Saturday, July 9, 2016

Iranians & Walid suicide units on Golan border - debkaFile

by debkaFile

Both ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front have overrun the entire Syrian strip bordering on Israel and Jordan - a distance of 106km from Daraa up to the Druze villages of Mount Hermon.


A flurry of false Hizballah claims amid rising military tension this week was designed to cover up a direct Israeli hit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards HQ in South Syria, debkafile military and intelligence sources disclose.

Whereas Hizballah reported on July 5 that Israeli helicopters had attacked Syrian army positions near the Golan town of Quneitra, in fact, one of the two Israeli "Tamuz" IDF rockets fired on July 4, in response to stray cross-border Syrian army mortar shells, struck the Syrian Ministry of Finance building near Quneitra, which housed Iranian Guards and Hizballah regional headquarters. An unknown number of Iranian officers were killed as a result.

On July 6, Hizballah sources reported a high level of tension at its east Lebanese outposts in Hasbaya, al-Qarqoub and Mount Hermon, indicating possible preparations to retaliate for the Iranian casualties.

The mortar shells that occasionally stray into Israel are aimed by the Syrian forces in Quneitra at Syrian rebel engineering units, which are digging an anti-tank trench on the town’s southern edge to prevent Syrian tanks from mounting an all-out assault against them (See attached map).

These skirmishes are put in the shade by the dangerous gains by Islamist terrorists in southern Syria.  

Both ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front have overrun the entire Syrian strip bordering on Israel and Jordan - a distance of 106km from Daraa up to the Druze villages of Mount Hermon.

The Islamists have seized control of this strategic borderland by taking advantage of the fighting between Syrian army and Syrian rebel forces in southern Syria.

Israel and Jordan were also remiss. The IDF and the Jordanian Army were so busy trying to prevent the Syrian army, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah from encroaching on their northern defense lines in northern Jordan and the Golan that they failed to notice the Islamic terrorists creeping up on their borders.

The terrorist presence which Israel finds most alarming is that of the “Khaled Bin Al-Walid Army” – a militia linked to both ISIS and al-Qaeda, which now controls a 36km band bordering on central and southern Golan from south Quneitra to the Jordan-Israel-Syria tri-border area - opposite Hamat Gader and Shaar HaGolan (See map).

The Khaled Bin Al-Walid Army was spawned by a union between the Islamist Liwa Shouada Yarmouk and Mouthana Islamic Movement militias. Its commander is Abu Abdullah al-Madani,  a Palestinian from Damascus, who is one of al-Qaeda's veteran fighters. Close to Osama Bin-Laden, he fought with hhimagainst the Americans when they invaded Afghanistan 15 years ago. Ten years ago, he moved to Iraq, still fighting Americans, now alongside the al-Qaeda commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

When al-Qaeda was defeated in Iraq, al-Madani moved to Syria.

debkafile counter terror sources report that this veteran of Islamist terrorism, who is believed to be in touch wit Bin Laden’s successor Ayman al Zawahri, is active in three areas:

1. He is purchasing and stockpiling chemical weapons - a high priced commodity frequently traded among various Syrian rebel organizations.

2. Abu Abdullah al-Madani is recruiting from his militia suicide units for which he is personally training for operations inside Israel. debkafile sources say that his plan is being taken very seriously by Israel security chiefs.

3. He is maintaining operational ties with Al Nusra commanders in the border region, possibly seeking access to the Israeli border through their turf for his chemical weapons and suicide units.



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Passivity in the Face of Big-Power Aggression - Gordon G. Chang

by Gordon G. Chang

The West has developed reasonable-sounding rationales for not acting in the face of what is clearly aggression by big powers. That inaction has bought peace, but the peace has never been more than temporary.

  • The West has developed reasonable-sounding rationales for not acting in the face of what is clearly aggression by big powers. That inaction has bought peace, but the peace has never been more than temporary.
  • Officials in Beijing and Moscow believe their countries should be bigger than they are today. Faced with little or no resistance, China and Russia are succeeding in redrawing their borders by force.
  • Should we be concerned by a nuclear-armed, hostile state falling apart? Of course, but we should be more worried by a hostile state launching nuclear attacks on the Baltics, as the Kremlin has repeatedly threatened to do.
  • The Chinese and Russians may be villains, but it is we, through inaction, who have permitted them to be villainous. The choice is no longer risk versus no risk. The choice is which awful risk to assume.
"So essentially there is a sense that, yes, there is a new more assertive, maybe even more aggressive Russia, but that fundamentally Russia is a state in decline. We have conversations in NATO headquarters about states in decline and arrive at two fundamental models: states in rapid decline which typically lead to chaos and breakdown, and states in gradual decline. Then we ask ourselves: Which of these two tracks would we rather have our nearest, most militarily capable neighbor, with thousands of nuclear weapons, move along? To many, trying to manage Russia's decline seems more attractive than a failed state of that size and magnitude right on the border of NATO. "
So says Douglas Lute, Washington's permanent representative to NATO. Speaking in April at the Aspen Security Forum Global in London, Lute explained why the West adopted clearly inadequate measures to stop Russia after its seizure of Crimea and portions of Donbass. As the thoughtful diplomat explains, "it may not make sense to push further now and maybe even—and maybe accelerate or destabilize that decline."

