Saturday, June 3, 2017

Palestinians: Israel's Goodwill Gestures Send Wrong Messages - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

Israel's concessions are regarded as gestures of a terrified people and as the rightful reward for terrorism.

  • Here is what is being said on the Palestinian street: Today Israel runs away from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip; tomorrow Israel will run away from Ashkelon, then from Tel Aviv and from there to the sea, and we have achieved our goal of destroying Israel. Therefore, we need to continue attacking Israel.
  • As with the Gaza Strip, the withdrawal from Lebanon taught the Palestinians that terrorism could drive Israelis out of their country.
  • Never have the Palestinians given Israel credit for its goodwill steps. On the contrary, they scoff at these moves and describe them as "cosmetic changes". The Palestinian line is that Israel's steps are "insufficient" and "unhelpful." Its concessions are regarded as gestures of a terrified people and as the rightful reward for terrorism. Far from satiating the appetite of the terrorists, such steps prompt them to step up their attacks against Israelis.
The West suffers under a major misconception concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: that "goodwill gestures" and territorial concessions on the part of Israel boost the prospects of peace in the Middle East. The facts, however, suggest that precisely the opposite is true.

Last week, Israel's Channel 10 television station reported that the U.S. administration was pushing Israel to transfer parts of Area C -- areas under full Israeli security and civilian control in the West Bank -- to the control of Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA). According to the report, the U.S. believes that the transfer of the territory to the PA would be a "goodwill step" towards the Palestinians, paving the way for the revival of the stalled peace process with Israel.

This assumption, of course, has already proven wrong. The experiences of the past few decades have shown clearly that Israeli concessions have always sent the wrong message to the Palestinians.

In fact, Palestinians read Israeli goodwill steps as signs of weakness and retreat. This misinterpretation on the part of the Palestinians then leads to more violence against Israel. It would be hard for anyone not to conclude that if pressure works, keep on pressuring.

The past 24 years are littered with examples of how the Palestinians react to Israeli concessions.

The Oslo Accords that were signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993 were seen by Palestinians as a first step by Israel towards total capitulation.

The accords, which brought the PLO from several Arab countries to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, came after five years of the first Palestinian Intifada. By allowing the PLO to assume control over large parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel sent a message that it was caving in to the violence and terrorism of the First Intifada.

Barely a breath after Oslo, Israel was again asked to conciliate the Palestinians: this time, hundreds of prisoners, many with Jewish (and Arab) blood on their hands, were released from Israeli prison in order to create an atmosphere "conducive" to the peace process.

Instead of viewing the prisoner release for what it was, namely a generous gesture, many Palestinians considered it a "victory" for terrorism and violence. Worse, it was not long before many of the released prisoners were rearrested for their role in further terrorism against Israel. The release of prisoners also sent a message of recidivism to Palestinians: terror does indeed pay! A short stint in an Israeli prison is sure to lead to release in some Israeli "confidence-building measure" or other.

According to statistics, at least half of released Palestinian prisoners have returned to terrorism.

Despite the grim statistics, the international community regularly demands that Israel release more convicted terrorists as a "gesture" towards Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinians.

Palestinian terrorists who were released from prison by Israel as a "goodwill gesture" are honored at Mahmoud Abbas' presidential compound in Ramallah, on October 30, 2013. According to statistics, at least half of released Palestinian prisoners have returned to terrorism. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Getty Images)

Since 1993, Israel has complied again and again with such international pressure, only to reinforce the message to Palestinians: terrorism is indeed worth the trouble.

Let us consider, for a moment, Gaza. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, after destroying 21 Jewish settlements and expelling more than 8,000 Jews from their homes there.

In Palestinian eyes, however, the Israeli "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip was anything but an olive branch of peace. The withdrawal came after five years of the bloody Second Intifada, when Palestinians waged a massive campaign of suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israelis.

Thus, for Palestinians, Israel was once again retreating in the face of unremitting bloodshed.

Here is what is being said on the Palestinian street: Today Israel runs away from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, tomorrow Israel will run away from Ashkelon, then from Ashdod and Tel Aviv and from there to the sea, and we have achieved our goal of destroying Israel. Therefore, we need to continue attacking Israel.

Moreover, it was also precisely the Israeli pullout from Gaza that launched Hamas to its current pinnacle of popularity among Palestinians. Hamas took credit for expelling the Jews from the Gaza Strip through terrorism. A few months later, Hamas even won the Palestinian parliamentary election because Palestinians gave Hamas total credit for driving Israel out of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli pullout told Palestinians in no uncertain terms: Why bother negotiating when terror will do the trick?

Five years earlier, the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon also had the same effect: it emboldened the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group. As with the Gaza Strip, the withdrawal from Lebanon taught the Palestinians that terrorism could drive Israelis out of their country.

In the past few years, additional Israeli goodwill gestures, such as removing security checkpoints and the easing travel restrictions in the West Bank, led to yet more violence, claiming the lives of yet more Israelis.

Abbas and his top officials have always responded to Israeli gestures with cynicism. Never have they given Israel credit for its goodwill steps. On the contrary, they scoff at these moves, and describe them as "cosmetic changes aimed at beautifying Israel's ugly face" or as public-relations stunts.

For the sake of clarity, let us say it clearly: handing over areas in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, and the release of convicted murderers, does not contribute to any sort of "peace process;" it only contributes to the death of more Israelis.

The Palestinian line is that Israel's steps are "insufficient" and "unhelpful." Its concessions are regarded as gestures of a terrified people and as the rightful reward for terrorism. Far from satiating the appetite of the terrorists, such steps prompt them to step up their attacks against Israelis. The next time Americans and Europeans think of asking Israel to cede yet more to the Palestinians, let them consider what Israel might be receiving in return, other than the spilling of more Jewish blood.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.


