Saturday, January 2, 2016

Palestinians: Save Us from the Good-Hearted Westerners! - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil
  • Every Palestinian knows in his heart that we do not want a state of our own alongside Israel, but rather instead of Israel. This includes all the land of Palestine and Israel. It means that Jews have no right to exist on even one speck of it.
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas claims he wants to reach a peace agreement with Israel. But at the same time he and his henchmen incite the Palestinians to stab, run over and shoot Israelis to death, while he idealizes, glorifies and finances -- with the funds he receives from the West -- the terrorists and their families.
  • The Palestinian people are already almost totally radicalized, even in the West Bank. They do not seem concerned about living under an Islamist regime run by Hamas or Islamic State.
  • Abbas's goal is now, with the help of the international community, to impose a solution on Israel. The solution he seeks – a full withdrawal to the 1967 lines – would pose an existential threat to Israel. It would also just be a matter of time before the Palestinian state will be run by Hamas or Islamic State.
What can be done with these Americans and Europeans? They always seem pining for a dialogue between the Israelis and the Palestinians that would end in a peace agreement, yet oddly all of them seem aware that the Palestinians have not, in all honestly, met Israel's most minimal demands: the cessation of incitement (agreed to even under the Oslo accords -- and requiring no funding!) and the recognition of Israel as a Jewish State. Many throughout the world still view Israel as potentially the next -- and 22nd -- Arab state.

As hard as it is to say it, the Jews have a point. There is a legitimate concern that without such a stipulation, there will be two Palestinian States: the West Bank and Israel – actually three if you count Gaza.

The Americans and Europeans seem not to realize that, for the Jewish people, the request for a state has to be a precondition for any discussion of Jerusalem, as well, based on its history. Before 1967, when half of Jerusalem was in the hands of Jordan -- what the international community says it wants Israel to go back to -- around 38,000 ancient Jewish headstones were taken from the Mount of Olives cemetery by Arab residents and used to pave latrines.[1]

These good-hearted Americans and other Westerners nevertheless pressure Israel to act as the "responsible adult" and make unilateral gestures of goodwill. They ask the Israelis to withdraw from the occupied territories and to take Jewish residents of the West Bank settlements with them. They seem already to have forgotten what happened just over ten years ago, in the Gaza Strip, when the Israelis did offer a unilateral gesture of good will. The Israelis unilaterally evacuated every meter of Gaza in 2005, so the Palestinians could build a Singapore -- no conditions attached! In return, they were met by Hamas and a nine-year war of rockets. If anyone thinks the Israelis are about to try that again, they have a surprise coming.

As a Palestinian, I welcome the humanistic approach that calls on the strong to cede to the weak; but an honest examination of the issues makes me wonder if Westerners even understand the Middle East. In trying to find a just solution, they keep making every possible mistake. First, they keep demanding from the Israelis concessions that would undermine the country's security -- and they do not demand from the Palestinians so much as a statement, such as "Israel has the right to exist."
Westerners, it seems, want to frighten Israel into making concessions. What seems to have been forgotten is that under UN Security Council Resolution 242, the territories would be occupied until the dispute is settled. Now, that makes a nice game of rope-a-dope: You never end the dispute, so the territory stays occupied, then you blame the other side for occupying you! Even we can see that.
The Westerners' latest good-hearted demand -- so devastating to the employment situation for Palestinians -- is to label goods from the occupied territories. This requirement is asked of no other occupying nation: not Russia in Crimea and Ukraine, Turkey in Cyrus, Pakistan in Kashmir, nor China in Tibet. It is basically a form of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), presumably intended to crush Israel economically.

What these good-hearted Westerners fail to see is that their threats only strengthen Israel's perception of danger, and end up creating a result that is the opposite of what the Europeans intended. Instead of bringing the Israelis and the Palestinians to the negotiating table, such a move understandably strengthens Israel's resolve to protect itself. But exerting pressure on Israelis will not induce them to commit collective suicide. Rather, it will make both the Israelis and Palestinians more intransigent than ever.

The American threat of Israel turning into a binational state is meant to frighten Israel into waiving its vital interests while getting nothing from the Palestinians in return. In reality, the threat just stiffens the Palestinians' resolve and keeps our leaders from granting even the least of Israel's demands. The American threat is an obstacle to peace.

Most of all, what, staggeringly, Westerners do not seem to understand, is that the aim of the current incitement and attacks by the Palestinian Authority (PA) comes from a desire to replace Israel with a Palestinian state.

Look for a minute at the Palestinian Authority. In the Middle East, sooner or later, anything that can collapse, collapses -- regardless of efforts to shore it up. The Israelis, all too experienced in such matters, are understandably not about to cast their lot with the PA's current leader, Mahmoud Abbas. The death rattle of his regime gets louder every week, as even Westerners can surely see. So if the PA can expire at any time, how can anyone even think of asking the Israelis to place their future in Abbas's trembling hands? Do Westerners seriously mean for the Israelis to give up their security in return for the empty promises of a regime a few faltering steps from implosion?

