Saturday, March 28, 2015

Managing Obama’s War Against Israel - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

As Max Boot explained Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, the administration’s animosity toward Israel is a function of Obama’s twin strategic aims, both evident since he entered office: realigning US policy in the Middle East toward Iran and away from its traditional allies Israel and the Sunni Arab states, and ending the US’s strategic alliance with Israel.

815195486984b07a948ab7bd17c273a6Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

On Wednesday, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it is shelving plans to build 1,500 apartments in the Har Homa neighborhood. Officials gave no explanation for its sudden move. But none was needed.

Obviously the construction of apartments for Jews in Jerusalem was blocked in the hopes of appeasing US President Barack Obama.

But is there any reason to believe he can be appeased? Today the White House is issuing condemnations of Israel faster than the UN.

To determine how to handle what is happening, we need to understand the nature of what is happening.

First we need to understand that the administration’s hostility has little to do with Israel’s actions.

As Max Boot explained Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, the administration’s animosity toward Israel is a function of Obama’s twin strategic aims, both evident since he entered office: realigning US policy in the Middle East toward Iran and away from its traditional allies Israel and the Sunni Arab states, and ending the US’s strategic alliance with Israel.

Over the past six years we have seen how Obama has consistently, but gradually, taken steps to advance these two goals. Toward Iran, he has demonstrated an unflappable determination to accommodate the terrorism supporting, nuclear proliferating, human rights repressing and empire building mullahs.

Beginning last November, as the deadline for nuclear talks between the US and its partners and Tehran approached, Obama’s attempts to accommodate Tehran escalated steeply.

Obama has thrown caution to the winds in a last-ditch effort to convince Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei to sign a deal with him. Last month the administration published a top secret report on Israel’s nuclear installations. Last week, Obama’s director of national intelligence James Clapper published an annual terrorism threat assessment that failed to mention either Iran or Hezbollah as threats.

And this week, the administration accused Israel of spying on its talks with Iran in order to tell members of Congress the details of the nuclear deal that Obama and his advisers have been trying to hide from them.

In the regional context, the administration has had nothing to say in the face of Iran’s takeover of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden this week. With its Houthi-proxy now in charge of the strategic waterway, and with its own control over the Straits of Hormuz, Iran is poised to exercise naval control over the two choke points of access to Arab oil.

The administration is assisting Iranian Shi’ite proxies in their battle to defeat Islamic State forces in the Iraqi city of Tikrit. It has said nothing about the Shi’ite massacres of Sunnis that come under their control.

Parallel to its endless patience for Tehran, the Obama administration has been treating Israel with bristling and ever-escalating hostility. This hostility has been manifested among other things through strategic leaks of highly classified information, implementing an arms embargo on weapons exports to Israel in time of war, ending a 40-year agreement to provide Israel with fuel in times of emergency, blaming Israel for the absence of peace, expressing tolerance and understanding for Palestinian terrorism, providing indirect support for Europe’s economic war against Israel, and providing indirect support for the BDS movement by constantly accusing Israel of ill intentions and dishonesty.

Then there is the UN. Since he first entered office, Obama has been threatening to withhold support for Israel at the UN. To date, the administration has vetoed one anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council and convinced the Palestinians not to submit another one for a vote.

In the months that preceded these actions, the administration exploited Israel’s vulnerability to extort massive concessions to the Palestinians.

Obama forced Benjamin Netanyahu to announce his support for Palestinian statehood in September 2009. He used the UN threat to coerce Netanyahu to agree to negotiations based on the 1949 armistice lines, to deny Jews their property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to release scores of terrorist murderers from prison.

Following the nationalist camp’s victory in last week’s election, Obama brought to a head the crisis in relations he instigated. He has done so for two reasons.

First, next week is the deadline for signing a nuclear agreement with Iran. Obama views Netanyahu as the prospective deal’s most articulate and effective opponent.

As Obama sees it, Netanyahu threatens his nuclear diplomacy with Iran because he has a unique ability to communicate his concerns about the deal to US lawmakers and the American people, and mobilize them to join him in opposing Obama’s actions. The letters sent by 47 senators to the Iranian regime explaining the constitutional limitations on presidential power to conclude treaties without Senate approval, like the letter to Obama from 367 House members expressing grave and urgent concerns about the substance of the deal he seeks to conclude, are evidence of Netanyahu’s success.

The second reason Obama has gone to war against Israel is because he views the results of last week’s election as an opportunity to market his anti-Israel and pro-Iranian positions to the American public.

If Netanyahu can convince Americans to oppose Obama on Iran, Obama believes that by accusing Netanyahu of destroying chances for peace and calling him a racist, Obama will be able to win sufficient public support for his anti-Israel policies to intimidate pro-Israel Democratic lawmakers into accepting his pro-Iranian policies.

To this end, Obama has announced that the threat that he will abandon Israel at the UN has now become a certainty. There is no peace process, Obama says, because Netanyahu had the temerity to point out that there is no way for Israel to risk the transformation of Judea and Samaria into a new terror base. As a consequence, he has all but made it official that he is abandoning the peace process and joining the anti-Israel bandwagon at the UN.

Given Obama’s decision to abandon support for a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians, modes of appeasement aimed at showing Israel’s good faith, such as Jewish building freezes, are no longer relevant. Scrapping plans to build apartments in Jewish neighborhoods like Har Homa will make no difference.

Obama has reached a point in his presidency where he is prepared to give full expression to his plan to end the US’s strategic alliance with Israel.

He thinks that doing so is both an end to itself and a means of succeeding in his bid to achieve a rapprochement with Iran.

Given this dismal reality, Israel needs to develop ways to minimize the damage Obama can cause.

Israel needs to oppose Obama’s policies while preserving its relations with its US supporters, including its Democratic supporters. Doing so will ensure that it is in a position to renew its alliance with the US immediately after Obama leaves office.

With regards to Iran, such a policy requires Israel to act with the US’s spurned Arab allies to check Iran’s expansionism and nuclear progress. It also requires Israel to galvanize strong opposition to Obama’s goal of replacing Israel with Iran as America’s chief ally in the Middle East and enabling it to develop nuclear weapons.

As for the Palestinians, Israel needs to view Obama’s abandonment of the peace process as an opportunity to improve our diplomatic position by resetting our relations with the Palestinians. Since 1993, Israel has been entrapped by the chimerical promise of a “two-state solution.”

