Saturday, September 5, 2009

Time's up on Iran


by Caroline Glick


Over the past few weeks evidence has piled up that Iran is not years away from being capable of building nuclear bombs at will. It is months away. As the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Teheran's nuclear program makes clear, at its present rate of uranium enrichment, Iran will have sufficient quantities of enriched uranium to build two atomic bombs by February.


What is most notable about this IAEA finding is that it comes in a report that does everything possible to cover up Iran's progress and intentions.


Israel responded angrily to the report, alleging that the agency's outgoing director, Mohamed ElBaradei, suppressed information that confirms the military nature of Iran's program. In a statement released last Saturday, the Foreign Ministry alleged that the report "does not reflect the entirety of the information the IAEA holds on Iran's efforts to advance their military program, nor their continued efforts to conceal and deceive and their refusal to cooperate with the IAEA and the international community."


Two weeks before the IAEA released its report, the US State Department published its assessment that Iran won't have the wherewithal to develop a bomb until 2013. According The Washington Post, this conclusion is based on the State Department's analysis of Iran's "technical capability."


For all its failures, the latest IAEA report puts the lie to this State Department assessment.


Moreover, as a recent study by Israeli missile expert Uzi Rubin shows, Iran already has several delivery options for its burgeoning nuclear arsenal. In a report published by The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Rubin, who has been awarded the Israel Defense Prize and oversaw the development of Israel's Arrow missile defense system, concludes that Iran today has the capacity to develop solid-fuel-based intermediate ballistic missiles with a range of 3,600 kilometers. That is, today, Iran has the capacity to attack not only Israel and other states in the Middle East. Since its successful test of its solid-fuel based Sejil missile in May, it has the demonstrated capacity to attack Europe as well.


Furthermore, Teheran's successful upgrade of its ballistic missiles to satellite launchers has given it the capacity to launch nuclear weapons into the atmosphere. This renders Iran capable of launching an electromagnetic pulse attack from sea against just about any country. An EMP attack can destroy a state's electromagnetic grid and thus take a 21st-century economy back to the pre-industrial era. Such an attack on the US, for instance, would cripple the American economy, and render the US government at all levels incapable of restoring order or preventing mass starvation.


THESE LATEST disclosures should focus the attention of Israel's leaders on a singular question: What can Israel do to prevent Iran from further expanding its nuclear capacity and block it from emerging as a nuclear power?


The answer to this question is the same as it has been for the past six years, since the scale of Teheran's nuclear program was first revealed. Israel can order the Israel Air Force to bomb Iran's nuclear and missile facilities with the aim of denying Iran the ability to attack the Jewish state.


The necessity for Israel to exercise its one option grows daily in light of what the rest of the world is doing in regards to Iran. Following the release of the IAEA report and ahead of the UN General Assembly's opening meeting later this month, this week US, German, British, French, Russian and Chinese diplomats met in Germany to discuss the possibility of ratcheting up Security Council sanctions against Iran. Ahead of the meeting, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both announced that they support stronger sanctions.


But right on schedule, as the representatives of these countries sat down with one another, the Iranians told the media they are interested in negotiating. Suddenly, after stonewalling for more than a year, Teheran is willing to think about telling us the terms under which it will discuss the West's offer to provide the mullahs with all manner of rewards in exchange for an Iranian agreement to suspend the expansion of its of uranium enrichment, (which, as the IAEA report notes, is already great enough to produce two nuclear bombs by February).


Taking their cue from the mullahs, the Russians and the Chinese are now saying that there is no reason to be hasty. Far wiser, in their view, would be a decision to sit down and see what the Iranians would like to do. No doubt, the Russians and Chinese are arguing that it will take some time - perhaps until February - to arrange such a meeting. And then, there is the prospect that such a meeting could end inconclusively but keep the door open for further talks sometime in late-2010 or early 2011. In the meantime, as far as the Russians and the Chinese are concerned, further UN sanctions would be unfair in light of Iran's willingness to engage diplomatically.


But then even if the Russians and the Chinese supported stronger sanctions, the measure now being debated will have no impact on either Iran's ability or willingness to become a nuclear power. Today these leading nations are discussing the prospect of banning refined petroleum imports into Iran. Given that Iran, with its currently limited capacity to refine petroleum, is a net oil importer, for the past several years, the notion of banning the Iranian imports of refined petroleum products has been raised every time the IAEA submitted a report on Iran's nuclear program and every time more information came out describing its spectacular progress in missile development and uranium enrichment. Inevitably, this talk was dismissed the moment a mullah approached a microphone and hinted that Iran might be interested in cutting a deal.