Unfortunately, the Israelis already know -- again from history -- that so far, at least, Palestinian promises are not worth an old shoe. Again, just as one example, in the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians signed an agreement no longer to use terrorism to advance political aims.

Mahmoud Abbas may serve as the President of Palestine, but whom does he represent? He certainly does not represent the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and anyplace else there are Palestinians. He does not even represent the Palestinians in his own West Bank. Broad swaths of Palestinians in the West Bank no longer consider Abbas their lawful representative. His term of office ended years ago; he is now in the eleventh year of his four-year term. I can promise to sell you that that olive tree over there, but what do I do if it is not my olive tree to sell? He cannot truthfully promise anything to anyone.

The Palestinians in Gaza also reject the legality of Abbas's reign. They support Hamas. Not only that, but in the West Bank, supporters of Hamas make up roughly half of the population. Their goal is to destroy the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas along with it.

Israelis therefore regard the Palestinian president as terminally ill, on life support -- also known as the Israeli security forces, Israeli economic support and Western handouts.

Despite relying totally on this charity, Abbas's position is so weak that to remain in power, he needs to pander to his opponents, to the "resistance front" and the Islamist terrorist organizations in the Palestinian camp. He therefore claims he wants to reach a peace agreement with Israel and that "Palestinian hands are extended in peace;" but at the same time he relentlessly attacks Israel on the international front, in UN agencies and in the International Criminal Court. Meanwhile, he and his henchmen incite the Palestinians to stab, run over and shoot Israelis to death, while he idealizes, glorifies and finances -- with the funds he receives from the West -- the terrorist "shaheeds" [martyrs] and their families.

Hamas and ISIS at least tell the truth. They openly and repeatedly declare their intentions to destroy "infidel" places such as Israel and Rome -- the same way Islam conquered the former seat of Christianity, Constantinople. Mahmoud Abbas, by contrast, is a merely a cowardly hypocrite who successfully dupes the world by talking peace while inciting terror.

If an Islamist terrorist organization does take control of the Palestinian Authority, it will actually make life far easier for Israel. Israel will be able to explain its security position to the world and fight terrorism in the occupied territories -- without having to negotiate, make concessions or beg the Palestinians for recognition.

There are some Israelis who worry about the possible fall of Mahmoud Abbas and a radical Islamist takeover of the West Bank. But no Western country will support the establishment of an Islamic emirate in the West Bank. The Islamists will kill the Palestinian Authority's leaders, the same way Hamas did in 2006-2007 in Gaza. And as usual, only the Palestinians will suffer.

The only people rightly frightened by the thought of a Hamas or ISIS takeover of the West Bank are Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah loyalists. The Palestinian leadership will be summarily executed and their ill-gotten gains confiscated.

The Palestinian people, on the other hand, already almost totally radicalized, and do not seem even slightly concerned about living under an Islamist regime run by Hamas or Islamic State. They are Muslims: many feel it will make them more pure.

The Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is not only a matter of semantics that could change over time. It is a deep-seated ideology that will never change; it is part and parcel of the militant Palestinian-Islamist perception that the Jews are a religious sect -- not a nation -- and therefore not deserving of sovereignty, a homeland or nationhood.

The Palestinians, like other Muslims all over the world, believe that any land once conquered by Islam becomes part of the waqf, Islam's religious endowment, owned by Islam in perpetuity. This includes the land of Palestine and Israel, and means that the Jews have no right to exist on even one speck of it.

Our leaders know that recognition of the Jewish state would mean relinquishing the "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees to the State of Israel, and instead settling them only in the future Palestinian state. They simply cannot agree to that.

Every Palestinian knows in his heart that we do not want a state of our own alongside Israel, but rather instead of Israel. Palestinians have not relinquished, and will not relinquish, the right of return; deep down, they hope it will lead to Israel's demographic extinction and, on its ruins, the establishment of a State of Palestine.

The Jews living in the Middle East understand Middle Eastern dynamics and the challenge of maintaining an independent, democratic state in a region beset by chaos and internecine conflict. They know that anyone who blinks is perceived as weak, and that any blink is perceived by an adversary as an open door.

Despite the threats from the West, the Israelis do not seem particularly shaken. Israel has opened vast new markets in the Far East and appear to be doing brilliantly. Demographically, the number of Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is rising.

What our past-the-expiry-date leaders have failed to grasp is that the Israelis have set a trap for us: they are building their plans on the foundation of our intransigence. Our leaders are only encouraged by the false hopes and unreasonable expectations given them by the good-hearted Westerners.
Their intentions may even be good, but they persistently refuse to see that our leaders simply do not have the will, the courage or the ability to deliver so much as a dish full of mud. Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership prefer to leave things as they are rather than be denounced as traitors by their people for sitting with Israelis at a negotiating table.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is regularly fêted by good-hearted Westerners such as France's President François Hollande (left) and top European Union officials like Federica Mogherini and Jean-Claude Juncker (right).

