Friday, June 27, 2014

Hamas Prepares for War as Abbas Talks Peace

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Fatah-Hamas reconciliation accord has had no moderating effect on the Islamist movement. On the contrary, Hamas seems headed toward more extremism, and its recent actions and statements show it is preparing for war against Israel, despite Abbas's assurances that the new government would reject violence.
Former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced this week that, in the West Bank, the intifada against Israel has already begun.
As in previous years, summer camps are being used to give Palestinian schoolchildren training in guerrilla warfare.
Abbas has thus far failed to condemn his Hamas partners for threatening to fire rockets at Israel. Like many in the international community, Abbas is continuing to bury his head in the sand by refusing to see what his Hamas partners are up to.

As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continues to talk about his commitment to the peace process and security coordination with Israel, his new partners in the "national consensus government," Hamas, seem to be preparing for war against the "Zionist enemy."

For the first time, Hamas has chosen not to prevent other Palestinian groups from launching rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip. Until recently, Hamas had moved to stop Islamic Jihad and other terror groups from launching rockets at Israel, to avoid an Israeli reprisal.

Hamas did so not because it believes in the peace process with Israel or is opposed to harming innocent civilians. The only reason why Hamas made an effort to stop the rocket attacks was its desire to remain in power and keep its leaders alive.

But after it signed the reconciliation agreement with Fatah, resulting in the formation of the "national consensus government", Hamas's strategy appears to have changed.

Hamas leaders seem to believe that since they have become part of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority [PA] government, the agreement with Fatah will give them some kind of immunity against Israeli retaliation.

Hamas seems to be hoping that the reconciliation accord, which was signed in the Gaza Strip in April, will legitimize the Islamist movement in the eyes of the international community. Abbas himself even contributed to the legitimization of Hamas by repeatedly assuring the U.S. and many EU countries that the new Palestinian government would recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Today, however, it has become obvious that the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah faction has had no moderating effect on the Islamist movement. On the contrary, Hamas seems to be headed toward more extremism and its defiant leaders are now talking about preparations for a new intifada against Israel.

Former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced this week that the intifada against Israel has actually begun in the West Bank. "Israeli threats do not scare us," he declared.

Another Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, announced that his movement was now capable of firing rockets at any city inside Israel. "Today our rockets can reach any city inside occupied Palestine any time we want," he said. "We have the right to defend ourselves and liberate our lands and holy sites regardless of the price and although we know that this would cost us lives of our sons and our homes."

Abbas has thus far failed to condemn his Hamas partners for threatening to fire rockets at Israel.

Although Abbas is now formally in charge of the Gaza Strip, he has failed to demand that Hamas dismantle its armed group, The Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, and other security branches belonging to the Islamist movement. Nor has he demanded the return of PA security forces to the Gaza Strip.

In fact, the reconciliation accord has not changed the reality on the ground, particularly in the Gaza Strip, which remains under the control of Hamas. True, Hamas did dissolve its government, but it continues to control the entire Gaza Strip exclusively, even after the formation of the "national consensus government."

Hamas's actions and statements over the past few days show that the movement is continuing to prepare for war against Israel despite Abbas's assurances that the new government would reject violence.

Hamas has been holding "military drills" this month in various parts of the Gaza Strip, seemingly in preparation for a war against Israel. And Hamas is making no secret of its plans.

Masked Hamas gunmen during military drills this month in Gaza.

The military exercises coincide with the launching of Hamas-run summer camps for Palestinian children throughout the Gaza Strip. As in previous years, these summer camps are being used to give schoolchildren training in guerrilla warfare.

Hamas says that these camps are being held with a "resistance flavor" in order to raise new generations of Palestinians on jihad.

Hamas seems to have reached the conclusion that the reconciliation pact with Abbas will not do it any good. As one Hamas spokesman put it, "We have discovered that Abbas is the same Abbas. He claims he wants reconciliation with us, but at the same time he is helping the Zionist enemy in its war against Hamas in the West Bank."

Abbas's refusal to pay salaries to more than 50,000 Hamas employees in the Gaza Strip since the formation of the new government has only reinforced the Islamist movement's conviction that the reconciliation accord with Fatah was a bad deal.

Hamas apparently feels betrayed by both Abbas and his Fatah faction. All this is happening while Abbas continues to talk about Palestinian "unity" and his commitment to the peace process with Israel.

Like many in the international community, Abbas is continuing to bury his head in the sand by refusing to see what his Hamas partners are up to.

The "national consensus government" will now have to decide whether it is headed toward peace with Israel or toward war.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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

The Flimsy Palestinian “Unity” Government

by Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 251

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Hamas-Fatah unity government is just another example of false unity in the Arab world, and it is unlikely to last long. Born out of weakness, the temporary accord is already unraveling under the weight of deep internal divisions and broader regional tensions. Moreover, Hamas entered the agreement with the intention to overwhelm Fatah in elections. Hamas believes that by striking at Israel it will gain the upper hand in intra-Palestinian politics and win any future election.

Since the heyday of Egyptian leader Gamal Abd al-Nasser, “unity” has been a very popular word in the politics of the Arab Middle East. Like many political buzz words, it is used as often as it is absent.  Unity in Arab politics has been all too rare. Despite the pan-Arab unity rhetoric of the past, only one act of unity in the modern Arab Middle East has ever succeeded – the unification of Yemen in 1990 – and even this achievement is very much in doubt today as more and more Arab states, including Yemen, are facing disintegration or partition rather than unity.

