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G M
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« Reply #1750 on: February 01, 2013, 05:20:28 PM »

http://pjmedia.com/andrewklavan/2013/01/31/hey-jews-the-jokes-on-you/

Hey, Jews, the Joke’s on You!

January 31st, 2013 - 7:52 am


In the light of the comic genius of people like Jack Benny, the Marx Brothers, and Mel Brooks, it’s sometimes said that Jewish people have an especially keen sense of humor. Perhaps that would explain why so many of them voted for Barack Obama. They must’ve been anticipating the knee-slapping hilarity of Obama pulling the rug out from under them to send them falling butt first onto the hard floor of his broken promises where they’d slip on the banana peel of his deceit and go skittering into the mud pit of his betrayal.
 
What a chuckle it’s been indeed. Right after winning well over 60% of the Jewish vote in November, Obama delivered his gut-busting punchline by nominating former Senator Chuck Hagel to serve as secretary of Defense. And as if that weren’t funny enough, Hagel is now before the Senate, where he’ll almost certainly be confirmed.

 


Now the good news for Jews is that Hagel rhymes with bagel, a tasty breadstuff much beloved by our Hebraic citizens. The bad news is just about everything else. Supporters of the former senator have been reassuring various media outlets that Hagel doesn’t dislike Jewish people. And I’m sure that’s mighty Christian of him. The problem is he’s not being asked to dance at a bar-mitzvah. He’s being called to support our allies and stand up to our enemies and when it comes to the Middle East he doesn’t seem quite sure about which are which.
 
Hagel has complained about the “Jewish lobby,” he’s criticized Israel’s commitment to peace even as her citizens were being slaughtered by terrorists, he’s opposed sanctions against Syria and Iran while describing Israel’s war against terrorist Hezbollah as “the systematic destruction of an American friend,” meaning Lebanon.  He also refused to sign a 1999 letter condemning Russian anti-semitism, a letter that was signed by 99 other senators, which by my count is all of them except Chuck.
 
Can’t stop laughing? How about this one. Hagel’s supporters say Hagel’s anti-semitic comments and actions and feelings have been taken out of context. And that, coincidentally, is just what Egyptian dictator Mohammed Morsi says about his comments. Morsi, you remember, is the guy to whom Obama just sent a couple of F-16′s. Which must be another of the president’s hilarious Jewish jokes, since Morsi’s also the dude who described Jews as the descendants of apes and pigs. But like Hagel, Morsi says he was misunderstood. After all, who doesn’t love that funny pig in Babe, right? And what about King Kong where that gigantic Jew chased Naomi Watts around. That was fun.
 
Okay, Obama’s nomination of Hagel — like his weapons aid to Morsi — may not be in the best traditions of Jewish humor, but this administration is certainly a joke to anyone who supports our only true ally in the Middle East.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1751 on: February 03, 2013, 08:56:38 AM »

Summary
 


JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images
 
An Israeli F-15 fighter jet takes off on Nov. 19, 2012, for a mission over the Gaza Strip
 


Israel's strategic environment has changed since the beginning of the Syrian uprising. Instability now exists on all its borders, and Israel has behaved accordingly. On Jan. 30, the Israeli air force bombed a Lebanon-bound convoy from Syria. Two days earlier, Israel Defense Forces deployed two Iron Dome batteries to the northern part of the country. Recent diplomatic activity likewise suggests that Israel now feels threatened on its northern border.
 
Historically, Israel has undertaken pre-emptive military action when it has felt threatened. Famous examples include strikes on nuclear facilities in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007. More recently in October 2012, Israel allegedly bombed a Sudanese arms factory believed to be supplying weapons to militants in Gaza. Israel's target in the airstrike remains unconfirmed -- unnamed security officials claim the convoy carried Russian SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles -- but the incident nonetheless shows that Syria's situation has deteriorated enough to merit military action.
 


Analysis
 
Reuters initially reported the airstrike, which was later confirmed by a Stratfor source. Four Israeli aircraft entered Lebanese airspace around 4:30 p.m. the evening of Jan. 29, but were relieved four hours later by other aircraft. Then at 2 a.m. the next day, these aircraft were replaced by yet another group, which remained in Lebanese airspace until about 8 a.m.
 
The duration of the operation is significant. The Israelis clearly anticipated a target to appear in a specific window of time; bombing a fixed target would not necessitate a prolonged mission. The revelations of SA-17s notwithstanding, the target of the attack remains unconfirmed. Leaks from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office indicate that the government has been anxiously monitoring potential chemical weapons traffic into Lebanon, a haven for Hezbollah militants. Israel's anxiety may be justified: On Jan. 28, Ynet reported that Hezbollah had established several bases in Syria near suspected Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles.
 

Visit our Syria page for related analysis, videos, situation reports and maps.
 
In addition to chemical weapons, Israel also fears the transfer of advanced conventional weapons, ranging from advanced anti-tank guided missiles and man-portable air defense systems to various types of artillery systems and larger vehicle-mounted surface-to-air missile systems. Such systems could jeopardize the Israeli air force's ability to conduct operations in the region, according to an air force spokesperson. If the reports were true that the convoy carried SA-17s, the airstrike would validate some of Israel's concerns
 
Managing Multiple Threats
 






.
 The reported strike is only the latest measure Israel has taken in recent days to secure its northern border. On Jan. 27, Israel deployed two Iron Dome batteries to the North -- one in the Krayot area outside Haifa, and one in Galilee. The Iron Domes will reinforce batteries already stationed in Haifa. But more important, the new batteries could have been deployed in anticipation of retaliatory strikes for today's operation.
 
Meanwhile on the diplomatic front, Israeli National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror has been in Moscow since Jan. 28 to discuss the Syrian chemical weapons issue. Specifically, he has spoken with his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, about the weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah. Notably, the strike shows Russia that Israel will not stand idly by if it feels threatened by continued instability in Syria.
 
 
 
Taken together, the strike and the diplomatic activity reflect Israel's insecurity with regard to its northern border. But the strike also comes in the context of uncertainty elsewhere. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has called into question the future of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, which has shaped regional geopolitics since 1978. The situation in Jordan is no more encouraging. Economic woes have led to political problems for the ruling Hashemites, who find themselves dependent on economic support from Saudi Arabia and from Persian Gulf countries. Moreover, the Syrian crisis has prompted more than 21,000 refugees to enter Jordan over the past week alone. Jordan reportedly has since bolstered its military presence along its border with Syria.
 
 
 
Instability on every border has created a new strategic environment in Israel. And on Jan. 30, Israel clearly felt compelled to preserve its northern border proactively. Israel is continuing to develop its missile defense systems, such as Iron Dome and David's Sling. On its southern border, Israel has reorganized its military deployments, creating a new brigade under the 80th Division to increase security in Eilat and on the border with the Sinai. It has also built new fences and enacted security measures on the border. And in the north, Israel has now seen sufficient provocation to attack a target close to the Syria-Lebanon border. But unfortunately for Israel, such actions can actually make its border more dangerous.
 
 
 
The ultimate objective of the strike remains unknown. It could have been meant to take out an actual convoy of surface-to-air missile systems that challenge Israeli air superiority. Just as plausible is that it was meant as a warning to discourage Hezbollah from transferring weapons into Lebanon as the Syria crisis continues to degrade. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: The new Israeli government faces the daunting challenge of managing multiple external threats on its borders.


Read more: Israel: An Airstrike at the Syria-Lebanon Border | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1752 on: February 07, 2013, 06:00:22 PM »

The New 'Silk Route;' Weapons to Gaza and Beyond
by Paul Alster
Special to IPT News
February 7, 2013
http://www.investigativeproject.org/3904/the-new-silk-route-weapons-to-gaza-and-beyond
 
 
November's "Pillar of Defense" operation by the Israeli military included a couple of unpleasant surprises for Israeli citizens. For the first time, Palestinian terrorists fired missiles at the country's two population centers, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, sending residents scurrying for shelter. For years, Palestinian rocket fire was isolated to smaller cities in southern Israel. Israeli military officials say weapons smuggled into Gaza via the new "Silk Route," a pipeline created and protected by governments including Iran, Sudan and others, made that dramatic new range possible.

In a wide-ranging interview for the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a senior source in the Israeli Defense Force, speaking on condition of anonymity, explained how that smuggling works and what it means.

"You can see how it goes between Iran, northern Sudan, via Egypt. It didn't gradually evolve and develop like the old merchant trail, 'The Silk Route.' It's not something built thousands of years ago. It is something that we believe government officials sat down and decided on. Let me put it this way; in such countries, under such regimes, we don't believe that anything is being done without the permission and knowledge of the local power."

The official, whose assessments are based on his day-to-day experience of combating efforts to supply terror groups in Gaza, said the smuggling of more sophisticated weaponry was facilitated in part by upheaval in North Africa.

"When we are talking about the smuggling of illegal arms into the Gaza Strip" the officer began, "we should focus on a few members of this notorious community; we are talking about Iran, north Sudan, Libya as a state, not a government, and of course, the Sinai Peninsula.  Libya has become a serious problem since the fall of the Gaddafi regime because it is an open black market" he said. "Unlike Iran and Sudan, there is no government behind what is going on there. There were huge stocks of weapons (some of it western), that are now being offered to the one able to pay the highest price. The Palestinians are taking advantage of that. They will send procurements missions to look for specific items there (in Libya), or sometimes they are taking part in open auctions in Sinai to whoever will pay the most for weapons like SSR's, Anti-Tank Guided Missiles, MANPADs etc."

The flow of arms from Iran to specific groups in Gaza has long been a major concern for Israel and others seeking stability in the region. A Western intelligence report highlighted by Reuters back in September, confirmed a long-held Israeli view, saying "Planes are flying from Iran to Syria via Iraq on an almost daily basis, carrying IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) personnel and tens of tons of weapons to arm the Syrian security forces and militias fighting against the rebels.  Iran continues to be the major arms supplier to the Palestinian organisations" the officer said. They have been for quite a few years, every year spending many tens of millions of US dollars. Their main transfer route to the Gaza Strip is via north Sudan and Syria, we believe in cooperation with local governments, or at least with the awareness of such governments. The Iranians have used civilian cargo and civilian flights in order to deliver such shipments even without the knowledge of passengers taking seats on such flights."

Israel believes that some of that weaponry found its way to arm Hizballah in South Lebanon, while some also arrived further down the line in Hamas-controlled Gaza. In September, news of the shipments reportedly prompted then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry to threaten to withdraw aid from Iraq, (where the planes sometimes stop in transit and through whose airspace the flights pass), unless such planes were stopped and searched as a matter of routine.

"These were flights that originated in Tehran and went to Damascus, cargo flights or civilian flights with passengers/tourists flying without knowing that in the belly of the plane there are explosives and other such materials" the Israeli officer said. "Right now there are bans against the Iran Air cargo planes and Mahan Air (which are supposed to be civilian companies).These are restrictions led by the U.S. and Europe."

No sooner had the recent Israel/Hamas conflict ended than Iran publicly pledged to re-arm its Gazan militias. The process had been made more difficult following the much publicised destruction of the Yarmouk factory in Sudan in late-October, blown up by a series of missiles strikes attributed by the Sudanese government to the Israeli air force. Sudanese Information Minister Ahmad Bilal Osman told Al Jazeera the day after the attack, "Israel has accused Sudan of sending arms to Hamas. These allegations are not correct."

Intelligence showed that the factory was being used as an assembly point for Iranian Fajr5 missiles and other weaponry shipped to Sudan and subsequently transported through Egypt's Suez Canal. From there it was smuggled into Gaza through the network of tunnels overseen by the Hamas authorities.

A massive increase in the trafficking of missiles from Sudan to Gaza corresponds with Hosni Mubarak's fall in Egypt, and the subsequent rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood, (the parent organization of Hamas), and its leader, Mohammed Morsi.

Palestinian terrorists have obtained Fajr5 rockets, anti-tank and surface-to-surface missiles and rockets that can travel 40 kilometers.

What differentiates this route from others is the quality of arms coming through. It is what we call 'Equilibrium Breaking Arms,' things that are not that common in the area. Only the participation of governments in the armament process can deliver to Sinai. You don't get coastal missiles like we caught on the Victoria in March 2011 by purchasing them on Ebay. It is something that a government planned will come from a particular ship on its way to Egypt, then on through Sinai which is the bottleneck of all smuggling activities in the Gaza Strip."

The interception of the freighter Victoria was one of three high-profile weapons seizures at sea by Israel during the last decade in which more than 450 tons of weapons were seized. Katyusha rockets, thousands of mortars, F-704 anti-ship missiles, two rocket launchers, two British-made radar systems, and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition suitable for AK-47 assault rifles, were just part of the haul. Despite those raids, weapons still get through.

"In 2009 Fajr5 rockets entered the Gaza Strip without us knowing about it. We discovered that later on. There is no 100 percent success in this field of business. We are doing our best to see that we are on any movement of such kind, but yes, of course we are never sure we know everything. We cannot allow coastal missiles to enter the Gaza Strip as then all merchant routes will be under threat. We have gas platforms now on the coast of Israel which could potentially be placed in danger by such missiles."

The discovery in recent years of vast quantities of natural gas off the coast of Israel could prove a huge boon to the Israeli economy over the next generation, but the terminals are viewed as a prime target for terrorist attacks and their security is clearly of paramount importance to the Israeli Defence Force and security services.

The other critical issue that the IDF officer touched on is the huge danger posed to both Israel and Egypt by the lawlessness in the Sinai Peninsula and the plethora of weaponry arriving there, much of it from the now dysfunctional Libya. Stopping those weapons from reaching Gaza has not proven to be a priority for Egypt, either.

"They do not want any part of the Palestinian problem on their shoulders. If they stop the tunnel industry they will have to open more border crossings and let more supplies in, and that they don't want to do. But when it comes to Libyan weapons any group can go there [Sinai] to buy, say, anti-tank missiles or MANPAD's."

Egyptian forces did intercept a consignment of U.S.-made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles smuggled out of Libya in early January, and another again two weeks later. These came at a time when Morsi was desperately trying to convince the U.S. that its offer of billions of dollars of aid and F16 fighters should be honored despite concerns over Morsi's governance.

