Saturday, October 10, 2015

Abbas Must Be Stopped - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

The orchestrator of the terror onslaught in Israel.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

All the Palestinian terrorist attacks that have been carried out in recent weeks share one common feature. All the terrorists believe that by attacking Jews they are protecting the Temple Mount from destruction.
And why shouldn’t they believe this obscenity? Everywhere they go, every time they turn on their televisions, read the paper, go to school or the mosque they are told that the Jews are destroying al-Aksa Mosque. Al-Aksa, they are told, is in danger. They must take up arms to defend it from the Jews, whatever the cost.

One man stands at the center of this blood libel. The man who propagates this murderous lie and orchestrates the death and mayhem that is its bloody harvest is none other than the West’s favorite Palestinian moderate: PLO chief and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

On September 16 Abbas gave a speech. It was broadcast on PA television and posted on his Facebook page. In it, he incited the Palestinians to kill Jews. In his words, “Al-Aksa Mosque is ours.

They [the Jews] have no right to desecrate it with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do everything in our power to defend Jerusalem.”

Abbas added, “We bless every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem. This is clean and pure blood, blood that was spilled for God. It is Allah’s will that every martyr will go to heaven and every wounded [terrorist] will receive God’s reward.”

Two weeks later, Abbas opened his address before the UN General Assembly with the same lies, threats, and incitement.

Almost exactly a year ago, Abbas spewed the same bile in a speech, with the same murderous consequences. In a speech before Fatah’s executive committee last October, Abbas said, “We must prevent them [the Jews] from entering the holy site in every possible way. This is our holy site, this is our al-Aksa and our church [the Church of the Holy Sepulchre]. They have no right to enter them. They have no right to desecrate them. We must prevent them from entering. We must block them with our bodies to defend our holy sites.”

In subsequent weeks, Abbas’s words were rebroadcast 19 times on Palestinian television.

During that period, Arab terrorists massacred rabbis in prayer at a Jerusalem synagogue, attempted to assassinate human rights activist Yehudah Glick, and murdered Jews standing at light rail stops in the capital.

Eleven Israelis were butchered in that terrorist onslaught.

Then as now, Abbas and his lieutenants not only incited attacks, they incentivized would be perpetrators to kill Jews.

Every year, the same PA that claims perpetual poverty pays more than $100 million to terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails. Their salaries range between four to seven times the average PA salary, depending on the lethality of the attacks they carried out.

Popular awareness of the financial benefits of terrorist activities has played a critical role in motivating Palestinians to attack Jews. This is made clear by the actions in recent weeks of several of the supposedly “lone wolf” attackers in the hours before they struck. Several of them – like their predecessors in last year’s onslaught – announced their intention to become martyrs to protect al-Aksa from the Jews on their Facebook pages immediately before they carried out their attacks.

Money may be the greatest incentive Abbas and his PA provide for potential terrorists. But it isn’t the only one. There is also the social status they confer on terrorists and their families. Every would-be terrorist knows that if he succeeds in killing Jews, he will be glorified by the Palestinian media and his family will be embraced by the PA establishment – first and foremost by Abbas himself, who has made a habit of meeting with terrorists and their families.

Presently, Israel’s security brass is embroiled in a bitter dispute with our elected leaders regarding the nature of the current terrorist offensive. The dispute bubbled to the surface Wednesday night when the generals used military reporters to criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for blaming Abbas for the violence.

The generals insist that Abbas is a good guy.

He’s trying to calm the situation, they argue, and Israel needs to support him.

From the looks of things, the IDF seems to have the upper hand in this fight. This is the only way to read Netanyahu’s announcement Wednesday night that he is barring government ministers and members of Knesset from visiting the Temple Mount until further notice. Netanyahu’s move is nothing less than a signal that he accepts Abbas’s premise that there is something wrong with Jews exercising their right to visit Judaism’s holiest site.

The generals’ rationale for defending Abbas is fairly straightforward. Throughout the current Palestinian terror onslaught they have continued to cooperate with Abbas-controlled Palestinian security forces in Judea and Samaria.

These forces cooperate with the IDF in seeking out and arresting terrorists from Hamas and other groups that are not subordinate to Abbas. The fact that Abbas has ordered his men to work with the IDF has convinced the generals that he is a positive actor. So as they see it, he must be protected.

In their view, Israel must limit its counterterrorism operations to tactical operations against trigger pullers and their immediate commanders and ignore the overarching cause of the violence.

In behaving in this manner, our security brass is being willfully blind to the fact that Abbas is playing a double game. On the one hand, he orders his forces to be nice to IDF officers in Central Command when they fight terrorist cells from Hamas and other groups not loyal to Abbas, and so wins their appreciation.

But on the other hand, Abbas works with those same terrorist forces, incites them to attack, and rewards them for doing so.

Perhaps the most outrageous aspect of the IDF’s insistence that Abbas is critical to its counterterrorism efforts is that the IDF’s own data demonstrate that Abbas has played an insignificant role in quelling terrorist attacks against Israel.

As Jerusalem Post columnist Evelyn Gordon showed in an article in Commentary this week, according to official data, from 2002 when Palestinian terrorist activities in the areas were at their peak until 2007, when Israel began transferring security control over some Palestinian cities to Abbas’s forces, levels of terrorism went down 97 percent. Even after Israel began permitting Abbas to deploy his security forces to Nablus and Jenin, the IDF has continued to operate at will in these areas, often on a nightly basis.

