Saturday, October 1, 2016

Separation is not the Answer - Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

-- the forced, binary separation between Israel and a state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza would be a technical rather than an ‘architectural’ solution. It is entirely artificial.


BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 368

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Contrary to the accepted wisdom regarding the effectiveness of barriers, there is no substitute for troops on the ground and for civilian settlements that anchor a dominant presence. Israel needs a flexible, dynamic form of security in full friction with the resident populations. An Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would therefore be ill-advised, and a Palestinian state would in any case inherently undermine Israel’s security. The best hope for both parties is coexistence within the same geographical space.

This is an edited version of an article that appeared in the Autumn 2016 issue of Fathom.

Providing security for a nation involves two aspects or questions. One aspect is the practical matter of how best to defend a country’s existence. This has primarily technical components, such as the location or height of a barrier, and is a matter for experts.

But this is preceded by a core question that is intended for philosophers, prophets and leaders, and is based on values and worldview. That is the question of what a country is defending. In other words, what is its essence? What is its reason for existence?

Nations should be constantly trying to maintain equilibrium between these two sets of considerations.

The ‘values’ question as it relates to Israel’s defense – the question of the purpose of a nation’s existence – was on display in April 1948. The situation for the yishuv, the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine, was dire. The Negev as well as communities in the north were under siege, while convoys were unable to reach Jerusalem and Gush Etzion. Faced with these threats, David Ben-Gurion decided to focus the main operational effort of his forces on Jerusalem.

This decision was influenced not by the technical recommendations of his military experts, but by Ben-Gurion’s worldview as a Jew regarding the city’s centrality. It hearkened back to the Jewish oath reflected in Psalms never to forget Jerusalem.

A leader should not, of course, ignore what the experts say, but ultimately his thinking must be influenced by the nation’s values. There is no simple equation for how to achieve this balance.

One cannot discuss the defense of Israel without first touching on what it is being defended for. We Israelis are not here simply to live securely, soothed by promises that America will always protect us. If all I want is security for Israel, I might as well bring the entire population to Tel Aviv and build a huge fortress.

For that matter, we could just move to Palo Alto, which has a better quality of life and greater opportunities. A US general once told me that “at the end of the day, everyone wants the same things – restaurants that are open until midnight and kids who can get safely to school.” He deeply misunderstood me, because I can get all of that in New Jersey.

Jews in Israel may have swapped the threat of pogroms in Kishniev for the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons. But when discussing security, it is important to emphasize that there is something beyond safety, something that lies in the realm of values and vision.

I believe the essence of Zionism is to live in the Land of Israel, the land of our forefathers. We did not come here only for a Jewish majority or even for mere sovereignty, but simply to live in this land.

Boots on the Ground and the Problem with Fences

Some say that Israel’s West Bank security barrier prevents terror attacks on population centers. But when the Palestinians are on the other side of a fence, an even worse security situation is created.

A fence is a closed system. Protecting it requires routine patrols and cameras. Every mechanical system has points that can be bypassed. (In fact, a reason for the delay in building the security barrier in the south Hebron hills was that parts of it were stolen). An enemy that understands a defensive fence can get around it.

I prefer a more open, flexible, dynamic form of security activity. Such a system facilitates creativity and surprise, making it impossible for the enemy to predict the movements of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This involves constantly changing one’s pattern of activity, or altering the locations of checkpoints (and on some days, not having any at all). It encourages the IDF to take the initiative and prevents it from becoming too passive.

Many Israelis believe that if we erect a fence, our problem with the Palestinians will suddenly vanish. But the problem on the other side of a fence often gets worse. Take Gaza, for example. Since the evacuation in 2005, Israel has been without any effective intelligence presence operating in Gaza. Rather than protecting Israel, the fence that contains Gaza actually restricts Israeli operations.

The withdrawal of an Israeli presence from Gaza and reliance on the barrier shows that the moment Israel builds a fence and ceases to operate on the other side, it allows the Palestinians to create a well-structured military force. Such a force, which now includes Hamas battalions, brigades, and command and control headquarters, can only be destroyed by war.

By contrast, if Israel receives information about, say, a bomb laboratory in the West Bank, it can simply enter the territory with two jeeps and arrest the suspected operatives without starting a full-blown conflagration.

Israel’s presence on the ground in the West Bank also makes it harder for Hamas to organize there. A Hamas activist based in Hebron is rarely in touch with his commander because the group has been forced to create heavily compartmentalized units in which members and operations are only revealed on a need-to-know basis. The moment Hamas begins to plan an attack in the West Bank, the IDF can act to prevent it. In Gaza, Hamas is far more organized. It has a headquarters from which it can plan, train for and carry out attacks against Israel.

The current reality in the West Bank lies somewhere between war and peace. It is not stable, but it is not radically unstable, either. It closely resembles the form of life experienced by most residents of the Middle East.

The low-level daily friction that pertains from the current situation in the West Bank is better for Israel than either of two alternative scenarios. The first alternative is a situation of temporary periods of quiet followed by serious war that causes significant damage to both sides (as occurred in Gaza in Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014).

The second scenario is withdrawal from the West Bank, which would inevitably be followed by Israel’s having to recapture the territory during an emergency. (Note that even Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza failed to provide the country with international legitimacy for defending itself against subsequent rocket attacks.)