Last March, former IDF southern command head Yom Tov Samia went on the record on this issue, stating, "Egypt has been playing the same game since 1967: Whenever they want to be the bad guy, they're bad guys, when they want to be the good guys, they're the good guys. This situation has to come to an end. Egypt cannot continue to play the good and the bad guy whenever it's convenient for them."

Open air auctions of lethal weapons are taking place in Sinai, and whoever comes up with the most cash, whoever they are, takes the goods and walks.

"These weapons are then not under the control or 'political wisdom' of Hamas leaders or PIJ leaders. They might well end up under the control of a small group of Al Qaeda who might decide for themselves that they are now going to shoot at an airplane carrying European tourists travelling into Sharm El Sheik (Sinai resort), or shooting at an airplane landing at Aqaba [Jordan]."

Sinai's increasing instability is a concern far beyond Israel, the source emphasized, and already serves as an open market for arms, raw materials and technology flowing into the Gaza Strip.

"There are more and more contacts between Al Qaeda and the small groups in Sinai. Egypt finds it [Sinai] hard to police after years of neglect. As far I know there are a quarter of a million Bedouins that were never governed, that were, and still are discriminated against by local authorities...and they have lately become more and more religious. If at the beginning we saw these tribes supporting terror cells for the sake of money, now we see it becoming more an ideological support, and we see more and more cases that these groups of Al Qaeda-influenced extreme Jihadists are becoming more powerful than the tribes."

"The attack of August 5 that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers has brought home [to Egypt] that the threat is not only against those who don't follow Allah, but also against less religious Muslims."

This unique insight from someone so closely associated with trying to stop lethal weapons from reaching the hands of radical Islamists in the Sinai, paints a picture of a worrying broadening of the disparate groups and the massive danger that weapons from Iran and the barely functioning new Libya pose to the security of Israel and to Arab nations who don't currently espouse wholly radical Islamist views.

"I believe that most people do not understand the threat to targets other than Israel by the open markets of weapons in the Middle East" the intelligence officer concluded. "I don't think that an American, European, or British customer understands the connection between Libyan black markets and his holiday destination in Aqaba or Sharm El Sheik."
Then a final parting thought, (delivered with absolute certainty), and a wake-up call to those who believe that the reach of Islamic terror will not encroach on their daily life the way it does in other parts of the world.

"If they think this is just Israel's problem, or just a Middle East problem, it is not."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1753 on: February 18, 2013, 01:34:58 PM »

Caught the final portion of an interview with some Israeli general on the Huckabee show last night.  Huckabee did his part well and set up things nicely for the general who graciously pointed out that maybe now that the first term of the Obama administration had revealed to them that the middle east was other than they thought (saying without saying that we have been run out of Iraq, are being run out of Afpakia, Libya, and stand irrelevant with Syria, Egypt, etc that maybe they will be ready to realize that only Israel is a true friend, and a true and highly capable ally in the region.  He seemed to hold real hope for good things coming out of Baraq's impending maiden voyage to Israel.
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« Reply #1754 on: February 19, 2013, 10:06:31 AM »

The Truth About Hamas' Smuggling Tunnels
by Paul Alster
Special to IPT News
February 15, 2013
http://www.investigativeproject.org/3915/the-truth-about-hamas-smuggling-tunnels

 
The general narrative of the situation in Hamas-controlled Gaza is of a people under siege, deprived of everyday goods, whose only means of receiving sufficient supplies is through the network of tunnels that bring a wide range of essential items from Egypt.
In fact, Israel delivers an average of 300 truckloads of goods each day through official crossing points to the Gaza Strip, basic supplies that provide steady, if unspectacular amounts of necessary items to the 1.6 million inhabitants of the Hamas-controlled enclave. The majority of everyday commodities as well as luxury items and, most significantly of all, drugs, explosives, and military hardware, come through the tunnels. They are run by a band including multi-millionaire Gazan businessmen often making vast amounts of money, and critically, paying taxes/bribes to Hamas to allow free passage of all goods.
A senior Israeli Defense Force officer, speaking exclusively to the Investigative Project on Terrorism on condition of anonymity, explained why that continues.
"Why don't Hamas pressure Israel to open more crossing points?" the officer asked. "The only crossing they insist that is open is Rafah, [the border between Gaza and Egypt], because that is a sign of sovereignty and is an international border crossing point between two countries. We are willing to transfer more goods at Nitzan crossing and Kerem Shalom crossing, but that is something they [Hamas] are not encouraging."
If goods flowed more freely into Gaza there would be no need for the tunnels. So it is in Hamas' interest to paint a picture suggesting a "population under siege" that would suffer without the tunnels bringing in food and goods. It's a story non-governmental agencies lap up and repeat throughout the world in their solicitations. The import of illegal weapons and contraband is rarely mentioned in that narrative.
Last summer, 16 Egyptian border policemen were killed by Islamist terrorists based in Sinai who later managed to breach the Israeli border before being overwhelmed by a combination of Israeli Air Force and army units. This attack, understood to have included weapons that originated from the Libyan conflict of the previous year, was a wake-up call to Egypt's new Muslim Brotherhood government. Although it is Hamas' parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood may recognize that it, too, is now a potential target for the weapons smuggled through Gaza's tunnels, some of which have been acquired by Al Qaeda-inspired terrorists now moving with impunity throughout the Sinai Peninsula's Bedouin tribes. These fanatical terror cells seek nothing less than achieving the introduction of strict Islamic law in Egypt, Africa's most populous Muslim nation.
That might explain a recent crackdown on the tunnels from a somewhat surprising source; Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, expected by most Gazans to offer them significant support, but who now appears shaken by the growing threat from Sinai and other major factors as he struggles to cling on to power.
On Monday, the Times of Israel reported that Egyptian security forces had surprised border smugglers around the Rafah crossing by deliberately pumping water into tunnels, flooding them and making them vulnerable to collapse.
This could be the first real indication that Egypt is responding to international pressure, Gaza-based political analyst Mkhaimar Abu Sada told the IPT.
"It is true that the U.S. Congress is not happy with the situation happening between Egypt and Gaza," Abu Sada said, "and members of the U.S. Congress have been asking Egyptian secret services to take much more decisive measures to block the smuggling of weapons and explosives from Sinai to Gaza, and also to put an end to the tunnel business between Gaza and Israel. The Egyptian government will have no other choice but to do something to please the US and the international community, because at the end of the day if Egypt doesn't take decisive measures it will lose some of the international funding from the US and the Europeans."
Many tunnel operators are getting worried.
"I know for a fact that the Egyptians have been making it harder for the Palestinians to smuggle over the past two weeks" Abu Sada said. "It seems to me that the Egyptian authorities are trying to tell Gazans that commodities that are allowed to enter the strip from Israel must not be smuggled from Egypt into Gaza. They are only allowing commodities that are prohibited by the Israelis to come from Egypt to the Strip."
If Israel unilaterally decided to double or triple the number of goods going into Gaza it would completely undermine large sections of the illegal tunnel economy. That, however, could prompt Hamas to renew its rocket fire into Israel that has been on hold since the end of the November's "Pillar of Defense" campaign. In short, Israel is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn't act on any increased in the transfer of goods to Gaza.
"If Israel increased the number of trucks entering the Gaza Strip on a daily basis that would deprive Hamas and its government of collecting taxes and customs payments that are coming through the tunnels," Abu Sada explained. "The price the Palestinians in Gaza are paying for cigarettes and fuel is much, much cheaper than the price they used to pay when these came from Israel. For example, the price of gas [in Gaza] is currently one-third of what Palestinians in the Fatah-controlled West Bank are paying, and cigarettes are half of what Palestinians in the West Bank are paying."
The tunnels generate $188 million in tax revenues on things like cigarettes and gas and building materials, Egyptian journalist Sarah A Topol wrote in the Bloomberg Business Weekly on Jan. 31. But "the smugglers say their importance is waning: Access to Israeli goods is improving, and the Gazan government has begun regulating [taxing] the tunnels, sapping profits."
So, while the tunnels are essential for transporting illegal arms and materials into Gaza ready to wage war against Israel, they are also critical in maintaining the goodwill of poor Gazans by providing them with cut-price commodities, even with surcharges added by Hamas officials.
"At the end of the day it is not only food and commodities that are entering the Gaza Strip, so it will be very difficult to close down the tunnels completely. These taxes and levies are essential to the economy of the Hamas government and will never be readily relinquished," Abu Sada said.
Israeli officials have different views as to why Egypt doesn't fully open its border with Gaza and allow free movement of goods. The IDF officer, speaking to the IPT in late-January, suggested that the Egyptians simply want to keep the whole Gaza situation at arms' length, rather than take control of the issue.
"The problem is that maybe then they would have to pay more attention, pay out more money, and take responsibility for the Gaza Strip if they prevent goods, people and other supplies going through tunnels. That is something they are not willing to do," he said. "They have determined that we, Israel, must do that. They do not want any part of the Palestinian problem on their shoulders. If they stop the tunnel industry they will have to open more border crossings and let more supplies in, and that they don't want to do."
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson suggested that the idea that the tunnels were kept open for tax collection doesn't necessarily make sense. "Hamas runs the Gaza Strip," he said. "They could quite easily impose a tax system on goods coming across the border with Egypt. If Hamas were to get a deal with the Egyptians to pass goods on top of the border rather than under it, they could tax the goods as much as they want. But there are things going through the tunnels that wouldn't be allowed by the Egyptians anyway, such as drugs trafficking, human trafficking, and of course, arms trafficking."
Gerald Steinberg, president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor and a professor of political studies at Israel's Bar Ilan University is the author of 'NGOs, Human Rights, and Political Warfare in the Arab-Israel Conflict.' Steinberg has no doubt as to what is behind Hamas' tunnel strategy.
"The Hamas leadership thrives on conflict and of portraying the situation in Gaza as one of Palestinian suffering. It is created for the Palestinian leadership by playing the victim card strongly and has been assisted in that by the NGO network and by the UN human rights frameworks all working together. They will always exaggerate claims that they cannot import basic materials, while at the same time seeking to downplay changes that will actually benefit the population. There is always a careful play off that Hamas does between allowing materials in [to Gaza] and playing the victim card."
Steinberg characterizes the on-the-ground situation in Gaza in relation to the NGO's as one of dangerous and often willful misinformation by organizations funded, in particular, by pro-Palestinian European governments. The suggestion is that these groups have become politicized and are prepared to turn a blind eye to the highly incendiary issue of illegal weapons trafficking into Gaza in order to further their own agendas in support of their view of the downtrodden local population.
Steinberg also feels that Israel has been guilty of being embarrassingly slow in presenting its case to the international community. "Part of the problem is the Israeli government's incompetence in countering these allegations issued by a powerful propaganda machine. The reason our organization exists is because there was no counterpoint. The Israeli leadership, until the last year or two, didn't understand that this was a major threat to national security. This isolation and boycott process was as powerful as a military process."
Anat Kurz, research director at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies, agrees with Steinberg's view that NGOs are misrepresenting the situation in Gaza and are allowing themselves to be misled by Hamas.
"I think it sounds quite logical" she told the IPT. "I think Hamas is treading a fine line, because if Egypt resorts to harsher measures with regard to the tunnels there will be greater or more vocal calls from the Strip by the people to allow the transfer of goods for daily use. Hamas will have to be more attentive to such calls. It depends on the systemic dynamic between Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, what's going on in the Sinai Peninsula, and of course, Israel. There might be a change in light of developments on the ground."
Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist with a special interest in Israeli/Palestinian relations and Middle East politics. He is a regular contributor to FoxNews.com and the Times of Israel, and blogs at www.paulalster.com
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objectivist1
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« Reply #1755 on: February 19, 2013, 11:01:32 AM »

Israel to award Obama prestigious Presidential Medal of Distinction

Posted by Robert Spencer - 2-19-2013 at www.jihadwatch.org

This is about as meaningful as his Nobel Prize. Pamela Geller nails it, calling it the "Please-Don't-Hurt-Us Award" and noting: "It's an interesting strategy. I am sure Israel's top psychiatrists thought this one up. Feed the narcissist. Perhaps he'll do less harm. What are they calling it? The Hagel? The Brennan? Or the Mursi? Or the Romney Walk-back?"

"Israel to award Obama prestigious medal in visit," from the Associated Press, February 18 (thanks to Pamela Geller):

JERUSALEM – Israel will award President Barack Obama the country's Presidential Medal of Distinction during his upcoming visit.
Israeli President Shimon Peres' office said Monday that Obama will be recognized for his "unique and significant contribution to strengthening the State of Israel and the security of its citizens."

Huh?

Obama is scheduled to visit Israel in March -- his first as president.
Obama has often had a tense relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Jewish state's West Bank settlement policies and the lack of peace process with the Palestinians.

But Peres and the committee behind the award noted Obama's overall friendship and backing of the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Israel's Presidential Medal of Distinction is comparable to the France's "Legion of Honor" or the "Order of Canada."
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1756 on: February 19, 2013, 11:04:06 AM »

What do you make of my post #1753?
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« Reply #1757 on: February 19, 2013, 11:16:02 AM »

Crafty,

I think the General's hope is nothing but a pipe dream.  Obama has many Muslim Brotherhood operatives in his administration, he is sympathetic to Islam, and his actions to date have proven that he is not simply naive or misinformed, but pursuing a deliberate strategy of putting distance between Israel and his administration.  Franky, I think Obama would be just fine with the idea of Israel being wiped off the map by Iran with nuclear weapons, though he will never publicly say so.
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
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« Reply #1758 on: February 19, 2013, 02:57:41 PM »

Well, it's not like you are without evidence, indeed I will add presumed next SecDef Hagel to your list.
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« Reply #1759 on: March 23, 2013, 12:12:22 PM »

Next Steps After Israel's Flotilla Apology
March 22, 2013 | 1943 GMT

Summary

The seemingly rushed circumstances in which the United States secured an Israeli apology to Turkey and the Turkish government's restrained response raises questions about how far Turkey intends to carry its purported renewal of diplomatic ties with Israel.
 
