Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Grim Cost of the "Oslo War" - Guy Millière

by Guy Millière

Israel conceded, from the beginning, a major victory to its worst enemies by giving them a respectability they did not deserve, and thus placed itself in a losing position from which it never fully recovered.

  • Twenty-five years after Oslo, the balance sheet is more like what in 2003 the historian Efraim Karsh called the start of the "Oslo war". In this war, he wrote, Israel had conceded from the beginning a major victory to its worst enemies by giving them a respectability they did not deserve, and thus placed itself in a losing position from which it never fully recovered.
  • "Contrary to Rabin's slogan, one does not 'make [peace] with very unsavory enemies' but rather with former very unsavory enemies. That is, enemies that have been defeated... Wars end, the historical record shows, not through goodwill but through defeat. He who does not win loses. Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair, when that side has abandoned its war aims and accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted its will to fight. Conversely, so long as both combatants still hope to achieve their war objectives, fighting either goes on or it potentially will resume." — Daniel Pipes, Commentary, January 2017.
  • "The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism." — PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen , interview in Trouw, March, 1977.

September 13, 1993: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shakes hands with PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, while President Bill Clinton looks on, at the signing of the Oslo Accord. (Image source: Vince Musi / The White House)

September 13, 1993. Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the lawn of the White House. They have just officially signed the document that was supposed to start Peace: the Oslo Accord. The cogs of this machine began their work.

Overnight, Yasser Arafat was no longer the leader of a defeated terrorist organization. He had suddenly become the President of a quasi-state; his Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had been transformed into the "Palestinian Authority".

Terror attacks against Israelis attacks during this "peace" grew even more bloody and more profuse, and soon were being perpetrated at a frantic pace. Some deliberately targeted children and youths, such as the Dolphinarium discotheque massacre and the Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing. Arafat condemned none of them.

In September 2000, the Palestinian Authority launched a full scale guerrilla war that lasted four years and killed more than 1,000 Israelis.

It soon became clear that Arafat was not going to give up being a mass murderer. His successor, Mahmoud Abbas, was no better. Murders of Jews did not stop. Israel finally decided to build a security barrier. Palestinian leaders continued untiringly to make demands that no country could satisfy without committing suicide. These included retreating to indefensible 1949 armistice lines and allowing into Israel millions of people sworn to the Jews' destruction:
While it is true that Hamas is expert at getting innocent Palestinians killed, it has made it very plain, in word and deed, that it would rather kill Jews. The following blood-freezing statement is from the group's charter: "The Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realization of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: 'The day of judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jews will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say 'O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."
This is a frank and open call for genocide, embedded in one of the most thoroughly anti-Semitic documents you'll read this side of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Not many people seem to know that Hamas's founding document is genocidal.
Israel, meanwhile, was constantly summoned to negotiate and make ever more concessions.
And make concessions it did. In 2005, Israel forcibly and unconditionally evacuated every last Jew from the entire Gaza Strip -- a move that resulted in Hamas swiftly seizing power there. Israel also offered, in a plan proposed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, to abandon the eastern half of Jerusalem, and almost totally to withdraw from the West Bank and the Jordan Valley -- a move that led to the breakdown of negotiations by the Palestinian side. Even so, Israel continued to be defined internationally as the guilty party.

Although the Palestinian Authority never hid that it was still the same old genocidal PLO, it steadily gained widespread recognition: many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and even the Holy See, recognize a "Palestinian state" that simply does not exist. "Palestine" obtained a seat at the UNESCO, was granted a Permanent Observer status at the United Nations.

Despite the fact that a large part of the foreign subsidies given to the Palestinian Authority were being used to reward terrorism and finance incitement to anti-Jewish hatred, foreign subsidies increased.

Palestinian propaganda gained ground internationally, and even in Israel. A growing number of Israeli Arabs became radicalized; some committed attacks.

Extremist organizations that had been established in Israel, but financed from abroad in the name of "peace," showed their true colors as openly hostile to the existence of Israel. The recent passing of a law that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and stipulates what has been in evidence since the founding of Israel in 1948 (the Declaration of Independence does not exclude anyone and speaks of the "development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants"; it also explicitly speaks of the "natural right of the Jewish people to be, like all other nations, master of their destiny on the soil of their own sovereign state") led some of these organizations to try to provoke anti-Israel anger among the Druze minority and to organize protests in Tel Aviv.

Twenty-five years after Oslo, the balance sheet is more like what, in 2003, the historian Efraim Karsh, commenting on the Rabin-Arafat handshake, called the start the "Oslo war". In this war, he wrote, Israel had conceded from the beginning a major victory to its worst enemies by giving them a respectability they did not deserve, and thus placed itself in a losing position from which it never fully recovered. In a comprehensive study published in 2016, he reasserted his analysis and said that the 1993 handshake and the document signed then had been the "starkest strategic blunder in Israel's history".