Abbas knows -- as many of the leaders in Europe apparently do not -- that without Israel's presence in the West Bank, Hamas and Islamic State would execute him, along with his aides, in a public square tomorrow.

Abbas does not want to return to negotiations with the Israelis because he knows has absolutely nothing to offer. His main goal is now, with the help of the international community, to impose a solution on Israel. The solution he seeks -- a full withdrawal to the 1967 lines -- would pose an existential threat to Israel. It would also just be a matter of time before the Palestinian state will be run by Hamas or Islamic State.

We thank these good-hearted Westerners for all their good intentions. But they are causing suffering to everyone and accomplishing nothing. Our wish for the New Year is, please, for these good-hearted Westerners good-heartedly to stop.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East

[1] On the Mount of Olives, the Jordanian Arabs removed 38,000 tombstones from the ancient cemetery and used them as paving stones for roads and as construction material in Jordanian Army camps, including use in latrines. When the area was recaptured by Israel in 1967, graves were found open with the bones scattered. Parts of the cemetery were converted into parking lots and a gas station, and an asphalt road was built through it.

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East


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

The Settlements haven’t got a Chance: Part 1 of a Point-Counterpoint pair - Ran Edelist

by Ran Edelist

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav

Read Part 2, The Depth of the Withdrawal, the Depth of the Knife
The removal of the settlements from Judea and Samaria would not be a disaster but rather a sacrifice for the greater good and for the sake of cohesion among the people and the state. The time has come for my brothers in the territories to begin reading the map like it is – an open letter to all of the settlers, both men and women

This letter is directed to my brothers and sisters who deny the occupation and live beyond the Green Line. You will of course agree with me that something is basically amiss when a state conducts a war of annihilation against children who stab people and old women who ram people with cars. The state, of course, “wins”. That is clear. And it is clear that one more such victory we will have lost. It is a shame for all of us and it is a disgrace for you. You don’t have to be a despairing, bleeding heart leftist to ask what distortion or abnormality has caused us to descend so far in the battle between us and the Palestinians. There are, of course, those whose answer will be clear – “They all want to kill us” or “They started it” – but I am convinced that many of you ask yourselves the exact same question and you don’t really have an answer. About the disgrace, I mean. 

The reason for the shame and the disgrace is the fight, which is indeed determined, and indeed uncompromising, for the continued hold on the settlements.

The question is: does the settlement enterprise have any chance? I am prepared to accept, for the sake of argument, that the settlements do not only fulfill a security function, but also are the fulfillment of a divine commandment, and the losses that both we and the Palestinians experience are unavoidable. There is only one matter to clarify: what are the chances for the settlements’ continued feasibility beyond the Green Line except for the settlement blocs?

As I understand it, there is no chance at all. The argument that when the state was established there was also no basis for feasibility is irrelevant. There was no divine miracle there, but a war that was conducted correctly and boldly and a mischievous and daring David’s sacrifice against Goliath’s military stupidity. It was clear that there would be losses here and there for the overall good of victory in war, which was based on the ability and the sacrifice of fighters, along with international backing. Since the Six Day War, in forty eight years of battle for the Greater Land of Israel, we actually have been winning the battles, with “operations” and assassinations, but it is clear that the war is lost. There was no chance that Sinai would remain in our hands; that Gush Katif would remain in our hands; that we would remain in Lebanon; that Migron would survive in its first location and that the synagogue in Giv’at Ze’ev would remain on its site. In every one of these cases there were specific circumstances for their removal as well as two main reasons: the limitations of the use of force – the military, political, international or ethical – and Palestinian resolve. 

Arik Sharon, who was an active participant in decisive military and political processes, knew how to draw the correct conclusion in withdrawing from Gush Katif in order to continue waging the war on the West Bank. His successor, Olmert, went according to Rabin, and considered limiting the security forces and removing most of the settlements over the Green Line, including the division of Jerusalem. Olmert, along with the IDF, thought that under the circumstances, the State of Israel did not have enough security forces to be able to cope with the pressures that had built up during decades of occupation.

Indeed, there is a certain apparent stability in the settlements. There are houses and communities and “our government”, and I see and hear how some of you cluck like talking chickens, “we won the elections”. And this naivety of yours: why, it cannot be that this great enterprise will disappear as if it never existed. But this is where you are wrong. There is nothing like the Middle East to prove how volatile today’s existence is. Enterprises and populations more than a hundred times greater than the settlements and a hundred thousand residents have left and been abandoned and the world continues to spin in its orbit. The bitter fact is that despite the houses on the hills, symbols of apparently normal government and lifestyle, this is a bubble. Ultimately, one historic day, soaked with bloody terror (or the battle for independence in their language), on the contrary, it will be Palestinian terror that will be victorious over the settlement vision. Forty years have passed since Golda Meir’s “There is no Palestinian people” and now there are more countries that recognize Palestine than they do Israel. Even someone who just landed here from Mars would understand that the world is going to recognize Palestine with the ’67 borders. This means that everything that happens beyond the Green Line, including the settlements, is a war crime. So wake up already.