Analysis
 
Multiple reports have appeared saying that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in 2010 and that Israel has agreed to pay compensation for the families of the victims. The apology reportedly happened on a phone call between the two leaders that was originally initiated by U.S. President Barack Obama.
 
It first became clear that something was developing when Israeli media reported that Obama and Netanyahu held much longer talks than expected on the morning of March 22; Obama was very late for his scheduled visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. When Obama arrived back at Ben Gurion Airport to board Air Force One for a trip to Jordan, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Netanyahu and Obama held an unexpected lunch meeting at the airport, during which Obama reportedly initiated a call between Erdogan and Netanyahu. A few minutes before Obama boarded Air Force One to depart for Amman, the White House released a short statement that said Obama "welcomed the call between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan" and that he hoped it would be the beginning of "deeper cooperation" on regional peace and security.
 
The prime minister's office in Israel then released a statement that said Netanyahu had apologized to Erdogan for the flotilla incident and that he had agreed to compensate the families of the victims. It also said that the two men had agreed to "restore normalization between Israel and Turkey, including the dispatch of ambassadors and the cancellation of legal steps against Israeli soldiers."
 
Notably, this statement, quoted by both Middle Eastern news site Independent Media Review Analysis and the Wall Street Journal, differs from what the Israeli Foreign Ministry posted on its website in English as Netanyahu's official statement. In that version of the statement, the line on the exchange of ambassadors and cancellation of legal steps against Israel Defense Forces soldiers was omitted. The Israeli Foreign Ministry website in Hebrew so far does not contain any statement on the apology.
 
The prime minister's office in Turkey also released a statement, though it was far more measured. According to Hurriyet, Erdogan's statement merely stated that Erdogan has accepted Netanyahu's apology and that some restrictive measures aimed at the Gaza Strip would be lifted today and remain lifted as long as the situation there remained stable.
 
Besides these official statements, various reports in the media are attempting to shape the story according to their interests. Turkish state-owned Anatolia news agency claimed that "Israel's embargo of Gaza has been lifted," implying that Erdogan's demands on the embargo were fulfilled. Meanwhile, Israeli media organizations are claiming Erdogan had asked Netanyahu to lift the Gaza blockade but that Netanyahu refused. So far, there are no tangible indications that Israel has lifted restrictions to Gaza border crossings. In fact, Israel actually closed the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza and partially closed the Erez crossing after rockets landed in Israel on March 21; new Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said those crossings would remain closed until security considerations were addressed.
 
It is unclear how much coordination among Israel, Turkey and the United States took place prior to the apology announcement. The content and manner in which the statements rolled out did not give the impression that this was a carefully crafted diplomatic unveiling in which each side had their statements prepared in advance. There were factions in both the Israeli and Turkish government pushing for a diplomatic mending of relations but little indication that a breakthrough was imminent. Embattled former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was one of the biggest obstacles on the Israeli side while Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was the major block on the Turkish side. Davutoglu preferred instead to capitalize on Turkey's hostile relationship with Israel as a way to boost the country's credibility in the Islamic world. If cooperation needed to take place between the two countries on a strategic or tactical level, it could be done quietly.
 
This may explain why the Turkish response to the apology appears to be both reactive and restrained. Turkey likely has limits on how far it wants to go with this diplomatic warming of relations in order to protect its image in the region as willing to stand up to Israel. At the same time, Erdogan will likely use this apology to show that Turkey can get results by maintaining a firm stance. Even when Erdogan made a statement to a Danish newspaper March 20 to clarify his earlier controversial comment that likened Zionism to a crime against humanity, he said he stood by his earlier statement, even if it was misunderstood, and would continue criticizing Israeli policies, especially over Gaza and the settlements. It remains to be seen what the United States will do for both Turkey and Israel to move their relationship forward, but Turkey will likely need further convincing if a more meaningful rapprochement is to take place.
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Read more: Next Steps After Israel's Flotilla Apology | Stratfor
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« Reply #1760 on: March 24, 2013, 06:55:05 AM »

http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21574016-america-and-israel-get-closer-joint-strategy-towards-iran-during-barack?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/pe/letstryalessawkwardembrace
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« Reply #1761 on: March 25, 2013, 06:07:34 AM »



http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130324/DEFREG02/303240005/U-S-Israel-Negotiate-Military-Aid-Extension?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

From the article:

The pending 10-year military aid package would commit Washington to provide up to $40 billion in additional Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grant assistance to Israel, sources here say. It would automatically kick in at the conclusion of the current 10-year, $30 billion agreement signed in 2007 under President George W. Bush and would bind Obama’s successor to continued military aid to Israel.

...

“As part of our long-term commitment to Israel’s security, the prime minister and I agreed to begin discussions on extending military assistance. Our current agreement lasts through 2017, and we’ve directed our teams to start working on extending it for the years beyond,” Obama said.

Obama’s unusually early authorization of negotiations for a follow-on aid package is one of the many confidence-building, security-enhancing measures aimed at “encouraging the Israeli government to take those risky, yet necessary steps toward peace,” a U.S. source here said.
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« Reply #1762 on: March 28, 2013, 11:51:17 AM »

Israel's Insightful Cynicism
By Robert D. Kaplan
Chief Geopolitical Analyst
Israel is in the process of watching a peace treaty unravel. I don't mean the one with Egypt, but the one with Syria. No, I'm not crazy. Since Henry Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy in 1974, the Israelis have had a de facto peace agreement of sorts with the al Assad family. After all, there were clear red lines that both sides knew they shouldn't cross, as well as reasonable predictability on both sides. Forget about the uplifting rhetoric, the requirement to exchange ambassadors and the other public policy frills that normally define peace treaties. What counts in this case is that both sides observed limits and constraints, so that the contested border between them was secure. Even better, because there was no formal peace agreement in writing, neither side had to make inconvenient public and strategic concessions. Israel did not have to give up the Golan Heights, for example. And if Syria stepped over a red line in Lebanon, or say, sought a nuclear capacity as it did, Israel was free to punish it through targeted military strikes. There was usefully no peace treaty that Israel would have had to violate.         
Of course, the Syrians built up a chemical arsenal and invited the Iranians all over their country and Lebanon. But no formal treaty in the real world -- given the nature of the Syrian regime -- would likely have prevented those things. In an imperfect world of naked power, the al Assads were at least tolerable. Moreover, they represented a minority sect, which prevented Syria from becoming a larger and much more powerful version of radical, Sunni Arab Gaza. In February 1993 in The Atlantic Monthly, I told readers that Syria was not a state but a writhing underworld of sectarian and ethnic divides and that the al Assads might exit the stage through an Alawite mini-state in the northwest of their country that could be quietly supported by the Israeli security services. That may yet come to pass.
         
Israeli political leaders may periodically tell the media that Bashar al Assad's days are numbered, but that does not necessarily mean Israelis themselves believe that is an altogether good scenario. Indeed, I strongly suspect that, for example, when the Israelis and the Russians meet, they have much in common regarding Syria. Russia is supporting the al Assad regime through arms transfers by sea and through Iraq and Iran. Israelis may see some benefits in this. Russian President Vladimir Putin may actually enjoy his meetings with Israelis -- who likely don't lecture him about human rights and the evils of the al Assad regime the way the Americans do.
         
True, a post-al Assad Syria may undermine Iranian influence in the Levant, which would be a great benefit to Israel, as well as to the United States. On the other hand, a post-al Assad Syria will probably be an anarchic mess in which the Iranians will skillfully back proxy guerrilla groups and still be able to move weapons around. Again, al Assad is the devil you know. And the fact that he is no longer, functionally speaking, the president of Syria but, rather, the country's leading warlord, presents challenges that Israelis would prefer not to face.
         
What about Hezbollah, in this admittedly cynical Israeli view? Hezbollah is not a strategic threat to Israel. Hezbollah fighters are not about to march en masse over the border into Haifa and Tiberias. Anti-missile systems like Iron Dome and David's Sling could reasonably contain the military threat from the north. Then there are Israel's bomb shelters -- a one-time only expense. Hezbollah, moreover, needs Israel. For without a powerful Israel, Hezbollah would be robbed of the existential adversary that provides Hezbollah with its immense prestige in the Lebanese political universe, making Hezbollah so much more than just another Shiite group battling Sunnis.
 
Israel's war against Hezbollah in 2006 is known as a disaster. But it did have its positive side effects: Israel has had seven years of relative peace on its northern border, even as the war usefully exposed many inadequacies in the Israeli military and reserve system that had been building for years and were henceforth decisively repaired, making Israel stronger as a consequence.
 
Threats abound, truly. The collapse of the al Assad regime may lead to a weapons free-for-all -- just like in post-Gadhafi Libya -- that might force Israel to "mow the lawn" again in southern Lebanon. As for Hassan Nasrallah, the charismatic and capable Hezbollah leader, maybe he, too, is the devil you know, informally obeying red lines with Israel since 2006. Nasrallah appears to be less extreme than his deputy, Naim Qassim, who would take over if Nasrallah were ever assassinated by the Israelis, unless the Sunnis in a Lebanon and Syria thrown into utter, post-al Assad chaos assassinate him sooner.
         
Then there is Gaza: once again, like southern Lebanon, "mow the lawn" once or twice a decade, though this might be harder in a post-Arab Spring geopolitical environment because of the greater danger of unhinging Israeli-Egyptian relations. Still, in Gaza there is no existential threat, nor a real solution, regardless of what the diplomats say. Idealists in the West talk about peace; realists inside Israel talk about spacing out limited wars by enough years so that Israeli society can continue to thrive in the meantime. As one highly placed Israeli security analyst explained to me, the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean have periodic hurricanes. After each one, people rebuild, even as they are aware that a decade or so down the road there will be another hurricane. Israel's wars are like that, he said.
         
Presently a real underlying worry for Israel appears to be Jordan. Yes, King Abdullah has so far expertly manipulated the growing unrest there, but to speculate about the collapse of the Hashemite dynasty is only prudent. More anarchy. More reason to heed Ariel Sharon's analysis of four decades ago to the effect that Jordan is the real Palestinian state, more so than the West Bank. And because Jordan and Saudi Arabia could conceivably unravel in coming decades, maybe Israel should seek to avoid attacking Iran -- which along with Israel is the only real state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Iranian Plateau. Iran may have a repulsive regime, but its society is probably healthier than most in the Arab world. So there is some hope.
         
You get the picture. Israel had a convenient situation for decades, surrounded as it was by stable Arab dictatorships. Israel could promote itself as the region's only real democracy, even as it quietly depended on the likes of Hosni Mubarak, the al Assad clan and the Hashemites to ensure order and more-or-less few surprises. Now dictators are falling and anarchy is on the rise. Fighting state armies of the kind that the Arab dictators built in wars in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 was simpler compared totoday's wars: Because the Arabs never really believed in their dysfunctional states, they didn't always fight very well in state-organized formations. But sub-state militaries like Hezbollah and Hamas have been more of a challenge. In the old days, Israel could destroy an Egyptian air force on the ground and solve its security dilemma in the south. Nowadays, to repeat, there are no solutions for Israel: only sub-state adversaries that hide among civilian concentrations in order to attack your own civilian concentrations. No peace ever, therefore, just periodic wars, hopefully spaced-out.
       
The Middle East today has turned out perfectly if you are a Jewish West Bank settler. The divisions within Palestinian ranks, coupled with the increasing anarchy of the Arab world, mean the opportunities for territorial concessions on Israel's part have diminished. In fact, Israel's only option may be more unilateral withdrawals. That is probably the only thing the settlers have to worry about.
       
But the Zionist dream lives on. Jerusalem and much of the rest of Israel are thriving. Light rail and pedestrian walkways make Jerusalem more vibrant than ever. The Arabs in the Old City survive well -- under the circumstances, that is -- on the "Jewish" side of the "fence," where the standard of living and quality of life is so much better than on the Arab side. The "fence" is both a monstrosity in abstract moralistic terms and a practical solution in an age of repeated diplomatic failure and fewer and fewer diplomatic opportunities. From 28 percent of the gross domestic product in the mid-1970s, Israeli military spending is down to between 6 and 8 percent of the country's GDP. Life is good in Israel. The unemployment rate is lower than in the United States and Europe, despite high housing costs and the need for reform in health care and education. One could argue that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- so vilified in the West -- has not handled the economy altogether badly.
         
But what about idealism? What about a better, more humane Middle East? What about the wise and talented statesmen who periodically see opportunities where others see none? What about slowing down Israel's drift to a quasi-Apartheid society, characterized by Israeli domination of the more numerous Arabs and something certainly not in Israel's interest? These are all real things to constantly keep in mind and to struggle for. But the Levant remains a zero-sum struggle for physical survival. So it is a place where there will always be benefits to dealing with strong dictators. Given their geographical circumstances, Israelis can be forgiven their cynicism.
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« Reply #1763 on: April 02, 2013, 05:39:18 AM »

The Limited Geopolitical Clout of Israeli Natural Gas
 

April 2, 2013 | 1000 GMT
Summary


The start of natural gas production at a recently discovered field has raised hopes of energy independence in Israel, but few effects of the newfound resources will be felt outside Israeli borders. On March 30, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that natural gas had begun flowing to Israel from Tamar, a field located roughly 90 kilometers (50 miles) off Israel's northern coast. Exactly how much natural gas is being pumped from Tamar is unclear. But if projections are realized, the Tamar field could make Israeli access to energy more secure and stable than at any other point in the country's modern history.
 
The Israeli Energy and Water Resources Ministry estimates that Tamar could meet between 50 percent and 80 percent of the country's natural gas needs over the next decade. The field may also allow Israel to incentivize additional domestic energy production and reduce the country's use of coal and fuel oil in sectors where demand overlaps with natural gas, such as power generation. However, Israel's ability to leverage its energy assets to affect the policies of neighboring countries or resolve the myriad challenges it faces on its borders will be constrained by the region's enduring geopolitical realities.
 


Analysis
 
Israel estimates that its annual consumption of natural gas will increase to 8.5 billion cubic meters in 2013 and continue to rise for the foreseeable future. In recent years, the country has depended on two major sources of natural gas: In 2005, a deal was brokered through the East Mediterranean Gas Company, an Egyptian-Israeli natural gas consortium, for Egypt to supply Israel with approximately 40 percent of its natural gas needs for the next 20 years, or roughly 1.7 billion cubic meters per year. (The agreement was later increased to 2.1 billion cubic meters per year).
 
