Friday, July 11, 2014

Kerry Admits: Iran Negotiations Not Working

by Majid Rafizadeh

In less than two weeks, the interim nuclear deal will expire, most likely without a final deal being struck between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the G5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany).

The Islamic Republic has been given years to come clean and halt its ideological and regional hegemonic ambitions of obtaining nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the Obama administration believes that we need to give the Islamic Republic another chance, trusting the ruling clerics and the theocracy.

The Ayatollah and Mullahs were given that chance, six months of negotiations, and sanctions relief in oil, metal, and financial sectors— including the flow of billions of dollars to their regime.

Secretary of State John Kerry wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on Tuesday, pointing out that Iranian leaders have not yet made serious decisions although they have been engaged in the negotiations. Kerry wrote, “What will Iran choose? Despite many months of discussion, we don’t know yet. We do know that substantial gaps still exist between what Iran’s negotiators say they are willing to do and what they must do to achieve a comprehensive agreement. We also know that their public optimism about the potential outcome of these negotiations has not been matched, to date, by the positions they have articulated behind closed doors.”

What Kerry is saying is simple: Iran has been buying time and fooling us. It would have been much more sincere if Kerry would have made a straightforward statement, admitting that the Obama administration’s policies towards Iran’s nuclear defiance have failed. Kerry should have frankly said: The Islamic Republic of Iran is buying time to reach breakout nuclear capacity and obtain nuclear bombs, and they have been tricking us for decades.

Kerry appears to be pleading with the Islamic Republic to reach a final nuclear deal while attempting to give the nation a plentitude of incentives. For instance, Kerry wrote:
If Iran is able to make these choices, there will be positive outcomes for the Iranian people and for their economy. Iran will be able to use its significant scientific know-how for international civil nuclear cooperation. Businesses could return to Iran, bringing much needed investment, jobs and many additional goods and services. Iran could have greater access to the international financial system. The result would be an Iranian economy that begins to grow at a significant and sustainable pace, boosting the standard of living among the Iranian population.
In case a final nuclear deal is reached, why would the Secretary of State desire that a theocratic Islamist state— which is ranked the top in human rights abuses, gender discrimination, corruption, dictatorship, lack of freedom of speech, press, and assemble, oppressiveness, and the list goes— join the global economy and “have greater access to the international financial system”? Where are our values of respecting democracy, human rights, freedom of speech, press and civil liberties? Why would the Obama administration desire to strengthen the Islamic Republic— the ruthless cleric leaders, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Shiite militia groups like the Basij, and subsequently Hezbollah, Hamas— by boosting their economy? How will he respond to millions of Iranian women and young people who are fighting against this Islamist theocracy? While many Iranian people view the United States as a model for democracy, what kind of message is John Kerry sending to these citizens? That we do not care about you?

What should the United States do if the negotiations failed? What policies should the Obama administration carry out in order to protects US citizens, preserve its national, strategic, geopolitical and economic interests as well as to support its regional allies, primarily Israel, from an Islamist state armed with nuclear weapons?

In his op-ed, Kerry answered this question: “If Iran is not ready to do so, international sanctions will tighten and Iran’s isolation will deepen.”

But is Kerry serious about this message? Absolutely not.

Based on the Obama administration’s policies, here is what is going to occur: If the negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the G5+1 failed, the Obama administration is going to push the international community to extend the interim nuclear deal. This means that the Mullahs and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will score a victory. In other words, they will have more time to buy with more worthless negotiations, and they will have the required time to obtain the nuclear bomb.

Finally, thanks to Kerry and President Obama, whether a final nuclear deal is reached or not, the Islamist clerics and Iranian leaders come out as winners. If a final nuclear deal is reached, the deal is going to be a flimsy one that will leave a path for the Islamic Republic to obtain nuclear weapons, and Iran will be able to join the international economic system, pushing for their ideological and regional hegemonic power. If a final nuclear deal is not reached, the Islamic Republic will be able to buy more time through the extension and achieve its objectives as well.

Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at Follow Dr. Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


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

A True Narrative of Jews in Israel

by Jeff Ludwig


In a remarkable article, “Grand Larceny,” Chloe Valdary powerfully reminds the reader that the Palestinian Arabs have succeeded in reversing the true narrative of Eretz Yisrael.1  They have to a great degree succeeded in convincing people around the world that their land was stolen from them by Israel and the Jews. But Valdary points out that the reverse is closer to the truth. The land that is present-day Israel – including Judea and Samaria – was land that was brutally taken away from the Jewish people after 70 AD, and was only rightfully restored in 1947.  The story of Jewish deprivation and suffering for thousands of years is the true story of Middle Eastern “larceny.”  Valdary suggests that Israel and the Jewish people need to “re-package” the narrative of the history of Israel to replace the narrative that has gained traction among so many people.

Let us then consider the possible basis for this “new” narrative:

The Romans, Arabs, European Catholics, Seljuks, and other groups persecuted the Jews in their God-given homeland for 2000 years. The Jews remained in the land of their forefathers even though they were officially kicked out by the Romans.  A remnant clung to its historical homeland in spite of the so-called diaspora of Jews throughout the world.  They endured everything to live and breathe in the homeland of their ancestors assigned as a homeland by Almighty God.2

The ancient Jewish kingdom was dealt a severe blow by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. Most of the Jews were taken into exile by the Babylonians.  However, the Persians conquered the Babylonians, and recognized that Judea, which included the capital city of Jerusalem, was Jewish land.  Under the Persian King Artaxerxes, a large contingent of Jews were allowed to return.3   The Persians in turn were overcome by the Greeks led by Alexander the Great.  Alexander recognized that Judea was Jewish land, and showed a lot of respect for the Jewish leadership.  Later, other pagan Jew-haters like the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes wanted to wipe out the Jews and the Jewish religion and steal their land, but he was repulsed miraculously by Judah Maccabee and his brothers.  The Romans succeeded to power over Jewish land; however, even though they heavily taxed the Jews and treated them as a conquered people, the Sanhedrin (high level rabbinical court) under the Romans still had some authority.  Governors, appointed by the Roman Emperors, along with the Roman military legions, had the ultimate governing control.

