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Author Topic: Israel, and its neighbors  (Read 501806 times)
Power User
Posts: 7840

« Reply #700 on: September 18, 2009, 10:34:16 AM »

This is a little encouraging:

***Others chanted, "Not Gaza, not Lebanon — our life is for Iran" — a slogan directly challenging the government's support for anti-Israeli Palestinian militants in Gaza and Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrilla"***

Full text below:

Hosted by      Back to Google NewsThousands march in Iran opposition protests
By NASSER KARIMI (AP) – 57 minutes ago

TEHRAN, Iran — Hard-liners attacked senior pro-reform leaders in the streets as tens of thousands marched in competing mass demonstrations by the opposition and government supporters. Opposition protesters, chanting "death to the dictator," hurled stones and bricks in clashes with security forces firing tear gas.

The opposition held its first major street protests since mid-July, bringing out thousands in demonstrations in several parts of the capital. In some cases only several blocks away, tens of thousands marched in government-sponsored rallies marking an annual anti-Israel commemoration.

The commemoration, known as Quds Day, is a major political occasion for the government — a day for it to show its anti-Israeli credentials and its support for the Palestinians. Quds is the Arabic word for Jerusalem. During a speech for the rallies, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad railed against Israel and the West, questioning whether the Holocaust occurred and calling it a pretext for occupying Arab land.

But the opposition was determined to turn the day into a show of its survival and continued strength despite a fierce three-month-old crackdown against it since the disputed June 12 presidential election.

Top opposition leaders joined the protests, in direct defiance of commands by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who barred anti-government demonstrations on Quds Day. That could provoke an escalation in the crackdown: hard-line clerics have been demanding the past week that any leader backing the protests should be arrested.

Tens of thousands joined the government-organized marches, starting in various parts of the capital and proceeding to Tehran University. Police and security forces, along with pro-government Basij militiamen, fanned out along main squares and avenues and in many cases tried to keep nearby opposition protesters away from the Quds Day rallies to prevent clashes, witnesses said.

Opposition supporters poured onto main boulevards and squares, wearing green T-shirts and wristbands and waving green banners and balloons — the color of the reform movement. They waved their fingers in the air in V-for-victory signs along with pictures of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, chanting "death to the dictator."

Others chanted, "Not Gaza, not Lebanon — our life is for Iran" — a slogan directly challenging the government's support for anti-Israeli Palestinian militants in Gaza and Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrilla. Some shouted for Ahmadinejad's government to resign. Some women marched with their children in tow.

But at one of the several opposition rallies around the city, a group of hard-liners pushed through the crowd and attacked former President Mohamad Khatami, a cleric who is one of the most prominent pro-reform figures, according to a reformist Web site. The report cited witnesses as saying the opposition activists rescued Khatami and quickly repelled the assailants.

Another reformist Webs site said Khatami's turban was disheveled and he was forced to leave the march.

Hard-liners tried to attack the main opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, when he joined another march elsewhere in the city, a witness said. Supporters rushed Mousavi into his car when the hard-liners approached, and the vehicle sped away as his supporters pushed the hard-liners back, the witness said. He and other witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government retaliation.

Another pro-reform leader, Mahdi Karroubi, who also ran in the presidential election, also joined protests elsewhere in the city.

In one of the main Tehran squares, Haft-e Tir, security forces weilding batons and firing tear gas tried to break up one of the opposition marched, and were met with protesters throwing stones and bricks, witnesses said. Several policemen were seen being taken away with light injuries. At least 10 protesters were seized by plainclothes security agents in marches around the city, witnesses said.

The pro-government Quds Day rallies were held in cities around the country. In the southern city of Shiraz, the opposition held a counter-demonstration, and a witness said police rushed the protesters with batons, scuffling with them. Opposition Web sites also reported pro-reform protests in the central city of Isfahan.

The opposition claims that Ahmadinejad won the June election by fraud and that Mousavi is the rightful victor. Hundreds of thousands marched in support of Mousavi in the weeks after the vote, until police, Basij and the elite Revolutionary Guard crushed the protests, arresting hundreds. The opposition says 72 people were killed in the crackdown, thought the government puts the number at 36. The last significant protest was on July 17.

In sheer numbers, the opposition turnout was far smaller than the mass pro-government Quds Day marches — not surprising given the state's freedom to organize the gathering.

Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani — who is a behind-the-scenes supporter of Mousavi — made an appearance at one Quds Day march, as would be expected from him as a senior cleric in the leadership. For the past 25 years, Rafsanjani traditionally has delivered the Friday prayer sermon on Quds Day, but he was barred from doing so this year and replaced by a hard-liine supporter of Ahmadinejad, Ahmad Khatami.

Customarily on Quds Day, Iranians gather for pro-Palestinian rallies in various parts of the city, marching through the streets and later converging for the prayer ceremony. The ceremony was established in 1979 by the leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Just hundreds of yards (meters) away from opposition protesters on the main Keshavarz Boulevard, thousands of Ahmadinejad supporters marched carrying huge photographs of the president and Supreme Leader Khamenei. Some in the government-sponsored rally chanted: "Death to those who oppose the supreme leader!"

At the climax of the occasion, Ahmadinejad addressed worshippers before Friday prayers at the Tehran University campus, reiterating his anti-Holocaust rhetoric that has drawn international condemnation since 2005. He questioned whether the "Holocaust was a real event" and saying Israel was created on "false and mythical claims."

(This version CORRECTS that Rafsanjani appeared at a Quds Day rally, not an opposition protest.)

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Power User
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« Reply #701 on: September 18, 2009, 10:36:03 AM »

Obama will support Israel just like he supports our other allies.....
Power User
Posts: 7840

« Reply #702 on: September 18, 2009, 12:01:00 PM »

"Obama will support Israel just like he supports our other allies....."

Unless there is something behind the scenes we are not privy to he has already made it clear he will leave Israel at risk for a nuclear attack without lifting a finger.

What would one expect of a person who sat in J Wright's church for 20 years and like many radical Blacks defends the Muslim Palestinians before they would ever say a kind thing about Jews?

The Jews who work for him are just along for the ride to power (and riches from subsequent consulting fees) and have thrown Israel onto the back burner - pun intended.

George Soros - and a holocaust survivor too - are you happy now?

You just helped put your own heritage into the situation of either being murderers in self defense or risk being victoms of another holocaust.   What say you?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #703 on: September 19, 2009, 10:30:10 PM »

Brezinski Calls for Obama to Shoot Down Israeli Jets; "A Liberty in Reverse"

In a little noticed interview with the Daily Beast (presumably little noticed because serious people don't read the Daily Beast), Zbigniew Brzezinski suggests that Barack Obama do more than just refuse to support an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites -- the American president must give the order to shoot down Israeli aircraft as they cross Iraqi airspace:

DB: How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America’s worst interest?

Brzezinski: We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?

DB: What if they fly over anyway?

Brzezinski: Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse.

Contrary to Brezinski's half-hearted disclaimer that no one wishes for such an outcome, there are plenty on the left who would delight in a pitched battle between the United States and Israel. Democrats in Congress routinely support resolutions affirming Israel's right to take whatever steps it deems necessary to assure its own national defense. And Obama has at least paid lip service to the concept. But hostility to Israel among the rank and file is very real on the left -- and among "realists."

So conjure the image -- the Obama administration sending U.S. aircraft up to protect Iran's airspace and it's nuclear installations from an attack by a democracy that is one of America's closest allies. Unfortunately, this may not be so hard to imagine in Israel, where the number of people who believe Obama is pro-Israel is at just 4 percent -- and falling. And given Obama's (literally) submissive posture to the Saudis, his indulgence of the Iranians, and his simultaneously hard-line approach to Israel, it seems even some of Obama's supporters can savor the possibility of a "reverse Liberty."

Posted by Michael Goldfarb on September 19, 2009 03:38 PM
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« Reply #704 on: September 19, 2009, 10:36:23 PM »


Obama just sold out our allies in eastern europe. Things don't look good for Israel either, just as I predicted last year.
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Posts: 9483

« Reply #705 on: September 19, 2009, 11:21:16 PM »

"Obama just sold out our allies in eastern Europe. Things don't look good for Israel either..."

Already mentioned here but isn't it odd and a potential political time-bomb to know that the current, US ruling party includes nearly all Jewish-Americans and nearly all American haters of Israel, all in one big tent.

I recall in 2004 when international polling indicated that nearly everyone overseas hoped John Kerry would win, the exception was Israel where the Jerusalem Post reported that Bush was favored by a wide margin.

I suppose that liberal Jewish Americans don't favor Netanyahu or his policies so the contradiction is mutual.
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Posts: 7840

« Reply #706 on: September 20, 2009, 02:47:36 PM »

"isn't it odd and a potential political time-bomb to know that the current, US ruling party includes nearly all Jewish-Americans and nearly all American haters of Israel, all in one big tent."


Not only odd but remarkable.

I have asked the "how can this be question" many times.

All I can say is liberal Jews (At least the American ones) despise conservatives, Republicans more than ANYTHING else.
To them cans are worse than Nazis.  I am not kidding.

There pure hatred for anything leaning right will warp their reasoning.

They are in total denial about Obama and Israel.   They will endlessly rationalize away the obvious fact he is an enemy of Israel because they otherwise agree with his radical left wing agenda. 

"I suppose that liberal Jewish Americans don't favor Netanyahu or his policies so the contradiction is mutual."

I don't know the answer to this question but it is a good one.

*W was Israel's best friend.* 
An Israeli who is now in America and I suspect was supporter of Obama does agree with this statement - at least now.   I think he was duped by Obama's "make them think you are one of them" strategy.

He ain't duping me.

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Posts: 808

« Reply #707 on: September 20, 2009, 03:52:24 PM »

Not all Jews are Zionists. Some Jews are Anti-Zionists. Recently my neighbor showed me a video of a group of American Rabbis who visited Iran to express their solidarity with the evil midget, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad!

Anyone who pretends to understand Jews is delusional.

Denny Schlesinger

Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #708 on: September 20, 2009, 06:10:57 PM »

captainccs  that hurts my brain...I feel makes no sense.....bizaro world shocked.  Could it be a weird form of Stockholm syndrome.  How twisted is their world view?  Is it really true or a got me it is a joke right?
Power User
Posts: 808

« Reply #709 on: September 20, 2009, 06:24:02 PM »

captainccs  that hurts my brain...I feel makes no sense.....bizaro world shocked.  Could it be a weird form of Stockholm syndrome.  How twisted is their world view?  Is it really true or a got me it is a joke right?

Not a joke:


Denny Schlesinger
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Posts: 808

« Reply #710 on: September 20, 2009, 06:31:09 PM »

Neturei Karta - Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism

Neturei Karta is an international organization of Orthodox Jews dedicated to the propagation and clarification of Torah Judaism.

Neturei Karta: What is it?
« Last Edit: September 20, 2009, 06:36:52 PM by captainccs » Logged

Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #711 on: September 21, 2009, 07:44:02 AM »

Ahmadinejad proud of Holocaust denial

AP – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks before Friday prayers at the Tehran University campus in …

By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer – 10 mins ago

TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday he was proud his denial of the Holocaust had enraged the West, as the controversial leader geared up for a United Nations trip to stress what he said would be a message of "peace and friendship."

Ahmadinejad's latest comment about the killing of millions of Jews during World War II comes as Iran is locked in a bitter dispute with the U.S. and other Western nations over its nuclear program. Even as that fight continues, his remarks were sure to earn the Iranian president an even more frigid reception when he heads to New York on Tuesday to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

"The anger of the world's professional killers is (a source of) pride for us," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

He was responding to a question about criticism from the European Union following a speech on Friday in which he questioned whether the Holocaust was a "real event." The manslayers reference appeared to be directed primarily at Israel and the U.S.

"It's a sad day for the Iranian people," French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Christine Fages said in an online briefing Monday in reference to Ahmadinejad's latest Holocaust statements. She said "they unfortunately add to the long list of hateful statements" by Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly raised questions about the Holocaust. He has said it has been used as a pretext for Israel's formation, and that Israel and Jewish groups are actively muzzling any attempt to link shame over the Nazi atrocities with the what many in the Muslim Middle East believe is the West's bias for the Jewish state at their expense.

The comments have done little to bolster sympathy for Iran's conservative government, which the U.S. and others believe is looking to enrich uranium with an eye to nuclear weapons production. Iranian officials deny the charge, saying the program is for purely peaceful purposes.

The Iranian president is slated to address the U.N. on Wednesday, said IRNA.

"The most important message of this year's visit by president to New York is peace and friendship for all nations, fighting suppression and interaction with all nations in the framework of justice and mutual respect," Mohammad Jafar Mohammadzadeh, a spokesman for Ahmadinejad's office told IRNA.

Ahmadinejad's last trips to the U.N. have been marked by sharp protests. In 2007, before a planned speech at New York's Columbia University, he sat through a scathing criticism by the elite university's president.

Mohammadzadeh said Ahmadinejad was planning to meet extensively with the media while in the U.S., and that the "Zionist lobby," despite its efforts, will be unable to "stop the publication of the justice-seeking message of Iranians by their president."

Ahmadinejad is sure to face a drubbing over the nuclear issue and questions about whether Iran will negotiate or face the threat of even deeper sanctions.

The U.S. administration has invited Iran to start a dialogue on its nuclear program and gave a vague September deadline for Tehran to take up the offer. The U.S. and five other world powers accepted an offer from Iran earlier this month to hold "comprehensive, all-encompassing and constructive" talks on a range of security issues, including global nuclear disarmament.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana will meet Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili on Oct. 1 for talks on the nuclear issue.


Denny Schlesinger
Power User
Posts: 9483

« Reply #712 on: September 21, 2009, 09:28:37 AM »

"Some Jews are Anti-Zionists."

Sorting out the meaning of this, Zionism is support for the existence of a state of Israel.  I couldn't tell from the video if the anti-Zionists along with Ahmedinejad favor annihilation or some other method of disappearance.

Further I find it odd that anti-Israel nations find comfort in the UN.  Wasn't that the origin of their problem.  Or through war where they lost even more ground?

Life is odd in the US also where the further our fading system of liberty and free enterprise brings us toward health, peace, and prosperity and the more people we find that want to turn it back in failed directions.
« Reply #713 on: September 27, 2009, 01:42:38 PM »

Bob Dylan and a slide show make for a powerful statement:

« Reply #714 on: September 29, 2009, 07:07:06 AM »

Editor's Notes: The IDF's new Yom Kippur challenges
Sep. 24, 2009

Defense chiefs are learning how to confront enemies who operate among civilians, and to confront them while trying to hold to a fine moral line. But the task of conveying our complex reality tothe international community is not being adequately met.

For 36 years, the Israeli army has struggled to shake off the trauma of a war for which it was unprepared.

Yom Kippur 1973 is modern Israel's "never again" moment - never again will the defenders of this country risk the destruction of the Jewish nation through hubris, through misconception, through the misreading of enemy intentions and the underestimation of enemy capabilities.

For all its qualitative advantages over neighboring armies, the Israel Defense Forces simply does not possess nearly enough manpower, equipment and budget to maintain the deployment of the forces necessary on each and every potential front to confront all possible dangers all the time. So protecting Israel in this most hostile and ruthless of neighborhoods, 36 years after their predecessors so fatefully miscalculated, inevitably remains a matter of assessment - for the IDF's intelligence chiefs and their colleagues across the General Staff and in the security services: How likely is an initiated enemy attack across this or that border? Which other players might also be drawn into conflict? How must we allocate our resources to face the potential threat? Which additional capabilities do we require?

Day after day, week after week, year after year, the dangers are assessed and reassessed, and the IDF's commanders adjust and perfect the strategies and tactics to meet them.

Except that safeguarding Israel, the little country that was almost overrun in 1973, has become significantly more complex since then.

THE THREAT of conventional warfare is ever-present - of enemy tanks on coordinated fronts seeking to punch deep into Israeli territory, with enemy aircraft striving for supremacy in the skies above. But, for now at least, a wealth of factors - notably including Israel's currently peerless air power and the cold but stable peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan - mean that it is not deemed likely.

Over recent years, instead, our enemies have focused on an alternate avenue through which to seek our defeat - terrorism: The deliberate targeting not of our military power - in the "classic" confrontations of men at war with guns and tanks and fighter planes and bombers - but of our civilians, especially via suicide bombers and missile attacks.

The construction of the West Bank security barrier and the sealing of the Gaza Strip drastically reduced the capacity for suicide bombers to easily enter Israel and blow us up in our malls and restaurants and buses. But we are still several years away, at best, from a hermetic defensive solution to the missile threat posed by Hizbullah's tens of thousands of Katyushas and worse to the north, Hamas's gradually reviving Kassam and Grad capacity to the south, and yet more dangerous capabilities in Syria and, most worryingly, in Iran.

Our enemies' departure from the regulated "norms" of warfare is not limited to the targets of their violence, however. The challenge facing today's IDF derives not only from the need to keep our civilians safe. It extends to the need to keep the enemy's civilians as safe as we can, too. For Hamas and Hizbullah don't only fire into civilian territory. They fire out of civilian territory - from the backyards of homes in the villages of south Lebanon; from outside the mosques and schools and along the refugee camp alleyways of the Gaza Strip. Judge Goldstone has it back to front: It's Hamas that kills and wants us to kill Palestinian civilians. We're the ones who don't want to.

Hamas fires into our homes and schools, and celebrates when it murders and maims. And when the civilians it has so ruthlessly put in harm's way are killed or hurt as Israel bids to staunch the salvoes, it duplicitously protests our "aggression" to the international community. And much of the international community, most recently emblemized by Goldstone, is proving incapable of distinguishing between aggressor and defender, between terrorism and sovereign protection.

IN AN interview three years ago, Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy, then the commander of the Israel Air Force, spoke to me of the "cynicism" of Hamas in Gaza - terrorists who, as he put it, "cloak themselves in civilians."

They are "capable of putting their own children in the car when they set off to fire a Kassam at the State of Israel," he noted. "They can take their own children to terror training bases. Cynicism is firing missiles from the yard of a house, a meter from the house, where it's obvious that if we hit back, we hit the house. We are always grappling with these dilemmas," he said. "All the time. Understand?"

A few weeks after our conversation, we did indeed understand. The Second Lebanon War erupted, and it became plain to all Israelis that Hizbullah was employing an identical strategy in south Lebanon.

Do we shoot at those missile crews when there are children nearby, children deliberately brought into the line of fire by Hamas, I asked Shkedy back then? No we do not, he responded. Instead, he said, the IDF was improving its accuracy. "Our answer is to create a situation where you hit within a meter, a meter and a half. If we know that [the terrorist] is holding his son's hand, we do not fire. Even if the terrorist is in the midst of firing a Kassam, and the Kassam is aimed to kill. We do not fire."

Enemy "cynicism" has only deepened since then - presenting new moral dilemmas for the IDF.

Facing the IDF's Operation Cast Lead onslaught at the turn of the year, Hamas stored weapons in mosques. It booby-trapped schools. It left guns ready to fire in homes all over Gaza, while its gunmen, "unarmed," dodged from home to home out of uniform knowing that their weapons were waiting.