As Gordon noted, the only place Abbas has exercised sole security control was in Gaza. From September 2005, when Israel removed its military forces from Gaza until Hamas expelled Fatah forces from the areas in June 2007, Abbas’s forces had full control over Gaza. During this time, his forces did nothing to prevent Hamas – and Fatah forces – from attacking Israel with thousands of mortars and rockets. His forces did nothing to prevent the massive transfer of advanced weaponry to Gaza from Egypt and Iran.

True, since his forces were routed in Gaza, Abbas has ordered them to work with the IDF in Judea and Samaria to prevent Hamas from overthrowing him. But at the same time, he continuously seeks to form a unity government with Hamas.

He funds Hamas. He glorifies its terrorists. And he refuses to condemn their attacks against Israel.

Moreover, while ordering his men to help the IDF to protect him from Hamas, he leads the diplomatic war against Israel internationally. The goals of that war are to harm Israel’s economy and deny Israel the right to self-defense.

Our political leadership’s reluctance to stand up to the army is understandable. It is nearly impossible to order the IDF to take action it opposes.

At some point though, the government is going to rein in our insubordinate generals. Fortunately, the government doesn’t need the IDF to deal with Abbas and destroy his capacity to foment and direct attacks against Israel.

Our elected officials have the authority to go after the twin foundations Abbas’s terrorist offensive on their own. Those foundations are the incitement and the financial incentives he uses to motivate Palestinians to attack Jews.

On the financial end, the Knesset should pass two laws to dry up the wells of terrorism financing.

First, the Knesset should pass a law stipulating that all property belonging to terrorists, and all property used by terrorists to plan and carry out attacks, will be seized by the government and transferred to the victims of their attacks.

Moreover, all compensation paid to terrorists and their relatives pursuant to their attacks will be seized by the government and transferred to their victims.

The second law would relate to Israel’s practice – anchored in the Oslo Accords that Abbas revoked last month at the UN – of transferring tax revenues to the PA. The Knesset should pass a law prohibiting those transfers unless the Defense Minister certifies that the PA has ceased all terrorism- related activities including incitement, organization, financing, directing and glorifying terrorist attacks and terrorists.

Until he so certifies, all revenues collected should be used to pay PA debts to Israeli institutions and to compensate victims of Palestinian terrorism.

As for the incitement, the government needs to go to the source of the problem – Abbas’s blood libel regarding Jewish rights to the Temple Mount.

As things stand, Abbas is exacting a price in human lives for his obscene anti-Jewish propaganda about our “filthy feet defiling” the most sacred site in Judaism. By barring elected officials from visiting the Temple Mount, not only is the government failing to exact a price for Abbas’ obscene propaganda. It is rewarding him and so inviting Abbas to expand his rhetorical offensive.

To remedy the situation an opposite approach is required. Rather than bar elected officials from visiting the Temple Mount, Netanyahu should encourage them to do so. Just as he sent a letter to Jordan’s King Abdullah telling him that Israel is preserving the status quo on the Temple Mount, so he should write a similar letter to our lawmakers.

In his letter, Netanyahu should say that in keeping with the status quo, which protects the rights of members of all religions to freely enter the Temple Mount, so he commits the government to protect the rights of all believers of all religions to ascend the Mount.

The Palestinian terrorist onslaught now raging against us is not spontaneous. Abbas has incited it and is directing it. To stop this assault, Israel must finally take action against Abbas and his machinery of war. Anything less can bring us nothing more than a temporary respite in the carnage that Abbas will be free to end whenever he wishes.

Caroline Glick


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

Chaos and 2nd Cold War, Part I: Israel's Nuclear Strategy - Prof. Louis René Beres

by Prof. Louis René Beres

It is likely that Israel has undertaken some very impressive and original steps in cyber-defense and cyber-war, but even the most remarkable efforts in this direction will not be enough to stop Iran altogether.

(Part I of a 2 part article)
To fashion a functional nuclear strategy would be difficult for any state in world politics, but it could be especially challenging for one that keeps its bomb more-or-less securely "in the basement." Now, as the Middle East descends into an ever more palpable chaos,[1]  Israel will have to make certain far-reaching decisions on this very complex task.

Among other nuanced and widely intersecting concerns, Jerusalem's decisions will need to account for a steadily hardening polarity between Russia and the United States.
Here, almost by definition, there will be no readily available guidebook to help lead the way. For the most part, Israel will need to be directed by an unprecedented fusion of historical and intellectual considerations. In the end, any resultant nuclear strategy will have to represent the prospective triumph of mind over mind, not merely of mind over matter.[2]

Conceivably, at least for the Jewish State that is smaller than America's Lake Michigan, an emergent "Cold War II" could prove to be as determinative in shaping its national nuclear posture as coinciding regional disintegration. Still, a new Cold War need not necessarily prove disastrous or disadvantageous for Israel. It is also possible, perhaps even plausible, that Jerusalem could sometime discern an even greater commonality of strategic interest with Moscow, than with Washington.

To be sure, any such stark shift of allegiance in Israeli geo-political loyalties ought not to be intentionally sought, or in any way cultivated for its own sake. Moreover, on its face, it would currently be hard to imagine in Jerusalem that a superpower mentor of both Syria and Iran could somehow also find strategic common ground with Israel. Yet, in these relentlessly tumultuous times, any normally counter-intuitive judgments could, at least on rare occasions, prove surprisingly correct.

Credo quia absurdum. "I believe because it is absurd." In these tumultuous times, certain once preposterous counter-intuitive judgments should no longer be dismissed out of hand. Moreover, in seeking to best understand the Israel-relevant dynamics of any renewed Washington-Moscow bipolar axis of conflict, Jerusalem will need to consider the prospects for a conceivably "looser" form of enmity.