But while the West has consistently postponed imposing such sanctions, the Islamic republic has taken the prospect seriously. Over the past four years, Iran moved to reduce its vulnerability to such a ban. It has required citizens to adapt their cars to run on natural gas, which Iran has in abundance. Furthermore, in a joint venture with China, Teheran has launched a crash program to expand its domestic oil refining capabilities. With Chinese assistance, Iran is expected to have the refining capacity to meet its domestic needs by 2012.


Beyond that, as former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton noted this week in The Wall Street Journal, even if the West were to impose such sanctions on Iran today, they would not impact the Iranian military's ability to operate. The only people who would be impacted by such sanctions are Iranian civilians.


Here, too, it should be noted that the entire rationale of the ban on refined oil imports to Iran is that oil shortages will turn the public against the regime and the regime in turn will be forced to stand down against the international community in order to placate its gasoline-starved constituents. But if the regime's brutal repression of its opponents in the wake of the stolen June 12 presidential elections tells us anything, it tells us that the regime doesn't care about what the Iranian public thinks of it. Indeed, in the face of rising domestic opposition to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the regime's best bet may be to launch a war against the hated Jews in order to unify the clerical leadership - which is now split between those supporting the regime and those supporting the opposition - behind the regime.


Finally, the discussion of sanctions is irrelevant because every move that Iran is making shows that the regime is determined to go to war. Its massive diversion of resources to its nuclear and ballistic missile program shows that the regime is absolutely committed to becoming a nuclear power. Its move to build an open military alliance with the Lebanese government, together with its expansion of its military ties to Syria through the financing of the sale of advanced Russian aircraft to Damascus and the proliferation of nuclear technology, shows that it is building up the capabilities of its underlings. Then, too, this week's report that the Hizbullah weapons cache in southern Lebanon which exploded in July contained chemical weapons indicates that Iran is already providing its terror proxies with nonconventional arsenals to expand its war-making capabilities against Israel and the West.


ALL IN all, the totality of Iran's moves make clear that it is not interested in using its nuclear program as a bargaining chip to gain all manner of goodies from the West. It is planning to use its nuclear program as a means of becoming a nuclear power. And it wishes to become a nuclear power because it wishes to wage war against its enemies.

And all in all, the totality of the UN-led international community's responses to Teheran's moves make clear that the world will take no effective action to prevent Iran from gaining the capacity to wage nuclear war. The world today will again do nothing to prevent the genocide of Jewry.


And that's the thing of it. So long as the mullahs continue to signal that the Jews are their first target, the world will be content to allow them to build their nuclear weapons and to use them. As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's contention that the US will retaliate against Iran if it launches a nuclear attack against Israel makes clear, Washington will only consider acting against Teheran after the US moves to the top of Teheran's target list.


The question then is whether Israel has the ability to effectively attack Iran even if the US opposes such a strike. Based on open source material, the answer to this central question is yes, Israel can launch an effective strike against Iran.


Over the past several years, the IAF has demonstrated that it has the power-projection capability to reach Iran's nuclear installations, strike and return home. The key nuclear installations have been visited by IAEA inspectors. They are not hundreds of meters underground. They are not invulnerable to ordnance Israel already possesses. They can be destroyed or at least severely impaired.


The route to Iran is also open. Various leaked reports indicate that Saudi Arabia has given Israel a green light to overfly its airspace en route to Iran.


Finally, consistent polling data shows that the Israeli public understands the need for a strike and would be willing to accept whatever consequences flow in its wake. The public will support a government decision to strike even if the strike is not a one-off like the 1981 IAF strike that destroyed Iraq's Osirak reactor. The public will support the government even if the strike precipitates a condemnation by the US and a resumption of hostilities with Lebanon and even with Syria.


With each passing day, Iran moves closer to the bomb and closer to initiating war on its terms. The international community will do nothing to preempt this danger. Israel must act. Fighting a war on our terms is eminently preferable to fighting one on Iran's.



Caroline Glick

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


Friday, September 4, 2009

The Zionism of Orde Wingate - A Complex Origin. Part I


by Aaron Eitan Meyer

1st part of 2

While it may seem strange to suppose that the year 1936 was in any way beneficial to the Jewish people, considering the state of affairs in Nazi Germany, and the dawning of the Arab Revolt in the British Mandate of Palestine, that year did also bring with it the beginning of a relationship that continues to benefit the Jewish people to this day. It was the year when Orde Charles Wingate—Scottish eccentric, military genius, visionary and one of the most passionate Zionists of his day—was assigned to a British Army Intelligence post in the British Mandate of Palestine, a move that would eventually make Wingate a hero of the Yishuv. And yet, while his assistance to the Zionist cause is well-known and appreciated in Israel, the origins of his commitment to the Jewish State are by no means clear, even to his biographers. Critics are apt to dismiss his Zionism with off-handed references to his Old Testament-heavy Christian upbringing or his affinity for the underdog as 'the' reason, but his real motivations are far more complicated. This essay sketches out the complexities that brought about Wingate's Zionism, while attempting to refrain from the amateur psychoanalysis that plagues too many biographies of the man.