By late 2000, the majority of Israelis had recognized that there is no way to achieve the two-state solution. There is no way to make peace with the PLO. But due to successive governments’ aversion to risking a crisis in relations with Washington, no one dared abandon the failed two-state strategy.

Now, with Obama himself declaring the peace process dead and replacing it with a policy of pure hostility toward Israel, Israel has nothing to gain from upholding a policy that blames it for the absence of peace.

No matter how loudly Netanyahu declares his allegiance to the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel’s heartland, Obama will keep castigating him and Israel as the destroyer of peace.

The prevailing, 23-year-old view among our leadership posits that if we abandon the two-state model, we will lose American support, particularly liberal American support. But the truth is more complicated.

Inspired by the White House and the Israeli Left, pro-Israel Democrats now have difficulty believing Netanyahu’s statements of support for the establishment of a Palestinians state. But those who truly uphold liberal values of human rights can be convinced of the rightness of Israel’s conviction that peace is currently impossible and as a consequence, the two-state model must be put on the back burner.

We can maintain support among Republicans and Democrats alike if we present an alternative policy that makes sense in the absence of an option for the two-state model.

Such a policy is the Israeli sovereignty model. If the government adopts a policy of applying Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria in whole – as I recommend in my book The Israeli Solution: A One- State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, or in part, in Area C, as Economy Minister Naftali Bennett recommends, our leaders will be able to defend their actions before the American people, including pro-Israel Democrats.

Israel must base its policy of sovereignty on two principles. First, this is a liberal policy that will ensure the civil rights of Palestinians and Israelis alike, and improve the Palestinians’ standard of living.

Second, such a policy is not necessarily a longterm or permanent “solution,” but it is a stable equilibrium for now.

Just as Israel’s decision to apply its laws to united Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in the past didn’t prevent it from conducting negotiations regarding the possible transfer of control over the areas to the Palestinians and Syrians, respectively, so an administrative decision to apply Israeli law to all or parts of Judea and Samaria will not block the path for negotiations with the Palestinians when regional and internal Palestinian conditions render them practicable.

The sovereignty policy is both liberal and strategically viable. If the government adopts it, the move will rebuild Israel’s credibility and preserve Israel’s standing on both sides of the aisle in Washington.

Never before has Israel had to deal with such an openly hostile US administration. Indeed, until 2009, the very notion that a day would come when an American president would prefer an alliance with Khamenei’s Iran to its traditional alliances with Israel and the Sunni Arab states was never even considered. But here we are.

Our current situation is unpleasant. But it isn’t the end of the world. We aren’t helpless. If we act wisely, we can stem Iran’s nuclear and regional advance. If we act boldly, we can preserve our alliance with the US while adopting a policy toward the Palestinians that for the first time in decades will advance our interests and our liberal values on the world stage.

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit


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

Analysis: Iran is seeking hegemony via a nuclear deal - Yossi Melman

by Yossi Melman

US AND IRANIAN negotiators pose yesterday in Geneva before a discussion of Iran’s nuclear program
US AND IRANIAN negotiators pose yesterday in Geneva before another discussion of Iran’s nuclear program. (photo credit:REUTERS)

In a perfect world, in view of the dramatic events in Yemen, the US and its EU allies would have suspended the nuclear talks with Iran or at least presented a tougher position.

The fall of Yemen’s major cities into the hands of the Houti (Shi’ite) rebels – directed, supported, and equipped by Iran – is not unrelated to the nuclear talks.

Iran strives to have hegemony in the Middle East. It already either partially dominates or fully controls Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and now has made inroads in Yemen on the Red Sea. No wonder that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates for the first time yesterday translated their concerns into action and carried out air strikes on Houti positions.

If this new and most crucial round of nuclear talks in Switzerland results in a framework agreement among the word powers (US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany) and Iran, it will further consolidate Iran’s hegemony. No wonder the Arab world, led by Saudi Arabia, now shares with Israel the same interests and fears of the deal in the making.

They claim that the pending deal is a “bad deal” that will further enhance Iran as a nuclear threshold state and recognize its right to keep enriching uranium, despite its long history of deceptions and violations of its international obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The negotiation focuses on reaching by the end of this month a framework agreement that would state the major principles of the final deal. They include the reduction of Iran’s operational centrifuges for uranium enrichment from 10,000 to roughly 6,000, intrusive inspection of all its nuclear sites for 10 years, limitations of its enriched uranium stockpiles, and some other important points.

If a deal is reached, this leads to further talks – technical by nature – which have to be concluded in the format of a comprehensive agreement by the end of June 2015.

Thus, it will replace the interim agreement reached nearly a year and half ago between the two sides.

Still – and despite the long way both sides have walked so far – reaching an agreement is not a sure thing. There are still major differences which have to be overcome. Iran, as declared by its Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, demands that international sanctions be lifted once the agreement is signed. This is most probably supported by Russia and China, but opposed by the EU with France leading the charge.

Another major hurdle is Iran’s insistence on continuing to research and develop, though not to operate, new versions of centrifuges which spin faster and are more efficient.

But even if these two major obstacles are settled, the agreement will most probably leave loopholes and unresolved issues. These include the demands by the IAEA that Iran show transparency in regard to its past activities in the area of weaponization and allow IAEA inspectors to visit suspected sites like Parchin and interview key nuclear scientists; especially Muhsein Fakirzhada, considered to be the future “father” of Iran’s nuclear bomb. One more important issue is the future of the heavily fortified Fordow uranium enrichment facility.

On Wednesday the Associated Press reported that the US was ready to allow Fordow to be partially operational. If true it would be a setback for the efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Resolving these issues will enable the world to have a better understanding of how advanced Iran is in its efforts to master the knowledge of building a nuclear bomb.

So far Iran has rejected the demands.

The US argues that if a deal is clinched this month and finally sealed in June, Iran will be pushed back up to a year from the ability to assemble a bomb in case it breaches the agreement and tries to dash to be a nuclear weapons state.

But Israeli and some American experts disagree. They tend to estimate that making all the concessions will enable the Islamic Republic to “break out” and rush to a bomb within a few months.

With or without a bomb, the dramatic developments in Yemen and the soft and insufficient response of the US and the EU pave the way for Iran to become a regional superpower.