Palestinians have hardly been more successful in achieving unity than their fellow Arabs. Their latest exercise in unity, the recent establishment of a “unity government” between Hamas and Fatah, is likely to be no exception to the historic rule.

The unity government between the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank (headed by Mahmoud Abbas), and the Hamas government which controls the tiny territory of Gaza, purports to be the first of many moves that will bring to an end the bitter and violent intra-Palestinian partition that has been in place since the summer of 2007. At the time, Hamas Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades expelled the Palestinian Authority’s security forces from Gaza, brutally executed many Fatah militiamen, and proceeded to establish theocratic rule over Gaza’s one and a quarter million people.

Hamas’ takeover of Gaza, and the creation of a parallel government that was at odds with its rival, the PA, was a paradoxical outcome of two processes – free and democratic elections held in 2006 and the Oslo negotiations. It was paradoxical because free elections should, in theory, enhance the prospects of democracy. Instead, in both “statelets” one-party rule has prevailed ever since, unencumbered by a legislative council which ceased to exist. Both have proceeded to suppress the party that ruled in the other territory.

Meanwhile, not only did the Oslo peace process lead to a violent conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the second intifada, but to a civil war between the Palestinians. The two sides began fighting two months after the elections took place and one month after the winning party, Hamas, formed a government, which Fatah never accepted and proceeded to undermine.

To make matters worse, the partition of the Palestinians between two governments separated by Israeli territory, became enmeshed in the growing regional and international rivalry between the moderate Arab states allied with the United States (and locally led by Saudi Arabia), and the Iranian-Syrian axis. Just as this rivalry polarized politics in Lebanon and Iraq, so too did it deepen divisions between the Palestinians themselves.

Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority has largely been entrenched in the American camp. The United States and the Europeans have contributed over 50 percent of the PA budget and trained its security forces and police, usually in Jordan, a state in the same coalition. Abbas maintained warm ties with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

By contrast, the Hamas external leadership, after its expulsion from Jordan in 1999, established its headquarters in Damascus, and was trained and financed by Iran as one of the proxy forces which Iran supported as part of its strategy to destroy the Jewish state. Even the support Hamas received from Qatar, the only Gulf State to maintain close relations with Hamas, stemmed from the former’s long-standing rivalry with Saudi Arabia, rather than out of concern for the Palestinians.

The enmity between the PA and the Hamas entity was expressed in several ways. The most important was the effective security cooperation between the PA and the Israeli security services against their common enemy: Hamas influence and activists in the West Bank. A division of labor emerged, in which the PA uprooted the civil infrastructure of Hamas by day while Israeli security forces apprehended Hamas terrorist suspects at night. This cooperation took place almost on a daily basis. The number and names of the suspects nabbed was a daily feature in the Hamas-controlled media in Gaza.

So deep was Abbas’ fear of a Hamas takeover of Judea and Samaria, that in 2008/9 and 2012 Abbas suppressed local protests against Israel’s military offensives on Hamas in Gaza.

When the “Arab spring” disturbances erupted, Palestinians expressed hope that the presumed solidarity of the Arab street would bring about a lessening of tensions between Abbas and Hamas. However the Arab upheavals only polarized Arab states and communities, and exacerbated the divisions between the moderate state coalition and the Iranian-Assad-Shiite axis. The rift between secular and fundamentalist forces increased.

These regional tensions only intensified the enmity between Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and Hamas. In 2012, when Muhammad Mursi won the elections to become Egypt’s first Muslim Brotherhood president, (Hamas’ parent organization), Hamas leaders responded with victory processions in Gaza. In Ramallah, the unofficial capital of the Palestinian Authority, the news was greeted with stony silence and fear. The situation reversed itself after Minister of Defense Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi ousted Mursi from office in July 2013 and drove the Muslim Brotherhood underground. Abbas and his entourage were now all smiles and it became time for Hamas to worry over its political future.

If the rift was so deep, what brought Hamas and Fatah to establish a unity government of “technocrats” and to commit the two sides to holding presidential and parliamentary elections?

The answer, in a nutshell, was mutual weakness. Abbas was getting nowhere in the peace process. The gaps between the PA and Israel over the major issues was simply two wide, and at 78 years old, Abbas was hardly about to take the domestic risks necessary to bridge these gaps. He preferred domestic legitimacy over diplomatic breakthrough.

Hamas was facing an increasingly hostile Egyptian regime that accused it of abetting fundamentalist terrorism in Egyptian Sinai and areas even closer to the Egyptian capital. Egypt retaliated by closing the Rafah border crossing – the lifeline for Gaza to the Arab world and beyond.  Hamas was also reeling under financial pressures. Recently, Iran lowered financial support after Hamas refrained from supporting Syrian President Assad against his Sunni opposition. Hamas hardly had a choice in this matter. After all, Hamas is a Sunni fundamentalist group, and thus naturally inclined against the pro-Shiite Syrian regime.