The great catastrophe for Jewish civilization was having the Second Temple, the center of Jewish spiritual life, destroyed in 70 AD and having precious Judea and Samaria renamed “Palestina” by the Romans and Jerusalem renamed “Aelia Capitolina.”  Despite the Roman carnage, a remnant of Jews remained century-after-century clinging to their hope of restoration, but living as a minority and as second-class citizens in the land of their forefathers.  What endurance!  They demonstrated the perseverance of the brokenhearted.

By the 7th century AD, the violent hordes of Islam took over the lands of the Middle East.  Jews, however, continued to live in the same land that had been occupied by Joshua since 1300 BCE. They lived as a beleaguered minority under the Arabs, and endured as dhimmis (second-class citizens). That meant they had to pay a jizya (tax on non-Muslims) and endure humiliations.  Constantly the Jewish people were crying out to Almighty God — both the minority of Jews in their ancient land, and Jews living throughout the world — to restore their state, their full citizenship in the land given to Abraham for them, which they controlled for 1500 years.

What a great day for all the minorities of the world when World War I came to an end. After World War I, the rights of persecuted minorities began to be recognized.  Just as Czechoslovakia was created for the Czechs and Slovaks, just as the Ottoman Empire was broken up to recognize the claims of Arabs living under their control (the Ottomans were Muslims, but ethnographically were not Arabs), so the British recognized the claims of the indigenous Jewish minority living in their ancient homeland, having lived there since long before the 7th century when the Muslim Arab claims to the land began.

The sweet smell of liberation for minorities and colonialized people was in the air for the first time in history.  Jews began to rejoice.  But the Arabs, despite their own liberation at that time under temporary British and French mandates, took a hateful look at Jews who had the same aspirations for liberation.  Their liberation was okay, but Jewish liberation under the same set of principles was rejected.  This abiding rejection of the principle of national self-determination that has been totally accepted beginning with the end of World War I, and continuing at a greater pace after the creation of the United Nations, is the key to understanding the hatefulness of the Arab mindset.  If it meant that Jews could achieve self-determination by having only .01% of the land of the Arab nations, that was still too much for those selfish, unprincipled people, even though they hungered for the same goal as those Arab states.

Arab anti-Semitism has caused them to reject national self-determination as it applies to the Jews.  Meanwhile, even the national self-determination of Czechoslovakia has been fine-tuned, and that country has been divided to become the countries of Czech Republic and Slovakia. The integrity of Poland after being split by the Nazis and the USSR in 1939 has been restored, and Yugoslavia has become Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo.  The Arabs have accepted all these, but they will not accept Jewish self-determination.  All the former republics of the USSR have become independent countries, all under the universally accepted principle of self-determination, but the Arabs do not accept Jewish self-determination. The Arab hatred for Israel is not only a rejection of Israel but is rejection of national self-determination, one of the key items of Pres. Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points and carried forward more strongly by Pres. Roosevelt, Pres. Truman, and their successors, as well as the United Nations.  The Arab world should hang its head in shame (but they have no shame regarding non-Muslim principles and rights) as its behavior is disgracing every world leader, and every country that became independent after World Wars I and II.

Israel’s existence is not only a tribute to the tenacity of the Jews who persisted there during the 2000 years after Rome’s expulsion, not only to the prayers of Jews all over the world for 2000 years, but also to the triumph of self-determination as an idea whose time had come.  It is thrilling to see the emergence of so many new national entities in the 20th century, among them Israel, India, Pakistan, and the others named above. But the Goliath that is the Arab world would snatch away the wonderful restoration that is Israel.  Goliath would kill David.  But “David” has already triumphed despite the malevolent intentions of its neighbors. The power to have overcome such overwhelming hatred speaks for itself. If you are for the underdog, an underdog that is exercising the same right as every indigenous people in the world, namely the right to sovereignly govern itself, then you have to praise, honor, and stand up for Israel in every possible way.

1  The Algemeiner, July 3, 2014,
2 For a complete account of the Jewish presence (Yishuv) in the land of present-day Israel, see Jerome R. Verlin, Israel: 3000 Years, The Jewish People’s Three Thousand Years Presence in Palestine, Pavilion Press, 2010 and Jerome R. Verlin and Lee S. Bender, Pressing Israel, Pavilion Press, 2012.
3  See Tanakh, Nehemiah 2:1-10.

Jeff Ludwig


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

Mordechai Kedar: Beware the Trap Laid by Hamas

by Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Hamas, for the last few days, has been continuing the war it lost in Judea and Samaria – from Gaza.

The kidnapping and murder of the three boys afforded Israel the opportunity and legitimacy to hit hard at the organization’s infrastructure and send it several years back in its tracks, just when it was about to take over the area by means of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

However, the advantage of fighting on the ground is only the case in Judea and Samaria; in Gaza, Israel will find it very difficult to act effectively on the ground for the following reasons:

1. Population size and density, especially in urban areas such as Gaza City, Khan Yunis, Rafiah and the refugee camps make it necessary for Israel to introduce large infantry forces to a considerable number of points.

2. A tank has no advantages in urban areas as it has limited maneuverability, cannot aim at upper floors and is a slow-moving, easily hit target for antitank weapons, such as RPGs and rockets.

3. An armored jeep is also an easy target for antitank weaponry in a built up area.

4. Soldiers making their way on foot in built up areas are sitting ducks for snipers. Hamas has laid mines, built tunnels underneath the houses, fortified sniper positions in strategically placed buildings.

5. Eliminating Hamas military and civilian infrastructure requires a large Israeli presence over a lengthy period of time, enabling Hamas to attack command posts and headquarters (that is what occurred in Tyre).