In general, the settlement enterprise was a gamble that we all took part in. We chose this path because there was no other choice (or no other available housing), or because of some other default. Now that the balance of powers has become clear (the real balance, not the IDF against the Palestinians, but the world and the Left against the settlement policy) it seems like this is the time to make the cut, before we lose our identity as a society, as a people and as moral human beings. I have no doubt that those among the settlers who are realistic understand what the situation is. It cannot be that you are blind to the process of South Africanization that we are undergoing, starting with boycotts and ostracism, through the loathing that greater and greater parts of the world feel toward us, and ending with UN resolutions in the pipeline about a Palestinian state.

I am mostly talking to and about the original founders of the settlements in the territories, the wise and heroic people. The people of the Yesha Council from the eighties and nineties. Those among them who know how to read reality, those who are riding the tiger and are afraid that the golem that they have created will rise up against them. We are not talking about cowards or corrupt individuals. Rather, this is a case where the fish stinks from the head to the tail, and it’s not a one-time Mephistophelian deal with someone who has done political repentance. 

In contrast to the kibbutz movement, which imploded like trees falling silently in the forest, the case of the settlements is likely to end with a huge brawl and civil war. A war, by the way, that is being conducted today in the social networks and in the streets. There have not yet been frontal clashes or casualties; for now it’s just a tumult of shouts and jostling and one prime minister who was shot, and one Abroshmi, who killed Emil Grinzweig at a Peace Now demonstration and in the dark and violent shadow in the recent demonstrations of the Left for a ceasefire during Operation Protective Edge. To preventing the virus from breaking out, which has already caused the destruction of the two Jewish Temples, requires insight or real-politick enlightenment and a statement that within the framework of an agreement with the Palestinians, some of the settlements will be dismantled.

The number is not important, and we must fight for the maximum, but it is important to accept the principle. From this point of view, the realistic right, as well as those who are hesitant, resemble the discouraged and wavering Left. These two sectors must join hands, especially on behalf of those who will have died in vain, until an agreement is foisted upon us.

I hope that you will choose the path that will lead to an agreement before the casualties occur. There, you will find leftists who are willing to defend, together with you, what is obvious to the Left together with the Right for lack of alternative: the State of Israel within the ’67 borders.

Ran Edelist

Source: Makor Rishon Newspaper, Dec. 18, Issue 958, Diokan section, pg. 4

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

The Depth of the Withdrawal, the Depth of the Knife: Part 2 of a Point-Counterpoint pair - Orli Goldklang

by Orli Goldklang

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav

Read Part 1, The Settlements haven't got a Chance

Even Ran Edelist is no longer promising us that there will be peace, just a transfer of the terror lines to new borders, nearer to the centers of population. To reject this idea is not a messianic response, but a well-considered response

After the with thunderous failure of the Oslo Accords to the beat of Hamas’ cannons, and after the concept of unilateral disengagement was shattered with the necessity for repeated military operations in Gaza, now, the settler Right is once again expected to surrender its principles and its word view, this time for “the sake of cohesion within the people and the country”. At the end of his emotional missive, after all of the dubious assumptions that we are expected to align ourselves with, Ran Edelist asks the settlers to accept the principle of land for unity. Edelist, a Peace Now person, no longer offers us regional calm nor does he use the word “peace” even once in his article, except to mention the name of the movement of which he was a founding member. On the contrary, he offers us war, and just moves it to borders that he and his friends will be willing to defend together with us. The new border – which will bring the enemies’ missiles within a distance that will threaten Ben Gurion Airport and Route 6, Kfar Saba and Petah Tikvah – will not be free of terror, just free of settlers. In any case, the price in blood that Edelist seeks to prevent will be inevitable. Because of the very proximity of the new border to crowded population centers, not only will the number of casualties not decrease, they will even increase significantly. 

Not only is the vision of peace missing from the article, the potential partner for such an agreement – the Palestinians - is also missing. While the settlers are demanded to open their eyes and emerge from the blindness holding them in its grasp regarding the settlements’ contribution to regional unrest, it seems that it is even clear to the writer that our promised partner does not play according to the rules of the game. After Arafat and his successor, Abu-Mazen turned a cold shoulder to Barak’s and Olmert’s, far-reaching gestures it is difficult for even the most entrenched people on the Left to promise a rosy future in the Middle East. The reasons for this are still under dispute: we see that radical Islam is waging a world war in various continents, while Edelist, on the contrary, sees the settlements as an existential danger. He feels that the establishment of communities in Judea and Samaria pulls him unwillingly into a dangerous gamble and suggests that we should be pulled into an even more dangerous gamble under the borders of the ’67 lines. While there is still a Palestinian yearning for Jaffa and Haifa, Acre and the Galilee – the randomly defined Green Line continues to star as a magic solution to all the dangers that the State of Israel is up against.