In Gaza nine months ago, Shkedy's successors say, the IDF did its utmost to isolate the combatants from Hamas's civilian pawns. That the IDF dropped leaflets and made phone calls and sent SMS messages and more to warn Palestinian civilians to leave combat zones is well-known and thoroughly documented. And while the IDF acknowledges that hundreds of civilians were killed and is itself investigating several allegations of illegitimate use of force against Palestinian civilians, some of them raised by local human rights watchdog organizations, the most senior officers are adamant that they have come across not a single instance in which civilians were deliberately targeted.

Nevertheless, in its assault on Hamas, the IDF was guided by the principle that its priority was, first, to protect Israeli civilians and, second, to protect its own soldiers, while still aborting innumerable operations because of feared Palestinian civilian casualties.

As commanders in the field said at the time of the fighting, therefore, if their troops were coming under fire from a building where civilians had been ordered to leave, air power was sometimes called in and the building targeted from above. That makes for a striking contrast to 2002's Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank. In that offensive, no remotely comparable effort was made to persuade civilians to leave the combat zone, and a dozen soldiers lost their lives in a single ambush in Jenin refugee camp, for example, because the IDF felt it had to choose close-combat over air power given that so many civilians were in the vicinity.

The shift in IDF tactics is highly significant. Still coming to terms with Palestinian terrorists' readiness to operate from the heart of residential areas in 2002, the IDF placed soldiers' lives in acute danger by fighting house to house in West Bank terror enclaves with many of its superior military capabilities, most notably in the air, neutralized by the imperative to minimize Palestinian civilian losses. Having internalized that Hamas cynicism by 2008-09, the IDF made a priority of compelling Palestinian civilians to evacuate, and thus, while close-combat was still a dominant feature during the fighting, it felt it could more legitimately call in air support on occasion to save the lives of its troops on the ground.

As IDF commanders have stressed again and again, it was Hamas that created the civilian theater of war in Gaza. Israel had left the Strip and had no desire to return. The rocket fire on Sderot and beyond ultimately left no choice. But it had adjusted its tactics and internalized lessons bitterly learned in previous such confrontations.

In an interview in these pages last week, Shkedy's successor, Ido Nehushtan, responding to questions about the level of Palestinian civilian fatalities, was emphatic that the Israel Air Force's choice of targets was moral. Pressed on the specific targeting of Hamas police personnel in the IAF's initial attacks, Nehushtan referred to Hamas as a terrorist construction from top to bottom, a rogue force that killed fellow Palestinians when seizing power from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in Gaza in June 2007.

"Look at the way they killed Fatah... their own people," he recalled. "We need to disconnect from traditional military concepts and understand that Hamas doesn't work that way. They don't come in uniforms or in tanks to a battlefield... We did the detailed inspection of every single target. But they are the opposite and intentionally target civilians. This is an asymmetric conflict not just on a military level but also on an ethical and moral level."

Other security officials note that the vast majority of the 89 Hamas police personnel killed in those first December 27, 2008, air strikes were members of the Izzadin Kassam Brigades or other military forces, and that several of them had been directly involved in acts of terrorism.

It was the chief of the General Staff himself, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, who took the decision not to bomb Gaza City's Shifa Hospital during Cast Lead, even though the Hamas leadership was known to have established a key center of operations there. He could not justify the unavoidable loss of civilian life. By contrast, as I noted in these pages in January, the IDF unprecedentedly blew up a series of Gaza mosques - 14 in all, it transpires - in which Grad rockets were stored, tunnel entrances were concealed and other Hamas operations were centered.

Goldstone, risibly, could find no proof that mosques were utilized for Hamas military purposes, despite IDF footage released at the time. The absence of an Islamic outcry, moreover, underlines that the watching Muslim world was aware of the legitimacy of the IDF's choice of targets - aware, that is, of Hamas's abuse of what should have been tranquil places of worship.

In retrospect, given Goldstone's evident gullibility or worse, Hamas has doubtless realized that it missed an opportunity when failing to encourage global Islamic protests - Danish cartoon-style - against what it could have branded the IDF's senseless destruction of houses of prayer. In retrospect, too, it has doubtless realized it could have gained more international sympathy, and brought more criticism down upon Israel, by vociferously protesting that its dead policemen were innocent traffic cops.

Next time, and there will almost certainly be a next time, it can be sadly anticipated that Hamas will have rectified such failings, the better to demonize Israel. Whether the IDF is learning similar lessons is, unfortunately, a more open question.

OUR DEFENSE chiefs have demonstrably found many of the military answers to the challenge of fighting enemies who operate among civilians, and to confront them while trying to hold to a fine moral line. But the challenge of explaining the moral legitimacy of those military answers, for a world inclined to rush to superficial judgment, is not being adequately met. The Goldstone panel may have been a lost cause from the start - given its mandate and its mindset. But the task of conveying our complex reality to the international community, an essential mission if Israel is to attain wider sympathy and empathy and, by extension, wider room for military maneuver, is certainly not a cause Israel can afford to abandon.

The IDF would have helped itself immensely during Operation Cast Lead had it arranged controlled access to the civilian theater of war for credible local and foreign journalists. Better yet, before the conflict began, the IDF should have given journalists as much information as security considerations would allow into enemy battle tactics - the use of schools and mosques, the fighting out of uniform - so that the realities of the battle would be better understood as it unfolded. Those kinds of advance insights will be crucial as Israel seeks to win greater understanding in future conflicts.

The IDF would help itself immeasurably, furthermore, if, along with its own internal investigations of possible abuses, it enabled independent, transparent, domestic investigation of particularly grave allegations of misuse of force. An organization that honorably investigates its own alleged abuses can ardently claim that justice is being done, but it cannot expect automatic acceptance of this assertion.

The IDF would help itself, too, if it internalized that, along with documenting our own fatalities, it must document casualties on the other side, however outrageous that may sound: In Gaza, the Hamas health apparatus held a near monopoly on information regarding how many Palestinians were dying and whether or not they were combatants. Subsequent IDF reports documenting that this "civilian" was actually an Izzadin Kassam operative, and that "medic" was actually a gunman found posing proudly with automatic weapon in hand on the pages of innumerable Hamas Web sites, came far too late to have any impact.

THIRTY-SIX years after the Yom Kippur War, the enemy has changed. The dangers are less predictable and the skills needed to meet them are more diverse. Israel no longer fights primarily on the conventional battlefield. Our enemies have placed our civilians, and theirs, on the front line. Deterrence is more critical than ever. Enemies do not surrender; for the likes of Hamas and Hizbullah, mere survival is "victory," no matter how great the suffering they cause to the people they purport to represent.

No amount of explanation, articulation and insight will enlighten those, like the Goldstone panel and the UN body that dispatched it, who are willfully blind to these and other realities. But an intensified focus on persuading the international community of the legitimacy of Israel's cause, and the tools employed to safeguard it, is vital. It could help render the biases of those who seek to delegitimize Israel more visible and undermine those who seek to deny us our right to self-defense.

Where the enemies of 1973 sensed a debilitating Israeli over-confidence on the conventional battlefield, the enemies of 2009 realize that Israel is hard-pressed to explain the intricacies and moralities of the civilian theater of war they have imposed upon us. And if there's one thing that hasn't changed in 36 years, it is that when our enemies identify Israeli hesitation, disarray and weakness, they will relentlessly seek to exploit it.
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« Reply #715 on: September 29, 2009, 09:47:30 AM »

Where the enemies of 1973 sensed a debilitating Israeli over-confidence on the conventional battlefield, the enemies of 2009 realize that Israel is hard-pressed to explain the intricacies and moralities of the civilian theater of war they have imposed upon us. And if there's one thing that hasn't changed in 36 years, it is that when our enemies identify Israeli hesitation, disarray and weakness, they will relentlessly seek to exploit it.

And now they do the same with the American leadership.

Our morality and kindness hurts us.

Years ago coutries had no problem leveling cities and towns of enemies without regard to "civilians".
Now we are so worried about hurting an innocent and having it shown on cable around the world we actually screw ourselves.
And our enemies rather than receiving our kindness with cooperation and peace receive as weakness and fight even harder with more contempt.

« Reply #716 on: September 30, 2009, 12:51:54 PM »

Goldstone, Are You God?
Richard Goldstone’s “fact-finding mission” found what it wanted to find.

By Brett Joshpe

‘Are you God?” is an appropriate question to ask someone who takes on the role of judge, jury, and executioner. That is exactly what South African jurist Richard Goldstone — who was chief prosecutor for the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunals on Yugoslavia and Rwanda — did in leading an “independent fact-finding mission” to investigate the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas last December and January.

Goldstone is formally presenting his blistering 575-page critique of Israel to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva this week. The UNHRC — the successor body to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, which orchestrated the infamously anti-Israel Durban Conference in 2001 — has sought to demonize Israel from the start. The Goldstone mission’s original mandate was to investigate only crimes committed by the “occupying power, Israel” (although that mandate was later broadened to include crimes committed by Hamas). One person chosen to serve on the mission, Prof. Christine Chinkin, had earlier co-signed an open letter condemning Israel’s “war crimes.” But other members of the mission, particularly Goldstone himself, continue to insist that the report was objective and that its conclusions were not pre-determined.

Goldstone is an accomplished and respected legal practitioner. As such, he is very familiar with the difference between conclusions of fact and conclusions of law. The UNHRC’s mandate to the Goldstone mission was to engage in fact finding. In a court of law, that’s what a jury does. Instead, Goldstone decided to become jury, judge, and executioner.

His report repeatedly takes alleged “facts” — which were gleaned from highly unreliable third-party sources — and then draws legal conclusions. Not only was this beyond the mission’s mandate, but the report consistently misstates legal standards on the basis of insufficient factual evidence.

For instance, the report states that “the Mission believes that Israel has violated its obligation to allow free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital objects, food and clothing (Article 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention).” However, the report fails to explain that the obligation to allow humanitarian aid under Article 23 is “subject to the condition that . . . there are no serious reasons for fearing: (a) that the consignments may be diverted from their destination, (b) that the control may not be effective, or (c) that a definitive advantage may accrue to the military efforts or economy of the enemy. . . . ”

Given that Hamas repeatedly stole humanitarian aid intended for civilians, the obligation on Israel to continue allowing such aid was mitigated. Nonetheless, Israel still facilitated significantly increased humanitarian assistance. The Goldstone mission also accuses Israel of targeting civilians and violating the principle of distinction, when in fact the “civilians” in question were part of the armed “police” wing of Hamas.

Furthermore, the fact finding was to pertain to Operation Cast Lead (as the Israeli attack on Hamas rocket-launching installations was codenamed). Instead, the mission engages in a rambling analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict generally (omitting the crucial context of terrorism) and discusses the legalities of “Israeli occupation” and the Israeli wall, all items well beyond the stated scope of the mission.

Finally, Goldstone felt compelled to issue a verdict — that Israelis are guilty and should be prosecuted — which was based on the mission’s most misguided conclusion of all: that Israel is incapable of conducting fair and honest investigations internally. The mission recommended that the Security Council, the International Criminal Court, or a state that exercises universal jurisdiction, such as Australia or Belgium, take up the matter.

There are simply no honest grounds for concluding that Israel is unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute its own soldiers or officials. Israel is currently prosecuting a former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, for corruption. Why would it have any problem prosecuting military personnel? History shows that it does not. From 2002 through 2008, Israeli authorities opened 1,467 criminal investigations of alleged soldier misconduct, issued 140 indictments, and convicted 103 defendants. These decisions are subject to review at the highest level of the Israeli judicial system. That isn’t the case even in the United States.

In an op-ed last week in the Jerusalem Post, Richard Goldstone wrote: “The mission’s mandate . . . could have been used by Israel to encourage the U.N. and especially the Human Rights Council to move in a new direction beneficial to the interests of Israel.” The implications of that statement say a great deal. The mission was engaged not in fact finding but in political manipulation. Had Israel chosen to play along, maybe the “facts” in the final report would have looked different. When you’re playing God, you can make the facts look however you like.

— Brett Joshpe is an attorney and author in New York City.
National Review Online -
« Reply #717 on: September 30, 2009, 02:16:30 PM »

What did you expect- Its's the U.N.  Which is making itself increasingly inconsequential in recent years. I think the only reason they are still in New York is so that we can keep an eye on them.

Israel has increasingly moved to a more reactive instead of proactive stance.  Maybe It thinks the last attempt to be proactive in Lebanon was to expensive politically? Israel is always hitting missile launch sites and safe houses, Hamas/ Hezbollah hit city busses and supermarkets.  I think the ethics of each side are pretty clear in their target choices.  Israel has yet to say "Jerusalem is closed to Moslems and Christians" like the Moslem world has done several times. (pre and post crusades, for Christians and Jews).
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« Reply #718 on: October 02, 2009, 08:19:30 AM »

Friday Feature /Can Syria Pass 'Israel Test'?
CAROLINE GLICK, (9/30/09): There has been much talk in
recent months about the prospect of Syria bolting the Iranian axis and
becoming magically transformed into an ally of the West.
Although Syria's President-for-life Bashar Assad's daily demonstrations of
fealty to his murderous friends has exposed this talk as nothing more than
fantasy, it continues to dominate the international discourse on Syria.

In the meantime, Syria's ongoing real transformation, from a more or less
functioning state into an impoverished wasteland, has been ignored.

Today, the country faces the greatest economic catastrophe in its history.
The crisis is causing massive malnutrition and displacement for hundreds
of thousands of Syrians. These Syrians - some 250,000 mainly Kurdish
farmers - have been forced off their farms over the past two years because
their lands were reclaimed by the desert.

Today shantytowns have sprung up around major cities such as Damascus.
They are filled with internally displaced refugees. Through a cataclysmic
combination of irrational agricultural policies embraced by the Ba'athist
Assad dynasty for the past 45 years that have eroded the soil, and massive
digging of some 420,000 unauthorized wells that have dried out the
groundwater aquifers (Reuters is reporting that half the wells were dug
illegally), Syria's regime has done everything in its power to dry up the
country. The effects of these demented policies have been exacerbated in
recent years by Turkey's diversion of Syria's main water source, the
Euphrates River, through the construction of dams upstream, and by two
years of unrelenting drought. Today, much of Syria's previously fertile
farmland has become wasteland. Former farmers are now destitute day
laborers with few prospects for economic recovery.

Imagine if in his country's moment of peril, instead of clinging to his
alliance with Iran, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and Hamas, Assad were to turn to
Israel to help him out of this crisis?

Israel is a world leader in water desalination and recycling. The largest
desalination plant in the world is located in Ashkelon. Israeli technology
and engineers could help Syria rebuild its water supply.

Israel could also help Syria use whatever water it still has, or is able
to produce through desalination and recycling more wisely through drip
irrigation - which was invented in Israel. Israel today supplies 50
percent of the international market for drip irrigation. In places like
Syria and southern Iraq that are now being dried out by the Turkish dams,
irrigation is primitive - often involving nothing more than water trucks
pumping water out of the Euphrates and driving it over to fields that are
often less than a kilometer away.

Then there are Syria's dwindling oil reserves. No doubt, Israeli engineers
and seismologists would be able to increase the efficiency and
productivity of existing wells and so increase their output. It is
certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that Israeli scientists and
engineers could even discover new, untapped oil reserves.

But, of course, Syria isn't interested in Israel's help. Syria wants to
have its enemy and eat it too. . . .

. . . . The Palestinians and the Syrians are not alone. From Egypt to
Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and Indonesia, the Arab and Muslim world has
preferred poverty and economic backwardness to the prosperity that would
come from engaging Israel. They prefer their staunch rejection of Israel
and hatred of Jews and the economic stagnation this involves to the
prosperity and political freedom and stability that would come from an
acceptance of Israel.

As American economic and technology guru George Gilder puts it in his new
book "The Israel Test," "The test of a culture is what it accomplishes in
advancing the human cause - what it creates rather than what it claims."

Gilder's book is a unique and necessary contribution to the current
international debate about the Middle East. Rather than concentrate solely
on Arab claims from Israel as most writers do, Gilder turns his attention
to what the nations of the region create. Specifically, he shows that only
Israel creates wealth through creativity and innovation and that today
Israel is contributing more to the human cause through its scientific,
technological and financial advances than any other country in the world
except the United States.

"The Israel Test" describes in riveting detail both the massive
contributions of mainly Diaspora Jews to the U.S. victories in World War
II and the Cold War and to the scientific revolutions of the 20th century
that set the foundations for the computer age, and the massive
contributions of Israeli Jews to the digital revolution that defines and
shapes our economic realities today.

But before Gilder begins to describe these great Jewish contributions to
the global economy and the general well being of people around the world,
he asserts that the future of the world will be determined by its
treatment of Israel. As he puts it, "The central issue in international
politics, dividing the world into two fractious armies, is the tiny state
of Israel."

In his view, "Israel defines a line of demarcation," between those who
pass and those who fail what he refers to as "the Israel Test."

Gilder poses the test to his readers by asking them a few questions: "What
is your attitude toward people who excel you in the creation of wealth or
in other accomplishment? Do you aspire to their excellence, or do you
seethe at it? Do you admire and celebrate exceptional achievement, or do
you impugn it and seek to tear it down?"

By his telling, the future of civilization will be determined by how the
nations of the world - and particularly, how the American people - answer
these questions.

Gilder's book is valuable on its own accord. I personally learned an
enormous amount about Israel's pioneering role in the information economy.
Beyond that, it provides a stunning rebuttal to the central arguments of
the other major book that has been written about Israel and the Arabs in
the US in recent years.

Steve Walt and John Mearsheimer's "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign
Policy" (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2007) has two central arguments.
First, they argue that Israel has little value as an ally to the United
States. Second, they assert that given Israel's worthlessness to the
United States, the only reasonable explanation of why Americans
overwhelmingly support Israel is that they have been manipulated by a
conspiracy of Jewish organizations and Jewish-owned and controlled media
and financial outlets. In their view, the nefarious Jewish-controlled
forces have bamboozled the American people into believing that Israel is
important to them and even a kindred nation to the United States.

Gilder blows both arguments out of the water without even directly
engaging them or noting Israel's singular contributions to U.S.
intelligence and military prowess. Instead, he demonstrates that Israel is
an indispensable motor for the U.S. economy, which in turn is the
principal driver of U.S. power globally. Much of Silicon Valley's economic
prowess is founded on technologies made in Israel. Everything from the
microchip to the cellphone has either been made in Israel or by Israelis
in Silicon Valley.

It is Gilder's own admiration for Israel's exceptional achievements that
puts paid Walt and Mearsheimer's second argument. There is something
distinctively American in his enthusiasm for Israel's innovative genius.
From America's earliest beginnings, the American character has been imbued
with an admiration for achievement. As a nation, Americans have always
passed Gilder's Israel Test.

Taken together with the other reasons for American support for Israel -
particularly religious affinity for the people of the Bible - Gilder's
book shows that the American and Israeli people are indeed natural friends
and allies bound together by their exceptionalism that motivates them to
strive for excellence and progress to the benefit of all mankind.

Americans recently commemorated the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11
attacks. Those attacks were the greatest confrontation to date between
American exceptionalism and Islamist nihilism. Gilder's book serves as a
reminder of what makes the United States and its exceptional ally Israel
worth defending at all costs. "The Israel Test" also teaches us that so
long as we keep faith with ourselves, we will not be alone in our fight
against barbarism and hatred, and inevitably, we will emerge the victors
in this bitter fight.

Read on:
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« Reply #719 on: October 03, 2009, 09:39:45 AM »

Oy vey.