In January 2017, the historian Daniel Pipes, founder and president of the Middle East Forum, explained in detail the urgent need of a deep change in Israel's behavior before it would be too late. The Palestinian population, he stressed, is imbued with a "genocidal obsession towards Israel." He emphasized that:
"Contrary to Rabin's slogan, one does not 'make [peace] with very unsavory enemies' but rather with former very unsavory enemies. That is, enemies that have been defeated...
"...Wars end, the historical record shows, not through goodwill but through defeat. He who does not win loses. Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair, when that side has abandoned its war aims and accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted its will to fight. Conversely, so long as both combatants still hope to achieve their war objectives, fighting either goes on or it potentially will resume."
In 2003, Joel Fishman, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs, wrote that, before any further action concerning the Palestinian issue, the Israeli government would have to stop treating the Palestinian Authority (PA) as what it is not and start treating it as what it is and has never ceased to be: a terrorist organization – and one that should be treated as such. The U.S. and Israeli governments are now going in that direction. On March 6, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Abbas must "stop paying terrorists to murder Jews". The statement not only amounted to designating Abbas as a terrorist leader; it also reminded the public that money incentivizes murder. A few weeks ago, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman noted that Abbas "pays NIS 100 million ($27 million) in salaries to terrorists and murderers" and added "a clear message: No more".

Those who support the Palestinian Authority are supporting terrorism. One can only conclude that in doing so, they have shown themselves as enemies of Israel. Saying that to some governments might be unpopular, but less so non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGO Monitor was founded in 2002 to counter organizations that use the appearance of "defending human rights" to support often harmful goals. In July 2016, the Knesset passed a law demanding that NGOs receiving more than half of their funding from abroad indicate it in their financial reports and disclose the fact in advertising and publicity, and while lobbying officials. How would you like it if more than half of the funding to shape the policies of your country were coming, undisclosed, from openly hostile nations?

Another task that needs urgent attention is exposing, refuting and rejecting the falsifications of history that the PA and its supporters proliferate. The Israeli government's decision to withdraw from the UNESCO after a vote that falsely denied the Jewish connection to Jerusalem's Temple Mount and Western Wall was essential and overdue. When Prime Minister Netanyahu refers to the West Bank, he speaks only of Judea and Samaria, states that Judea is named precisely for the Jews' presence there thousands of years ago, and explains that expelling Jews from Judea and Samaria should be called by its name: ethnic cleansing.

In a March 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen stated:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism."
The same fact was reconfirmed in a video posted by the invaluable resource MEMRI: a Hamas minister of the interior in 2012 states that Palestinians are "just Saudis and Egyptians."

For eight years, the Obama administration took positions to undermine Israel. Those policies culminated with the December 23, 2016 decision not to veto a UN resolution that demanded the return of Israel to "1967 borders", in reality not borders at all but just an armistice line. The policies also defined "East Jerusalem" and the Old City as "occupied Palestinian territory". President Trump on the other hand recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14 and by those moves took Jerusalem off the negotiating table. Guatemala helpfully followed by moving its embassy to Jerusalem, too. When President Trump asked Palestinian leaders to stop paying stipends to terrorists imprisoned in Israel, and to the families of dead terrorists, and the Palestinians refused, he cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority.

President Trump's administration also regarded extending "refugee" status to millions of descendants of the approximately 500,000 original Arab refugees as unjustifiable. According to a classified State Department document, only 30,000 of the original refugees remain today. So the president cut all outstanding funding, roughly $300 million, to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). He added that UNRWA had been "vulnerable to misappropriation and corruption" and that it aggravated the problem instead of contributing to solving it. On September 9, he also decided to freeze $25 million in funding to Palestinian hospitals in Jerusalem for refusing to participate in peace efforts, and on September 10, he decided to close the Palestinian delegation's office in Washington D.C.

The Sunni Arab regimes know that Israel could be their greatest ally against the Iranian threat in the region. Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, said in New York in April that Palestinians will have to "accept the proposals made by the Trump administration or keep quiet". On August 12, Walid Sadi, a former Jordanian diplomat, wrote in the Jordan Times (a newspaper that depends directly on the kingdom's government) that the Palestinian Authority must "resign itself to an imperfect solution". The statement should lead one to reflect on what, in the Palestinian Authority's view, the perfect solution would be.

