreaming of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa and Akko..."  "There is no change in our position. Abbas recognizes Israel because of pressure that the Zionists and the Americans are exercising on him. We understand this is part of his obligations and political calculations."



More recently, in 2009,  Fatah Central Comittee member and PLO representative Abbas Zaki said,


Let me tell you, when the ideology of Israel collapses, and we take, at least, Jerusalem, the Israeli ideology will collapse in its entirety, and we will begin to progress with our own ideology, Allah willing, and drive them out of all of Palestine.


A recent FAFO poll asked Palestinians what their vision of peace with Israel was. The question and the major responses as FAFO reports:


The survey asked about people's hopes for a future political solution to the conflict with Israel...:

Two states (35 %; Fatah supporters 47 % versus Hamas supporters 21 %)

One Islamic state (33 %; Fatah supporters 17 % versus Hamas supporters 58 %)

One state with equal rights for all (20 %; Fatah followers 22 % versus Hamas followers 12 %)

Only 35% of Palestinians supported a two state solution, while 53% supported one state solutions. 9% "didn't know."

Is it really surprising that Israeli leaders are skeptical about the prospects for peace? Is it possible for even the most sincere advocates of peace, even for pro-Palestinian analysts, to believe that perhaps Palestinians do not want a state, or want a state that Israel  could never accept? Evidently it is, as Sever Plocker points out.

Can we understand that it is legitimate, in these circumstances, and in view of the experience of the Second Intifada, to be at least somewhat skeptical about the possibility of achieving peace with the Palestinians?  Can we admit that not every Israeli politician who is not eager for peace negotiations and optimistic about the outcome, and who is not willing to put their political career on the line in order to back another round of disastrous negotiations, is necessarily a "right wing ultranationalist extremist?"  

From his point of view, US President Barack Obama needs to take into account the possibility that if the Palestinians don't want a two state solution, they will never agree to any peace proposals. He will have forced numerous concessions from Israel  but still will not get peace in the Middle East. The Arabs will blame the United States and Israel, and the usual people in the United States will blame Israel.

That does not mean that we should not try. Let the failure be blamed on the Palestinians if there is to be a failure. But let's keep our eyes open.

Ami Isseroff

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Fatah Official: “Our Goal is Not Peace, but Rather Palestine”


by Hillel Fendel

"Our goal has never been peace," says a Fatah official in a PA TV panel. "Peace is a means; the goal is Palestine" – meaning the conquest of Israel.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), directed by Itamar Marcus, reports on a panel discussion on a television program of the Fatah organization broadcast this past week. Headed by Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah is considered the more moderate wing of the Palestinian Authority, compared with Hamas.

The panel discussion shows that in actuality, Fatah is no less firm than Hamas in seeking the goal of Israel's destruction. Kifah Radaydeh, the deputy head of the Jerusalem chapter of Fatah, says openly that the PA will resume violence and terror against Israel when Fatah is "capable," and "according to what seems right."

"It has been said that we are negotiating for peace," she further stated, "but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; the goal is Palestine." 

Radaydeh is considered a "promising and rising young force" in Fatah, according to a PMW source, "and this report will likely give her extra prominence. But we have to publicize her words in order that the truth about the PA and Fatah be known."

PMW was established in 1996 to "gain an understanding of Palestinian society through the monitoring of the Palestinian Arabic language media and schoolbooks," its website states. The organization "analyzes Palestinian Authority culture and society from numerous perspectives, including studies on summer camps, poetry, schoolbooks, religious ideology, crossword puzzles, and more. [It play the critical role of documenting the contradictions between the image the Palestinians present to the world in English and the messages to their own people in Arabic."

Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, writing this latest PMW report, emphasize that when Fatah refers to "Palestine," as when Radaydeh says the "goal is Palestine," the reference is to all of Israel. As proof, it is noted that the Fatah flag still shows the map of Israel under rifles.

In addition, Fatah MP Najat Abu Bakr said in a PA TV interview last year that Fatah's goal remains the destruction of Israel, but that their political plan is to focus on returning to the 1967 borders. "It doesn't mean that we don't want the 1948 borders," Abu Bakr said, referring to all of Israel," but rather that "our current political program is to say that we want the 1967 borders."

Just four months ago, senior PA official Mohammed Dahlan stressed that Fatah adamantly refuses to recognize Israel, and that even the Palestinian Authority's recognition is only for the sake of receiving foreign aid:

             "…the Fatah movement does not recognize Israel, even today... [such recognition i required of the government but not of the Fatah, so that this government will be able to offer the necessary assistance, to carry out the necessary reconstruction, to offer assistance to the sick, to bring relief to needy families... This can be dealt with [onl by a government that has relations with the international community, one that is acceptable to the international community, in order that we can work together and benefit from the international community." 