But Israel's energy partnership with Egypt has been beset with problems. Egypt, a net exporter of natural gas facing its own problems with rising domestic demand, reportedly negotiated a rate increase in 2008, and since the onset of the Arab Spring in 2011, the subsequent strain on Egyptian-Israeli relations has curtailed Israeli imports from Egypt. Moreover, militants in the Sinai Peninsula have frequently targeted the natural gas pipeline that connects the two countries, occasionally shutting down flows for weeks at a time. In April 2012, Egypt's state-owned natural gas company announced that it would pull out of the 2005 agreement, and the Israel Electric Corporation formally followed suit on March 25.
 
Tamar's Promise
 
For the remaining 60 percent of its natural gas needs, Israel has relied on production from Mari B, a domestic reservoir in the Yam Tethys field located off the coast of Ashdod. Mari B's reserves, however, have depleted faster than expected. In response, Israel in recent months has turned to stopgap measures such as expediting production at smaller natural gas fields nearby, including Noa and Pinnacle. The country has also increased its use of diesel and fuel oil for electricity production.
 








VIDEO: Energy Security in the Eastern Mediterranean (Agenda)
.In 2012, the state-owned Israel Natural Gas Lines Ltd. built a $134 million floating liquefied natural gas import terminal. Israel received its first shipment of liquefied natural gas from BP in January 2013, reportedly sourced from Trinidad, and the government hopes that as much as 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas will arrive at the terminal each year. The project was not intended to become a primary source of natural gas for Israel, but rather to bolster Israeli energy security by making the country less dependent on its pipeline. For Israel, imported liquefied natural gas is expected to cost three to four times as much as natural gas from Tamar.
 
With an estimated 246 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, Tamar will be particularly important to Israeli energy security, especially considering the unclear future of relations with Egypt and the inevitable depletion of Israel's natural gas fields. Still, the benefits of developing Tamar will not be felt immediately in Israel. Despite the field's initiation, electricity prices will increase by some 6.5 percent in May, and Israeli Energy Minister Silvan Shalom said on March 31 that additional increases could follow. But over the long term, production at Tamar will serve as a stable source of natural gas fully under Israeli control, and it will thus promote Israeli energy independence.
 
Export Obstacles
 
The Israeli government has yet to articulate a clear vision for exporting the reserves at Tamar -- and at Leviathan, an even larger offshore field discovered in June 2010. In 2012, the Tzemach committee, a task force commissioned by the government to review Israel's natural gas export policy, recommended that 53 percent of the country's reserves be made available for export. But this figure was based on an assumption that future discoveries would increase Israel's total reserves to around 950 billion cubic meters and that 450 billion cubic meters of natural gas would be needed to cover domestic consumption over the next 25 years. Opposition elements in the Israeli government have called for a reassessment of the committee's recommendations, asserting that the group underestimated Israeli natural gas consumption. Disappointing results from exploratory drilling at the Mira, Sara and Shimshon sites have cast further doubt on the recommendations.
 
The committee's findings have yet to be adopted, though Israel's new government is rumored to be favoring them. Proponents of exporting natural gas argue that doing so would encourage foreign investment in Israel. Perhaps more beneficial, the country could also use its newfound resources to attempt to cement strategic relationships with countries such Turkey and Jordan.
 
However, there would also be advantages to prioritizing domestic energy needs. By reserving its strategic supplies of natural gas for use at home, Israel might be able to keep consumer prices low and guarantee access to the resource. This, in turn, would make it easier for industry and household consumers to shift to natural gas and away from other energy sources. In 2011, according to the Israel Electric Corporation, roughly two-thirds of Israeli electricity was produced with coal and refined petroleum products, while natural gas provided the rest. Directing most of the reserves to the domestic market could also allow Israel to lower its import bills and reduce the country's strategic energy vulnerabilities.
 






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 Moreover, Israel must overcome myriad technical and geopolitical hurdles before exporting natural gas from Tamar and Leviathan is even possible. The easiest way for Israel to sell the resource abroad would be to build a pipeline running along the coasts of Lebanon and Syria and eventually reaching Turkey. But Lebanon and Syria are openly hostile to the idea. Even if they agreed, neither country has a government stable enough to secure such a project in perpetuity. Syria is engulfed in conflict, and violence from the civil war has been spilling across the border into Lebanon more frequently.
 
In 2010, Israel signed an agreement with Cyprus recognizing the island's claims to certain natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean -- a deal that raised the possibility of future energy cooperation between the two countries. But Cyprus' major economic and political issues would limit its ability to build the technically advanced infrastructure needed in such a partnership. Meanwhile, geographic, technical and political issues would undermine energy cooperation between Israel and Turkey. Even Jordan, a country whose own serious energy issues could be mollified somewhat by importing Israeli natural gas, would be hesitant to cooperate openly with Israel due to domestic political concerns.
 
The launch of natural gas production at Tamar is still welcome news for Israel and will likely make the country less dependent on neighboring countries and foreign partners for energy. The field will have a positive effect on Israel's economy and, considering the mounting challenges facing the country, will lessen one area of concern for the Israelis. But the tangible effects of production at Tamar on the broader region will be subtle at best. Israel's estimated reserves are relatively small compared to other natural gas fields in the region. The region's pervasive political instability will hamper Israel's ability to navigate the major infrastructural and political obstacles that prevent it from exporting natural gas. And the type of development needed to make fields such as Tamar relevant outside Israel's domestic market is unlikely, thus blunting Tamar's possible geopolitical impact.
.

Read more: The Limited Geopolitical Clout of Israeli Natural Gas | Stratfor
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« Reply #1764 on: April 06, 2013, 08:45:27 AM »



JERUSALEM — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency has indefinitely suspended food distribution in the Gaza Strip after protesters angry over the cancellation of a cash assistance program for the poor stormed the agency’s main compound in Gaza City on Thursday, an official said Friday.
 

“There will be no food tomorrow,” said Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the agency, which provides nutrition, education, health and other services to 815,000 Palestinians who are refugees and their descendants, nearly half of Gaza’s population. “The food distribution centers and the relief offices will be closed in the coming days unless there’s a real security being provided to the life of our staff, because there is a great concern about their safety.”

The agency provides three-month rations of flour, oil, sugar, rice and other staples to about 25,000 people a day through scores of centers scattered throughout Gaza’s refugee camps. Though the centers and the relief offices that provide psychological and other support are shut, the 246 schools and 21 health clinics that the United Nations runs in Gaza will operate as usual.

Ismail Haniya, the Hamas prime minister of Gaza, told reporters Friday that his government would pursue “urgent and quick talks” with the agency in hopes of restoring the food distribution and other services “in a state of security and stability.”

But Abu Ahmad al-Massri, 42, a father of seven who lives in the Beach refugee camp in Gaza City and participated in the demonstration Thursday, said he would continue to protest the ending of the cash program. A former clothes manufacturer, Mr. Massri is unemployed and said he had been relying on the grants since 2004. He said his aid had been reduced over the years to about $80 every three months from $250.

“They want to make reductions, they should reduce the costs they spend for their bodyguards,” Mr. Massri said of the agency. “I am ready to die in defending the food of my family. If I lost one of my kids it’s easier for me than losing my food.”

The violent protest Thursday followed days of smaller demonstrations after a decision Monday to cancel the cash program, which has provided 21,000 families, totaling 100,000 people, with about $4 million in direct aid per year — $10 per person every three months. The agency said that the program had been ended because of a $67 million deficit and that the agency had offered recipients three-month jobs instead. Though the jobs pay double the cash grants, refugees are concerned that they will not last.

After several smaller protests at offices of the agency throughout the week, about 100 people joined a demonstration Thursday organized by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s committee for refugees. They carried signs and banners, including one that read, “Don’t deprive our children of their rights in life.” After some of the refugees broke into the compound, the police eventually dispersed the demonstrators.

“They have the right to demonstrate peacefully and to protest any decision,” said Mr. Abu Hasna, the agency spokesman. “But to reach that level is really unacceptable. They jumped over the walls. They stormed the gates. They began to scream and to threaten, also. What happened yesterday is crossing all the red lines.”

In a statement, the P.L.O. refugee committee blamed the agency for the protest. “What happened yesterday was a result of a state of anger and boiling in the refugees,” it said, adding that the agency “has neglected our warnings.”

Though unrelated, the protests over the elimination of the cash assistance came amid days of unrest in Gaza and the West Bank over a Palestinian prisoner who died of cancer in Israeli custody, and the killing by Israeli soldiers Wednesday night of two teenagers who approached an army post during a demonstration.

Israeli and Palestinian security forces were on high alert Friday for protests after the noon prayers, and access to Al Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City was limited to women and men over 50 to prevent clashes that have become routine there in recent months.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli military said one Palestinian was injured in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday evening when Israeli soldiers, after firing warning shots, fired at a group of stone throwers approaching the border fence. Another Palestinian was hurt by a rubber-coated bullet fired by soldiers near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El, the spokeswoman said, and an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded by rocks near Beit Laqia earlier in the day.


Fares Akram contributed reporting from the Gaza Strip.
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« Reply #1765 on: April 29, 2013, 12:22:19 PM »

RAWABI, West Bank—A project to build what would be the first modern Palestinian city here has stumbled over an issue that has become an enduring obstacle to efforts to boost the territory's economy: access to Israeli-controlled lands that surround it.
 
Cranes with Palestinian flags mark the massive construction site at Rawabi, 5½ miles north of Ramallah, where truck drivers navigate rows of midrise buildings and prospective homeowners use iPads to select apartments. Some 3,000 people are at work on the city, and the first residents are expected to move in within a year. Rawabi, on a hilltop with a view to the Mediterranean, is slated to have a population of 40,000, its own schools, shopping mall, mosques and an office complex.
 
But developers said the city, which investors say will cost $1 billion to build, is in jeopardy because of Israel's refusal to authorize a permanent access road for construction crews and residents to cross to Rawabi through Israeli-held territory.



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Investors want Israel to allow construction of the permanent road, and to let the Palestinians control it. Israel's government, under pressure from Jewish settlers on surrounding land, has demurred.

The impasse highlights one of the challenges facing Secretary of State John Kerry as the U.S. weighs an initiative to boost the sagging Palestinian economy to help restart peace negotiations: getting Israel to relinquish control over West Bank lands to allow for Palestinian economic expansion.

"It's stuck in politics,'' said Bashar Masri, the Palestinian entrepreneur whose investment firm, Masar International, is backing Rawabi along with Qatari Diar, the real-estate arm of Qatar's sovereign-wealth fund. "If we slow down, we'll lose most of those jobs. If we get access approval, we can add 3,000 jobs."

Israeli considers the temporary access road currently in use sufficient for now, said an Israeli official. "Israel has taken steps to support the Palestinian economy, but transferring land to Palestinian control is a political issue," the official said. "I assume that when we see progress [on peace talks] we will see movement on the building of the road to Rawabi as well."
 
In recent years, Israel loosened the reins on the Palestinian economy by removing military checkpoints and giving Palestinians more permits to work in Israel.

Now the U.S. is focusing on helping Palestinians find a way to push ahead with building projects, many of which are still on paper because they are slated for West Bank territory off limits to Palestinians, said a Western official familiar with the diplomacy. Mr. Kerry said at the end of a visit to the region on April 9 that he wanted to "move rapidly toward increased business expansion" in the West Bank.
 
Allowing Palestinians to develop lands under Israeli control would enable the expansion of agriculture, telecommunications and energy networks and the development of new tourist attractions, the World Bank said in a 2012 report.
 
In the 1990s, Israel and the Palestinians divided the West Bank into three zones: Areas A and B were Palestinian cities and villages, where they were granted self-rule. Area C comprised Jewish settlements and their access roads, military bases and all open lands, which Israel held as a security buffer and as bargaining chips in negotiations. Israel maintains full control over 60% of West Bank land.
 
"If you are going to jump-start the Palestinian economy, the place to do it is Area C," said a Western diplomat. "It's the largest area of contiguous land."
 
The World Bank warned in September, in a report on the importance of economic development in Area C, that uncertainty over access to Rawabi could deter future investment in large projects in the West Bank.
 
Rawabi has attracted a stream of foreign dignitaries because it is seen by the international community as a flagship project of a future Palestinian state.

To reach the site today, cement mixers and trucks traverse a shoulderless two-lane road that curves through an olive grove. The road is temporary and the permit for it needs to be renewed every several months, said Mr. Masri. The Palestinians want their own road linking Rawabi with Ramallah.
 
Rania Maree, a spokeswoman for Rawabi, said investors are moving ahead despite frozen peace talks. "We can't wait for the peace process to be done, because apparently it isn't going to happen anytime soon."
 
Turning over West Bank land would be a politically sensitive concession for the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Jewish settlers—a key constituency of Israel's right-leaning government—consider widened Palestinian presence a security threat.
 
It seems the government has little leeway. The Israeli army needs to control about 50% of West Bank land to protect road networks between the dozens of settlements scattered across the West Bank, said Shaul Arieli, a former Israeli colonel and former adviser to Israeli governments on peace negotiations. But the West Bank's 163 Palestinian cantons must be linked together for a Palestinian state to function, Mr. Arieli said.
 
The Israel government is discussing Rawabi as well as other Area C access issues with the U.S., according to an Israeli defense official with knowledge of talks regarding access to Area C. The official suggested that if Palestinians dropped conditions for returning to peace talks, Israel would be willing to give more access to Area C.

But trust is low. The Palestinians, for now, haven't dropped preconditions because they suspect Israel will keep building settlements while stalling on peace compromises, said an official close to the negotiations.

And the Palestinians suspect Israel will only allow economic aid that they can control, stopping well short of enabling a sovereign Palestinian economy, the Palestinian official said.
 
At a sleek showroom that looks out to the Tel Aviv skyline and the Mediterranean, Palestinians walk through neighborhood models and computerized illustrations of a high-end shopping center, an amphitheater, and a belt of tiny parks linking the city's 21 neighborhoods.
 