In other words, looking ahead, it would seem realistic that a now "restored" superpower axis might nonetheless reveal greater opportunities for cooperation between the dominant "players." Understood in the traditional language of international relations theory, this points toward a relationship that could become substantially less "zero-sum."[3]

By definition, regarding zero-sum relationships in world politics, any one state's gain is necessarily another state's loss. But in Cold War II, it is reasonable to expect that the still-emerging axis of conflict will be "softer." Here, for both major players, choosing a cooperative strategy could sometimes turn out to be judged optimal.[4]  

Recognizing this core difference in superpower incentives from the original Cold War, and to accomplish such recognition in a timely fashion,  could prove vitally important for Israel. In essence, it could become a key factor in figuring out what should or should not be done by Jerusalem about any expected further increments of regional nuclear proliferation, and about Iran.

Iranian nuclearization remains the single most potentially daunting peril for Jerusalem. In this regard, virtually nothing has changed because of the recent Iran Nuclear Agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Vienna, 14 July, 2015).[5] To the contrary, in a situation fraught with considerable irony, Iran's overall strategic latitude will actually have been expanded and improved by the terms of this concessionary pact.[6] Most plainly, these Iranian enhancements are the permissible result of a now no-holds-barred opportunity for transfer of multiple high-technology weapons systems, from Moscow to Tehran.

For the foreseeable future, the nuclear threat from Iran will continue to dwarf all other recognizable security threats.[7] At the same time, this enlarging peril could be impacted by certain multi-sided and hard to measure developments on the terrorism front.  In more precisely military terminology, these intersecting terror threats could function "synergistically," or as so-called "force multipliers."

The "whole" of the strategic danger now facing Israel is substantially greater than the simple arithmetic sum of its parts.[8] This true combination could include a persistently shifting regional "correlation of forces,"[9] one that would continue to oscillate menacingly, and also to the  observable benefit of Israel's mortal enemies, both state and sub-state.

In Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, serious derivative questions should now be addressed. What does this changing set of adversarial developments mean for Israel in very specifically operational and policy terms? Above all, this configuration of enmity should warn that a steady refinement and improvement of Israel's nuclear strategy must be brought front and center. For Israel, there can be no other reasonable conclusion, not only because of ominous developments in Iran, but also because of the growing prospect of additional nuclear weapon states in the region, including perhaps Egypt, and/or Saudi Arabia.

Despite U.S. President Barack Obama's continuing support for a "world free of nuclear weapons," all of the world's existing nuclear weapon states are already expanding and modernizing their nuclear arsenals. As of the end of September 2015, the world's total inventory of nuclear warheads was reliably estimated as 17,000.[10] What Israel must also bear in mind is that this American president's notion that nuclear weapons are intrinsically destabilizing, or even evil, makes no defensible intellectual sense.

It is plausible, rather, that only the perceived presence of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of both original superpowers prevented World War III. Equally convincing, Israel, without its atomic arsenal - whether ambiguous, or declared - could never survive, especially in a region that may soon combine further nuclear spread with steadily undiminished chaos.

Israel will have to decide, in prompt and sometimes inter-related increments, upon the precise extent to which the nation needs to optimize its composite national security policies on preemption, targeting, deterrence, war fighting, and active defense. A corollary imperative here must be to deal more purposefully with the complicated and politically stubborn issues of "deliberate ambiguity." Going forward, it will not serve Israel's best interests to remain ambiguous about ambiguity.

To date, at least, it seems that this longstanding policy of "opacity" (as it is also sometimes called) has made perfectly good sense. After all, one can clearly assume that both friends and enemies of Israel already acknowledge that the Jewish State holds persuasive military nuclear capabilities that are (1) survivable; and (2) capable of penetrating any determined enemy's active defenses. Concerning projections of nuclear weapon survivability, Israel has made plain, too, its steady and possibly expanding deployment of advanced sea-basing (submarines).

Thus far, "radio silence" on this particular "triad" component has likely not been injurious to Israel. This could change, however, and rather quickly. Here, again, there is no room for error. Already, in delivering his famous Funeral Speech, with its conspicuously high praise of Athenian military power, Pericles had warned: "What I fear more than the strategies of our enemies, is our own mistakes."[11]

Thus far, there have been no expressed indications that Israel's slowly growing force of Dolphin-class diesel submarines has anything at all to do with reducing the vulnerability of its second-strike nuclear forces, but any such policy extrapolations about Israeli nuclear retaliatory forces would also be problematic to dismiss.[12]

Also significant for Israel's overall security considerations is the refractory issue  of “Palestine." A Palestinian state, any Palestinian state, could pose a serious survival threat to Israel, in part, as a major base of operations for launching increasingly lethal terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. A possibly more important "Palestine" security issue for Israel lies in an even larger generalized potential for creating a steadily deteriorating correlation of regional forces. More specifically, any such deterioration could include various destabilizing "synergies," that is, tangible interactive effects resulting from instabilities already evident  in Iraq and Syria, and from a manifestly concomitant Iranian nuclearization.