Before delving into the psyche of the man, it is worth mentioning the effect he continues to have in Israel. Traveling through Komemiyut in Jerusalem, at the intersection of Jabotinsky and David Marcus, one will see Kikar Orde (known also as Kikar Wingate). There are Wingate Streets in Be'er Sheva, Tel Aviv and Herzliya as well. In the Carmel Mountains, just south of Haifa, there is the Yemin Orde Wingate Youth Village, which serves hundreds of disadvantaged, at-risk and immigrant children from around the world. Israel's national sports and health education institute in Netanya is fittingly named Machon Wingate, the Wingate Institute.

One might be wondering why so much was named after this man. In his book on the history of the Israeli army, Ze'ev Schiff called Wingate "the single most important influence on the military thinking of the Haganah."[1] While a complete analysis of that influence would constitute an article of its own, Samuel M. Katz put it succinctly. "Wingate had a profound impact on the molding of Israeli military doctrine. Defense, when fighting a numerically superior enemy, meant offense, and offense meant fighting deep inside enemy territory where the opposition was most vulnerable."[2] To this day, that concept remains the core of Israeli military strategy. And with that admittedly abbreviated digest, the focus may turn to the man himself.


Wingate's Background Prior to 1936

Beginning with Christopher Sykes' authorized biography of Wingate,[3] entire chapters have been devoted to Wingate's life prior to his years in the Mandate and later distinguished service in restoring Haile Selassie to the throne of Ethiopia and Chindit operations in Burma. While that degree of detail is not possible here, a brief sketch is essential to framing the question of his eventual adherence to Zionism.

Orde Charles Wingate was born in Naini Tal, India, in 1903 to parents who were members of the Plymouth Brethren, a Puritan offshoot. He was raised to believe that an individual owed a duty to God, though he would never prove to be a religious man in any regular sense of the term. During his initial military service in the Sudan, the young Wingate wrote in his Letter-Journal to "Serve God not self."[4] Wingate's religious upbringing involved consistent study of the Old Testament. (Later, such study would amaze Jews in the Yishuv who were impressed by Wingate's encyclopedic geographical knowledge of Israel[5]). But during his formative schooling years, including his military schooling, he felt alienated from his family's religion. Indeed, as his lifelong friend Derek Tulloch pointed out, while Wingate was at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, he was in the midst of a rebellion against the religion he'd been brought up in, and that turmoil led to his not presenting "a very likable front to his fellow cadets."[6]

After graduation from Woolwich as a member of the artillery corps, Wingate sought the advice of his 'Cousin Rex', Sir Reginald Wingate, Sirdar of the Sudan, regarding where he should get assigned. Unsurprisingly, he would find himself in the Sudan, where his native troops would bestow on him the title 'His Worship the Judge' in recognition of his erudition.[7] Perhaps of greatest importance for the purposes of this paper is the fact that prior to leaving for the Sudan, Wingate learned (and displayed a considerable aptitude for) Arabic, the ability that would eventually send him to the Mandate of Palestine, and his destiny.

During his stay in Britain after returning from the Sudan, Wingate met and fell in love with the brilliant, though considerably younger, Lorna Paterson, whom he would marry. No analysis of Wingate's life could hope to be adequate without mention of the woman in whom Wingate found his intellectual equal, sounding board, and wife. Lorna Wingate herself became as passionate a Zionist as her husband, continuing to advocate for the Jewish Agency even after his death.

Indeed, it was Lorna Wingate who, in response to the utter lack of command-level officers available to Israel in 1948, convinced Ben Dunkelmann, a Canadian Jew, to fight for Israel, castigating him by stating that "Were my husband alive, he would not take no for an answer. He would demand that you go to Palestine and volunteer your services!"[8]

Upon the completion of his service in the Sudan, and a fruitless quest for the lost oasis of Zerzura, then-Captain Wingate found himself without an expected appointment to Staff College, which was at the time practically the only means for advancement in the military. After confronting the Chief of the Imperial General Staff with his complaint (and a copy of a published report on his quest for Zerzura), Wingate found himself given a post as an Intelligence Officer in Haifa.


Wingate in the Mandate

In the fall of 1936, Wingate arrived in Haifa, an Intelligence Officer chosen for that role in large part due to his fluent Arabic.[9] Up to this point in his life, he'd had extremely limited contact with Jews, and virtually no knowledge of or affinity for Jewish issues. As he would later express it, "In 1938 in spite of my natural sympathy with the Arabs and my understanding of their position I became during my official studies convinced that the Imperial, Jewish, and Arab interests all lay in in [sic] one direction."[10]

Had Wingate's interest been so limited to utilizing the Yishuv as war loomed, the matter might be settled there. However, Wingate did not merely see the Jews as a resource to be used – however essential they may be as a tool of British policy. He became such a committed Zionist himself that it never failed to amaze the leaders of the Yishuv.