6.Total elimination of Hamas will not prevent its resurgence as soon as our soldiers leave.
These points lead to the conclusion that sending land forces deep into Gaza will cost many lives without much to show for it. The subsequent retreat will be presented as a victory for Hamas.

Air battles, on the other hand, give Israel a definite advantage over Hamas, even if spotty intelligence and the proximity of the targets to uninvolved civilians presents difficulties.

Hamas knows this well, and therefore will do all it can to drag Israel into a ground operation involving sending forces into Gaza itself, because on the ground Israel has almost no edge over Hamas.

These reasons also make it difficult for Israel to define the mission of a land operation in Gaza. Partial conquest will not break up Hamas, total conquest will not solve the long range problem, despite the high cost in human life that we will have to pay.

In order to drag Israel into Gaza, Hamas posted on its official website a picture of a missile – apparently a Grad missile – launched from a crowded urban site.

The release accompanying the picture has Hamas proudly telling how the missile was aimed at the “settlement of Ofakim”. Hamas delivers several message in this way:

"We are launching rockets from urban areas and if Israel attempts to take out the launchers and operators it will hit women and children. We will bring all the media to show how Israel fights and murders uninvolved civilians, women and children. The civilian population supports our cause and is willing to suffer for it. Israel can only stop the rockets with a ground operation."

By launching rockets from built up areas, Hamas is transgressing international law which forbids involving civilians in battle, except that the Gazan jihadists – Hamas and the other organizations there – do not take international law into account. If they did, they would not be aiming at civilian communities.

The above leads to the following question: How should Israel respond in order to prevent continued rocket launching? The answer is clear:

1. Israel must not enter Gaza and continue dealing with the problem from the air, where Israel has a significant advantage over Hamas and the other terror organization.

2. Israel must continue and expand its targeted assassinations against activists and leaders Israel must give Hamas political leaders clear warning that continued rocket launching will lead to their elimination.

3. Israel must announce publicly that two days after the aforesaid announcement, it will shut the supply of electricity, water, food and fuel to Gaza, and that this will continue until the rockets cease. Israel can also threaten to cut off all line-based communication to Gaza that goes through Israel. There has never been a situation in which a country continues to provide supplies and services to an area from which it is being shot at. This two days in advance warning is intended to deal with legal, public, poliical and media issues that might result from the cutoff.

As this article was being written, on Tuesday, July 8, the Palestinian Arabs launched more than 100 rockets and missiles at Israeli cities, from Sderot in the south to Hadera in the north., including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. On that very same day, Israel allowed 170 truckloads of food – I repeat, 170 truckloads! – filled with food and other supplies to enter Gaza. Is there a greater absurdity than that one??

Our side keeps saying: We differentiate between terrorists and civilians: we fight terror and send food to the civilians. There is noting more infuriating and incorrect, because think about it – who hands out the food to the people? Israel or Hamas? In other words, the people thank Hamas for succeeding in blackmailing Israel into transferring food even though Hamas is raining missiles on Israel.

We say that we are transferring food and fuel so that world media will report it. This, too, is a faulty approach, because it is based on a twisted scale of values, according to which Israeli lives are less important that Israel’s image.

Continuing to transfer food, water, fuel and electricity, is seen as a sign of weakness by  the other side, and weakness invites more pressure in the form of rockets and missiles. Stopping the supplies would cause the residents of Gaza to demand that Hamas cease to launch rockets. Clearly, continued transfer of supplies is the reason for the continued rockets.

Nevertheless, Israel has no need for or interest in destroying the Hamas government in Gaza, as that would lead to chaos and force Israel to take care of one and a half million Gaza citizens, of whom not even a minyan (quorum of 10 men) are pro Israel. On the contrary, the very existence of the Hamas government in Gaza serves Israel, as then the Palestinian Authority divides into two parts that prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state that may turn out to be  a Hamas state – including Judea and Samaria.

The Hamas movement, gallingly, sets conditions for a ceasefire: free those freed in the Schalit exchange, free the Hamas leaders that were arrested, remove the naval siege on  Gaza, remove the sea blockade and end the targeted assassinations.

Israel has to reject Hamas conditions, if only because an agreement with a terror organization lends it legitimacy and is a surrender to terror that that invites further pressure.

Operation “Defensive Edge” must create an Israeli -made sitution - aimed at Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, because there is a gut feeling that Hamas has no choice but to restore quiet and force, the other organizations to do the same.  That means Islamic Jihad and the Comnittee for Popular Resisance. There is no escaping the conclusion that this is not just a struggle between the IDF and the Hamas military arm, but a struggle between two societies – the Israeli one and the Gazan one – and that the winner will be the stronger society, the more cohesive one and the one more prepared to sacrifice.

If this requires temporary evacuation of children, women or families from the south to other areas – that is what must be done in order to give our government the  possibility of acting as long as it must against the rocket terror without worrying about casualties.

If the government of Israel acts in such a way that she protects Israeli citizens, if our Prime Minister can appear before the public and explain the concept behind this operation, the vast majority of the public will cooperate and go along with government policy on this issue.

The Israeli public realizes that this is a war and that “in war, as in war”. Israel must achieve a victory, and it must be an unequivocal one, clear as the afternoon sun in July. If at the end of the current round of violence, the jihadists can claim that they have won, this will encourage them to try again.

I am not so naïve as to think that an Israeli victory can solve all our problems with Hamas forever, but the spaces between the rounds of violence will widen when our enemies realize that violence does not bring them the desired results.

An Islamic State in Gaza

The situation in Gaza is problematic because Gaza has several "wildcat" groups that do not heed Hamas government directives. The most well known are Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, and there are other smaller ones as well.

Lately, there have been voices in Gaza who claim to have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State and the Caliphate, and Caliph Abu bakar Albaghdadi. The significance of this is that if Hamas does not deal with those rebel organizations immediately, it will find itself dealing internally with an armed opposition, cruel and resolute in its desire to bring terror from the Sinai, Iraq and Syria to Gaza.