There is also fluidity among the Arabs

“You will agree with me that there is something basically amiss when a country conducts an all-out war against children who stab people and old ladies who run people over with cars”, asks Edelist. It seems that there are many more who would agree that there is something wrong with the basic educational system and the faith that sends children out to stab people and old ladies to run them over. True, you don’t have to be a bleeding heart, but it is better to be intelligent and understand that there is no excuse or justification for terror. The long-suffering Jewish people, even in its periods of despondence and lacking an assured horizon of continued existence, has never taken up these violent means against regimes that it lived under. Not in the Islamic countries of the previous millennium, and not in Europe of the previous century. 

Edelist does not promise us that we will beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, but he prefers that the next war be waged against a regular army, and not against children or old women. On the question of who that army would be – a Palestinian army or Da’esh [Islamic State] – he does not bother to answer, and rightly so. If there is one sentence that we can both sign on, it would be the statement that “there is nothing like the Middle East to prove how volatile today’s existence is”. This is true regarding the future of the settlements, as the “etrog”, Ariel Sharon, demonstrated. It is true regarding the entire Arab area, as demonstrated by Al-Baghdadi’s group.

Ultimately, the conflict that the writer of the article seeks to solve is not with the Palestinians, but with the various international bodies. In his article, Edelist reminds us of the limitations of the State of Israel’s power, which is subject to the external pressures that he and his cronies create with their own hands. The Israeli Left has fallen into bad habits – pushing and encouraging a boycott on its own country, and then warning against the process of “South Africanization” that will befall all of us. If the bodies that are threatening us now with recognizing a Palestinian state had stood shoulder to shoulder with us against the evil decree – and such a decree is indeed both bad and dangerous – we would not have had to hear threats of civil war, or of being defined as war criminals. To our great misfortune, even the cohesion that Edelist promises us within the boundary of the Green Line, does not have a strong basis. Ask Zochrot. Ask Breaking the Silence. Ask the African Refugee Development Center.  

Despite the polite request, even with a fourth and fifth reading of the article I was not able to feel the sectorial disgrace that I was supposed to, not even the collective shame. Bottom line – the fight between the Palestinians and Israel is not over the West Bank, but over the entire area between the sea and the Jordan River. The Israeli Left, both the radicals and the moderates, have not had any proven, dizzying success in the area of making predictions in the Middle East. The Right, to the contrary, unfortunately has. All of the threats that were predicted by the disparaged prophets of doom have come true. They cannot be charged, as they usually are, with faulty vision.  

We also have determination

In our region it is often claimed that the Right has no alternative, but reality proves that on the contrary, it is the Left that does not create an alternative vision for the existing situation. We have already tried its dangerous and armed peace agreements, despite all the cries of “Don’t give them rifles”. These weapons were ultimately turned against us, and even as we bled, we were demanded to surrender more and more. The refusal to make additional concessions does not stem from a messianic concept, or a stubborn insistence to hold onto land at any price; it is a considered step in light of the consequences of all of the previous withdrawals. As long as the Palestinian people do not accept the existence of the State of Israel, but hope for its elimination, the terror will continue and will punish us mercilessly. Until today, the Palestinians have never been impressed by the idea of the Green Line as a border, and they will not begin to be impressed by it even if the vision of the Left comes to be.

As Edelist noted, the existing situation is based on the Palestinians’ determination. It is a good thing that opposite them stands an absolute majority of people no less determined, that is ready to stand in the front line for the sake of the stable and secure existence of the State of Israel. Contrary to Edelist, it does not entertain the illusion that uprooting the settlements would promise a paradise.

Orli Goldklang

Source: Makor Rishon Newspaper, Dec. 18, Issue 958, Diokan section, pg. 5

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

Hamas declares it will soon renew suicide attacks in Israel - Daniel Siryoti

by Daniel Siryoti

Lebanon's Al-Akhbar newspaper quotes a Hamas source as saying group's sleeper cells across Judea and Samaria have been ordered to attack military and civilian targets inside and outside the Green Line • Israel returns bodies of 12 terrorists to PA.

Hamas sleeper cells in Judea and Samaria reportedly ordered to ready for attacks [Archive]
Photo credit: Reuters

Daniel Siryoti


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

Iran responds to threat of sanctions by promising to expand missile tests - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

In the end, Iran will have its missiles, its money, and more than likely, its nukes.