But what actually led to that conviction? It is not only his critics who point to his early Bible-intensive education as a primary source. Yigal Allon referred to Wingate's "extraordinary Zionist ardour inspired by the Bible…"[11] while Shabtai Teveth cited Haganah archives as describing Wingate as "an eccentric, a genius, a man more religious than rational, given to great pathos, a firm believer in the Bible, and fired with a sense of the special mission of the Jewish people."[12] While describing Wingate as having a genius for "grasping and using new mechanical techniques," Lowell Thomas did not argue against the conception that Wingate was also "a Scripture-reading crusader."[13]

However, the complexity that formed the foundation for Wingate's remarkable genius does not readily coincide with the notion that his Zionism was simply based upon the Bible. As Luigi Rossetto wrote, "Wingate had one quality which stands out above all others and that was his ability to examine the situation objectively and to draw on that part of his experience which applied while rejecting that which did not."[14]

Perhaps the most objective and complete assessment of Wingate at that time was made by Derek Tulloch, who broke down the oft-noted facets of Wingate's psyche as follows:

One side effect of Wingate's unhappy experience at Woolwich was to incline him to take sides, invariably, with the underdog. He never forgot the sensation of all men siding against him. . . . The discovery, however, of this quasi-biblical cause in his life, which opened before him just at a time when he was expecting a cause to appear – to justify his existence and fulfil his destiny – explains his decision to take up the challenge.[15]

Tulloch set forth three components that, in his opinion, led Wingate to embrace the Zionist cause. In addition to the "quasi-biblical" nature of the cause, Tulloch added Wingate's inclination to side with the weaker party, and Wingate's need at the time for a cause in which his destiny could be attained. While the Biblical aspect is intriguing on its own accord, the latter two components call for further examination.

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



The Zionism of Orde Wingate - A Complex Origin. Part II


by Aaron Eitan Meyer

2nd part of 2

Wingate and the Underdog

From his early years, Wingate felt himself to be up against significant odds, and that this self-perception played a role in his world view is scarcely questionable. While serving in Ethiopia after being banished from the Mandate, he exhorted that "The right of the individual to liberty of conscience, the right of the small nation to a just decision at the tribunal of nations, these are the causes for which we fight."[16]

However, it is by no means a simple matter to state that Wingate's affinity for the weaker side compelled him to the cause of the Yishuv, much less Zionism itself. Again, Tulloch provided the key element. "Had he found the Arabs were being oppressed and considered their cause to be just, he might well have directed his energies on their behalf."[17]

Far from Wingate's motivation being a case of perception feeding his underlying inclination for an underdog, it was through his intensive study of "the history of Palestine and the yishuv"[18] that he would emerge as a committed Zionist.

As Wingate wrote in a letter to Sir Reginald Wingate in early 1937:

We are in for a war sooner or later – no hope now of avoiding that after the Abyssinian fiasco – for pitys [sic] sake let us do something just and honourable before it comes. Let us redeem our promises to Jewry and shame the devil of Nazism, Fascism, and our own prejudices.[19]

The preceding is particularly illuminating for two reasons. First, in contrast to his official and semi-official communications, Wingate's letters to his cousin were not intended to be left for posterity. Second, and perhaps more importantly, is the global reach of the forces Wingate presented as arrayed against the Jews. The rising powers of Nazism and Fascism, coupled with his perception of British prejudice against the Jews represented considerable opponents indeed. Coupled with this was his deeply held conviction that Islam itself in fact cared "little for the Arabs of Palestine" and "would be prepared to accept a fait accompli."[20]

However one may wish to question the accuracy of Wingate's view on the matter, the fact is that his view of the Jews as not only the weaker party, but deserving of justice on their own merits, is clear. Indeed, he would later frame the issue by praying that, "God give it to us to slay the enemies of the Jews, for the enemies of the Jews are the enemies of all mankind."[21]

Wingate's identification of the Yishuv (and Jewry in general) as the weaker side was made on the basis of his direct observations and study of the situation, including widespread, and indeed institutionalized, British antipathy towards the Jews in the Mandate. When combined with the innate justice of the Zionist Dream, it may be said that the Jews became in a sense the underdog incarnate for Wingate.

And yet the matter cannot rest there. Though Wingate would find himself drawn to another powerless individual in Haile Selassie, when he later found fame and glory in Burma there is no evidence of a similar attachment to the downtrodden Burmese. And so we must turn to the third part of Tulloch's analysis, Wingate's need for a destiny.