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Reunification Only Way to Defuse Korea Crisis - John R. Bolton

by John R. Bolton

Increasingly -- key Chinese strategists have come to conclude that the Kim family's authoritarian dynasty is an ugly piece of baggage, of little real strategic utility to China, but one that brings with it enormous burdens and risks.

Barack Obama's foreign-policy failures, and those of his predecessors, regarding North Korea, are coming back to bedevil Donald Trump's new presidency. Trump administration spokesmen have rightly said that Obama's policy of "strategic patience," a synonym for doing nothing, is over. But they have not yet articulated a replacement strategy.

Analysts across the political spectrum now believe that North Korea is perilously close to fabricating nuclear devices — at least five of which have already been detonated — small enough to mount on intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking targets within the continental United States. Some estimates posit this capability as early as 2018, with targets closer to the Korean Peninsula, including Japan and Hawaii likely at risk earlier.

Time is thus in desperately short supply, one of the fruits of 25 years of wasted efforts negotiating with Pyongyang. The harsh reality is that Kim Jung Un and his predecessors were never going to be chit-chatted out of their nuclear-weapons program, which they have always regarded as essential to regime survival. Neither persuasion nor coercion, nor any mix of the two, has succeeded before, and we have no reason to believe they will start succeeding now.

There are any number of suggestions about how to increase military pressure on North Korea, including scenarios for pre-emptive attacks against its nuclear and ballistic-missile assets. Certainly, no American president should be willing to countenance the risk to innocent U.S. civilians, and those of our vulnerable friends and allies in the region, that Pyongyang's erratic leadership increasingly poses. Moreover, we must be sure China understands President Trump's determination — reportedly explained in person to Chinese President Xi Jinping during the recent Mar-a-Lago summit — not to be held hostage by Pyongyang.

Unfortunately, however, years of savage Obama Administration defense budget cuts have rendered U.S. military options far from optimal. Obama underfunded national missile-defense programs, thereby rendering this last line of defense woefully inadequate compared to how President George W. Bush originally conceived it.

Similarly, our ability to neutralize North Korea's military threats to the South, which have long worried United States and South Korean decision-makers, is severely challenged.

Since an American president's highest obligation is ensuring the safety of our own citizens, pre-emptive or other military action against Pyongyang must always be a live option. And even though the time for peacefully eliminating the North's nuclear threat is rapidly disappearing, there is still a diplomatic strategy worth trying. Indeed, it is now the only option with any prospect for long-term resolution of the ongoing Korean crisis.

Reunification of the two Koreas, effectively ending the North Korean state and merging it into the political and economic structures of the South, is both feasible and desirable. There is simply no point in further negotiations with Pyongyang, nor will anything be achieved by urging Beijing to strong-arm Pyongyang.

For decades, China has played a double game, asserting its opposition to a North Korean nuclear capability, but doing little or nothing to prevent it. Beijing has worried that effectively pressuring Pyongyang, which Beijing has the undeniable capacity to do, will collapse the regime itself, producing massive refugee flows into China and a long-planned U.S.-South Korean armed intervention, leaving China facing American military forces across the Yalu River.

China didn't relish that prospect in 1950, nor does it today. Instead, President Trump should persuade Beijing that its own best interests lie in directing its economic leverage toward swift, orderly reunification of the Peninsula. China and the U.S. could jointly facilitate this process through mutually applied pressure and communication with the North's captive population.

Most significantly, America has no interest in a military presence along China's border, just as it prefers today not to have its troops in fixed positions along the DMZ. Instead, we have long sought to concentrate our forces near Busan, making them available for rapid redeployment as events might require.

There is a modus vivendi here acceptable to China, although negotiations on this and other reunification issues will undoubtedly be difficult.

Korea's post-World War II partition along the 38th Parallel in 1945 was always intended to be temporary.

Three South Korean soldiers watch the border at Panmunjeom, in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. (Image source: Henrik Ishihara Globaljuggler/Wikimedia Commons)

The Cold War intervened, however, followed by the Korean War, and the Peninsula's partition seemed frozen, as did Germany's. But just as communism's European collapse led to German reunification, so too, in time, will the partition of Korea be reversed.

The real question is whether it will end peacefully, with a minimum of turmoil and disruption, or whether it will end catastrophically with considerable loss of human life. China's leaders, scholars, and policy analysts are split over the reunification issue.

Increasingly, however, key Chinese strategists have come to conclude that the Kim family's authoritarian dynasty is an ugly piece of baggage, of little real strategic utility to China, but one that brings with it enormous burdens and risks.

Had we opened quiet negotiations with China over reuniting Korea a decade ago, the problem might already be resolved. Starting talks only now places the diplomacy in a race with North Korea's rapidly advancing nuclear capabilities, with the outcome far from certain.

Nonetheless, since we are clearly and correctly unwilling to accept a nuclear North Korea with global strike capabilities, and since we wish to avoid if possible outright military action against the North, reunification is plainly the most desirable outcome.

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John R. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under former President George W. Bush. He is Chairman of Gatestone Institute.


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Palestinian statehood is a grave threat to Saudi Arabia - Mark Langfan

by Mark Langfan

Even more than it endangers Israel, a Palestinian Arab state threatens Saudi Arabia and Jordan - and they know it. Opinion.

Israel or America's concern?
Israel or America's concern?
Mark Langfan
Introducing President Trump to the assembled 50 Muslim/Sunni Presidents on May 21, 2017, King Salman of Saudi Arabia spent 8 pages of text excoriating the “Iranian Regime and its affiliated organizations such as Hezbollah and the Houtis, as well as ISIS (Daesh) and Al-Qaeda” for “attempts to exploit Islam as a cover for political purposes that fuel hatred, extremism, terrorism, and religious and sectarian conflicts.”

The Saudis have realized that the Iranian knife is at the Saudi and Sunni jugular vein. The Saudis need all the military help they can get and have finally come to understand how militarily vital Israel’s existence is to the safety of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Pundits have claimed Israel needs to create a Palestinian State in order for the Saudis to allow the Israelis help protect them from Iran. That is nonsense. Israel is only valuable to Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Muslims as a military superman and if Israel is pushed back to the 1967 Auschwitz borders, Israel won’t be militarily capable of defending itself, let alone defending Saudi Arabia.