Leaving aside the various possibilities of any direct nuclear transfer to terrorists, a Palestinian state would  itself remain  non-nuclear. But, when viewed together with Israel's other regional foes, this new and 23rd Arab state could still have the stunningly consequential effect of becoming a "force multiplier," thereby impairing Israel's already-minimal strategic depth, and  further rendering the Jewish State vulnerable to a thoroughly diverse panoply of both conventional and unconventional attacks. Here, for a variety of easily determinable reasons, a "merely" non-nuclear adversary could still heighten the chances of involving Israel in assorted nuclear weapons engagements,[13] including, in the future, a genuine nuclear war.[14]

What, then, should Israel do next about its core nuclear posture, and about its associated "order of  battle?"  How, exactly, should its traditionally ambiguous nuclear stance be adapted to the increasingly convergent and inter-penetrating threats of Middle Eastern chaos, Iranian nuclearization, and "Palestine?" In answering these difficult questions, Jerusalem will have to probe very carefully into the alleged American commitment to "degrade" and "destroy" ISIS(IS).  However well-intentioned, this pledge, especially if actually carried out effectively, could simultaneously aid both Syria's President Assad, and the surrogate Shiite militia, Hezbollah.[15]

Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) was Chair of Project Daniel (Israel, 2003) . Emeritus Professor of  International Law at Purdue, he is the author of many major books and articles on nuclear strategy and nuclear war, including Terrorism and Global Security: The Nuclear Threat (Westview, 1979); Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (The University of Chicago Press, 1980), and Security or Armageddon: Israel's Nuclear Strategy (D.C. Heath, Lexington Books, 1986). His most recent strategic writings on Israel have appeared in U.S. News & World Report; The Atlantic; The Jerusalem Post; The Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School); International Security (Harvard); The Brown Journal of World Affairs; The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs (Israel); International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; The Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS, Herzliya, Israel); Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA, Israel); Institute for National Security Studies (INSS, Israel); and Parameters: Journal of the U.S. Army War College. Professor Beres' tenth book, Israel's Nuclear Strategy: Surviving amid Chaos (Rowman and Littlefield) will be published later this year. He was born at the end of World War II, in Zürich, Switzerland.

[1] Although composed in the seventeenth century, Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan still offers an illuminating and enduring vision of chaos in world politics. Says the English philosopher in Chapter XIII, "Of the Naturall Condition of Mankind, as concerning their Felicity, and Misery:"  during chaos, a condition which Hobbes identifies as a "time of Warre,"  it is a time "...where every man is Enemy to every man... and where the life of man is solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short." At the time of writing, Hobbes believed that the condition of "nature" in world politics was less chaotic than that same condition existing among individual human beings -because of what he called the "dreadful equality" of individual men in nature being able to kill others - but this once-relevant differentiation has effectively disappeared with the global spread of nuclear weapons.
[2] The core importance of literally thoughtful military doctrine - of attention to the complex intellectual antecedents of any actual battle - had already been recognized by early Greek and Macedonian armies. See, on this still-vital recognition, F.E. Adcock, The Greek and Macedonian Art of War (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1962), especially Chapter IV.
[3] For much earlier, but still useful, scholarly assessments of polarity in world politics, by this author, See: Louis René Beres, "Bipolarity, Multipolarity, and the Reliability of Alliance Commitments," Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 4, December 1972, pp. 702-710; Louis René Beres, "Bipolarity, Multipolarity, and the Tragedy of the Commons," Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 4, December 1973, pp. 649-658; and Louis René Beres, "Guerillas, Terrorists, and Polarity: New Structural Models of World Politics," Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 27, No.4., December 1974, pp. 624-636.
[4] Of course, in the context of any non-zero-sum game, ensuring enforceable agreements between the players (here, the United States and Russia) could still prove more-or-less decisively problematic.
[5]  See Louis René Beres, "After the Vienna Agreement: Could Israel and a Nuclear Iran Coexist?"  IPS Publications, IDC Herzliya, Institute for Policy and Strategy, Israel, September 2015.
[6] Significantly, this agreement also violates two major treaties, the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the 1948 Genocide Convention. The first violation has to do with subverting the NPT expectation that all non-nuclear state signatories must remain non-nuclear for a period of "indefinite duration." The second violation centers on codified U.S. indifference to Genocide Convention obligations concerning responsibility to enforce the prohibition against "incitement to genocide." In both cases, moreover, per article 6 of the U.S. Constitution - the "Supremacy Clause" - these violations are ipso facto also violations of U.S. domestic law.
[7] See Louis René Beres, "Like Two Scorpions in a Bottle: Could Israel and a Nuclear Iran Coexist in the Middle East?" The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Vol. 8., No. 1., 2014, pp. 23-32. See, also: Louis René Beres and (General/USAF/ret.) John T. Chain, "Living With Iran: Israel's Strategic Imperative," BESA Perspectives Paper No. 249, May 28, 2014, BESA Center for Strategic Studies, Israel. General Chain was Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Air Command.
[8] See Louis René Beres, "Core Synergies in Israel's Strategic Planning: When the Adversarial Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts," Harvard National Security Journal, Harvard Law School, June 2, 2015.
[9] See Louis René Beres, "Understanding the Correlation of Forces in the Middle East: Israel's Urgent Strategic Imperative," The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Vol. IV, No. 1 (2010). Russia's Putin, of course, is accustomed to thinking in such strategic terms; in the Soviet days, "correlation of forces" was already a tested yardstick for measuring Moscow's presumptive military obligations.
[10] Se: Hans M. Kristensen, "Nuclear Weapons Modernization: A Threat to the NPT?"  Arms Control Today, Arms Control Association, September 2015, 11 pp.
[11] From the Funeral Speech of 431 BCE, near the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, when Sparta first invaded Attica. For greater detail, see: Thucydides, The Speeches of Pericles, H.G. Edinger, tr., New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1979), 68 pp.
[12] On nuclear sea-basing by Israel (submarines) see: Louis René Beres and (Admiral/USN/ret.) Leon "Bud" Edney, "Israel's Nuclear Strategy: A Larger Role for Submarine Basing," The Jerusalem Post, August 17, 2014; and Professor Beres and Admiral Edney, "A Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrent for Israel," Washington Times, September 5, 2014. Admiral Edney was NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic.
[13] Such engagements could include assorted enemy attacks on Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor. Already, in both 1991 and 2014, this small reactor came under combined missile and rocket attack from Iraq and Hamas aggressions, respectively. For fully authoritative assessments of these attacks, and related risks, see: Bennett Ramberg, "Should Israel Close Dimona? The Radiological Consequences of a Military Strike on Israel's Plutonium-Production Reactor," Arms Control Today, Arms Control Association, May 2008, pp. 6-13.
[14] Naturally, the risks of a nuclear war would be expected to increase together with any further regional spread of nuclear weapons. In this connection, returning to the prophetic insights of Thomas Hobbes, back in the seventeenth century (see Note #1, above), Leviathan makes clear that the chaotic condition of nature is substantially worse among individual human beings, than among states. This is because, opines Hobbes, also in Chapter XIII, within this particular variant of chaos, "...the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest...." Now, however, with the spread of nuclear weapons, the "dreadful equality" of Hobbesian man could be replicated, more or less, in the much larger and more consequential arena of world politics.
[15] "Everything is very simple in war," advises Clausewitz, "but the simplest thing is also very difficult." See: Carl von Clausewitz, On War.