There is now a closed fence around Gaza, and everything has become binary. The entire area by the border is now built up. The fence around the Strip means that everything near the border is well-fortified, making it harder for the IDF to attack. Hamas knows exactly where the IDF will enter from. Security as a dynamic movement has been completely lost. Instead, the IDF is required to rely on air power.

This situation – which does not apply in the West Bank because Israel still controls it – is the big disadvantage of the separation approach; what some on the Israeli political left call the ‘we’re here, they’re there’ approach.

In 2006, I worked alongside an American general to determine how an army can maintain surveillance without a physical presence. The Americans initially believed that intelligence and operational superiority, coupled with Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs) that can strike from afar, would be enough to create dominance without the need to put “boots on the ground.” But the opposition was quick to adapt and went underground.

This happened to Israel during Operation Protective Edge. Hamas’s leaders in Gaza disappeared, neutralizing Israel’s superiority. Nowadays, most of Hamas’s rockets in Gaza are stored underground, and Israel finds it difficult to defend itself against rockets launched from Gaza towards Ben-Gurion International Airport and Tel Aviv.

Securing the Jordan River

One of the big challenges emanating from Gaza is weapons smuggling. Even the Egyptians, who are in the midst of a battle with IS in Sinai, have been unable to stamp out this phenomenon. One rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) entering the West Bank would require changing the IDF’s entire modus operandi. Israel would no longer be able to enter refugee camps in trucks and would be forced to rethink how it buses children to school.

The only way to prevent smuggling into the West Bank is to control the Jordan Valley and implement inspections. This has to be done by Israel; we do not want Americans dying in order to protect us. Yet in order to securely hold the Jordan Valley, the IDF also needs to maintain a presence further to its west, on the mountain ridge along the eastern watershed of the Samarian and Judean mountains. This area includes the Jewish settlements east of Nablus, such as Elon Moreh and Itamar, as well as the Alon Road.

Holding the Jordan Valley without simultaneously controlling the mountain ridge would render the IDF incapable of properly defending itself. Nor would it provide even minimal strategic depth.

Before the Gaza disengagement, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon debated whether to maintain a residual IDF presence along the Philadelphi Corridor (the strip of land between Gaza and Rafah in Egypt) in order to prevent smuggling. He ultimately decided against this because, just as in the Jordan Valley, the corridor was too narrow to provide sufficient protection to the soldiers who would have been stationed there.

The Changing Face of War and the Necessary Role of Settlements

In his book The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World, British General Rupert Smith describes a new paradigm of conflict that he calls “war amongst the people.” Smith argues that rather than being defined by clashes between uniformed armies on a battlefield, the defining character of warfare today is that it is increasingly fought between parties who are among the civilian population.

Traditional experts disagree with me that warfare has changed significantly. But this is like the difference between theater in the time of Sophocles and 21st century cinema. One can argue that they are both ‘theater,’ but the two are completely different, with all manner of new tricks that can now be brought to the stage.

Rather than the more static classic separation between defensive and offensive operations as described in the works of Clausewitz, a better model through which to deal with this new type of warfare is the hybrid dynamic movement model.

This so-called post-modern warfare is reflected in separatist fighting in Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine, as well as in other areas of the Caucasus where civilians are on the front lines. Comparable aspects to this type of ‘in and among the civilian population’ can be seen in Judea and Samaria.

The IDF only has 10,000 troops in the West Bank, but the mass presence needed for security is in fact provided by Israeli civilians. Without them, Israel would be unable to ensure its security. In fact, before the disengagement from Gaza, the Israeli settlements – in the north, center and south – contributed to Israeli security by allowing Israel to better defend itself from attacks originating from Gaza.

The fulfillment of the Palestinians’ national aspirations clashes with Israel’s security because a sovereign Palestinian state would endanger Israel. Even if a Palestinian government tried to maintain a peace agreement, there would be rejectionist groups that tried to undermine it. One mortar hidden in a car and launched towards Ben-Gurion airport would be a disaster, and this scenario is a real possibility even if a Palestinian government tries to prevent it.

Moreover, in today’s world, anyone can build homemade weapons with dual-use civilian materials such as iron pipes and chemicals, using instructions found on the internet. Even a cell phone can be used for this purpose, as the Americans learned in Iraq through the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against them.

Separation is not the Answer

The main idea behind the two-state solution is the creation of a binary order in which two separate areas exist with no interaction between them. When Haim Ramon and Ehud Barak advocate the ‘we’re here, they’re there’ concept, they are trying to convince the public to accept the Oslo Accords even without the rosy vision originally promised of a new Middle East. Instead, they advocate separation on the grounds that Israelis won’t have to see Arabs anymore.

But the forced, binary separation between Israel and a state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza would be a technical rather than an ‘architectural’ solution. It is entirely artificial.

A good example of an architectural rather than a technical security solution occurred immediately after 1948. Following the armistice agreements between Israel and Jordan, the old railway track to Jerusalem (which is on the Israeli side of the Green Line) touched the Palestinian village of Battir on the Jordanian side. This raised a security challenge.

A purely technical approach to the problem – the sort of approach Israel would likely take now – would have been to build a huge fence. Instead, Moshe Dayan came to an understanding with the villagers under which they were granted permission to have direct access to their farmland (on the Israel side) in return for ensuring the security of part of the train line.

Such complex human systems are all about balance. Total solutions only appear in mechanical systems.