If we do not act because Russia is weak, then how do we explain the West's China policies? China, in the estimation of almost all policymakers and analysts, is not on the way down. On the contrary, they believe it is ascendant.

By now, they also know that Beijing is increasingly aggressive. China grabbed Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines four years ago. Since then, it has attempted to seize another South China Sea feature, Second Thomas Shoal, also from Manila, and the Senkaku Islands, in the East China Sea, from Japan. The Chinese military has, without justification, closed off portions of the international waters of, and airspace over, the South China Sea. Chinese authorities, virtually without consultation, declared an air-defense identification zone, which included the sovereign airspace of Japan, over the East China Sea. China's generals have repeatedly sent their troops deep into Indian-controlled territory at various spots in the Himalayas.

And our response? That has been to continue "engagement" of the Chinese regime, helping to strengthen its economy and institutions and integrate it into multilateral organizations. The concept is that, at some point, Beijing will enmesh itself into the international community and accept global norms. Most everyone believes that if China has a stake in the world, it will help defend the existing system.

In short, the West has developed reasonable-sounding rationales for not acting in the face of what is clearly aggression by big powers. That inaction has bought peace, but the peace has never been more than temporary. Eastern Europe and East Asia are in seemingly never-ending crises because officials in Beijing and Moscow believe their countries should be bigger than they are today.

Faced with little or no resistance, China and Russia are succeeding in redrawing their borders by force. It should be no surprise that success has only increased their ambitions, with each now wanting even more territory of their neighbors. The Kremlin is at this moment threatening Poland and the Baltics. Beijing is acting provocatively in an arc from India in the south to South Korea in the North.

By using forceful tactics, both the Dragon and the Bear are destabilizing the world. So we should not care whether an aggressor is weak or strong. It is the aggression that now matters.

What to do? America and its allies and friends must first stop China and Russia, then reverse the gains from their belligerent acts, and finally impose costs greater than the benefits they obtained.

This means, with Russia, forcing Moscow to return Crimea to Ukraine and evicting the Kremlin's forces from Donbass. In the first instance, the West will have to impose progressively stricter sanctions, perhaps even an embargo on all commercial and financial dealings.

Armored vehicles of a Russian-backed rebel force near Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine, May 30, 2015. (Image source: Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons)

Russia experts say that moves like these will only increase popular support for Vladimir Putin and that the Russian people can endure great hardship. Whether or not these propositions are correct, coercive measures will deprive the Russian military of the resources it needs to threaten neighbors.

At the moment, the country is particularly vulnerable. The economy, for instance, is already in dreadful condition. Last year, according to the Russian Federal Statistics Service, gross domestic product contracted 3.7%. This year, the outlook also looks negative, as both officials and analysts say.

Putin, under strict sanctions, will not be able to afford to keep his planes in the air or create the three new divisions now planned to be deployed on the border with the Baltic states and Poland. His ships will have to stay close to port.

Should we, like Ambassador Lute, be concerned by a nuclear-armed, hostile state falling apart? Of course, but we should be more worried by a hostile state launching nuclear attacks on the Baltics, as the Kremlin has repeatedly threatened to do. An invasion of Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania, however carried out, will trigger a wide war, due to their NATO membership.

As a matter of urgency, those threatened by Putin — his neighbors, Western Europe, and the United States — need to delegitimize him and the other hostile elements in Russia. Delegitimization begins and ends with his being forced to return seized territory.

With China, America and its partners need to take back control of Scarborough, in the northern reaches of the South China Sea. In the spring of 2012, Chinese and Philippine vessels sailed in close proximity around the shoal, just 124 nautical miles from the main Philippine island of Luzon and close to the strategic Manila and Subic Bays.

Washington brokered a pact between Beijing and Manila, whereby both agreed to withdraw their vessels. Only the Philippines complied, however, leaving Beijing's vessels in control of Scarborough.

The Obama administration, wanting to avoid a confrontation with the Chinese navy, did not enforce the agreement it had just finished sponsoring. American inaction made the problem even bigger, because Beijing then ramped up pressure on Second Thomas Shoal and the Senkakus. America, through doing nothing, just convinced the Chinese they had license to do whatever they wanted.

China's ever-expanding ambitions have consequences. In late March, the New York Times reported that General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was overhead at the Pentagon asking Admiral Harry Harris, the chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, what could be the most important question of the era: "Would you go to war over Scarborough Shoals?"

As Dunford's question suggests, our general policy approach, in place for decades, is not working now. We have essentially taught the Chinese that aggression pays, and when aggressors are allowed to keep their prizes, the international system, as sturdy as it is, can be taken down quickly.