Prof. Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) was Chair of Project Daniel (Israel, 2003) . Emeritus Professor of  International Law at Purdue, he is the author of many major books and articles on nuclear strategy and nuclear war, including Terrorism and Global Security: The Nuclear Threat (Westview, 1979); Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (The University of Chicago Press, 1980), and Security or Armageddon: Israel's Nuclear Strategy (D.C. Heath, Lexington Books, 1986). His most recent strategic writings on Israel have appeared in U.S. News & World Report; The Atlantic; The Jerusalem Post; The Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School); International Security (Harvard); The Brown Journal of World Affairs; The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs (Israel); International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; The Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS, Herzliya, Israel); Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA, Israel); Institute for National Security Studies (INSS, Israel); and Parameters: Journal of the U.S. Army War College. Professor Beres' tenth book, Israel's Nuclear Strategy: Surviving amid Chaos (Rowman and Littlefield) will be published later this year. He was born at the end of World War II, in Zürich, Switzerland.


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

Pyromaniac parliamentarians - Dror Eydar

by Dror Eydar

The Dome of the Rock was built on the site of the Jewish Temple, and for that reason only, because Islam wanted to replace the Jews as the chosen people.

Let's not make any mistake about it: Arab Knesset members' actions this past week weren't freedom of expression, they were pyromania, adding fuel to the fire that is engulfing the Arab street. The ones who lose as a result of the violent struggle will, once again, be the Arabs. Their economy will suffer, their business relations will suffer, and it will take longer for them to integrate into Israeli society. It could be that this is what fumbling pyromaniacs like MKs Ahmad Tibi and Jamal Zahalka -- who are seeking not to commune with God on the Temple Mount, but to puff up the lie that "Al-Aqsa is in danger" that the Islamic Movement, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and the rest of Israel's haters are spreading -- want to happen. The result will be more and more casualties, mainly Arabs. 

But it's important to Tibi, the darling of the Israeli media, to demonstrate that he owns this place and that the Jews are the "invaders," as he puts it. On the contrary: The Dome of the Rock was built on the site of the Jewish Temple, and for that reason only, because Islam wanted to replace the Jews as the chosen people. Fifteen hundred years before the advent of Islam, when Tibi's ancestors were pagans who buried their daughters alive, the Jewish Temple stood on top of the hill and from there came the gospel for Christianity and, later, Islam. After the Muslims conquered the Land of Israel in the seventh century C.E., they appropriated our history and theology and decreed that we had been eradicated and were no more. Surprise: We're still here. So who's the invader, Mr. Tibi? 

Still, after Jerusalem was liberated from the Jordanian occupier in the Six-Day War, Israel did something that some describe as an eternal tragedy: placing (in effect abandoning) the holiest place to the Jewish people under the full control of another religion for which it is only the third-most important place, depending on the historical period. The situation only devolved for the Jews: The Muslims expanded the prayer area on the Temple Mount, destroyed antiquities, and built more mosques (while turning an embarrassing blind eye to the various Israeli governments). So where do they get the audacity to lie about a change to the status quo? How many people will pay for that pile of lies with their lives? 

Tibi and the faction of instigators refuse to recognize the true landlord of the Temple Mount: God. Even people who aren't religious understand that the value of the Temple Mount lies in its holiness, which is why it's such a volatile issue. We all see the chief inciter, Sheikh Raad Salah of the Islamic Movement, a known anti-Semite and a blatant liar, and can't understand why he's still free. On Thursday, Salah said that "Al-Aqsa is above the sovereignty of the Israeli institution." As he sees it, Islam is above Israeli sovereignty, so all methods of fanning the flames are legitimate. Why is the Islamic Movement in Israel still legal? What differentiates it from Hamas and the Islamic State? 

And what about the "secular" Arab MKs? Joint Arab List head Ayman Ouda was asked by journalist Razi Barkai "what his red lines were." Ouda replied, "I don't draw red lines for the Palestinian Arab people." 

In light of this disgraceful situation, the Pavlovian responses from leftist MKs are more amusing than a cause for despair: "The solution is a diplomatic arrangement," "We need to disengage from the Palestinians," and "Seek an end to the conflict." Geniuses.