Hillel Fendel

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Africa Vs. the Arab World.


By Anne Bayefsky

Why does Obama treat the two so differently?

Speaking in Ghana on Saturday President Obama lectured Africans on local repression, corruption, brutality, good governance and accountability. The startling contrast to his June speech in Cairo was revealing. Stroking Muslim and Arab nations has become the hallmark of Obama's foreign policy.

In Egypt, he chose not to utter the words "terrorism" or "genocide." In Egypt, there was nothing "brutal" he could conjure up, no "corruption" and no "repression".

In Ghana, with a 70% Christian population, he mentioned "good governance" seven times and added direct calls upon his audience to "make change from the bottom up." He praised "people taking control of their destiny" and pressed "young people" to "hold your leaders accountable."

He made no such calls for action by the people of Arab states—despite the fact that not a single Arab country is "free," according to the latest Freedom House global survey.

Before the Muslim world Obama donned the role of apologist-in-chief. Over and over again his examples of shortfalls in the protection of rights and freedoms were American: the "prison at Guantanamo Bay," "rules on charitable giving [that] have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation," impediments to the "choice" of Muslim women to shroud their bodies.

Christian Africa was to be treated to no such self-flagellation. In a rare tongue-lashing for Africans from any American president, he chastised: "It's easy to point fingers and to pin the blame of these problems on others. Yes, a colonial map that made little sense helped to breed conflict … But the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy … or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants … tribalism and patronage and nepotism … and … corruption."

He might equally have said to the Arab and Muslim world: "It's easy to scapegoat Israel and blame your problems on the presence of Jews—albeit on a fraction of 1% of the territory inhabited by the Arab world—but Israel is not responsible for poverty, illiteracy, torture, trafficking, slavery and oppression rampant across your countries." But he did not.

In Ghana he pointed to specific heroes that had exposed human rights abuse, singling out by name a courageous investigative reporter. In Egypt, though journalists and bloggers are routinely threatened, jailed and worse, no such brave soul came to mind.

In a Christian African nation he said, "If we are honest, for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. There are wars over land and wars over resources. And it is still far too easy for those without conscience to manipulate whole communities into fighting among faiths and tribes."

To the Arab and Muslim world he could have said: "Since the day of Israel's birth Arab and Muslim countries have made conflict with Israel a part of life, warring over land and manipulating whole communities into fighting in the name of Islam to render the area Judenrein."

Instead, he turned on the only democracy in the Middle East and said the presence of Jews on Arab-claimed territory—settlements—is an affront to be "stopped." It didn't matter that agreements require ultimate ownership of this territory to be determined by negotiation or that apartheid Palestine is hardly a worthy pursuit.

From Ghana he chided Africans: "No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end."

For an Arab and Muslim audience he cooed: "America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities, which are also threatened."

Ghanaians will likely turn the other cheek, secure enough to take it and even be grateful for the spotlight. But Obama's double-standard is not a victimless crime. The disparity between the scolding he gave in Ghana and the love-in he held in Cairo illuminates an incoherent and dangerous agenda.

In his lofty, but empty, rhetoric in Ghana, Obama promised "we must stand up to inhumanity in our midst," pledged "a commitment … to sanction and stop" warmongers and embraced the Zimbabwe non-governmental organization that "braved brutal repression to stand up for the principle that a person's vote is their sacred right."

These are devastating words for Iranians struggling valiantly to keep the hope of democracy alive but forced to bear witness to the contradiction. Betrayed, they have watched the Obama administration pledge to move forward on negotiations with illegally ensconced Iranian thugs—at the very same time their victims are being rounded up, tortured and readied for show-trials in advance of certain execution.

On Friday, Obama, and the rest of the G-8 with his blessing, announced that thinking about more sanctions on Iran can wait until September. And then we can expect yet another round of Security Council dickering over minimalist responses to more Iranian stalling tactics—until an Iranian nuclear weapon is inevitable. Though it is 2,202 days since the U.N.'s atomic energy agency first declared that Iran was violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Obama pretends legitimizing those same nuclear-proliferating fascists makes it more likely the clock will stop ticking.

Iranians standing up for their allegedly "sacred rights" know Obama has it exactly backwards. Speechifying about "our interconnected world" and "common interests" in Ghana was cold comfort to the voices of Muslim dissidents and Jewish victims deserted in the Obama wilderness.


Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.

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