EXCLUSIVE: Obama agrees to keep Israel's nukes secret Rate this story

By Eli Lake

President Obama has reaffirmed a 4-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections, three officials familiar with the understanding said.

The officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were discussing private conversations, said Mr. Obama pledged to maintain the agreement when he first hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in May.

Under the understanding, the U.S. has not pressured Israel to disclose its nuclear weapons or to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which could require Israel to give up its estimated several hundred nuclear bombs.

Israel had been nervous that Mr. Obama would not continue the 1969 understanding because of his strong support for nonproliferation and priority on preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. and five other world powers made progress during talks with Iran in Geneva on Thursday as Iran agreed in principle to transfer some potential bomb fuel out of the country and to open a recently disclosed facility to international inspection.

Mr. Netanyahu let the news of the continued U.S.-Israeli accord slip last week in a remark that attracted little notice. He was asked by Israel's Channel 2 whether he was worried that Mr. Obama's speech at the U.N. General Assembly, calling for a world without nuclear weapons, would apply to Israel.

"It was utterly clear from the context of the speech that he was speaking about North Korea and Iran," the Israeli leader said. "But I want to remind you that in my first meeting with President Obama in Washington I received from him, and I asked to receive from him, an itemized list of the strategic understandings that have existed for many years between Israel and the United States on that issue. It was not for naught that I requested, and it was not for naught that I received [that document]."

The chief nuclear understanding was reached at a summit between President Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir that began on Sept. 25, 1969. Avner Cohen, author of "Israel and the Bomb" and the leading authority outside the Israeli government on the history of Israel's nuclear program, said the accord amounts to "the United States passively accepting Israel's nuclear weapons status as long as Israel does not unveil publicly its capability or test a weapon."

There is no formal record of the agreement nor have Israeli nor American governments ever publicly acknowledged it. In 2007, however, the Nixon library declassified a July 19, 1969, memo from national security adviser Henry Kissinger that comes closest to articulating U.S. policy on the issue. That memo says, "While we might ideally like to halt actual Israeli possession, what we really want at a minimum may be just to keep Israeli possession from becoming an established international fact."

Mr. Cohen has said the resulting policy was the equivalent of "don't ask, don't tell."

The Netanyahu government sought to reaffirm the understanding in part out of concern that Iran would seek Israeli disclosures of its nuclear program in negotiations with the United States and other world powers. Iran has frequently accused the U.S. of having a double standard by not objecting to Israel's arsenal.

Mr. Cohen said the reaffirmation and the fact that Mr. Netanyahu sought and received a written record of the deal suggest that "it appears not only that there was no joint understanding of what had been agreed in September 1969 but it is also apparent that even the notes of the two leaders may no longer exist. It means that Netanyahu wanted to have something in writing that implies that understanding. It also affirms the view that the United States is in fact a partner in Israel's policy of nuclear opacity."

Jonathan Peled, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, declined to comment, as did the White House National Security Council.

The secret understanding could undermine the Obama administration's goal of a world without nuclear weapons. In particular, it could impinge on U.S. efforts to bring into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, two agreements that U.S. administrations have argued should apply to Israel in the past. They would ban nuclear tests and the production of material for weapons.

A Senate staffer familiar with the May reaffirmation, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said, "What this means is that the president gave commitments that politically he had no choice but to give regarding Israel's nuclear program. However, it calls into question virtually every part of the president's nonproliferation agenda.The president gave Israel an NPT treaty get out of jail free card."

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the step was less injurious to U.S. policy.

"I think it is par for the course that the two incoming leaders of the United States and Israel would want to clarify previous understandings between their governments on this issue," he said.

However Mr. Kimball added, "I would respectfully disagree with Mr. Netanyahu. President Obama's speech and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1887 apply to all countries irrespective of secret understandings between the U.S. and Israel. A world without nuclear weapons is consistent with Israel's stated goal of achieving a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. Obama's message is that the same nonproliferation and disarmament responsibilities should apply to all states and not just a few."

Israeli nuclear doctrine is known as "the long corridor." Under it, Israel would begin to consider nuclear disarmament only after all countries officially at war with it signed peace treaties and all neighboring countries relinquished not only nuclear programs but also chemical and biological arsenals. Israel sees nuclear weapons as an existential guarantee in a hostile environment.

David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said he hoped the Obama administration did not concede too much to Israel.

"One hopes that the price for such concessions is Israeli agreement to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty and an acceptance of the long-term goal of a Middle East weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone," he said. "Otherwise, the Obama administration paid too much, given its focus on a world free of nuclear weapons."
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« Reply #720 on: October 03, 2009, 01:27:49 PM »

So as you know I am at the Dead Sea.  The Jordanian side.  While I would like to visit the Israeli side the reality is that it is much easier for me to travel to/from Jordan.  It's a no hassle arrangement getting there to/from Baghdad.
So my initial limo driver is Palestinian.  Been in Jordan since 1967.  He believes that Obama will bring peace to the region.  That Obama is different than Bush.  And of course he is, however, when I pointed out that under Obama the USA is sending more soldiers to Afghanistan and effecting more Predator strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan, he seemed stunned.  He was simply unaware of this reality.  But then he quickly says to me, words to the effect of, "Well good.  That's where all those crazy Muslims are...the ones that need to be killed."
A little while ago I spent time chatting with the Palestinian service manager at one of the outside bars at the hotel I am at.  The very fly, 5 star Kempinski Dead Sea I might add.  He spent time pointing out Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Hebron, etc. across the water.  He said he is from Bethlehem.  He also said that he believed Obama would bring peace to the region.  When I asked him why specifically, like what hasd Obama done to make him believe that, he said that the efforts of the last week by Obama made him believe so.  I asked him whether he was aware that Clinton and Carter and who knows else had spent a lot of time on the same subject, and he said generally yes.  So I asked him what was different about this time.  Specifically different minus the same old words we have heard for decades.  He could not provide anything specific.  Just his feeling.
He said the Intifadah was dead.  I asked why.  He said because of the wall.  You know, the wall that the world has condemned Israel for building?  Yup, he said that has pretty much ended the Intifadah.
During the conversation he told me that he knows from watching TV that there were no Jews killed on 9/11 in the World Trade Center.  That they had been warned in advance, by Israel of course,  not to go to work that day (we have all heard that lunatic conspiracy theory).  I told him that was utter bullshit.  That all sorts of people were killed that day.  Muslims, Jews, and Christians.  Blacks, whites and browns.  He seemed stunned to hear that.  Despite the fact that he is in Jordan and his English is okay, he gets all his news from Arabic TV.  And that's what they are handing out on Arabic TV.
« Reply #721 on: October 03, 2009, 07:06:57 PM »

October 4, 2009
Israel names Russians helping Iran build nuclear bomb
Uzi Mahanimi in Tel Aviv, Mark Franchetti and Jon Swain

Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has handed the Kremlin a list of Russian scientists believed by the Israelis to be helping Iran to develop a nuclear warhead. He is said to have delivered the list during a mysterious visit to Moscow.

Netanyahu flew to the Russian capital with Uzi Arad, his national security adviser, last month in a private jet.

His office claimed he was in Israel, visiting a secret military establishment at the time. It later emerged that he was holding talks with Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, and President Dmitry Medvedev.

“We have heard that Netanyahu came with a list and concrete evidence showing that Russians are helping the Iranians to develop a bomb,” said a source close to the Russian defence minister last week.

“That is why it was kept secret. The point is not to embarrass Moscow, rather to spur it into action.”

Israeli sources said it was a short, tense meeting at which Netanyahu named the Russian experts said to be assisting Iran in its nuclear programme.

In western capitals the latest claims were treated with caution. American and British officials argued that the involvement of freelance Russian scientists belonged to the past.

American officials said concern about Russian experts acting without official approval, had been raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a report more than a year ago.

“There has been Russian help. It is not the government, it is individuals, at least one helping Iran on weaponisation activities and it is worrisome,” said David Albright, a former weapons inspector who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security.

However, Israeli officials insist that any Russian scientists working in Iran could do so only with official approval.

Robert Einhorn, the special adviser for non-proliferation and arms control to Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, is understood to believe that Russian companies have also supplied material that has been used by Iran in the production of ballistic missiles.

The disclosures came as Iran agreed at talks in Geneva to submit to IAEA inspections of its newly disclosed enrichment plant, which is being built under a mountain on a military base at Qom. Iran revealed the plant to the IAEA to pre-empt being caught out by an imminent announcement from western governments, which had discovered its existence.

The West says the plant is tailor-made for a secret weapons programme and proves Iran’s claim that its nuclear programme is intended only for peaceful purposes is a lie. The plant is designed to hold 3,000 centrifuges — enough to produce the material needed for one bomb a year.

Iran’s conduct over the next few weeks will determine whether the West continues its new dialogue or is compelled to increase pressure with tougher United Nations and other sanctions.

Ephraim Sneh, a former Israeli deputy defence minister, warned that time was running out for action to stop the programme. “If no crippling sanctions are introduced by Christmas, Israel will strike,” he said. “If we are left alone, we will act alone.”

A key test for the West will be whether Iran allows IAEA inspectors unfettered access to the Qom plant. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, was in Tehran this weekend to discuss this and Iran’s agreement, in principle, to ship most of its current stocks of low-enriched uranium to Russia so it can be used in medical research. President Barack Obama has told Iran he wants to see concrete results within two weeks.

While there is consensus in the West that Iran is trying to acquire the capability to build a weapon, the progress of its weaponisation programme is a matter of fierce debate among intelligence agencies.

The Americans believe secret work to develop a nuclear warhead stopped in 2003. British, French and German intelligence believe it was either continuing or has restarted. The Israelis believe the Iranians have “cold-tested” a nuclear warhead, without fissile material, for its Shahab-3B and Sejjil-2 rockets at Parchin, a top-secret military complex southeast of Tehran.

The vast site is officially dedicated to the research, development and production of ammunition, rockets and explosives. Satellite imagery as early as 2003 has shown Parchin to be suitable for research into the development of a nuclear weapon, say western experts.

The Shahab-3B, which the Iranians test-fired last Monday, is capable of carrying a 2,200lb warhead. Its 1,250-mile range puts parts of Europe, Israel and US bases in the Middle East within its reach.

According to the Israelis, Russian scientists may have been responsible for the nuclear warhead design. But western experts have also pointed the finger at North Korea.

Additional reporting:

Michael Smith, Christina Lamb
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« Reply #722 on: October 08, 2009, 07:24:19 AM »

Israeli foreign minister: No chance for peace deal

By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 44 mins ago

JERUSALEM – Israel's powerful foreign minister declared Thursday that there is no chance of reaching a final accord with the Palestinians any time soon, casting a pall over the U.S. Mideast envoy's latest effort to get peace talks moving again.

Peacemaking policy in Israel is decided by the prime minister's office, and not the foreign ministry. But Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman carries significant weight in Israeli decision-making, and his is a sentiment common among confidants of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

President Barack Obama brought Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas together in New York last month in an effort to jumpstart talks that broke down months ago. So far, no breakthroughs have been announced.

Since the New York summit, U.S. envoy George Mitchell met with representatives of Netanyahu and Abbas in the United States, and returned to the region this week. He was to meet with Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday and has sitdowns planned with Netanyahu and Abbas for Friday.

Israeli media reported that a Mitchell aide told local journalists Wednesday that the envoy's visit was not likely to conclude with an announcement on talks resuming.

"We're going to continue with our efforts to achieve an early relaunch of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, because we believe that's an essential step toward achieving the comprehensive (Mideast) peace to which I earlier referred," Mitchell told reporters as he entered a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday.

Lieberman told Israel Radio on Thursday that anyone who thinks the two sides can soon reach a deal ending their decades-old conflict "doesn't understand the situation and is spreading delusions."

What the two sides should do, he said, was to come up with a long-term interim arrangement that would ensure prosperity, security and stability, and leave the tough issues "to a much later stage."

This approach runs counter to U.S. efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal quickly. Obama has declared that establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel is a vital U.S. interest. Also, Israel would not find a Palestinian partner for putting off a resolution to the conflict indefinitely.

Lieberman's view does not bode well for U.S. attempts to restart negotiations.

Mitchell has been laboring for months to pressure Israel to curb settlement construction. Israel has agreed to limited and temporary restrictions on building in the West Bank, but has resisted a total freeze. It has rejected any limitations on construction in east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians want the West Bank and east Jerusalem for part of their future state, along with the Gaza Strip, now ruled by Islamic Hamas militants.

Abbas has said repeatedly that he wouldn't go back to the negotiating table without a freeze. He also demands that talks begin where they broke off, with a promise from Israel that all issues will be on the table. Netanyahu has said he wouldn't be bound by the previous Israeli government's actions.

Abbas could be hard-pressed to back down now that he's dropped efforts to bring Israel before a war crimes tribunal in connection with its winter war in the Gaza Strip.


Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #723 on: October 10, 2009, 10:26:50 AM »

BET EL MILITARY BASE, West Bank -- Israel's military, taking a page from the Pentagon's counterinsurgency playbook, has changed tactics in the West Bank by emphasizing improvements in Palestinian living conditions, rather than focusing solely on killing and capturing militants.

The shift, however, is threatened by personnel changes: Three generals who were instrumental in planning it are on the way out.

Israeli soldiers take part in urban-warfare training in southern Israel. In the West Bank, Israeli commanders are shifting to a focus on surgical strikes.

Under their guidance, the Israeli Defense Force, which has occupied and administered the West Bank since its capture in 1967, has pulled back its soldiers from the enclave's cities, turned over security responsibilities to Palestinians, and lifted many of the checkpoints and roadblocks that had shackled the economy.

Israeli forces are refraining from airstrikes or shelling, tactics they once used frequently to attack suspected militants. Instead of daytime raids with large battalions, commanders have turned to more surgical strikes by commandoes, which are less disruptive to the civilian population.

"Part of our philosophy is to fight the terrorists with M-16 [rifles], not F-16 [jets]," said Brig. Gen. Noam Tivon, one of the leaders of the shift.

Gen. Tivon ended his tour as commander of Israeli forces in the West Bank this week. Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni, head of Israel's Central Command, is changing jobs in the coming weeks, and the Department of Defense's Civil Administration commander Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai is due to finish up within the next year.

Some officers have voiced concern about the continuity of the trio's policies. One incoming general has little experience in the West Bank and came up through the ranks as a tank commander; some military analysts say that background means he could be the wrong person to oversee a strategy that calls for using less force and keeping a lower profile.

 .The change in tactics in the West Bank came after these top Israeli generals took to heart lessons learned by American commanders in Iraq, officials from both sides said.

The strategy, coupled with recent success by U.S.-trained Palestinian security forces, is being credited with curbing West Bank violence and boosting the local economy. Israeli military operations last year, before the new strategy, led to 78 civilian casualties; 12 civilians were killed in the first six months of this year.

Previously, soldiers would shut down whole neighborhoods for days at a time while conducting less-discriminating sweeps when looking for suspected militants.

"Now they only arrest Palestinians during the night," said Sattar Kassem, a Palestinian political-science professor in Nablus who is a longtime resident of the West Bank. "The occupation continues and this is what matters most, but there is less friction for now."

After the Islamist group Hamas violently overran the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israeli generals decided they needed a strategic rethink if they wanted to keep Hamas at bay in the West Bank, which is governed by the more moderate Fatah party.

The re-evaluation coincided with the arrival to Israel of a handful of U.S. generals with the task of bolstering peace efforts.

"The Americans brought to this region a lot of new ideas," Gen. Tivon said.

At the time, America's top commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus, was having success with a classic counterinsurgency strategy called the "ink blot." The strategy calls for focusing resources on a single neighborhood or village. As conditions improve, the efforts are slowly expanded, like an ink blot seeping across a sheet of paper.

"The U.S. military had just had its own bruising internal debate about how to fight an insurgency," said a former adviser to retired U.S. Marine Gen. James Jones, who at the time had the task of strengthening security for Israelis and Palestinians. "It was clear to us that Israel needed to have a similar debate of its own if there was any hope for making progress here," the adviser said.

Protests in Jerusalem
View Slideshow

Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
An Israeli policeman ran after a Palestinian stone thrower in the Arab east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud Friday.
.More photos and interactive graphics
.Gen. Jones, now President Barack Obama's national security adviser, declined to comment for this article.

"The thing that Jones did was change the Israeli thinking from counterterrorism to counterinsurgency," said a U.S. official in Tel Aviv.

U.S. advisers preached that capturing and killing the bad guys -- counterterrorism's methods -- hadn't been enough in Iraq and probably wouldn't be enough in the West Bank, either, according to Israeli and U.S. officials. To instill lasting peace, they promoted economic engagement and reliance on local security forces.

At the time, militants and criminals controlled the West Bank's lawless cities. Some Israeli officials feared Hamas, fresh from seizing Gaza, was gaining strength and preparing a similar offensive in the West Bank.

The Israeli army had Palestinian cities and villages locked down with a rigorous checkpoint regime, part of a response to suicide-bomb attacks that followed the outbreak of the second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, in 2000. Frequent "cordon and sweep" operations shut down Palestinian cities for days at a time.

The northern West Bank city of Jenin became a test case. In 2002, at the height of the second Intifada, Jenin was a militant hub where suicide bombers plotted and launched attacks against Israel. It was the first town Israeli targeted in its military offensive to reoccupy West Bank towns.

But in 2008, Israel agreed to pull back its soldiers, turn over security responsibilities to Palestinians, and lift many of the checkpoints and roadblocks that surrounded the city.

"Jones brought the idea for the Jenin project, which came directly from Petraeus in Iraq," Gen. Tivon said.

Israeli generals had to overcome the skepticism of the country's political leadership and other officers who were reluctant to trust the Palestinians with handling security.

"For years officers had been told not to trust the Palestinians, and then suddenly we're being ordered to pull back and call them before we want to conduct a raid," said another Israeli army officer serving in the West Bank.

Today, Jenin's streets are quiet, militants have turned in their guns, and crime is down. Uniformed police hand out traffic fines. In June, a $5 million home store opened its doors, offering Palestinians imported espresso machines and plasma-screen TV sets.

"I think we can say today that the Jenin project is a success," Gen. Tivon said.

Write to Charles Levinson at
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« Reply #724 on: October 12, 2009, 10:47:50 AM »

A few coordinated tests of a missle system is hardly a sign the US is gearing up to attack Iran with Israel.  What I find more interesting is the anti-semitic comments after the news article.  Oh so it is a crime for Rabbis to encourage procreation.  First isn't that what Catholics do?
Second if I am correct Palestinians have the highest birth rate in the world.
So should these groups be criticized?

****Israel, US war games due off California
Fri, 17 Jul 2009 14:52:09 GMT
IAF's Arrow II
Israel plans military exercises at a US naval facility using its Arrow interceptor missiles in a series of drills that also deploys American missile systems.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) will ship the required hardware for the exercise to a Pacific Ocean range off the California coast later this summer, according to Reuters, quoting the head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly.

"They are having a flight test soon this summer," O'Reilly said Tuesday, referring to Joint US-Israeli effort.

The ballistic missile system is jointly funded by Tel Aviv and Washington. The Israeli marksmen recently conducted a 17th test involving the apparatus.

The American THAAD and Aegis anti-missile gear would also be re-examined during the military exercise.