Dror Eydar


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Myths, facts, and wishful thinking - Yaakov Amidror

by Yaakov Amidror

The recent wave of terrorism has seen illusion peddlers take center stage • While some are true believers, others seek only to promote personal, political, potentially dangerous agendas • Regional realities mandate a different, more prudent approach.

It has never been proven that settlement construction or freeze has a real effect on the security situation [Illustrative]
Photo credit: AFP

Yaakov Amidror


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How Obama Lost Afghanistan - Vijeta Uniyal

by Vijeta Uniyal

  • The Taliban seems to have correctly assessed the lack of resolve of the current U.S. leadership and have evidently decided to go for all of Afghanistan.
  • What is visible to everyone except Obama is that this "weak" Putin continues to outflank the U.S. in Ukraine, Crimea and now Syria. The U.S. Commander-in-Chief has failed to show the fortitude required from the leader of the free world.
  • President Obama reportedly offered to strong-arm India into making concessions on Kashmir. According to Pakistan's former Ambassador to the U.S., Obama secretly wrote to Pakistan's President in 2009, sympathizing with Pakistan's stand on Kashmir, and apparently offering to tell India that "the old ways of doing business are no longer acceptable."
  • The results of a Taliban reconquest of Afghanistan would be even more disastrous than its previous reign of terror. The Taliban would not only resume sending trained jihadists across Pakistan's border to wage war on "infidels" in India, they would also carry out their declared objective of global jihad against the West.
  • With Europe's borders now wide open, the West is more vulnerable than ever.

The U.S. President who gave up Syria and Yemen without a fight is now leading a half-hearted counteroffensive in Afghanistan. The Taliban seems to have correctly assessed the lack of resolve of the current U.S. leadership, and has evidently decided to retake all of Afghanistan.

In his first presidential campaign of 2008, then-Senator Obama called U.S. engagement in Iraq the "bad war," and instead wanted his country to focus on Afghanistan -- his "good war."

But after U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in 2011, large parts of Iraq fell under the control of the Islamic State (ISIS), while the remaining part came under the influence of Iran.

So how is President Obama's "good war" in Afghanistan going?

On September 29, 2015, Taliban fighters overran Kunduz, a provincial capital. The takeover created the biggest victory for the Taliban since 2001, when an American-led coalition drove the Taliban regime out of power, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in New York.

Since its ouster, the Taliban have been lurking in tribal regions, and launching sporadic terrorist attacks in the cities. But the Taliban had never succeeding in retaking a population center. With the fall of Kunduz, the Taliban now controls the fifth-largest city in Afghanistan.

Taliban militiamen sit atop a US-supplied Humvee that they captured from the Afghan Army, after their conquest of Kunduz last week. (Image source: Al Jazeera video screenshot).

On September 29, Taliban forces launched a coordinated attack on Kunduz from three directions. The Afghan Army failed to offer any significant resistance, and rushed for cover at the city's airport. Apparently, the Afghan soldiers were hoping for aerial reinforcements from US-led coalition forces. Afghanistan's Interior Ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, confirmed that the city of Kunduz had fallen into "the hands of the enemies."

Despite heavy U.S. airstrikes, the Taliban are evidently well dug in, indicating that the terror militia intends to hold onto its recent territorial gains and has no intention of retreating. Clearly, this Taliban is not the hit-and-run group of yesteryear. It seems to be a reinvigorated Islamist force, bent on conquest, and ready to challenge the U.S. and coalition forces.

Although the Afghan Army, directed by President Ashraf Ghani's government in Kabul, has failed to mount a counteroffensive against advancing Taliban forces, the blame for the wider military and geopolitical disaster probably deserves to go to Obama.

President Obama never fails to remind the world that he commands "the strongest military that the world has ever known," and indeed the strength of U.S. military and the courage of its brave men and women are beyond question. But the Commander-in-Chief has failed to show the fortitude required from the leader of the free world.

Additionally, Obama seems to have established a pattern of underestimating America's adversaries. He famously called ISIS a "jay-vee team," and recently stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin went into Syria "out of weakness." But what is visible to everyone except Obama is that this "weak" Putin has been outflanking the United States in Ukraine, Crimea and now Syria. It is Obama who seems weak.

As with his approach elsewhere, Obama has been alienating allies and strengthening foes.

In an apparent attempt to persuade Pakistan to stop supporting Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, President Obama offered to strong-arm India into making concessions on Kashmir. According to Pakistan's former Ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, President Obama secretly wrote to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in 2009, sympathizing with Pakistan's stand on Kashmir and apparently offering to tell India that "the old ways of doing business are no longer acceptable."

According to the Haqqani's account, made public in 2013, Pakistan, the recipient of billions of dollars of U.S. financial aid annually, rejected President Obama's offer. Instead, Pakistan continued to train, arm and shelter international terrorists -- including Osama bin Laden. Many of these terrorists directly planned and carried out operations that killed nearly 2,000 U.S. service personnel and wounding 20,000 more.

President Obama thereby alienated India while getting nothing in return from Pakistan.
India would not have need much convincing to back the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. New Delhi shared Kabul's concerns over rising Islamic militancy in the region. India also faces an existential threat from Islamic militancy in the Muslim-majority Kashmir province and beyond. Since mid-1990s, more than 30,000 Indian civilians and security personnel have been killed in terrorist attacks.