How dangerous is a 'West Bank' State is to Saudi Arabia and all the Sunni Muslim countries?

First, an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria (aka 'West Bank') is most dangerous to Abbas, the master-terrorist himself, and to his corrupt cronies and families currently robbing the Palestinian Arabs of Judea and Samaria. Without Israeli protection, Abbas and his entire corrupt crew will be murdered by Hamas or ISIS, thrown off buildings, unless they manage to run away just like they did in Gaza. The West Bank Palestinians themselves will be subjected to Hamas corrupt rule that makes the Abbas regime look like paradise. Iran will have eliminated Abbas, and claimed East Jerusalem for itself. The 'West Bank' will turn even worse suffering and hell for the Palestinian Arabs living there.

And Jordan? Iranian proxies Hamas and Hezbollah were the tactical forces that helped overthrow President Mubarak of Egypt. With an Iranian proxy PA State next door, how long will King Abdullah last? Not very long.

Thus, in two short strokes, a Palestinian Arab State will catastrophically destabilize what has been a reasonably stable Saudi Arabian northern border for 60 years.

Can the Saudis and the Kuwaitis forget Palestinian Arab treachery when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait? They helped Saddam invade, and brutally occupy Kuwait. Has King Abdullah of Jordan forgotten the Palestinian Arabs acted towards his father in Black September 1970 through July 1971? It is said that that Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, would joke about Arafat saying, “Yasser Arafat could never come to a bridge that he wouldn’t double-cross.”

And, do you need any more proof of the Palestinian Arabs stance than how they have stood behind Assad and his Iranian-backed killing machine? Count on the Palestinians to double-cross Jordan and Saudi Arabia if they have a state.

In addition, if there is a Palestinian Arab state, all of Israel’s air force bases will be in range of rudimentary Sarin-poison-gas-tipped katyusha rockets. They don’t call the 1967-borders “Auschwitz Borders” for nothing. With the 'West Bank' and Jordan in Palestinian Arab - read Iranian -hands, Israel will be spatially militarily disconnected from Saudi Arabia. Jordan will turn into a Houti Yemen-like enemy to Saudi Arabia’s north. The Saudis can’t handle one Iranian Yemen now and most certainly will not be able to survive another.

A Palestinian Arab 'West Bank' State is not only a danger for Israel, it will bring the Saudis and the Sunnis an Shiite-Iranian-controlled Jordan. It’s no wonder the "Palestinian issue" barely rated even a sentence in the last paragraph of King Salman’s speech.

All the Sunni Muslims are depending on Saudi leadership to protect them from the Iranians.

The Saudis and the Sunnis need a Israeli military superman who can not only defend itself, by itself, but also blunt any Iranian attack on the Kingdom in the first 24-48 hours of hostilities until the United States can mobilize and scale-up its in-theater order of battle.

Mark Langfan is Chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI) and specializes in security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at


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Jordan Intensifies Anti-Israel Rhetoric Despite Security Challenges - Noah Beck

by Noah Beck

Should Israel keep turning the other cheek?

Originally written for the InvestigativeProject on Terrorism.

Jordan, a country that has had a formal peace treaty with Israel since 1994, has seen an uptick in anti-Israel hostility.

Last month, Jordan condemned the killing of a Jordanian-Palestinian attacker who was filmed stabbing an Israeli policeman multiple times before he was shot, calling it "a heinous crime." In September, Israeli police killed a Jordanian tourist who attacked with a knife. Jordan described this act of self-defense as a premeditated and "barbaric act of the army of the Israeli occupation."

Israeli analysts disagree whether Jordan's rhetoric is a cause for concern.

Since the second Palestinian Intifada broke out in 2000, Jordan's public statements often contradict private behavior, said Elad Ben-Dror, a Bar-Ilan University Middle Eastern Studies senior lecturer. Publicly, "the Jordanian parliament and press are fierce in their denunciation of Israel... Beneath the surface, however, there is a strong link and security cooperation between the two countries, especially with regard to the war on terrorism."

Jordanian demographics drive the public vitriol, said Tel Aviv University Contemporary Middle Eastern History Chair Eyal Zisser. Palestinians comprise half the Jordanian population, "and because the population is conservative and very much Islamic, the regime lets the anti-Israeli sentiments as a way to vent and reduce...pressure on the regime."

So "cheap shots" like condemning the shooting of a terrorist in the act of trying to kill are "aimed at showing the Palestinians in Jordan [that] the Hashemites have not abandoned them," said Oded Eran, a senior research fellow at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies. "The King expects the Israeli government" to ignore such statements. And for the most part, Jerusalem does.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently took exception. "It is outrageous to hear the Jordanian government's speaker support the terror attack which occurred today in Jerusalem's Old City," a statement released by Netanyahu's office said. "It's time Jordan stopped playing both sides of the game. Just like Israel condemns terror attacks in Jordan, Jordan must condemn terror attacks in Israel. Terror is terror."

Moreover, some anti-Israel hostility by Jordan goes beyond mere statements.

In March, Jordan released Ahmed Daqamseh, a former soldier who murdered seven Israeli schoolgirls as they visited his country. His tribe gave him a hero's welcome and he called for Israel's destruction on Al-Jazeera TV. Many lawmakers and politicians had reportedly lobbied to set him free, and doing so may have been a populist move.

Jordan also hosts "Al-Quds," the official TV station of Hamas, the Gaza-based terror group committed to Israel's destruction.

Some experts think Israel should stop turning the other cheek. "Israel is assisting Jordan economically, providing it with fresh water and [helping] in many other areas. It is entitled and even obligated to insist that Jordan moderate its criticism and certainly that it not support anti-Israeli terrorism," Ben-Dror said.