Wingate and the Need to Find His Destiny

As previously stated, Derek Tulloch identified the components that comprised Wingate's need for destiny, a driving need to justify his existence and a means to fulfill the destiny demanded by that justification. As Sykes put it, "He was convinced he was a dedicated being, though dedicated to what he did not know, and he lived in continual fear that he never would know."[22]

Rex King-Clark, who served under Wingate in the Special Night Squads, was of the belief that, "it seems to me that his destiny, in truth, was to burn himself out for a cause – even, with Scottish perverseness, for a lost cause."[23]

In combining the need to attain one's destiny with the will to act on it, Wingate may firmly be linked to Theodore Herzl's immortal declaration that "if you will it, it is no dream." As Wingate put it to a prominent Jew, "I count it as my privilege to help you fight your battle. To that purpose I want to devote my life."[24]

Nor was Wingate's pondering a shallow or single-track thing. Colonel Philip Cochrane, co-leader of the First Air Commando, who supplied Wingate's Chindits with transportation and supplies during the second Chindit expedition, explained that, "He made you feel that here was a man who could look into the future and tell what was going to happen tomorrow."[25]

In short, Wingate found his destiny in Zionism at just the time he needed it most, and based on many of the same factual reasons that he was able to see the Jews as worthy underdogs. It is no secret that to the end of his days, he firmly believed that his destiny was to see a Jewish state arise, and that he would lead it in its battle for existence. Even though he died in a plane crash in Burma on a clear night in March of 1944, it can easily be argued that his destiny continued to be attained when the Haganah utilized his military doctrines in 1948.



The sub-heading for this section is somewhat misleading. Indeed, if this paper has demonstrated anything, it is that the complexity of Wingate's psyche makes it utterly impossible to state a conclusion with certainty as to why he truly became a Zionist. His mother-in-law, Alice Ivy Hay, was convinced that his only reason was that he believed it right for the Jews to have a homeland, and that that would bring about the fulfillment of biblical prophecies.[26] Rex King-Clark highlighted Wingate's need to find destiny in a cause. Still others have stressed his affinity for the weak and the powerless.

In the end, one must turn once more to the observation of Derek Tulloch. After appreciating the complexity of a man such as Wingate, the combination of various facets of his mind must be found to have led to his passionate Zionism. Wingate identified the Jews as the underdog, was convinced of the essential rightness of the Zionist cause, found it supported by the Bible, and foresaw his own destiny intermingled with the Jewish State. One cannot eliminate any link in that chain and still hope to even begin to comprehend why Wingate embraced Zionism. And yet, by attempting to encompass the totality of Wingate's Zionism one may indeed begin to understand the multifaceted and deep conviction that Wingate felt, despite the knowledge that a precise and limited answer isn't possible.


Aaron Eitan Meyer recently received his Juris Doctor degree from Touro Law Center, and is currently assistant director of the Legal Project at the Middle East Forum, legal correspondent to the Terror Finance Blog, and a member of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa. His interest in Wingate began while he was an undergraduate studying Middle East Politics and History, and has led to over six years of research on Wingate's life and work. He maintains Orde Wingate Remembrance Society groups on popular networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster.