The general stated that Tel Aviv picked the Pacific location since it allowed hitting targets at much farther ranges. "They (Israelis) are limited to the range of the missiles they can test in the eastern Mediterranean," he said.

O'Reilly added that the Arrows were to fly a range of more than 620 miles (1,000 km) this time.

The agency quoted a US defense official as saying this would be Israel's third Arrow test in the United States.

Washington injects USD 2 billion worth of armaments into Tel Aviv's military industry and is to provide the IAF with USD 30 billion in military aid over the next decade.

The views expressed and the links provided on our comment pages are the personal views of individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Press TV:

Zionist conspiracy against Palestinians!
Sat, 18 Jul 2009 15:14:36 GMT
Jewish Rabbis are encouraging Jewish women to have 12 children each in order to form MAJORITY and populate all Palestine. Muslims should marry healthy Western women and have as many children as possible in order to form Muslim majority in the West. No Suicide Bomber. No Terrorism attacks needed. I have done my part and have already 9 Western Muslim children from a Western woman
Sat, 18 Jul 2009 10:40:07 GMT
these parasites are sapping the worlds resources for premeditated bloodshed. Murdering Thieves.
Fri, 17 Jul 2009 16:07:33 GMT
They print the money. Exhausting the priviledge of having the world reserve currency!!!
Fri, 17 Jul 2009 15:53:04 GMT
$3billion a year over the next decade for weapons, I thought the US was in severe financial trouble but clearly I was wrong?****
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« Reply #725 on: October 12, 2009, 08:37:45 PM »

Somebody had to tell the idiots at the U.N. to go to hell! Well done Bibi!

Netanyahu: No war crimes trials for Israelis

AP – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks, during the opening of the winter session at the Knesset, …

By JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 33 mins ago

JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday vowed never to allow Israeli leaders or soldiers to stand trial on war crimes charges over their actions during last winter's military offensive in the Gaza Strip, furiously denouncing a U.N. report in a keynote address to parliament.

Netanyahu's fiery rhetoric — and his decision to open the high-profile speech with remarks on the report — reflected the deep distress felt among Israeli leaders after a U.N. commission accused Israel of intentionally harming civilians when it launched a massive attack in Gaza to stop years of rocket fire.

"This distorted report, written by this distorted committee, undermines Israel's right to defend itself. This report encourages terrorism and threatens peace," Netanyahu said in his address at the opening of parliament's winter session. "Israel will not take risks for peace if it can't defend itself."

The U.N. report, compiled by a team led by former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone, accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. It specifically accused Israel of using disproportionate force, deliberately targeting civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure, and using people as human shields. It accused Hamas of deliberately targeting civilians and trying to spread terror through its rocket attacks.

Israeli officials across the board have condemned the report, saying their country had little choice but to take harsh action against militants who were terrorizing southern Israel. They also blame Hamas for civilian casualties, saying the Islamic militant group took cover in residential areas during the fighting. However, Goldstone's strong credentials as a respected South African jurist, his Jewish faith and past support for Israeli causes have made it hard for Israel to dismiss the claims.

Netanyahu angrily noted the report's portrayal of Israeli leaders as war criminals. "The truth is exactly the opposite. Israel's leaders and its army are those who defended the citizens of Israel from war criminals," he said, before vowing to defend the country's wartime leaders.

"We will not allow Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak, who sent our sons to war, to arrive at the international court in the Hague," he said.

While Netanyahu has repeatedly lashed out at the U.N. report, Monday's comments appeared to be a direct response to a new Palestinian push for a vote on the report in the U.N.'s Human Rights Council. If the vote takes place, the matter could be referred to higher U.N. bodies that could theoretically push for war-crimes prosecution.

Earlier this month, Abbas' government had agreed to delay the vote for six months. That decision, which came under heavy U.S. pressure, sparked sharp criticism and protests across Palestinian society, particularly from the rival Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said Monday that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke with Abbas on Sunday about the matter and said he would support Abbas' proposal to reopen discussion of the Goldstone report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In contrast to predecessors who have used parliamentary addresses to speak of bold visions of peace, Netanyahu spoke in far bleaker terms. He focused on past Jewish suffering and criticized the futility of previous peace efforts, blaming Arab adversaries for their failure.

"The right to a Jewish state and the right to self-defense are two of the existential rights of our people," he said. "These basic rights of the Jewish people have been under greatly increasing attack. ... Our prime mission is to stave off this attack."

President Barack Obama has been trying to persuade the Israelis and Palestinians to restart peace talks, which broke down late last year. Even after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, he faces a daunting challenge in just getting the sides to talk, let alone in solving one of the world's longest lasting and most intractable conflicts.

The Palestinians say they will not resume negotiations until Israel freezes all construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — areas they claim as parts of a future independent state.

Netanyahu says some settlement construction must continue to accommodate growth in the Jewish populations. He also says all of Jerusalem will remain in Israeli hands, although Israel's annexation of the eastern part of the city and its sensitive holy sites has never been internationally recognized.

Netanyahu, for his part, has demanded the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state — a demand the Palestinians criticize as upping the ante from previous negotiations. The Palestinians say it would discriminate against Israel's Arab minority and deprive Palestinian refugees of their rights to lost properties in what is now Israel.

"For 62 years, the Palestinians have been saying 'No' to the Jewish state. I am once again calling upon our Palestinian neighbors; say 'Yes' to the Jewish state." he said. "Without recognition of Israel as the state of the Jews we shall not be able to attain peace."

(This version CORRECTS name to Human Rights Council).)


Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #726 on: October 14, 2009, 12:20:51 AM »

An Independent Israeli Foreign Policy?
ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER EHUD BARAK was set to travel to Poland and the Czech Republic on the evening of Oct. 12 for meetings with the Polish and Czech prime ministers and defense ministers, as well as with other high-level officials. Barak was scheduled to attend events on human rights and the Holocaust, but his trip comes at a time of enormous international tension over Iran — an issue deeply interwoven with U.S.-Russian relations involving Central Europe. An Israeli media report stated that Barak would discuss “Iran’s nuclear program as well as military industries” with his Polish and Czech counterparts.

The United States has begun negotiations with Iran over its compliance with international nuclear laws. For the U.S. position to have any bite, Washington has held up the threat of severe sanctions against Iran. But the American position is compromised by Russia’s ability to blast a hole through the prospective sanctions regime. The United States therefore must make promises to Russia that it will back away from the former Soviet sphere of influence, or face Russian intransigence in dealing with Tehran. So far, the United States has not offered much for the Russians to sink their teeth into (backing down on ballistic missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic was not enough — and regardless, the Russians question U.S. sincerity). Discussions with Iran are under way, yet without a resolution to the U.S.-Russian situation there can be no enforcement against Iran.

This leaves Israel in a highly uncomfortable position, at a time when its patience is already running thin.

“Yet the fact that Israel has depended so heavily upon the United States in the past sixty years does not mean it is without leverage of its own.”
To understand this, we look to Israel’s geopolitics. The Israeli core is situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, in the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River and Jordanian desert to the east, the Sinai and Negev deserts to the south, and the hilly areas of Galilee in the north. Throughout history, this area has been relatively advantageous to defend — assuming Israel is internally unified. Attackers from the west, south or east would need to stretch their forces across the sea or inhospitable deserts.

Historically, Israel has faced only two serious threats. The first is Syria, to the northeast, which in times of strength potentially can penetrate Israeli territory north of the Sea of Galilee. But the Israelis are generally well prepared to defeat today’s Syrians alone.

The second threat is the graver of the two. This is when a great foreign empire from farther away attempts to grab Israel’s advantageous coastal strip, whether through Syria or by harnessing the resources to overcome Israel’s natural buffers. The Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Ottomans at various points in history staked a claim to this land, forcing the Israelis to accommodate them or bear their yoke.

Under the reign of the Persian Empire, the Israelites were able to arrive at a compromise that left them subordinate but intact. This is their preferred stance during eras in which they cannot enjoy their ideal isolation. Similarly, in its modern incarnation since 1948, Israel has rendered itself inoffensive to American interests. It recognized the United States as the global hegemon and, during the Cold War, the guarantor of Israel’s security against another potential invading empire, the Soviet Union, which had proxies in Syria (as mentioned, Israel’s most threatening neighbors) and Iraq (the modern version of ancient Israel’s Babylonian conquerors).

Yet the fact that Israel has depended so heavily upon the United States in the past sixty years does not mean it is without leverage of its own. Israeli leaders long have entertained the possibility that the country could develop a more self-determining foreign policy — with Israel acting as a power in its own right. This would be necessary in the event that the United States abandons Israel to the winds — which is deemed possible should American interests shift. In the post-Cold War period, the United States has remained close to the Israelis because of U.S. interests in the Middle East, especially since the Sept. 11 attacks. But both the Americans and the Israelis can at least conceive of a time when their paths begin to diverge, necessitating contingency plans for Israel.

This is why the timing of Barak’s trip to Central Europe is important. By visiting Poland and the Czech Republic to discuss “military industries” — perhaps arms deals — the Israelis have taken Moscow by surprise, and the Kremlin will not be happy. Israel acting boldly in a region outside its own is an anomaly. There are two possible explanations.

First, the move might have been coordinated along with the United States, in order to stick it to the Russians at a time when they are threatening to destroy a united international front against Iran. The Russians long have seen U.S. and Israeli meddling in their periphery as one and the same, and the United States is needling the Russians in similar ways at present (for instance, with plans for Vice President Joe Biden to visit Warsaw, Prague and Bucharest later this month).

The other possibility is that the Israelis have acted alone, directly reminding the Russians that they have leverage in Central Europe — such as the ability to provide intelligence or military assistance to the Poles or the Czechs. This could be a way of directly warning the Russians to back away from supporting Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

If this was the case — and the Americans were not consulted about Barak’s visit — it follows that Israel has begun to view America as an unreliable ally. The current U.S. administration has irked the Israelis by letting deadline after deadline on Iran slip by. And the Israelis are not willing to tolerate a reincarnation of the Persian Empire, or a Persian proxy of a revived Russian Empire, armed with a nuclear-tipped missiles. Therefore, Monday’s move might be Israel’s first step in developing a foreign policy for itself — in a world where the Israelis believe they must act alone to distract and encumber great powers beyond its region.

After all, such powers traditionally have posed the greatest strategic threat to Israel.
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« Reply #727 on: October 16, 2009, 06:04:20 AM »

On Monday, a secret Hezbollah munitions bunker in South Lebanon blew up under mysterious circumstances, injuring a senior official in the organization. This is the second such incident in recent months. The first occurred on July 14, when an explosion destroyed a major Hezbollah munitions dump in the South Lebanese village of Hirbet Salim. Hezbollah immediately pointed fingers at the Mossad. Whether or not Israel was to blame, the explosion caused Hezbollah considerable discomfort by proving that it was in flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which forbids stockpiling weapons south of the Litani River.

The U.N. issued a strongly worded rebuke and sent representatives to investigate. But their efforts were thwarted by Hezbollah fighters, who, with the assistance of Lebanese troops, prevented the foreigners from examining the site. This caused further embarrassment to Lebanon, as it exposed the army's lack of neutrality and the active aid that it extends to Hezbollah.

The episode also led to heightened tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border. The specter of renewed fighting between Israel and Hezbollah looms as large today as it has at any time since the end of the Lebanon war in August 2006. Yet senior military officers in Israel's Northern Command are confident that the embarrassing outcome of the last round will not be repeated.

"By all means, let the Hezbollah try," one officer told me two weeks ago when I asked if he was concerned about the possibility of warfare. "The welcome party that we are preparing for them is one that they will remember for a very long time." That sentiment is shared by many of his colleagues.

The recent explosions have highlighted the weakened geopolitical status of Hezbollah, a diminishment which no one could have foreseen at the end of the last war. In 2006, on both sides of the border—and elsewhere in the Middle East—Hezbollah was seen as having triumphed. Not only was it able to withstand the vastly superior invading Israeli force, but it also inflicted heavy military casualties and brought civilian life in northern Israel to a standstill with its rockets. At the end of the war, a commission of inquiry was set up in Israel to investigate the military and political failure. A number of senior army officers resigned, and Israel's deterrence power was seen as having sustained a severe blow.

If the 2006 war underlined the military might of Hezbollah—a repeat, in a sense, of Hezbollah's success in driving out the Israeli occupying forces from South Lebanon in May 2000—it also forced Israel to include Hezbollah in any assessment of possible responses to an Israeli attack against Iranian nuclear installations.

As part of its combat doctrine, which eschews reliance on reinforcements and resupply, Hezbollah has stockpiled its weapons throughout Lebanon, but particularly near the Israeli border. According to current Israeli intelligence estimates, Hezbollah has an arsenal of 40,000 rockets, including Iranian-made Zelzal, Fajr-3, Fajr-5, and 122 mm rockets (some of which have cluster warheads) and Syrian-made 302 mm rockets. Some of its rockets can reach greater Tel Aviv. Hezbollah also has a number of highly advanced weapons systems, including antiaircraft missiles, that constitute a threat to Israeli combat aircraft.

But all is not rosy for Hezbollah. After the war, considerable dissatisfaction with the organization was voiced inside Lebanon. Many blamed its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, for Israel's retaliatory bombardments that caused widespread damage. Nasrallah stated that had he known Israel would respond as forcefully as it did, he would have thought twice before ordering the abduction of the two Israeli soldiers—the act that sparked the conflict.

Harsh criticism of Hezbollah also came from an unexpected source: Tehran. The Iranian strategy calls for Hezbollah to play two roles. One is to instigate minor border provocations. The other is to launch, on Tehran's command, a full-scale retaliatory attack should Israel target Iran's nuclear facilities. The 2006 war met neither criterion, and, as the Iranians complained, merely served to reveal the extent of Hezbollah's military capabilities.

Then, in February 2008, Imad Mughniyeh, the organization's military commander and Nasrallah's close associate, was killed in a car bomb in Damascus. The assassination of the man who topped the FBI's most-wanted list prior to Osama bin Laden was a severe blow to morale, as well as to Hezbollah's strategic capabilities. Nasrallah was convinced that the Mossad was responsible, and vowed to take revenge "outside of the Israel-Lebanon arena."

The Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, which is also responsible for protecting the country's legations abroad, has been on high alert ever since. But as of today, Hezbollah has not exacted its revenge. This fact was a topic of discussions at a high-level secret forum of Israel's intelligence services that took place from late July to early September.

Israeli officials raised four possible reasons for Hezbollah's failure to act, all of which reflect its current weakness.

First, no replacement has been found for Mughniyeh, whose strategic brilliance, originality and powers of execution are sorely missed by Hezbollah.

Second, Israel's intelligence coverage of Iran and Hezbollah is far superior today to what it was in the past. Planned attacks, including one targeting the Israeli Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, have all been foiled. The Israeli security services have warned Israeli businessmen abroad of possible abduction attempts by Hezbollah. They also shared information with Egyptian authorities that led to the arrest of members of a Hezbollah network who intended to kill Israeli tourists in Sinai. The arrest of these operatives resulted in sharp public exchanges between Egypt, Hezbollah and its Iranian masters, when Nasrallah admitted that these, in fact, were his men.

Third, Nasrallah cannot afford to be viewed domestically as the cause of yet another retaliation against Lebanon. Any act of revenge that he contemplates needs to be carefully calibrated. On the one hand, it needs to hurt the enemy and be spectacular enough to stoke Hezbollah pride. On the other hand, it cannot be so murderous as to cause Israel to respond with force. To complicate matters further, Israel has made it clear that because Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government, despite the fact that the party that it backed lost in the recent election, any Hezbollah action against Israel would be viewed as an action taken by the Lebanese government. Thus Israel would regard Lebanese infrastructure as a legitimate target for a military response.

Finally, there are the Iranians. Their primary focus is on proceeding with their nuclear program without unnecessary distractions. Tehran's main concern is that a terror attack that can be linked to Iran would result in the arrest of its agents overseas, who are currently procuring equipment for its uranium-enrichment centrifuges.

Tehran has avoided direct involvement in foreign terrorism ever since 1996, when a group of Iranians were convicted in Germany of murdering political opponents of the Iranian regime. And unlike in the past (as, for instance, in the case of the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in retaliation for the assassination of Nasrallah's predecessor), it is now reluctant to place intelligence resources at Hezbollah's disposal. This is a serious blow to Hezbollah, which is not yet able to function as a full-fledged independent operational organization internationally.

Hezbollah is also clearly aware of the severe blow in terms of power and prestige that the Iranian mullahs suffered as a result of the massive protests following June's presidential election. Automatic support from Tehran is no longer a certainty. For now, at least, the Iranian hardliners have troubles of their own.

In short, despite the fact that Hezbollah today is substantially stronger in purely military terms than it was three years ago, its political stature and its autonomy have been significantly reduced. It is clear that Nasrallah is cautious and he will weigh his options very carefully before embarking on any course of action that might lead to all-out war with Israel. There are some experts in Israel who believe that even Hezbollah's retaliatory role in the Iranian game plan is currently in question.

Whether or not this is the case, all of this is being considered in Jerusalem as part of Israel's calculations about whether to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.

Mr. Bergman, a correspondent for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, is the author of the "The Secret War With Iran" (Free Press, 2008).
« Reply #728 on: October 20, 2009, 08:29:09 PM »

I just read this in the NYT aboutHuman Rights Watch. I'm afraid to blink
October 20, 2009
Op-Ed Contributor
Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast

AS the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.

At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them — through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.

That is why we sought to draw a sharp line between the democratic and nondemocratic worlds, in an effort to create clarity in human rights. We wanted to prevent the Soviet Union and its followers from playing a moral equivalence game with the West and to encourage liberalization by drawing attention to dissidents like Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky and those in the Soviet gulag — and the millions in China’s laogai, or labor camps.

When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies.

Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East. The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.

Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.

Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism.

The organization is expressly concerned mainly with how wars are fought, not with motivations. To be sure, even victims of aggression are bound by the laws of war and must do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties. Nevertheless, there is a difference between wrongs committed in self-defense and those perpetrated intentionally.

But how does Human Rights Watch know that these laws have been violated? In Gaza and elsewhere where there is no access to the battlefield or to the military and political leaders who make strategic decisions, it is extremely difficult to make definitive judgments about war crimes. Reporting often relies on witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage or because they fear retaliation from their own rulers. Significantly, Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and an expert on warfare, has said that the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”

Only by returning to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it can Human Rights Watch resurrect itself as a moral force in the Middle East and throughout the world. If it fails to do that, its credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished.

Robert L. Bernstein, the former president and chief executive of Random House, was the chairman of Human Rights Watch from 1978 to 1998.

AS the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.

At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them — through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.

That is why we sought to draw a sharp line between the democratic and nondemocratic worlds, in an effort to create clarity in human rights. We wanted to prevent the Soviet Union and its followers from playing a moral equivalence game with the West and to encourage liberalization by drawing attention to dissidents like Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky and those in the Soviet gulag — and the millions in China’s laogai, or labor camps.

When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies.

Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East. The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.

Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.

Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism.

The organization is expressly concerned mainly with how wars are fought, not with motivations. To be sure, even victims of aggression are bound by the laws of war and must do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties. Nevertheless, there is a difference between wrongs committed in self-defense and those perpetrated intentionally.