News that the Obama administration is backing off its plan to impose sanctions on Iran for their violation of UN resolutions on their missile program apparently did nothing to assuage Tehran's anger. Several Iranian officials promised to expand their missile test program, defying the US and the UN while threatening Israel.

"As long as the United States supports Israel we will expand our missile capabilities," the Revolutionary Guards' second-in-command, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.
"We don't have enough space to store our missiles. All our depots and underground facilities are full," he said in Friday Prayers in Tehran.
Defence Minister Hossein Dehqan said Iran would boost its missile program and had never agreed to restrictions on it.
"Iran's missile capabilities have never been the subject of negotiations with the Americans and will never be," he was quoted as saying by Press TV, an Iranian state channel.
The defiant comments are a challenge for the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama as the United States and European Union plan to dismantle nearly all international sanctions against Iran under the breakthrough nuclear agreement reached in July.
Iran has abided by the main terms of the nuclear deal, which require it to give up material that world powers feared could be used to make an atomic weapon and accept other restrictions on its nuclear program.
But Tehran also test-fired a missile in October, which the United States says would be capable of carrying a nuclear payload and therefore violates a 2010 U.N. Security Council resolution which is still in place.
Iran does not accept that the U.N. resolution bars it from testing missiles, as long as it has no nuclear weapons to place on them.
The standoff has turned into a diplomatic and political test for both Washington and Tehran, even as the lifting of sanctions under the nuclear deal draws closer.
Early in the new year, the United States and European Union are expected to unfreeze billions of dollars of Iranian assets, allow Iranian firms access to the international financial system and end bans that have crippled Iran's oil exports.
The ban on missile testing included any missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. But here's the kicker: Once the nuclear deal goes into affect, the UN resolutions will be withdrawn:
Ballistic missile tests by Iran are banned under Security Council resolution 1929, which was adopted in 2010 and remains valid until a nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers goes into effect. Under that deal, reached on July 14, most sanctions on Iran will be lifted in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
The missile test is not a violation of the nuclear deal, which focuses on Iran's atomic program, U.S. officials have said. Speaking to reporters in Washington, President Barack Obama acknowledged that the nuclear deal does not fully resolve all areas of dispute with Tehran.
"So we are going to have to continue to put pressure on them through the international community," he said.
Once the deal takes effect, Iran will still be "called upon" to refrain from undertaking any work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for a period of up to eight years, according to a Security Council resolution adopted in July.
Countries would be allowed to transfer missile technology and heavy weapons to Iran on a case-by-case basis with council approval.
However, in July a U.S. official called this provision meaningless and said the United States would veto any suggested transfer of ballistic missile technology to Iran.
Presumably, once the deal is implemented and restrictions on Iran's missile testing are lifted, the sanctions that the president is delaying will be removed anyway. 

Even if they aren't, they are a drop in the bucket compared to the more than $100 billion in sanctions relief Tehran is going to get probably later this month. So Iran can afford to bluster and dare the US to sanction them. In the end, Iran will have its missiles, its money, and more than likely, its nukes.

Rick Moran


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

A Smorgasbord of Swedish Anti-Semitism - Nima Gholam Ali Pour

by Nima Gholam Ali Pour

  • Sweden is a country where using the word "mass immigration" usually gets criticized just for sounding racist. Only anti-Semitism does not get criticized. In Sweden, all other forms of racism -- even things that some say could be classified as racism -- are criticized, and ruthlessly.
  • TV4, one of the most important Swedish media outlets, in 2015 described anti-Semitism as simply a "different opinion."
  • "What is history for us is not the history of others. ... When we have other students who have studied other history books, there is no point in discussing facts against facts." — The administration of an adult-education school, in a reprimand to a teacher who said the Holocaust actually took place.
  • "The Jews are campaigning against me." — Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.
  • There are fewer than 20,000 Jews in Sweden; more than 20,000 Syrians received asylum in 2014 alone. That is why so few politicians -- who are eager to win the votes of immigrants -- talk about Arab anti-Semitism.

On November 9, an anti-racism demonstration was going to be held in Umeå, Sweden, in commemoration of Kristallnacht (the night in 1938 in which 400 Jews were murdered in Germany, and 30,000 Jewish men arrested and sent to concentration camps). There was just one catch: the Jews in Umeå were not invited to the demonstration. The reason given, according to one of the organizers, Jan Hägglund, was that the demonstration would be "perceived as an unwelcoming or unsafe situation for them."

The path to this surreal situation, in which an anti-racism demonstration in Sweden in commemoration of Kristallnacht could be perceived by Jews as a threat, has long been in the making. This demonstration was of some significance. The people behind it were not extremists. Four of the Swedish Parliament's eight parties were involved in organizing it.

This anti-racist demonstration and the strange events surrounding it represent a process that, sadly, has been going on in Sweden for a long time. A new kind of Swedish anti-Semitism has been growing strong; the city of Malmö has been its flagship.