I believe Israelis have no choice but to live with Arabs. I also believe that a hybrid phenomenon, what I call ‘emerging equilibrium,’ is developing between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. This equilibrium reflects a new order and offers much hope.

An example can be found in Nazareth, in northern Israel. Two national entities share the same geographical space but are arranged in such a way that each has places that reflect their own state or people. Jews and Arabs in Nazareth coexist and work together, but their ways of life – their shops and food and so on – are organized differently.

If we allow greater numbers of Palestinians to enter Israel to work, and try to facilitate daily interactions that create life connections between people, this type of model can ultimately emerge within the entire Land of Israel.


Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen is a senior research associate the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battle on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts. He was a Corps commander, and commander of the IDF Military Colleges.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family


Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen is a senior research associate the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battle on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts. He was a Corps commander, and commander of the IDF Military Colleges.


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Congress Must Act to Prevent Unilateral Move to Create Palestinian State - Clifford Smith

by Clifford Smith

A White House decision to support unilateral Palestinian statehood would unquestionably be contrary to the will of Congress

President Obama is rumored to be considering a major reversal of decades-long U.S. policy toward Israel by supporting a UN Security Council resolution that unilaterally recognizes a Palestinian state before a peace agreement is negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. Congress must act to counter this bold and reckless move that endangers Israel's security and America's strategic interests.

There is much at stake: Israel is a free and democratic ally in a hostile region that has been repeatedly attacked by its neighbors. Before it occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and Golan Heights in 1967, these territories were used as a base of war and terrorism against the Jewish state. Offers to create a Palestinian state in Gaza and most of the West Bank that would allow for a safe and secure Israel have been repaid by intifada after intifada.

Others have argued persuasively that any Palestinian state established in the absence of a peace agreement with Israel will become a virtually ungovernable hotbed of terrorism sure to threaten not just Israel, but also the region and the world. The events in Gaza in the past decade strongly support this position. Ordinary Palestinians will also suffer, forced to endure rule by the same Islamic fanatics and brutal, corrupt autocrats who have destroyed their economy.

Any Palestinian state established absent a peace agreement with Israel will be a hotbed of terrorism.
A White House decision to support unilateral Palestinian statehood would unquestionably be contrary to the will of Congress: 88 senators recently signed a letter opposing such an action, while 388 members of the House have signed a similar letter supporting a veto of all "one-sided" UN resolutions concerning the Israel/Palestine issue.

And these numbers understate congressional opposition: several senators refused to sign the letter because they thought it was insufficiently strong. Furthermore, a White House reversal on unilateral Palestinian statehood would also be contrary to the stated policies of both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.

To dissuade a determined White House from this course of action, Congress will have to do more than write letters. Here are some of the legislative options that could throw significant roadblocks in its path.

Congress should make clear it will sanction a unilaterally declared Palestinian state.
First, Congress should make clear its intention to sanction any unilaterally-declared Palestinian state and its new leaders, blocking their access to U.S. banking and markets, similar to sanctions on the Iranian regime. Loss of access to the U.S. financial system would be extremely costly to any Palestinian regime.

Second, Congress should make clear its intention to immediately and completely cut hundreds of millions of dollars in annual U.S. direct aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the event that President Mahmoud Abbas succeeds in his bid to win Palestinian statehood recognition at the UN.

Congress reduced this aid by 22 percent last year in retaliation for the PA's continuing terrorism incitement. It would be a significant blow to a new state to cut all such aid.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas meets with relatives of Palestinian "martyrs" against Israel in a photo published by the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 2, 2016.
Third, Congress should mandate that any newly-created Palestinian state be designated a state sponsor of terrorism. This designation would include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; and various other restrictions. The Palestinian Authority (PA) currently uses a shell-game to pay the families of terrorists, something Congress is currently working to stop. Other PA ties to various terrorist activities go back decades.

Finally, Congress should review and update decades-old federal laws prohibiting U.S. funding of any UN organization that "accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states" to ensure that they apply and cannot be skirted if Abbas wins Security Council recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Now would be a good time for Congress to stop shirking its duty to shape foreign policy.
Congress should use its power boldly to exert influence over this vital issue. Large majorities in Congress opposed the Iran nuclear deal and had both the facts and public opinion on their side. But due to the peculiarities of the law and the politics of the situation, they were outmaneuvered. Congress should work to ensure this situation is not repeated.

Though knowledgeable and trusted congressional leaders like Senators Arthur Vandenberg and Henry "Scoop" Jackson once led coalitions in Congress that held great influence in foreign affairs, there is a bipartisan belief that Congress has shirked its duty to shape foreign policy in recent decades. Now would be a good time to start taking it back.

Clifford Smith is director of the Middle East Forum's Washington Project.


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UN Demands US Pay Reparations - Joseph Klein

by Joseph Klein

"Human rights" panel accuses American police of being modern-day lynchers.

Just when you thought the United Nations could not sink any lower, a UN panel has issued a report recommending that the United States pay “reparations” to African-Americans for its “legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality.”  The report accuses the United States of maintaining “institutional and structural racial discrimination and racism against people of African descent.” 

The panel that issued this claptrap is the self-styled Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, which reported on the visit of three of its members to the United States from January 19-29 2016. The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent reports to the UN’s dysfunctional Human Rights Council, which the Obama administration decided to join and American taxpayers are thus helping to pay for. 