Gaza is not alone, and an oath of loyalty to an Islamic state is being heard in Lebanon, Sinai and Libya, while three weeks ago we saw demonstrations in support of an Islamic state in Jordan. In my opinion, it is only a matter of time until we hear and perhaps see similar occurrences in Judea and Samaria – and even within pre 1967 Israel.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar


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

How Does Israel End Up the Bad Guy?

by Shoshana Bryen

It is a terrible irony that Israel, revolted first by the murder of three of its teenage citizens and then by the revenge attack on a Palestinian teen, is the object of riots, bombs, and demands.

Following the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teenagers, six Israelis were arrested for the heinous murder of a teenage Palestinian. That murder did nothing so much as unify the people and the government of Israel in their revulsion for six of their own. One prominent Religious Zionist rabbi called for the death penalty for the killers of Mohammed Abu Khder. (Israel has no death penalty, but Judaism does.) There was unanimity from the prime minister to the defense minister to the leader of the nationalist Bayit Hayehudi Party, to the mother of one of the murdered teens who denounced the revenge killing, to his uncle who paid a condolence call on Abu Khder’s family.

And yet, it is Israel that is under major waves of Hamas rocket fire -- 200 rockets of increasing size and precision in the past month, 50 one night this week -- and major waves of international disapproval, including from President Obama who demanded that “all sides show restraint” as if Israel hadn’t, and that Israel get on with dispensing justice as if it wouldn’t. It helps little that the State Department finally and grudgingly agreed, “We condemn the firing of missiles at Israel and support Israel's right to defend itself,” while at the same time, Secretary of State Kerry again asked PM Netanyahu to "act with restraint" in Israel’s response.

How did Israel get there?

June 12th was a normal day, but “normal” requires definition: Hamas was running its infamous summer camps teaching children as young as nine and ten to shoot guns and make bombs, and filling their minds with the glory of appearing before God in bloody tatters. It was faced with rising disapproval from its own people (63% negative in Gaza and 47% negative in the West Bank) and increasing penury from Egypt’s closures of Gaza smuggling tunnels.

The Palestinian Authority similarly was facing ongoing rumbling from Palestinians in the West Bank about government corruption and increasingly less tolerance for dissent. Hamas and Fatah were inching toward a “unity government” that would give Hamas more freedom to operate in the West Bank, while the U.S. announced that a listed terrorist organization in the halls of Palestinian government wouldn't be sufficient reason to cut off the $400+ million American subsidy or its military training for PA forces. 

By the end of June 12th, Naftali Fraenkel (an American citizen), Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach, trying to get home from school in time for the Sabbath, were kidnapped and -- we now know -- killed during the course of the emergency phone call they placed to Israeli authorities. Their murderers sang after the shots were fired (there was a reason the Israeli government didn’t let that tape out right away). The boys’ bodies were not found for almost three weeks.

During those weeks, Hamas began launching rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot to distract the IDF -- leaving 15 seconds for the residents to grab their children, or their elderly parents, and hit the safe room. During that time, Palestinians walked near Jews waving three fingers, signifying the three kidnapped students; staged “reenactments” of the kidnapping with the boys portrayed as soldiers; and gave candy to their children to celebrate. Children from a Hamas summer camp were used as the vanguard of a mob that attacked a group of Jews on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. During that time, Palestinians were told to place multiple calls to the Israeli Police emergency number to stymie any real calls that might come in. When the Israeli government announced it had suspects, one suspect's mother said, “I will be proud of him until Judgment Day. If... it is true… My boys are all righteous, pious and pure. The goal of my children is the triumph of Islam.” Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Eishe are still being harbored in the West Bank, somewhere among the Palestinian people.

Israeli Arab Parliamentarian Ahmed Tibi declined to call the murderers “terrorists.”

The UN was no help, urging restraint on Israel. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon first said he “had no concrete evidence” that there even had been a kidnapping. He changed his tune, but the UNHCR gave only a tepid hearing to the three Israeli mothers who came to appeal for international help to get their children back.

This was all before the bodies of Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal were found and before the death of Mohammed Abu Khder.

Since then [sic], Shelly Dadon, a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish girl on her way to a job interview, has been murdered by an Israeli Arab taxi driver who told police his motives were “nationalistic.”  

Since then, Abu Mazen has called the death of Abu Khder a deliberate act by the Netanyahu government. Fatah has posted on its Facebook page, “Israel: Prepare all the bags you can for your body parts… We wish for the blood to become rivers."

Since then, Hamas has increased the range of rocket fire to encompass large parts of Israel, and now calls "all of Israel" a target. Israeli Arabs have rampaged outside of Haifa and in the Galilee, and West Bank Palestinians have rioted in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. The new light rail line connecting the Palestinian town of Shuafat to the center of Jerusalem (part of the larger system, giving Palestinians easier access to the city) has been bombed by Palestinians.

Hamas has committed at least two war crimes: firing on Israeli civilians and locating its military infrastructure within its own population, ensuring higher Palestinian casualties that can be blamed on Israel.

In order to accept a ceasefire, it demands from Israel the release of the Hamas operatives arrested in the search for the three teens and the lifting of security restrictions on imports to Gaza. From the PA, it demands a transfer of tens of thousands of dollars to pay salaries for Hamas officials in Gaza. From Egypt, it demands the opening of Gaza’s borders to imports.

There have been suggestions that the Hamas war was deliberately started to draw Israel (and the U.S.) into the broader religious and civil wars of the region. More likely, Hamas saw a target of opportunity. But it should be clear that Israel’s determination to find justice for Gilad, Naftali, Eyal, and Mohammad is the behavior of a country governed by rule of law, which should be supported by the United States as Israel deals with Hamas as required to protect its citizens and its territory.

Shoshana Bryen


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

ISIS Spokesman Explains Why 'Islamic State' Not Supporting Hamas

by Dalit Halevi and Ari Soffer

Spokesman for radical jihadi group says the time is not right for a confrontation with Israel.