Yossi Melman


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

Deterring Hezbollah: The ex-IDF deputy chief of staff shares his vision for Israeli security - Yaakov Lappin

by Yaakov Lappin

Yair Naveh
THEN-IDF DEPUTY CHIEF Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh speaks during the seventh annual International INSS Conference in Tel Aviv, last year.. (photo credit:GIDEON MARKOWICZ/FLASH 90)

Can semi-state terrorist enemies like Hamas and Hezbollah be effectively deterred? This question is at the heart of a central debate raging inside Israel’s defense establishment.

The answers that defense chiefs come up with will affect the security of every Israeli.

The concept of deterrence has played a key role in defining how Israel’s wars have been fought, and it is shaping the way the IDF seeks to deal with the chaotic in surrounding countries.

The region is filled with extremist, heavily armed semi-state entities that point tens of thousands of projectiles at Israel; they maintain hierarchical, highly trained hybrid guerrilla-terrorist armies.

Meanwhile, radical Sunni and Shi’ite players are rising up in Syria and Iraq.

This week, former IDF deputy chief of staff Maj.- Gen. (res.) Yair Naveh, who was a front-runner to become chief of staff in recent months, shared his vision of what Israeli deterrence should look like in 2015.

“When you analyze the fundamental interests of semi-state terror organizations, these are not like the interests of normal governments, which seek their people’s welfare,” he told The Jerusalem Post in Tel Aviv on Monday.

Israel’s enemies care only for their own physical survival. Hence, to deter Hamas and Hezbollah from attacking Israel, Jerusalem has to make it clear it is prepared to target their leadership, their senior command level, and to systematically eliminate their military capabilities, he argued.

If deterrence breaks down, Israel can influence the conduct of its enemies by proceeding to take precisely those steps.

There are differences between Hamas and Hezbollah, Naveh pointed out. “Hezbollah is more obligated to the Shi’ite population in southern Lebanon than Hamas is to the Palestinian population in Gaza. At the same time, when the test comes all of that falls by the wayside, and Hezbollah is left with its core interests: survivability and self-defense.”

Naveh, choosing his words carefully, referred to Israel’s 50-day conflict with Hamas last summer, and said, “Without accusing anyone, there was a leak from the cabinet that said Israel had no desire to defeat Hamas. My claim is logical and practical: If you tell someone you will not threaten his survival, from that moment he has no fear for the future and no restraint regarding a direct conflict. It is like sounding the all-clear.”

In the summer conflict, Naveh continued, Hamas’s goals were not military in nature. “It didn’t play on the military field. Hamas wanted to force Egypt to be a part of the issue [to ease conditions for the isolated Gazan regime] – and if not Egypt, then Qatar and others. They wanted borders with Gaza to open, and to renew relations with Egypt. That was the game it played.

“The moment Hamas’s survival was not under threat, it was not concerned with how many casualties it sustained, or how many it inflicted on us. Its only aim was to reach its goals.”

The long duration of Operation Protective Edge stemmed from Hamas’s understanding that its survival was not at stake, he stressed.

“Hamas’s people were not worried that Israel would carry out operations that were scathing in scope. Hamas prepared for the long haul,” he added, noting Hamas’s cynical exploitation of Gaza’s civilians as human shields.

Ultimately, Naveh said, factors that led Hamas to agree to a truce included reaching a critically low supply of rockets, and the solving of an internal feud between Hamas in Gaza and Khaled Mashaal, head of the organization’s overseas branch.

For most of the summer, Israel’s military actions did not seem to feature very highly as a conflict-ending factor.

Naveh distinguished between different breakdowns in deterrence. Sometimes localized escalations, such as the one that occurred between Hezbollah and Israel in January, can break out without triggering a collapse in Israel’s deterrence.

Hezbollah blamed Israel for an air strike in Syria targeting its operatives and Iranian officials, and responded with a missile strike on IDF vehicles in the North that killed two IDF soldiers.

“Something local can occur within the context of the rules of the game. Hezbollah felt it had to respond to the killing of [senior member Imad] Mughniyeh’s son [Jihad Mughniyeh, killed in the January air strike]. On the other hand, it did not want to miscalculate and reach a full clash. It did not fire Katyusha rockets on Haifa and Hadera; it limited the incidents to the front.

“Here, both sides danced a precarious ballet on a floor littered with shreds of glass.

Each side tried to assess the conduct of the other side, and not to stray from the rules,” clarified the major-general.

A second type of escalation results from a miscalculation, which sets off a string of attacks and counter-attacks, leading to all-out war.

A third form can come when one of Israel’s enemies plans to escalate the situation.

According to Naveh, Hamas did just this in July, when it fired barrages of rockets at Beersheba and Ashdod. Hamas did not intend to enter a full-scale clash, but did seek to cause the situation to deteriorate, and rode on the back of support for its actions among the Gazan population.

“You don’t start firing on Ashdod and Beersheba on day one and hit Tel Aviv soon afterwards, and then call it a miscalculation,” insisted Naveh.

“My claim is that Hamas planned an escalation.

Not a war, but an escalation. They prepared forces and resources; they dug tunnels and created special forces. They didn’t know where things would go.”

Seeking to ascertain the intentions of semi-state enemies is a mammoth task for Israel’s intelligence community, Naveh asserted. “In the past, we had to know what was going on in the head of the leader, say the Syrian president. Today, the systems on the other side are not monolithic. You have their people on the ground saying one thing and their spokesman saying another, and you have understand where things are going. The mission is harder, but that’s the challenge.”

IDF Military Intelligence is restructuring itself and making many changes to meet that task, he added.

Naveh said that destroying Hamas or Hezbollah’s military assets does not necessarily mean an end to their rule. “Look at the Palestinian Authority. They have no army; they maintain a police force that works effectively, and they rule. There is a dichotomous view that says either Hamas’s military wing rules Gaza, or we do.

“But there is a middle alternative. Hamas’s civilian bodies can rule Gaza; a weakened Hamas can rule. Finishing Hamas militarily does not automatically lead to its collapse.

Hezbollah and Hamas have to understand that the survival of their military wings is under threat, including their senior leaders.

My claim is that if they do not know this, our entire deterrence becomes redundant.”

Such a formula, Naveh said, could boost Israeli deterrence to such a high degree that if Iran were to order Hezbollah to attack Israel, Hezbollah would resist. The only way to reach that level, he continued, was to make it clear to Hezbollah that if war breaks out with Israel, its leadership will have to vacate Beirut if they wish to live – like the PLO’s leadership did in 1982.

