Saturday, February 20, 2016

French ambassadors back Palestinians in 'knife intifada' against Israel - Salomon Benzimra

by Salomon Benzimra

The ambassadors' document seems to tie the 'frustration and humiliation' of the Palestinians directly to the establishment of the state of Israel.

Backing the French initiative to convene an international conference in the near future on the "Israeli-Palestinian conflict," a group of eleven prominent French ambassadors published an appeal in Le Monde on February 3, 2016, urging Paris and Brussels to "save the Palestinian state."

Their 900-word opus can be summarized as follows:
The ongoing "knife-intifada" is an expression of the "frustration and humiliation" of the Palestinians "after nearly 50 years of occupation," and the "spontaneous violence" it produced has nothing to do with Islamic terrorism as practiced by the Islamic State (ISIS).  Besides, "Israel's repression" has produced "a far greater number of victims" than Israeli casualties.
Since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1996, "all peace initiatives have failed," thus preventing the Palestinians from "being granted a portion of Palestine since 1967."  In theory, negotiations should conform to the "principle of two-states, recognized by the United Nations since 1947" but the policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu – which aim at "establishing a Greater Israel from the sea to the Jordan River" -- have reduced the potential area of the future Palestinian state.  The unresolved Palestinian question fuels the animosity of the "Arab/Muslim world against the West."
While the U.S. will continue to pledge their allegiance to Israel, Europe remains "inhibited by the specter of the Shoah and the power of the [pro-Israel] lobbies." But the "power of the law" should address the "sense of injustice that is spreading in public opinion."  To that effect, the French Government will introduce a Security Council resolution to "resume negotiations under international control" and, "should these negotiations fail, France would recognize the Palestinian State."  As the international community confronts ISIS, why wouldn't it deploy "an equivalent effort" toward peace, which would "at last grant the Palestinian people their rights"?
But we should not wait.  Without delay, "France should immediately recognize the Palestinian State."  As long as Israeli "colonization" continues, "the association treaty between Israel and the European Union should be suspended" as well as "the special economic and scientific cooperation from which Israel benefits."  These measures are necessary to prevent Israel from "losing its soul" in the pursuit of its "apartheid policies."  What is at stake in this conflict are the "values of the Western world" and it behooves everyone to contribute to its solution "in terms of civilization."
This is not an essay written by a team of first-year university students with progressive ideas detached from reality and who know next to nothing about the Middle East quagmire.  The authors are veteran diplomats with over 200 years of collective experience and, supposedly, a broad knowledge of history, law, and politics.

And yet, should we laugh at this torrent of insanity or cry at the degenerate state of French political postures, divorced from rational thought, built on an inverted sense of justice and distorted legal and historical facts? 

They talk about "nearly 50 years of occupation."  But the response I got from a private letter I addressed to President François Hollande last May implied that the source of the conflict was not the so-called "occupation" of 1967, which is ceaselessly recited without any basis in law or history.  I was told that "the great suffering of the Palestinian people" originated "over 60 years ago."  This candid admission from the Elysée puts the blame squarely on the very existence of the modern State of Israel.

The persistent pattern of condemnation of Israel, in total disregard of the provisions of international law, is nothing new.  In the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara incident of May 2010, virtually the whole world found Israel guilty before proven guilty.  The United Nations and its agencies; the European Union and most of its member-states (with the welcome exception of the Czech Republic); the media at large; and, it goes without saying, the whole Arab/Muslim world found Israel in breach of international law following the boarding of the Turkish vessel.  But when the U.N. released its final report in September 2011, and Israel was largely exonerated on the grounds that it "complied with the requirements of international law," we heard no retraction from the horde of accusers.

The eleven French ambassadors will probably observe the same cowardly silence when the legal rights of Israel under international law and the forged Palestinian narrative are widely disclosed and recognized worldwide.

But we should remember that among Western nations, French institutions are often the most sluggish in recognizing their past mistakes.  It took almost a century for the French military establishment to publicly admit, on September 7, 1995, that there was indeed a "military conspiracy" against Captain Alfred Dreyfus.

The France I loved and admired in my school days is long gone.

Salomon Benzimra


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

Iran Promotes the Terrorist Behind the Deaths of 241 Americans - Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

How Obama has emboldened the Iranian terror state.

In 1983 a horrific act of terrorism killed 241 American servicemen (220 Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers) in Beirut, Lebanon. The bombing marked the deadliest attack on Americans overseas since World War II.

All the evidence pointed the mastermind behind the crime as Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, then commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and thirty years later in 2013 -- under “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani -- Hossein Dehghan was appointed Minister of Defense. In other words, Iran instigated one of the most horrendous terrorist acts against America and promoted the man who did it.