But how does Human Rights Watch know that these laws have been violated? In Gaza and elsewhere where there is no access to the battlefield or to the military and political leaders who make strategic decisions, it is extremely difficult to make definitive judgments about war crimes. Reporting often relies on witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage or because they fear retaliation from their own rulers. Significantly, Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and an expert on warfare, has said that the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”

Only by returning to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it can Human Rights Watch resurrect itself as a moral force in the Middle East and throughout the world. If it fails to do that, its credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished.

Robert L. Bernstein, the former president and chief executive of Random House, was the chairman of Human Rights Watch from 1978 to 1998.
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« Reply #729 on: October 21, 2009, 02:30:27 AM »

Rachel, just amazing. And high time too.


Denny Schlesinger
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Posts: 42556

« Reply #730 on: October 26, 2009, 11:14:16 PM »

Survey: US support for Israel strong
Oct. 26, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

The American people's strong support for Israel remains constant and their support for action to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power has substantially increased, according to a new nationwide survey released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Monday.

The survey's findings demonstrate that Americans recognize Israel as a strong and loyal US ally, are skeptical about "peace dividends" that would be realized by Israel stopping all settlement construction and believe that a Palestinian state must not be established until the Palestinians demonstrate a commitment to end violence and accept Israel's legitimacy.

The 2009 Survey of American Attitudes on Israel, The Palestinians and Prospects for Peace in the Middle East, a national telephone survey of 1,200 American adults, was conducted September 26-October 4, 2009 by Marttila Communications of Washington, D.C. and Boston.

"This latest survey of the American people, coming at a time of a full range of challenging issues facing Israel and the region demonstrates anew the breadth and depth of American public support for Israel from a variety of perspectives," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Americans see Israel as a loyal ally to the US, as being very serious about wanting to achieve peace with the Palestinians and as deserving the sympathy of the American people in the conflict with the Palestinians."

Foxman also noted a changing dynamic regarding Iran and the nuclear issue. "The significant increase in Americans viewing Iran as a threat and supporting, if nothing else works, US or Israeli military options against Iran, reflect a new and needed sense of urgency about the issue in light of Iran's oppressive policies and the discovery of a secret Iranian nuclear plant," he said. "This is the first time a majority of Americans - 54 percent - support such an option for the US"

Some two thirds of Americans consider Israel a strong and loyal US ally, as previous surveys showed. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 64% believe that Israel is serious about achieving peace with the Palestinians, with three-to-one respondents expressing more sympathy with Israel than the Palestinians, when asked to choose a side. Support for US involvement in the peace process rose by nine percentage points to 39% since 2007, but 48% believe the two sides must ultimately solve their own problems.

With recent US efforts to freeze Israeli settlement activity, 53% of those questioned believe that even if Israel halts all construction Arab leaders will continue to refuse Israel's right to exist. Some 61% believe that the conflict will continue for years with 51% claiming that Palestinian divisions are an obstacle to peace and 56% saying no Palestinian state should be established until Palestinians cease violence and accept Israel's legitimacy.

Concerning the question of the Iranian threat, 63% of the respondents consider Iran an immediate or short-term security threat to the Middle East compared to 50% in 2007. There has also been significant gain in those who would support either Israel or the US using military action to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, with 57% of Americans supporting an Israeli hit, up from 42% in 2007, and 54% supporting a US campaign, up from 47% in 2007.
« Reply #731 on: October 30, 2009, 07:23:47 AM »

Ouch, that stings.   When the founder of an organization writes an open letter chopping it off at the knees, that organization becomes pretty ineffective.  I wonder if the staffers at human rights watch know about that letter?
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« Reply #732 on: October 30, 2009, 10:35:26 AM »


The postcard from the Home Front Command that recently arrived in my mailbox looks like an ad from the Ministry of Tourism. A map of Israel is divided by color into six regions, each symbolized by an upbeat drawing: a smiling camel in the Negev desert, a skier in the Golan Heights. In fact, each region signifies the amount of time residents will have to seek shelter from an impending missile attack. If you live along the Gaza border, you have 15 seconds after the siren sounds. Jerusalemites get a full three minutes. But as the regions move farther north, the time drops again, until finally, along the Lebanese and Syrian borders, the color red designates "immediate entry into a shelter." In other words, if you're not already inside a shelter don't bother looking for one.

The invisible but all-pervasive presence on that cheerful map of existential dread is Iran. If Israel were to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, Tehran's two terrorist allies on our borders—Hezbollah and Hamas—would almost certainly renew attacks against the Israeli home front. And Tel Aviv would be hit by Iranian long-range missiles.

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David Gothard
 .On the other hand, if Israel refrains from attacking Iran and international efforts to stop its nuclearization fail, the results along our border would likely be even more catastrophic. Hezbollah and Hamas would be emboldened politically and psychologically. The threat of a nuclear attack on Tel Aviv would become a permanent part of Israeli reality. This would do incalculable damage to Israel's sense of security.

Given these dreadful options, one might assume that the Israeli public would respond with relief to reports that Iran is now considering the International Atomic Energy Agency's proposal to transfer 70% of its known, low-enriched uranium to Russia for treatment that would seriously reduce its potential for military application. In fact, Israelis from the right and the left have reacted with heightened anxiety. "Kosher Uranium," read the mocking headline of Israel's largest daily, Yediot Aharonot. Media commentators noted that easing world pressure on Iran will simply enable it to cheat more easily. If Iranian leaders are prepared to sign an agreement, Israelis argue, that's because they know something the rest of us don't.

In the last few years, Israelis have been asking themselves two questions with increasing urgency: Should we attack Iran if all other options fail? And can we inflict sufficient damage to justify the consequences?

As sanctions efforts faltered, most Israelis came to answer the first question affirmatively. A key moment in coalescing that resolve occurred in December 2006, when the Iranian regime sponsored an "International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust," a two day meeting of Holocaust deniers. For Israelis, that event ended the debate over whether a nuclear Iran could be deterred by the threat of counter-force. A regime that assembles the world's crackpots to deny the most documented atrocity in history—at the very moment it is trying to fend off sanctions and convince the international community of its sanity—may well be immune to rational self-interest.

Opinion here has been divided about the ability of an Israeli strike to significantly delay Iran's nuclear program. But Israelis have dealt with their doubts by resurrecting a phrase from the country's early years: Ein breira, there's no choice. Besides, as one leading Israeli security official who has been involved in the Iranian issue for many years put it to me, "Technical problems have technical solutions." Israelis tend to trust their strategic planners to find those solutions.

In the past few months, Israelis have begun asking themselves a new question: Has the Obama administration's engagement with Iran effectively ended the possibility of a military strike?

Few Israelis took seriously the recent call by former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to shoot down Israeli planes if they take off for Iran. But American attempts to reassure the Israeli public of its commitment to Israel's security have largely backfired. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent threat to "obliterate" Iran if it launched a nuclear attack against Israel only reinforced Israeli fears that the U.S. would prefer to contain a nuclear Iran rather than pre-empt it militarily.

On the face of it, this is not May 1967. There is not the same sense of impending catastrophe that held the Israeli public in the weeks before the Six Day War. Israelis are preoccupied with the fate of Gilad Shalit (the kidnapped Israeli soldier held by Hamas), with the country's faltering relations with Turkey, with the U.N.'s denial of Israel's right to defend itself, and with an unprecedented rise in violent crime.

But the Iranian threat has seeped into daily life as a constant, if barely conscious anxiety. It emerges at unexpected moments, as black humor or an incongruous aside in casual conversation. "I think we're going to attack soon," a friend said to me over Sabbath dinner, as we talked about our children going off to the army and to India.

Now, with the possibility of a deal with Iran, Israelis realize that a military confrontation will almost certainly be deferred. Still, the threat remains.

A recent cartoon in the newspaper Ma'ariv showed a drawing of a sukkah, the booth covered with palm branches that Jews build for the autumn festival of Tabernacles. A voice from inside the booth asked, "Will these palm branches protect us from Iranian missiles?"

Israelis still believe in their ability to protect themselves—and many believe too in the divine protection that is said to hover over the fragile booths. Both are expressions of faith from a people that fear they may once again face the unthinkable alone.

Mr. Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and a contributing editor to the New Republic.
« Reply #733 on: October 31, 2009, 04:37:14 AM »

I lived with that kind of constant "undertone of stress" During the 1st gulf war.  I feel for the Israelis and understand their issues all to well.  The problem is that the MSM is to busy pandering to PC to actually do a human interest story, or even allow one to be shown, that describes the "cold war era" stress that Israel is currently living under.   I do not think the any American wou8ld find this tolerable for long, and I truly admire the restraint that we see Israel using when they have to go into the DMZ's on their borders to deal with the terrorist missile launchers.

I do not know how many other folks see the situation over there as that clean cut thought, since they do not have the necessary information to get to the conclusion.  Israel has a siege mentality for a good reason- they are under constant siege.

« Reply #734 on: November 05, 2009, 08:24:41 PM »
Netanyahu: Iran's shipment of arms to Hezbollah - a war crime
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that the ship carrying hundreds of tons of weapons believed to have originated in Iran and meant for Hezbollah, which Israel intercepted early Wednesday, constituted a war crime that should be reviewed by United Nations bodies.

"This was a ship carrying a massive amount of weapons which the Iranian regime tried to ship to Syria, and from there to Hezbollah," the prime minister said during a press conference he convened at the Tel Aviv defense headquarters. "The bulk of the shipment included rockets whose aim is to hurt our citizens and kill as many civilians as possible. This constitutes a war crime."

"The UN General Assembly should have investigated and condemned this crime and the UN Security Council should have convened a special session to debate this incident," Netanyahu continued.

"This is a war crime which Iran intends to commit again in the future. The international community should be focusing on this, but instead, the world condemns Israel and the Israel Defense Forces and undermines our right to self defense," he said, referring to Wednesday's UN General Assembly debate over the Goldstone report, which accuses Israel of having committed war crimes in Gaza last winter.

"It is time that the international community, at least the more responsible countries, recognize the reality and refrain from promoting a lie," Netanyahu went on to say.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah denied that the arms were bound for them.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Navy Commander Eliezer Marom lauded the commandos who carried out the operation which culminated in the seizure of some 300 tons of weapons.

Military Intelligence Director Amos Yadlin said that the arms ship serves as evidence of what he termed the activity of the Iranian octopus. "This isn't just about weapons, but also about money used to fund terror and weapons and the training of Hamas and Hezbollah operatives in Iran," he said.

Israel instructs its diplomats: Harness arms ship seizure to direct pressure toward Iran

The Foreign Ministry issued a document to Israeli embassies and consulates around the world on Wednesday, instructing diplomats to utilize Israel's seizure of the ship to direct international pressure toward Iran.

Israeli diplomats were instructed to stress Iran's violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions forbidding it from supplying weapons to Syria or Hezbollah.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem instructed diplomats to emphasize in interviews and conferences the fact that the ship that was seized en route to Syria, with a planned stop in Beirut. The diplomats were further asked to explain that the Israeli navy's actions, including diverting the ship to Ashdod, were all executed with the crew's cooperation.

Israel will use this event to put Iran in the limelight. The Foreign Ministry argues that this arms shipment is a blatant violation of UNSC resolution 1747 which forbids Iran from exporting weapons and ammunition. "Since these weapons are meant for the northern terror front, this is also a blatant violation of UN resolution 1701," the memo read.

The Foreign Ministry also asked embassies and consulates to issue a statement saying "Iran is continuing to smuggle weapons to terror organizations under the guise of legitimate international trade, and thus turns the Mediterranean Sea into a base for illegal activity."

It was further emphasized that "Iran is challenging the UN Security Council and poses a strategic threat to the stability and peace of the world."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that anyone who was still skeptical over Iran's continuous supply of weapons to terror organizations, was given conclusive proof when the Francop's cargo was exposed.

"Iran is shipping weapons to terror organizations in order to attack Israeli cities and kill its citizens. It is time that the international community applied real pressure on Iran to stop these criminal actions, and support Israel in its battle against terrorists and their patrons," Netanyahu said.

Reporter Michael Tobin shows viewers the weapons on display in the port of Ashdod.

« Reply #735 on: November 06, 2009, 06:59:07 AM »

Analysis: Seized arms evidence of Iran's investment of Israel's borders
Nov. 5, 2009

The seizure by Israeli forces of an Iranian-commissioned arms smuggling ship on its way to Syria and/or Hizbullah in Lebanon offers a further glimpse into the daily, silent war under way between Israel and the Iranian-led regional bloc.

It is evidence of Iran's ongoing strategy of arming its Islamist clients to Israel's north and south.

The strength of these forces on the ground constitutes an important asset for the Iranian regime. Iranian aid and weaponry is not doled out for its recipients to use at will. Iran's investment is likely to be called in at a moment of the Iranian regime's choosing - most likely in the event of a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Iran makes use of all its regional assets and allies in its effort to supply arms to Hamas and Hizbullah. These two organizations play a vital role in Iran's strategy for regional hegemony.

They currently maintain the two "hot" fronts in the Israeli-Arab conflict (which might today more accurately be referred to as the "Israel-Islamist" conflict). So maintaining the smooth flow of supplies is a strategic priority of the first order for Teheran.

In January, an Israeli bombing of an arms convoy in Sudan laid bare an arms trail leading from Iran to Sudan, across Egypt, across Sinai, and finishing in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The Sudan-Sinai-Gaza part of the trail was created and administered by Hizbullah men, acting on behalf of their Iranian patron. In April, an unidentified warship sank an Iranian vessel carrying arms to the Gaza Strip, as it sought to dock in Sudan.

This latest seizure of the arms ship bound for Syria lays bare a similar collective effort by Iran's allies to supply the parallel northern front - apparently along a similar route. The latest indications are that the ship docked first in Yemen, then in Sudan, before making its way to the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.

But the destination of the arms ship - either a Syrian or a Lebanese port, according to sources - points to one of the essential differences in the two fronts maintained by Iran against Israel.

Hamas in Gaza is boxed in and lacks strategic depth. Egypt to its south is aligned with the pro-western bloc in the region, and as such is a partner (sometimes even an energetic partner) in Israeli efforts to stem the flow of weaponry to Gaza.

Syria, however, is a card-carrying member of the pro-Iranian regional bloc. The porousness of Lebanon's eastern border with Syria is a vital asset for Hizbullah. And the Shi'ite Islamist movement has complete freedom of operation on Lebanese soil.

UN Resolution 1701 tasks UN forces in Lebanon with preventing the Syrian supply of arms across the border to Hizbullah. But no serious effort has been made to implement this clause.

Journalists working in Lebanon are aware that the crossings at the eastern border are off limits, and few attempt to report events there. Even UN investigators themselves concur that since August 2006, a steady supply of Iranian and Syrian arms has been making its way across Lebanon's eastern border to the Hizbullah forces in the south of the country.

It may be assumed that this was the intended final destination for the arms found Tuesday night on the ship bearing the Antiguan flag.

The events of the last 18 months in Lebanon have indicated that Hizbullah is the de facto ruler of that country - in the simple sense of being the force that can impose its will on matters it considers vital without consulting with other elements.

Six months after the much-vaunted election victory of the pro-western March 14 movement, Lebanon still has no government in sight. In the meantime, the parallel pro-Iranian Hizbullah state pursues its policies unhindered.

If the ship turns out to have been bound for a Lebanese port - this will offer the latest indication of just how free Hizbullah's hand in Lebanon now is.

The apprehending of the arms ship represents a propaganda coup for Israel, which may help it draw attention to the reality of an ongoing Iranian effort to amass powerful proxy military forces to Israel's south and north.

However, it us unlikely to put a major dent in Iranian efforts to rearm Hizbullah. The evidence suggests that the process of replenishing the large-scale destruction suffered by Hizbullah in 2006 has been mostly trouble-free and has largely been completed. Hizbullah is thought by Israel to now possess around 80,000 rockets and missiles directed at the Jewish state.

The frenetic armament efforts undertaken by Iran and its clients do not mean that conflict is necessarily imminent. The Iranians were displeased at Hizbullah's provocation that led to the war of 2006. The war destroyed costly resources and undid intensive Iranian efforts.

Rather, weaponry is making its way to south Lebanon and Gaza, via Syria, Sinai and the Mediterranean, to place the Israeli population within the range of Iranian-directed short and medium range missiles. The implicit threat is that these assets would be activated should Israel (or anyone else) dare to move against the Iranian nuclear program.

Israelis may take justified pride in its navy's significant achievement in stopping the arms ship bound for Syria. But the result of the larger contest of which the ship was a part, however, still lies ahead.

The writer is senior research fellow at Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya.
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« Reply #736 on: November 09, 2009, 10:38:59 PM »





Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered this statement Monday from Morocco at a
meeting with Arab foreign ministers: "For 40 years, successive American
administrations of both parties have opposed Israel's settlement policy. That is
absolutely a fact. And the Obama administration's position on settlements is clear,
unequivocal. It has not changed. And as the president has said on many occasions,
the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.
Now, the Israelis have responded to the call from the United States, the
Palestinians and the Arab world to stop settlement activity by expressing a
willingness to restrain settlement activity. They will build no new settlements,
expropriate no land, allow no new construction or approvals. And let me just say
this offer falls far short of what we would characterize as our position, or what
our preference would be. But if it is acted upon, it will be an unprecedented
restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful effect on
restraining their growth."
This statement is worth quoting in its entirety, as it is a masterpiece of hiding
complexity in simplicity. The Obama administration first demanded that Israel halt
all settlement construction. The Israeli government refused, insisting that
construction already approved on land already expropriated would continue. The
administration has agreed to that. The key is in how Israel acts on this: that no
new approvals for settlement construction will be given. However, the approval of
such construction is an internal Israeli bureaucratic matter. Whether approval is
given depends on the Israeli interpretation of what has been approved at this point.
That is sufficient ambiguity to give the Israelis a great deal of latitude.
"The Obama administration has been running a dual-track policy toward Israel.. The
United States has now aligned with Israel on both tracks."

Just as interesting as the language is the reason for the shift. Recalling the
firmness with which Obama announced his position, the decision to shift carries with
it substantial costs. The Arabs are -- in general -- outraged. The outrage is to be
expected and was discounted by the United States. It does not change the ultimate
position of Egypt on either its peace treaty with Israel or its relations with the
United States. No one is going to switch sides. However, the decision does place
increased pressure on Fatah in its competition with Hamas. The U.S. position has
been to isolate Hamas, and this does not contribute to it. Therefore, the decision
should be seen not only as a concession to Israel, but as a willingness to
strengthen Hamas somewhat in its internal battles. That requires explanation.
We note the extensive ballistic missile defense exercises under way in Israel with
U.S. forces right now, called Juniper Cobra. Though this is a regular exercise, the
2009 iteration is of unprecedented scale and scope, attempting to integrate the
latest U.S. and Israeli systems. The exercise is clearly intended to test joint
capabilities and ensure mutually supportive interoperability in defending Israel
from ballistic missile attacks -- the obvious attacker being Iran or its surrogates
in Lebanon. It is also a political signal to Tehran that should air strikes be
ordered against Iran, the United States is capable and willing to join in protecting
Israel from air attack.
Juniper Cobra started a week late (odd for what are usually carefully prepared
international war games). It has lasted two weeks and is set to end this Thursday.
We assume that after the exercises, U.S. assets will be withdrawn, but that remains
to be seen. The exercise sends the signal that not only can the United States deploy
defensive forces to Israel, they are already deployed there. The deployment has to
be read by Iran as preparation for conflict, regardless of U.S. intentions. Iran has
to calculate for a worst-case scenario.
With Iran refusing to accept demands concerning its nuclear program, and with the
United States repeatedly saying that patience is running out, Washington needs to
send threats to Tehran. Juniper Cobra does that. But it also, therefore, is not a
time for serious rifts between Israel and the United States. The Obama
administration has been running a dual-track policy toward Israel, with the
Israeli-Palestinian talks on one track and U.S.-Israeli security cooperation on
another. The United States has now aligned with Israel on both tracks.
Israel has asserted that the United States has promised significant action in the
event that this round of talks with Iran fails. With sanctions not a serious
prospect at the moment, Iran is looking to see whether the U.S. position on Israel
will track with the settlements dispute or with Israel's Iran position. By shutting
down the dispute over settlements while Juniper Cobra is under way, Iran has been
given its answer.