More than half the 700 apartments in the first phase have been reserved, the developers said.

"This is a Palestinian city with a modern twist," said Ms. Maree. "We need to build five or six cities like this."
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« Reply #1766 on: April 30, 2013, 05:28:26 PM »

The Other Bluffer Barack Obama isn't the only world leader issuing threats that he won't execute.
By BRET STEPHENS
 
Until not long ago, Israelis remained prudently coy about whether they would strike Iran's nuclear facilities. More recently, prominent Israelis have voiced doubts about whether Israel can strike those facilities, at least in any way that would make a lasting difference to Tehran's bid to acquire nuclear weapons.

Essentially, they're saying it's all a bluff.

The transition marks another decline in the quality of the Jewish state's deterrence. This would be bad news in better circumstances. Considering the way the Obama administration is acting with respect to Syria, it's much worse than that.

 
That's because President Obama has now made it clear that, when it comes to rogue regimes and weapons of mass destruction, he's exactly the bluffer he promised he wasn't. He warned repeatedly that the use by Bashar Assad's regime of chemical weapons against the Syrian people was a red line, a game changer, a thing "we will not tolerate." And he responded to the regime's use of chemical weapons by doing nothing. This is supposed to be the guy who has Israel's back and will never allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon?

What's Fuhgeddaboudit in Yiddish?

That's a lesson that needs to sink in fast with Israeli decision makers. Israel has justified reservations about taking anything except covert or surgical action against Iran and Syria. Among those reservations: the limits of its military capability; its vulnerability to counterstrikes; its diplomatic isolation; the displeasure of the Obama administration.

Above all, Israelis have shied away from action on the theory that Mr. Obama's red lines were real, even if he drew them further down field than Israel would like. What's the point of rushing to do something yourself at great immediate risk, when you can wait for someone else to do it, at much less risk to them or to you, a little later?

Sound logic, one flaw: There is no someone else. Israelis are now watching how the administration reacts when a rogue regime crosses the president's red lines. It calls for a U.N. investigation to corroborate the findings of Western intelligence agencies. It justifies the exercise in the name of international consensus. It emphasizes the need to avoid the mistakes of the Iraq war.

That's the path the administration is traveling in the Syrian chemical-weapons case, and things will only get worse. As the Assad regime realizes it can use these weapons without international penalty, it will unleash them again. Sooner or later it will figure out that the more widely it uses them, the quicker it can kill enemies at home and deter enemies abroad. A twofer. The administration will go from arguing that it's too soon to intervene in Syria, to arguing that it's too late.

What Israel gets from this is a chemical-weapons free-fire zone on its Syrian border, along with the growing likelihood that the weapons will reach Hezbollah's hands along its Lebanese border. On the plus side, Israel also gets an arms deal from the administration. But the deal consists of selling Israel stuff it already has or doesn't particularly need, like aerial tankers and V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft, while withholding stuff it doesn't have and dearly needs, like large bunker-busters and the means of delivering them.

Meanwhile, Israel faces an Iran that, according to former military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, has already crossed the nuclear red line Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew at the U.N.'s General Assembly last September. Did Mr. Netanyahu draw that line as a means of warning Iran, or of goading the U.S. to act?

If it was the latter, it was a bad bet. Mr. Obama will treat evidence of Iran's impending nuclearization the way he has looked at Syria's use of chemical weapons, demanding a standard of proof that will be impossible to meet until it is too late to do much about it. And as in Syria, the longer he searches for proof, the tougher the military options will become.

If it was the former, however, then Israel had better be prepared to act. Soon. A threat that cannot be executed should never be issued. It invites contempt from friend and foe alike. If Mr. Netanyahu really has been bluffing all along, he'll go down as the man who made Ehud Olmert look good.

Israel's military planners have now had more than a decade to plan an attack on Iran. Let's assume their capabilities are better than advertised. (Can a country that can come up with Iron Dome be incapable of producing the required bunker busters?) Let's assume also there's a known-unknown in this plan, an element of surprise that will take even the most hardened war-gamers by surprise.

It had better work. Because Israel cannot live with a nuclear Iran. Because Israel should know by now that this American administration will not be coming to its rescue. Because the purpose of a Jewish state is never having to rely for survival on the kindness of others, even ones so charming and solicitous as Barack Obama.
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« Reply #1767 on: April 30, 2013, 06:03:54 PM »

Obama abandons Israel ? Who could have seen this coming?
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« Reply #1768 on: May 05, 2013, 10:40:06 AM »

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/4/israeli-strike-syria-targeted-weapons-shipment/
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« Reply #1769 on: May 05, 2013, 11:12:20 AM »

"Mr. Obama now confronts the most urgent foreign policy issue of his second term, one in which he must weigh humanitarian impulses against the risk to American lives. After about two years of ineffectual diplomacy, whether or how he chooses to follow through on his warning about chemical weapons could shape his remaining time in office."

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/world/middleeast/obamas-vow-on-chemical-weapons-puts-him-in-tough-spot.html?smid=fb-nytimes&WT.z_sma=WO_OTC_20130505&_r=0
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« Reply #1770 on: May 05, 2013, 07:33:46 PM »

"humanitarian impulses against the risk to American lives"

One might note that these are not the only variables in play here , , ,
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« Reply #1771 on: May 05, 2013, 08:41:43 PM »

"humanitarian impulses against the risk to American lives"

One might note that these are not the only variables in play here , , ,

Absolutely. The article is a rather long one.
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« Reply #1772 on: May 13, 2013, 02:27:22 PM »

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/05/13/moderate-palestinian-leader-swears-if-we-had-nuke-wed-have-used-it-this-very-morning/
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« Reply #1773 on: June 05, 2013, 12:58:15 PM »


http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/06/03/192895/us-publishes-details-of-missile.html#.Ua1bJ2R4Yhh


« Last Edit: June 05, 2013, 01:00:04 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #1774 on: July 05, 2013, 09:51:55 PM »

Israel Hopes the US Will Learn
From Egypt
[(R-L) US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, Israel's military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, then-Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak and then-US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stand together during a welcoming ceremony for Panetta in Tel Aviv, Aug. 1, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Gali Tibbon)]
(R-L) US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, Israel's military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, then-Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak and then-US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stand together during a welcoming ceremony for Panetta in Tel Aviv, Aug. 1, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Gali Tibbon)

By: Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse Posted on July 5.

The residence of the US ambassador in the city of Herzliyah is one of the stateliest houses in Israel. Perched virtually on the waterfront of a particularly ritzy beach and surrounded by green lawns, walls and armed and wary guards, it overlooks the vast blue expanses of the Mediterranean. The ambassador hosts the annual US Independence Day party with much fanfare. Those who are not invited to the ambassador's residence on July 4 are, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent. It's been quite a while since there was as popular a US ambassador to Israel as Dan Shapiro. He enjoys the position, and the position seems to agree with him. Immersed in the community, Shapiro exercises the Israeli way of life. He speaks the language, crisscrossing the country with the verve of a bar mitzvah boy. Even when the going was tough and there was a huge pool of bad blood between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Shapiro was always there, smiling and calm, to keep things moving and to explain that everything was, ostensibly, copacetic.
About This Article
Summary :

The Israeli political class, gathered for the Fourth of July reception, voiced hopes that the Obama administration learns from its mistakes in US policy and starts recognizing pockets of hope where they emerge.



On July 4, thousands of invitees flocked to the traditional US Independence Day celebration. Shapiro's lawn saw Israel's President Shimon Peres, Netanyahu (and family), chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, politicians, officers, members of the cultural and social elite, ambassadors, defense attaches and Israel's creme de la creme. When former President Bill Clinton was in office, tens of thousands of Israelis would display the American flag together with the Israeli one on Israel's Independence Day. There was total solidarity between the two countries. Having won over their hearts, Clinton was, by a large margin, the most popular figure in Israel. In Obama's case, it's different. Yet, the special bond between the United States and the Jewish state remains strong. There isn't a single Israeli who can imagine himself, or his country, without the protective broad shoulders of the United States, without its moral backing and the knowledge that it is there, across the ocean. The United States is a kind of insurance policy for a rainy day. And for us Jews, bracing for a rainy day is ingrained in our DNA.

At the party, the turnout was higher than usual. A day earlier, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi had been ousted from the presidential palace in Cairo. The Middle East is seething. Israelis are glued to their TV screens with eyes wide open, dumbfounded by the power whirring through Tahrir Square and awed by the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood had been booted out of power more quickly than when it seized it. They watched the success of the young Egyptian masses clamoring to regain their country. They might even be saying that perhaps it's possible to toy with the idea that things might eventually turn out well.

If Shapiro had walked among the many guests and heard the murmur, he would not have particularly liked it. What dominated the event, naturally, was the buzz over the second Egyptian revolution. A day earlier, the US Department of State had called "nonessential" diplomats to leave Cairo immediately. This is a strange pathology considering the fact that Cairo had seen far more precarious days during which the Americans never contemplated bailing out so hurriedly. If someone had given Shapiro an executive summary of the chats that had gone on in his own backyard among the senior politicians, officers, opinion setters and just plain guests, this is what the document would have looked like in broad strokes:

We can't figure out the United States. How much can you not get Middle Eastern affairs? How obtuse can you be to the events, failing to identify hope when it rears its head, ignoring the special circumstances of the hour and the desires of the people in the region, their readiness to embark on political and historic processes that are imposed on them?

To use a soccer metaphor, the United States scores countless own goals. This was the case when it let Hamas participate in the first elections in the Palestinian Authority even though it was in contravention of the Oslo Accords. For this, both Israelis and Palestinians are paying a price to this day: the Gaza Strip is cut off and every arrangement is torpedoed a priori. This was also the case when it left Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to his own devices at the most critical junction. Things could have been done differently. The entire region was observing the United States' conduct, which left all of Washington's allies shocked. How naive can you be? Democracy is nice, but when you drop it on an ill-prepared society, which is not familiar with its values and which has not been brought up on its principles, what you do is to give the extremists the means to take over the moderate majority and wipe out any glimpse of hope. This is exactly what happened in Egypt, flinging it into chaos that lasted for two years.

The United States' conduct even in connection with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process prompts derision. A whole presidential term was lost, for which the Americans are squarely to blame, and now Obama's second term appears also to be lost because of the overenthusiasm and naivete of Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to knock down the wall with his head instead of breaking the paradigm, drawing up new rules and trying to walk down a road not taken.

The climax, which the guests of the US ambassador alluded to at the party throughout the evening, was the US response to Egypt's second revolution. How could the Americans not see that a great miracle is taking place right before their eyes? How could they not be seizing the opportunity to give a strong, supportive hand to the millions of Egyptians who have risen up to save their country from a dictatorial regime that had won the elections under the aegis of democracy? How could the United States — the cradle of freedom, equality and democracy — make a pact with a movement like the Muslim Brotherhood? How could it be that after everything they have gone through in our region, the Americans still don't understand that the slogans of the United States and the West about "democracy" do not apply to the Middle East? That not everything achieved by the ballot box is automatically legitimate. That the radical, religious and dangerous movements are the only ones that have prepared themselves for elections, and they will always be there to reap the fruit?

Today, more than in any other time in recent history, the United States looks like an aging tourist caught up in a melee of natives on some distant continent. It is clueless about what is happening and what should be done; it makes sure that at any given moment it will take the most calamitous course of action.

The above was whispered from one person to the next throughout the evening on the manicured lawns of the US ambassador's residence in Herzliyah. I would venture to say that it probably once or twice crossed the mind of Peres, Netanyahu and Gantz. Snap out of your shell shock, Israelis as well as Egyptians are telling the Americans. Let go of your dated, stale concepts. Something new and good is happening here. Lend us your hand and help, rather than sabotage and scuttle. America — land of the free and home of the brave — happy anniversary!

Ben Caspit is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor's Israel Pulse. He is also a senior columnist and political analyst for Israeli newspapers, and has a daily radio show and regular TV shows on politics and Israel. On Twitter: @BenCaspit

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« Reply #1775 on: July 07, 2013, 11:17:33 AM »

Service Brings Scorn to Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Enlistees
Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

Posters in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood denouncing community members, currently exempt from Israel’s draft, who joined the military.
By ISABEL KERSHNER
Published: July 6, 2013

   

JERUSALEM — They have been labeled “Hardakim,” a derogatory term that combines Haredim, the name commonly used here to denote ultra-Orthodox Jews, with the Hebrew words for insects and germs.

As the Israeli government presses ahead with plans to enlist young Haredi men and phase out their wholesale exemption from the country’s mandatory military service, hard-line elements in the ultra-Orthodox community are fighting back by ostracizing the few thousand community members already in the armed forces.

Crude, comics-style posters have appeared in recent weeks on billboards across ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods nationwide portraying those soldiers, who volunteered under programs meant to attract Haredim, as fat, bearded, gun-toting caricatures in uniform snatching terrified Haredi children off the streets.

The strictest Haredim, who insist on the right of all ultra-Orthodox men to engage in full-time Torah study and worry about exposure to a more secular life, denounce the soldiers as “traitors” and liken them to a pestilence.

Brig. Gen. Gadi Agmon, from the Israeli military’s human resources branch, told a parliamentary committee here last week that the well-orchestrated campaign was no less vicious in style than that of Der Stürmer, the Nazi-era propaganda organ notorious for its anti-Semitic caricatures. The remark was widely reported in the secular news media and on Haredi Web sites.

Haredi soldiers have been verbally abused, spit on and humiliated while walking through their neighborhoods all over Israel. Some have been attacked with stones, or their car tires have been slashed. The children of others have been rejected by local educational institutions, and there are growing fears that enlisting could harm the marriage prospects of their siblings.

The integration of Haredim, or “those who fear God,” into the military — and providing them a path into the work force — is viewed as essential by many Israelis, not only to uphold the principle of social equality but also to ensure the economic survival of the country. More than a quarter of Jewish first graders in Israeli schools belong to the fast-growing ultra-Orthodox minority.

In recent years, hundreds have served in Nahal Haredi, a combat battalion established in the late 1990s for ultra-Orthodox 18-year-olds. About 3,000 more have served in Shahar, an army program set up in late 2007 to train young married ultra-Orthodox men as technical staff members for the air force, navy, intelligence and other branches of the military.