Nothing will be as effective in restoring stability in East Asia as a Chinese retreat from Scarborough. The U.S. Navy, should employ Beijing's own "cabbage" strategy of surrounding an opponent and deny China's access to the strategic feature by bringing in far more firepower than China can muster — and staying as long as necessary. Moreover, Washington should threaten to close off the American market to a China increasingly needing to boost exports, now in a precipitous drop, down 7.3% in the first five months of this year.

Do we risk armed conflict when we force the Chinese to abandon the shoal or Putin to give back Crimea? Yes, but policymakers, employing policies that sounded good to the ear, have let situations drift for so long that there are no good options left. The choice is no longer risk versus no risk. The choice is which awful risk to assume.

The Chinese and Russians may be villains, but it is we, through inaction, who have permitted them to be villainous. We have, with the best of intentions, created an exceedingly dangerous world.
Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and a Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.  Follow Gordon G. Chang on Twitter


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Black Lives Matter Terrorists Murder Dallas Cops - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

Is the race war Barack Obama wanted breaking out in Dallas and across America?

The ambush-style mass shooting of cops in Dallas, Texas, last night makes it clear that it is time for the dangerous, anti-American insurgency called Black Lives Matter to be designated a terrorist organization for fomenting a war against the nation’s law enforcement officers.

As FrontPage went to press early Friday morning, five Dallas area police officers were dead, systematically slaughtered by snipers.

That makes it the deadliest attack on U.S. law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001.

The officers were killed during a demonstration in downtown Dallas against police brutality that leftists say is directed at black Americans as a matter of government policy. Similar marches and rallies took place in other cities, including New York, Oakland, Calif., and Denver, Colo. One suspect has been killed and three others remain in custody. Police have not yet released their identities. 

Of course, murdering police officers has long been encouraged by activists with the Black Lives Matter cult, with the support of the activist Left. A year ago Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who openly advocates the mass murder of whites, called for “10,000 fearless men” to “rise up and kill those who kill us.” Like many radicals, Farrakhan mischaracterizes Black Lives Matter as a rising civil rights movement.

President Barack Obama, who a decade ago promoted inter-racial warfare in Kenya, has long tried to provoke civil unrest here in the U.S. with his hateful anti-cop rhetoric and his relentless demonization of opponents. His goal is fundamental transformation of the United States. A Red diaper baby who identifies violence-espousing communist Frantz Fanon as an intellectual influence, he has also steadfastly refused to condemn the explicitly racist, violent Black Lives Matter movement. In fact Obama has lavished attention on the movement’s leaders and invited them to the White House over and over again.

Members of the Democratic National Committee expressly endorsed Black Lives Matter, throwing their lot in with black racists and radical Black Power militants. The DNC officially embraced a statement that slams the U.S. for allegedly systemic police violence against black people. A resolution passed by hundreds of delegates at the DNC meeting in Minneapolis last year accuses the nation’s police of "extrajudicial killings of unarmed African American men, women and children."

The Left persists in these lies because, well, that’s what these people do.

According to one analysis, of all the people shot and killed in the U.S. by police so far in 2016, only 24 percent, or 122, were black. Black people are only about 13 percent of the population but they commit around half of all violent crimes. So far this year 47 percent of people shot and killed by police, or 235 individuals, were white.

Only 3 percent, or 13 people shot and killed by police year to date were black and unarmed. The percentage for whites is exactly the same. In other words, police are shooting and killing unarmed blacks and whites at the same rate, Paul Joseph Watson observes.

“There’s no racial disparity,” he says. “Do we have a problem with police brutality in America? Yes, undoubtedly. Is it almost exclusively targeted towards black people as Black Lives Matter claims? No, but the polarizing way in which Black Lives Matter made it all about race has divided the nation and made half of the country completely disinterested.”

Watson addresses “black people,” telling them that “Black Lives Matter is hurting you. It’s doing incredible harm. Martin Luther King achieved justice and civil rights by championing equality and building bridges with white America.”

Black Lives Matter, on the other hand, demands racial segregation, keeps whites out of its meetings, and urges the killing of police, he adds.

Returning to the situation in Dallas, as of 11:45 p.m. Central time, 11 officers from the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system had reportedly been shot. DPD chief David Brown told reporters that two snipers opened fire from elevated positions in downtown Dallas. Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings (D) said the shooting began at 8:58 p.m. local time. Brown added that suspects may have also planted a bomb downtown.

Four of the murdered police officers worked for the DPD. The other deceased officer worked for DART.

The killing spree followed days of media-hyped adverse publicity for police forces in Louisiana and Minnesota.

In its intensifying assaults on American law enforcement the Left seized upon a police-involved death earlier in the week of a notoriously violent criminal in Louisiana who had reportedly menaced an innocent by-stander with a gun.