Now -- and this is the interesting part -- whether the plan is to attack or the plan
is to bluff an attack, the actions would look identical. We cannot tell from this
what the Obama administration is planning on Iran, but it is clear to us what they
are signaling. Now the question is whether Iran takes this as a threat or a bluff.
Tensions will now ratchet up either way.

Copyright 2009 Stratfor.

« Reply #737 on: November 19, 2009, 09:46:46 PM »

Analysis: Obama's press on Gilo shows a continued misread of Israel
Nov. 19, 2009
US President Barack Obama is an extremely intelligent man surrounded by equally intelligent advisers, many of whom have years of experience dealing with the Middle East. His continued misreading and misunderstanding of the Israeli public is, therefore, somewhat baffling.

This misread was evident again in the past few days by the US objection to the Jerusalem Municipal Planning Committee's approval of a plan to build some 900 new units in Gilo - not in a far-flung settlement overlooking Nablus, nor even in one of the settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, nor even a Jewish complex in one of the Arab neighborhoods of the capital, but in Gilo, one of the large new neighborhoods built in the city following the Six Day War. If Israel cannot build in Gilo without US approval, than it cannot build in Ramot Eshkol, French Hill, Ramot, Neveh Yaakov, Pisgat Ze'ev, East Talpiot or Har Homa.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Tuesday expressed "dismay" at the decision. The dismay, however, cuts both ways, with many Israelis clearly dismayed that the US - like Europe - now seems to be considering as settlements the post-1967 neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The EU, clearly following Gibbs's lead and then taking it one step further, released a statement on Wednesday saying, "The European Union is dismayed by the recent decision on the expansion of the settlement of Gilo."

Truth be told, this is not the first indication of US policy on this matter. Former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice seemed to be giving the new neighborhoods settlement status in 2007 when she opposed a new project in Har Homa. She didn't clarify, however, whether other Jerusalem neighborhoods over the Green Line, such as Gilo and Ramot, were settlements in the eyes of the United States.

However, the Obama team's call for a complete settlement halt also included a halt to new construction in east Jerusalem, something Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused to accept.

By continuing to press the issue, Obama - who recently showed nascent signs of wanting to engage the Israeli public out of an understanding that if you want to get Israel to make concessions, Israel will need to trust the US president - risks further alienating the Israeli public. According to a Jerusalem Post poll conducted in August, only four percent if Israelis consider him to be pro-Israel.

When Obama came to power in January, he apparently did so with two basic assumptions regarding Israel.
The first was that the Israeli public so cherishes its relationship with the US that it would not tolerate any daylight between Jerusalem and Washington, and that if its government was responsible for that daylight, then it would replace that government with another in order to preserve the special relationship with Washington.

The second assumption was that the Israeli public hated the settlements.
Based on those two assumptions, Obama immediately upon taking office pressed Israel hard on the settlement issue, calling for an unprecedented complete halt to all settlement construction, including in Jerusalem.

The administration's working premise seemed to be that since the Israeli public was not enamored of the settlements in any event, if Obama pushed hard on that issue, the Israeli public would pressure its own government to give rather than risk a fissure with the Obama administration.

But the assumptions were mistaken. The Israeli public does not hate the settlements. Granted, it does not like the illegal settlement outposts, or what it sees as the extremists among the ideological settlements, but the public makes a distinction between those settlements outposts and those extremists and the large settlement blocs, such as Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion, which are well within the Israeli consensus. And the public certainly doesn't view the neighborhoods of Jerusalem, as the Europeans said in their statement, as "settlements."

Pressing a construction freeze in those areas was widely viewed by the public as an unreasonable demand, especially when it was not accompanied by any demands on the Arabs or Palestinians.

Rather than rallying around Obama, Israelis have - according to polls that shows Netanyahu's popularity rising - rallied around Netanyahu. And no issue will make them rally even further around the prime minister than Jerusalem.

Netanyahu understands this, which is why his office was behind a leak during the summer about Obama's objections to Jewish building at the Shepherd's Hotel site in Sheikh Jarrah, and was also likely behind the leak this week of US objections to the Gilo plan. In the summer, the objection to the Shepherd's Hotel plan made the administration's demands seem unreasonable to the Israeli public, as the Gilo objections have done now.

The irony is that this has come at a time when it looked as if Obama understood that his much touted outreach to the Arab and Muslim world had to be accompanied by some kind of dialogue with Israel; that he needed to talk with the Israelis and the Jews. Thus he addressed the public in a video welcome aired at last month's conference in Jerusalem put on by President Shimon Peres; thus he addressed by video a rally at Kikar Rabin earlier this month on the anniversary of the Rabin assassination; and thus he had planned to address the Jewish Federation's General Assembly in Washington last week.

That address was cancelled at the last minute, however, when Obama needed to fly to Texas to participate in a memorial ceremony for the 13 servicemen killed there by Maj. Nidal Hasan. And any attempt to get off on a better footing with Netanyahu was foiled by the hesitant dance surrounding whether or not there would be a meeting, and then the clandestine manner in which that meeting took place. What looked like an attempt by the administration to positively engage Israel sputtered. And now, with the Gilo issue, these efforts risk faltering altogether.

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Gilo residents angered by US criticism of building plans
Nov. 19, 2009
Residents of Gilo on Wednesday reacted with surprise and anger to news that the US administration was dismayed by a government decision to approve 900 new homes in their neighborhood, questioning the relevance of the criticism while denouncing it unequivocally.

"It's just so ridiculous," said Silva, as she walked outside her home on the neighborhood's Rehov Shabtai Hanegbi.
"Anyone who is opposed to us building in Gilo obviously doesn't know the neighborhood very well. There are more than 40,000 people living here - it could very well be a city within itself. I never even thought that Gilo was up for discussion."

Others reacted with similar surprise, but also frustration at what they said was misguided American policy in an area considered by a wide consensus of Israelis to be just another Jerusalem neighborhood.

"Since when is anyone thinking about giving Gilo away?" asked an elderly man as he waited at a bus stop. "And if we're not giving it away, why on earth can't we build here? Obama is sitting all the way over there in the White House making demands, and really, what does he know about anything?"

Ron, a grocery store owner on Rehov Zecharia, labeled the American criticism "stupid," and said he was shocked to see the question of building rights in his neighborhood thrust into the headlines.

"When I picked up the newspaper today I couldn't believe it," he said. "The location they want to build in isn't even close to any Arab homes, and it has nothing to do with peace negotiations.

"Since when was Gilo on the table?" he asked. "To be honest with you, it's all very upsetting."
"When I first saw the news I was extremely surprised," Gilo Community Council Chairman Moshe Ben-Shushan told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday evening.

"I think we need to invite President Obama to come here and see that Gilo is not two caravans on a hilltop."
Ben-Shushan also said that even left-wing residents of the neighborhood had approached him on Wednesday and expressed anger over the American sentiments.

"They told me that it made them feel as if nothing was off the table; that at this rate, there's going to be nothing left of the Land of Israel," he said.

Ben-Shushan also said that he was satisfied with the government's stance on the matter thus far, but added, "If they were to agree to freezing construction here in Gilo, oy va voy!

"Young people have nowhere to live in Jerusalem," Ben-Shushan added. "They're leaving for the center or for the coastal plain, and frankly, we have to build here immediately, or I'm afraid the housing crisis in the capital will get even worse."

It isn't clear, however, that young people were the ones being targeted by the builders of these planned homes.
Ron, the grocery owner, said he had initially been interested in purchasing one of the apartments, but decided against it - not because of American criticism, but after hearing their price.

"They want NIS 1.86 million for a 5-room apartment," he said. "Who has money for that?"
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« Reply #738 on: November 20, 2009, 05:39:57 PM »

In a development I predicted when the Israeli failed to follow through the last time , , ,  cry

 A Third Lebanon War Could Be Much Worse than the Second


Michael J. Totten

Hezbollah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah recently announced that he could hit any and every place in Israel with long-range missiles. That would mean that, unlike in 2006, Hezbollah could strike not only the northern cities of Kiryat Shmona and Haifa but also Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion International Airport, and the Dimona nuclear-power plant.
I dismissed his claim as a wild boast last week, but Israeli army commander Major General Gabi Ashkenazi confirmed it this week. So while we've all been worried about Iran's nuclear-weapons program, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been quietly arming his chief terrorist proxy with more advanced conventional weapons.
To read the rest of this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive, click here.
A Third Lebanon War could make the Second Lebanon War in 2006 look like a minor kerfuffle. And the Second Lebanon War was anything but. When Noah Pollak and I covered it from the Israeli side, we found the whole northern swath of the country emptied of people and cars like it was the end of the world. The city of Tiberias looked like a zombie movie set. Kiryat Shmona is so close to the border that the air raid sirens often didn't start wailing until after Hezbollah's incoming Katyusha rockets had already exploded.
Meanwhile, pitched battles between the Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah seriously chewed up South Lebanon. The centers of entire towns were pulverized by Israeli air and artillery strikes. More than a thousand people were killed, many of them civilians used by Hezbollah as human shields.
Hezbollah is much more dangerous than any terrorist group that has ever been fielded from the West Bank or Gaza. It managed to create hundreds of thousands of refugees inside Israel, and it did so with fewer and shorter range rockets than it has now. And while the "Party of God" may think it's terrific that it can do what Hamas in Gaza only fantasizes about, its arsenal indirectly threatens Lebanon just as much if not more than it threatens Israel. Nasrallah can unleash a great deal of destruction, but it's still no match for what the IDF can dish out while fighting back.
If Israel's nuclear power plant comes under fire, if Tel Aviv skyscrapers explode from missile attacks, if Hezbollah manages to turn all of Israel into a kill zone where there is no place to run, Israelis will panic like they haven't since the 1973 Yom Kippur War when it briefly appeared the Egyptian army might overrun the whole country. I wouldn't want to be anywhere in Lebanon while Israelis are actively fending off that kind of assault. No country can afford to be restrained while fighting for its survival.
The last Lebanon caught almost everyone by surprise, although it should not have. The next one might start much the same way because few seem to be taking its likelihood or its potential magnitude seriously.
It's possible that a "balance of terror" on each side of the border will prevent anyone from doing anything stupid, but I wouldn't count on it. Hezbollah's rhetoric is more belligerent this year than ever. Not only does Nasrallah threaten to avenge the assassination of his military commander Imad Mugniyeh, he and the rest of the leadership fantasize in public about nuclear war.
Christopher Hitchens went to a commemoration for Mugniyeh in the suburbs south of Beirut earlier this year and saw a huge poster of a nuclear mushroom cloud next to the stage. "OH ZIONISTS," read the inscription below, "IF YOU WANT THIS TYPE OF WAR THEN SO BE IT!”
This, I'm certain, really is bombast – at least for now. Nasrallah doesn't have nuclear weapons. Apocalyptic imagery and rhetoric, though, tells us something important about Hezbollah's psyche.
Just ask yourself how you would have felt during the Cold War if Ronald Reagan or Mikhail Gorbachev said "SO BE IT" to nuclear war. I would have wanted to hide in my basement or go off-planet entirely. And I have a hard time imagining an American or Russian crowd roaring with applause and pumping its fists in the air in response to that sort of thing. That's just not how Americans or Russians thought about a nuclear holocaust. Israelis don't think about nuclear war that way either, nor do Hezbollah's opponents in Lebanon. The same is almost certainly true of the millions of Iranian citizens who brave beatings, arrest, and worse to yell "death to the dictator" in the streets of Tehran.
Hezbollah's mindset is different. If you expect moderation, reasonableness, and restraint from that crowd, you are far more optimistic than I am
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies" -- Groucho Marx

"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. --John Adams
« Reply #739 on: December 01, 2009, 07:36:52 PM »

In defense of Barack Obama
Nov. 30, 2009

This week a senior respected Israeli analyst asked me to look back and decide, "Are we seeing the worst crisis in US-Israel relations? Is this the worst ever administration from Israel's perspective?" Also this week an Israeli minister termed President Obama's administration "awful," and an Israeli political activist was quoted in Israel's largest circulation paper as saying, "The Obama regime is anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic."

To all, I respond with the strongest possible retorts: balderdash, tripe, silliness and stupidity! There are other serious ideological problems with this US administration which results in rock-bottom popularity for the US president in Israel but the labels of "anti-Semitic" or "the worst" are just bum raps.

Just look at the history.

IN 1957, the Eisenhower administration threatened to come down hard on the fledgling Israel, including removing UJA's tax-exempt status, as a way of pressuring Israel to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula.

In 1970, Richard Nixon threatened to cut the supply of 50 F-4 Phantoms to Israel because of insults hurled at French Premier Georges Pompidou by Jewish-American activists in New York. The demonstrations led the notoriously anti-Israel columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak to bray, "More than any president since Dwight Eisenhower, Mr. Nixon has shown a tough realism in trying to stake out the correct US policy in the inflamed Middle East without kowtowing to the large and highly influential Jewish vote." [Note Evans and Novak beat by more than 35 years professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the authors of the 2007 The Israel Lobby a distinctly unoriginal diatribe against Jewish influence on foreign policy. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same.)]

Observers feared the worst in US-Israel relations in 1975 when the Ford Administration weighed a "reassessment" of American policy in the Middle East, including cutting aid to Israel.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan earned a place in history as one of Israel's strongest friends, but his administration included strong critics of Israel such as vice president George H.W. Bush and defense secretary Caspar Weinberger. The sale of AWACS, just the tip of a massive arms sale and a realignment of US policy to embrace Saudi Arabia, took place under Reagan's watch, and the political war cry of "Reagan or Begin" was broadcast to suggest American Jews' dual loyalties. Arms to Israel were embargoed and delayed after the 1981 Osirak reactor bombing and the 1982 Lebanon War. And the Pollard affair pulled the US-Israel relationship to new lows.

Could relations have been worse than when George Bush Sr. went on national TV to challenge 1000 Jewish lobbyists to block $10 billion in housing loan guarantees over the issue of settlements at a time when hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews were flowing into Israel? Actually, yes, they worsened when his secretary of state, James Baker, was quoted as saying, "F*** the Jews, they don't vote for us anyway."

YOU GET the point: Anti-Semitism and crises in the US-Israel relationship have existed in the past, and there is simply nothing like it in the current US administration. Arms embargos and aid cut-offs then truly endangered Israel's security and gave Arab states tangible proof that American support for Israel was assailable. There is no such talk of cuts today. In fact, the strong support given to Israel by Congress and the unprecedented joint anti-missile exercise carried out by US and Israeli armed forces last month should put to rest the canard of an anti-Israel America.

So why the pervasive malaise about the Obama administration - a distrust so deep that Obama's popularity in Israel is equal to the margin of error? Well, Obama's failure to visit Israel doesn't improve his popularity, nor does his repeated cold-shouldering of Israel's prime minister.

Even the appointments of prominent Jews, Rahm Emanuel (chief of staff), David Axelrod (senior advisor), Mara Rudman (NSC/Mitchell's team), Hannah Rosenthal (envoy to monitor anti-Semitism), etc. don't make a difference. They arranged the first ever Seder in the White House, and sent the president to visit a concentration camp. How can anyone accuse these individuals of being "self-hating Jews," when they are members of synagogues, observe Jewish holidays, have relatives in Israel and send their children to Jewish Day Schools?

Because they are "Newest Testament" Jews; Jews who have embraced the new American Jewish religion of tikkun olam [fix the world] liberalism. Tikkun olam is the new overarching mitzva that guides them, even though it was never one of the 613 precepts of the Torah. The founding of Israel and the creation of Palestinian refugees may not have been the Original Sin in their theology as it is to others on the Left, but the settling of the West Bank following Israel's victory in 1967 is definitely viewed by them as Israel's Golden Calf

The translation of Newest Testament universalism into action can be seen in the words and policies of the modern day shaliach tzibbur [leader of the service], J Street.

The policies of J Street - the self-proclaimed "blocking back for Obama" - hold open the option of negotiations with Hamas, oppose Iran sanctions, and embrace the Saudi Plan, now called the Arab Peace Initiative, which demands a return to the 1967 lines, dividing Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

"There will be no peace if the settlements remain in place," wrote one of the Newest Testament prophets, MJ Rosenberg. "Pre-1967 Israel was not terrible at all. In fact it was pretty wonderful," he also wrote. "The secular areas [of Jerusalem] are charming but much of the rest is Jewish Taliban country... No humor, no aesthetics, just lunatics in black."

The Obama administration certainly has committed its share of questionable activities, such as ignoring George W. Bush's assurances on Israeli population centers in the West Bank, being over-confident in the ability of Palestinian security forces, attempting to appointment Chas Freeman to a high intelligence post, and abysmally executing its campaign against Israeli settlements and building in Jerusalem.

Perhaps the biggest mistake of all, however, was the advice given by Obama advisors that the rules of tikkun olam have a place in the compassionless Middle East.

The diplomatic failures led the New York Times editorial board to conclude on November 28, "We don't know exactly what happened but we are told that Mr. Obama relied more on the judgment of his political advisers - specifically his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel - than of his Mideast specialists."

Misguided, perhaps. But to declare the Obama administration to be anti-Semitic is just wrong. Let's keep the debate in the area of policy. Unfortunately, there'll be no shortage of topics to discuss.

The writer served as a senior diplomat in the Israeli Embassy in Washington and a member of AIPAC's staff in Washington and Jerusalem from 1972 to 1997. Today he is a public affairs consultant. He blogs at
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« Reply #740 on: December 01, 2009, 08:13:51 PM »

Twenty years at the feet of his Farrakhan loving "them jews" pastor, we'll just see what Barry does when Israel moves against Iran's nukes.
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« Reply #741 on: December 01, 2009, 10:33:23 PM »

Ronald Reagan "...The sale of AWACS, just the tip of a massive arms sale and a realignment of US policy to embrace Saudi Arabia, took place under Reagan's watch..."

   - True.  I'm not aware of how Israel was harmed by that.

"Arms to Israel were embargoed and delayed after the 1981 Osirak reactor bombing..."

    - For the complicated web we weave, the US supported Israel on that one with its silence and its UN Security Council veto while the entire rest of the world demanded condemnation for the preemptive attack if I recall correctly.

"... the Pollard affair pulled the US-Israel relationship to new lows."

    - Pollard was a spy stealing national secrets and caught red-handed.  Separately there is a process for allies sharing secrets.  What was Reagan supposed to do?

"[relations]...worsened when his secretary of state, James Baker, was quoted as saying, "F*** the Jews, they don't vote for us anyway."