To attract recruits, Shahar allows soldiers to go home every night during their two-year army stint and provides a government salary.

But with Parliament working on legislation that would eventually lead to the conscription of ultra-Orthodox men, and the subsequent backlash among the Haredim, things now appear to be moving in the opposite direction.

In past years, the ultra-Orthodox community was more tolerant toward members who chose military service; some rabbis even gave their quiet blessing to recruits who were deemed unsuitable for full-time Torah study. But Haredi attitudes have hardened in response to the broad public pressure and government efforts to work toward equal service for all, barring a small quota of Orthodox youths considered Torah prodigies.

In May, up to 30,000 Haredi men flooded the streets around the recruitment office in Jerusalem to protest conscription, exposing for the first time the depth of anger. The Haredi reaction already appears to have dampened volunteer enlistment.

Elchanan Fromer, 29, who is from a small ultra-Orthodox settlement in the West Bank and works as a coordinator for the Shahar program, said the year had begun very well, with more than twice as many volunteers as in the first half of 2012. In recent weeks, however, there have been signs of a drop-off, he said.

Mr. Fromer joined Shahar in 2010 and served for 18 months. But service has become much harder for Haredi soldiers, he said, because of the potential consequences for their families now that passions on the subject have been inflamed.

“Hundreds of soldiers are facing daily problems,” he said. “Personally, if I was supposed to enlist today, I wouldn’t do it.”
======================

(Page 2 of 2)

On billboards in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim quarter of Jerusalem last week, black-and-white posters warned the public against the “licentious military” coming to tempt innocent Haredi youths into “the whorehouses of Nahal and Shahar.”


On central thoroughfares, the posters of children being snatched had mostly been ripped off the walls. But in the back alleys, where one hostile resident threw water from a balcony onto reporters, the posters remained untouched. Since most Haredim do not watch television, billboards and fliers are a traditional means of communication. The comics-style campaign against Haredi soldiers has been primarily aimed at children to counter what opponents of the draft said was the military’s attempt to legitimize the young men by sending them into ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in uniform.

As part of the outreach to children, the anonymous organizers of the “Hardakim” campaign announced a children’s poster competition this summer via a Gmail account, soliciting entries showing how best to shun the soldiers.

Pini Rozenberg, a spokesman for the Haredi community in Jerusalem, said the campaign was “an internal Haredi matter meant to explain to the Haredi youth why the army institutions are not, and will never be, legitimate.”

He added: “It is not personally directed against any particular soldier. It is purely educational.”

Mr. Rozenberg also insisted that the rabbis who supported the campaign behind the scenes opposed any form of violence. Haredi critics of the campaign point out that the rabbis, like most ultra-Orthodox Jews, have remained silent, allowing more extreme community members to set the tone.  As the backlash has worsened, the military set up a 24-hour help line for Haredi soldiers to report verbal or physical violence against them and says it has received more than 80 complaints.

One 24-year-old Haredi soldier, who asked not to be identified because he feared the consequences of further exposure, explained the path he had taken to the army. Although he grew up in a strictly ultra-Orthodox area of Jerusalem and boarded at an elite yeshiva, he secretly studied for the secular high school matriculation exams. He went on to begin law studies in a special Haredi program at a private college, then joined the military through the Shahar program.

“I wanted to contribute and to be an equal citizen, to advance and to integrate,” he said.

His wife’s family still does not know he is in the military because the couple was unsure how the family would react. His parents know, but keep it quiet. He lives in Bayit Vegan, once a mixed religious-secular neighborhood of Jerusalem that was considered relatively moderate, and said he had suffered daily abuse in recent months, being spit at and chased by children and teenagers calling out “Germ!” and “Traitor!”  He now carries tear gas for self-defense and a special permit allowing him to leave his base in civilian clothes and still benefit from free bus travel for soldiers.  Some fellow Haredi soldiers have moved from their neighborhoods, but he refuses to do so.

“For me, to move is to hand them a victory,” he said. “They want to banish us from Haredi society.”
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« Reply #1776 on: July 09, 2013, 12:41:40 PM »

Excellent Article that explains why the Middle East peace processes are such failures.

http://www.aish.com/jw/me/Making-Peace-with-People.html
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?action=post;topic=962.1750;num_replies=1775

Making Peace with People
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of "Infidel," views the Middle East from a Muslim background.


There is something dignified in the quiet, determined manner of Ayaan Hirsi Ali as she rises from the audience and walks towards the podium to deliver her lecture. Ayaan Hirsi Ali's intricate history starts in Somalia, where she was born to a Muslim family. At the age of five she underwent female genital mutilation. By her teens she was a devout Muslim. In her early 20s, upon learning of plans for an undesirable arranged marriage, she made her way to Holland, where she applied for asylum. Hirsi Ali studied at Leiden University and began publishing critical articles about Islam, the condition of the Muslim woman, and so forth.
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« Reply #1777 on: July 09, 2013, 08:20:44 PM »

Good article and perspective.   She is far wiser than the guy in the White House.
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« Reply #1778 on: July 09, 2013, 11:31:19 PM »

Good to see you in these parts again Rachel.
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« Reply #1779 on: July 14, 2013, 01:38:13 PM »

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/07/14/Report-Israeli-Sub-Knocked-out-Russian-Missiles-in-Syria
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« Reply #1780 on: July 30, 2013, 08:54:21 PM »

 Jonathan S. Tobin, writing online for Commentary, July 30:

While in Cairo yesterday to meet with Egypt's new leaders, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas let drop a few remarks about the peace negotiations with Israel that began in Washington last night. As the Times of Israel reports, Abbas left no doubt about what his vision of peace entails:

"In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli—civilian or soldier—on our lands" . . .

[T]he problem here is not just that this is an absurd distortion of reality that ignores Jewish rights and security needs. The Abbas statement provides some important context for the key Israeli demand that the Palestinians refuse to accept: PA acknowledgement of the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. If Palestinians think there is something racist about Israel being accepted as the sole Jewish state in the world, why is it OK for them to envision an independent state of their own where Jewish communities would have to be destroyed and their inhabitants be evicted?

Peace processers and Israel's critics claim this reasoning is nit-picking, but this actually goes to the heart of the problem that Secretary of State John Kerry and his aide Martin Indyk are trying to unravel in the negotiations they have worked so hard to bring about.
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« Reply #1781 on: August 02, 2013, 11:12:23 AM »

Guest Column: Israeli Prisons, Hothouses for Breeding Palestinian Terrorists
by Anat Berko
Special to IPT News
August 2, 2013
http://www.investigativeproject.org/4110/guest-column-sraeli-prisons-hothouses-for

 
Israeli society is currently dealing with the painful, emotional issue of the Israeli government's willingness to release Palestinian murderers, "security prisoners," from Israeli jails, part of the price demanded by the Palestinians for consenting to sit at a negotiating table with Israel.

When Gilad Shalit was released in 2011 after more than five years in a Hamas cellar, the prisoner exchange deal was universally accepted as the right thing to do. The entire country knew we would have to pay an outrageous price, but it was for the life and freedom on a young soldier who had been sent to defend his country. But "outrageous" did not mean too high, and Israel was willing to anything to get him back safely and restore him to his family. The prisoner exchange deal also showed all IDF soldiers that the State of Israel would never abandon them. It made everyone feel that they would be proud to serve in such an army, and people spoke about nothing else for weeks.

Israel is not America. In America, most well-educated young people begin their adult lives after college, and the U.S. Army is a professional, volunteer army. In Israel, however, military service is compulsory and universal. University studies come after army service, and even decades later, the old school tie is never where you went to school but always what you did in the army. Your unit or corps immediately identifies your ability, motivation and love of country, and is source of immense pride for parents.

In April 1987, when Adi Moses was eight years old, a Palestinian terrorist threw a Molotov cocktail into the family car as it was passing through a West Bank village. The car caught fire and Adi's pregnant mother and brother were killed; she bears the scars, both physical and emotional, to this day. Nevertheless, when it was a question of freeing Gilad Shalit, she said that painful as it was release terrorists, she could accept it, as could the entire State of Israel.

Today, as Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are resumed, Adi is worried that, to convince the reluctant, intransigent Palestinians to sit across the negotiating table from Israel and engage in nine months of dialogue (after which there will probably be another intifada), the price will be the release of the Israel Arab who deliberately burned her mother and brother to death. Interviewed on television, she said she could not imagine a universe in which the cold-blooded murderer who destroyed her life and her family would get up in the morning, drink coffee and read the paper. Should that happen, she said, there would be no reason for her to go on living.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what every cold-blooded terrorist operative killer does in an Israeli jail. He gets up in the morning, meets his friends, eats breakfast, drinks coffee and spends the rest of the in their company. If particularly motivated, he can get an Open University college degree. He will also receive first-class medical and dental care, courtesy of the Israeli taxpayer. In Israel, the attitude toward "security prisoners" – Palestinian terrorists – is less rigorously defined than, for instance in the United States.

There, terrorist murderers are sent to Guantanamo and held in solitary confinement. In Israel, although classified as terrorists, they are treated as prisoners of war. Their families are allowed to visit, the Red Cross comes to see them and the Geneva Conventions are in force – all of which were denied to Gilad Shalit. The various human rights organizations work day and night to improve their conditions, the same organizations that conveniently ignore the existence and rights of the families mourning the prisoners' victims.

Moreover, as opposed to the ordinary felons who have to deal with the prison authorities on a one-to-one basis, the security prisoners have operational autonomy. In each jail, terrorists move within their own microcosms made up of prisoners from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or even al-Qaida and Hizballah. Each group has its own spokesman. The spokesman's role is to represent whichever organization he, and sometimes she, belongs to in dealing with the prison authorities.

In 2007, I interviewed members of the Hamas parliament after Shalit's abduction. As I was speaking to deputy Hamas Prime Minister Abu Tir, he crooked a finger and a prisoner entered, a certified Hamas terrorist waiter, with a cup of coffee. For an instant, I forgot where I was. The prisoners' conditions were idyllic: the radios were blasting Arabic music, the TV sets were tuned to Al-Jazeera, people were milling about, shouting at one another, I could smell food cooking, and I might as well have been a guest in the home of a Hamas leader.

The conditions of the security prisoners are the responsibility of the Israeli government, which wants peace and quiet within the prison walls because every hunger strike ignites the Palestinian street. Between the abduction of soldiers and the peace process, the security prisoners are certain they will not serve their full terms. That certainty makes them stronger and gives them hope that they will be released fairly shortly even if they were sentenced to consecutive life terms. In the meantime, most of them are busy with their studies, planning what they will do when they are released. They often told me that the next time we met it would be in their homes in the Gaza Strip, I was invited, I had nothing to fear, they would watch over me, after all, we had drunk coffee together in prison.

The prisoners' conditions are monitored and improved by the various Palestinian prisoners' clubs, depending on their organizational affiliation. They receive money for the prison canteen and their families receive monthly allowances. The canteen overflows with food, beverages and all the popular brands. The prisoners especially like American merchandise. Timberland hiking boots are the latest fad. By way of comparison, the canteens used by IDF soldiers have less variety. According to the prison authorities, the prisoners have the same rations as IDF soldiers. In reality, the prisoners' menu is superior to that of front-line soldiers. If they like, the prisoners can cook for themselves and improve the food with additions from the canteen, and once even managed to post pictures on Facebook.

It is almost impossible to enumerate the benefits of being a security prisoner. Terrorists can finish their studies, and the younger ones get fictitious matriculation certificates certified by examiners paid by the Palestinian Authority. Until recently, adult terrorists were allowed for bachelors', masters' and doctoral degrees in the Open University, taking courses in Jewish studies, Zionism, etc., and perfecting their Hebrew.

Security prisoners also have extensive medical benefits, including advanced dental work and complex operations, as noted, courtesy of the Israeli taxpayer. They refuse to work while in prison, even though they would be paid, because they do not want to serve the "Zionist enemy." They prefer to spend their time planning terrorist attacks to be carried out by their organizations, propagandizing and paving the way for less-hardened terrorists to follow in their footsteps in a life of anti-Israeli terrorism. Many leave prison healthier, better educated, and better connected – both socially and professionally – than when they entered. With their release they can add the important note "former security prisoner in an Israeli jail" to their resumés, enabling them to advance more quickly through the ranks of their various organizations. By imprisoning Palestinian terrorist murderers, the State of Israel does not achieve deterrence; no attempt can be made to rehabilitate or reeducate them because they reject the idea and do not cooperate. They simply stew in their own juices and become more dangerous.

Depriving a person his freedom is the worst possible punishment that can be imposed, but society deserves justice, its victims have to be avenged, and that is also part of the philosophy of punishment. In the saga of the Palestinian terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails, the trials and tribulations of imprisonment, represented as overwhelming, are actually minor. The Israeli jails have turned into hothouses for breeding terrorists; they are laboratories which turn petty terrorists into specialists, and often with diplomas.
Anat Berko, Ph.D, a Lt. Col. (Res) in the Israel Defense Forces, conducts research for the National Security Council, and is a research fellow at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel. A criminalist, she was a visiting professor at George Washington University and has written two books about suicide bombers, "The Path to Paradise," and the recently released, "The Smarter Bomb: Women and Children as Suicide Bombers" (Rowman & Littlefield)
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« Reply #1782 on: August 12, 2013, 02:16:52 PM »


Summary

There are growing indications that Iran, Syria and their local proxies may be attempting to build up militant capabilities in the West Bank to eventually threaten Israel. Physically transferring weapons into Fatah-controlled West Bank will remain a key challenge, as recent arrests of weapons smugglers in Jordan have shown. Though Iran and Syria face many constraints in trying to spread militancy to the West Bank, their quiet efforts are worth noting, particularly as Hamas and Iran are now finding reasons to repair their relationship after a period of strain.
Analysis

In the past several days, Jordanian authorities have reported two separate incidents in which groups of smugglers traveling from Syria have been caught with weapons and drugs in Jordan. A Jordanian security official speaking anonymously to local media said that five Syrian smugglers were caught the morning of Aug. 6 with anti-tank missiles, surface-to-air missiles and assault rifles in their possession. According to a Stratfor source, the arrests were made near Madaba in central Jordan. The smugglers, carrying Jordanian identity cards, allegedly hid the weapons in two pickup trucks loaded with watermelons, but when the two trucks traveled beyond the main produce market and kept heading south, the Jordanian police became suspicious. Jordan's state-owned Petra news agency said the army had thwarted another attempt to smuggle a large amount of drugs and weapons from Syria into Jordan earlier in the week.