ISIS in Mosul, Iraq
ISIS in Mosul, Iraq
The Islamic State, or ISIS, has responded to critics who have questioned why its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not actively supporting Hamas in fighting Israel.

After capturing vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, ISIS declared the regions under its control as a "Caliphate", or Islamic state, and appointed Baghdadi as "leader of the Muslims". While many jihadists celebrated the announcement, others - including Al Qaeda, which ISIS broke off from last year - have criticized the move for a variety of reasons.

Since the recent escalation between Israel and Islamist terrorists in Gaza, some of those critics have questioned why a self-declared "Caliphate" is not rushing to the aid of Muslims in the Hamas-controlled territory.

In a statement a spokesperson for the group, Nidal Nuseiri reaffirmed that conquering "Bayt el-Maqdis" (Jerusalem) and destroying the State of Israel is central to the group's "jihad", or holy war.
However, he pointed out that ISIS has been taking a systematic approach in its campaign, and outlined six specific stages it said needed to be fulfilled before taking on Israel.

Some of those "stages" - building a firm base for an Islamic state in Iraq, and using it as a springboard to wage war in Syria and Lebanon - have already been achieved. But he said a number of other criteria still needed to be fulfilled before challenging Israel directly.

Among them, Nuseiri said that the US - seen as Israel's greatest ally - needed to be weakened politically and economically via attacks on the American mainland, as well as US interests in Muslim countries. Additionally, the existing "Islamic State" needed to expand its borders to cover all of "Greater Syria" (which would include Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and possibly Gaza); such a state, he said, would then be in a position for a direct confrontation with Israel.

Dalit Halevi and Ari Soffer


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

Official: Hamas Holding Out for 'High-Quality' Terror Attack

by Moshe Cohen

Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad said that Hamas was ready for a cease-fire, but wants to make one big 'score' to claim 'victory.'
Smoke rises from Gaza airport
Smoke rises from Gaza airport
Flash 90
Top Defense Ministry Amos Gilad said Thursday that Hamas has been “badly damaged” by the IDF's campaign in response to the terror organizations unending attacks on Israeli civilians. Gilad, Head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomacy-Security Department, said that Hamas was working very hard to keep up its “victorious image,” but was finding it much more difficult now than in the past.

“Hamas is trying very hard to make headlines,” said Gilad. “They issue proclamations of 'victory' and time their major rocket attacks to coincide with 'high pressure' periods,” such as Thursday morning's attack on Tel Aviv at the height of rush hour. As tens of thousands of commuters were driving into the Tel Aviv area Thursday morning, Hamas terrorists fired at least four rockets at the Dan area. All four were shot down by the Iron Dome defensive system.

Hamas also times its heavy rocket attacks for the early evening hours, in the hope of making headlines on the evening TV broadcasts and thus sowing panic among Israelis.

According to Gilad, Hamas is more than ready to end this round of fighting. “They are hoping for a 'high-quality' attack that they can point to and pronounce as a victory, and when that happens they will immediately call a cease-fire. They are sustaining grave losses and cannot continue at this rate,” he said.

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge three days ago, the IDF has hit 785 terror targets in Gaza – more than in the entire six days of 2012's Operation Defensive Shield. In the 24 hours ended 6 AM Thursday, the army said, 322 terror targets were destroyed, including 217 rocket-launching sites, as well as the homes of 46 Hamas commanders. By now, the army said, nearly all of Hamas' top commanders and their families were homeless.

Since the beginning of the operation, the IDF has hit 513 missile-launching sites. Officials said that the rate of attack against Hamas targets was double that of Defensive Shield, when the IDF pounded Gaza I response to months of endless rocket attacks.

Moshe Cohen


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

Why did Hamas Provoke a War?

by Elliott Abrams

The current battles between Israel and Hamas were provoked by Hamas. Why?‎

When increased levels of rocket fire began about a week ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin ‎Netanyahu responded with restraint. He sent clear messages to Hamas in public ‎statements, and via Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt, that he wanted no war, and no ‎incursion into Gaza; if the rocket attacks ended, this confrontation would be over.‎

But Hamas chose to increase the pace of firing, guaranteeing an Israeli response.‎
The question is why, and there are several answers.‎

First, consider Hamas' situation a week ago. The economic situation in Gaza is dire, ‎due both the reduced Iranian support and to the closure of the border with Egypt by ‎the Egyptian Army. Gazans are unhappy with Hamas, due to the repression and ‎corruption they see in its rule in Gaza, and to the economic situation. When ‎Mohammed Morsi was elected president of Egypt two years ago, Hamas thought its ‎situation would change: It is part of the Muslim Brotherhood, and now Egypt had a ‎Brotherhood president. But even in his year in office, Morsi could not deliver for ‎Hamas; the army blocked him. And then he was overthrown by a military coup, ‎replaced now by a president who commanded that army and is deeply hostile to ‎Hamas and the Brotherhood. The sense of growing power and perhaps inevitable ‎victory for the Brotherhood is gone now.‎

So Hamas needed a way out of its increasingly difficult situation. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's peace ‎negotiations might have delivered some shake-up in the overall Israeli-Palestinian ‎situation, but they failed. Hamas then tried a political maneuver: a deal with Fatah ‎and the Palestinian Authority to form a nonparty government in Ramallah that held ‎the promise of bringing Hamas into the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization after elections later this year. ‎But that maneuver was getting Hamas little benefit and few Palestinians believed an ‎election would actually happen.‎

Meanwhile, most attention in the region was directed to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Iran, Iraq, and Syria; ‎Hamas, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more broadly, were no longer news.‎

Finally, the arrangement Hamas had reached with Israel -- no rocket attacks out of ‎Gaza, no Israeli attacks into Gaza -- was becoming increasingly tough for Hamas to ‎maintain. Teenage boys and young men do not join Hamas to police Gaza's ‎borders and prevent Islamic Jihad from attacking Israel; they join to ‎attack Israel. Hamas was risking the charge from other terrorists that it was an ‎auxiliary police force for Israel, and risking that young men would drift away to those ‎other terrorist groups.‎