This year the same General Hossein Dehghan also seems to be in charge of the recent arrest of Americans sailors in an attempt to humiliate and mock the US. Iranian State TV showed one of the US Navy sailors crying in captivity and later showed Iranians cheering and celebrating in the streets at the humiliation the sailors went through.

Now Hossein Dehghan has shown up this week in Russia -- just after the mullahs of Iran received billions of dollars from the Obama’s administration last week from sanction relief -- and is spending billions of dollars to purchase offensive weapons that can only be used against conventional enemies like Israel and the United States.

Dehghan points out that Iran needs to "seriously focus on its air force and fighter jets" while adding "We are moving toward a contract. We told them that we need to be involved in the production (of the plane) as well." According to a Russian source, "Iran would like to buy Russia's latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system and has made no secret of it." On the eve of his visit to Moscow Dehghan openly said to the Iranian media they want to purchase the S-400s.

The intriguing issue is that these sales are in clear violation of three United Nations Security Council Resolutions and international law. First, the Russian-Iranian arms contract is specifically in violation of UN Resolution 2231 that clearly bans the Islamic Republic from purchasing “battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships” without prior approval from the UN.

Second,  the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 that states "Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities.”

Third, JCPOA (UNSCR 2231 Annex II, paragraph three) states that Iran should not undertake any ballistic missiles activity "until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier."

Once again Iran has ignored the UN without challenge – last fall  the Islamic Republic and its Minister of Defense repeatedly violated  UNSC resolutions right after the nuclear deal by  test-firing long-range ballistic missiles and laser-guided surface-to-surface missiles in October and November on several occasions -- yet no global power raised any objections to Iran’s activities.

It is worth noting that of the five members of the UNSC four members out of the five seem to be on the side of Iran for political and economic reasons (Russia, China, UK and France). As long as the fifth member, the United States, does not raise any objections to Iranian activities, the Islamist clerics of Iran can get away with almost any violation or crime against humanity.

In closing, it is clear that not only Iran has violated the international law and UNSC resolutions but is preparing for conflict with a terrorist at the helm.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh


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

A Fresh Perspective: The week the two-state solution died - Dan Illouz

by Dan Illouz

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-Charles Bensoussan

Israel and its friends should immediately take a good look at all the possible alternatives to the two-state solution, and discuss what it would like to see implemented regarding the conflict.

This past week in Israeli politics will be remembered as the week in which the two-state solution died.

The week started with the Labor Party convention, during which the party officially endorsed a proposed change in policy suggested by its leader, MK Isaac Herzog. The proposal suggested that the party platform recognize the fact that the two-state solution is not feasible in the near future. While the Labor Party still believes in the two-state solution, it does not call for its immediate implementation anymore. When the leading left-wing party in Israeli politics refuses to see the two-state solution as an immediate goal, this marks its death.

The week continued with what can be seen as a moving funeral to the twostate solution. Several speakers from Left and Right set out their views as to the correct course of action in the Arab- Israeli conflict.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke, and spoke directly to Herzog: “A year ago, I clarified that facing the great changes happening in our region and since all territory that is cleared is captured by extremists, it doesn’t look like we can implement the two-state solution under the current circumstances. And then you attacked me.”

Then, referring to Herzog’s new pessimism with regard to the proposed solution, Netanyahu said: “Good morning, Buji! I’m glad you woke up. Welcome to the Middle East.”

If, on the Israeli side, there is a clear movement toward a prudent approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which rejects quick fixes and utopian solutions and opens the door to discussion of alternative solutions to the conflict, those who care about Israel should also seek to understand what is happening on the Palestinian side.

After all, conflicts have two sides, and unilateral solutions to conflicts are bound to fail. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the trends on the Palestinian side will allow Israelis to better assess what their next move should be, now that there is near-unanimous agreement that, at least in the short term, a Palestinian state will not be created.

The end of Mahmoud Abbas’s rule

It is no secret that Mahmoud Abbas’s rule over Judea and Samaria’s Arab population is extremely weak. Many have claimed that if the Israeli army was not in the area in order to protect his rule, Abbas would quickly lose power to Hamas terrorists or another competing faction. In such a delicate situation, and with Abbas turning 81 next month and nearing the end of his career, the most important question one must ask to understand the various scenarios for the future in the Palestinian Authority is: What will happen once Abbas no longer rules? In a recent interview with the Israeli press, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who serves on the security cabinet, set out his vision of four scenarios.