The recent kidnapping of three Israeli teenage students near Jerusalem hints at another Hamas strategy. Hamas entered into the “unity” agreement with the Fatah-led PA with the intention to overwhelm Fatah in the planned elections. One way that Hamas intends to rout Fatah is by capturing the Palestinian street. Hamas thinks it can do so by kidnapping Israelis and forcing the Israeli government to release Palestinian terrorists from jail – as it did through the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. There is nothing more popular on the Palestinian street than getting security prisoners out of Israeli jails. In short, Hamas believes that by striking at Israel it will gain the upper hand in intra-Palestinian politics and win any future election.

The kidnapping is probably the death knell in the recent attempt at unity. Preceding it were other moves that showed the unity government was more show than substance. The PA continues to arrest Hamas suspects. Meanwhile, the new government also failed to come up with the funds to pay 40,000 government employees, mostly teachers, the Hamas government hired in Gaza since 2007. Hamas retaliated by sending its police in Gaza to close banks and confiscate money machines, in order to prevent the 70,000 employees who were on the Abbas PA payroll from receiving their salaries. The stalemate lasted for seven days until Qatar committed itself to pay the Hamas employees, but they have yet to be paid.

Much thornier issues await resolution further down the line. Egypt will only open the border crossing on a regular basis if Abbas’ security forces will run it, as stipulated in an international agreement brokered before the Hamas takeover. Hamas is understandably reluctant. Even more difficult is trying to create a unified security force, the bugbear of it all.

In short, the new unity government is likely to meet the fate of dozens of other failed unity schemes in the Arab world.

In this state of flimsy unity/disunity, the Palestinians are clearly in keeping with the times. With Sunni Islamic fundamentalists at the gates of Baghdad and the partition of the Iraqi state a real possibility; Syria and Libya in civil war; Yemen fighting for its life facing Shiite Huthi opposition in the north, and rebels in the south who want to succeed; and al-Qaeda offshoots everywhere – the partition of the Palestinians into two entities is by comparison a relatively peaceful and livable situation.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Prof. Hillel Frisch, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University.


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

Two Kidnapping Terrorist Suspects Identified

by Moshe Cohen

IDF authorizes for publication the names of two of the Hamas terrorists involved in kidnapping three Israeli teens.

Still missing (left to right): Eyal Yirfah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel
Still missing (left to right): Eyal Yirfah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel
Courtesy of the families
The IDF on Thursday evening authorized for publication the identities of two Hamas terrorists being hunted for being “deeply involved” in the kidnappings of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrah (19), Naftali Frenkel (16), and Gilad Sha'ar (16).

The two, Marwan Kawasmeh and Amar Abu Isha, are well-known Hamas terrorists operating in the Hevron area. Security forces are in pursuit of the two, the army said.

Kawasmeh, 29, was first arrested in 2004 for security violations, and since then has been arrested at least four more times. In an interrogation in 2010, he admitted working on behalf of Hamas in the Hevron area. He has participated in Hamas training camps and has helped the terror group to recruit new members.

Amar, 33, was first arrested in 2005, and remained imprisoned until 2006. He was released, only to be arrested again in 2007. His brother was killed while conducting a terror attack in 2005 against an IDF patrol. His father has also been arrested numerous times for security offenses.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel had “unequivocal proof that the organization responsible for the abduction is Hamas.”

Netanyahu said "we are transferring these proofs to a number of countries around the world. Soon the information will be made public.”

Netanyahu also told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday that the information in Israel's hands unequivocally indicates that Hamas is responsible for the abduction of three Israeli teenagers last week, adding that this needs to be expressed in actions on the ground.

Last week, Hamas-Fatah unity government Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki accused Israel on Friday of not only conducting an "exaggerated" and "political" search for three teens kidnapped by Hamas terrorists last Thursday, but also of fabricating the abduction itself.

"He (Netanyahu) cannot keep blaming one side without showing evidence," Malki said. "When you go to court if you don't show evidence you lose your case," said Malki. "If Netanyahu has any evidence, he has to put it on the table."

Moshe Cohen


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

A Heartbreaking Unspoken Consequence of Obama

by Lloyd Marcus

Decades of socialist/progressive indoctrination in our schools, media, and culture, plus six years of Obama, have yielded a devastating unspoken consequence.  It is the loss of who we use to be as Americans.

In his 1961 Inaugural Address, President John F. Kennedy said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”  Democrats have perverted Kennedy's inspiring challenge.  Their dispiriting goal is to have as many Americans as possible controlled by and dependent on government, even for life itself, which is at the root of ObamaCare.

I mourn the loss of the independent, self-reliant mindset that made our parents great, and of the pride and dignity it generated within them.  Welfare (government assistance) was a last resort and for the truly needy.

Today, far too many Americans see no shame in living on government assistance or scamming the system.  The left's campaign, led by the Obama administration, to instill an entitlement mindset in many has proven successful.  The administration even campaigned targeting minorities, discouraging their instinct to be self-reliant.  Even worse, the administration portrays getting on welfare as the honorable thing to do.  Dear Lord, what kind of nation are we becoming?

An unprecedented 47 million Americans are on food stamps, which is riddled with fraud.  The Obama administration has added over 10,000 new oppressive job-killing regulations.  Consequently, 90 million are unemployed and on unemployment, which is also riddled with fraud.  Here's another first for America: over 11 million are receiving disability benefits...riddled with fraud.  Clearly, many believe that working is for suckers when the government is handing out freebies.