The Working Group members met with representatives from various federal agencies, including the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency. They also met with officials of the White House working on African-American issues, staff of the congressional black caucus, a member of the United States Senate and various state and local government officials. Finally, they met with hundreds of unidentified “African Americans from communities with a large population of people of African descent living in the suburbs, as well as with lawyers, academics and representatives of non-governmental organizations.”

The Working Group’s report channeled the language of the Black Lives Matter movement. In fact, the report’s authors went out of their way to praise Black Lives Matter. 

The report charged that currently in the United States “a systemic ideology of racism ensuring the domination of one group over another continues to impact negatively on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today.”  The fact that the country twice elected an African-American as president and that two African-Americans have served as the U.S. Attorney General during the last seven plus years seems to have eluded the report’s authors.

While acknowledging some progress since the long gone Jim Crow era, the Working Group chose to focus in its report on what it characterized as “alarming levels of police brutality and excessive use of lethal force by law enforcement officials, committed with impunity against people of African descent in the United States.” 

The report’s authors shamelessly concluded that today’s “police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching.” 

Never mind that thousands of innocent blacks have been murdered by black criminals, not by the police who are trying to protect innocent lives in high crime neighborhoods. 

Never mind that in many instances of police shootings resulting in the deaths of African-Americans, independent investigations have concluded that the police were dealing with armed perpetrators whom the police had reason to believe posed an imminent lethal threat. 

Never mind that in some cases of police shootings resulting in the deaths of African-Americans, the police officer involved in the shooting was also African-American. And never mind that a recent study by a Harvard economist concluded : “On the most extreme use of force – officer involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account.”

Contrary to the Working Group’s irresponsible accusations, there is no pattern of wide-spread racism motivating white police across the country to systematically use lethal force against African-Americans. Moreover, unless the Working Group defines “impunity” as the same thing as “due process,” there is no impunity in the United States today for police who have committed an unjustifiable killing, particularly with the U.S. Justice Department ready to swoop in if local officials do not act swiftly enough.

The Working Group’s report also complained about a wide range of other matters that are entirely within the domestic jurisdiction of federal, state and local authorities to address, without interference by outside UN investigators. Indeed, the report sought outlandishly to delegitimize America’s constitutional system of federalism itself as imposing an undue burden on African-Americans: “The complex organizational structure of the legal system, with the independence of federal, state and county jurisdictions, and the lack of direct applicability of international human rights law and policies, creates gaps that impact deeply on the human rights of African Americans.” 

The report charged that schools’ curricula do not sufficiently cover “the historical facts concerning the period of colonization, the transatlantic trade in Africans, and enslavement, which have been crucial to the organization of contemporary American society.”  If America’s schools taught the curriculum according to the UN Working Group’s wishes, America’s children would be indoctrinated in warmed over radical left anti-imperialism ideology. Moreover, the kids would be able to run wild if the UN Working Group’s recommendation were implemented to prohibit disciplinary methods such as “use of restraint and seclusion” in favor of “Positive Behavioural Interventions” – whatever that means.

For all America’s past “injustices and crimes” against African-Americans, the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent demands “reparatory justice.” In addition to asking for a “formal apology,” the Working Group says that the reparations it has in mind should include “an African knowledge programme, psychological rehabilitation, technology transfer, financial support, and debt cancellation.” 

The Working Group also wants the United States, in all branches and at the federal and state levels of government, to “take steps to give effect to the decisions, resolutions, views, observations and recommendations of United Nations human rights bodies such as the Human Rights Council, the treaty bodies and special procedures, and of regional human rights bodies.” In other words, the decisions and opinions of unelected, unaccountable UN bodies, made up in part of representatives from dictatorial countries, should take precedence over the decisions and actions resulting from the operation of America’s constitutional system of self-government.

Our Founding Fathers declared independence so Americans would no longer be subjected "to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution.”

The United Nations Charter itself declares: “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.”

The United Nations and its dysfunctional Human Rights Council, which counts some of the world’s worst human rights abusers as its members, should butt out of the domestic affairs of the oldest continuously functioning constitutional democracy in the world. 

Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam.


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The New Middle East - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

Fantasy gives way to reality as nefarious forces rise.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

A new Syria is emerging. And with it, a new Middle East and world are presenting themselves. Our new world is not a peaceful or stable one. It is a harsh place.

The new Syria is being born in the rubble of Aleppo.

The eastern side of the city, which has been under the control of US-supported rebel groups since 2012, is being bombed into the Stone Age by Russian and Syrian aircraft.

All avenues of escape have been blocked. A UN aid convoy was bombed in violation of a fantasy cease-fire.

Medical facilities and personnel are being targeted by Russia and Syrian missiles and barrel bombs to make survival impossible.

It is hard to assess how long the siege of eastern Aleppo by Russia, its Iranian and Hezbollah partners and its Syrian regime puppet will last. But what is an all but foregone conclusion now is that eastern Aleppo will fall. And with its fall, the Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah-Assad axis will consolidate its control over all of western Syria.

For four years, the Iranians, Hezbollah and Bashar Assad played a cat and mouse game with the rebel militias.

Fighting a guerrilla war with the help of the Sunni population, the anti-regime militias were able to fight from and hide from within the civilian population. Consequently, they were all but impossible to defeat.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to join the fight, he and his generals soon recognized that this manner of fighting ensured perpetual war. So they changed tactics. The new strategy involves speeding up the depopulation and ethnic cleansing of rebel-held areas. The massive refugee flows from Syria over the past year are a testament to the success of the barbaric war plan. The idea is to defeat the rebel forces by to destroying the sheltering civilian populations.