President Obama, while visiting India, apparently preferred to play the "travelling salesman" for the religion of Islam, repeatedly smacking Hindus for being intolerant to India's Muslim minority, negating what has appeared the attempted genocide and ethnic cleansing of Hindus that began 70 years ago with the creation of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and continues to this day. Not only were millions of Hindus forced out of Pakistan when the two countries were created in 1947, but nearly all the remaining Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) were expelled or murdered during the following decades. The ethnic cleansing culminated in the Bangladesh Genocide of 1971, perpetrated by Pakistan Army. It killed some three million ethnic Hindus and Bangladeshis, and forced more than 10 million refugees to flee into India. By contrast, the Muslim population in India has grown from 35 million in the early 1950s to about 180 million in 2015, making India home to the world's second-largest Muslim population, second only to Indonesia.

The Taliban's offensive in Afghanistan is the direct result of the Obama Administration's consistent policy of alienating friends and emboldening enemies. Be it Israel, Iran, Egypt or Afghanistan, President Obama has evidently preferred dealing with Islamist and jihadist actors, rather than with liberal, secular democratic forces.

The results of a Taliban reconquest of Afghanistan would be even more disastrous than its previous reign of terror. The Taliban would not only resume sending trained jihadists across Pakistan's border to wage war on "infidels" in India; it would also carry out its declared objective of global jihad against the West. With Europe's borders now wide open, the West is more vulnerable than ever.
Vijeta Uniyal is an Indian current affairs analyst based in Europe.

Vijeta Uniyal


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We Get It, Obama - Vic Rosenthal

by Vic Rosenthal

Israelis understand where your sympathies lie.

Reprinted from

I was going to write about the way the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, was instructed to boycott PM Netanyahu’s speech, but Elliott Abrams beat me to it:
Think of how petty that instruction, which can only have come from the White House, really is. To sit in the seat and listen to Netanyahu isn’t endorsing his remarks, it is the politeness we owe an ally. Deliberate absence recalls the years in which dozens of delegations, Arab and “Third World,” would leave the chamber when any Israeli rose to speak. The Obama administration is still griping about diplomatic errors Netanyahu has made, but a refusal to have the U.S. ambassador listen to his speech is petty and damaging, hinting to anti-Israel delegations that the United States may be willing to let all sorts of anti-Israel measures go without opposition or criticism.
Secretary of State Kerry wasn’t there either. Supposedly he was called away to participate in a video conference with President Obama. Abrams went on to call it a “low point for seven years of Obama diplomacy.”

What strikes me is that there was absolutely nothing to be gained from this exercise. There’s no way Netanyahu can torpedo Obama’s Iran deal, there are presently no negotiations going on with the Palestinian Authority, and Netanyahu isn’t running for office. All it can do is make a statement that the President holds our PM, and therefore our nation, in contempt.

He made this gesture at a time when the Iranian regime almost daily announces that it intends to destroy Israel, and when the Arabs in Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria — incited to do so by PA President Mahmoud Abbas — have stepped up terrorism at all levels, from rock-throwing to stabbings, firebombs and shootings. Four Israelis were murdered this week and numerous others injured or terrified.

We get it, Obama. We get that you don’t like us for deep ideological reasons. We got it last summer when you took the wrong side during our conflict with Hamas in Gaza, and on so many other occasions since you became president. We get it that you want to see us with indefensible borders surrounded by enemies armed to the teeth by Iran with money that you provided as part of your nuclear deal.

We understand that your sympathies lie with the Muslim world, not with the ‘colonialist’ West, which you view as the root of evil in the world. We understand how your intellectual laziness and ignorance led you to accept the anti-Western post-colonial worldview overall and the ‘Palestinian’ narrative in particular. You heard it from your mentors Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi, among others, and you didn’t have the tools to distinguish fact from falsehood.

Actually, while this is a problem for us, it is a much bigger problem for the people of America, who are nervous about your apparent anti-Americanism and your uncomfortable closeness to Islam, who don’t trust Iran and don’t see how the deal you made is going to keep the terror-supporting regime from getting nuclear weapons.

But you don’t know how to play it smart. Maybe you could have fooled us at one point — you certainly fooled many Americans, and continue to fool the ones that have been seduced by the syrupy cult of personality that your sycophants have built around you. But stupid moves like this one give you away.

Israel doesn’t trust you. We know what you are. We are well acquainted — both the Jewish people and the leadership of the state of Israel — with those that despise us. We have a history of thousands of years of dealing with your kind. Unlike you, our PM has studied history, not just ideology. We know better than to accept your assurances or believe your promises.

Israel will take the steps it needs to take to protect herself despite your attempts to prevent her from doing so. And I hope that a future American president will strengthen the relationship between two peoples that love freedom and democracy that you have worked so hard to tear apart.

Vic Rosenthal


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Obama didn't come through on his promise to Netanyahu - Yoni Hersch

by Yoni Hersch

Hat tip: Jean-Charles Bensoussan

Former U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross writes in new book that in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran had one year to engage in negotiations before he increased sanctions against the regime.

Former U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross
Photo credit: Dudi Vaaknin

Yoni Hersch


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Is the Iran Deal a Fait Accompli? - Salomon Benzimra

by Salomon Benzimra

Zarif and Araghchi see "no consequences" for violating Resolution 2231, in the same way as Iran "refrained from complying with UN Security Council resolutions ... 10 years ago ... and nothing happened."

On September 11, 2015 – a fateful date for America – Congress failed to gather the 60 Senate votes required to pass a Resolution of Disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal, thus giving a green light to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as agreed to in Vienna on July 14.

A few days later, U.S. congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) informed Secretary of State John Kerry that "the copies provided to Congress of the JCPOA are not signed by the parties," thus making the binding character of "an international agreement of this magnitude" questionable.