    - He uses the quotation marks but omits the source, context or link.  (Sometimes insiders try hard to sell books.) If true (is there a youtube?), it sounds like back room, private, inappropriate, profane, political banter of standing up to interest groups, not likely to be said aloud if the hatred was real or the intent was to harm Israel.

The whole recap reminds me of a famous American who found nothing to like about America before Barack.
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« Reply #742 on: December 02, 2009, 12:24:44 PM »

      "Anti-Semitism and crises in the US-Israel relationship have existed in the past, and there is simply nothing like it in the current      US    administration"

Simply nothing like it in the current administration?


As for the prominant Jews in the administration - they love and worship their own power more than Israel.

    "How can anyone accuse these individuals of being "self-hating Jews,"

Completely wrong.  These Jews who veiw anything Repubublican is worse than Nazism LOVE themselves.  I, a Jew who leans right detests them.  They are frauds, phoneys, hypocrits in my mind.
There are other Jews I relate to more.  I am proud of my fellow Jews but not these fraudulent "liberals".  If they want do good for the poor that is wonderful.  I applaud anyone who wants to help others.  Where I part ways is they want to tell the rest of us what to do.  They want to take our freedoms and give it to THEIR causes, and advance their socialistic agenda.  As for me they can do what they want with their lives, their money, but stop telling the rest of America what we ought or should be doing and how the rest of us MUST live, spend our money, how much taxes we should pay and all the rest.

    "So why the pervasive malaise about the Obama administration - a distrust so deep that Obama's popularity in Israel is equal to the margin of error?"

Baloney.  Most Israelis know Bush was a far greater friend to Israel than Obama.

   "The diplomatic failures led the New York Times editorial board to conclude on November 28, "We don't know exactly what happened but we are told that Mr. Obama relied more on the judgment of his political advisers - specifically his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel - than of his Mideast specialists."

We are seeing a pattern constantly popping up in the MSM.  As Obama's policies become more obviously a failure - blame someone else and give cover to Obama.  Oh I get it.  Obama was just listening to his advisors who were trying to do a mitzvah.  I would laugh outloud if this wasn't such a blatant lie.  Obama, the most radical, leftist Presedent we have ever had, whose father was a Muslim, as was he early in his life, and then converted to Christianity and sat in a Church for a quarter century run by a guy who is an obvious anti-semite.  NOw we are supposed to believe Obama was just getting wrong advice from his advisors.
The excuse business is going to be gargantuan over the next couple years.

« Reply #743 on: December 07, 2009, 03:49:10 PM »

I don't think Obama will be worse than Regan on the nuclear issue ( a pretty low standard  )  because I don't think congress will let him.  We will see.   


Maybe I'm wrong about the way discussions should work.   However,  the article published by a reliable source  made a statement of historical fact  on James Baker.  If you wanted more support you could Google it.  It exists.   I feel  If you disagree with a fact  published by a reliable source it is your responsibility  to  research and provide the counter argument.

Are you saying that is not on you tube it didn't happen?   It was a private conversation but it still doesn't reflect well on James Baker.

This article really isn't  intended  to be an  ungrateful attack on past supporters of Israel. It is a critique of those with short memories  or  who are uniformed about the history of the middle east.  Obama has  personally made very bad policy decisions on Israel (recapped in the article)  and unfortunately will probably continue to make bad policy decisions on Israel. However, he is  not an anti-semite .  Calling Obama an anti-semite  hurts rather then help Israel because  it look unreasonable   like you are  more interested  in trashing Obama or liberals than  in the truth or in supporting Israel.

The point of the article is if you care about Israel concentrate on issues not unsubstantiated  ad hominem attacks on Obama.

« Reply #744 on: December 07, 2009, 03:55:13 PM »

'm not sure it will helps people's views on Israel are often more Rorschach blot  than  an unbiased view of the facts but  better to light a candle than to curse the darkness .

War zone 2.0
Dec. 3, 2009

A new IDF unit formed to help fight the nation's public-relations war is recruiting and training soldiers for the virtual battlefields of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

"The Internet, and especially social networks, Web 2.0 and bloggers, are an increasingly important and powerful way to disseminate information," said Sgt. Aliza Landes, who heads the unit, which was formed in September.

"Facebook has the same number of subscribers as the entire population of the US and provides a new opportunity for us to reach audiences we wouldn't reach otherwise," she said.

Israel first began seriously using the Internet as a publicrelations tool during Operation Cast Lead. The army launched a YouTube channel in December 2008 and broadcast footage of IAF attacks on Gaza targets, including one of a missile aborted once officers realized civilians were in the area.

Individual video views on the army's YouTube channel have reached more than 8.5 million people, Landes said. On Twitter, the army has 1,485 followers. It recently also started a blog and will soon launch an official presence on Facebook.

"There was awareness before Cast Lead that this was an area where the Israeli army spokesman's office should get involved and the Gaza operation galvanized the effort," Landes said in a telephone interview. "What we are doing right now is a starting point."

The UN General Assembly on November 5 voted 114 to 18, with 44 abstentions, to adopt a non-binding resolution calling for Israeli and Palestinian authorities to launch independent investigations of the fighting within three months.

The new unit "will be beneficial" to the Israeli public relations campaign abroad, said Jonathan Spyer, a political scientist at Israel's Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.

"Whether or not it will make a massive difference at the end of the day in how Israel will be perceived, that I am more skeptical about," he said.

The most recent action for the army's Internet social network unit came during last month's naval interception of a ship heading for Syria. Israel said it seized an unprecedented 500-ton haul of weapons from Iran intended for Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Landes and her soldiers made sure bloggers, whom she calls "a very critical and key element" of her work, were getting the same information the traditional media received.

"I want to make sure they can write with the same sort of authority," she said.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the arms shipment a war crime and urged the UN to address the smuggled weapons and not the Goldstone Report on Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip.

"This is not just about addressing misinformation, although that is an important aspect," said Maj. Erik Snider, an army spokesman. "This is also a way to engage a target audience and have a dialogue with people around the world."
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« Reply #745 on: December 13, 2009, 02:28:52 PM »

Newspeak is often quite a Pravda, even in this article there are whiffs of it, but the article seems interesting to me nonetheless.


Iran’s Worst Enemy
Israel's top spymaster will stop at nothing to prevent a nuclear Iran. Even at the expense of other threats.
By Ronen Bergman | NEWSWEEK 

Published Dec 12, 2009

From the magazine issue dated Dec 21, 2009

Even among Israel's tough security chiefs, Meir Dagan has always been known for his raw nerve. As a military trainee he would wander around the base during his off hours flinging a knife at trees and telephone poles like a circus entertainer, one fellow soldier recalls. He earned one of his first decorations as a young commando in Gaza, for snatching a live grenade from the hands of an enemy fighter. Long-haired and confident, Dagan would sometimes bring his pet Doberman, Paco, along on raids. His propensity for solving problems by force continued even after he retired from the military. He was leading a task force on terrorist financing in 2001 when his men told him they had discovered a European bank being used to channel money from Iran to Hamas. "We have the address, no?" Dagan asked his intel officers, according to a participant in the meeting, who asked not to be named for fear of angering Dagan. "Burn it down!" The horrified intelligence officers stalked out of the room in protest. (Dagan declined any comment for this story.)

Soon afterward Dagan was brought in to rejuvenate the Mossad, Israel's storied foreign intelligence serv-ice. Eight years later, after a string of covert successes attributed to the agency, he has become the country's longest-serving and most influential spy chief. His men revere him (an affection that does not extend to all their bosses, according to a recent internal survey cited by Mossad sources); even Israel's civilian leaders heed his strategic advice. But critics say his influence has been achieved at a cost: Dagan, 64, has systematically reoriented the Mossad to focus almost exclusively on what he (and most Israelis) see as the dominant threat to the country—Iran. He views almost all of Israel's national-security challenges through that prism.

The Israeli government's single-minded focus on Tehran has caused friction with the Obama administration, which is seeking to engage Iran and to promote a deal with the Palestinians. Publicly there is no rift: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he supports efforts to halt Iran's nuclear program diplomatically, as long as harsh sanctions are imposed if no progress is shown. But the threat of a unilateral Israeli attack remains on the table—and while that threat may give the Americans leverage in talks with Tehran, an actual attack might well invite Iranian retaliation against U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia.

Dagan is not arguing for a quick strike. In fact, he recently pushed back to 2014 his estimate of the date when the Islamic Republic might have the means to build and launch nuclear weapons. But his uncompromising focus on Iran at the least reinforces Netanyahu's hawkish bent. One French intelligence officer, who didn't want to be identified discussing internal Israeli politics, describes Dagan as a "tailwind" carrying Netanyahu toward military action.

As the Iranian threat has grown and Israel's political leaders have been damaged by scandal and the 2006 war with Hizbullah in Lebanon, Dagan has become one of the most powerful figures in the country. He was appointed by then–prime minister Ariel Sharon after a period of retrenchment for the Mossad, and has done much to restore the agency's reputation for ruthless efficiency. His men are considered responsible for two of the Jewish state's highest-profile recent successes: the assassination of the notorious Hizbullah mastermind Imad Mugniyah in Damascus last year, and the discovery of a key piece of intelligence that led to the bombing of a Syrian nuclear reactor that fall. When news leaked out this September that intel agencies had discovered a previously unknown uranium--enrichment facility in the Iranian city of Qum, Dagan's men quietly got the credit, although it was the Americans who made the announcement. Netanyahu occasionally travels to Dagan's office for briefings, rather than the other way around. (A Netanyahu spokesman also declined to comment.)

That kind of favoritism has irked rivals in Israel's intel establishment. They argue that his focus on Iran has led to a diversion of resources from more immediate threats. "Why is Iran more dangerous than Syria?" asks one Military Intelligence officer, who did not want to be identified criticizing Dagan. "[Syria] has an enormous army on Israel's border, and chemical weapons that could destroy this country." Some Israeli strategists argue that Damascus should be more aggressively courted, in an effort to encourage President Bashar al-Assad to sever his ties to Tehran. Dagan, on the other hand, holds that peace talks with Assad's regime are a waste of time as long as Iran remains Syria's dominant partner.

Dagan's powerful persona may be overcompensation for an early life marked by danger and deprivation. He was born in 1945 on the floor of a freezing freight car making its way from Siberia to Poland. His family, whose name was originally Huberman, fled to Israel when he was 5, on a ship that nearly sank in a storm. Meir stood on the deck wearing a life vest and gripping an orange, convinced that he was not long for this world.

Dagan dropped out of high school to try out for the Israeli military's prestigious commando unit, Sayeret Matkal, but didn't make the cut. (At Military Intelligence headquarters they complain that Dagan still nurses resentment over the slight.) Dagan eventually enlisted in an armor unit, where his sense of the existential dangers to his country only grew. "We suddenly found ourselves in a constant series of wars," he recalled to a journalist in 1999.

In 1970 Sharon, then head of the Israeli military's Southern Command, tapped the 25-year-old Dagan to command a unit of elite special-forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip. On one occasion, according to Israeli press accounts, Dagan and some of his men dressed as Palestinians, entered Gaza on a fishing boat, met with a group of PLO fighters, and killed them all. The unorthodox commando methods of the unit, called Sayeret Rimon, helped reduce terrorist attacks inside Israel significantly, but some of Dagan's men later recounted tales of atrocities: shooting Palestinians in the back and then claiming that they had tried to escape, according to one allegation. Dagan was never charged, however, and he defended himself to the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper in 1999, insisting that the Rimon years were not a "Wild West period … We never believed that killing women and children was permissible." Still, he added, "orders to open fire were different then. There were fewer restrictions."

At the time, the Mossad was entering its heyday. American spies found the agency's help indispensable during the Cold War. (CIA operatives were astounded when the Israelis managed to procure a Soviet MiG-21 for inspection in the mid-1960s.) By the early 1970s, when Palestinian terrorist organizations became the Mossad's biggest challenge, the agency had acquired a reputation for deadly proficiency; its operatives eliminated PLO fighters around the world, including several of those responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.

But the agency's influence declined in the 1980s and 1990s as violence flared inside the occupied territories (which are the responsibility of Shin Bet, Israel's domestic-security service, and the military). When then–Mossad chief Danny Yatom ordered an assassination attempt in 1997—sending operatives to Amman to inject a lethal poison into the ear of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal—the plot went badly awry and the director was forced to resign. Yatom's successor, Efraim Halevy, tolerated few risks. European and American spies began complaining that the Israelis no longer had much to offer on the international intel exchange. Although the agency's budget is a state secret, a source in the Finance Ministry says funding in the Halevy years fell by about 25 percent.

Dagan brought his flamethrower approach to the Mossad in 2001, shortly after the second intifada erupted. Dagan had worked on Sharon's campaign the previous year, but the prime minister wasn't just showing gratitude: he wanted an antidote to the timid directors of the 1990s. Dagan had plenty of military experience but had never served in the Mossad, making it easier to shake the place up. He quickly upended the organization internally and began tangling with Israel's other intelligence agencies.

His approach earned him enemies. In the intelligence world the first and toughest fight is always the battle over budgets. Dagan competes for scarce resources and influence with Israel's Military Intelligence and Shin Bet, among others. In a brazen power grab, the Mossad director began ordering his subordinates to stonewall the other agencies. Dagan appointed an enforcer code-named "Mr. A," whose job was to frustrate rivals in MI. According to Mossad and MI sources who did not want to be identified discussing interagency frictions, the tension grew so unbearable that MI officers began avoiding Mossad headquarters. They taunted Mr. A by calling him by his real name.

Dagan was also making enemies inside the Mossad. He became known for inspecting field stations without notice and shouting at the agents, "What have you done for me lately?" His tantrums sparked waves of resignations. "Let them go," the director once scoffed, according to a source who spoke to him. "We can start from the beginning." Dagan slashed the Mossad's list of targets, announcing that the agency would dedicate most of its resources to only two threats: Iran and terrorism from abroad—meaning primarily the Iranian-backed groups Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. "The list must be short," he said. "If we continue pretending we can do everything, in the end we won't do anything."

Dagan's single-minded focus quickly began to show results. American and Israeli agents discovered in late 2002 that Iran had been working with Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan to build an enrichment facility in Natanz. The information was leaked to an Iranian opposition group called the National Council of Resistance, which released it in 2003, causing an international furor. Later, unexplained accidents began plaguing the Iranian nuclear project, delaying the enrichment process. Scientists started disappearing, labs caught on fire, and aircraft connected to the effort mysteriously fell from the sky. Intelligence sources, who declined to be identified discussing covert operations, say Mossad had a hand in several of these incidents. As Dagan's successes multiplied, so did his budget. Now, "whatever we want, we get," says one senior Mossad officer who recently retired but prefers not to speak publicly about the agency.

Yet as Dagan's power base has expanded, some Israelis have begun to worry that the Mossad director has acquired too much political influence. Dagan developed close ties to neoconservative policymakers in the United States during the Bush-Cheney years, and Dagan's critics charge that the Mossad's intelligence estimates are being tailored to fit the director's personal views, just as Bush advisers were accused of "stovepiping" evidence to suit their agenda. In particular, Dagan's hardline position on Syria echoes the warnings of Bush-era neocons that Assad's regime is hopelessly devoted to Tehran. A European intelligence officer who was stationed in Israel several years ago recalls the Mossad boss trashing colleagues who argued for engaging Damascus. "I was under the impression that he felt like he reflected White House policy," the intelligence officer says.

That said, Dagan's dark view of the Iran threat is widely shared. German, French, and British intelligence agencies all sided with him when he disputed the CIA's 2007 National Intelligence Estimate downplaying Tehran's nuclear program. And in Israel, where political influence has always been tied up with military valor, it's not surprising that his voice would be heeded in the circles of power. He was appointed to make the Mossad more aggressive, and has succeeded. What remains to be seen is whether in the long run his aggression will be more dangerous to Israel or to its enemies.

Bergman, senior political and military analyst for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, is the author ofThe Secret War With Iran.
« Reply #746 on: December 17, 2009, 07:02:05 PM »

Missing boy found unharmed near J'lem
Dec. 17, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

After almost ten hours of searches, an eight-year-old boy who went missing during a family outing in the Burma forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon was found unharmed in the Sha'ar Hagai area.

The boy, Ofra resident Nitzan Cohen, was hiking with his family. At one point, the children ran up ahead, and when the parents called them back Nitzan did not respond.

"He disappeared within a fraction of a second, the whole thing took less that half a minute," Channel 2 quoted Nitzan's worried father as saying. Because the boy is autistic, police decided to call in large forces to the area, according to the report.

In addition to police forces and firefighting teams, more than 1,500 people volunteered to take part in the search efforts.

The search party was diverse, and included Arab Israelis, haredi Jews, West Bank settlers and residents of nearby kibbutzim and moshavim, Israel Radio reported.

Several minutes after midnight, one of the search teams found Cohen near the Sha'ar Hagai Farm, several kilometers away from the spot where he was last seen in the afternoon.

A medical team examined the boy and found that he was healthy and unharmed.
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« Reply #747 on: December 27, 2009, 09:40:51 AM »

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

Editor's Notes: A nation held hostage
Dec. 24, 2009

Gilad Schalit has become our nation's child - and now the symbol, potentially, of either our heroic, vital humanity or of our essential, self-preserving clear-headedness

"Among the most important policies which must be adopted in the face of terrorism is the refusal to release convicted terrorists from prisons. This is a mistake that Israel, once the leader in anti-terror techniques, has made over and over again. Release of convicted terrorists before they have served their full sentences seems like an easy and tempting way of defusing blackmail situations in which innocent people may lose their lives. But its utility is momentary at best.

"Prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are caught their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the kind of terrorist blackmail which they are supposed to defuse...

"In the case of a prolonged and sustained [terrorist] campaign lasting months or years, the natural disgust of the public with the terrorist's message begins to break down and is often replaced by a willingness to accommodate terrorist demands. By preparing terrorism-education campaigns... the government can inoculate the population against the impulse to give in when faced with protracted terrorist pressure...

"And once the terrorists know that virtually the entire population will stand behind the government's decision never to negotiate with them, the possibility of actually extracting political concessions will begin to look exceedingly remote to them...

"Terrorism has the unfortunate quality of expanding to fill the vacuum left to it by passivity or weakness. And it shrinks accordingly when confronted with resolute and decisive action. Terrorists may test this resolution a number of times before they draw back, and a government has to be prepared to sustain its anti-terror policies through shrill criticism, anxious calls to give in to terrorists' demands, and even responses of panic. But it is a certainty that there is no way to fight terrorism - other than to fight it."

- From the concluding chapter of the 1995 book "Fighting Terrorism," by Binyamin Netanyahu.

RE-READING THE above argument amid the current national anguish over the Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange, one is struck by the dispassion of its tone.

Netanyahu is right, of course. He was then and he is now. Giving in to terrorism only emboldens it. And Israel has been giving in, more and more disproportionately, further emboldening terrorism, for years.

But Netanyahu wasn't prime minister when he wrote those words in 1995. He could afford the luxury of writing without passion, without emotional connection.

Gilad Schalit was a little boy in 1995. Now he's our nation's blameless heart-wrencher, wasting away in some hellhole in Gaza because, as of this writing, Netanyahu's government hasn't given in to all of Hamas's outrageous demands.