That kind of deterrence will remain out of reach if Israel merely focuses on destroying large numbers of homes used by Hezbollah as rocket launchers.

“It is more of a challenge,” Naveh said.

“For what is deterrence? It’s when the fear of harm by the other side is so big that the fear removes their desire to realize their interests to escalate.”

Originally, the concept of deterrence as developed by Israel related to state foes, and today, the most formidable threat to national security comes from a state actor, Iran. Naveh is disturbed by Tehran’s recent actions.

“Under the surface, Iran is putting boots on the ground in the region, creating a direct axis. Their axis is one of capitals: Sanaa, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut.

They safeguard these strips by supporting local militias and dispatching their military instructors.

“The next stage could see Iran’s infantry forces, tanks and armored vehicles deployed to these areas to safeguard the new reality. In a few years we might look left and right, and see Iranian brigades in Syria and to the east, in Iraq, on the Jordanian border.”

Iran has reached the status of a nuclear breakout state. “Under these conditions,” Naveh explained, “Iran gains everything.

It has the deterrence of a nuclear state. If it is unhappy with someone, within a year, it goes nuclear. [Other states] will not want to anger them – they could reactivate their nuclear program; that level of threat is not far below one posed by a nuclear country.

“We forge the umbrella the Iranians give to terrorist boots on the ground. They are basing themselves along an entire axis, threatening the moderate regional states,” Naveh contended. “There is a debate: Who is more of a threat, Iran and the Shi’ite axis or Islamic State? One is a villain and the other is a beast, but the Iranian axis is much more threatening.”

Asked what Israel would do if it spotted Iranian heavy armor and infantry moving into Iraq and Syria, Naveh paused, before merely saying, “It would hold a security evaluation.

Yaakov Lappin


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

Iran takes over Iraq - Dore Gold

by Dore Gold

In the past, Younesi served as the powerful intelligence minister under President Mohammad Khatami. Younesi said that Iran was once again an empire. Its capital was Iraq. He added: "There is no way to divide the territory of Iran and Iraq." He spoke about an eventual "union" between the two countries. In short, he was speaking about an Iranian takeover of Iraq.

General David Petraeus is the best known top American officer from the Iraq War. There are only a few in the U.S. who know more about internal developments in Iraq than he does. After all, he was commander of the successful "surge" in U.S. forces in Iraq in 2007-2008 that changed the tide of the war and crushed the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida, which was the forerunner of the Islamic State group.

Petraeus was subsequently appointed head of the CIA by the Obama administration, a position from which he had to resign in 2012 as a result of a personal affair. Given his background, when he grants an interview to a major newspaper like the Washington Post about what is currently happening in Iraq and in the Middle East in general, his words can have enormous influence on the centers of power from Cairo to Riyadh.

In Washington today, and elsewhere in the NATO alliance, Western military strategy in the Middle East has been focused on the threat of ISIS, which is using brutal terrorist tactics, including televised beheadings of its prisoners, to strike fear in the hearts of conventional armies. Their collapse has led to the fragmentation of both Syria and Iraq. In creating what it calls a new Islamic caliphate, ISIS has erased the border between them that goes back to the First World War and the famous 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. 

Yet in his Washington Post interview that was published on March 20, Petraeus defied the conventional wisdom in Western capitals by declaring: "The foremost threat to Iraq's long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by -- and some guided by -- Iran."

To those who have been advocating a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran, he warned that Iran is not an American ally in the Middle East, but rather a "part of the problem," since the more it is seen as dominating the region, the more Sunni radicalism is inflamed and prompted to spread. By stressing that Iran was a greater threat to American interests than ISIS, Petraeus was implicitly criticizing the policy of the administration he once served.

Petraeus was keenly aware of what was happening on the ground in Iraq. Right now dozens of Shiite paramilitary organizations are active in the war against ISIS and are coordinated by a secret branch of the Iraqi government, known as Hashid Shaabi. Its head, Jamal Jaafar Muhammad, is believed by U.S. officials to be tied to the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait in 1983, which was organized by Hezbollah mastermind Imad Mughniyeh. 

These Shiite militias have a strong anti-American background and many of them were involved in attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq just ten years ago. Today, Jamal Jaafar Muhammad is directly tied to Iran, serving under the infamous General Qassam Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. He has been called Suleimani's "right-hand man." The connection between the Shiite militias and Suleimani make them into not only an Iraqi force but an extension of Iranian power.

The most important Shiite militia in the Hashid Shaabi network is the Badr Organization which underwent training in Iran for years. Its leader, Hadi al-Amiri, admitted last week to Reuters that his followers view Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the leader of the Islamic nation as a whole -- and by implication, Iraq -- and not only as the head of the Iranian state. Al-Amiri also said recently that the Badr Organization had worked with Hezbollah, which shared its military lessons from fighting Israel.

Today, in the battle over the Sunni city of Tikrit between ISIS and the Iraqi government, Baghdad has massed around 30,000 troops; according to American officials who spoke with The New York Times, two-thirds of them are Shiite militias that have been trained and equipped by Iran. In other words, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq are becoming larger and more powerful than the Iraqi Army. This led Petraeus to conclude that Iran was adopting the Hezbollah model for its surrogate forces in Iraq.

Washington has consistently insisted on the need to preserve the territorial integrity of the Iraqi state. That undoubtedly explains U.S. policy over the last year of refraining from supplying too advanced weaponry to the Kurds. However, the actions of the Iraqi Shiite militias in their war against ISIS, and in particular their brutality against the Sunni Iraqi population, will clearly accelerate the breakup of Iraq. Disputed areas with mixed populations have already faced ethnic cleansing. In short, the militias are having the exact opposite effect that they were intended to bring about.

What is Iran is trying to achieve in Iraq? This was recently revealed on March 8, by Ali Younesi, an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. In the past, Younesi served as the powerful intelligence minister under President Mohammad Khatami. Younesi said that Iran was once again an empire. Its capital was Iraq. He added: "There is no way to divide the territory of Iran and Iraq." He spoke about an eventual "union" between the two countries. In short, he was speaking about an Iranian takeover of Iraq.

In fact, last December over a million Iranian Shiites entered Iran for the Ashura festivals in the Shiite holy cities. According to Iraqi sources they crossed the international borders without any passports; Iraqi authorities do not know how many remained or if they left. 