Either Abbas will have one successor from the Fatah movement, or there will be a Hamas takeover. It is also possible that a deal will be made between Hamas and Fatah for combined rule. Finally, in the scariest scenario, there will be no clear succession, and the confusion will lead to anarchy.

Anarchy in Judea and Samaria

Elkin believes that the last scenario is the most likely, and in such a scenario, since there would be no centralized address to communicate and coordinate with on the Palestinian side, the Israeli response to such anarchy would be very difficult.

These various scenarios, and the likelihood of the disintegration of the PA followed by complete anarchy, bring up critical questions to policy-makers: First of all, should Israel intervene in the internal affairs of the Palestinians in order to influence what will happen there in the next few years? If not, would the rise of complete anarchy warrant such an intervention? Add to that equation the instability of the Middle East as a whole and the rise of Islamic State, which is inspiring terrorist attacks even within Israel, and you have a recipe for real disaster.

How will Israel be able to control the free flow of weapons in Judea and Samaria from the Palestinian security forces to terrorist groups with no central address to hold accountable? Will Israel be able to properly defend Jewish communities both within Judea and Samaria and outside?

Threats create opportunities

The threats posed by the instability in the PA and the unclear succession to power create a great opportunity for the Israeli Right.

For years, the Right has ignored the need to propose a clear alternative to the two-state solution, preferring to simply express opposition to the twostate solution.

Various solutions were proposed, but no real and serious discussion occurred as to their merits. No real research was undertaken to foresee the economic, demographic and security implications of each. The alternatives were mostly suggested as a marketing technique to justify opposition to the two-state solution.

If only a tiny fraction of the money invested in furthering the failed two-state solution would have been invested in the study of alternatives, we would have a marketplace of ideas to discuss. We would not be left without any solution to implement in the short term.

The current situation, with a deep understanding on the Israeli side that the two-state solution is not currently viable, and complete instability on the Palestinian side, might finally give us a window of opportunity to look into alternative solutions and study them thoroughly.

Unfortunately, as events unfold, there is very little time. Chaos in Judea and Samaria might set in soon, and Israel should know what its short- and longterm goals are before being faced with it.

Only thus will Israel know how to react to Abbas’s weakness, or to the eventual dismantlement of the PA. Only when we know where we want to get to, can we properly discuss the best way to get there.

This is why Israel and its friends should immediately take a good look at all the possible alternatives to the twostate solution, now rendered obsolete, and discuss what it would like to see implemented regarding the conflict. Once such a solution is defined, Israel will be able to better asses its relationship to the PA and to the Palestinian Arabs. 

Dan Illouz is an attorney and a former legislative adviser to the Coalition Chairman in the Knesset. He previously served in a legal capacity at the Foreign Ministry. He is a graduate of McGill University Law School and Hebrew University’s master’s program in public policy.


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Kuwaiti Columnist: Israel Has Outdone Us In Everything – We Must Learn From It - MEMRI


On February 1, 2016, Ahmad Al-Sarraf, wrote in his column in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas about Israel's advantages over the Arabs in a wide variety of fields – democracy, military, science and technology, human rights and freedom of worship, and economics. He called on the Arabs to look at the reasons for Israel's success and superiority, instead of viewing it as a political-religious foe about which they know nothing at all.

Following are excerpts from his article:[1] 

Ahmad Al-Sarraf (image:

"In theory, Arabs have [only] one enemy in the region – except that recently we have made additional enemies, such as Iran. Some went even further, stepping up their hatred of Iran, while at the same time becoming more accepting of Israel [than in the past], to the point where it has become more friend than foe…

"Usually, every conflict is rooted in one side's ignorance of the situation and nature of the other – though I tend to believe that Iran knows far more about the 22 Arab countries that those countries know about it. I attended Kuwaiti schools; in my day, their curricula were far more developed and were open to the other. Despite this, I do not remember reading a single line about [Iran] that was even remotely positive – neither about [its] geography or climate, nor about [its] strength, weakness, or history. So it was only natural for us to view it negatively, [even though we] had no [concrete] reason to do so.

"As for Israel, many [of us] view it as a political-religious foe, as opposed to a cultural danger, and this is a serious mistake. Even though our conflict with it has never ceased, we have remained ignorant regarding everything it represents, and for 70 years we have lacked, and continue to lack, all knowledge about it, and have learned nothing from it.

"Israel has outdone us in all fields – military, scientific, and cultural – but despite this we have refused to consider the reason for its obvious superiority to us, and have never stopped calling it 'the monstrous entity'...

"Since its founding, Israel has been committed to democracy, while we refuse to even speak of it [i.e. democracy], let alone adopt it... 