Netanyahu's government has indicated it will likely give in to most of them, even though the prime minister knows "this is a mistake that Israel, once the leader in anti-terror techniques, has made over and over again." He knows and he's trying to mitigate the damage. He's cast around for alternatives. But his security chiefs could not provide a rescue option. And to date he's chosen to eschew the renewal of previously attempted routes of direct pressure such as arrests of Hamas politicians and targeted strikes on key figures. So he's trying to drive a better bargain.

This isn't the book-writing world of 1995. The terrorist challenge comes not from a small, non-state organization but from a government on our southern doorstep, a terrorist government with religious motivation that fully intends to take over the leadership of Palestine. How, in this impossibly complex reality, is the prime minister to bring home Schalit without crowning Hamas and causing strategic damage to Israel? Or, alternatively, how is he not to bring home Schalit without causing strategic damage in a nation of watching mothers and fathers who send their children out to protect it?

Perhaps Israeli Arabs will be left off the final list - averting at least that debilitating deferral of Israeli sovereignty to the Islamists.

Perhaps some of the bloodiest killers will be sent into exile. The 13 Palestinian gunmen dispatched to Europe after the 2002 siege in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity are all understood to still be overseas, seven years later. But which law-abiding nation would play host to the worst of the convicted murderers? And what benefit would there be in exiling them to parts of this region where they would be free to plot more bloodshed?

Perhaps Netanyahu will yet manage to keep the most dangerous terrorists behind Israeli bars after all - the plotter of the Netanya Park Hotel Pessah massacre, the overseer of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi's assassination. Perhaps. Perhaps.

IT'S DIFFERENT when you're prime minister. All the theories suddenly get overwhelmed by the realities.

The Schalits, who raised their child for national service and now rightfully insist that you bring him home, are outside your front door. And they are wonderful people. Loving. Determined. Heroic, even.

For Aviva, Gilad's mother, to decline to criticize ministers who have opposed the terms of the deal by saying this week that "it isn't a question of right or wrong," and that "I can understand the difficulty the ministers are facing," was remarkable. But she also said: "He can still be brought back alive."

Indeed, he can. But at what price?

IT'S DIFFERENT for Netanyahu when theory comes up against reality, and it's different for the entire nation. We go back and forth, circling and re-evaluating and arguing with ourselves, longing for clarity, sometimes convincing ourselves that there is clarity. What there is, is blackmail; they snatched a soldier and they want us to free murderers and potential murderers to get him back.

The nation is with the Schalits - engaged by their dignity, their helplessness, their iron will. And families nationwide imagine themselves facing the same plight, with their child - one moment safely within Israel, protecting our border; the next dragged away into Gaza - kept tantalizingly just out of reach by murderous extortionists. Pay the ransom, we urge from our gut.

Over hundreds and hundreds of obsessively documented days, Gilad has become our nation's child - and now the symbol, potentially, of either our heroic, vital humanity or of our essential, self-preserving clear-headedness.

The nation is not thinking clearly, but then nor is it required to. It sees a choice between failing the families of the already bereaved by setting free the terrorists who killed their loved ones, or failing the family of Gilad Schalit, whose loved one still lives and breathes. And however fraught, that dilemma is clearly solved: Save what can still be saved.

But is that really the equation? Isn't the choice between the Schalits and the families who have yet to be bereaved, the families as yet unnamed whose lives will be torn asunder when proven Palestinian killers are set free again to hatch new schemes?

Back and forth we go, because, actually, it's not that black and white. Maybe the IDF, the same IDF that gave Gilad Schalit his uniform and whose top commander is adamantly prepared to take the risk of combating a new wave of terrorism for the sake of bringing him home, will frustrate those freed terrorists' next attempts at kidnapping and murder.

"The resistance, which has succeeded in capturing Gilad Schalit," Hamas's Khaled Mashaal boasted two months ago, "is capable of capturing another Schalit and another Schalit and another Schalit, until not a single prisoner will remain in the enemy's jails." Well, maybe not. The IDF frustrated Hamas's carefully laid plans to kidnap soldiers in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. Aware of the dangers, it can do more to forestall them.

Maybe the IDF, the Shin Bet et al will prevent others dying at the hands of the terrorists; look at the success in radically reducing attacks from the hellish proportions of the suicide-bomber onslaught six and seven years ago. Maybe they can prevent further loss of soldiers' and civilians' lives even if we are forced to wage another war on terror. Gilad is alive and we can get him back. That is fact and the rest is speculation. This young man is a son of Israel, and the extraordinary lengths we go for our children is why this country is different. It's why we're different from those brutal regimes around us. It's why we love this country. It's why we send our children to fight to protect it.

BUT THEN again, back and forth, isn't this argument just a case of emotion sweeping us away? Isn't cold fact against us?

In years past, we might have invoked the claim of mere "speculation" to douse the contention that releasing terrorists for hostages will surely mean more of our loved ones will die. But nowadays, there's bitter, bloody evidence out there.

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, in a report last year, quoted an estimate by the security services that some 50 percent of the 10,000 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel since 1985 had returned to terrorism, "either as a perpetrator, planner or accomplice," killing hundreds of Israelis. In the case of the 1985 "Jibril deal" for the return of three soldiers captured in Lebanon, the report states, "the Israel Defense Ministry determined that 114 out of the 238 [convicted terrorists] who were released returned to terrorism."

A single example from a more recent "exchange": Matsab Hashalmon, jailed in 2003 for membership in a terrorist organization and freed in the January 2004 deal with Hizbullah that saw the release of Elhanan Tenenbaum, promptly recruited the two suicide bombers who blew up two buses in Beersheba just seven months later, killing 16 civilians. Sixteen. One freed killer. Sixteen devastated families.

But that was in the bad days of the suicide bomber onslaught? Doesn't the recent calm marginalize those statistics?

Well, there is more.

WE HAVE reached no peace agreement with Mahmoud Abbas, but he insists he seeks a viable accommodation alongside us, and speaks out, even this week, in Arabic, about his opposition to a third intifada, to a revival of armed struggle against Israel. Hamas's Mashaal, visiting Teheran last week, by contrast, made explicit that "resistance is the strategic option of Hamas, resistance groups and the Palestinian people, and we will never surrender to political and military pressures."

Won't an ill-considered exchange merely feed the beast? Won't it make an absolute mockery of Israel's controversial effort to reduce support for Hamas by maintaining a blockade on Gaza? We punish the ordinary people but capitulate to their extortionist leadership?

There are few who dispute the immense boost Hamas would gain from a mass prisoner release, secured by extorting Israel over Schalit. Hamas is already preparing its victory celebrations. Hamas is already poised to celebrate this exposure of Israeli impotence - the mighty Israel of Entebbe and Osirak, incapable of extracting a soldier from the patch of land next door - this destruction of Israeli deterrence, this triumphant rebound from the demonstration of Israeli military power in Operation Cast Lead.

Hamas is already contemplating the momentum this vindication of its strategy will provide for its supporters in the West Bank - and the momentum this will give to Hizbullah in Lebanon and to their would-be nuclear state sponsor, Iran. Hamas is already anticipating the blow to the credibility of relative moderates such as Abbas. Hamas is already gauging how far forward this will take it toward the full dominance of the Palestinian polity, en route to the full dominance of Palestine.

DEEP, DEEP down, many Israelis know all of this. We are not stupid people.

We know that, even as the inner cabinet was weighing the terms of the deal on Monday, another family was being torn apart. Mor Cohen was killed in a training accident, shot dead through what ought to have been an impermeable wall during an exercise on the Golan Heights. "I always feared he would be kidnapped," said his mother, Ricky. "And now he has been; now he has been snatched from me."

Stoically, astoundingly, she added that she did not blame the army for his death. The family mourned; Mor's father collapsed. The nation watched in horror. And then the nation moved on.

But Schalit is different. Don't "lay all the problems of the Middle East onto our son's narrow shoulders," Aviva and Noam Shalit pleaded in a letter to the prime minister this week. How can the heart not be moved by such a plea? How right and just it is. Why should Gilad have found himself at this nexus? What did he do to deserve this? Get him out...

Mor Cohen is dead. It is tragic. But there is nothing we can do now to bring him back. Gilad Schalit is alive. We can save him.

We don't want to think about how the life of the nation might be affected by another of what the Winograd Commission on the Second Lebanon War branded these "crazy deals," in this case empowering a movement strategically committed to our destruction. And, again, finally, that's understandable and it is legitimate. We're allowed to be moved by our emotions, our sympathies, our humanity. We, the people, are allowed not to have to think about the wider implications for our own well-being.

And in a country that requires national conscription, a country where mothers and fathers nationwide have sons and daughters in uniform today and are preparing to send sons and daughters to fight for our defense tomorrow - a country where all those families are watching what their government now does to save a single, hapless soldier - it's not quite so simple to say "We don't do deals with terrorists."

The theories so expertly articulated by Netanyahu the 1995 prime ministerial candidate have come smack up against the realities confronting Netanyahu the 2009 prime minister. Can he, dare he, strike a deal with Hamas? Can he, dare he, fail to strike one?

There's no simple decision, but there is a right one. And it's not for the people of this nation, held hostage by Hamas, to take.

That's why we have leadership.
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« Reply #748 on: January 03, 2010, 11:37:38 AM »

George Gilder's Israel Test: Who Passes? Who Fails?

By Ron Lipsman
In his remarkably philo-Semitic book The Israel Test, George Gilder poses a short series of moral questions to both individuals and nations, the answers to which determine on which side the respondent falls in the ongoing struggle for the political, economic, and cultural soul of the world's people. Mr. Gilder's dramatic thesis is stated forcefully and clearly in the opening paragraphs of his book, which I quote in part:

The central issue in international politics ... is the tiny state of Israel. The prime issue is not a global war of civilizations between the West and Islam ...The real issue is between the rule of law and the rule of leveler egalitarianism, between creative excellence and covetous "fairness," between admiration of achievement versus envy and resentment of it.

Israel defines a line of demarcation. On one side...are those who see capitalism as a zero-sum game in which success comes at the expense of the poor...On the other side are those who see the genius and good fortune of some as a source of wealth and opportunity for all.

The test can be summarized by a few questions: What is your attitude toward people who excel you in the creation of wealth or in other accomplishment? Do you aspire to their excellence, or do you seethe at it? Do you admire and celebrate exceptional achievement, or do you impugn it and seek to tear it down? Caroline Glick ... sums it up: "Some people admire success; some people envy it. The enviers hate Israel."

Today tiny Israel ... stands behind only the United States in technological contributions. In per-capita innovation, Israel dwarfs all nations.

As if the anti-Semites of the world needed another reason to hate the Jews. Gilder has not only highlighted two of the most historic causes of Jew-hatred, but he has wrapped them in a brilliantly colored package, which on the one hand explains much of the vilification of Israel that occurs today, and on the other, will surely attract more hatred in their direction. To explain, let me quickly recall a (probably incomplete) list of seven main reasons for anti-Semitism. The first four of the following are couched in terms an anti-Semite might use.

1. The arrogance of the "chosen people." That this tiny, in some ways wretched band of people would declare themselves chosen by God, entrusted with His mission of redeeming humanity, and then flaunt their arrogance by holding themselves above all mankind in their perverted pursuit of that goal is insulting, contemptible, and incendiary. Small wonder that their haughtiness has earned them the enmity of most of humanity.

2. Ethical monotheism. As inventors of a demanding morality (embodied in the Ten Commandments), and by their continued promulgation of their God's moral law, they render uncomfortable many who would prefer not to be bound by the standards of the Jewish God's dictates.

3. Refusal to accept Christ. They spurned the true Messiah when he appeared on Earth and their continued existence is an affront to the Christian religion, which superseded the original mandate the Jews received from God.

4. Infidels. They rejected Mohammed and they epitomize the infidels of the world who stand in the way of a worldwide caliphate and the global reign of Islam.

5. Generally obnoxious. I am not engaging in self-hatred here, yet I think that it is not incorrect to assert that no other ethnic group has a leg up on the Jews in the category of "behaving obnoxiously."

6. Money-grubbers. With their seemingly natural affinity for commerce, the Jews of the world, in their roles as bankers, investors, entrepreneurs, accountants, and businessmen, have proven repeatedly that their ability to accumulate wealth -- sometimes deemed at the expense of others -- far exceeds that of their neighbors, thereby engendering the envy and resentment of Gentiles.

7. Unnatural success. Envy and resentment of the Jews is not restricted to their role in commerce. In the arts, sciences, technology, politics, law, and even war (at times), the achievements of this tiny tribe is so far above the median that it causes wonder and amazement. The ensuing reaction of many is more than envy and resentment. It encompasses a belief that the Jews must be lying, cheating, and stealing from the Gentiles -- behavior that merits punishment and retribution.

It is the last two reasons that Gilder has highlighted and conjoined. How? Well, in the last two decades, Israel has performed a sharp about-face in regard to its fundamental economic philosophy. Its founders a century ago were hardcore socialists, and the Labor Party that unilaterally ruled the nation (from pre-State days until thirty years ago) represented that mentality. From Labor's fall in 1977, it took more than fifteen years for the nation to overcome its economic blindness. But beginning in the last decade of the 20th century, Israel finally unleashed the entrepreneurial power of its highly educated and creative citizenry. The Zionists became capitalists.

The long delay in the arrival of that transformation is ironic. As Gilder points out,

The great irony of Israel is that for much of its short history it has failed the Israel test. It has been a reactionary force, upholding the same philosophy of victimization and Socialist redistribution that has been a leading enemy and obstacle for Jewish accomplishment throughout the ages. As a Jewish country, Israel should have arisen rapidly after the war as a center of Jewish achievement. Instead, its leftist assumptions actually inclined it toward the Soviet model...Until the 1990s, Jews could succeed far more readily in the United States than in Israel. The Israel test gauges the freedom and equality of opportunity in a country by the success of Jews there. By this Israel test, the United States was far freer and more favorable to creativity and excellence, and thus to Jewish achievement, than the state of Israel itself.

But the Jews of Israel have more than made up for the lost time, as the closing paragraph of the opening quote from Gilder makes clear. (The actual statistics are on page 109 in his book.) To reiterate, in terms of technological innovation, Israel ranks ahead of all the nations of Western Europe, ahead of all the Asian tigers, and behind only the U.S. And that is only in absolute terms; per capita, Israel's entrepreneurial productivity dwarfs that of any other country. "Wonder and amazement!"

Thus, it is clear how Gilder has folded together items 6 and 7. The Jews are not only "guilty" of an abnormal ability to handle money and of achievements way beyond the norm -- but the two come together in an explosion of capitalistic entrepreneurship in the small desert nation. Swell! The Jewish nation is now a model of free-market capitalism. One of the prime reasons that too many of the world's people lustily despise the United States is its grand success as the greatest capitalistic nation in the history of the world. Israel now joins the U.S. as a second exemplar of democratic capitalism. As I said, the world did not have enough reasons to hate Israel. Now it has a "new one." But note: The first four reasons for anti-Semitism that I cited are special to the Jewish people. (Some would say, "So is the fifth.") On the other hand, the amalgam of 6 and 7 that Gilder has identified is now intimately tied to the United States.

According to Gilder, all those who hate Israel -- and the U.S., for that matter -- because of their economic success are flunking the Israel test. Incapable of celebrating the exceptional achievements of a small nation, they seethe at Israel's accomplishments. Rather than imitate Israel's methods, they impugn Israel's motives and seek to blame the poverty of Israel's Arab neighbors on the Jewish nation's economic prowess. They hurl the epithet "Nazi" at Israel, even if they are aware of the obscenity that such an accusation represents.

But make no mistake: The hatred of Israel extends to an equally virulent hatred of America. In the words of Iran's mullahs, the USA is the "Great Satan" and Israel is the "Little Satan." Both must be eradicated. Well, the mullahs are certainly among the Israel-haters referred to above. Who are the others? Let us examine who has passed the Israel test and who has failed it. First, I'll discuss those who receive a passing grade -- a pathetically short list, actually. It includes the United States, a few other nations in the Western Hemisphere, a small group of European countries, and a very limited number of Asian and South Pacific states. I have purposefully not identified the specific countries that pass the Israel test (beside the U.S.) because it is a highly subjective exercise, and I venture that the list's contents would depend heavily on who is compiling it. For example, Canada is on the list, but is Mexico? Poland makes the cut; sadly, Britain probably does not; and what about Germany? Regardless of who compiles the list, it is guaranteed to be short.

Fifty years ago, the list was much longer. However, the Israel test was also much easier to pass back then. Israel was a socialist country, the world was restrained by the shame of the recent Holocaust, and the tiny Jewish nation was still cast as the underdog in its battle to survive in the Middle East. But the Six-Day War in 1967 removed the underdog status, the check that the memory of the Holocaust exerts has weakened substantially, and Israel has cashed in socialism for capitalism. The list of those who pass the test has shrunk dramatically. Former friends like France vanished from it long ago. Other Western European and South American nations have followed suit in recent years.

Now who has failed the test? Above all, the Muslim world has. With the exception of Turkey -- and it seems to be reassessing its stand lately -- the unremitting hostility toward Israel from the Muslim world is nearly universal, not to mention fierce and grotesque. The next group of failures includes all the left-leaning socialist and semi-socialist countries of the world. Outside the Soviet bloc, that group was relatively small and declining during and after the Reagan era. But in recent times, it has noticeably expanded, and all those who have fallen into the leftist mode are now earning failing grades on the Israel test. Then there are the third- and fourth-world basket-cases throughout Africa and Asia. The fact that they extort foreign aid from the U.S. and Israel does not prevent them from falling in line behind the previous two groups in their condemnations of Israel. That doesn't leave many countries on the map. In summary, aside from the U.S. and a few other friendly countries, the vast majority of the world's nations earn failing grades on the Israel test.

Here is a really sad postscript to the previous observations. Even within the countries that pass the test, there are substantial segments of the population that fail individually (or in groups). This is true of even the United States. For heaven's sake, the President of the United States gets a resounding failing mark on the test. And finally, painful as it is to admit, one must acknowledge that a not insignificant part of the Israeli public -- largely left over from the halcyon days of Labor rule -- flunks the test as well.

If Western Europe continues to decay, and if the U.S. succumbs to the socialists who are currently running our country, then it is legitimate to ask what comes next. Who will be the world's top dog? China? Russia? India? An Islamic caliphate? The answer to that question is only partly clear. Russia and the Muslim world flunk the Israel test, hands down. If Gilder is right, neither will be top dog of anything. What about China or India? In some sense, both are still sitting for the test. Their fates -- and ours -- await the outcome.

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« Reply #749 on: January 12, 2010, 08:58:05 PM »

Op-Ed ColumnistThe Tel Aviv Cluster

Jews are a famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates.

Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, but 21 percent of the Ivy League student bodies, 26 percent of the Kennedy Center honorees, 37 percent of the Academy Award-winning directors, 38 percent of those on a recent Business Week list of leading philanthropists, 51 percent of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction.

In his book, “The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement,” Steven L. Pease lists some of the explanations people have given for this record of achievement. The Jewish faith encourages a belief in progress and personal accountability. It is learning-based, not rite-based.

Most Jews gave up or were forced to give up farming in the Middle Ages; their descendants have been living off of their wits ever since. They have often migrated, with a migrant’s ambition and drive. They have congregated around global crossroads and have benefited from the creative tension endemic in such places.
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