Israel should "slowly alter the rules of the game" by insisting that Jordan's monarch condemn Palestinian violence, said Bar-Ilan political scientist Hillel Frisch. "Israel has to make him sweat a little but not, of course, at the expense of his throne."

"I'm glad that Netanyahu rebuked him over the attempted murder of the policeman," Frisch said. "I'd like to see more rebukes in the future, especially regarding the Waqf guards' role in incitement on Har Habayit." Under the terms of Israel's peace treaty with Jordan, the Jordanian-run Waqf Islamic religious trust administers the Temple Mount, but has been leading efforts to deny and erase any Jewish connection to the site.

Last July, three members of the Islamic Waqf attacked a group of archeologists at the site. The harassment continued in January, when Islamic guards tried to remove an Israeli tour guide for calling the area the "Temple Mount," insisting that he use the Islamic term "Haram al-Sharif."

While King Abdullah might have an unspoken understanding with his "Arab Street" that requires regular condemnations of Israel, the sustainability of such an arrangement remains a concern. The same Islamist forces to which he panders could eventually hobble his policy objectives, or worse.

Last October, a grassroots campaign was launched by Jordanian activists to turn off the lights to protest Jordan's gas deal with Israel. The "lights-out action came on the heels of a protest march [recently] in downtown Amman that attracted an estimated 2,500 demonstrators, making it one of the largest protests in Jordan in recent years," the Jerusalem Post reported. The protests reportedly included chants against both the gas deal and Jordan's peace with Israel.

Reflecting popular opposition, the lower house of Jordan's Parliament overwhelmingly opposed the 2014 gas deal. The opposition includes leading Jordanian trade unions, Islamists, and secularists.

By indulging public opinion with anti-Israel rhetoric, Abdullah risks encouraging and popularizing the type of movement that could eventually topple him. Jordanian Islamists recently murdered a prominent Christian writer who faced legal charges for sharing a "blasphemous" anti-ISIS cartoon that outraged Muslim groups. Honor killings are increasing in Jordan.

Last November, Jordan's highest religious authority slammed as "false and insignificant" an Israeli bill to ban the Muslim call to prayer via loudspeakers during sleeping hours throughout Israel. The Israeli bill would apply to the sound systems of all houses of worship, not only mosques, and countries like India and Egypt have enacted similar limitations.

Anti-Israel hostility might be aggravated by Jordan's overall situation. Economic woes and an influx of Syrian refugees are bringing increasing instability, Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Einat Shlein warned in March.

Frisch is less concerned: "I remember from [over 50 years ago] how the pundits predicted the Jordanian monarchy's imminent fall. My take is that... [King Abdullah] has money (Saudi and Gulf) and lots of intelligence and logistical support (Israel, US, British) and the more heterogeneous his population, the more room for maneuver [he has] to play the role of arbiter."

Although Jordan has economic challenges, the regime is stable, Ben-Dror said. "Jordanians see what is happening in Syria and Iraq and appreciate the stability the regime provides. I think that most Jordanians want to preserve the status quo – the Hashemite regime. The combination of outside support for the country and the domestic support of its citizens guarantee its survival."

Mutual interests provide some insurance for Israel-Jordan relations, Eran said. Jordan needs Israeli cooperation and expertise when it comes to "security, water [Jordan] also needs at least a semblance of a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians to prevent unrest" among Jordanian Palestinians.

Indeed, that synergy may explain why Israel's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Jordanian hostility towards Israel.

"Jordan protects Israel from the east," Zisser said. "It's better to have the Jordanians as our neighbors than to have ISIS, the Iranians, the Syrians, or the Iraqis. So security is above all, and as long as the Jordanians keep the border quiet and cooperate with Israel," the rest can be tolerated.

Still, if King Abdullah views Israel as key to his regime's success, and he also needs support from the Jordanian "street" for his regime's survival, then why – despite being the most powerful figure in Jordan – has he done so little to align public opinion with his strategic objectives? If King Abdullah can order bloody crackdowns on terrorists, can't he promote more moderate thinking among the general population, by – for example – pushing the press to include fair and balanced coverage of Israel?

"The King is not as powerful as one thinks," Zisser said. "There were many protests against corruption, unemployment etc., so... [he] needs to maneuver carefully."

But Frisch disagreed: "Abdullah has been in the throne long enough to influence and shape public opinion rather [than] pander to it. He might be doing this deliberately to derail any peace process that might lead to a Palestinian state, which he certainly does not want. He wants Israel, as the strongest state on the block to contain Palestinian nationalism and radicalism."

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, a doomsday thriller about the Iranian nuclear threat and current geopolitical issues in the Middle East.


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Assad Is Bad News - Prof. Efraim Inbar

by Prof. Efraim Inbar

The Jewish State should not advocate the survival of such a terribly ruthless regime. In the case of Syria, strategic requirements are complemented by moral imperatives.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 485, June 3, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Arguing that the continuation of Assad’s brutal regime is a vital Israeli interest does not make strategic sense. A Syria embroiled in a civil war has much less energy and means for hurting Israel than a strong Syria. Nor is the Syria of today able to wage an effective diplomatic and/or military campaign aimed at the return of the Golan. Above all, the survival of the Assad regime is a victory for Iran – the main source of trouble in the Middle East and Israel’s arch-enemy.  Expressing support for the Assad regime, which is responsible for hundreds of thousands of casualties, for using chemical weapons, for ethnic cleansing, for massive destruction, and for creating waves of millions of refugees, is also morally reprehensible. 

BESA Perspective No. 476, authored by Edy Cohen, argues that “a strong Syrian president with firm control over the state is a vital interest for Israel.” Such an amazing conclusion was drawn from the long quiet period along the Golan border during the strong dictatorship of the Assad family.

The notion that it is preferable to have strong enemies is strange. Common sense tells us that weak enemies are preferable because they can do less damage. Violent conflict is about exacting pain from the other side. States are more dangerous than militias and terrorist groups.  A weak Syria can cause less pain than a strong Syria.