"Israel has given its minorities rights that most citizens in most Arab countries do not even dream of. Furthermore, the freedom of worship there exceeds that in any Arab or Islamic country.

"Israel has focused its attention on science, spending large sums on research, while we are still focused on whether drinking camel urine or using it medicinally is actually helpful.

"Israel has managed to unite people emigrating to it from 50 countries, and to forge a single people from them, while we have not managed [even] to create a [joint] army out of the [Arab] people, with its deep historical roots.

"Israel has known law and order since its first day, while we still try to comprehend the meaning of both these words. Two of [Israel's] senior leaders went to prison for corruption, while we still argue over how to convict the master thieves in our midst.

"Israel has developed its technologies and developed its agriculture, industry, and military, becoming an advanced and respected country, while we currently occupy the bottom slot in every field.

"Israel has managed to get its companies traded on the international stock market, while we consider liquidating our assets after nearing bankruptcy.

"The list is long, and the sorrow that accompanies it persists."

[1] Al-Qabas (Kuwait), February 1, 2016.



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Denmark Criminalizes Free Speech - Selectively - Judith Bergman

by Judith Bergman

  • According to the court decision, pointing out the totalitarian and cruel aspects of Islam itself is now a criminal offense, considered "insulting and demeaning" to Muslims in Denmark and therefore constituting "racism." In effect, this means that the court is conflating what might possibly constitute blasphemy with racism.
  • Conversely, when a Danish imam called Jews "the offspring of apes and pigs," he was officially reported to the police for breaching § 266b, but no legal charges were ever filed against him.
  • In Denmark, apparently, it is a crime to criticize Islam and "Islamists," but calling Jews the "offspring of apes and pigs" and inciting their murder in a packed mosque (and calling non-Muslims in general "animals") can be done with impunity.

Last week, a Danish district court ruled that what a Danish citizen had written on Facebook in November 2013 violated the Danish criminal code.

In response to a debate about the local activities of a radical Islamic organization, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which works for the re-establishment of the Islamic caliphate, he wrote: "The ideology of Islam is as loathsome, disgusting, oppressive and as misanthropic as Nazism. The massive immigration of Islamists into Denmark is the most devastating thing to happen to Danish society in recent history."

According to § 266b of Denmark's criminal code, it is prohibited and punishable by fine or prison publicly to threaten, insult or demean a group of persons because of their race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation.

The man was fined 1600 Danish kroner (approximately $240), which makes it unlikely that he will be allowed to appeal the sentence: the fine is so small that an appeal to the Higher Court requires special permission.

The Danish district court found that the man's statements about Islam were "generalizing statements" that were "insulting and demeaning towards adherents of Islam."

The district court reached this conclusion despite the defendant's testimony, according to which he specifically wrote "the ideology of Islam" in order to make a distinction between the religion of Islam and the ideology of Islam. The defendant explained that, "'Islamist' is a normal term for extremist groups, who commit crimes against humanity and do the most terrible things, whereas Islam is a peaceful religion."

The district court decided to disregard "the defendant's explanation that a distinction should be made between the ideology of Islam and the religion of Islam".

The court reasoned that
"the statements that the defendant has made should be seen in the societal and historical context of the fall of 2013, and in this context the court sees the statements about 'the ideology of Islam' as pertaining to Islam generally and not only the extreme part of Islam. In this regard, the court has furthermore emphasized that the quoted statements were written on 29 November 2013 at 17.13 and that at 17.27 on the same day -- as pointed out by the defense -- the defendant wrote in the same [Facebook] thread that "Islam wishes to abuse democracy in order to get rid of democracy."
For the incredulous reader, it should be pointed out that the court presumably meant that in 2013, Islamism as an ideology had not manifested itself through terrorism in Denmark and Europe in the same way as it has today, a few years later. This is, of course, nonsense, as pointed out by the defendant's lawyer, Karoly Nemeth: "I believe the court is expressing a lack of historical understanding. The ideology of Islam has existed for over 1,000 years," he said.

According to this court decision, then, pointing out the totalitarian and cruel aspects of Islam itself is now a criminal offense, considered "insulting and demeaning" to Muslims in Denmark and therefore constituting "racism." In effect, this means that the court is conflating what might possibly constitute blasphemy with racism. Despite this decision being wrong in every single aspect, the court did, however, get one thing right: It refused to distinguish between Islam as an ideology and Islam as religion. The prosecutor, Bente Schnack, said it did not make a difference whether the defendant spoke of the ideology or the religion of Islam. "It is pretty difficult to tell the difference," she said.