In his War on Achievers, Obama used his bully pulpit to deflate business owners by saying, “If you've got a business, you didn't build that.”  Obama and his operatives use compassionate-sounding terms such as “social justice” and “income inequality” to justify the government confiscating the earnings of achievers and redistributing it to non-achievers to win their votes.  Despicable.

My heart aches for my America, when character, excellence, and hard work were rewarded, celebrated, and respected.

At 9 or 10 years old, I worked part-time for my neighbor, Mr. Buddy Roy.  I pulled the copper out of old motors for him to sell.  I still remember the pride I felt making my own money.

In the early 1950s, blacks were allowed to take the entrance test for the Baltimore City Fire Department.  My dad applied, and Mom helped.  My parents sought opportunity, not handouts.  Talk about a strong black woman – though compassionate and loving, Mom could be a tough, no-nonsense person.

I remember my parents sitting at the kitchen table, a glass turned upside-down between them, with mom tapping on the glass with a spoon.  She was simulating the different bell sounds that alerted the firefighters to various situations.  She would yell at my dad, “No, that's wrong, stupid!  Listen and get it right!”  Thanks to my drill sergeant mom, Dad was among a handful of blacks who became Baltimore City's first black firefighters.

Being a pioneer is never easy.  Dad endured humiliating work conditions and blatant racism.  Still, Dad relished the opportunity.  Thanks to his Christian faith, Dad won admiration and respect by fighting racism and hate with excellence.  He won “Firefighter of the Year” two times.

That mindset of putting one's best foot forward and striving for loftier standards is what I fear we are rapidly losing as Americans.  Apparently, character is no longer expected in our leaders.  President Obama is caught repeatedly lying to the American people, and the response is ho-hum, let's move on.

The trend is to celebrate deadbeats, entitlement junkies, haters of achievers, and assorted lowlifes.  For example: the Democrats and mainstream media loved the Occupy Wall Street mobs.  People were assaulted and even raped at their angry mob gatherings.  Severely infected with an entitlement mindset, Occupiers dumped feces in a public building, demanding that the government redistribute wealth to them.

Meanwhile, the left continues its shameful, relentless demonizing and slandering the Tea Party with unfounded allegations of racism.  The Obama administration has plotted to criminalize free speech (the Tea Party).  Folks, we are talking decent hard-working Americans who are simply pushing back against Obama's shock-and-awe assault on our freedoms, liberty, and culture.

Tax cheat Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel compared the Tea Party to Hamas terrorists.  Mr. Rangel is either a loudmouth clueless idiot or a despicable, evil human being.  Leftists like Rangel who throw unfounded, irresponsible “hate” grenades at millions of Americans should be called on it.  Inciting racial division is extremely serious

Amid the unbelievably long list of scandals, crimes, and misdemeanors of the Obama regime, the damage that this evil man and his minions have done to the internal make-up of many Americans is extremely disturbing and heartbreaking.

Please view me performing my song, We Are Americans,” which I wrote to remind us of who we use to be – and I believe a majority still are – as Americans.  I have faith that the liberals', socialists', and progressives' toxic disease of entitlement thinking has not reached critical mass.

My fellow Americans, we are exceptional, a chosen people.  We are Americans!

Lloyd Marcus


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

Israel Must Defeat the Tactics of Terrorists

by Daniel Greenfield

In Jerusalem, Israelis pray for the return of three missing boys and in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers hunt for them and for their captors. But in the midst of all this, it is important not to lose sight of the larger conflict.

Israel made one tragic mistake with the Gilad Shalit deal. That deal, aside from already costing the life of one Israeli, is what led to this kidnapping. One kidnapping turned into three. It can easily become many more.

Defeating terrorist tactics can be more important than defeating terrorists. It is not that hard for a modern nation to kill a terrorist. Drones allow us to kill enemies from a distance at the push of a button. But drones cannot protect the morale of a nation.

Conventional armies use tactics to defeat enemy forces and seize territory. Terrorists however use tactics to take over mental territory. A suicide bomber is not out to take over a particular block. He is out to change how people think about that city block and the larger conflict.

Terrorism has succeeded in accomplishing that goal in Israel. The scale of terrorism turned every piece of land into a mathematical equation. How many lives was this village in Gaza worth? How many lives is this West Bank town worth? How many lives is East Jerusalem worth?

However terrorists are not trading an end to violence for a village or a town. They are calculating how many deaths it will take to force Israel to abandon that village or town. And once they have that town, they will use it to inflict more terror on another town or village.

Israelis were convinced that a price in lives had been put on Gaza and that if they withdrew, the killing would end. But Gaza was just the beginning. Not the end.

Terrorists try to create the perception that the winning side is losing. This perception can be so compelling that both sides come to accept it as reality. Terrorists manufacture victories by trapping their enemies in no-win scenarios that wear down their morale.

That is what has been happening to Israel. The entire carrot and stick of the peace process and the suicide bombing, the final agreement that never comes and the final solution that is coming, were designed to wear down Israelis, to make their leaders and people chase down empty hopes.

The last few decades were meant to create a sense of helplessness among Israelis.