A Syria embroiled in a civil war has much less energy and less means for hurting Israel than a strong Syria. A dysfunctional Syrian state torn by civil war is not a result of Israeli machinations, but a positive strategic development from an Israeli point of view. What is left of the Syrian army is busy protecting the regime and trying to expand the territory it holds. It is not capable of challenging the Israeli army in a conventional war, and it will take years for it to build a serious military machine. Nor is the Syria of today able to wage an effective diplomatic and/or military campaign aimed at the return of the Golan, which constitutes a defensible border for Israel in the north.

Above all, the survival of the Assad regime is a victory for Iran – the main source of trouble in the Middle East and Israel’s archenemy. A restored Syrian state, under Assad, will secure for Iran the Shiite corridor to the Mediterranean. It not clear that even the Russians, who support Assad, have this goal in mind. An Iranian presence along Israel’s northern border is more threatening than warring Sunni militias.

The Cohen Perspective seems to argue that a strong regime, such as Assad’s before the outbreak of the civil war, is more easily deterred by Israel than would be the non-state organizations that might replace Assad. Deterring non-state organizations is certainly tricky, but the Syrian case study refutes this claim.

Limiting the analysis of the Israel-Syria relationship to the post-1974 period and to the Golan arena is methodologically faulty. Assad the father, a strong dictator, attacked Israel in 1973 and sent his air force to challenge Israel’s in 1982. He did indeed keep the border on the Golan Heights with Israel quiet after 1974, but supported Palestinian and Lebanese militias to bleed Israel from southern Lebanon.

When his son lost much of his control over the Golan Heights to opposition militias during the civil war, Israel did not detect any significant rise in hostile violent activities across the border. Similarly, Hezbollah in Lebanon seems to have been deterred, particularly after the 2006 war. The lack of variation in violent activities seems to suggest that the strength of the regime in Damascus has little effect on the situation along the border.

Israel’s military superiority was obviously the main factor in assuring quiet along the border with Syria. Moreover, it is not clear that policies pursued in the 1974-2011 period will continue if Assad regains his country. Extrapolations about the future are very problematic, particularly in the Middle East.

So far, Israel’s deterrence, admittedly a somewhat blurry concept, has worked on the Golan Heights. It has required, as expected, the occasional use of force. The attempts by Hezbollah and Iran to establish an operational base on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights were nipped in the bud by force. This shows that even in the case of partial Syrian control, Israel can achieve quiet. Yet Israel continues to fear that in the case of a full return of the Syrian side of the Golan to Assad, Iran will have chance to establish a foothold there.

The Syrian crisis also has international ramifications that Israel cannot ignore. The Russians have actively supported the Assad regime, while the Obama administration refrained from interfering.  The new American president, Donald Trump, used force to punish the Syrian use of chemical weapons. It also intervened militarily when Assad’s forces got close to American proxies in east Syria. In the absence of an American-Russian understanding, Assad is clearly on the list of the bad guys in Washington. Israel can ill afford to come out against Trump’s preference.

If Assad wins the civil war and establishes a stable regime, we have no reason to expect good intentions toward Israel. His penchant for anti-Israel rhetoric is well known, and a rebuilt Syrian education system will continue to propagate hatred for the Jewish state. The alliance with the Islamic regime in Tehran (in place since 1979) buttresses the anti-Israeli orientation that may under certain circumstances turn into active measures. Syria has developed a domestic capability to produce chemical weapons, and Assad has shown he has no moral qualms about using such weapons against his opponents. Noteworthy, Assad junior, entertained nuclear ambitions that received Iranian and North Korean support.

We may wish for a strong and stable regime in Syria only if it is no longer an enemy and is ready to make peace with Israel. So far there is no indication that the Assad regime is interested in such a drastic change of policy. However, some elements in the opposition voice different views concerning Israel.

This does not warrant a change in Israel’s policy of non-intervention. It is worth remembering that Israel is a small country with very limited capacity to influence political developments beyond its borders. Israel did not weaken the Assad regime and cannot uproot the opposition to it. It is a spectator with little leverage over domestic dynamics in Syria.

Finally, expressing support for the genocidal Assad regime is morally reprehensible. It is true that in the real world, democracies cooperate with dictatorships. But the Assad regime is not a regular dictatorship. It is responsible for hundreds of thousands of casualties, for using chemical weapons, for ethnic cleansing, for massive destruction, and for millions of refugees. The Jewish State should not advocate the survival of such a terribly ruthless regime. In the case of Syria, strategic requirements are complemented by moral imperatives.

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

Prof. Efraim Inbar, professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and founding director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (1991-2016), is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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The Truth Goes Marching On - James Lewis

by James Lewis

When a supposedly “democratic” ruler can tell her national media to cover up an act of violent treason against her citizens, you know that all the critics are right.

When Angela Merkel betrayed her own country by allowing its girls, boys, and women to be raped and abused by 200,000 “rapefugees” from Syria and Turkey, men from a culture that openly teaches that women and children should be degraded and that a single woman walking alone is asking to be raped, much of the world was shocked. I know I felt that way. But Merkel simply told the German media not to criticize her gross surrender to Jihad, so they shut up. Frau “Mutti” Merkel won the endorsement of her party and a sort of election, and she’s back in the saddle again. But she is a communist by indoctrination (in the former East Germany) and her new globalist empire in the EU, which also runs the UN in collusion with Jihad.

Europe is no longer democratic. When a supposedly “democratic” ruler can tell her national media to cover up an act of violent treason against her citizens, you know that all the critics are right. Marine le Pen, Geert Wilders, and Nigel Farage have been telling the truth all along, and the new aristocracy of Europe is even worse than the old one. At least the old aristocrats cared about their peoples. The new Power Class is “internationalist” in its outlook, and if that means shafting the local folks, well, so be it. That is exactly what the EU keeps doing in the most destructive way. Merkel made her decision to import those thugs by calling Recip Erdogan in Istanbul, who controls those 30 million Turks in Germany. All the Euro bureaucrats know that; only the voters are kept in the dark.