While the court's decision was widely criticized in Denmark, two leading professors of Danish criminal law agreed with it. One professor, Gorm Toftegaard Nielsen, said that, "§ 266b is about subjecting a group of people to hatred by threatening, insulting or demeaning them. When you group Islamists with Nazis, then it is not a compliment."

The following question, of course, inevitably arises: Since when is public debate supposed to be restricted to complimenting each other?

The professor continued: "When he [the defendant] says 'the massive immigration of Islamists,' it can easily be interpreted as meaning that those people are as immoral as Nazis... It is not nice to compare those two groups. But that is what he does indirectly and that amounts to subjecting a group to hatred."

What the Danish district court did was what the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation has long sought: the establishment of Islamic "blasphemy laws," making criticism of a religion a criminal offence. The UN Human Rights Commission's Resolution 16/18 does exactly that, although it is non-binding -- except presumably for the countries that want it to be. Infractions, as in Denmark now, are punishable by law. The UNHRC Resolution, originally known as "Defamation of Islam," was changed in later versions -- it would seem for broader marketability -- to "Defamation of Religions."

Conversely, in October 2014, when Mohamed Al Khaled Samha, a Danish imam from the Odense mosque, called Jews "the offspring of apes and pigs," he was officially reported to the police, and local Danish police began an investigation of the imam with a view to charging him for breaching § 266b, but as far as Gatestone Institute has been able to ascertain, no legal charges were ever filed against him. (Incidentally, this imam was among the group of imams who traveled to the Middle East presumably to stir up anti-Danish sentiment in the aftermath of Jyllands-Posten newspaper's printing of the Mohammed cartoons). In his sermon, Samha also said, ""Palestine has been and will remain the land of Islam. It is the land of the great battle, in which the Muslims will fight the Jews, and the trees and the stones will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah! There is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him.'"

In July 2014 another Danish imam, Abu Bilal Ismail, from the Grimshøj mosque, prayed for the death of Jews at a sermon in a Berlin mosque. "Oh Allah, destroy the Zionist Jews. They are no challenge for you. Count them and kill them to the very last one. Don't spare a single one of them," Ismail said. This, too, was officially reported to the Danish police, who never acted against that imam, either.

Instead, it was German authorities who criminally charged him. In December 2015, he was sentenced to a €10,000 fine for inciting hatred against Jews as well as non-Jewish groups in Germany. The Berlin court found that Ismail targeted "Jews with hatred, as well as all other non-Muslim groups living in Germany."

The German court also said that the Lebanese-born cleric had shown deep contempt for the United States and Europe in his sermon, and that his assault on European civilization and Zionists had met the definition of incitement. The verdict said that Ismail considered Jews as "criminals who kill prophets and children, and Jews are worse than wild beasts in the world of the jungle," and that "Allah should kill Jews." Since Ismail had already been convicted in Germany, and a person cannot be punished twice for the same criminal act, the Danish police decided not to press charges.

In another, ironic, development regarding the use of § 266b of the Danish penal code, the state Prosecutor decided that Hajj Saeed, who incited against Jews in the Masjid Al-Faru mosque in Copenhagen, on February 13, 2015 -- the very same sermon, in fact, that the terrorist Omar Abdel Hamid El-Husseini attended the day before he murdered Dan Uzan at the Copenhagen synagogue -- will not be prosecuted for his statements. In his sermon, Saeed said that the Western "infidel" civilization has led non-Muslims "to an abyss of deprivation and corruption and has reduced them from being human to being at the level of animals". He incited Muslims to wage war against Jews:
"Our prophet Muhammad had Jewish neighbors in Medina. Did he talk about closer ties, harmony and dialogue with them -- in the same way as the UN and those who call for reconciliation between what is true and what is false? Or did he tell them to worship Allah? When they broke their promise and did not accept his calling, well, you know what he did to them... He declared war against the Jews."
Danish police investigated the imam and recommended that the state prosecutor indict him under the same provision of the penal code, § 266b, for inciting hatred and threatening a particular group of people because of their ethnicity -- in this instance because they were Jews. The state Prosecutor, for reasons that are unknown at this point, evidently thought otherwise.

Ironically, the mosque in question, Masjid Al-Faru, is connected with Hizb-ut-Tahrir; and the imam, Hajj Saeed, is considered to be one of the organization's "rising stars" in Denmark.

In 2002, in fairness, the spokesman at the time for Hizb ut-Tahrir, Fadi Abdullatif, was sentenced for violating § 266b, when his organization handed out flyers against Jews with the words, "And kill them, wherever you may find them and banish them from where they banished you."