Taking hostages is one form of the no-win scenario. If the winning side can’t cut the Gordian Knot by rescuing the hostages, it faces a choice between releasing terrorists or having to watch its own people held captive or killed. Either one creates a sense of helplessness and defeat.

Terrorists are not attacking land or buildings. They are targeting morale. Their goal is to destroy the mental and spiritual resistance of a people by wearing it down with acts of terror, tying it down with moral and legalistic debates, and finally finishing it off with negotiations that are also designed to wear down the other side without ever concluding a final agreement.

As important as it is to defeat terrorists, it is even more important to defeat their tactics.

The first and best way to defeat terrorist tactics is to refuse to negotiate with terrorists. Terrorist tactics work best when they create complicity on the other side. The first wave of complicity comes from leftist activists and sympathetic terror lawyers making human rights arguments. But the second wave of complicity has to come from the authorities for terrorism to be successful.

Negotiating with terrorists makes the negotiators complicit in whatever plans the terrorists have. Once negotiations begin, the terrorists will force the negotiators to violate their own side’s values and to sell out portions of their own population or those of allied countries. These tactics allow the terrorists to divide and conquer the enemy.

A terrorist group that seizes hostages from Country X in exchange for Country Y freeing prisoners has managed to turn two of its enemies against each other. If Country Y frees the prisoners, the terrorists win. If Country Y doesn’t free the prisoners, they still win because Country X will now blame Country Y, rather than the terrorists, for what happened.

Swap the two countries for two groups of people inside a country and it becomes easier to understand what the terrorists are trying to accomplish by taking hostages.

Israelis were convinced that they could buy their way out of the problem by betraying their fellow citizens living in the West Bank and Gaza. European leaders are convinced that they can have peace in their time by pressuring Israel and restraining America. American leaders are convinced that peace will come if they can pressure the Europeans and Israelis to stop offending Muslims.

This is classic divide and conquer.

The greatest danger of fighting terrorists is falling into a reactive pattern. The more you react to what terrorists do, the more they set the agenda. Taking hostages is the ultimate reactive trap. The kidnapping of three Israeli boys has sent Israel into the same predictable pattern, rounding up the usual suspects, making temporary arrests and a public outcry that, like the one surrounding Gilad Shalit, can easily be turned into a campaign to pay any price to free them.

The only way to defeat a terrorist tactic is to invalidate it. The act of invalidating it is often painful, but it’s less painful than not doing it. Refusing to negotiate with terrorists cripples their ability to set the agenda. It’s hard to divide and conquer people who won’t talk to you.

Human shields proliferate because they work. The only way to invalidate them as a tactic is by reacting to terrorists the same way whether or not they are using a human shield. Hostages are taken because the terrorists have a realistic expectation of striking a deal.

Eliminate the deal and the hostage taking ends.

Terrorists create a sense of helplessness by forcing a society to experience pain without having any control over it. The experience of being terrorized is not merely horror and death, but the inability to control how it happens. It is this need for control that leads to Stockholm syndrome, identifying with terrorists and accepting their agenda in exchange for having some control over their terror.

It is not enough for a society to endure the pain that terrorists inflict. Every society has its breaking point. Instead a society must be willing to inflict pain on its own body to prevent greater pain and suffering. A society that cannot do this is so focused on avoiding pain that it so no longer able to fight back.

Israel has already gone too far down the road to helplessness. And it is not alone. Every nation, society and culture confronted with Islamic terrorism seeks ways to spare itself the pain. But the pain can only end when the terrorists are thoroughly defeated.

War is a form of pain that we inflict on our society to spare ourselves the greater pain of conquest and defeat. Resistance to terrorism may also require other smaller forms of martyrdom that allow a society to assert control over its own destiny.

One of these is not negotiating with terrorists.

When a society is willing to defy the power that its enemies wield over it by causing its own pain, it destroys their power over it and escapes the helplessness that will otherwise kill it. It breaks free of the chain of concessions that will inevitably lead it to lose its soul.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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

After Syria Bombs Iraq, Growing Fears of Regional Conflict

by Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes

Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey all said to be bolstering recon flights inside their airspace; Kerry warns against exacerbating tensions

Fleeing Iraqi citizens from Mosul and other northern towns sit on a truck as they cross to secure areas at a Kurdish security forces checkpoint, in the Khazer area between the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Kurdish city of Irbil, northern Iraq, Wednesday June 25, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

BAGHDAD (AP) — Syrian warplanes bombed Sunni militants’ positions inside Iraq, military officials confirmed Wednesday, deepening the concerns that the extremist insurgency that spans the two neighboring countries could morph into an even wider regional conflict. US Secretary of State John Kerry warned against the threat and said other nations should stay out.

Meanwhile, a new insurgent artillery offensive against Christian villages in the north of Iraq sent thousands of Christians fleeing from their homes, seeking sanctuary in Kurdish-controlled territory, Associated Press reporters who witnessed the scene said.

The United States government and a senior Iraqi military official confirmed that Syrian warplanes bombed militants’ positions Tuesday in and near the border crossing in the town of Qaim. Iraq’s other neighbors — Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — were all bolstering flights just inside their airspace to monitor the situation, said the Iraqi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

American officials said the target was the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Sunni extremist group that has seized large swaths of Iraq and seeks to carve out a purist Islamic enclave across both sides of the Syria-Iraq border.