So, the Hamas leadership decided it had to shake things up.‎

This new battle with Israel has several benefits for Hamas. To say that Turkey, ‎Jordan, and Egypt are passing messages from the Israelis about mutual restraint, ‎and are urging Hamas to back off, is to say that these governments are now in daily ‎contact with Hamas leaders. Statements from Hamas are now, once again, front ‎page news; Hamas is no longer irrelevant. Hamas is now in its eyes and those, it ‎hopes, of many Arabs, back in the front line of the struggle against Israel. It will also, ‎it must believe, be seen as the heroic victim of Israeli attacks, worthy of solidarity ‎and support -- both political and financial. And this episode in its long struggle with ‎Israel allows Hamas to show its capabilities: longer range missiles that attack Tel ‎Aviv and further north, sea-based attacks by swimmers who enter Israel from the ‎beaches, tunnels that would enable the kidnapping of more hostages to exchange or ‎permit heavily armed men to reach Israeli communities and exact a high price in ‎lives, and a high volume of rockets to overwhelm Israel's high-tech defenses like ‎Iron Dome. Finally, Hamas must believe that Israel desires to damage it and restore ‎deterrence, but not to destroy Hamas and its rule in Gaza. Believing that chaos and ‎anarchy or rule by Islamic Jihad would be even worse for Israel than rule by Hamas, ‎the organization may believe that it will emerge from this round of warfare bloodied ‎but still in place.‎

It is a very big gamble for Hamas, and the size of the gamble is the measure of ‎Hamas' desperation. For so far, Hamas has not done much damage to Israel. The ‎swimmers were killed the minute they came out of the water. The tunnels have been ‎discovered and bombed. The missiles are causing Israelis to flee to bomb shelters, ‎but thank God (and Iron Dome) they have so far not caused much property damage ‎and no loss of life. Meanwhile Israel targets Hamas' missiles and especially its ‎missile launchers, headquarters, arsenals and warehouses, and leaders. There is not ‎much Hamas can call a victory except proving the range of its rockets.‎

All this can change in an instant: A rocket can land in a hospital or school, in Gaza or ‎in Israel -- and much more likely in Israel, because the Hamas rockets are unguided. Significant loss of life in Israel would be viewed as a "victory" by Hamas, and enough ‎of these "victories" could lead it to seek an end to this round and a return to calm. ‎But Hamas wants more than calm: It has demands. It wants the men who were ‎freed in exchange for Gilad Schalit, and recently rearrested, to be freed again by ‎Israel, and even has demands of Egypt -- to open the border with Sinai far wider.‎

Hamas may have reached the conclusion that it must soon abandon those demands ‎and agree to a truce, but be unwilling to stop until it can point to some ‎‎"achievement" like hitting a major tower in downtown Tel Aviv or killing a large ‎group of Israelis. But if there are no such "victories" and the Israeli assaults ‎continue, that will change. This appears to be Israel's assessment: keep increasing ‎the pressure until Hamas, which started this war because it saw too many threats to ‎its survival and dominance in Gaza, comes to see continued war as the key threat. ‎Those who want the violence to end must realize that the larger is the Israeli effort ‎now, the sooner Hamas will conclude this round must be ended.‎

Elliot Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This piece is reprinted with permission and can be found on Abrams' blog "Pressure Points."


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

A Fifth Column Undermines the War for American Energy Independence

by Gary Jason

The benighted administration of neo-socialist nebbish Obama continues to self-destruct with scandals (IRS-gate, Benghazi-gate, Green Energy-gate, GM-gate, and so on ad nauseam), foreign policy blunders (Egypt, Russia, Syria, China, Ukraine, Iraq, Israel, and so on ad nauseam), and continuing economic malaise.  Amid this crescendo of crisis, it is easy to overlook the most important geo-political and economic event of our times: the war for American energy independence.

From the frontlines, the news is good.  First, consider the recent report on just one of America’s great shale fields, the Bakken.  Oil producers are now developing a formation below the Bakken, called the “Torquay” (or “Three Forks”) formation.  On just the U.S. side, the new field promises to increase the estimated amount of recoverable oil by nearly 60%. 
And it promises to increase Canada’s potential by as much or more.

In sum, the new discovery could produce several billion (yes, billion with a b) additional barrels of oil for North America.

One oil company reports that it is now looking at a 7-month payback time for investments, much better than the standard 12- to 15-month payback standard in the industry.

This buttresses the information in the second report that America will maintain its newly won status as the world’s biggest producer of oil.  The U.S. overtook both Russia and Saudi Arabia this year in total oil production, thanks to the fracking/shale rock revolution.

Specifically, when you count in oil and other hydrocarbon liquids separated from natural gas, America’s current daily output of over 11 million barrels per day has now put it out front.

And remember, the U.S. became the number-one natural gas producer four years ago.

This energy achievement comes after being written off as a post-Hubbard-peak production loser, from the years of the effete Jimmy Carter onward.  Feckless Jimmy considered America just an energy corpse, and he whimpered for mercy at the hands of the oil-rich Middle East potentates.

Thanks to North Dakota and Texas, fracking operations are moving America toward energy independence.

The total American oil output should max out at 13.1 million barrels per day in five years, according to the International Energy Agency (the IEA).  The IEA projects that America will then lose its top producer spot around 2030.

But again, that is assuming we don’t find any new major sources of oil and natural gas – and we have proven far more innovative and resourceful than the naysayers have hitherto allowed for.

So on the home front, the war for American energy independence is going well.  But it faces a treacherous fifth column, viz., the so-called Americans who blindly oppose the fracking revolution – the environmentalist extremist Gaia-worshipping neo-pagan elites.