Jordan is the primary supply route for weapons (mostly from Arab Gulf suppliers) meant for rebels in southern Syria. Therefore, weapons traveling the opposite direction -- from Syria into Jordan -- stand out. Jordan is already on high alert for attacks, given its own history with jihadist activity and the proliferation of jihadists in neighboring Syria. Moreover, Jordan's attempt to balance between supporting the rebels and maintaining a relationship with the Syrian Alawite regime could make the country vulnerable to attacks by militants on either side of the conflict. Jordanian authorities have thus tried to reinforce security on the Syrian-Jordanian border and have tightly restricted the movement of Syrian refugees in the north around the Al Zaatari camp, where militants could try to blend in with thousands of refugees.

However, Stratfor's own investigation into the latest weapons shipment traveling through Jordan reveals a different target altogether. Contacts in the area claim that the smugglers caught Aug. 6 were Palestinians from Syria who were affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. The suspects allegedly were carrying weapons obtained from Syrian army warehouses in Sweida in southwest Syria. The weapons were to be transported through Jordan, from the Syrian border southward to Al Karak, to circumvent the large security presence around the Jordan River Valley. The final destination of these weapons, according to the contacts, was intended to be Hebron in the Fatah-run West Bank.

The smuggling operations fit with a pattern that Stratfor identified in November 2012, when Palestinian contacts in the region reported that Iran was working with Palestinian groups to try to transport munitions through Iraq and Jordan to the West Bank. To achieve this, Iran would likely work through Syrian intelligence and local Palestinian proxies. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, the group the smugglers were allegedly affiliated with, has had a close working relationship with Syrian intelligence, and it is plausible that members would have been commissioned to transport the weapons from Syrian warehouses to the West Bank. Though the secular, left-leaning Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command is at ideological odds with Islamist Hamas, those ideological lines can be blurred in such operations, especially when they are undertaken at the behest of the groups' Syrian patrons. Hamas has a limited presence in the West Bank, but it does enjoy support in some of the surrounding villages in the Hebron Hills, where the weapons were likely to be stored.
Iran and Syria's Plans for the West Bank

Both Iran and Syria would like to build up an additional source of militant leverage against Israel. The Iranian regime grew concerned with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region that led Hamas to distance itself from the Iran-Syria axis. When the Muslim Brotherhood came to power in Egypt, and when Syrian Islamists were making gains in their rebellion against the al Assad regime, Hamas calculated that in this sectarian environment it was better to align with its ideological allies than to risk alienating itself by maintaining a close relationship with the Syrian and Iranian regimes. As sectarian tensions grew over the Syrian battle of Qusair in the spring, reports began emerging that some Hamas fighters had joined Sunni rebels in Syria against the regime. At that point, Iran had to worry about its leverage weakening among Palestinian proxies in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon, all while Iran's main ally Hezbollah was heavily preoccupied with trying to hold its ground in Lebanon while fighting Sunni rebels in Syria.

But Iran also sought ways to maintain its leverage among the Palestinians. Even as Hamas tried to publicly distance itself from Tehran, it was Iran's supply of long-range Fajr-5 rockets to Hamas that nearly led to an Israeli invasion of Gaza at the end of 2012 and exposed a still robust relationship between the ideologically opposed allies. With Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood politically sidelined, the Egyptian military bearing down on Hamas in the Sinai Peninsula and cutting off the group's supply lines and Syria's Sunni rebels in a stalemate with the regime, Hamas is likely to find even more reason to remain close to Tehran. Iran, meanwhile, is trying to compensate for the sectarian challenges confronting its allies in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq by widening its militant proxy network wherever it can. Part of this strategy involves building up a presence in the West Bank to threaten Israel. This strategy also falls in line with Hamas' interest in undermining Fatah, especially as the Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority engages in more peace negotiations with Israel that fail to acknowledge Hamas' authority in the Gaza Strip.
Challenges to Iran and Syria's Plans

Physically operating in the West Bank is not easy, though. Fatah is the dominant party in the West Bank and controls local security forces, who frequently arrest Hamas members. The Fatah leadership will continue endeavoring to prevent Hamas from making serious inroads in the West Bank that could end up further threatening Fatah's credibility. Moreover, Jordan's increased security presence on the border with Syria, Israeli-Fatah security collaboration and Israel's heavy security presence around the Jordan River Valley also make any route through Jordan highly susceptible to detection, as the recent arrests in Jordan indicate.

These challenges have not deterred Iran and Syria from trying to use their local networks to build up weapon caches in the West Bank so that eventually Palestinian militant factions can try to ambush Israel Defense Forces patrols. The inclusion of anti-tank weapons and man-portable air-defense systems in these weapons shipments to the West Bank would be particularly alarming to Israel. The threat has not yet materialized, but these efforts bear watching closely.

Stratfor

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Rachel
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« Reply #1783 on: August 20, 2013, 09:16:07 PM »

Bambi Meets Godzilla In The Middle East
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD

"What Americans often miss is that while democratic liberal capitalism may be where humanity is heading, not everybody is going to get there tomorrow. This is not simply because some leaders selfishly seek their own power or because evil ideologies take root in unhappy lands. It is also because while liberal capitalist democracy may well be the best way to order human societies from an abstract point of view, not every human society is ready and able to walk that road now."

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/08/18/bambi-meets-godzilla-in-the-middle-east/

I don't agree with everything but this article was excellent. 



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« Reply #1784 on: August 20, 2013, 09:32:56 PM »

Rachel:

Good read.  Would you please post it in the American Foreign Policy thread as well?

TIA
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« Reply #1785 on: August 26, 2013, 04:23:06 PM »

http://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinians-dont-care-if-soldiers-felt-threatened/
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« Reply #1786 on: September 01, 2013, 09:23:50 AM »

Israel could be forgiven for having a siege mentality — given that at any moment, old front-line enemies Syria and Egypt might spill their violence over common borders.

The Arab Spring has turned Israel’s once-predictable adversaries into the chaotic state of a Sudan or Somalia. The old understandings between Jerusalem and the Assad and Mubarak kleptocracies seem in limbo.

Yet these tragic Arab revolutions swirling around Israel are paradoxically aiding it, both strategically and politically — well beyond the erosion of conventional Arab military strength.

In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists. Each is doing more damage to the other than Israel ever could — and in an unprecedented, grotesque fashion. Who now is gassing Arab innocents? Shooting Arab civilians in the streets? Rounding up and executing Arab civilians? Blowing up Arab houses? Answer: either Arab dictators or radical Islamists.

The old nexus of radical Islamic terrorism of the past three decades is unraveling. With a wink and a nod, Arab dictatorships routinely subsidized Islamic terrorists to divert popular anger away from their own failures to the West or Israel. In the deal, terrorists got money and sanctuary. The Arab Street blamed others for their own government-inflicted miseries, and thieving authoritarians posed as Islam’s popular champions.

Now, however, terrorists have turned on their dictator sponsors. Even the most ardent Middle East conspiracy theorists are having trouble blaming the United States and Israel.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry is still beating last century’s dead horse of a “comprehensive Middle East peace.” Does Mr. Kerry’s calcified diplomacy really assume that a peace agreement involving Israel would stop the ethnic cleansing of Egypt’s Coptic Christians? Does Israel have anything to do with Bashar Assad’s alleged gassing of his own people?

There are other losers as well. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to turn a once-secular Turkish democracy into a neo-Ottoman Islamist sultanate, with grand dreams of eastern Mediterranean hegemony. His selling point to former Ottoman Arab subjects was often a virulent anti-Semitism. Turkey suddenly became among Israel’s worst enemies and the Obama administration’s best friends.

Yet if Mr. Erdogan has charmed President Obama, he has alienated almost everyone in the Middle East. Islamists such as former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi felt that Mr. Erdogan was a fickle and opportunistic conniver. The Gulf monarchies believed that he was troublemaker who wanted to supplant their influence. Neither the Europeans nor the Russians trust him. The result is that Mr. Erdogan’s loud anti-Israeli foreign policy is increasingly irrelevant.

The oil-rich sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf once funded terrorists on the West Bank, but they are now fueling the secular military in Egypt. In Syria, they are searching to find some third alternative other than Mr. Assad’s Alawite regime and its al Qaeda enemies. For the moment, oddly, the Middle East foreign policies of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the other oil monarchies dovetail with Israel‘s: Predictable Sunni-Arab nationalism is preferable to one-vote, onetime Islamist radicals.

Israel no doubt prefers that the Arab world liberalize and embrace constitutional government. Yet the bloodletting lends credence to Israel’s ancient complaints that it never had a constitutional or lawful partner in peace negotiations.

In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak’s corrupt dictatorship is gone. His radical Muslim Brotherhood successors were worse and are also gone. The military dictatorship that followed both is no more legitimate than either. In these cycles of revolution, the one common denominator is an absence of constitutional government.

In Syria, there never was a moderate middle. Take your pick between the murderous Shiite-backed Assad dictatorship or radical Sunni Islamists. In Libya, the choice degenerated into Moammar Gadhafi’s unhinged dictatorship or the tribal militias that overthrew it. Let us hope that one day Westernized moderate democracy might prevail, but that moment seems a long way off.

What do the Egyptian military, the French in Mali, Americans at home, the Russians, the Gulf monarchies, persecuted Middle Eastern Christians and the reformers of the Arab Spring all have in common? Like Israel, they are all fighting Islamic-inspired fanaticism. Most of them, like Israel, are opposed to the idea of a nuclear Iran.

In comparison to the ruined economies of the Arab Spring — tourism shattered, exports nonexistent and billions of dollars in infrastructure lost through unending violence — Israel is an atoll of prosperity and stability. Factor in its recent huge gas and oil finds in the eastern Mediterranean, and it may soon become another Kuwait or Qatar, but with a real economy beyond its booming petroleum exports.

Israel had nothing to do with either the Arab Spring or its failure. The irony is that surviving embarrassed Arab regimes now share the same concerns of the Israelis.

In short, the more violent and chaotic the Middle East becomes, the more secure and exceptional Israel appears.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/30/hanson-the-israeli-spring/#ixzz2deQDs2iW
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter
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Rachel
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« Reply #1787 on: September 01, 2013, 11:28:03 AM »

Israel Hayom is currently my favorite source  of  commentary on  Israel and Middle East
http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=5551


The chaos theory
Dr. Reuven Berko

Syria is currently on the operating table, and the question is whether, due to its lack of morals (the mass murder of civilians and use of chemical weapons), it will be allowed to die, permanently clipped by the knife of the coalition. It is not a question of leadership but rather an ethno-religious question. The Syrian leadership is trapped in the dying body of an artificially established nation that is in constant conflict with itself. Instead of resuscitating the dying country, a clumsy Western assault could actually accelerate its demise.

An artificial army

Unfortunately, the assessment is that despite the vast differences between the interests of the U.S., the West, the Arab nations and Russia, they all surprisingly share one common objective, which can be gleaned from the list of the operation's targets: To punish and deter Assad and his regime. However, the very definition of these targets suggests that the mission at hand is to preserve the existing Syrian regime, not to topple it.
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« Reply #1788 on: September 01, 2013, 11:55:59 AM »

"Just like Cato the Elder, who insisted that "Carthage must be destroyed" over and over again, we must remind ourselves again and again: Syria is not the problem. The problem is the Iranian nuclear program, the source of Syria's and Hezbollah's power and the mother of all evils in the region. That is the real target that the coalition should have in its sights"

Rachel,

This comes in out of no where in the end of his article.   I would have liked him to clarify this logic.   So is he saying the root of all the problems is Iran's nuke program and Hezbollah?
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« Reply #1789 on: September 01, 2013, 01:07:49 PM »

CCP,

I not very familiar with Cato the Elder but according to Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carthago_delenda_est

"A common modern use in order to emphasise to third parties the strength of one's opinion about a perceived necessary course of action is to add either at the beginning or the end of a statement the two opening words "Ceterum censeo?

I don't think  that Iran and Hezbollah are the root of all problems in the Middle East  but certainly they are responsible for  a great many of them.  However, a  nuclear Iran is an existential threat to Israel and  an attack by Syria on Israel  would be painful and deadly but not an existential threat.   Whatever actions are taken or not taken  on Syria will have an  influence on  Iran.  It is much more important to think strategically about Iran than about Syria.   

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« Reply #1790 on: September 01, 2013, 01:26:44 PM »

Agreed!
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« Reply #1791 on: September 01, 2013, 06:30:59 PM »

I am familiar with Cato's strategy.  Rome went on offence against Hannibal by attacking Carthage and pulling him out of Italy.  They defeated Hannibal there and later burned the city to the ground.

Take out the serpent at its head is what he means I guess. 

The head is Iran and Syria its Hezbollah it's arms. 

I get it now.

Does Brock?
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« Reply #1792 on: September 01, 2013, 10:40:07 PM »

Do we?
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« Reply #1793 on: September 02, 2013, 08:55:47 AM »

I nominate this Dog Brothers Forum, not Biden for President in 2016.

Most here have been advocating we hit Iran nucs for *years*.

Unfortunately it doesn't appear that will happen.  It appears the plan is containment.   

There is likely a back up offensive plan but only if shoved into it.

As for what to do in Syria.   In my most expert military, strategic, political, and in international affairs opinion I think we do as Doug suggested:  hit all WMD sites in Syria (though not yet convinced about NK).

I also agree with one Middle East analyst on CNN (I don't know his name) who said a more credible "red line" would have been the Syrian air force.  Thus we should destroy Assad's planes.

Congress should stand up.   Forget idiotic "shots across the bow".  The Congressional authorization should be to do the job and not half assed laughable crap.  Get rid of all known WMD and air force.