Recidivist felon Alton Sterling, a black offender well known to local law enforcement, was shot to death by police early Tuesday morning in Baton Rouge following a physical struggle with police in which Sterling may have reached for a weapon. Both officers “believe they were completely justified in using deadly force,” according to the local district attorney.

Although even with graphic video footage of the shooting it’s not entirely clear what happened as the two cops and Sterling struggled, the Left is moving full speed ahead portraying the deceased career criminal as a martyr slaughtered by the evil system that rules a hopelessly racist America.

The Left reveres thugs. It jumped on the bandwagon promoting the lie that Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., and Trayvon Martin of Sanford, Fla., were innocent angels unjustly cut down by white executioners. The truth, as we now know, is that both young black men were killed in self-defense by the white men they intended to harm.

It is telling that the Left is paying far less attention to a much more sympathetic figure killed by police this week in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul, Minn., because the story of his death doesn’t fit its predetermined anti-American narrative quite as well. It’s not merely about racial conflict potentially: it is also about the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Philando Castile, 32, a black man with no felony convictions who worked in a school cafeteria, was shot by police during a traffic stop. According to Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, who live-streamed video on Facebook of the stricken man in his final moments, Castile was trying to retrieve his wallet after informing an apparently Caucasian attending officer that he was in possession of a concealed weapon and a permit allowing him to carry it. Perhaps Castile made a move the officer considered threatening. Or maybe the cop was nervous and trigger-happy.

“He let the officer know that he had a firearm, and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm,” Reynolds said. In the video as the bloodied driver lay dying the policeman could be heard using expletives and screaming, “I told him not to reach for it.”

Reynolds replied, “You told him to get his ID, sir – his driver’s license.”

Because the Castile case appears to involve gun rights and perhaps other issues possibly unrelated to race, it is harder for left-wing activist groups to fundraise off of. This would explain why the Left is giving the case far less play than the marquee Sterling shooting. And to the extent that progressives have taken up Castile’s cause they are treating it solely as a racial incident. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said he was “appalled” by the shooting and that it would not have happened if Castile had been white.

But with Alton Sterling, it is as if his supporters hired teams of publicists to get the desired message out to the masses.

Ignoring Sterling’s two decades of criminal activity, Black Lives Matter quickly went to work inflaming racial antagonism while the man’s body was still warm. The movement characterized the incident as an extrajudicial execution by racist cops. It was aided in this public relations offensive by biased saturation coverage of the Sterling saga by the media.

The movement’s most important cheerleader, President Obama, gleefully stuck a shiv in police, crowing that recent fatal shootings of black suspects by police “are not isolated incidents.”

“They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.”

Predictably MoveOn and Color of Change –which was founded by self-described “rowdy black nationalist” Van Jones and MoveOn alumnus James Rucker— didn’t bother waiting for the facts to be known before using the incident to raise money. On Wednesday MoveOn sent out a mass email to members demanding that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch hold the police officers involved accountable.

In the email Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson paints Sterling as an upstanding citizen, describing him as “a 37-year-old Black father of five,” capitalizing the B in black as racists do. The police officers involved “have no respect for Black lives and must be held accountable,” he added.

Celebrities weighed in with vapid and condescending observations.

Singer BeyoncĂ© posted what a groveling USA Today called a “powerful letter” about police brutality. “We’re going to stand up as a community and fight against anyone who believes that murder or any violent action by those who are sworn to protect us should consistently go unpunished,” she wrote, presuming that Americans don’t care about murders committed by police.

Chris Long, who makes his living being hit in the head, chose to insert himself into the story. The defensive end for the New England Patriots was happy to convene a lynch mob on Twitter. He tweeted “If you think we need to ‘wait for the facts’ on the Alton Sterling execution after seeing the video, you are an accessory to evil.”

What is clear is that if the Left is serious about moving its race war forward, it is hanging its future on a pretty slim reed by hyping the Sterling killing.

This is not to suggest that Sterling, who had been living in a homeless shelter, deserved to die. Maybe in the end we’ll find out the cops who dealt with him were overzealous, reckless, malicious, or racist, or all of these things. Perhaps this was a suicide by cop. Time will tell.

Let’s go over what we know.

The Advocate in Baton Rouge reports that on July 5,
“Around 12:35 a.m., Baton Rouge police responded to the Triple S Food Mart at 2112 N. Foster Drive after an anonymous caller indicated that a man in a red shirt who was selling CDs outside the store pointed a gun at someone, telling them to leave the property, Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said.”
Apparently authentic cellphone videos from the scene soon went viral. They showed two police officers scrapping with Sterling beside a car in a parking lot. “Get on the ground! Get on the ground!” an officer is heard yelling in the early seconds of one clip. The sound of what may be a stun gun can be heard.

“He’s got a gun! Gun,” one cop says. “If you fucking move, I swear to God,” says an officer. It is unclear what Sterling, who reportedly had a gun on his person at the time, is doing with his arms at this point because the officers are on top of him. In audio that is garbled, one of the officers can be heard saying what seems to be “he’s going for the Taser!” Shots ring out at various points in the confrontation and Sterling is mortally wounded.