Members of the Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir demand a worldwide Islamic Caliphate during a demonstration in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2006. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/Epo)

After the February 2015 terrorist attacks in Copenhagen against the synagogue, where Dan Uzan was murdered, and the Krudttønden café, where film director Finn Nørgaard was murdered, Hizb ut-Tahrir told Muslims not to condemn the terrorist attacks, but instead "put things in their right context."

In Denmark, apparently, it is a crime to criticize Islam and "Islamists," but calling Jews the "offspring of apes and pigs" and inciting their murder in a packed mosque (and calling non-Muslims in general "animals") can be done with impunity.
Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

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Israel's Dangerous Consensus - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

99% of Mossad and Shin Bet officers are leftists?

Recently I found myself in a chance conversation with a former head of the Mossad’s Directorate of Operations. The former master spy, whom I had never met before, knew that I am a journalist.

He was aware of my political views.

Directing his remarks at a friend of mine, he declared that 99 percent of Mossad and Shin Bet officers are leftists. He then added triumphantly that according to a former commander of the air force whose name he cited, 99% of the air force’s pilots are similarly leftists.

Initially, I dismissed his comments as obnoxious chest-beating by a man who felt like irritating a group of right-wingers.

But given the source, it is impossible to simply brush off what he said. And to be clear, far more troubling than the prospect that Israel’s security establishment is uniformly leftist is the notion that there is any intellectual or ideological uniformity of any kind in the ranks of our defense community.

But given our defense community’s record in recent years, there is ample reason to believe that there is more than a grain of salt in the spy chief’s boast.

Consider Israel’s handling of Gaza.

According to a number of senior officers, at the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, the IDF’s senior commanders convened in Tel Aviv to determine how to handle the Hamas regime going forward.

During Protective Edge, Israel learned a few things about Hamas and about the strategic balance of power between Israel and Hamas in the region and the world.

On the ground Israel learned that Hamas bases its offensive capabilities on civilian infrastructure.

Hamas placed its missiles, its communications centers and its operational commands inside civilian buildings including private homes, hospitals, clinics, schools, mosques and UN offices.

As far as the strategic balance and resources of both sides, during the war Hamas enjoyed the de facto backing of the Obama administration.

Throughout the war, the administration pressured Israel to accept Hamas’s cease-fire terms as dictated by its state sponsors Qatar and Turkey.

On the other hand, Israel was able to avoid bowing to the US’s pro-Hamas demands because throughout the conflict we enjoyed the open support of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In other words, during the war, Israel discovered that Hamas’s military strategy was based entirely on an implicit alliance with the West, which attacked Israel for targeting Hamas’s military infrastructure, which, again, was all based in civilian structures.

It might have been assumed that the IDF senior commanders would have based their post-war deliberations on these lessons. But according to senior IDF sources, that didn’t happen.

At the outset of that postwar meeting, IDF commanders were told that Israel’s best option was to assist in the reconstruction of Gaza – that is, the reconstruction of Hamas’s civilian-based military machine.

The discussion then moved to the question of how best to achieve that goal.

The notion that Israel is best off when Gazans are not living in the streets is certainly a legitimate one.

Perhaps it would have withstood scrutiny if it had been subjected to scrutiny. But it wasn’t.

And in hindsight, it is obvious that it should have been.

In keeping with the decision to support the reconstruction of Gaza, according to the Foreign Ministry, over the past year and a half Israel has permitted 3.4 million tons of building materials to be imported into Gaza. And yet, according to a recent report by the UN, 74% of the civilian buildings that were destroyed in Protective Edge have yet to be rebuilt.

In the meantime, Hamas has replenished its missile stores and rebuilt its military infrastructure, including its subterranean attack tunnels that traverse the border into Israel.

Both the continued suffering of the Gazans, and the sounds of drilling under the homes of Israelis living along the border with Gaza, indicate that at a minimum, the security establishment’s immediate post-war determination that Israel must permit building materials to enter Gaza was a bit hasty.

Then there is Iran. 

Iran’s illicit nuclear program was first exposed in 2003. At the time, it probably made sense for Israel to follow the US’s lead in blocking Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But then, the Americans’ continued stumbles in Iraq made clear from as early as 2004 that perhaps the Bush administration wouldn’t be up to the challenge of blocking Iran’s path to the bomb.

The early suspicions that then-president George W. Bush would not block Iran’s nuclear ambitions became an all-but certainty in the wake of the publication of the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate.

The NIE made the dubious claim that Iran had abandoned its military nuclear program in 2003.