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



[1] Ze'ev Schiff, A History of Israel's Army (New York: MacMillan, 1985), p. 13.
[2] Samuel M. Katz, The Elite (New York: Pocket Books, 1992), p. 12.
[3] Christopher Sykes, Orde Wingate (Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company, 1959).
[4] Orde Charles Wingate, Letter-Journal entry dated April 12, 1931. This and other unpublished papers cited herein are part of the Wingate Archive of the Steve Forbes Churchill Collection (WA), which were generously made available to the author.
[5] Even Teddy Kollek, who had limited direct experience with Wingate, recalled Wingate's intimate knowledge of the land. Teddy Kollek, For Jerusalem (New York: Random House, 1978), p. 35.
[6] Major-General Derek Tulloch, Wingate in Peace and War (London: Futura Publications Limited, 1972), p. 20.
[7] W. G. Burchett, Wingate Adventure (Melbourne: F.W. Cheshire.Pty. Ltd., 1944), p. 49. For an excellent article on Wingate's Sudanese service, see Simon Anglim, "Orde Wingate in the Sudan – Formative Experiences of the Chindit Commander," RUSI Journal, Vol. 148, No. 3 (June 2003), p. 96.
[8] Ben Dunkelmann, Dual Allegiance (New York: Crown Publishers, 1976), p. 153.
[9] Even Wing-Commander Ritchie, who filed a Report calling for Wingate's banishment from the region, noted that "He is an exceptional linguist." Both the Report and Ritchie's typewritten notes on file, WA.
[10] Letter, Orde Charles Wingate to Wing-Commander Ritchie dated June 27, 1939, p. 12. WA.
[11] Yigal Allon, The Making of Israel's Army (New York: Universe Books, 1970), p. 9.
[12] Shabtai Teveth, Moshe Dayan: The Soldier, the Man, the Legend (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1972), p. 100.
[13] Lowell Thomas, Back to Mandalay (New York: Greystone Press, 1951), p. 71.
[14] Luigi Rossetto, Major-General Orde Charles Wingate and the Development of Long-Range Penetration (Kansas: Sunflower Press, 1982), p. xvi.
[15] Tulloch, Wingate in Peace and War, pp. 45-46.
[16] David Shirreff, Barefoot and Bandoliers: Wingate, Sanford, the Patriots and the Part They Played in the Liberation of Ethiopia (New York: Radcliffe Press, 1995), p. 181.
[17] Tulloch, Wingate in Peace and War, pp. 45-46.
[18] Michael B. Oren, "Orde Wingate: Friend Under Fire," Azure, No. 10 (Winter 5761/2001), p. 38.
[19] WA. Dated January 12, 1937, the letter was written well before Wingate became intimate with the leadership of the Yishuv.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Sykes, Orde Wingate, p. 167.
[22] Ibid, p. 86.
[23] Rex King-Clark, Free for a Blast (London: Grenville Publishing Co. Ltd., 1988), p. 204.
[24] Tulloch, Wingate in Peace and War, p. 46.
[25] Thomas, Back to Mandalay, pp. 79-80.
[26] Alice Ivy Hay, There Was a Man of Genius (London: Neville Spearman Ltd., 1963), p. 64.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Civil Fights: Don't make me laugh.


by Evelyn Gordon


There must have been something in the air last month: Two prominent Israeli leftists publicly acknowledged fundamental problems in the "peace process" that will make a deal unachievable if not resolved.


Aluf Benn, Haaretz's diplomatic correspondent, articulated one problem in an August 7 column describing a conversation with a "senior European diplomat." Benn posed one simple question: How would a deal benefit ordinary Israelis? The diplomat was stunned. Wasn't it obvious? It would create a Palestinian state! After Benn pointed out that most Israelis care very little about the Palestinians; they want to know how peace would benefit them, the diplomat tried again: "There would be an end to terror." "Don't make me laugh," Benn replied.


When the IDF withdrew from parts of the West Bank and Gaza under the Oslo Accords, Israelis got suicide bombings in their cities. When it quit Gaza entirely, they got rockets on the Negev. But the bombings stopped after the IDF reoccupied the West Bank, and the rockets stopped after January's Gaza operation. In short, the IDF has done a far better job of securing "peace" as Israelis understand it - i.e., not being killed - than the "peace process" ever has.


NORMALIZATION WITH the Arab world is also scant attraction, Benn noted; most Israelis "have no inherent desire to fly El Al through Saudi Arabian airspace or visit Morocco's 'interests section.'" And the downsides of a deal - financing the evacuation of tens of thousands of settlers and "the frightening prospect of violent internal schisms" - are substantial.


Benn's conclusion from the conversation was shocking: Thus far, the international community has never thought about how a deal might benefit Israelis; that was considered unimportant.


But to persuade Israelis to back an agreement, he noted, the world is going to have to start thinking. For Israelis already have what they want most, "peace and quiet," and they will not willingly risk it for "another diplomatic adventure whose prospects are slim and whose dangers are formidable."


A week later, Prof. Carlo Strenger - a veteran leftist who, as he wrote, thinks "the occupation must end as quickly as possible" - addressed a second problem in his semi-regular Haaretz column. Seeking to explain why Israel's Left has virtually disappeared, he concluded that this happened because leftists "failed to provide a realistic picture of the conflict with the Palestinians."


For years, he noted, leftists claimed a deal with the Palestinians would produce "peace now." Instead, the Palestinian Authority "educated its children with violently anti-Israel and often straightforwardly anti-Semitic textbooks," failed to prevent (or perhaps even abetted) repeated suicide bombings in 1996, torpedoed the final-status negotiations of 2000-2001 and finally produced the second intifada.


But instead of admitting it had erred in expecting territorial withdrawals to bring peace, Strenger wrote, the Left blamed Israel: The 1996 bombings happened "because the Oslo process was too slow"; the talks failed because Israel's offers were insufficient; the second intifada began because Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount.


In short, the Left adopted two faulty premises: First, "anything aggressive or destructive a non-Western group says or does must be explained by Western dominance or oppression," hence "they are not responsible for their deeds." Second, "if you are nice to people, all conflicts will disappear"; other basic human motivations, like the desire for "dominance, power and... self-respect," are irrelevant.


Strenger concluded that if the Left "wants to regain some credibility and convince voters that it has a role to play, it needs to give the public a reasonable picture of reality."