Several recent reports bear on these perfidious fifth columnists.  First is the report by the head of NATO, secretary-general Anders Rasmussen, that Russia has been funding the mendacious Big Lie anti-fracking campaign by the major environmentalist front groups.  He notes:
… Russia, as part of their sophisticated … disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called … environmental organizations working against shale gas — to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.
One might add that obviously Russia wants America to cease fracking as well.

This announcement caused howls of outrage and heated denials from the Gaia gangs like Greenpeace and Frack Off, a British anti-fracking activist group.  But as the report cited above notes, the Russians have been planting phony “research” in environmentalist publications since 1979 at least, when they planted a report that nuclear war would lead to massive climate change in the journal AMBIO (to try to stop American missiles being put in Europe).

Former Russian spy chief Ronald Rychiak explains Russia’s motives with pluperfect clarity:
[Russia’s] demographics are awful … and its population … could conceivably be under 100 million by the middle of the century. It lives almost wholly by selling oil and gas (and uses its leverage with gas to threaten its neighbors …). But the recent discoveries of shale gas … could deal Russia a heavy blow.
Does anyone doubt that if the Russians have been funding European environmentalist extremists to stop fracking, they are doing it here as well?

And does anyone doubt that if the Russians are funding anti-fracking propaganda to keep America weak and dependent upon foreign oil, the oil-rich Arab states are doing the same?  If so, he should consider a couple of recent reports.

First was the news that Hollywood celeb Matt was seemingly unaware that his 2012 anti-fracking propaganda flick, Promised Land, was funded in part by wealthy individuals in the United Arab Emirates.

Second, and more damning of the Hollywood Gaia group, is the recent sting conducted by the amazing Project Veritas, headed by plucky journalist James O’Keefe.

O’Keefe arranged a meeting between film producers Josh and Rebecca Tickell (who were joined by a couple of environmentalist activist actors) and a member of his team of undercover journalists.  The undercover journalist posed as a member of a wealthy Mid-Eastern family.  The imposter, who called himself “Muhammed,” purported to offer the Tickells to fund an anti-fracking movie.

The fake Muhammed told the Gaia-loving producers he wanted to keep the source of the funding secret, and to this they readily agreed – even after the Muhammed imposter said that his goal was to keep America dependent on foreign oil.  “Muhammed” bluntly says to Tickell, “My client’s interest is to end American energy independence; your interest is to end fracking. And you guys understand that?”  To which the ultra-patriotic Tickell replied, “Correct. Yes, super clear.”

Of course, the real problem is not the nauseating enviro-insects in Hollywood, but the nauseating enviro-insects in the Obama administration.  Obama and his billionaire enviro-backers have used the EPA to wage war on the coal and fracking companies and the Department of the Interior to cut off huge swaths of land from development, and they have dramatically curtailed land on coastal leases for oil and gas production.

The capstone of this madcap anti-American-energy-independence policy is the administration’s continued blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that the administration’s own State Department has ruled is environmentally safe.  The project would bring oil down from our closest ally, Canada, relieving our country from all imports from the Middle East, a region filled with countries that hate America and are happy to fund our destruction by terrorists.

Here, alas, the fifth column is having its way.  The news from Canada is that the Canadians are looking intensely to send their oil riches to other nations besides the U.S.  The Canadians send us a prodigious amount of oil.  Their oil sands alone contain reserves of upwards of 4 trillion (that’s trillion with a t) barrels of oil, more than Saudi Arabia.  Canadian oil sand production has increased by nearly three fourths in just seven years and is projected to hit nearly 4 million barrels per day in about a decade.  And the U.S., despite its burgeoning oil and gas production, still relies heavily on Canada for one third of the net 8 million barrels a day it imports.  Indeed, 99% of the production from western Canadian oil sands now flows to the U.S.

But now, the Canadian oil producers are moving quickly to find easier ways to export oil abroad, seeing the resistance in America to utilizing their oil.  For example, TransCanada Corporation is planning to build in maybe 4 years a 2,800-mile pipeline to connect western Canada to east-coast refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick.  This pipeline will deliver 1.1 million barrels of oil a day for shipment overseas.

And Peters & Company projects that another 1.1 million barrels a day will be shipped by railroad to new terminals for shipment overseas.

We can easily win the war for American energy independence and national security, but only by exposing the environmentalist fifth column for what they are.

Gary Jason is an academic philosopher and a senior editor of Liberty. His new book, Philosophic Thoughts, is available from Peter Lang Publishers (and through Amazon).


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

US State Department: Hamas is Responsible for Civilian Casualties

by Elad Benari

State Department spokeswoman reminds reporters that Israel is defending itself against endless rocket attacks by Hamas.

Kerry and Psaki (R)
Kerry and Psaki (R)

The United States reiterated on Thursday its support for Israel in defending itself.
Speaking to reporters, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki reminded that Hamas was responsible for civilian deaths because of its rocket attacks against Israel.

“Civilians have been killed, and certainly that’s of concern to us, and that’s one of the reasons that we have been certainly calling for all sides to de-escalate tensions on the ground,” she said, when asked by a reporter if she thought that “the utility of an F-16 to bomb a home and kill five civilians was appropriately done.”

Psaki continued, “It’s tragic and our condolences go out to the families, but I would remind you who is at fault here, and that is Hamas and the indiscriminate attacks that they have launched against Israel.”

“There’s a difference between Hamas, a terrorist organization that’s indiscriminately attacking innocent civilians in areas where there are innocent civilians in Israel, and the right of Israel to respond and protect their own civilians. And that’s what we’re seeing on the ground take place,” she added.

Earlier this week, the United States condemned the rocket fire by Hamas against Israel, but also called on Israel to “act with restraint” in its response.

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Washington strongly condemns the incessant rocket fire from Gaza and reiterated U.S. support for Israel’s right to self-defense.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been engaging with Mideast leaders and others in a bid to halt escalating Israeli-Palestinian Arab violence.