In January 2009, a pro-Israel demonstration in Malmö was attacked by Arabs who were shouting "f-cking Jews." The police could not protect the pro-Israel demonstrators from the eggs and the bottles being thrown at them. The event had to be temporarily stopped when the Arabs began to shoot fireworks at the pro-Israel demonstrators.

In January 2009, an Arab mob in Malmö pelted a peaceful Jewish demonstration with bottles, eggs and smoke bombs. The police pushed the Jews, who had a permit for their gathering, into an alley.

In 2010, for the first time -- but not the last -- the synagogue in Malmö was attacked. The same year, the Simon Wiesenthal Center began warning Jews to not visit Malmö, "due to harassment of Jewish citizens,".

Today, Malmö is a city well known for anti-Semitism and characterized by it. Jews in Malmö cannot publicly show that they are Jews without being subjected to harassment. Many Jewish families, there for centuries, have fled. In October 2015, two members of the Swedish parliament were involved in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Malmö, in which people shouted anti-Semitic slogans and praised the current Palestinian knife attacks against Israeli Jews.

The reason a country such as Sweden has suddenly become struck by extreme anti-Semitism is largely due to immigration from the Middle East. The Arab and Muslim world -- and, since 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has repeatedly threatened genocide -- continues in its state-run media to demonize the Jews. The Arab and Muslim world probably wants, in part, to justify its conflict with Israel. Also in part, many members of the establishment and citizens in those countries probably believe these anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, calumnies repeated every day in their media and mosques.

Many newcomers keep their Middle East background even after they have settled in Sweden. Many, especially in immigrant areas such as Rosengård in Malmö, regularly watch the Arabic media, which convey anti-Semitic messages non-stop.

At the same time, members of this population are welcome to vote in Swedish elections, so Swedish parties focus on the Arab vote. This courtship is merely a matter of demographics. There are fewer than 20,000 Jews in Sweden; more than 20,000 Syrians received asylum in 2014 alone.

In addition, to vote in the important municipal elections, you do not even need to be a citizen of Sweden. This peculiarity is why so few politicians in Sweden even talk about the Arab anti-Semitism, despite several Swedish reports and documentaries showing that the growing anti-Semitism in Sweden has been largely imported from the Middle East.

That is also why most anti-racism organizations in Sweden would rather discuss "Islamophobia." Almost all Swedish anti-racism organizations are funded by taxpayers or are somehow connected to political parties -- meaning there is an all-too-businesslike "understanding" between political parties and anti-racism organizations. Most of the political parties do not exactly favor anti-racism organizations that talk about Arab anti-Semitism. Such organizations will have trouble getting funds, or are defunded, or else see their board members start to resign.

Despite more Muslims coming to Sweden and more Jews fleeing Sweden -- or perhaps because of it -- the majority of the anti-racism activists in Sweden consider "Islamophobia" the more serious problem. The influential anti-racism organization, Expo, has done several mappings of "Islamophobia," but, despite the bigotry, not a single mapping of anti-Semitism.

If you do a mapping of anti-Semitism in Sweden, you see, you also have to discuss immigration from the Middle East. Not many people in Sweden want to do that: those who discuss Arab anti-Semitism are called racists.

Instead of a discussion about the new Swedish anti-Semitism, you get mind-numbing op-ed columns appearing with the message that people should talk less about the Holocaust in Swedish schools, so that Arab youths will not be offended. In criticizing a government proposal to combat anti-Semitism by increasing Holocaust education, Helena Mechlaoui, a high school teacher of history, religion and philosophy, wrote:
"If we talk about students from the Middle East, it may be because many of them bear the traumatic experiences that are related to either Israeli or American policies. And the two states are often seen as one, which is not entirely wrong. They may have lost one or more siblings, cousins, parents or peers in an Israeli or American bombing. A large proportion are here in Sweden because they have been forced to leave their homes because of occupation, war or the misery in some refugee camp. They may have injured parents who cannot really cope with life, and they may still have family in conflict areas. It is likely that they have encountered hostility in Sweden. In this context, it is perhaps not desirable to start talking about the Holocaust."
Immigration from Arab countries has thoroughly affected the way the majority of Swedes view anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is no longer something Swedish society condemns. Several Swedish celebrities have recently made anti-Semitic statements, and their careers have not suffered at all. The Swedish rapper Dani M spreads anti-Semitic conspiracy theories both on social media and in his songs. After several media outlets in Sweden, at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, reported in detail how Dani M spreads anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, he appeared on a reality TV show in September on one of the biggest and most established Swedish channels, TV4. When TV4 was criticized, the show's executive producer, Christer Andersson, responded:
"TV4's core values are Zero Racism and has always been, as long as I can remember, but we cannot cut off people who do not feel the same way. TV4 is a portal where people with different opinions pass and we must have a broad level of acceptance."
Here you have one of the most important Swedish media outlets describing anti-Semitism as simply a "different opinion." During the same period, another of TV4's employees used the "N-word" in a YouTube clip, and she was fired within two months. So, anti-Semitism is acceptable, but not racism against Afro-Swedes.