But the same could be said of the international community, which has also blamed every failure of the peace process on Israeli actions: settlement construction, "excessive force" against Palestinian terror, insufficient concessions, etc.


THOUGH BENN and Strenger were ostensibly addressing different issues, they are closely related. Leftists reinforced the West's habit of blaming Israel for every failure, because they are the only Israelis that Western politicians and journalists take seriously. And this habit contributed greatly to mainstream Israelis' view of the peace process as all pain, no gain.


First, because the world placed the onus on Israel, Palestinians never felt any pressure to amend their behavior, whether by stopping terror or by making concessions on final-status issues vital to Israelis. Israel has repeatedly upped its offers over the past 16 years, but the Palestinians have yet to budge an inch: Not only will they not concede the right of return, they refuse to even acknowledge the Jews' historic connection to this land.

Second, while Israelis care very little about relations with the Arab world, they care greatly about relations with the West. Thus a major attraction of the peace process was the prospect of enhancing this relationship.


Instead, Israel's standing, especially in Europe, has plummeted since 1993. Europeans now deem Israel the greatest threat to world peace. Anti-Semitic violence in Europe has surged. European and American leftists routinely deny Israel's very right to exist, and calls for sanctions and divestment are gaining momentum. All this would have been unthinkable 16 years ago.


And this nosedive in status is directly connected to the fact that every time something goes wrong with the peace process, most of the West blames Israel. Indeed, the fact that Washington (pre-Barack Obama) was the one exception to this rule goes far toward explaining why Israel's standing remains strong in America.


Because this knee-jerk response has remained unchanged for 16 years, Israelis are now convinced it will continue even after a final-status agreement is signed: The moment Palestinians voice a new demand post-agreement or engage in anti-Israel terror, the West will insist that Israel accede to the demand or refrain from responding to the terror, and vituperate it for not doing so. In short, Israel is liable to make all the concessions entailed by an agreement and still see its relationship with the West deteriorate.


The bottom line that emerges from both Benn and Strenger is that no peace deal is likely unless both the West and Israel's Left radically alter their behavior. The million-dollar question is whether anyone in either camp is listening.


Evelyn Gordon

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Neutrality on Iraq-Syria: Obama Administration Betrays Ally and Doesn't Even Defend Its Own Soldiers.

by Barry Rubin

(So much of what is heard from the remnants of Israel's Left, as well as Kadima, is based on their fear concerning a breakdown in the strategic relationship with the U.S. Past experience, i.e. Straits of Tiran, as well as this article would suggest they place their hopes for salvation elsewhere.)


On August 26, State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, was asked what the United States thought about the Iraq-Syria dispute. His answer shockingly recalls the last time a U.S. government made the mistake of being neutral between an enemy radical dictatorship and a friendly moderate government.

First, some background. Iraqi leader Nuri al-Maliki visited Syria on August 18 to discuss the two countries' relationship. He offered Syrian dictator-President Bashar al-Assad a lot of economic goodies in exchange for expelling 271 Iraqi exiles involved in organizing terrorism against their country. Assad refused. Maliki left.

The next day, huge bombings struck Baghdad, directly targeting the government’s foreign and finance ministries. More than 100 Iraqis were killed and over 600 were wounded. The Iraqi government blamed the very same exiles living in Syria who Maliki was trying to get kicked out and implicated the Syrian government directly in the attacks. The two countries recalled their ambassadors; the Iraqis are calling for an international tribunal to investigate.

Enter the United States. Since the Iraqi government was created by elections made possible by the U.S. invasion, since the same terrorists murdering Iraqis have killed American soldiers, and since Iraq is a U.S. ally while Syria is a terrorist sponsor allied with Iran, what U.S. reaction would you expect?

Why, support for Iraq, of course. For decades under several U.S. presidents, Syria has been unsuccessfully pressed to kick out terrorists targeting Israel, and later Lebanon. This is an old issue and a very clear one for about a half-dozen reasons.

And what did the Obama administration do instead? Declare its neutrality!

Here’s what Kelly said, reading from his State Department instructions:

“We understand that there has been sort of mutual recall of the ambassadors. We consider that an internal matter. We believe that, as a general principle, that diplomatic dialogue is the best means to address the concerns of both parties. We are working with the Iraqis to determine who perpetrated these horrible acts of violence.…We hope this doesn’t hinder dialogue between the two countries.”

Before analyzing this response, let me tell you of what it reminds me. Back in 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was threatening Kuwait, demanding that the weaker neighbor surrender to an ultimatum. Iraq was no friend of America; Kuwait, though not an ally, was a state that had good relations with the United States. A decade earlier, America had gone to the verge of war with Iran to protect Kuwait.