Some local sources were quoted in the media saying Sterling was a kind, peace-loving, respected member of the community. If that’s true, that doesn’t speak well of his community.

Sterling was a bad actor with a temper who had gotten physical with police before. The incorrigible reprobate’s rap sheet is long. (Heavy obtained 46 pages of court documents from his criminal file.)

Sterling was convicted of aggravated battery, criminal damage to property, unauthorized entry, and domestic abuse battery, among other offenses.

An affidavit of probable cause states Sterling was involved in 2009 in a wrestling match with a police officer. A cop tried to pat down the man and he resisted arrest. The two men ended up on rolling around on the ground and a “black semi auto gun fell from his waistband.” Another affidavit states a cop pulled Sterling over for speeding. He didn’t have proof of insurance and police allowed him to retrieve his belongings from his vehicle. He crossed the street, laid himself on the pavement in a prone position, yelled at the cops and told them to “go ahead and beat him down regardless of the outcome.” Other such affidavits accuse Sterling of home invasion, burglary, threatening with a gun, stealing pet goldfish, and possession of ecstasy and marijuana.

Sterling was also a registered sex offender, Heavy reports. At the age of 20 he impregnated a 14-year-old girl. In September 2000 he was convicted of “carnal knowledge of a juvenile” in Louisiana and released from prison in October 2004. In August 2015 a warrant was issued for Sterling’s arrest after he failed to update his sex offender registration.

In 2011 he was convicted of “knowingly and intentionally possessing a firearm while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance” and sentenced to five years imprisonment. A drug trafficking-related charge was thrown out apparently as part of a plea bargain.

Meanwhile, the Democrat machine in the Pelican State is doing everything it can to turn Baton Rouge into the new Ferguson, complete with race riots and wanton lawlessness.

Kip Holden (D), mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish, said Wednesday he was touched to receive a supportive phone call from the buffoonish Baltimore mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), who helped to exacerbate race riots in her city after the death of black career criminal Freddie Gray in police custody, because “they’ve been through the same thing.”

How reassuring.

The Left’s goal is to polarize and enrage and foment even more racial tension and violence to distract from presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s endless political problems, as well as to energize the party's base so they vote in droves in November. They may even blame unrest in Baton Rouge on congressional Republicans who refuse to fight back. Blaming Islamic terrorist Omar Mateen’s murderous rampage at a gay club in Orlando on Republicans and law-abiding gun owners worked, so why not.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) invited his friends in the Obama administration to turn this local investigation into a three-ring media circus. The U.S. Department of Justice announced it would open a civil rights investigation after Edwards demanded it. “I have very serious concerns,” he said. “The video is disturbing, to say the least.”

Getting the feds involved means the Obama administration is sure to deploy government-paid community organizers from DoJ’s Community Relations Service to rub raw the sores of discontent.

After Trayvon Martin’s death in early 2012, local police declined to press charges against the eventually acquitted George Zimmerman for a month and a half because they believed the criminal case against him was ridiculously weak. CRS burned through taxpayer cash organizing marches at which participants inflamed racial tensions and –voila!— Zimmerman was prosecuted in what would become a historic abuse of process.

Almost immediately after Michael Brown died in August 2014, CRS operatives arrived on the ground in Ferguson to interview and indoctrinate local members of the community. As Ryan Lovelace reported at NRO paraphrasing Mayor James Knowles III, “DOJ officials talked about underlying racism that people may not perceive, and the issue of white privilege.”

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore (D) seems not to understand that having the Obama-controlled Justice Department take over the Sterling investigation is a monumentally bad idea. Explaining why the local government refuses to investigate its own police, Moore said feebly at a press conference, “absolutely, we did not want another Ferguson. Baton Rouge is not Ferguson; we have a completely different history,” Moore said.

Good luck with that, counselor.

And just wait until the authority-hating terrorists of Black Lives Matter turn on you.

Matthew Vadum, senior vice president at the investigative think tank Capital Research Center, is an award-winning investigative reporter and author of the book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."


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Remembering Entebbe - Joseph Puder

by Joseph Puder

The heroic rescue operation that sent a clear message to Israel’s enemies.

40-years has elapsed since the fateful day of July 4th, 1976, when Israeli commandos rescued over a hundred Israeli hostages in one of the most daring operations in recent history.  On Monday, July 4th, 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on an East African official tour, visited the Entebbe Airport in Uganda for a special ceremony to commemorate the event in which his older brother Jonathan (Yoni), the commander of the rescue operation, lost his life.  PM Netanyahu, addressing his host, the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, said, “Right here, I am standing in the place where my brother, Yoni, was killed, when he led the commando soldiers to release the hostages.” Netanyahu added, “There are few like him in history, and Entebbe is always with me.  It is deep in my heart.” In making the contrast between then and now, PM Netanyahu said, “Forty years ago, Israeli commandos landed here in the dark of night to fight against a cruel dictator who worked with terrorists,” referring to Idi Amin, “But today we came in the daylight, and we were welcomed by a leader who works to fight terrorism.”