“We’ve made it clear to everyone in the region that we don’t need anything to take place that might exacerbate the sectarian divisions that are already at a heightened level of tension,” Kerry said, speaking in Brussels at a meeting of diplomats from NATO nations. “It’s already important that nothing take place that contributes to the extremism or could act as a flash point with respect to the sectarian divide.”

Meanwhile, two US officials said Iran has been flying surveillance drones in Iraq, controlling them from an airfield in Baghdad. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly, said they believe the drones are surveillance aircraft only, but they could not rule out that they may be armed.

A top Iraqi intelligence official said Iran was secretly supplying the Iraqi security forces with weapons, including rockets, heavy machine guns and multiple rocket launchers. “Iraq is in a grave crisis and the sword is on its neck, so is it even conceivable that we turn down the hand outstretched to us?” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The intelligence-gathering and arms supplies come on the heels of a visit to Baghdad this month by one of Iran’s most powerful generals, Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, to help bolster the defenses of the Iraqi military and the Shiite militias that he has armed and trained.

The involvement of Syria and Iran in Iraq suggests a growing cooperation among the three Shiite-led governments in response to the raging Sunni insurgency. And in an unusual twist, the U.S., Iran and Syria now find themselves with an overlapping interest in stabilizing Iraq’s government.

None-Arab and mostly Shiite, Iran has been playing the role of guarantor of Shiites in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It has maintained close ties with successive Shiite-led governments since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni who oppressed the Shiites, and is also the main backer of Syria’s Assad, a follower of Shiism’s Alawite sect.

In a reflection of how intertwined the Syria and Iraq conflicts have become, thousands of Shiite Iraqi militiamen helping President Bashar Assad crush the Sunni-led uprising against him are returning home, putting a strain on the overstretched Syrian military as it struggles to retain territory recaptured in recent months from rebels.

Anthony Cordesman, a prominent foreign policy analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that with Syria’s apparent willingness to now take on the Islamic State directly, “the real problem is how will Iran, the Iraqi Shiites and the Alawites in Syria coordinate their overall pressure on the Sunni forces?”

Qaim, where the Syrian airstrikes took place Tuesday, is located in vast and mostly Sunni Anbar province. Its provincial government spokesman, Dhari al-Rishawi, said 17 people were killed in an air raid there.

Reports that the Sunni militants have captured advanced weapons, tanks and Humvees from the Iraq military that have made their way into Syria, and that fighters are crossing freely from one side to the other have alarmed the Syrian government, which fears the developments could shift the balance of power in the largely stalemated fight between Assad’s forces and the Sunni rebels fighting to topple him.

Bilal Saab, a senior fellow for Middle East Security at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said Assad’s immediate priority is to fight the rebels inside his own country.

“His army is already overstretched and every bullet that doesn’t hit enemy targets at home can be a bullet wasted,” he said. “Going after ISIL along border areas could serve tactical goals but is more a luxury than anything else.”

In Brussels, Kerry said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appears to be standing by his commitment to start building a new government that fully represents its Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish populations.

However, al-Maliki, in his first public statement since President Barack Obama challenged him last week to create a more inclusive leadership or risk a sectarian civil war, rejected calls for an interim “national salvation government .”

Al-Maliki has faced pressure, including from his onetime Shiite allies, to step down and form an interim government that could provide leadership until a more permanent solution can be found.

Al-Maliki, however, insisted the political process must be allowed to proceed following April elections in which his bloc won the largest share of parliament seats.

“The call to form a national salvation government represents a coup against the constitution and the political process,” he said. He added that “rebels against the constitution” — a thinly veiled reference to Sunni rivals — posed a more serious danger to Iraq than the militants.

Al-Maliki’s coalition, the State of the Law, won 92 seats in the 328-member parliament in the election, but he needs the support of a simple majority to hold on to the job for another four-year term. The legislature is expected to meet before the end of the month, when it will elect a speaker. It has 30 days to elect a new president, who in turn will select the leader of the majority bloc in parliament to form the next government.

More of Iraq’s sectarian tensions boiled over into violence on Wednesday, with Sunni militants shelling a Christian village 45 miles (75 kilometers) from the frontier of the self-ruled Kurdish region, which has so far escaped the deadly turmoil unscathed.

The shelling of the village of Hamdaniya sparked a flight by thousands of Christians from it and other nearby villages toward the Kurdish region. Hundreds of cars, many with crucifixes swinging from their rear-view mirrors, waited to cross into the relatively safe northern Iraqi Kurdish city of Irbil.

Others were forced to walk, including 28-year-old Rasha, who was nine months pregnant and carried her 3-year-old son on her hip. After her husband’s car broke down, the woman, who would give only her first name for fear of militant reprisals, and her mother-in-law walked for miles toward the checkpoint, fearful she would give birth before reaching safety.

Like most others, the women said they had nowhere to go, but hoped strangers would take them in in the Christian-dominated area.

“Otherwise we will sleep in a park,” Rasha said, shrugging.

Meanwhile, pro-government forces battled Sunni militants, threatening a major military air base in Balad, north of Baghdad, military officials said. The militants had advanced into the nearby town of Yathrib, just five kilometers (three miles) from the former U.S. base, which was known as Camp Anaconda. The officials insisted the base was not in immediate danger of falling into the hands of the militants.

Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes


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U.S. Still Flying Blind on Iran Nukes

by Jonathan S. Tobin

On a day when we learned, via quotes from anonymous American officials, that Iran is up to its neck in the fighting in Iraq, confidence in Washington’s ability to stay in command of events in the Middle East is dropping rapidly. But the same administration that has dozed as America’s hard-won achievements in Iraq have evaporated is also hoping that its ignorance about what’s happening inside Iran’s nuclear facilities won’t hinder efforts to broker a deal with Tehran.

The Obama administration’s slender grasp of the facts about Iran’s extensive network of nuclear facilities is the most important point to be gleaned from a New York Times feature that centers on the largely unspecified role that scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh plays in his country’s effort to build a bomb. Fakhrizadeh is, according to the Times, Iran’s J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man who led the Manhattan Project to nuclear success during World War Two. His absence from the negotiations being conducted with the West is much remarked upon because he, rather than some of the Islamist regime’s representatives who are taking part, is the key to Iran’s nuclear program. While that absence is motivated largely by a prudent desire to avoid Israelis who rightly think scientists trying to create genocidal weapons are good candidates for elimination, the speculation about the gap between what the West knows about Iran’s program and what Fakhrizadeh could tell us is the focus of the Times piece.

But the point of the questions that abound about Iran’s mysterious nuclear expert ought to alarm those who believe the United States knows what it’s doing in the Iran talks. The U.S. has a poor track record when it comes to monitoring Tehran’s actions outside its borders, such as international terrorism and its military intervention in Syria and now Iraq. But President Obama is betting what’s left of his reputation on the world stage and the security of America’s allies in the region on the strength of a number of assumptions about what Fakhrizadeh and his associates have achieved that are difficult to back up.

As the Times reports, the interesting point about Fakhrizadeh is that the timeline of what Iran has already created is extremely fuzzy. There is widespread confusion about whether the claim that Iran halted its nuclear program in 2003 is accurate, especially since no one in Washington or anywhere else outside of Iran seems to be sure about when those activities were resumed under different organizations. Yet the administration seems to be assuming that understanding what Iran’s program achieved in the past is irrelevant since they think that they can trust the regime’s promises going forward and believe U.S. intelligence is capable of keeping track of current work.

But the Times lets slip an ominous truth buried deep in the article:
Obama administration officials say they have no illusions that they will get visibility into many of Iran’s most heavily protected sites, even if a deal is reached in the next month. That will leave verification of the accord reliant on the American intelligence community’s ability to track covert nuclear activity, a record that is littered with failures.
In other words, even after the next nuclear deal with Iran is reached, the administration is assuming they still won’t have access to all of Iran’s most critical nuclear sites. Underlying that assumption is a belief that the deal will not require Iran to open up its facilities devoted to military research or its ballistic missile program.

This next deal will leave, as did the interim agreement signed last fall, Iran’s uranium enrichment program in place and allow it to keep a stockpile of nuclear material that could be upgraded to weapons-grade levels. That means any hope of preventing the Iranians from “breaking out” and using the nuclear program left in place by the deal to produce a weapon–regardless of its promises–hinges on the U.S. knowing almost immediately if Tehran breaks its word. But given the American ignorance about what Iran has already done and sketchy intelligence and lack of access for inspections about its current activity, how can the president or anyone else say with any assurance that this next agreement will be worth the paper it is printed on?

Even with full access and inspections of the nuclear sites we know about—as opposed to those that Washington isn’t aware of that most intelligence experts assume exist—the chances of stopping Iran are slim. But to knowingly sign such an agreement with such poor information is a virtual guarantee of failure.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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No Way out for Dems and Media?

by Thomas Lifson

The Democratic Party and mainstream media both bet big on Barack Obama in 2008, and doubled down in 2012. Both institutions wagered that his policies and his purported skills and abilities would benefit America. Now, with scandal and disaster breaking on nearly every front, those bets are coming back to haunt them.

Joseph Curl, writing in the Washington Times,  speaks of President Obama’s “terminal velocity,” with the economy in “free fall, ObamaCare being a contributing if not driving factor, and the GOP nominating candidates who can win, and the president looking detached with his compulsive golf habit. He posits that other Democrats find themselves in a no-win situation:
Democrats will have nowhere to run. If they flee the president, they’ll look weak, defensive — and guilty. If they back his failed policies, they’ll look even worse. Republicans never cease to amaze at their ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but even top Democrats are now predicting a bloodbath for the party on Nov. 4.
And following a bloodbath, 2015 would bring a GOP-controlled House and Senate, capable of sending legislation to President Obama for his signature or veto. A veto would put Democrat Senators on the spot, forcing them to join Obama’s camp in preventing measures from taking effect, something that ought to be a worry for those facing re-election in 2016, and realizing that Obama’s problems are not getting any better, laying the path to yet another bloodbath that could end their poltiical careers. 

But there is also the possibility of constituting a Special Select Committee like the one that investigated Watergate, to inquire more deeply into the IRS scandals. Note that a felony has been admitted to by the IRS, but so far the attorney general has failed to pursue the matter with a criminal investigation, and the IRS commissioner is refusing to call for a special counsel.