It appears that the recent changes in the Middle East have not only melted the borders between Syria and Iraq, but also between Iraq and Iran. In the past, Iraq served as a buffer state separating Iran from the rest of the Arab world. 

With the Iraqi buffer removed, there will be a territorially contiguous line from Tehran to Jordan's eastern border. It was noteworthy that General Suleimani was quoted as saying that Iran could control events in Jordan, the same way it operated in Iraq and Lebanon. Days later the Revolutionary Guards denied that Suleimani made such a statement and issued their denial through the Iranian Embassy in Amman. 

Yet there were other developments detailed in Al Jazeera on March 16 that show how Iran was already at Jordan's doorstep. It was deploying its Revolutionary Guards forces, as well as those of Hezbollah (and other Shiite militias from Iraq and Afghanistan) in southern Syria, in an area adjacent to the Jordanian border. 

Iran is clearly exploiting its nuclear talks with the West to establish its hegemonic position and erect a new regional order from Yemen to Kurdistan. But above all it is what is going on in Iraq today that is altering the shape of the Middle East and consequently the kinds of challenges Israel is likely to face in the years ahead.

Dore Gold


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

Iran: The Only "Good Deal" - And How to Work for It - Malcolm Lowe

by Malcolm Lowe

Even if, as the US Administration ceaselessly assures us, Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons can be frustrated for a while, any relaxation of the current economic sanctions will be used to finance Iran's other drive: its quest for regional hegemony.
To begin with, the P5+1 could adopt the very successful style of negotiation practiced by Palestinians as well as Iranians. This is to whittle away at the position of the other side by extracting one little concession after another, but then to delay the negotiations indefinitely when the deal seems to be imminent. The result is that when negotiations do resume, it is not from zero, but from an inferior initial position of the other side.
Whenever a deal seems near, one of the P5+1 should come up with a further demand or demands. What they could do is adopt that role in succession, so that Iran is the party that needs to keep starting afresh from a worse position.

In his celebrated address to both houses of the US Congress on March 3, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu castigated the looming agreement on Iran's nuclear program in these words: "Now we're being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal." Given Netanyahu's clear analysis of Iran's aims and methods, however, one might conclude that even better would be no deal, but just to continue pressure on Iran until it abandons its nuclear program, its long-range missile programs and its designs on other Middle East countries.

To draw such a conclusion openly would not have suited an occasion on which the Israeli Prime Minister was seeking maximum consensus and minimum controversy. But that conclusion is demanded by two considerations. Both featured in a warning issued by none other than Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal in an interview with the BBC on March 16.

First of all, insisted the prince, "I've always said whatever comes out of these talks, we will want the same. So if Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level, it's not just Saudi Arabia that's going to ask for that. The whole world will be an open door to go that route without any inhibition, and that's my main objection to this P5+1 process."

But also, he added, "Iran is already a disruptive player in various scenes in the Arab world, whether it's Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, or Bahrain. So ending fear of developing weapons of mass destruction is not going to be the end of the troubles we're having with Iran."

The crucial point is that even if the P5+1 (the US, Russia, China, the UK and France, plus Germany) succeed in overcoming the prince's "main objection," the current negotiations do not address his second complaint at all. Even if, as the US Administration ceaselessly assures us, Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons can be frustrated for a while, any relaxation of the current economic sanctions will be used to finance Iran's other drive: its quest for regional hegemony.

That quest currently has a lot going for it. Moreover, the P5+1 governments do not grasp the dimensions of the quest because they are unaware of the fundamentals of Iranian national consciousness.

Every proud Farsi-speaking Iranian grows up conscious of being the heir to two great empires. One of them, the Persian Empire of Cyrus, is known to whoever still read their Bibles. It stretched to the Aegean coast and included modern Israel. Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, added Egypt; thus it remained until overthrown by Alexander the Great.

The second, the Sasanian Empire, is probably unknown to the P5+1 negotiators, but its map more closely corresponds to the dreams of the ayatollahs. It lasted for 400 years before falling victim to the early Muslim conquests. To the east, it incorporated parts of modern Pakistan; to the north, parts of Afghanistan as well as Azerbaijan and Armenia; to the west, Iraq and much of Syria. It further included the entire coast of the (appropriately named) Persian Gulf, all the way to Oman. Oh yes, and in the 570's it also acquired Yemen, which Iran is currently taking over via its sponsorship of the Houthis.

Those were its typical boundaries. Its collapse was due to a late attempt to recreate the empire of Cyrus by seizing territory from the Byzantine Empire (the striped area shown here). The Byzantines drove them back, but the massive losses in battle made both sides into easy targets for the unexpected attack of Muhammad's heirs. Byzantium barely survived, while the Sasanian Empire vanished. The ayatollahs may be prudent enough not to repeat that mistake by taking on Turkey, but their obsessive hostility to Israel is imprudent indeed.

The Sasanians, unknown to themselves, thus ruled over all the oilfields of the Middle East. In another convenient coincidence, the inhabitants of the oilfields are preponderantly Shia Arabs, whether in Iran itself or in Iraq, Kuwait (over a third Shia), Saudi Arabia (about a fifth, but located precisely in the oil-rich areas), Bahrain (two-thirds Shia) and some of the Emirates.

Indeed, modern Iran has a long-standing claim to Bahrain. Iranian nationalists have expanded that claim to encompass all the Emirates. Each of these sheikhdoms has a small native population and a vast majority of foreign workers. The only military obstacles to an Iranian takeover are American bases and the Saudi armed forces. How the Saudis, despite billions spent on American weapons, would fare in a conflict is unknown; they have none of the battle experience of the Iranians. Remember how easily ISIS dispersed the Iraqi army at Mosul. Prince Turki has much to worry about.

This, then, is the danger. Any supply of finance acquired by Iran through a relaxation of sanctions will hardly be used to ease the living conditions of average Iranians, who are inured to sacrifices on behalf of national ideals. Rather, it will be spent first on consolidating Iran's domination of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, then on subverting the Gulf States via their Shia populations.

Netanyahu's address showed consciousness of the broader issue where he said: "We can insist that restrictions on Iran's nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world. Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world. And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state."

Those three demands are correct, but Netanyahu spoke only of insisting "that restrictions on Iran's nuclear program not be lifted," whereas also Iran's sources of income need to be restricted for as long as Iran fails to meet those demands. This is why no deal will be better than any deal, provided that responsibility for the failure to reach a deal can be pinned upon the Iranian regime.