Since the Syrian war began some five years ago, half of the pre-war population of 23 million has been displaced.

Sunnis, who before the war comprised 75% of the population, are being targeted for death and exile. More than 4 million predominantly Sunni Syrians are living in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. More than a million have entered Europe. Millions more have been internally displaced. Assad has made clear that they will never be coming home.

At the same time, the regime and its Iranian and Hezbollah masters have been importing Shi’ites from Iran, Iraq and beyond. The process actually began before the war started. In the lead-up to the war some half million Shi’ites reportedly relocated to Syria from surrounding countries.

This means that at least as far as western Syria is concerned, once Aleppo is destroyed, and the 250,000 civilians trapped in the eastern part of what was once Syria’s commercial capital are forced from their homes and property, the Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah and their Syrian fig leaf Assad will enjoy relative peace in their areas of control.

By adopting a strategy of total war, Putin has ensured that far from becoming the quagmire that President Barack Obama warned him Syria would become, the war in Syria has instead become a means to transform Russia into the dominant superpower in the Mediterranean, at the US’s expense.

In exchange for saving Assad’s neck and enabling Iran and Hezbollah to control Syria, Russia has received the capacity to successfully challenge US power. Last month Putin brought an agreement with Assad before the Duma for ratification. The agreement permits – indeed invites – Russia to set up a permanent air base in Khmeimim, outside the civilian airport in Latakia.

Russian politicians, media and security experts have boasted that the base will be able to check the power of the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet and challenge NATO’s southern flank in the Mediterranean basin for the first time. The Russians have also decided to turn their naval station at Tartus into something approaching a fullscale naval base.

With Russia’s recent rapprochement with Turkish President Recip Erdogan, NATO’s future ability to check Russian power through the Incirlik air base is in question.

Even Israel’s ability to permit the US access to its air bases is no longer assured. Russia has deployed air assets to Syria that have canceled Israel’s regional air superiority.

Under these circumstances, in a hypothetical Russian-US confrontation, Israel may be unwilling to risk Russian retaliation for a decision to permit the US to use its air bases against Russia.

America’s loss of control over the eastern Mediterranean is a self-induced disaster.

For four years, as Putin stood on the sidelines and hedged his bets, Obama did nothing. As Iran and Hezbollah devoted massive financial and military assets to maintaining their puppet Assad in power, the Obama administration squandered chance after chance to bring down the regime and stem Iran’s regional imperial advance.

For his refusal to take action when such action could have easily been taken, Obama shares the responsibility for what Syria has become. This state of affairs is all the more infuriating because the hard truth is that it wouldn’t have been hard for the US to defeat the Iranian- Hezbollah axis. The fact that even without US help the anti-regime forces managed to hold on for four years shows how weak the challenge posed by Iran and Hezbollah actually was.

Russia only went into Syria when Putin was absolutely convinced that Obama would do nothing to stop him from dislodging America as the premier global power in the region.

As Michael Ledeen recalled earlier this week, Obama chose to stand on the sidelines in Syria because he wanted to make friends with Iran. Obama began his secret courtship of the mullahs even before he officially took office eight years ago.

After the war broke out in Syria, midway through his first term and in the following years, the Russians and the Iranians told the obsessed American president that if he took action against Assad, as strategic rationality dictated, he would get no nuclear deal, and no rapprochement with Tehran.

So Obama let Syria burn. He let Iran and Hezbollah transform the country into their colony. And he let Putin transform the Mediterranean into a Russian lake. Obama enabled the ethnic cleansing of Syria’s Sunni majority, and in turn facilitated the refugee crisis that is changing the face not only of the Middle East but of Europe as well.

And as it turns out, the deal with Iran that Obama willingly sacrificed US control of the Mediterranean to achieve has not ushered in a new era of regional moderation and stability through appeasement as Obama foresaw. It has weakened US credibility with its spurned Sunni allies. It has undermined the strategic position of Israel, the US’s only stable and reliable regional ally. It has financially and strategically fueled Iran’s hegemonic rise throughout the region. And it has facilitated Iran’s development of a nuclear arsenal.

Far from causing the Iranian to become more moderate, the nuclear deal has radicalized the regime still further.

On Wednesday Ray Takeyh wrote in The Washington Post that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is now grooming Ibrahim Raisi, a fanatic who makes Khamenei look moderate, to succeed him in power.

On Monday night, for the first time, Israel Air Force jets flying over Syria were shot at by Syrian anti-aircraft ordnance.

Air force sources told the media that the aircraft were never in danger and the munitions were only shot off after the aircraft had returned to Israel and were in the process off landing.

The fact that no one was hurt is of course reassuring.

But the fact that Russia targeted the planes makes clear that Putin has decided to send Israel a very clear and menacing message.

He is now the protector of the Iranian-Hezbollah colony on our northern border. If Israel decides to preemptively attack targets belong to that colony, Russia will not stand by and watch. And with the US no longer well-positioned to challenge Russian power in the region, Israel will have to deal with Russia on its own.

To face this challenge, Israel needs to look beyond its traditional reliance on air power.

There are two parts of the challenge. The first part is Iran.

As far as Israel is concerned, the problem with the Russian- Iranian takeover of Syria is not Putin.