Our media enemies are also in deep doo-doo. Roger L. Simon writes at PJ Media:
They [the MSM] may be in the tank for Obama, but much more than that they are in the tank for themselves — a whole lifestyle and world view that has been going on for decades, moral narcissism distilled to its purest essence.
It is that world view and lifestyle that is under threat in the debacle that is the Obama administration.  This world view, promulgating supposedly altruistic values,  but actually stemming from a profound need to be thought of as good for their beliefs irrespective of results of those beliefs, is in a precarious position as never before.  The disintegration of a politician or a political party is bad enough. Far worse is the disintegration of a personality, the disintegration of the self. That is intolerable.
The real reason these media folks cannot face reality is that to do so would mean to see their very persons, everything they have ever stood for, or thought they stood for, or pretended to themselves they stood for, dissolving in a puddle like the Wicked Witch of the West.
Roger is profoundly correct here. The New York Times hacks (and that’s what they are for front-paging the closure of a couple of lanes on a bridge for weeks and ignoring the corruption at the IRS) are sustained by their self-concept as virtuous crusaders and prestigious members of an enlightened elite. With the exception of those who inherited or married money (like Thomas Friedman), they do not have the luxury lifestyle that those they write about enjoy. As Hillary Clinton has demonstrated so convincingly, this leads to a sense of having sacrificed, of being noble. And a nagging sense that things are not quite right, that they are owed something more.

But when reality repudiates their vision, it leads to a psychological crisis. Roger correctly warns:
Get ready for endless tantrums of many sorts.  When moral narcissism of the level we have been experiencing breaks down, anything can happen.  The media will do almost anything to preserve their fragile selves. Evasion, distraction and outright lies will be continuous and may reach unprecedented levels.  
The mainstream media has been in trouble for years, but their silence about the ills of the Obama administration has finished them off as never before.  They will stumble on, but from here on in they will be, as was said of the U.S. during the Vietnam era, a “pitiful, helpless giant.”
The technological revolution that is the internet has already undermined the financial foundations of the broadcast networks and the daily newspapers that constitute the core of media support for Obama. When a crisis of credibility and a potential psychological breakdown are added to the mix, there is a recipe for a kind of implosion.

Thomas Lifson


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Supreme Court Limits President's Recess Appointment Power


The Supreme Court delivered a blow Thursday to President Obama, ruling that he went too far in making recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. 

In a unanimous decision, the high court sided with Senate Republicans and limited the president's power to fill high-level vacancies with temporary appointments. It was the first-ever Supreme Court test involving the long-standing practice of presidents naming appointees when the Senate is on break. 

In this case, Obama had argued that the Senate was on an extended holiday break when he filled slots at the NLRB in 2012. He argued the brief sessions it held every three days were a sham that was intended to prevent him from filling the seats. 

The justices rejected that argument, though, declaring the Senate was not actually in a formal recess when Obama acted during that three-day window. 

Justice Stephen Breyer said in his majority opinion that a congressional break has to last at least 10 days to be considered a recess under the Constitution. 

"Three days is too short a time to bring a recess within the scope of the Clause. Thus we conclude that the President lacked the power to make the recess appointments here at issue," Breyer wrote. 

At the same time, the court upheld the general authority of the president to make recess appointments. 

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, among those who criticized the president for unilaterally filling the NLRB slots, applauded the high court decision on Thursday. 

"The president made an unprecedented power grab by placing political allies at a powerful federal agency while the Senate was meeting regularly and without even bothering to wait for its advice and consent," he said in a statement. "A unanimous Supreme Court has rejected this brazen power-grab." 

On a separate track, House Speaker John Boehner said a day earlier he plans to proceed with a lawsuit against the president over his alleged abuse of executive power. 

Reacting to the Supreme Court decision on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration is "deeply disappointed" in the ruling. He said that while the administration disagrees with the decision, it will honor it. 

The issue of recess appointments receded in importance after the Senate's Democratic majority changed the rules to make it harder for Republicans to block confirmation of most Obama appointees. 

But the ruling's impact may be keenly felt by the White House next year if Republicans capture control of the Senate in the November election. The potential importance of the ruling lies in the Senate's ability to block the confirmation of judges and the leaders of independent agencies like the NLRB. A federal law gives the president the power to appoint acting heads of Cabinet-level departments to keep the government running. 

Still, the outcome could have been worse for the administration. The justices, by a 5-4 vote, rejected a sweeping lower court ruling against the administration that would have made it virtually impossible for any future president to make recess appointments. 

The lower court held that the only recess recognized by the Constitution is the once-a-year break between sessions of Congress. It also said that only vacancies that arise in that recess could be filled. So the high court has left open the possibility that a president, with a compliant Congress, could make recess appointments in the future.  

The case decided Thursday arose out of a dispute between the NLRB and a Pepsi-Cola distributor, Noel Canning. The NLRB had ruled against him in a labor dispute, but Canning argued that three of the five board members were improperly appointed. 

A recess appointment can last no more than two years. Recess appointees who subsequently won Senate confirmation include Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justice William Brennan, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, two current NLRB members and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray. Former UN Ambassador John Bolton is among recess appointees who left office because they could not win a Senate vote. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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