How to achieve this? To begin with, the P5+1 could adopt the very successful style of negotiation practiced by Palestinians as well as Iranians. This is to whittle away at the position of the other side by extracting one little concession after another, but then to delay the negotiations indefinitely just when a deal seems to be imminent. The result is that when negotiations do resume, it is not from zero but from an inferior initial position of the other side.

Just one more little concession...
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif speaks to the media during the Iran nuclear negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland. November 24, 2013. (Image source: United States Mission Geneva)

Precisely because there are six of them, the P5+1 have a natural advantage in this style of negotiations, if they are capable of learning it and discarding the respectable rules that govern negotiations among themselves. Whenever a deal seems near, then one of them should come up with a further demand or demands. Indeed, France has just assumed that role. What they could do is adopt that role in succession, so that Iran is the party that needs to keep starting afresh from a worse position. In the meantime, the economic sanctions continue to do their work. Should Iran violate the current restrictions on its nuclear program, there will be evident grounds for intensifying the economic sanctions further.

Even if an initial agreement is achieved in March, such tactics could be used to put off the final agreement from June to September, then from September to December, then from December forever until Iran fundamentally changes its ways. In the meantime, even economic sanctions that had been relaxed can be reinstated by alleging Iranian demonstrations of bad faith.

Malcolm Lowe


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Brit FM says Iran framework deal will not be written down - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said he sees no need for a written document describing an interim agreement in advance of the June 30 deadline for a comprehensive deal.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says that any framework deal reached with Iran before the deadline on April 1 will probably not be written down and will be vague, and short on specifics.

No specifics, nothing written, perhaps not even anything that Iran and the international negotiating partners say as one—that’s the most to expect out of the nuclear talks now running up against the deadline in Switzerland, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Friday.
But even concluding this round of talks with that level of ambiguity, Hammond said, would count as a significant success. And he thinks they’ll get it.
“We envisage being able to deliver a narrative. Whether that is written down or not, I don’t think is the crucial issue,” Hammond told reporters at the British ambassador’s residence during a visit to Washington. “This will be a political statement, or perhaps political statements from the [negotiating partners] and Iran which create enough momentum to make it clear that we’ve now got this boulder over the hill and we are into the detailed work to produce an agreement.”
Whether that will happen by Sunday, as some have indicated, is an open question, Hammond said. He said he’s expecting to fly to Switzerland soon, but wouldn’t commit to a specific date of arrival.
Other sources are also now casting doubt on recent speculation that a deal would come by Sunday.
What form any agreement takes could determine the reactions from senators who have threatened to oppose a nuclear agreement if they deem it insufficiently tough. Some senators have insisted on seeing Iranian commitments in written form before they’d agree not to vote for legislation that the White House says would blow up the talks.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said he sees no need for a written document describing an interim agreement in advance of the June 30 deadline for a comprehensive deal.
Hammond said no one should expect that kind of formal document.
“The challenge is: as soon as you write anything down, you’ve got to write everything down,” Hammond said.
Yeah, write everything down. The problem with this free form kind of diplomacy is that both sides can misinterpret the deal as much as they want without penalty. So Iran will be able to trumpet their triumph over the decadent west while Obama can lie through his teeth about how we've got the mullahs in a box. Iran is closer to the truth of the matter, but who's keeping track? 

An unwritten deal without specificity is a perfect vehicle for this travesty. The US and western Europe are pretending that anything achieved at the negotiating table will reign in Iran's nuclear ambitions. It looks like the "no deal is worse than a bad deal" crowd is winning the day.

Rick Moran


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Reassessing the Two State Solution - Mark Langfan

by Mark Langfan

-- by all means, let’s reassess the Two-State Solution, Israel’s relationship and strategic value to the United States, Israel’s stability in the Middle East, and its projection of US values and military force into the Middle East.  Here are some of the questions which should form a substantial element of America’s “reassessment.”

Obama has ominously threatened to “reassess” the 2-State Solution and the Israel-US relationship in light of PM Netanyahu’s last-minute measured, reasonable election statements regarding the 2-state solution that "Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel.  This is the true reality that was created here in the last few years.”

In response, according to White House officials, US President Obama told “Prime Minister [Netanyahu] that we will need to reassess our options following the Prime Minister's new positions and comments regarding the two state solution.”  I guess the White House is ‘really angry’ that the millions of US Government taxpayer dollars that Obama illegally spent on illegally toppling Netanyahu failed to do the trick.  Hence, the “White House officials” didn’t even refer to Netanyahu by his name.

But, by all means, let’s reassess the Two-State Solution, Israel’s relationship and strategic value to the United States, Israel’s stability in the Middle East, and its projection of US values and military force into the Middle East.  Here are some of the questions which should form a substantial element of America’s “reassessment.”

1)    Would a Palestinian state existentially jeopardize Israel’s security by constricting Israel into what is a hew Auschwitz with a Muslim terrorist Palestinian state within 10 miles of areas densely holding 70% of Israel’s Jewish population on the coastal plain and another 15% of Israel’s Jewish population in Jerusalem.

2)    If Gaza repeats itself in the 'West Bank', and the Palestinian state begins to lob katyusha rockets and anti-tank missiles into pre-1967 Israel, will the United States take the same even-handed approach it took to the combatants in all of the Gaza-Israel wars where Palestinians have fired over 20,000 rockets into pre-1967 Israel?

3)    If Muslims are using poison chemical gas in Syria to murder other Muslims, will the Islamist Muslims fighting in the to-be-created State of Palestine likely use poison chemical gas to murder the remaining densely-packed Jews in what is left of Israel?

4)    Will the rest of America’s Middle East allies see Obama and America as having fatally betrayed their most vital and democratic ally?  If the United States betrayed Israel, all of the US’ remaining allies will likely believe they are next on the US betrayal list, and write-off the US as a reliable ally.

5)    After Obama’s catastrophic decisions in bombing Libya’s dictator, attempting to oust Mubarak from Egypt and replace him with the Muslim Brotherhood, handing Iraq to Iran, and protecting Assad, anointing Iran as a nuclear-weapons-threshold state, shouldn't Obama first reassess his own administration's total failure in the Middle East before taking any additional drastic actions?  Or, is Obama’s policy simply, without informing Congress, to unilaterally betray all of the United States' time-honored allies, and empower the hegemonic Shiite Iran with a nuclear arsenal to control the entire Middle East?