Israel has always been facing the unrelenting hostility of the European Union, France and Germany, which today are among the most ardent supporters of the corrupted "Palestinian cause". The Israeli government knows it has nothing to expect from them, except being undermined. In July 2016, Mahmoud Abbas, after making openly anti-Semitic remarks in the European Parliament, received a standing ovation. In July 2017, Emmanuel Macron kissed Abbas and with a straight face thanked him for his "tireless work in favor of non-violence". In April 2018, Hams leader Ismail Haniyeh was on the cover of one of the main French news magazines, Paris Match, and that several pages of the magazine were dedicated to a hagiography of a man who can only be described as an anti-Semitic murderer. In April 2017, while on a diplomatic trip to Israel, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel met with groups that slander Israeli soldiers as "war criminals". The European Union, France and Germany will apparently not stop funding the Palestinian Authority and dozens of radical anti-Israel organizations, and are doing everything they can to save the "Iranian nuclear deal" and the mullahs' regime.

The number of Israelis who think that a peace agreement is possible is dwindling. The number of Israelis who think that no additional concessions should be made is growing. The number of Palestinian Arabs supporting terrorist attacks is also growing.

In a recent survey ranking countries on the basis of their alliances, influence and leadership, Israel, despite its small size, was ranked the eighth most powerful country in the world.

Hamas, a crumbling terrorist entity, has been trying to make the brutally governed population of the Gaza strip into a horde of bloodthirsty fanatics. The Palestinian Authority is a corruption-ridden autocracy that survives only thanks to massive aid, mostly from the gullible West – a bribe that not only has failed to work, but, as in most extortion, has only led to further demands for more money with no noticeable change in behavior.

It is has been truly tragic that the people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have been held hostage for so long by Palestinians leaders who feed them on a dream, impede their progress and lead them to incite against Israel to seek its destruction.

In February 2017, US Ambassador John Bolton, now President Trump's National Security Advisor, said he did not see any viable institutions on the "Palestinian" side and added that he thought the best option could be a "three-state solution", whereby Gaza would join Egypt, and a part of the West Bank would join Jordan. The Israeli government did not disagree.

Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.


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US marines team with rebels in southern Syria in large exercise - Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

by Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff 

Pentagon signals to Russia and Iran that American forces will not leave the war-torn country anytime soon

The U.S. flag flutters on a military vehicle in Manbej countryside
Photo: Reuters 

A Syrian rebel commander said on Thursday rare military exercises with U.S. Marines in southern Syria sent a strong message to Russia and Iran that the Americans and the rebels intend to stay and confront any threats to their presence.

Col. Muhanad al Talaa, commander of the Pentagon-backed Maghawir al Thawra group, told Reuters the eight days of drills that ended this week at the U.S. military outpost in Tanf were the first such exercises with live-fire air and ground assault, involving hundreds of U.S. troops and rebel fighters.

"These exercises have a big importance and have beefed up the defenses of the area and raised the combat capabilities and morale and that of civilians in the area," Talaa told Reuters by phone from Tanf, near Syria's borders with Jordan and Iraq.

A U.S. military spokesman said the exercises were a show of force and that the Pentagon had notified Moscow through "deconfliction" channels to prevent "miscommunication or escalate tension."

"The exercise was conducted to reinforce our capabilities and ensure we are ready to respond to any threat to our forces within our area of operations'" Col. Sean Ryan said.

Russia and the Syrian government have repeatedly called on Washington to pull out its troops from Tanf base, where it has declared a 55 kilometer (35 mile) radius "deconfliction zone" off-limits to others.

Rebels say hundreds of U.S. marines arrived this month in Tanf to join special operations troops already based in the garrison and participate in the drills, amid heightened U.S.-Russian tensions in Syria and a naval buildup in the Mediterranean.

The "deconfliction zone" has become a safe haven for at least 50,000 civilians who live in the Rukban camp that lies within it. Russia's defense ministry in August repeated an accusation that Washington has been harboring Islamic State terrorists within the zone.

"We are staying whether the Russians or Iranians want or not," the rebel commander added.

The outpost, surrounded by desert, was established during the battles against Islamic State militants who used to control eastern Syria bordering Iraq.

After Islamic State were driven out, U.S.-led coalition warplanes struck Iranian-backed militias on several occasions to prevent them advancing, in what Washington has described as self-defence.

Tanf lies on the strategic Damascus-Baghdad highway, once a major supply route for Iranian weapons into Syria.

This makes the base a bulwark against Iran and part of a larger campaign against Iran's military expansion in the Middle East.

Control of the area has long been a goal of the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies.

Rebels say the U.S. military's new policy to bolster Tanf's capabilities is a big shift.

"The American position has changed completely towards the Iranians. Before it was just putting a line to the Iranians not to approach the areas," Talaa added.

Tehran's failure to end its military presence in Syria could provoke a U.S. military response, Talaa added.

"If Tehran does not respond to the demands of the Americans there is a big likelihood they will be hit. It's inevitable the Iranians leave Syria. This should happen quickly and in a decisive way," he added.

Turkey warned Thursday that any military operation in Syria's Idlib would bring disaster to the region.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said his country was working with Russia, Iran and allies to stabilize Idlib and to prevent a humanitarian tragedy there, Anadolu said.