Putin is not inherently hostile to Israel, as his Soviet predecessors were. He is an opportunist. Obama gave him the opportunity to partner with Iran in asserting Russian dominance in the Middle East and he took it. Israel is threatened by the alliance because it is threatened by Iran, not by Putin. To neutralize the alliance’s threat to its own security, Israel then needs to degrade Iran’s power, and it needs to emphasize its own.

To accomplish these goals, Israel needs to operate in two completely separate arenas. To weaken Iran, Israel should take its cue from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, and from its own past successful military ties to the Kurds of Iraq in the 1960s and 1970s.

Israel needs to deploy military trainers beyond its borders to work with other anti-Iranian forces. The goal of that cooperation must be to destabilize the regime, with the goal of overthrowing it. This may take time. But it must be done. The only way to neutralize the threat emanating from the new Syria is to change the nature of the Iranian regime that controls it.

As for Russia, Israel needs to demonstrate that it is a power that Putin can respect in its own right, and not a downgraded Washington’s sock puppet.

To this end, Israel should embark on a rapid expansion of its civilian presence along its eastern border with Syria and with Jordan. As Russia’s air base in Syria undermines Israel’s air superiority and reliance on air power, Israel needs to show that it will not be dislodged or allow its own territory to be threatened in any way. By doubling the Israeli population on the Golan Heights within five years, and vastly expanding its population in the Jordan Valley, Israel will accomplish two goals at once. It will demonstrate its independence from the US without harming US strategic interests. And it will reinforce its eastern border against expanded strategic threats from both the Golan Heights and the new Jordan with its bursting population of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

It is ironic that the new Middle East is coming into focus as Shimon Peres, the failed visionary of a fantasy- based new Middle East, is being laid to rest. But to survive in the real new Middle East, Israel must bury Peres’s belief that peace is built by appeasing enemies along with him. The world in which we live has a place for dreamers.

But dreams, unhinged from reality, lead to Aleppo, not to peace.

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


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FBI Docs: Hillary Deleted Nearly 1,000 Emails With David Petraeus - Debra Heine

by Debra Heine

Friday's tranche of FBI notes included a number of other revealing developments

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A potentially explosive nugget from the FBI's Friday document dump of investigatory notes from the Clinton email probe has been all but ignored by the media. And that is the revelation that Hillary Clinton deleted 1,000 work-related emails between herself and General David Petaeus from his time as the director of the United States Central Command.

Via the Washington Examiner:
In Aug. 2015, the Pentagon called the State Department and informed an unnamed official there that "CENTCOM records showed approximately 1,000 work-related emails between Clinton's personal email and General David Petraeus."The FBI noted that "[m]ost of those 1,000 emails were not believed to be included in the 30,000 emails" that Clinton turned over to the State Department in Dec. 2014.
Hillary has long maintained that the emails her lawyers unilaterally deleted were personal emails pertaining to “yoga routines, family vacations” and other matters that had nothing to do with government. She repeated the same nonsense to Congress while under oath. In August of 2015, she signed a statement to a federal judge declaring "under penalty of perjury" that she turned over all work-related emails.

Now we find out that 1,000 emails between Clinton and General Petraeus were not turned over. This should be a bigger story. Petraeus started out as the leader of U.S. Central Command and then became the director of the CIA during Clinton's tenure as secretary of State, so not only were those emails obviously work related, they very likely were highly classified. The implications here are staggering.
But it gets worse.

The FBI summary also revealed that top State Department officials were actually putting pressure on employees to hide the fact that they were finding classified information in Clinton's emails.
A State Department employee, whose name was redacted, told investigators they believed senior department officials interfered with the screening of Clinton’s emails for public release last year in a way that helped Clinton.The employee, who worked on the screening process, said there was pressure to obscure the fact they were finding classified information in the messages. John Kirby, a State Department spokesman, said in a statement the department “strongly disputes” the claim of interference. Clinton repeatedly said last year she never sent or received classified information, but now says she did not do so knowingly since the release of the FBI findings.
Spokesmen for Clinton did not respond to Reuters' questions about the new interview summaries.

Friday's tranche of FBI notes included a number of other revealing developments, including the fact that the DOJ granted top Clinton aide/lawyer Cheryl Mills immunity in exchange for her testimony, an employee at Platte River Networks referred to a Clinton work request as the "Hillary cover-up operation," and the president of the United States used a pseudonym in email communications with Hillary Clinton on her private email account.

For a list of 27 new things we learned from the FBI's Friday document dump, see the Washington Examiner.

Debra Heine


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France: 'The Jungle' Migrant Camp - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

French President François Hollande has vowed "definitively, entirely and rapidly" to dismantle "The Jungle," a squalid migrant camp in the northern port town of Calais, by the end of this year.

  • In 2001 alone, 54,000 people "attacked" the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais and 5,000 had gotten through.
  • Migrants evicted from Calais moved to Paris and established a massive squatter camp at the Jardins d'Eole, a public park near the Gare du Nord station, from where high-speed Eurostar trains travel to and arrive from London. The area has become a magnet for human traffickers who charge migrants thousands of euros for fake travel documents, for passage to London.
  • The President of the Alpes-Maritimes region, Eric Ciotti, criticized the government's "irresponsible" plan to relocate migrants in Calais to other parts of France. He said the plan would "proliferate a multitude of small Calais, genuine areas of lawlessness that exacerbate lasting tensions throughout the country."
  • A whistleblower reported that volunteer aid workers at "The Jungle" were forging sexual relationships with migrants, including children. "Female volunteers having sex enforces the view (that many have) that volunteers are here for sex," he said.
French President François Hollande has vowed "definitively, entirely and rapidly" to dismantle "The Jungle," a squalid migrant camp in the northern port town of Calais, by the end of this year.