In another example, the Swedish TV celebrity Gina Dirawi, of Palestinian origin, wrote in her blog in 2010 that Israel's actions could be compared to Hitler's. Then, in 2012, she advised people, again on her blog, to read a book that questioned the Holocaust. The book's message was that when the Nazis persecuted the Jews, they were acting in self-defense. These were just two of the many anti-Semitic statements she made on her blog. Today, Gina Dirawi hosts several shows on SVT -- the Swedish public broadcasting company -- and she hosted SVT's Christmas show in 2015. As Dirawi is a Muslim, this choice has raised some eyebrows. She is also going to host the 2016 Swedish music competition Melodifestivalen, one of Sweden's most popular music events.

It is, unfortunately, clear that in Sweden, anti-Semitism is not something that harms one's career. The Swedish media, like the government, also is not so interested in Sweden's problems with anti-Semitism. When the Swedish think tank Perspektiv På Israel presented evidence in May 2015 that Islamic Relief's country director in Sweden was spreading anti-Semitic posts on Facebook, no one in the media was interested in writing about it, despite the fact that Islamic Relief is supported by Sida, the Swedish government agency responsible for Sweden's official aid to developing countries.

The Swedish media did not even allow an opinion piece from Perspektiv På Israel to be published on the subject. Nyheter24, one of the Swedish media outlets that did not publish Perspektiv På Israel's information about this scandal, wrote in an email to Perspektiv På Israel that their "readers are, to say the least, not interested in this particular issue."

As a columnist for the newspaper Samtiden, I mentioned Islamic Relief's racist statements in an op-ed, and the information was also presented in The Jewish Press. Swedish media showed no interest, even though there was evidence that an organization receiving Swedish tax funds was publishing anti-Semitic statements in social media.

It is important to note that all these incidents happened in a country where using the word "mass immigration" usually gets criticized just for sounding racist. It is only anti-Semitism that does not get criticized in Sweden. All other forms of racism -- even things that some say could be classified as racism -- are criticized, and ruthlessly.

Although the new anti-Semitism in Sweden has its origin in Arab or Islamic anti-Semitism, to think that anti-Semitism in Sweden today is only Middle Eastern in its nature is a simplification. Anti-Semitism in Sweden has become a smorgasbord consisting of several factors that reinforce each other. Some of these are:
  • Large-scale immigration from countries where anti-Semitism is normalized.
  • A strong pro-Palestinian engagement among Swedish politicians that has resulted in a totally surreal debate about the Israel-Palestine debate, in which Israel is unjustly demonized.
  • A desire among political parties in Sweden to win the votes of immigrants.
  • A Swedish multiculturalism that is so uncritical of foreign cultures that it cannot differentiate between culture and racism.
  • A fear of sounding critical of immigration.
  • Important Swedish institutions, such as the Church of Sweden, legitimizing anti-Semitism by endorsing Kairos Palestine document.
A combination of these factors creates a situation in which anti-Semitism can grow without meeting any real resistance or criticism. The following happened at Komvux, an education program for adults in Sweden, in the city of Helsingborg: A substitute teacher was defending facts surrounding the Holocaust during a class, after a student questioned if the Holocaust had actually happened. The school administration criticized the substitute teacher with the following arguments: "What is history for us is not the history of others. ... When we have other students who have studied other history books, there is no point in discussing facts against facts."

This is an event that occurred in February 2015, in a major Swedish city. It could have happened in any Swedish city where the new Swedish anti-Semitism is rising. A Swedish school no longer knows if the fact that Holocaust actually happened is a fact worth defending. The anti-Semitic smorgasbord normalizes anti-Semitism in Sweden.

When it was reported in mid-November that the Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, said "the Jews are campaigning against me," it did not become major news in Sweden. It was not the first time a famous Swedish politician made anti-Semitic statements and got away with it, and it will not be the last.

So, we return to November 9, 2015 in Umeå, and the anti-racism march for the commemoration of Kristallnacht, to which the Jews were not invited, and to this year's Muslim Christmas hostess, who has several times expressed anti-Semitic views, and to the schools that are not sure whether to say that the Holocaust actually happened or not, and to a country where in general it is business-as-usual not to invite the Jews.

The media does not report it. The politicians do not care. And everyone knows that in Sweden, the anti-Semites get away with anything they like.

Nima Gholam Ali Pour is a member of the board of education in the Swedish city of Malmö and is engaged in several Swedish think tanks concerned with the Middle East. Gholam Ali Pour is also editor for the social conservative website Situation Malmö.


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