When Donald Trump actually won an American election according to the U.S. Constitution, Der Spiegel attacked Trump in uncontrolled outrage -- but then Der Spiegel is a party line rag anyway, and has no more respect for reality than the New York Times. The trouble is that a regime of endless lies inevitably destroys the people, an old piece of wisdom that the propaganda class has long lost track of. Liberals around the world believe their mass media delusions, but the circling wolves know very well how vulnerable they are. It’s only a matter of time before Europe will be torn apart by Jihad, by China and Russia and other serious forces. In one of his funniest acts, Donald Trump gave Angela Merkel an actual bill for all the billions or trillions Europe owes us for defending their sorry hides for almost 80 years, with around a 1% GDP contribution of those nations to NATO. Every single nation in the EU has been cannibalizing its defenses to buy more welfare votes from more unassimilable immigrants from the tribal territories of the world.

But the EU leadership is not blind to danger; rather, it understands how violent Muslims really are, on an everyday basis, not when they were united under the Ottoman Caliphate. The EU has all the facts and figures at their fingertips. The EU simply decided that the native peoples of Europe have to suck it up and take it. Divide and conquer was never a merciful act. The EU elites have convinced themselves that “populist” movements must be Nazis, a very self-serving delusion, when they themselves are crooks and cruel mass manipulators of the worst kind. But “Europe means peace,” just as “Islam means peace” according to Europrop. These people are genuine power-hungry sociopaths, and when the Greek economy crashed because of the euro (which is really the Deutschmark) and Athenians had to cut down their city parks for fuel to get through the winter, they stuck their arrogant noses in the air and blamed the Greeks. (Who actually colluded in their own destruction, of course. Europe is full of government-led delusions these days.)

So when Donald Trump walks into the G-7 meeting and tells them he represents Pittsburgh and not Paris, he is speaking the literal truth. Because Paris (and Berlin) form the Thieves’ Axis of Europe today, all their decisions go to benefit Berlin and Paris. The “European Union” is a humongous fraud, designed to suck all the power out of the British Parliament in London, along with Rome, Madrid, Athens, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and every other national center of power, piling up all the power in Brussels, which is the obedient servant of Paris and Berlin.

Slick, right?

Herr Dr. Jean-Claude Juncker, one of the talking heads of the EU who actually “represents” tiny Luxembourg, gave the game away when he explained how the EU had to carve European nations into phony districts that have no historical or popular basis, as part of its “divide and conquer” strategy. The Germans were told to follow EU demands to take in 30,000,000 Turks over the years, while deluding themselves that those deeply indoctrinated Muslims could be turned into German citizens.

Like American liberals, European liberals are profoundly deluded, and out of those fantasy beliefs they make heartless and destructive decisions.

I’ve always felt Donald Trump had the right stuff in him, and I agreed with his good sense and truth-telling. But I never thought he’d follow up on his long-held beliefs as clearly as this.

I think America has a truth-teller as President, after four Democratic frauds since Jimmy Carter, who was the first to sell out the free world to the ayatollahs. Our liberals are “globalists” too, and to people like Obama, Iranians have tanned skins (not quite brown or black), and they surely deserve their racial and ethnic revenge.

You think I’m kidding? Take a look at our leftists and how they act and think. They are dangerous beyond belief. Take them at their own words, including murderous threats directed at the duly elected President of the United States. They really are whipping each other up to kill, and maybe to rebel against duly constituted authority. Yes, they are ignorant and stuck in perverse beliefs, but this is exactly this kind of mad atmosphere of blind rage that set the stage for previous assassination attempts.

So be prepared to defend constitutional government in these United States. You may actually have to do more than walk to the polls. No matter what happens the media will blame their enemy -- the American people -- but don’t believe a word. All the little Marxists on our campuses know full well that “revolution” means violence, and so do their professors. The Jihad crowd is just preparing the battlefield, and “comedians” have turned into lynch mob leaders. We have been watching it happen, so be mentally prepared for whatever comes. With luck, the left-o-mobs will calm down to a dull roar, but conservative media have to do their part.

John Podesta and Hillary have spread a “stab-in-the-back” meme in the country, just as Hitler did to gain power in Weimar Germany. This is classical revenge propaganda, and the president has to be protected. Violent outliers like Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. and Lee Harvey Oswald see their chance to make history in times like this. The Democrat media understand that very well, and they are whipping up public rage with their lies every single day. When we think it’s finally dying down, they put somebody like Comey in the news to start the outrage again. They are by far the worst lynch mob leaders since the Ku Klux Klan, and like the Klan, they understand exactly what they are doing.

So do the Europeans, who have a history filled with lynch mobs. This over-the-top rage comes from the top. Erdogan is another one in Turkey. And the complicit media will secretly applaud violence directed against Donald Trump.

That’s the dangerous mob machine they have set into motion both here and in Europe. I’m glad that Trump has his own protective detail as well as the Secret Service, because Obama blew apart our Secret Service when he was president. It needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up again. 

James Lewis


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The Limits of Israeli Power - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

Time for Israel to take control of its future.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump bowed to the foreign policy establishment and betrayed his voters. He signed a presidential waiver postponing the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem for yet another six months.

Ahead of Trump’s move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a last-ditch bid to convince Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem. But it was not to be.

Israel’s failure to convince Trump to do what he repeatedly promised US voters he would do during his presidential campaign shows the disparity in power between Israel and the US.

Israel lacks the power to convince foreign nations to recognize its capital – much less to locate their embassies there. The US, on the other hand, not only has the power to recognize Jerusalem and transfer its embassy to Israel’s capital whenever it wishes to do so, it also has the ability to convince dozens of other countries to immediately follow its lead.