Russian media reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will discuss Syria, Ukraine and Iran with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, in Berlin on Friday

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff


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Bassem Eid At EU Parliament: Europe Should Cut The Funding Of BDS Like Trump Cut That Of UNRWA - MEMRI


"Friends, the BDS is a movement which is trying to use the Palestinians in order to gain power and money".

Speaking at the EU Parliament in Brussels, the Jerusalem-based Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid criticized Europe for turning a blind eye, for centuries, to the economic plight of Gaza, saying that "dignity can be achieved only via economic prosperity." Accusing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement of "trying to use the Palestinians in order to gain power and money," Eid said that if Europe cut its funding, like Trump was cutting the funding of UNRWA, the BDS movement would cease to exist within six months. Europe should give the money directly to the Palestinians, he said, adding that the slogans uttered by BDS members that short-term suffering was necessary in order to gain long-term benefits were similar to slogans uttered by Arab leaders in 1948. He also criticized the Palestinian Authority for preventing activists from participating in coexistence events. Eid's statements were posted on his YouTube channel on September 5, 2018.

To view the clip of Bassem Eid on MEMRI TV, click here or below.

"The Palestinian Authority Is Trying To Fight Any Kind Of Cooperation Between The Israelis And The Palestinians, Because The Interest Of The Palestinian Authority Is How To Keep The Palestinians Suffering"

Bassem Eid: "In my opinion, the majority of the European parliamentarians have no idea what is really going on on the ground and what the conflict is about. I used to say all that time that the economic cooperation and the economic prosperity will pave the way one day toward peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Unfortunately, Europe, for centuries, almost kept a blind eye on the whole issue of the economy, and Europe, in the meantime, almost failed to find any political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is the time right now for the Palestinians and the Israelis to work together, far away from the leaders. We shouldn't have to live in fear.

"I must tell you that there are tens of Palestinian businessmen who received an invitation to participate in this conference, and in the last 48 hours they regret to participate, because they received threats from the intelligence forces of the Palestinian Authority. We used to be tens sitting here, on this stage, to speak about the economic situation. But, unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority is trying to fight any kind of cooperation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, because the interest of the Palestinian Authority is how to keep the Palestinians suffering. By suffering only we can rule them.

"Friends, the BDS is a movement which is trying to use the Palestinians in order to gain power and money.

"This is one of the major problems in Europe, because if Europe tomorrow will cut the funding on the BDS, like Trump cut the funding on UNRWA, no BDS will exist in the coming six months.


"In my opinion, the majority of the Palestinians these days are people who are seeking dignity rather than identity. This is one of the most important issues, and dignity can be achieved only via economic prosperity. I used to teach my Palestinian colleagues in the refugee camps that homeland is not the place where you are born. Homeland is the place where you can get dignity, justice, and freedom."

"The BDS Wants To Destroy Israel, And, As A Palestinian, I Don't Have Time For That"


"So Europe should have to help the Palestinians to put an end to the so-called BDS. It is much better for the parliaments in Europe to send the money directly to the Palestinians, rather than to give it to the BDS. The BDS is just using us. The BDS will never ever help us. The BDS will never ever want to achieve any kind of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The BDS wants to destroy Israel, and, as a Palestinian, I don't have time for that.


"I was in South Africa three years ago on the so-called Apartheid Week, and I gave several interviews over there for the media. One of the newspapers contacted the BDS member in South Africa to get his reaction on my thoughts. What did the BDS member in South Africa tell the journalist? He said that Mr. Eid is right when he said that the Palestinians are suffering from calling for the boycott of Israel, but – the BDS member added to the journalist – that it is going to be a short-term suffering with a long-term benefit. You know who told us this statement? The Arab leaders in 1948, when they opened the doors for us by saying: Come! It will a short-term suffering, long-term benefit, and we are waiting 70 years almost. This is the politics. I want to send you attention today to the Gaza Strip.

Look at Gaza – what has happened in Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal. When Ariel Sharon declared his plan to withdraw from Gaza, the Palestinian leaders started running from TV channel to another TV channel, saying: 'If Israel will withdraw, we will make Gaza Singapore.' I wasn't in Singapore, but I'm wondering if the situation is similar to Gaza there. Look what has happened. In my opinion, we, the Palestinians, almost destroyed in Gaza what remains from the Israelis, and this is the result."



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How Feasible Is a Long-Term Truce with Hamas? - Yaakov Lappin

by Yaakov Lappin

Sinwar’s strategic goal is to pressure the Israeli government into agreeing to demands to ease security restrictions around Gaza--. This, Sinwar appears to believe, will prevent an economic-humanitarian meltdown in Gaza that would threaten the viability of his regime.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 947, September 14, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The prospect of a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas brings with it both risks and opportunities. While it remains far from clear that such an arrangement is even feasible, Israel is giving Egyptian mediation efforts a chance.