6)  Israel stands between 370 Million Muslims and the core NATO-Christian country of Greece, Europe’s “soft-underbelly.”  Without Israel protecting NATO’s south-eastern flank how many billions of US dollars will have to be added to the US defense budget to protect Greece from the 370 Million Muslims?  Tens to hundreds of billions a year will have to be added to the US defense budget, if the US intends to protect Greece from a Middle East without Israel.  Without Israel, is Greece defensible at any price?  And for that matter, without Israel, is Europe defensible at any price?

Delta Map INN: ML

7)    Now, from Jordan’s west, Israel stands as the protector of Jordan from a Hamas/Hezbollah state which will surely take over Obama’s enforced Palestinian  State.  Will a Palestinian state pose a mortal danger to Jordan already endangered from the north by ISIS?

8)    Or, instead of a Palestinian state falling to Iran, maybe it will fall to ISIS?  What will America have to do to reverse such a calamity?  And, what danger will this present to America’s interests in the Middle East?

9)    Have the governing Palestinians of Hamas in Gaza and Abbas in Judea and Samaria shown themselves to be democratic, transparent civil societies?  Haven’t they both failed to abide by any norms of democracy or transparency of governmental finances?  And instead, haven’t they each either diverted and/or stolen billions of US and European aid dollars, and local taxes from their citizens?

10)    How will Israel’s destruction affect the lives of the Palestinians that now live in relative peace and security?  Will Israel become yet another Islamic sectarian battle-ground, and turn into another Syria, where millions of Muslims have been violently displaced by other Muslims and brutally murdered?

In short, Obama doesn’t want an honest reassessment of the intellectual and security bankruptcy of the 2-State Solution, and the importance of Israel’s vital role as America’s strategic anchor in the Middle East?  No!  Obama wants a predetermined, staged-trial to falsely characterize Israel as how Obama and his new ally, Iran, see Israel: as a colonialist-pariah state that needs to be wiped off the face of the earth.

Mark Langfan


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The Mullahs’ Economic Renaissance - Majid Rafizadeh

by Majid Rafizadeh

More fundamentally, it was due the sanctions, primarily the ones enacted by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, and the United States on Iran’s energy and financial sectors, that the ruling mullahs were brought to their knees and agreed to come to the negotiating table. With this regime of sanctions being lifted during the nuclear agreement, what leverage will the West have to bring the rogue state of the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table in the future?

aKhameneiThe six world powers (known as the P5+1; Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany) and Iran are holding talks to begin the process of lifting major economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The sanctions, which had been enacted on the ruling clerics, were among the most comprehensive and efficacious regime of sanctions against any rogue state in our era. That’s why the sanctions brought the Ayatollahs to the negotiating table.

Nevertheless, it appears that the lifting of these sanctions may begin as early as the end of March, even before a final nuclear deal will be reached at the end of June.

The regime of sanctions had developed over thirty years due to the Islamic Republic’s defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency, its non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the ruling clerics’ sponsorship of terrorism and human rights abuses.

As a result, the regime of sanctions is not solely imposed on Tehran because of its clandestine nuclear and underground activities. The removal of current sanctions will definitely overshadow Iran’s record in human rights violations, domestic repression, and support for militia groups across the Middle East.

It is worth noting that the Obama administration had already eased some major sanctions on Iran when the interim deal was struck. The easing of sanctions was linked to some of Iran’s sectors such as metal, petrochemical, and gold industries. Several billions of dollars were also released to the Islamic Republic by the United States.

More fundamentally, it was due the sanctions, primarily the ones enacted by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, and the United States on Iran’s energy and financial sectors, that the ruling mullahs were brought to their knees and agreed to come to the negotiating table. With this regime of sanctions being lifted during the nuclear agreement, what leverage will the West have to bring the rogue state of the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table in the future? What political leverage will the West hold against the Ayatollahs in case they continued to sponsor militia groups, back up the Syrian regime, violate human rights, and interfere in the political affairs of other countries?

It took decades to get China and Russia to agree to pressure the Islamic Republic and pass four UN resolutions including banning Iran from buying and selling nuclear technology which are aimed at developing nuclear weapons, and imposing an arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.

With these UN resolution being reverted with the stroke of a pen, the West will significantly lose their say over Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions and malicious activities. Bringing Russia and China back to agreeing on pressuring the Islamic Republic is not going to be a piece of cake.

On the other hand, when Iranian leaders are unshackled from the economic restrains imposed by the international community and when the lifting of economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic occurs anytime soon, this will bring about significant changes — not only in the economic status of the Islamic Republic in comparison to other regional powers, but also the geopolitical chessboard of the Middle East and the balance of power between Iran and other countries in the region.

Economically speaking, when sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors are lifted, Iran will reenter the world trade market at full speed. Geopolitically speaking, Iran’s oil exports will ratchet up, increasing Iran’s leverage in OPEC and subsequently decrease the political leverage of other oil producing nations.

Being unshackled from economic sanctions, Iran will undoubtedly be a major economic power directing political situations in some countries more confidently. The Islamic Republic’s support of President Bashar al Assad will increase finically and militarily. Iran is more likely to interfere in other countries’ affairs including Jordan, Yemen and Bahrain by supporting some Shiite groups and oppositional groups which serve Iran’s national, geopolitical, and strategic interests.

Ultimately when the thirty-year regime of sanctions are lifted, the international community will lose its strong leverage against Iran in curbing its nuclear program. In other words, Tehran can continue its nuclear ambitions covertly or overtly without being concerned that its political system will be endangered due to economic restrictions.

It is time for the Obama administration to reconsider whether lifting the regime of sanctions so swiftly is a rational, wise, and intelligent move.

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 former 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 Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


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Hillary's lawyer discloses she expunged her email server hard drive - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

It is very likely Hillary will be called to testify before Chairman Gowdy’s committee. She is likely to taker a tone of outrage in the “What difference, at this point, does it make” mode if questioned about the propriety of her destruction of evidence being sought by an oversight committee.

In a letter to Trey Gowdy, Hillary Clinton’s lawyer has made a stunning admission. The AP reports:

In a six-page letter released late Friday, Kendall said Clinton had turned over to the State Department all work-related emails sent or received during her tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
"The Department of State is therefore in possession of all Secretary Clinton's work-related emails from the (personal email) account," Kendall wrote.
Kendall also said it would be pointless for Clinton to turn over her server, even if legally authorized, since "no emails ... reside on the server or on any backup systems associated with the server."