The disparity between what the Americans can do and what Israel can do was on display on Monday evening in a glittering hall at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. There, Bar-Ilan University conferred its Guardian of Zion award on former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton. In his acceptance speech, Bolton presented his vision for the resolution of the Palestinian conflict with Israel.

Bolton’s views are important not merely because his past work at the State Department and the UN brought the US some of its only diplomatic victories in recent decades. His views are important as well because of his close relationship with Trump.

Bolton began his discussion Monday evening by rejecting the “two-state solution.” The two-state model, he noted, has been tried and has failed repeatedly for the past 70 years. There is no reason to believe that it will succeed now. This is particularly true, he said, given the lack of Palestinian social cohesion.

Hamas controls Gaza. The PLO, which is supposed to be Israel’s peace partner, barely controls parts of Judea and Samaria. At a time when more cohesive Arab societies are unraveling, the notion that a Palestinian state would survive and advance regional peace and stability is laughable, Bolton argued.

Bolton then turned to his preferred policy for resolving the Palestinian conflict with Israel, which he dubbed “the three-state solution.” Under his plan, Egypt and Jordan would work with Israel to solve the Palestinian conflict. Egypt would take over the Gaza Strip and Jordan would negotiate the status of Judea and Samaria with Israel.

The crowd at the King David responded enthusiastically to Bolton’s proposal. This is not surprising.

Since 1967, Israelis have hoped for Jordan and Egypt to work with them to solve the problem of the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza who lived under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation from 1949-1967.

Unfortunately, Israel’s support for Bolton’s plan is irrelevant. Israel is powerless to advance it. Israel cannot convince Arab nations to help it resolve the Palestinian conflict any more than it can convince the PLO to cut a peace deal with it.

Like PLO leaders, the leaders of the Arab world know that they cannot help Israel with the Palestinians.

Doing so would involve disowning the Palestinian narrative.

The Palestinian narrative claims that the Jews of Israel are colonialist interlopers who stole the land from the Palestinians, its rightful owners. The narrative makes no distinction between Tel Aviv and Hebron. All of Israel is a crime against the Arab world. All of Israel is illegitimate.

The overwhelming majority of the Arab world believes the Palestinian narrative. For an Arab leader to walk away from it or even to signal an attenuation of his fealty to it in the interest of regional peace would be the riskiest of moves.

Israel has nothing to offer Arab leaders that could induce them to take that risk.

Although it is far from certain, the US may very well have the ability to convince Arab leaders to do so. If Trump decided that this is the way to advance peace in the Arab world, chances are he would make some headway. In other words, Bolton’s three-state plan is a plan that only America can adopt. It cannot be an Israeli plan no matter how enthusiastically the public supports involving Jordan and Egypt in solving the conflict.

Given Israel’s inability to offer the Arabs anything valuable enough for Arab leaders to risk life and limb to accept in exchange for helping to solve the Palestinian conflict, as Israel considers its own options in relation to the Palestinians, it needs to limit its goals to things that it can achieve without them. In other words, the only steps that Israel can take in relation to the Palestinians are unilateral steps.

For the past 50 years, hoping that the Arabs – and since 1993, the PLO – would finally make peace with it and so settle the permanent status of Judea and Samaria, Israel refused to take any unilateral actions in relation to its permanent interests in Judea and Samaria. Rather than apply its legal code to Judea and Samaria, it opted for the stop-gap measure of installing a military government to run the areas on the basis of Jordanian law.

Between 1994 and 1996, Israel canceled the military government in the Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria and Gaza. In 2005, when it withdrew, it canceled the residual military government in the rest of Gaza. Since then, the only area that remains under the Israeli military government is Area C in Judea and Samaria. Area C includes all of the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, and strategically critical areas including the Jordan Valley, the Samaria mountain range and the south Hebron Hills.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu gave an interview with Army Radio where he set out part of his vision for the permanent status of Judea and Samaria. He limited his statement to the military status of the areas. He said that under any possible future scenario, Israel must retain full security control of the areas. This, he said, is the lesson of Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

That pullout led to the transformation of Gaza into a Hamas-controlled hub of global jihad. Moreover, under Hamas, the Palestinians turned Gaza into one big, densely populated missile-launching pad against Israel.

While justified, Netanyahu’s position obscures more than it illuminates about his long-term vision for Judea and Samaria.

What does he mean by security control? Would the IDF remain in sole control over Israel’s eastern boundaries or would it serve as an overall coordinator of foreign forces operating along the border? Would IDF forces be confined to fortified positions while the Palestinians reign free in the open areas, as was the case in southern Lebanon in the years leading up to Israel’s disastrous withdrawal in 2000? Or would the IDF have freedom of action and maintain the initiative throughout Judea and Samaria? Moreover, does Netanyahu envision the IDF remaining the only military organization operating in Judea and Samaria in the long term? Beyond the security issues that require clarification, Netanyahu’s statements make no mention of the rights of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria.

Does he believe that Jews should be permitted to live permanently in the areas that Israel controls? If so, why are they subjected to the Jordanian legal code used by the military government and which proscribes their right to purchase land and register land sales? This brings us to the issue of governance. What does Netanyahu think about the military government in Area C? Does he believe that the 50-year reign of generals should continue until the Arabs choose to resolve the Palestinian conflict with Israel? What if this means that the generals will continue to rule over hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens for another 50 or 100 or 150 years? Does he, on the other hand, prefer to transfer governance responsibility in Area C to the Palestinians and place the nearly 500,000 Israelis in the area under Palestinian control? In the course of his remarks, Bolton noted that if Jordan is responsible for the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria, the issue of Jerusalem will be removed from the equation. After all, if their capital is Amman, Israel has no reason to divide its capital city.

And this brings us back to Jerusalem, which Trump spurned on Thursday.