Despite the fact that the claim was contradicted by the report itself, in light of Bush’s political weakness at the end of his second term, the NIE rendered it politically impossible for Bush to order a military strike against Iran’s nuclear installations. It also made it politically possible for President Barack Obama to initiate his pro-Iranian Middle East policy a year later.

As for Obama, despite his oft-stated claim that “all option remain on the table” for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, any thought that he might be serious became patently absurd after he sided with the regime during the 2009 Green Revolution that followed its falsification of the results of the presidential elections.

None of this, however, made an impression on the security brass. Led by the Mossad, for more than a decade our senior commanders insisted that Israel could trust the US on Iran.

Last week Russia announced that it will sell Sukhoi Su-30 combat fighters to Iran. According to former senior Pentagon official Stephen Bryen, the sale will tip the strategic balance in the Persian Gulf in Iran’s favor and over time, give Iran “an answer to Israel’s air power.”

Iran’s acquisition of the Su-30s is but one of a panoply of weapons deals the regime has signed with suppliers since the sanctions regime was canceled last month. These sales, together with Iran’s clear path to nuclear capabilities mean that Iran’s rise to the position of regional hegemon is unimpeded.

This then brings us to Israel’s options, moving forward. Amazingly, it would seem that Israel continues to take its signals on Iran from the Americans.

After all, at least on the surface, Israel’s security establishment and our political leaders seem most concerned today with concluding a deal for supplemental US military assistance in the wake of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Perhaps a reassessment is overdue.

If Iran’s empowerment is now more or less a done deal, then the nature of the regime becomes the central variable that it may still be possible to change.

In the years that preceded the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran, a small group of former Mossad officers joined forces with a small group of American Iran experts in beseeching the government – and first and foremost the Mossad – to support the Iranian opposition in its bid to overthrow the regime. These calls were ratcheted up throughout the months of the Green Revolution in 2009 and early 2010.

These Iran experts argued that all Israel needed to do was provide secure communications to the opposition to enable its members to organize effectively, and to broadcast their messages to the public in Iran through radio, television and Internet servers maintained abroad.

Arming Iran’s many disaffected groups, including the Azeris, Baluchis, Kurds, Ahwaz Arabs, unions and women, wouldn’t be necessary, they said, (although it certainly would be helpful). They argued further that from Israel’s perspective, helping the opposition made sense even if the opposition failed to overthrow the regime. After all, the more time the regime was forced to devote to fending off challenges from home, the less time it would have to wage its campaigns against Israel directly and through its terrorist proxies.

These calls were dismissed out of hand by the security establishment. Our intelligence services in particular insisted that Israel could trust Washington to deal with Iran. Moreover, they maintained, Israel didn’t have a real dog in the fight over who leads Iran. This despite the fact that Israel is surprisingly popular among Iran’s citizenry, over a million of whom regularly listened to Voice of Israel Farsi broadcasts.

Six years on, there is no doubt that regime opponents are weaker than they were on the eve of the Green Revolution. But even today in the wake of the nuclear deal, they are far from a spent force.

The regime continues to fear the Iranian people – which continues to hate it – more than it fears anything else. This is why the regime rejected some 90% of the candidates running in the national elections later this month. This is why the regime outlawed every direct and indirect reference to Valentine’s Day this week.

This is why politically driven arrests and executions have increased massively since the supposedly reformist president Hassan Rouhani came to power in 2013.

THE NEED FOR the IDF to open itself up to unorthodox views manifested itself in a seemingly unrelated incident this week.

On Sunday Channel 2 broadcast footage of IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Rafi Peretz dancing at a wedding with a rabbi identified with the far Right.

Following the report, the IDF Spokesman’s Office announced that Rabbi Peretz had been summoned to the office of OC Manpower Maj.-Gen. Hagai Topolanski for clarifications.

The IDF’s response is alarming for the message it sends the officer corps and through it, to the security community as a whole. That message is that it is unacceptable for officers to have any contacts – let along an intellectual exchanges – with people who stand beyond a narrow spectrum of views.

This is bad enough for the elitist social message it sends. But given the threat environment Israel faces, narrowly defining the boundaries of permitted social and intellectual contacts is dangerous.

Today Israel is facing complex, multifaceted security challenges that exist and grow in an equally complex, multifaceted diplomatic environment. To develop the means of dealing with the challenges, our security establishment needs to cultivate a permissive intellectual climate among our commanders that rewards free thinking and promotes free thinkers.

Perhaps that retired Mossad commander was just a blowhard. Perhaps he was giving an accurate accounting of the intellectual climate in the senior ranks of Israel’s national security establishment. In all likelihood, the truth lays somewhere in the middle.

But what is clear enough is that the time has come to air out the ranks of our national defense establishment.