At present, the Israel-Hamas truce is based on the minimal formula of ‘quiet for quiet.’ Many obstacles stand in the way of efforts to broaden this arrangement.

As time passes, this minimalist formula, in place since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, faces a growing risk of collapsing into a new war.

The truce has already been punctured by five major escalation rounds since May of this year alone, in which Hamas and other armed radical forces in Gaza terrorized southern Israeli areas by firing over 600 rockets and mortars.

The Israel Air Force responded by launching extensive waves of air strikes, hitting hundreds of high-value Hamas military assets in Gaza. Targets included Hamas naval attack tunnels, rocket manufacturing factories, battalion headquarters, command posts, urban warfare training camps, and other enemy assets that Hamas invested considerable time and money into creating.

These rounds of fighting appear to be the result of a calculated campaign by Hamas leader Yihya Sinwar to escalate the situation to the brink of war, but to hold back from tumbling into the abyss.

Sinwar’s campaign of calculated brinksmanship began in March with a series of mass infiltration efforts and border rioting incidents, and continued into armed exchanges with Israel in recent months.

Sinwar’s strategic goal is to pressure the Israeli government into agreeing to demands to ease security restrictions around Gaza by widening the ceasefire understandings. This, Sinwar appears to believe, will prevent an economic-humanitarian meltdown in Gaza that would threaten the viability of his regime.

A broader ceasefire, Hamas hopes, would allow international investment to pour into Gaza, as well as lead to the opening of border crossings, economic and infrastructure projects, the construction of a seaport, and the improvement of purchasing power for Gazans.

Hamas prioritizes the needs of its armed wing over that of its civilian population, and cynically diverts funds and materials towards its military force build-up program. But it is highly concerned about the prospect of an economic crash that could lead to a popular uprising against it by Gazans. Hence, it is looking for a way to end its regional isolation so that outside elements can come in and rescue the faltering Gazan economy.

As part of this same effort, Sinwar tried to reach a reconciliation with his internal Palestinian foe, the Palestinian Authority (PA), by offering it a deal by which the PA would rule Gaza politically and act as a conduit for international funds, while Hamas would maintain its military wing and enjoy a monopoly of arms.

The offer was rejected out of hand by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who described it as “the Hezbollah model.” Abbas also insists that Hamas disband its military wing if internal Palestinian reconciliation is ever to occur.

The Ramallah-Gaza impasse, and the PA’s own sanctions against Gaza, in place to punish Hamas for splitting away from Ramallah’s rule, is one of the main reasons that all efforts to expand the Israel-Hamas ceasefire have failed so far.

With the PA avenue blocked, Hamas turned to the riskier tactic of controlled escalation against Israel.

Hamas’s negotiation tactics have alternated between talks and mortar shells, but its short-term goal remains the same: to open up Gaza to the world while holding onto the terrorist army it has built.

The intended audience for Hamas’s moves is not only Israel and the PA, but also Egypt. Cairo holds the keys to the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Sinai, a crossing Hamas would like to see opened for good. Egypt, for its part, does not wish to see a new armed conflict erupt in Gaza, a development Cairo would view as a destabilizing and destructive regional event, despite Egypt’s inherent hostility towards Hamas.

Hamas, aware that all the regional actors would prefer to see war avoided, has been signaling to Israel, Egypt, and the PA that it is prepared to go to war, if necessary, to avoid the scenario of a domestic uprising due to an economic crash.

Hamas’s regional isolation is not a new problem for it. It became acute when Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government, a natural ideological ally of Hamas, and which Hamas had hoped would become its regional power sponsor, was replaced by the anti-Hamas administration of Egyptian President Al-Sisi in 2013. While Iran has offered some assistance, this is a far cry from the kind of outside support Hamas had hoped to enjoy, and Hamas’s willingness to collaborate with Tehran has earned it the ire of Sunni powers.

Hamas’s efforts to break its isolation was a major factor behind the outbreak of the 2014 conflict with Israel. Today, the very same factor could spur a new war.

Raising the stakes further, Hamas has in recent months introduced a new ‘tit-for-tat’ principle, obligating it to fire projectiles at Israel every time the IDF operates against terrorist activity in Gaza. This principle is designed to protect Hamas’s public image and defend it against accusations by other armed Gazan organizations who have suggested that Hamas has become a pushover in its dealings with Israel.

These factors have all combined to place Hamas and Israel on the verge of a new war. Yet despite Hamas’s radical Islamist ideology, its leadership is keen to preserve its rule in Gaza, and it is aware that a new war with Israel would jeopardize that.