As is the case today, 50 years ago, Israel had no power to influence the positions of foreign governments regarding its capital city. But in contrast to its decision to establish a military government in Judea and Samaria, Israel didn’t wait for foreigners to give it permission to act where it had the power to act in order to change the status of the city and ensure its ability to govern and control its capital for generations to come.

In 1967, the government voted to expand the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem to include the eastern, northern and southern quarters that had been under Jordanian occupation since 1949.

Everyone benefited from the move – including the foreign powers that still refuse to recognize the simple fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

Washington and the rest of the governments of the world know that their refusal to recognize Israel’s capital does not endanger Israel or its control of Jerusalem. They are free to bow to Arab pressure, safe in the knowledge that Israel will continue to protect the unified city.

Trump’s decision to sign the waiver delaying the embassy move is a betrayal of his campaign promise, but it doesn’t change the situation in Jerusalem. Last week, Israel celebrated 50 years of sovereignty over its united capital. Jerusalem will be neither more nor less united if and when the US moves its embassy to the capital.

Perhaps Trump will eventually keep his word and move the embassy. Perhaps he will continue to breach his promise. And as far as the Palestinians are concerned, perhaps Trump adopts Bolton’s three-state plan in relation to Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Perhaps he will maintain his predecessors’ slavish devotion to the establishment of a PLO state.

Israel can’t control what Trump will do any more than it can influence what the Arabs will do. And so it needs to take a lesson not only from its bitter experience of withdrawing from Gaza, but from its positive experience of taking matters into its own hands in Jerusalem.

The time has come, at the outset of the second 50 years of Israeli control over Judea and Samaria, for Israel to take matters into its own hands. Our leaders must stop beating around the bush. They need to use the powers they have to secure Israel’s military and civilian interests in Judea and Samaria for the next 50 years as best they can. And they need to stop waiting for someone else to solve our problems for us.

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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Egypt's Battle Against Islamic Extremism - Shireen Qudosi

by Shireen Qudosi

Egypt stands out as a primary target, given the cocktail of challenges that position it as a center of radical Islam. Egypt faces political, violent, and theological militancy within its borders.

  • When it comes to regional interests in the Middle East, the priority is the most dominant and violent force.
  • Egypt stands out as a primary target, given the cocktail of challenges that position it as a center of radical Islam. Egypt faces political, violent, and theological militancy within its borders.
  • For a nation to do what it must to survive, it needs the steadfast support of world powers. Step one is annihilating all sources of violent Islam.
For a Western audience, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is a complex figure, who was shunned by the Obama administration. There appear truly pressing, immediate priorities in Egypt, such as developing the economy and combating the avalanche of extremist attempts to overthrow him. Among Middle East and North African territories, Egypt stands out as a primary target, given the cocktail of challenges that position it as a center of radical Islam.

President Sisi faces violent extremist hotbeds in the Sinai Peninsula, and the still-destabilizing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood (a political arm of violent radicals). Most notably, Sisi brought a reality check to the Arab Spring when he led the military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, ushering a spiritual and cultural Islamic reformation with widespread popular support from Egyptians on a grass-roots level.

Sisi faces more than just militant and political extremists within Egypt's borders; he is also walking a theological tightrope. Egypt is home to the regressive theocratic influence of the most revered Islamic institution in the Sunni world, Cairo's Al-Azhar University, which openly views freedom as a "ticking time-bomb."

Being held hostage intellectually by the grip of Al-Azhar University ensures that there is a constant supply when it comes to producing the next generation of militant and political Islamists.

Egypt also faces extremist infiltration from neighboring Libya, a nation caught in a power vacuum after the murder of its leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi. This vacuum has been readily filled by Islamic militants, including ISIS.

Upon returning home in April from his first visit to the U.S. since 2013, Sisi faced a series of domestic terror attacks that once again put Egypt in a global spotlight. On Palm Sunday, in April, two suicide bombings in Coptic Christian churches killed more than 45 people and injured another 120. For Egypt, one of the last regional strongholds that still has a vibrant non-Muslim minority population, violent eruptions on major Christian holidays have become routine.

In England, just days after the May 22 Manchester suicide bombing, attention was once again on Egypt where 29 Coptic Christians were gunned down on a bus traveling to a monastery near the city of Minya. The attack was launched by masked terrorists who arrived in three pick-up trucks and opened fire on the passengers, many of whom were children. Egyptian intelligence believes the Minya attack was led by ISIS jihadists based in Libya. In February, the aspiring terrorist caliphate also launched a campaign against Egypt's Christian population. The Egyptian military responded swiftly with air strikes against terrorist camps, along with a televised warning against sponsored terrorism.

President Sisi's response to the brutal slaughter of peaceful Christian worshippers is being called rare but should not be surprising, considering the aggressive measures that need to be taken to hold extremism at bay, and to eradicate the threat that local groups pose to the Egyptian people. Coming out of the Riyadh Summit, where President Trump and a host of Muslim nations, including Egypt, agreed to drive out extremism, Sisi's reaction was necessary.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (front row, far-right) attended the May 21 Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, along with U.S. President Donald Trump (front-center). The problems of Islamic extremism and terrorism were much-discussed at the summit. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

In a war that is equally ideological and kinetic, Muslim nations and others trying to survive the plague of Islamic terrorism will need to be as ruthless as their extremist counterparts. That is something that the warring political factions in the U.S. quickly need to understand. When it comes to regional interests in the Middle East, the priority is combating the most dominant and violent force. If that force wins, human rights are completely off the table. Beyond Egypt, President Trump has received considerable backlash in the U.S. for siding with what are seen as repressive regimes, whether it was hosting Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan in the White House or engaging with dictators and monarchs during the Riyadh Summit.

In order to bring security to the region, alliances need to look at the real instigators and agents of chaos. There is a metastasizing threat that requires a new coalition of the willing. For a nation to do what it must to survive, it needs the steadfast support of world powers. Step one is annihilating all sources of violent Islam.

Shireen Qudosi is the Director of Muslim Matters, with America Matters.


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