For many Israelis, the experience of a week in captivity brought a flashback to the dark days of the Holocaust.  An Air France flight 139 from Tel-Aviv to Paris, was high jacked during a stopover in Athens, then diverted to Entebbe (near the Ugandan capital of Kampala) by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the German Revolutionary Cells, a spin-off of the Baader-Meinhof gang, a German radical left-wing group.  Before reaching Entebbe, the hijacked plane landed in Libya, receiving the blessing of its dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, before heading further to Entebbe.

Once at the final destination, the terrorists released the non-Jewish passengers in a selection process conducted by the Germans, which was reminiscent of the Nazi selections during the Holocaust.  To the Holocaust survivors among the Jewish passengers, it revisited the trauma they had tried hard to forget.  For many Israelis without a Holocaust connection, it served to change their view of the Six Million Jewish martyrs who went to their death like supposed “sheep to the slaughter.” They recognized the reality that when a gun is pointed at your child’s head, it is hard to resist. 

This reporter asked Benny Davidson, a 13-old at the time who was a passenger on this fateful Air France flight, about the feelings he had.  He was with his family on what was supposed to be his Bar-Mitzvah gift, a tour of the U.S.  “We tried to keep a regular daily routine” Davidson (53), a native of Tel Aviv said. “When the terrorists collected our documents, my dad made the critical decision to destroy his since he was an officer in the Israeli air-force.” He added, “Luckily it was made of paper and not plastic like today.”  They stuck the shredded documents in a Coca- Cola can.  When questioned about the “Nazi like selection” Davidson replied, “As a 13-year-old, it was clear that they were calling names and looking for Israelis and Jews. But at 13, it didn’t bring up thoughts of the Holocaust.”

One of the Jewish passengers, Yitzhak David, an Auschwitz survivor, showed the number tattooed on his forearm by the Nazis, to Wilfried Bose, one of the German terrorists involved in the hijacking.  He said to the German, “I was mistaken when I told my children that there is a different Germany. When I see what you and your friends are doing to the women, children, and elderly, I see that nothing has changed in Germany.” The German terrorist replied “I am no Nazi…I am an idealist.” 

On the third day of the hijacking, the hijackers demanded that all Israelis, including those with dual citizenships to assemble in the transit hall of the Entebbe airport.  To his credit, Air France Captain Michel Bacos and his crew members joined the Israelis.  The rest of the passengers were transferred to another hall. They were later freed and flown to Paris.  It was the gathering of intelligence from the freed passengers, and the Israeli Sollel Boneh construction company, which built the Entebbe airport, that helped carry out the daring and successful rescue mission. 

The operation has had many names including Operation Thunderbolt, its official code name; Operation Yonatan, named after commanding officer Yoni Netanyahu, and Operation Entebbe, named for the location in which the operation took place.  A year following the rescue, a movie was made called The Raid on Entebbe.

To plan such a daring raid 2,500 miles away from Israel, traversing hostile territory should have taken months of preparation.  It actually took less than a week.  Faced with terrorist ultimatums and the threat of executing the Israeli and Jewish passengers, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres had difficult choices to make.  Brig. Gen. Dan Shomron (later Chief-of-Staff), the overall commander of the operation described, “You had more than a hundred people sitting in a small room, surrounded by terrorists with their fingers on the trigger. They could fire in a fraction of a second. We had to fly seven hours, land safely, drive to the terminal area where the hostages were being held, get inside, and eliminate all the terrorists before any of them could fire.”  It clearly seemed like a “mission impossible.”

In deciding to carry out the operation, it all hinged on the element of surprise. Lt. Col. Avi Mor, the lead pilot, explained the difficulties, “Keep in mind, it was the Sabbath, during which the IAF does not hold exercises or routine operations - making the rescue aircrafts more likely to stand out.  We had to fly slowly and in very low altitudes to remain unnoticeable.” Mor added, “It is enough for the terrorists to have any sort of suspicion, and not only would there have been no rescue mission, but there would have been a tragedy.”  Fortunately no one expected the IDF to take such an incredible risk of saving 103 hostages with 200 elite IDF soldiers.

Within six minutes, the IDF Sayeret Matkal forces killed the terrorists and rescued the hostages. It took the IDF soldiers 20 minutes to evacuate the hostages and load them into C-130 (Hercules) transport planes.  The entire operation lasted 58 minutes after the arrival of the rescuers.  Benny Davidson pointed out that he knew that the IDF would come to rescue them. 