Sinwar seems to recognize the futility of any new war with Israel at this juncture, particularly in light of the effectiveness of Israel’s Iron Dome air defenses and new anti-tunnel technology. The new counter-measures are supposed to entirely eliminate the threat of cross-border tunnels by the end of this year.

At the same time, Hamas’s rocket and mortar shell production efforts have been intensifying over the past year. Gaza is crisscrossed with a maze of internal combat tunnels, and Hamas’s battalions are well equipped for intensive asymmetrical urban warfare. Hamas is also working on new attack capabilities, likely in the form of drones, and new sea-based attack cells. This means that Hamas’s force build-up program is changing direction, but not stopping. Hamas has become adept at domestically producing its own arms due to its difficulties in smuggling in weapons from Sinai.

Israel too has its reasons for wishing to avoid a major Gaza conflict at this stage. One reason is that a full-scale conflict would mean fewer resources would be at Israel’s disposal against the bigger and significantly more dangerous threats that are developing in other arenas.

The Gaza Strip is the least stable arena in Israel’s environment, but it is only one of five active arenas, and it is not the most threatening. The Lebanese and Syrian arenas to the north constitute significantly higher threat levels. Lebanon is run by Hezbollah, the most powerful enemy actor in Israel’s environment. Hezbollah’s firepower capabilities exceed those of most state armies in the world.

In Syria, Iran has been pursuing major efforts to set up attack bases against Israel and flood the country with Shiite militias under Tehran’s command.

According to international reports, Israel regularly deploys precise air power and high-quality intelligence to stall Iran’s takeover of Syria, but the situation remains explosive and unpredictable.

While the IDF was designed to fight on multiple fronts simultaneously and emerge with clear victories, it seems fair to assume that the Israeli defense establishment would prefer to focus its resources on the more dangerous northern fronts, and prioritize those over Gaza if possible.

Stopping Iran’s takeover of Syria is Israel’s foremost immediate goal, and a Gaza conflict now would serve as a distraction from the more dangerous threat developing to the north.

In addition, it seems unlikely that Israel would be able to find viable substitute rulers to replace Hamas in Gaza. That means that containing and deterring Hamas, so long as this is possible, is preferable to any full-scale conflict involving ground forces moving into one of the world’s most heavily armed and dense urban warfare environments. Such a conflict would only become absolutely necessary if Sinwar chooses the option of war.

Thus, while the IDF is now fully prepared to decisively defeat Hamas, Israel has chosen the option of containment and deterrence instead.

As a result of these factors, Egypt’s active mediation efforts in Gaza serve Israel’s interests.
The chances of a broad truce arrangement remain low, but a limited ceasefire that is still firmer than the current unstable set-up might be within reach.

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

Yaakov Lappin is a Research Associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He specializes in Israel’s defense establishment, military affairs, and the Middle Eastern strategic environment.


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'Mosul Eye' Blogger Omar Muhammad Describes ISIS Atrocities In The City - MEMRI


-- he started the blog because he wanted "to prepare an answer to [the] question" of "what happened in Mosul, and what did its people do about it."

In an interview with Deutsche Welle network's Arabic channel, Omar Muhammed, founder of the English-language Mosul Eye blog on life in the Iraqi city of Mosul under Islamic State (ISIS) rule, said that he started the blog because he wanted "to prepare an answer to [the] question" of "what happened in Mosul, and what did its people do about it." He added that ISIS had threatened him with punishments "yet unknown to humanity" that would make him "pray to be killed like the Jordanian pilot" Muath Al-Sasasbeh who was captured by ISIS and executed by being burned alive. He had never felt alone, he said, because "the people of Mosul were on [my] side." Asked to describe the most horrific things he had seen under ISIS rule, he noted the stoning of two women accused of fornication and the chopping off of a child's hand. The interview aired on September 5, 2018.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click here or below: 

The following are excerpts from the interview: 

"I Was Afraid Someone Would Ask: What Happened In Mosul, And What Did Its People Do About It? I Wanted To Prepare An Answer"; We Wrote In English "To Exert Pressure On ISIS, And... To Expose What Was Going On In Mosul"

Omar Mohammed: "ISIS would interfere in every little detail in people's lives. For example, when a man steps out of the house... There was a section in the religious police in charge of how people dress. [They would say to men]: 'It's okay for you to wear jeans, but you must shorten the jeans [to above the ankle].' A woman must wear the niqab, but even then, she is not allowed to step out of the house by herself. She must be accompanied by a male chaperone. The sad joke is that in their view, that person is her protector even if he is her child."

Interviewer: "The important thing is that he is a male."
Omar Mohammed: "Exactly. They would cover the mannequins in clothing stores with the niqab.


"The atmosphere was terrifying. We had to deal with people clad in black and carrying guns. Some of them even carried short swords.