The sole arbiter of what was work-related was Clinton herself, or her underlings. She may well have considered emails discussing prospective donations to the Clinton Foundation as personal, not to mention emails concerning her brother’s need for special consideration by the government of Haiti or the issuance of visas to investors in companies in which he is involved.

It is possible, even likely, that Speaker Boehner will ask the House to vote on a subpoena for the email server. That would enable technical staff to see if all traces of the emails have actually been eradicated, and on what date measures were taken.

It is very likely Hillary will be called to testify before Chairman Gowdy’s committee. She is likely to taker a tone of outrage in the “What difference, at this point, does it make” mode if questioned about the propriety of her destruction of evidence being sought by an oversight committee.

 These questions will shadow her candidacy for president as long as it lasts. How ironic that the woman who served as a staffer on the House impeachment inquiry for Richard Nixon forgot that the coverup is always worse than the crime.

Thomas Lifson


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Steven Salaita Brings His War on Civility (and His Pity Party) to Stanford - Cinnamon Stillwell and Rima Greene

by Cinnamon Stillwell and Rima Greene

In Salaita's self-serving postmodern ideology, one who insists on maintaining "civility" is guilty of imposing "settler-colonization," whether intentionally or subconsciously.

The notion that words such as "civility" and "divisive" have clear definitions is under attack by academic moral relativists who grant themselves the right to twist words to mean whatever aids their quest for power. A recent Stanford University lecture co-sponsored by the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies and titled "Academic Freedom in the Context of the Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Talk by Steven Salaita," illustrated the point. Salaita—the former Virginia Tech professor and author of Israel's Dead Soul currently suing both the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and unnamed donors after his offer of a tenured professorship in American Indian studies was withdrawn due to his vitriolic, Israel-bashing, anti-Semitic tweets—delivered another in a series of nationwide lectures in which he portrayed himself as a martyr, valiantly battling the forces of "civility."

The mostly professorial crowd of about sixty, including several sporting keffiyehs, crowded around a long table and spilled into the hallway. Regarding Salaita's case, moderator and comparative literature professor David Palumbo-Liu referred conspiratorially to "wealthy donors [who] campaigned to kill the appointment . . . based on distorted and partial readings of his work and pronouncements," including "some remarks [by Salaita that were] highly critical of Israel's attack on Gaza." Far from simply criticizing Israel, however, Salaita tweeted: "I wish all the f***ing West Bank settlers would go missing"; "Zionists: transforming 'anti-Semitism' from something horrible into something honorable since 1948"; and "If Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised?"

Lamenting the "new conditions of outside threats and censorship" now "threatening" the "rights of . . . scholars,"—or, rather, the fact that actions have consequences—Palumbo-Liu displayed academe's moral bankruptcy by introducing Salaita as a "composed, decent, dignified scholar" who has displayed "such class, honesty and courage under unimaginable pressure," and whom he was "proud to call . . . a friend."

Salaita began by praising the Stanford Undergraduate Senate's recently passed, faculty-supported "resolution to divest from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories," before claiming disingenuously, "I don't really want to engage in any fisticuffs over the Israel-Palestinian conflict; that's not the way this event was pitched to me or that I agreed to participate in." He then elaborated:
My main argument is that even if you are adamantly pro-Israel, and even if you are repulsed by my political viewpoints, then you still oughtn't to take the university's side on this matter. The main reason is that it is never a good idea to voluntarily concede power to those above us on the hierarchy.
Salaita claimed this "hierarchy" is spellbound by the "whims of donors" and, worse, "boards of trustees [who] come from the business or legal world." "If they are given the authority to begin meddling," he added, "we will see an inevitable decline of academic freedom." He defined the latter as the "need to protect faculty who deal with controversial ideas from administrative, social, or cultural recrimination," because "a functional education will always involve a disruption of preconceived ideas." Therefore, he concluded with a bit of sophomoric insight: "If you leave college holding the same ideas and ethics that you had when you entered into college, you did not get educated."

Regarding his hate-filled Tweets, Salaita said, "I don't actually teach the Israel/Palestine conflict. . . . I got caught up on this because of things I was tweeting." (Or perhaps because of what he has written: all of his six books deal with modern Arab studies, Arab Americans, or Israel, a fact that makes his would-be appointment in American Indian Studies peculiar.) He conceded that, "Twitter is a kind of a cesspool of anger and racism," but applied this judgment only to "people who are calling me horrible racist names on Twitter," never to himself.

Salaita displayed his moral relativism when he addressed "the matter of civility," which he called a "sprawling and ambiguous word . . . that has a moralistic undertone" and is "not inherently neutral." "To be called uncivil is automatically a bad thing," he admitted, before emptying the term of meaning by asserting, "Civility like any other discourse or vocabulary doesn't arise in a vacuum, but in particular historical and political and cultural conditions." Examining "civility in the context of the field of American Indian studies," he claimed that:
[S]uch terms have particular meanings that attach themselves to profound forms of colonial violence. In fact, anywhere where settler-colonization occurred, the colonizer went forward with a distinctive binary of civilized vs. savage, so deploying a terminology such as civility . . . is deeply problematic and illustrates the ways a particular colonization can reassert and reinscribe itself without our conscious acknowledgement.
In Salaita's self-serving postmodern ideology, one who insists on maintaining "civility" is guilty of imposing "settler-colonization," whether intentionally or subconsciously.
Salaita's final jargon-filled diatribe took aim at the word "divisive":
Divisive is a term that has meaning, but not a neutral meaning, and it is inscribed very deeply in disparate conditions of power. . . . So if the result is going to benefit, if only symbolically, a group of people that is always oppressed, I say then divide this house.
By claiming words have no meaning beyond what serves his immediate purpose, Salaita—the self-styled victim of the "hierarchy"—spoke the language of tyranny. It is an Orwellian tactic that allows adherents to claim that good is evil, freedom is slavery, and oppressors the oppressed. There's no reason to trust any claims made by these dissemblers and sophists, but that won't stop Salaita's pity party from rolling on.

Cinnamon Stillwell and Rima Greene
Berkeley resident Rima Greene co-wrote this article with Cinnamon Stillwell, the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. Stillwell can be reached at


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