Hollande made the announcement during a September 26 visit to Calais — but not to the camp itself — amid growing unease over France's escalating migrant crisis, which has become a central issue in the country's presidential campaign.

The French government plans to relocate the migrants at the camp to so-called reception centers in other parts of the country. But it remains unclear how the government will prevent migrants from returning to Calais.

Sceptics say the plan to demolish "The Jungle" is a publicity stunt that will temporarily displace the migrants but will not resolve the underlying problem — that French officials refuse either to deport illegal migrants or else to secure the country's borders to prevent illegal migrants from entering France in the first place.

The decision to demolish the camp came just days after construction work began on a wall in Calais, a major transport hub on the edge of the English Channel, to prevent migrants at the camp from stowing away on cars, trucks, ferries and trains bound for Britain.

In recent months, people-smugglers armed with knives, bats and tire irons have forced truck drivers to stop so that migrants can board their vehicles. The Deputy Mayor of Calais, Philippe Mignonet, has described the main route to the port as a "no-go area" between midnight and 6am.

"The Jungle" — the name "jungle" comes from "dzhangal," the Pashto word for forest — now houses around 10,000 migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East who are trying to reach Britain. Migrants at the camp are from Sudan (45%), Afghanistan (30%), Pakistan (7%), Eritrea (6%) and Syria (1%), according to aid agencies. The migrants at the camp are mostly young men and boys, including some 800 unaccompanied minors, who are seeking jobs in Britain's underground economy.

Migrants have been gathering in Calais in large numbers ever since the Channel Tunnel linking France and Britain opened in May 1994, and the Schengen Agreement, which abolished border controls between France and most of its neighbors (but not the UK), entered into force in March 1995.

In 1999, the French government asked the Red Cross to build a migrant "reception center" in Sangatte to accommodate a growing number of migrants on the streets of Calais and surrounding areas. The Sangatte camp, which was housed in a giant warehouse situated about a half mile from the entrance to the Channel Tunnel, had a capacity of 600 people.

Far from resolving the migrant problem in Calais, the Sangatte facility served as a magnet, quickly drawing thousands more people to the area. Within months, some 2,000 migrants were living in the camp in increasingly cramped conditions. Many of those staying at Sangatte tried to jump onto slow-moving trains at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel, or hide inside trucks crossing to Britain on ferries.

At the time, French authorities reported a massive increase in the number of arrests in or around the Channel Tunnel. In 1999, 8,000 people were arrested in Calais for immigration offenses. By 2001, that number had jumped ten-fold to 80,000 arrests. Eurotunnel, the company that manages and operates the Channel Tunnel, said that in 2001 alone, 54,000 people had "attacked" the terminal in Calais and 5,000 had gotten through. Many of those were living in Sangatte.

The Sangatte camp was closed in late 2002, after a series of riots between Afghan and Kurdish migrants. In all, some 67,000 migrants stayed at the facility during its three years in operation.

In February 2003, France and Britain signed the Treaty of Le Touquet, which allows for so-called juxtaposed controls, meaning that travelers between the two countries now clear immigration in the country of departure rather than upon arrival. In effect, the treaty pushed parts of the British border to France. By doing so, it exacerbated the migration bottleneck in Calais.

As part of the agreement to close Sangatte, Britain took in 1,200 migrants. Those who remained in France sheltered in at least a dozen different squats both inside and on the outskirts of Calais. These camps — Africa House, Fort Galloo, Leader Price/Sudanese Jungle or Tioxide Jungle — have been repeatedly raided or bulldozed by French police, only for other squats to crop up elsewhere.

Many of the migrants housed at Sangatte moved a few kilometers east to a disused industrial zone called The Dunes. Situated just steps from the Port of Calais, the area would become known as "The Jungle." Over the years, French authorities have repeatedly tried to demolish all or parts of the camp, only for it to reemerge time and time again, and always with more migrants.

On September 22, 2009, French police bulldozed "The Jungle" and rounded up hundreds of migrants hoping to stow away on trucks headed for Britain. A day later, Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart said she had "spotted between fifteen and twenty new squats" nearby. She also reported that Afghan migrants were establishing makeshift camps at the Hoverport, a disused collection of buildings which closed in 2005 after the last hovercraft sailed from Dover to Calais.

September 12, 2014. Police in Calais warned that migrants were becoming increasingly violent in their quest to reach Britain. Gilles Debove, the Calais area delegate for the French police union, said tear gas was being used to stop "mass onslaughts" on vehicles about to cross the Channel:
"The other day, two to three hundred migrants tried to get into a lorry park and we fired tear gas to scatter them because there are too few of us to control situations like this any other way. We're also facing an increase in crimes by migrants who mug people, steal mobile phones and carry out sexual assaults."
September 10, 2015. French media reported that police were searching for an Islamic State jihadi who was hiding in "The Jungle" in the hope of reaching Britain to launch an attack there.

November 11, 2015. More than 250 French riot police were deployed to "The Jungle" after weeks of unrest. Local government official Fabienne Buccio said the rise in violence was due to the migrants' frustration at being prevented from reaching Britain.