"One of them was known as the sayyaf ['executioner']. He would carry out the death sentences. People were afraid to confront this. They would obey. ISIS would immediately kill anyone it felt might oppose its rulings.


"When ISIS entered Mosul, it did not merely bring its military force and religious rulings. ISIS brought a version of history that it wanted to force upon the city. I thought that after years of ISIS rule, people might start asking questions [that would have no answer]. I was afraid someone would ask: What happened in Mosul, and what did its people do about it? I wanted to prepare an answer for that question.


"I decided that Mosul Eye would tell the direct and live history of the city, using modern technological means. Another decision I made was to write everything in English, because ISIS was not just a local force. The strength of ISIS in the media was not in the local Arab media, but in the international media. So I felt that in order to exert pressure on ISIS, and in order to expose what was going on in Mosul, we should write in English."


"One Of The Most Heinous Things... Was The Stoning Of Two Women Accused Of Fornication... [Another Was] The Chopping Off Of The Hand Of A Child, Whom They Accused Of Theft"

Interviewer: "What's the worst thing you witnessed?"

Omar Mohammed: "To tell you the truth, it was all bad. One of the most heinous things I have seen in my whole life, which haunts me to this day, was the stoning of two women accused of fornication by ISIS.

"They were stoning them, and one woman died, while the other didn't. According to the rules of ISIS – or rather the shari'a law – if the woman does not die, she is absolved of all the things she was accused of. But they did not let her be. It was like a game for them.

"One man asked another to execute her, and he said to him: 'Wait, give her some more time.' Eventually, they shot her in the head. This was one of the most heinous of all the heinous crimes of ISIS.

"Another thing I witnessed was the chopping off of the hand of a child, whom they accused of theft. He was just a child or in his early teens. It was carried out by an ISIS leader with a long white beard. He grabbed his left hand and chopped it off."

"They Said...'We Will Kill You In A Manner Yet Unknown To Humanity'"; "If What I Was Doing Did Not Hurt Or Frighten ISIS, They Would Not Be Treating Me This Way... In Addition, I Had The People Of Mosul On My Side"

Interviewer: "These things were extremely cruel, and you knew that if you were discovered, you would face very harsh [retribution] by the ISIS organization. Weren't you afraid?"

Omar Mohammed: "In one of their threats, they said that I would pray to be killed like the Jordanian pilot. They said: 'This is what you will pray for, but won't get. We will kill you in a manner yet unknown to humanity.'"

Interviewer: "That's terrifying. Didn't it make you think that you should stop, or make you wonder whether it was worth doing what you were doing?"

Omar Mohammed: "I was afraid, to be honest, but at the same time, I felt powerful, because I convinced myself that if what I was doing did not hurt or frighten ISIS, they would not be treating me this way. They would not care what I was doing. In addition, I had the people of Mosul on my side. I felt that it was the people and me against ISIS. I felt that I was not alone."



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Trump Administration Reopens Rutgers Anti-Semitism Case - Joseph Klein

by Joseph Klein

Campus hate groups have just been put on notice.

The Trump administration has decided to reopen a case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, previously closed by the Obama administration in 2014, alleging that the university had allowed Jewish students to be subjected to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. The issue, ignored by the Obama administration, was whether the students were discriminated against based on their actual or perceived Jewish ancestry or ethnicity. Kenneth L. Marcus, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, decided that the case deserved another look. As the New York Times reported, Mr. Marcus’s decision “put the weight of the federal government behind a definition of anti-Semitism that targets opponents of Zionism, and it explicitly defines Judaism as not only a religion but also an ethnic origin.” The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will be examining not only the past case it has reopened. It will also examine whether a hostile environment for Jewish students continues to exist at Rutgers.

According to the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which filed the original complaint on July 20, 2011, the allegations included claims of physical threats and anti-Semitic comments posted on Facebook against at least one Jewish student, and discrimination against Jewish and pro-Israel students. The discrimination charge involved an anti-Israel event entitled “Never Again for Anyone,” sponsored by an anti-Israel student group called “Belief Awareness Knowledge and Action (BAKA),” where an admission fee was allegedly imposed and selectively enforced against Jewish and pro-Israel students.

In reopening the case, Assistant Secretary Marcus focused on the anti-Israel event held on January 29, 2011. He concluded that the Obama administration had erred in dismissing the case because it disregarded evidence that the admission fee allegedly imposed on Jewish students seeking to attend the event was discriminatory, based on ethnicity. The Obama administration also disregarded evidence that Rutgers had failed to respond appropriately to student complaints regarding the pricing policy. The evidence of discrimination, as reported by Algemeiner, included an e-mail purportedly from a BAKA student volunteer at the anti-Israel event stating that there was a need to start charging an admission fee because “150 Zionists just showed up,” although “if someone looks like a supporter, they can get in for free.”  Assistant Secretary Marcus noted that singling out “150 Zionists” for an admission fee “could have been based at least partially on a visual assessment, as opposed to individually polling all 150 such unexpected arrivals as to their views on the policies of the state of Israel.” The selection of whom to charge, he said, “could have been rooted in a perception of Jewish ancestry or ethnic characteristics common to the group.” He added that it is “important to determine whether the conduct related to Israel was motivated by anti-Semitism” and to “determine whether terms such as ‘Zionist’ are actually code for ‘Jewish.’”