The operation was not without costs.  The commander of the rescue team, Lt. Col. Yoni Netanyahu (30) was killed as he helped carry the passengers into the awaiting C-130 transports.  The First Israeli soldier who entered the room where the Israeli hostages stayed shouted “Get down,” we are Israelis, we have come to take you back home.  Unfortunately, hostages that remained standing were shot by the cross fire, among them Jean Jacques Mimouni (19), Pasco Cohen, and Ida Borochovitch. The next day, Dora Bloch was murdered in the Kampala hospital on Idi Amin’s orders.

The daring and glorious rescue mission called Operation Yonatan sent a clear message to Israel’s enemies.  The message was that the Jewish state will go to the end of the earth to rescue Jews and Israelis.  It was an antidote to the Holocaust, when no one came to the rescue of the doomed Jews.  The operation brought relief to Israelis from the trauma of the Yom Kippur War.  Entebbe has become an Israeli heroic story of pride and glory.

Joseph Puder


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The strength of Israel-US relations is not primarily affected by any sitting president - Yoram Ettinger

by Yoram Ettinger

Originally posted as "Shared values shape relations"

The assumption that U.S.-Israel relations are shaped from the top down and are determined by U.S. presidents and "elites" constitutes a slap in the face of U.S. democracy

Long-term trends in U.S.-Israel relations do not hinge solely, or even mostly, on U.S. presidents. This has been documented since Israel's establishment in 1948, and especially since the early 1980s, when, despite systematic presidential pressures on Israel, bilateral cooperation in the fields of industry, commerce, science, technology, agriculture, homeland security and defense has surged beyond expectations.

President Harry Truman pressured Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to end the "occupation" of western Jerusalem and parts of the Negev and Galilee; President Lyndon Johnson pressured Prime Minister Levi Eshkol to refrain from reuniting Jerusalem and building in "occupied areas"; President Richard Nixon pressured Prime Minister Golda Meir to end the "occupation" and refrain from building in east Jerusalem; President Jimmy Carter pressured Prime Minister Menachem Begin to focus on withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, rather than on peace with Egypt; President Ronald Reagan pressured Prime Minister Begin to rescind the application of Israeli law to the Golan Heights and end the pursuit of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon; President George Bush pressured Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to recognize the PLO and refrain from construction in Judea and Samaria. 

Despite the presidential pressures -- which included arms embargoes, suspensions of deliveries of advanced military systems, denials of loan guarantees, and brutal condemnations -- Israel's role as the United States' major non-NATO ally and it most effective and unconditional geostrategic ally has catapulted to unprecedented levels.

The assumption that U.S.-Israel relations are shaped from the top down and are determined by U.S. presidents and "elites" constitutes a slap in the face of U.S. democracy, which puts the voter in the center with the thundering battle cry that no elected official can afford to ignore: "We will remember in November!" 

According to the most recent annual Gallup poll of country favorability, despite the tensions between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ongoing criticism by the State Department and the "elite" U.S. media and academia, Israel ranks systematically among the most favorable countries to Americans, enjoying the support of 71% of the US constituency, compared with the Palestinian Authority's 19%.

In fact, U.S.-Israel relations have been shaped from 400-year-old foundations of history, tradition and values based on much older shared Judeo-Christian values. In the 17th century, the early Pilgrims arriving on the shores of what would become the United States saw themselves as landing in a "modern-day Promised Land" after weeks of sailing across the "Red Sea" (the Atlantic Ocean) in an effort to get away from "Egypt" (Britain). The Founding Fathers considered themselves "the people of the modern-day Covenant." In 2016, these values feature prominently in the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court and the centrality of Judeo-Christian values in the U.S. political, judicial and legal discourse.

Since Israel's establishment in 1948, U.S.-Israel relations have not hinged solely, or mostly, on the executive branch, but at least as much on the equal, codetermining legislature, often in defiance of the executive. The Constitution and Congress' own track record give Congress the power of the purse. Both houses have demonstrated their awesome muscle in critical junctions of recent U.S. history, including in the areas of foreign policy and national security, such as ending U.S. military involvement in Cambodia/Vietnam (1973), Angola (1976) and Nicaragua (1982-85); bringing down the white regime in South Africa (1986); castrating the U.S. intelligence community (1975) and forcing free emigration upon Moscow (1974). 

Congress, along with many state legislatures, has always been the most authentic reflection of the will of the people in the 435 districts and 50 states, authoritatively reflecting the long-held special affinity felt by Americans toward the Jewish state. Some congressmen from districts without a single synagogue are urged by their constituents: "Don't forsake the Jewish state."

Furthermore, the future of U.S.-Israel relations hinges less on the next president's policies toward the Palestinian issue, Jerusalem or settlements than it does on other issues: the president's own national security worldview; the increasingly anti-U.S., unpredictable, unstable, intolerant and violent international arena; the intensifying threats (especially Islamic terrorism) to national and homeland security in the U.S. and its Arab allies; Israel's military and commercial capabilities as "the largest U.S. aircraft carrier," despite not having a single U.S. soldier on board; and Israel as the battle-tested laboratory for U.S. military forces and defense industries in a region critical to U.S. security.