January 19, 2016. French authorities leveled one-third of "The Jungle" to create a 100-meter "buffer zone" between the camp and an adjacent highway that leads to the ferry port.

February 7, 2016. The migrant crisis spread to other parts of France due to an increased police presence in Calais. Migrant camps sprouted up in the nearby ports of Dunkirk, Le Havre, Dieppe and Belgium's Zeebrugge, as migrants seek new ways to cross the English Channel to Britain.

February 29, 2016. After a court in Lille approved a plan by the French government to evict 1,000 migrants from "The Jungle," demolition teams began dismantling the southern part of the camp. The government tried to relocate the migrants to official accommodation inside converted shipping containers in the northern part of the camp. But most refused the offer, fearing they would be forced to claim asylum in France. "Going to Britain is what people here want," Afghan migrant Hayat Sirat said. "So destroying part of the jungle is not the solution."

French riot police attempt to control a crowd of migrants in "The Jungle" squatter camp near Calais, on February 29, 2016, as demolition teams begin dismantling the southern part of the camp. After being pelted with stones and other objects, police responded with tear gas and water cannon. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

March 7, 2016. Migrants evicted from "The Jungle" moved to a new camp in Grande-Synthe near the northern port of Dunkirk, just up the coast from Calais. Critics said the new camp risks becoming a "new Sangatte," referring to the Red Cross center in Calais that was closed in 2002.

May 31, 2016. Migrants evicted from Calais moved to Paris and established a massive squatter camp at the Jardins d'Eole, a public park near the Gare du Nord station, from where high-speed Eurostar trains travel to and arrive from London. The area, which is so dangerous that the government has classified it as a no-go zone (Zone de sécurité prioritaires, ZSP), has become a magnet for human traffickers who charge migrants thousands of euros for fake travel documents, for passage to London.

August 11, 2016. In an interview with Le Figaro, a French counter-terrorism officer warned that Islamic State jihadis were hiding in "The Jungle." He said: "What is happening in The Jungle is truly mind boggling. Our officers are rarely able to penetrate the heart of the camp. It is impossible to know if a jihadi from Belgium, for example, is hiding in the camp. This camp is a blind spot for national security."

September 5, 2016. Hundreds of French truck drivers, businessmen and farmers blocked off the main route in and out of Calais, in an attempt to pressure the French government to close The Jungle. The blockage brought to a standstill the route used by trucks from all over Europe to reach Calais and Britain.

September 12. A document leaked to Le Figaro revealed the government's plan, dated September 1, to relocate 12,000 migrants from Calais to other parts of France. The migrants would be relocated to around 60 so-called Reception and Orientation Centers (centres d'accueil et d'orientation, CAO), each with a capacity of between 100 and 300 migrants.

September 13, 2016. The President of the Alpes-Maritimes region, Eric Ciotti, criticized the government's "irresponsible" plan to relocate migrants in Calais to other parts of France. He said the plan would "proliferate a multitude of small Calais, genuine areas of lawlessness that exacerbate lasting tensions throughout the country." He added:
"This plan reflects the resignation of the government in the face of massive illegal immigration. It weakens national cohesion under a false pretext of humanity which hides a dangerous ideology that denies any distinction between foreigners who seek asylum, who France should decently receive, and those who are economic migrants, whom we can no longer tolerate, and who should be returned to their countries of origin.
"The only solution is to deport, without delay, all illegal immigrants who do not intend to remain on our territory, and to place asylum seekers in centers dedicated to the study of their cases."
September 14, 2016. The President of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Laurent Wauquiez, expressed anger at the government's "diktat" to relocate 1,800 migrants from Calais to his region. He said: "This is madness and it is not a matter of solidarity. The problem of Calais is not solved by multiplying Calais throughout France. We expect the government to solve the problem of Calais, not move it to other parts of the country."

September 16, 2016. Steeve Briois, the Mayor of Hénin-Beaumont and Vice President of the National Front criticized the government's plan to relocate migrants from "The Jungle" to the rest of the country. He said:
"This crazy policy would consequently multiply mini-Calais on the entire national territory, without consulting the people and local elected officials. This forced policy of the Socialist government is simply unacceptable; it seriously threatens public order and the safety of our citizens."
September 20, 2016. Construction work began on a wall to prevent migrants at the camp from stowing away on cars, trucks, ferries and trains bound for Britain. Dubbed "The Great Wall of Calais," the concrete barrier — one kilometer (half a mile) long and four meters (13 feet) high on both sides of the two-lane highway approaching the harbor — will pass within a few hundred meters of "The Jungle."

September 21, 2016. A whistleblower reported that volunteer aid workers at "The Jungle" were forging sexual relationships with migrants, including children. "I have heard of volunteers having sex with multiple partners in one day, only to carry on in the same vein the following day," he wrote. "And I know also, that I'm only hearing a small part of a wider scale of abuse." He added that the majority of cases in question involved female volunteers and male migrants. "Female volunteers having sex enforces the view (that many have) that volunteers are here for sex," he wrote.

September 28. Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart expressed skepticism about President Hollande's pledge to close "The Jungle." In an interview with Europe 1, she said: "This dismantling will be very complicated. I am skeptical about the commitment of François Hollande that there will be no migrant camp in the territory of Calais. I do not know how he will do it."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

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