Elad Benari


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

Hollywood, Islam and Political Correctness

by Oliver Williams

In the politically correct attempt to avoid "stereotyping" and be safe from discomfort, have we been blocking out reality?
Hollywood has been indulging in a sort of reverse racial profiling: cinematic terrorists could be anybody other than Muslims.
Muslim terrorists? As in the movie Non-Stop, Hollywood would rather cast the family members of 9/11 victims as terrorists rather than reflect that such a thing exists.

In March, the TV network ABC Family cancelled the show Alice in Arabia after a campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR], a controversial group with links to extremism, and accusations of racism in the liberal media. The show was to be about a Muslim American teen that is taken to Saudi Arabia by her extended family after the death of her parents and never allowed to return. ABC Family were apparently taken aback by the opposition to the show. "The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned," they said. They had seemingly set out to make an inoffensive program. Its writer, Brooke Elkmeier, said the show was pro-Arab and pro-tolerance and "meant to give Arabs and Muslims a voice on American TV." The protagonist was an Arab Muslim.

What were CAIR and the liberal media so outraged by? The plot is hardly far-fetched. According to a report by Human Rights Watch , women of all ages in Saudi Arabia "are forbidden from traveling, studying, or working without permission from their male guardians." Depicting the bigotry of Saudi society is itself seen as bigoted. Saudi Arabia is a country where women cannot drive; where veiling is mandatory; where adultery, apostasy and "blasphemy" are crimes punishable by death; where, under sharia law, a woman's testimony is worth half that of a man's; and where limbs are amputated for theft. In the politically correct attempt to avoid "stereotyping" and be safe from discomfort, have we been blocking out reality?

An Indonesian maid is beheaded in Saudi Arabia, in 2011. (Image source: PressTV/YouTube video screenshot)

The big-budget star-studded film, Kingdom of Heaven, released by Ridley Scott in 2005 and set during the crusades, features a scene in which, after the sacking of Jerusalem, the Muslim Sultan Saladin walks through a smashed-up room, picks up a cross from the floor and respectfully returns it to its proper place on the table top.

Was this historically plausible? Scott had gone to the trouble of hiring Dr. Tom Asbridge, a scholar at Queen Mary University in London, as a historical advisor. As revealed in the latest issue of QMA, the university's alumni magazine, Asbridge told Scott "there is compelling first-person, Arabic testimony from an advisor to Saladin, that tells us in great detail about their entry to Jerusalem. And Saladin ordered the cross to be removed from the roof of the Dome of the Rock and smashed."

Scott reportedly reacted with annoyance. The scene stayed and Asbridge got his name taken off the credits. The PC untruth was more pleasant than reality. The film went on to depict a priest assuring Christians that "killing an infidel is not murder. It is the path to heaven."

Similarly, during production of the film 2012 the director Roland Emmerich had considered demolishing the Grand Mosque in Mecca on screen but was persuaded not to. In the film, which depicted a global apocalypse, the obliteration of the Sistine chapel and St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is vividly rendered while Middle Eastern landmarks are spared. Emmerich stated, "We have to all, in the western world, think about this. You can actually let Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab symbol, you would have ... a fatwa... so I kind of left it out."

Emmerich went on to direct White House Down. The New Republic was accurate in saying it resembled 24 re-written by Noam Chomsky. Jamie Foxx played a souped-up action-man Obama about to bring peace to the world by pulling American troops out of the Middle East. Evil American patriots violently take over the White House in order to launch a nuclear strike against Iran.

Even the liberal Jonathan Chait, writing in New York Magazine, had to conclude that, "You don't have to be an especially devoted consumer of film or television to detect a pervasive, if not total, liberalism... We liberals owe not a small measure of our success to the propaganda campaign of a tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite."

In Iron Man 3, Ben Kingsley plays an Osama bin Laden-esque baddie, Mandarin. The director, Shane Black, referred to the nefarious comic book version of the character as a "racist caricature." In the film, by contrast, he turns out to be a harmless actor named Trevor, hired by the real terrorist (a rich white guy) to deflect attention. Shane Black said of the decision "it offers up a way that you can sort of show how people are complicit in being frightened. They buy into things in the way that the audience for this movie buys into it."

Are people "buying into" a fear of Islamist terrorism? The director starts to sound like the demented conspiracy theorists who think 9/11 was an attack by the American government or Israel: "I think that's a message that's more interesting for the modern world because I think there's a lot of fear that's generated toward very available and obvious targets, which could perhaps be directed more intelligently at what's behind them."

Or take The Sum of All Fears. Tom Clancy's 1991 novel featured Palestinian terrorists detonating a nuclear device at the Super Bowl. The film's writer Dan Pyne, however, dismissed Islamic terrorism as a cliché. Rather than aiming for political relevance and believability, Hollywood has been indulging in a sort of reverse racial profiling: cinematic terrorists could be anybody other than Muslims. "Before we had typed a word on paper," producer Mace Neufeld has said, "I was getting complaints."

The complaints came from CAIR. Director Phil Alden Robinson wrote to CAIR saying "I hope you will be reassured that I have no intention of promoting negative images of Muslims or Arabs, and I wish you the best in your continuing efforts to combat discrimination." The film switched Palestinians with neo-Nazis. As Reihan Salam notes in his article, The Sum of All PC , "Movies have always relied on politically relevant villains, from Russian spies to South African apartheidniks to Serbian ethnic cleansers. Tom Clancy's much-loved Jack Ryan series is the gold standard. Based on Clancy's best-selling novels, the movies featured hero Jack Ryan tackling the decaying Soviet empire in The Hunt for Red October, Irish nationalists in Patriot Games, and Colombian drug lords in Clear and Present Danger."

But Muslim terrorists? As can be seen in the Liam Neeson movie Non-Stop, Hollywood would sooner cast the family members of 9/11 victims as potential terrorists than reflect that such a thing exists.

Oliver Williams, based in London, is currently working on a book about foreign policy and globalization.

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