What did the U.S. government say? This was a matter between Iraq and Kuwait in which the United States wouldn’t take sides.

A few days later, Saddam invaded and annexed Kuwait. At the time and afterward, everyone said: What a terrible mistake! The announcement of neutrality, the refusal to support a small threatened country against a bullying neighbor ruled by a blood dictatorship, gave a green light to Saddam and set off a war.

And now the Obama administration has done precisely the same thing. Of course, Syria won’t invade Iraq, it will just keep welcoming, training, arming, financing, transporting, and helping the terrorists who do so.

The Obama administration has declared the war on terrorism to be over. But it also said that the United States viewed as an enemy al-Qaida and those working with it. The Syria-based Iraqi terrorists fall into that category. America sacrificed hundreds of lives for Iraq’s stability. Most of those soldiers and civilian contractors were murdered by the very terrorists harbored by Syria.

How can the administration distance itself from this conflict instead of supporting its ally and trying to act against the very terrorists who have murdered Americans?

Nominally, of course, the cheap way out was to say: We don’t know who did these particular bombings. Well, who do you think did it, men from Mars? Even this is not relevant since the Iraqi demand for the expulsion of the terrorists—who have committed hundreds of other acts—came before the latest attack even happened.

Moreover, the administration not only invoked its obsession with dialogue at any price but did so in an incorrect and dangerous manner. The Iraqi government had sought dialogue, had used diplomatic means, and was turned down flat. To make your main point is that diplomatic dialogue should continue is to side with Syria against Iraq. The message is: don't take any sanctions against Syria, keep talking, and if the Syrians do nothing and continue sending terrorists across the border, well, you can...keep on talking forever.

So is this administration incapable of criticizing Syria? Even if it wants to engage in talks with Syria it doesn’t understand that diplomacy is not inconsistent with pressure and criticism, tools to push the other side into concessions or compromises.

Looking at this latest development, how can any ally have confidence that the U.S. government will support it if menaced by terrorism or aggression? It can’t. The problem with treating enemies better than friends is that the friends start wondering whether their interests are better served by appeasing mutual enemies and by reducing cooperaiton with an unfaithful ally which ignores their needs.



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


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

If Everyone Else was Jumping off a Cliff, Would You do it? Middle East Answer: Yes, if Israel Didn't Like It.

by Barry Rubin


Who won that Lebanese election again?

True, Hizballah doesn’t control the majority, but with a president who is pretty submissive to Syria and Hizballah having a veto, the next government of Lebanon won’t be too independent-minded. Forget about condemning Syria for its involvement in past (and future?) terror attacks against Lebanese leaders, journalists, and judges. Forget about stopping massive arms’ smuggling to Hizballah or keeping Hizballah from treating the south of the country as its own private estate.

Saad Hariri, who will probably be the next prime minister and whose father was assassinated by Syria says:

"The national unity government will include the [Hariri’s] March 14 alliance, and I also want to assure the Israeli enemy that Hizballah will be in this government whether it likes it or not because Lebanon's interests require all parties be involved in this cabinet.”

Wow, sounds like a real tough guy. But the problem, as Hariri well knows, is not that Israel won’t like it but also that he and most Lebanese won’t like it. If Hizballah again provokes Israel into a war, as happened in 2006, Lebanon’s interests will be once again smashed because of the interests of Iran, Syria, and Hizballah, using Lebanon as a battlefield to achieve regional hegemony and spread Islamism.

And this also points the way to a deeper problem: the Israel excuse can be used to justify and maintain everything preventing progress, democracy, human rights, higher living standards, freedom, and just about every other positive development in the Arabic-speaking world.

If Israel doesn’t like it, well then it must be good. Iraq invades Kuwait? Hizballah drags Lebanon into war? Hamas seizes the Gaza Strip? The Palestinian Authority doesn’t make peace?

Whatever it is: “Israel doesn’t like it” is the justification for every failed policy, action leading to stagnation, and stampede to disaster that happens in Arabic-speaking countries.

It’s like your mother used to tell you when you justified doing something on the basis that everyone else was doing it.

“If everyone else was jumping off a cliff would you do that?”

Answer in the Middle East: Yes!

By the way, though, sometimes the situation becomes too intolerable for average people to accept. Here video of villagers in Merwakhin, Lebanon, chasing out a Hizballah force which had arrived to store weapons and rockets in their homes. They didn't want to become a military target.

Usually, of course, Lebanese (or Palestinian) citizens have no choice. Hizballah (or Hamas or Fatah) turns their homes into weapons' dumps, rocket-launching sites, or firing posts. If Israel fires back, they then run to the UN, human rights' groups, the media, and Western governments and yell about war crimes. It's a very good strategy if you have enough suckers or ideologically motivated people violating professional ethics to play along with it.



Barry Rubin

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