Our senior commanders need to reassess their operational assumptions in order to develop plans going forward that are based on a broad spectrum of ideas.

Caroline Glick


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Can Egypt and Ethiopia Share the Nile? - Daniel Pipes

by Daniel Pipes

Egypt stands out as having the largest population at risk and being the country, other than Iraq and Yemen, with the most existential hydrologic problem.

Oil is the Middle East's glamo[u]r product, sought after by the entire world and bringing the region wealth beyond the dream of avarice. But water is the mundane resource that matters even more to locals for, without it, they face the horrible choice of leaving their homes or perishing within them.

That choice may sound hyperbolic, but the threat is real. Egypt stands out as having the largest population at risk and being the country, other than Iraq and Yemen, with the most existential hydrologic problem.

As every schoolchild learns, Egypt is the gift of the Nile and the Nile is by far the globe's longest river. Less well known is that most of the Nile's volume, 90 percent, comes from the highlands of Ethiopia and that the river passes through 11 countries. For uncounted eons, its water flowed to Egypt in uncounted quantities.

In 1929, the British government, representing Egypt, signed an agreement with the independent government of Ethiopia guaranteeing an annual flow of 55.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water to Egypt. Counting a minimum of 1,000 cubic meters per capita per annum (the average worldwide is 7,230 cubic meters), that amount more than sufficed for the 15 million Egyptians of the day.

The succeeding 87 years saw Egypt's population increase six times until today it numbers 90 million. Adding to the river's 55.5 bcm, Egypt gets about 5 bcm from non-renewable underground sources and 1.3 bcm from rain, leaving it with about 62 bcm a year, or one-third less than the country's minimal needs. In addition, Egyptians recycle about 10 bcm of agricultural runoff water, whose highly polluted nature (fertilizer and insecticide residues) eventually kill the land by salinizing it. Exacerbating this shortage, Egypt's high temperatures leads to higher rates of evapotranspiration, requiring more water for agriculture than in places with cooler climates.

This water shortfall translates into a need to import food and, at present, Egypt must borrow funds to import an alarming 32 percent of its sugar needs, 60 percent of yellow feed corn, 70 percent of wheat, 70 percent of beans, 97 percent of food oil, and 100 percent of lentils. The need to import will get worse with time; estimating Egypt's population at 135 million in 2050, it will need 135 bcm annually and, based on present assumptions, the water deficit will more than double to 75 bcm.

Making matters worse, Ethiopians recently woke up to the fact that vast quantities of water leave their territories without any benefit to themselves. Accordingly, they initiated a network of dams, culminating with the pompously named Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD), under construction, but almost completed, has caused much consternation in Egypt.

As presently planned, the lake behind this dam would hold 74.5 bcm, plus 5 bcm would be lost through seepage and 5 bcm lost to evaporation. Four auxiliary upstream dams to reduce silting will retain another 200 bcm. Noting that 86 percent of Egypt's water originates in Ethiopia, Egyptian specialists not unreasonably conclude that the allotted 55.5 bcm would not be forthcoming. Nader Noureddin, professor of soil and water sciences at Cairo University, sees the dams placing "the lives of 90 million Egyptians at risk." (Most statistics in this analysis derive from Noureddin's work.)

Ethiopians reply: Not to worry, all will be fine, the guaranteed allotment and more will reach Egypt. When Cairo protests nonetheless, Addis Ababa agrees to one study after another, even as it furiously builds the GERD, which is scheduled to begin operations in 2016, storing an initial 14 bcm.

The potential for disruption is enormous; in 2013, during the Mohamed Morsi era, Egyptian politicians inadvertently bruited in public their military plans about special forces, jet fighters, and rebel groups to deal with the GERD (shades of the opera Aïda). Morsi now sits in jail but such ideas offer insight into Egyptian desperation.

Pres. Morsi presides over a televised meeting in June 2013 in which Egyptian politicians discuss aggressive means to stop Ethiopia's dams.

At base, the Nile River confrontation lies in variant understandings of water possession. Downstream states like Egypt point to the immemorial nature of rivers flowing across borders. Upstream states like Ethiopia point to the water belonging to them in the same way that oil belongs to the Arabs. There is no right or wrong here; resolution requires creative compromise (for example, by lowering the height of GERD saddle dams), allowing the Ethiopians to benefit from their waters without Egyptians facing cataclysm.

Short term, statesmen are needed to prevent disaster. Long term, Egyptians need to learn how to manage water more resourcefully.

Daniel Pipes (, @DanielPipes) president of the Middle East Forum, depended on Nile water for three years while living in Cairo. © 2016 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.


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