Irrespective of the outcome of this November's presidential election, 2017 will experience a sustained enhancement of the mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel cooperation in response to global threats and opportunities, consistent with the shared values of justice and liberty that bind the two countries.

Yoram Ettinger


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On the Unity of Terror - Bret Stephens

by Bret Stephens

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-Charles Bensoussan

Orlando, Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad—and a 13-year-old girl murdered in her sleep.

Islamic terrorism has had a banner few weeks, with 49 Americans gunned down in  Orlando, 45 travelers killed in Istanbul, 20 diners butchered in Dhaka, and more  than  200 Iraqis blown up in Baghdad.   

Oh, and some Israeli settlers were killed, too. But they’re not quite in the  same category,  right?  

 In November, after Islamic State’s massacres in Paris, John Kerry offered some  unscripted thoughts on how the atrocity differed from others. “There’s something  different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would  feel  that,” he said, referring to the January 2015 attack on the satirical French newspaper. He  continued:   

“There was a sort of particularized focus [to the Hebdo attack] and perhaps even  a  legitimacy in terms of—not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach  yourself to  somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This  Friday [in  Paris] was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong.  It was to terrorize people.”  

 Mr. Kerry’s remarks again betrayed the administration’s cluelessness about ISIS,  which  aims to annihilate anything it doesn’t consider . . . Islamic. Understanding its  takfiri  version of Islam, with its sweeping declarations of apostasy, is essential to  understanding how it thinks and operates.   

But no less telling was Mr. Kerry’s view that not all terrorism is fundamentally  alike;  that some acts of terror have a rationale “you could attach yourself to.” The  comment is  striking not for being unusual but for being ordinary, another formulation of  the  conventional wisdom that terrorism, like war, is politics by other means. From such a  view it’s a short step to treating some acts of terror as legitimate, or nearly  so.   

Which brings me to the case of Hallel Yaffe Ariel, a 13-year-old Israeli girl who on  Thursday was stabbed to death in her sleep by a 19-year-old intruder named Mohammad  Tra’ayra. It’s difficult to imagine any act as evil or as cowardly as murdering a child in  her sleep. But Hallel lived with her family in the West Bank Israeli town of Kiryat Arba,  making her a settler, while Tra’ayra, who was shot dead on the scene, came from a  nearby Palestinian village.   

What happened to Hallel has happened to countless settlers: five members of the Fogel  family, butchered in their beds in 2011; the three teenage boys who were kidnapped and  murdered by Hamas in 2014; the rabbi who was shot and killed on Friday on a West Bank  road while driving with his wife and two children. Yet their deaths are supposed to be  different from those of other terrorism victims, since they were all “occupiers” whose  political crimes rendered them complicit in their own tragedy. That’s how much  of  global public opinion has long treated terrorism when the target is Israel. It  has a  rationale. It’s understandable, if not justifiable. It’s Israel’s problem, Israel’s fault, and  has no bearing on the rest of us.   

For  many  years,  the  Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan made common cause with Hamas. Israeli  officials have accused Turkey of hosting a Hamas command center—a key point of  contention in Jerusalem’s efforts to reconcile with Ankara—and Mr. Erdogan has  repeatedly met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, including just days before last  month’s airport attack.   

The Turkish people deserve full sympathy for that atrocity. But no sympathy is owed a  Turkish potentate who has been sympathetic to terrorists as long as they aimed their  fire at Israel or other convenient targets. All the more so since until recently Mr.  Erdogan’s attitude toward Islamic State matched ambivalence with indifference, to put  it diplomatically.  

 What’s true of Turkey goes for other recent victims of terrorism. Pakistan has long  played a double game with terrorists, supporting groups that hit civilian targets in  Afghanistan and India, only to be shocked when the same groups, or their cousins,  turned against the mother country.   

Saudi Arabia’s former interior minister, the late Prince Nayef, was for years  the head of  the Saudi Committee for Supporting the Al Aqsa Intifada, in which capacity he  distributed millions to “the families of martyrs.” As late as November 2002, he blamed  9/11 on a Zionist plot, only to be disabused of the view once al Qaeda began attacking  Saudi Arabia directly.   

Or take Bangladesh. In April, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addressed the murder  of a  secularist blogger named Nazimuddin Samad—part of an assassination campaign in  which some 30 secularists have been killed in the past three years—by asking,  “If  someone writes filthy things about my religion, why should we tolerate it?” Now  her  government seems astonished to learn that ISIS has Bangladesh in its sights.  

 It’s depressing to think that the only way the world might understand the truth about  terrorism is to have some experience of it. Still, it’s worth stressing that terrorism is not  the continuation of politics but the negation of it, and that the murder of a 13-year-old  “settler” has no more a rationale than what ISIS did in Orlando, Istanbul and Dhaka.  Terrorism can be defeated, but only once that lesson is learned.   


Bret Stephens

Source: Wall Street Journal

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