What makes Mr. Marcus’s decision to reopen this Rutgers case so significant is that his Department of Education civil rights office decided for the first time to use the definition of anti-Semitism used currently by the U.S. Department of State. This definition, which goes beyond the purely religious dimension, recognizes that under certain circumstances anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism can conflate. The State Department definition describes three ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel, taking into account the overall context (known as the three "Ds" of anti-Israel bias that constitute anti-Semitism):

Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions”

 Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations”

 Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist”
The State Department definition makes clear that anti-Semitism does not include “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country.”

Students for Justice in Palestine, on numerous occasions at Rutgers and at other college campuses across the country, has crossed the line between legitimate criticisms of Israeli government policies and blatant anti-Semitism as defined by the State Department. Amongst its various manifestations of anti-Semitism, Students for Justice in Palestine has actively pushed for the Hamas-inspired Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Jewish state to be adopted at Rutgers and other college campuses. BDS is premised on the three "Ds" of anti-Semitism when it comes to the Jewish state of Israel. It is part of Palestinian activists’ campaign of hate against Jews on campus.

Against this backdrop of hate, it is no coincidence that Jewish students at Rutgers, like elsewhere, have reported an upsurge of hostile actions against them, including a swastika found spray-painted on the outside wall of a Rutgers University residence hall last fall. According to a Brandeis University report released in October 2016, entitled “Hotspots of Antisemitism and Anti-Israel Sentiment on US Campuses,” approximately 39 percent of Rutgers’ Jewish students said they perceived a “hostile environment to Israel.” 
Approximately 25 percent perceived a “hostile environment toward Jews.” As many as one third have witnessed anti-Semitic harassment. Rutgers was among the small number of schools, out of the universe of schools surveyed, that emerged as a setting for Jewish students’ relatively more frequent exposure to anti-Semitic statements, such as “Israelis behave like Nazis” or “Jews have too much power in America.”

Rutgers officials have a mixed record in dealing with anti-Semitism on campus. They did reject a call for the university to take part in the BDS movement against Israel. On the other hand, the Rutgers’ chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine got away with sliding fake “eviction” notices with a municipal code number in the top-right corner, including a case and warrant number, under hundreds of doors at the Rutgers New Brunswick campuses. The Rutgers Bias Prevention Education Committee found no violation of the student life policy prohibiting harassment, according to a letter written by the school’s senior assistant general counsel. The Students for Justice in Palestine chapter claimed that the “eviction” notice, which failed to state it was not real until its third paragraph, was supposed to educate students how Palestinians feel when they receive real eviction notices from Israeli authorities. Evidently, invading students’ rights to privacy in their own dorm rooms with fake eviction notices slid under their doors, causing some of the targeted students to feel insecure in their residences, is not considered harassment at Rutgers.

Several Rutgers professors have spewed anti-Semitic hate. The university took action against one of them, a tenured Rutgers microbiology professor, Michael Chikindas, who had posted vile anti-Semitic material on social media. These included a post calling Judaism “the most racist religion in the world,” a claim that “Israel is the terrorist country aimed at genocidal extermination of the land’s native population, Palestinians,” and a charge that “the Armenian Genocide was orchestrated by the Turkish Jews who pretended to be the Turks” He also posted all manner of anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews.

In a letter sent last December to Rutgers faculty members, University President Robert Barchi and Chancellor Debasish Dutta stated that Professor Chikindas was “found to have posted extensive bigoted, discriminatory, and anti-Semitic material on social media. This material perpetuated toxic stereotypes and was deeply upsetting to Jewish students, faculty, and staff across our community. The fears and concerns they have expressed to us and many university leaders are both justified and understandable.”

In response, the university stripped the anti-Semitic professor of his position as director of Rutgers’ Center for Digestive Health at the Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health. Students will be able to avoid having to sit in his class room because he will be barred from teaching any required courses. He will have to participate in a cultural sensitivity training program. The university may take further disciplinary actions, which could include suspension without pay or even dismissal if approved by a five-member faculty panel. This was a good first step, but only a modest one in dealing with the problem of faculty and other voices of anti-Semitism at Rutgers.

Rutgers still has a long way to go. Kudos to Assistant Secretary Marcus for shining a light on the rising tide of anti-Semitism on American college campuses, including Rutgers.

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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