Actually, the absence of signatures in the JCPOA document is not as pivotal as it seems.  Article 18 of the JCPOA anticipates the passing of a U.N. Security Council resolution that should promptly "endorse" the full text of the JCPOA and, therefore, make it binding on all U.N. member-states.

True to form, UNSC Resolution 2231 was effectively passed unanimously on July 20 under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.  Compared to other resolutions of the Security Council, Resolution 2231 is unusual in many respects:

- It was passed "under silence," a rather coercive procedure where the raising of an objection might be regarded as obstructionist and could isolate the objecting state.  It should also be noted that Congress had no prior input whatsoever in the drafting of this resolution.

- It is exceedingly long (104 pages), as it includes virtually the full text of the JCPOA in Annex A and a special "Statement" in Annex B that outlines inter alia the time restrictions governing the acquisition by Iran of conventional weapons and ballistic missiles and makes these activities subject to prior approval by the Security Council on a case-by-case basis.

- It underscores its binding reach on "all States without exception" by referring specifically to Article 25 of the Charter and to Article 41 – no fewer than 10 times – which reflects the most drastic enforcement mechanism under Chapter VII of the Charter, short of military intervention.

So the document that no one has signed (the JCPOA) is now an act of international law binding on all the 193 U.N. member-states, including Iran.  UNSC Res. 2231 provided the JCPOA an armor-plated protection that no missile from Congress could penetrate, unless one could convincingly demonstrate that the U.S. administration acted ultra vires in bypassing Congress.

The JCPOA will be officially adopted before the end of October ("Adoption Day" is scheduled 90 days after the UNSC Resolution is passed).  "Implementation Day," to occur upon the confirmation by the IAEA that Iran has complied with its nuclear-related measures, will trigger the lifting of most sanctions applied by the EU and the U.S. and of all those enacted under previous UNSC Resolutions between 2006 and 2010, through the adoption of a new Security Council resolution in due time.  But these U.N. sanctions could be reinstated, according to Articles 11-12 of UNSC Resolution 2231, if a JCPOA participant State (U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany, the EU, and Iran) raises an issue that "constitutes significant non-performance of commitments under the JCPOA."
This is where it gets interesting.

On September 22, 2015, the respected MEMRI reported that "Iran openly declares that it intends to violate UNSC Resolution 2231 that endorses the JCPOA."  Three top Iranian leaders – President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi – stated that they will abide by the provisions of only the JCPOA and they will violate Resolution 2231.  Zarif and Araghchi see "no consequences" for violating Resolution 2231, in the same way as Iran "refrained from complying with UN Security Council resolutions ... 10 years ago ... and nothing happened."

The reason for this Iranian gambit is obvious: they want to have a free hand on the acquisition of conventional weapons and the development of ballistic missiles.  Restrictions on these items were first suggested in the Lausanne Parameters of April 2, 2015.  They were later removed from the JCPOA and eventually reappeared in great detail in Annex B of Resolution 2231.  The Iranian position on this issue was reiterated on October 5 by Air Force Commander Ali Hajizadeh: "Iran will not slow down developing ballistic missiles and did not recognize the UN Security Council resolution [2231] that bans Iran from doing so."  

Iranian leaders brag about their willingness to violate the provisions of Resolution 2231, which is an act of international law, while they declare their compliance with the JCPOA.  Beyond the obvious arrogance of such declarations, the inconsistencies of the Iranian position should be stressed:

A footnote in the JCPOA – mentioned twice in the document and often invoked by Iranian leaders – states that "the provisions of this Resolution [2231] do not constitute provisions of the JCPOA."  And yet the lifting of all U.N. sanctions, which is of paramount importance to the Iranians, is contingent upon Resolution 2231, as clearly indicated in Article 18 of the JCPOA.  Also, as stated above, Adoption Day is linked to Resolution 2231, and it makes the commitments in the JCPOA to come into effect.  Moreover, the Preamble of the JCPOA recalls that "The E3/EU+3 and Iran reaffirm their commitment to the purpose and principles of the United Nations as set out in the UN Charter," thus implying an unwavering respect for binding Security Council resolutions.  The JCPOA and Resolution 2231 are so closely intertwined that it is inconceivable to abide by the former while resolutely intending to violate the latter.

This brings us back to Articles 11-12 of resolution 2231: if a JCPOA participant State raises an issue that "constitutes significant non-performance of commitments under the JCPOA," the U.N. sanctions could be reinstated within 30 days.  What could be more significant of non-performance than Iran's declared intent to violate a binding UNSC resolution that endorsed the JCPOA and is central to its official adoption?

The blatant Iranian disregard of the U.N. Charter should disqualify Iran from being a party to the international agreement that the JCPOA represents.  This is not the first Iranian violation of the principles of the U.N. Charter.  For the past 15 years, Iranian leaders have repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel, in violation of Article 2[4] of the Charter.  This is the point that Israeli prime minister Netanyahu emphatically brought to light in his "deafening silence" speech at the U.N. General Assembly on October 1.  While Israel has been selectively targeted and shamelessly delegitimized by U.N. bodies for years, isn't it time to point a finger to the glaring violations of Iran?

Finally, the interconnection between the JCPOA and the binding Resolution 2231 shows that the JCPOA is actually an international agreement akin to a treaty and not merely the kind of executive agreement that the Obama administration promoted, against the more sensible position of Congress.  Even though Congress was bypassed through the whole preparation of the JCPOA, perhaps it could take advantage of the latest Iranian maneuvers to invoke Article 11 of UNSC Resolution 2231.

Salomon Benzimra


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