Or, do nothing.   Forget 'face'.  We are not Japanese.   Reagan pulled out of Lebanon.   He didn't worry about his face or his reputation.   He worried about America and our military.

Frankly I prefer do nothing or as we have suggested for many years now go after Iran.

As for NK, I haven't thought about it much.  But come to think of it suppose we just get rid of that monstrous family there.   It is not the middle east.     
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« Reply #1794 on: September 03, 2013, 11:39:34 AM »

http://pjmedia.com/spengler/2013/09/03/obama-vetoed-israeli-strike-on-iran-israels-former-nsc-chief-says/

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was about to order an attack on Iran in September 2012, but canceled the operation in response to U.S. pressure, the former head of Israel’s National Security Council said last month. Gen. Giora Eiland (retired) added that Israel “has a real ability to destroy Iran’s nuclear program,” and that it is possible that the American veto was related to the presidential election then in progress.

“At the time [September 2012] the Prime Minister thought that we had gotten to a critical point on the Iranian issue and planned to carry out attacks,” Gen. Eiland said at a closed-door conference held on August 19, adding that “Israel did not have in principle approval of U.S. military operations, unless Americans require one – cut prevented any action. ” According to Eiland, the issue was raised at a meeting between Netanyahu and the Americans, who said that the planned attack was out of the question for them, which led to its cancellation.

Since the cancellation of the planned Iran’s nuclear program has continued to progress. Today, argues Eiland, Israel again faces a difficult choice. “Time has passed and we stand before exactly the same decision, with less time. ” He added, “The lack of resolution is dramatic.”

In an interview, Gen. Eiland said, “There are many things Israel can do things independently. In the case of construction in Jerusalem, an assault in Gaza or other issues relating to our area we do not need to ask the Americans when we act, even if they do not like it. Yet when it comes to something with broader concerns to U.S., we cannot act against their judgment. “

The best scenario for Israel, Eiland believes, is an American attack on Iran, but “the lack of U.S. enthusiasm for action in Syria signals that this possibility is not realistic.” The issue of prospective US approval of an Israeli attack remains an open question. “There are variables that have changed since last year primarily in the internal affairs of the United – States, which was then in full swing in elections,” the retired general said. In September 2012, when Eiland headed Israel’s National Security Council, Obama was in trouble due to his poor performance in the first televised debate with Romney. He may have preferred to avoid a war that could harm his re-election campaign.

Do circumstances today allow Netanyahu to attack? That is difficult to assess. But while the Syrian story and Obama’s hesitations occupy the headlines, it is important to remember that the real drama is  in Iran.
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« Reply #1795 on: September 03, 2013, 11:44:07 AM »

"At a certain point, you've had enough national security."


http://pjmedia.com/spengler/2013/09/03/obama-vetoed-israeli-strike-on-iran-israels-former-nsc-chief-says/

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was about to order an attack on Iran in September 2012, but canceled the operation in response to U.S. pressure, the former head of Israel’s National Security Council said last month. Gen. Giora Eiland (retired) added that Israel “has a real ability to destroy Iran’s nuclear program,” and that it is possible that the American veto was related to the presidential election then in progress.

“At the time [September 2012] the Prime Minister thought that we had gotten to a critical point on the Iranian issue and planned to carry out attacks,” Gen. Eiland said at a closed-door conference held on August 19, adding that “Israel did not have in principle approval of U.S. military operations, unless Americans require one – cut prevented any action. ” According to Eiland, the issue was raised at a meeting between Netanyahu and the Americans, who said that the planned attack was out of the question for them, which led to its cancellation.

Since the cancellation of the planned Iran’s nuclear program has continued to progress. Today, argues Eiland, Israel again faces a difficult choice. “Time has passed and we stand before exactly the same decision, with less time. ” He added, “The lack of resolution is dramatic.”

In an interview, Gen. Eiland said, “There are many things Israel can do things independently. In the case of construction in Jerusalem, an assault in Gaza or other issues relating to our area we do not need to ask the Americans when we act, even if they do not like it. Yet when it comes to something with broader concerns to U.S., we cannot act against their judgment. “

The best scenario for Israel, Eiland believes, is an American attack on Iran, but “the lack of U.S. enthusiasm for action in Syria signals that this possibility is not realistic.” The issue of prospective US approval of an Israeli attack remains an open question. “There are variables that have changed since last year primarily in the internal affairs of the United – States, which was then in full swing in elections,” the retired general said. In September 2012, when Eiland headed Israel’s National Security Council, Obama was in trouble due to his poor performance in the first televised debate with Romney. He may have preferred to avoid a war that could harm his re-election campaign.

Do circumstances today allow Netanyahu to attack? That is difficult to assess. But while the Syrian story and Obama’s hesitations occupy the headlines, it is important to remember that the real drama is  in Iran.
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« Reply #1796 on: September 04, 2013, 10:45:34 AM »

http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2013/09/03/obama-and-israel-the-next-three-years/?singlepage=true


Turning Point: Obama and Israel, the Next Three Years

September 3rd, 2013 - 8:55 am

We have just entered a new era with the Middle East and its relation to the world. Not every day can you proclaim such a shift in world history; today you can. This is not a joke — definitely not — and as you will see, it is not an exaggeration.
 
For the last seven weeks I have been in the United States, mostly in Washington, D.C.; I have spoken with and listened to many people. As a result, I am in a position to describe to you with a high degree of confidence what U.S. policy regarding the Middle East will be for the remainder of Obama’s term, and perhaps for far into the future.

 


In short, the administration has crossed a line and is now backing the “bad guys.”
 
This is literally true in Egypt, Syria, Sudan, the Palestinian Authority, Bahrain (with U.S. support for the opposition), Qatar, and Turkey. In some ways, as we will see, the war on terrorism has become the war for terrorism. Too extreme? On the contrary, this is not a conservative or liberal analysis, but merely an accurate one. Over the next few weeks, we will run here a serious analysis of Obama’s Middle East policy for the second term.
 
The real Obama administration position on Israel is that Netanyahu and Israel refuse to be moderate and flexible, unlike Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. This despite Netanyahu releasing 100 terrorist murderers in exchange for nothing, and Abbas’ constant inflexibility, escalation of demands, and rejection of U.S. strategy on the peace process. The Obama administration also finds Netanyahu to be less moderate and flexible than Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, despite the latter’s throwing intellectuals and journalists in prison, betraying U.S. strategy on Iran, backing anti-American Islamists, and sending former army officers for long jail terms on phony charges.
 
During the coming months, and even years — if they are given to me — I will pursue these themes. You may not believe what you read here today or tomorrow, but you will eventually see it occur.
 
To be absolutely clear, these policies are going to happen, and are already happening. The president is a set ideologue and will not learn, and with the current “ruling class” elitist Congress and remarkably cowardly and partisan media, nothing will change. The situation will only get worse, and the administration’s position more obvious.
 
In the coming weeks, I will describe eight things that will almost certainly happen during the remainder of Obama’s term, and will suggest how to minimize the harm to the interests of the United States and its would-be Middle Eastern-allied people and governments.
 
The first one:
 
1. Israel cannot depend on the United States.
 
This doesn’t mean that Obama and others will not provide military aid or say nice words at every event. But there is no commitment that one can assume would be fulfilled nor any Israeli initiative that will actually be implemented. The idea that Obama and his team are the greatest friends of Israel is a deadly insult. The United States has undermined Israel on many issues: Egypt (by supporting a hostile Muslim Brotherhood government); Tunisia (ditto); Sinai (by enabling an insurgency); Hamas (by the desire to keep the Brotherhood — an ally of Hamas — in power in Cairo); Turkey (by supporting the Islamist, anti-Israel government); Syria (by supporting radical Syrian Islamists); Europe (by not supporting the Israeli position on the peace process); America itself (by encouraging anti-Israel forces among the Jewish community and within Obama’s constituency); Palestinians (by the lack of criticism or pressure on Palestinian Authority).
 
And that’s a partial list.
 
Further, the most dangerous, insulting argument comes from Secretary of State John Kerry. He has repeatedly said the following (this is also a theme of administration supporters, including Jews):
 

The greatest danger to Israel is if Israel does not get peace soon.
 
This is an absurd lie. The greatest danger to Israel would be accepting a dangerous and unworkable peace agreement that the other side would not implement. In other words, the greatest danger for Israel would be to listen to the bad advice of Obama, Kerry, and their supporters.
 
Who should be more knowledgeable about the situation and more aware of Israel’s real interests, Israel or America? Do people think that Obama knows better than Israelis, that he cares more? That’s absurd and insulting. Of course, people assume that states and political leaderships put their own interests first, whether or not they understand this. And that lays the basis for overruling Israel’s democracy.
 
For example, a survey by the dovish Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) showed 65.6 percent of Israelis questioned did not expect to see a deal in talks between Israel and the Palestinians within a year. And if you take into the account the “don’t knows” and “no opinions,” that increases the percentage. Outrageously, the Reuters story on the polling notes the following:
 

The talks resumed last month after a three-year hiatus.
 
Actually, except for one week, there have not been real talks for 13 years. The article also notes:
 

Even if the Israeli government managed to defy skeptics and secure an accord, the poll … suggested it would struggle to sell it to its people.
 
This is obviously wrong, as the government and the vast majority of Israel’s people agree with each other. But the U.S. government and its supporters believe that the Israeli government — in partnership with Obama — should betray the beliefs, aspirations, and security of the Israeli people.
 
This does not only include Jewish settlements, even for those willing to give every one up for real, lasting peace. In fact, 55.5 percent of the Israeli people and 63 percent of Israeli Jews said they were against Israel agreeing to return to the 1967 lines, even if there were land swaps which would enable some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to remain part of Israel. It is not the terms ostensibly offered, but the credibility of the United States and the Palestinians. Mind you, the figure is even higher, because most people feel that this simply won’t work in terms of providing more security and stability.
 
Israel is not naïve. It was walking down a dark alley and thought that kindly old Uncle Sam — perhaps a bit grumpier lately — had his back, then looked to them for support only to find another enemy. Yet you will never ever hear an Israeli politician admit that.
 
Read Netanyahu’s unprecedented memo on the talks and the prisoner release. It reads as if he saw a ghost; he is trying to signal something very grim and serious and there is no implication that he believes in any possibility of compensation for this concession. Faced with a wasted effort of a unilateral Palestinian prisoner release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government went along with it because they realized the indifference of the United States to Israel’s interests was extremely high. They realized that Congress was hypnotized that the Jewish community, in its Obama worship, was largely neutralized; and that rather than fighting European hostility, the White House was conducting it.
 
Looking over their shoulder in the misty night, they realized that a monster was following them. If you read Netanyahu’s unprecedented memo to the Israeli people as to why the terrorist prisoners were released, you get that clear signal. They realized that the Obama administration was extremely dangerous and that it was necessary to buy time.
 
Of course, the talks will not go anywhere because the Palestinians know they have a strong hand, and they will overplay it. But the administration’s willingness to punish Israel to win public relations points and to shore up the doomed U.S. alignment with Islamists has to be reckoned with, and for the next few years.
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« Reply #1797 on: September 29, 2013, 07:08:13 AM »

After centuries of wars, conquests, empires, kingdoms, colonialism, carving out other countries like the entire middle east, Europe now has a  problem with a Jewish State.  Why?  One explanation:

http://www.prageruniversity.com/Political-Science/Why-Europe-Has-a-Problem-with-Israel.html?gclid=CKXW-4bH8LkCFTBnOgodPkAArA#.UkgV8xXD-Cg
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« Reply #1798 on: September 30, 2013, 09:49:44 PM »



So Israel's prime minister is now left to play the part of querulous Uncle Ben, who arrives the day after the funeral convinced his scheming siblings have already absconded with mother's finest jewelry.

Uncle Ben's suspicions may well be right. But he largely has himself to blame for not acting in time.

Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House on Monday and on Tuesday addresses the United Nations. It's a predictable routine. First he obtains the stylized assurances from President Obama—still exulting from his 15 minute phone call Friday with Iran's Hasan Rouhani—that Iran will not be allowed to get a bomb and that "all options are on the table." Then Mr. Netanyahu denounces Iran at the U.N. and issues unspecified, and increasingly noncredible, warnings that Israel may act on its own.

All hat and no cattle, as they say.

Here's a line I never thought I'd write: I wish Ehud Olmert were Israel's prime minister. Mr. Olmert has many flaws, some of them well known. But he also had a demonstrated capacity to act. It isn't clear that Mr. Netanyahu does.

Enlarge Image
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chris kleponis / pool/European Pressphoto Agency

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House on Monday.

In May 2007 Israel disclosed to the U.S. that Syria was constructing a nuclear reactor in its eastern desert with help from North Korea. Mr. Olmert, then Israel's prime minister, asked President Bush to bomb the facility. Mr. Bush weighed the options, said no, and proposed instead taking the matter public at the U.N.

"I told [Mr. Olmert] I had decided on a diplomatic option backed by the threat of force," the former president recounts in his memoir, "Decision Points."

"The prime minister was disappointed. 'This is something that hits at the very serious nerves of this country,' he said. He told me the threat of a nuclear weapons program in Syria was an 'existential' issue for Israel, and he worried diplomacy would bog down and fail. 'I must be honest and sincere with you. Your strategy is very disturbing to me.' That was the end of the call."

Could Mr. Netanyahu say the same to Mr. Obama? Maybe. The Israeli prime minister infuriated the White House a couple of years ago by treating the president to a public lecture in the Oval Office.

Yet Israeli policy since then has amounted to one big kowtow to Mr. Obama's needs, political and diplomatic. Israel apparently refrained from attacking Iran a year ago, largely out of deference to Mr. Obama's electoral needs. Since then it has given the administration the widest possible latitude to pursue diplomatic initiatives until they prove their futility.

A year on, here is where things stand.

(1) U.S. credibility on enforcing presidential red lines and carrying through on military threats is in tatters thanks to Mr. Obama's Syria capitulation.

(2) America's "diplomatic option" is, for Mr. Obama, a journey not a destination: He will pursue it no matter how flimsy the pretext or the likelihood of success.

(3) Iran has enriched nearly 3,000 kilos of uranium in the last year alone, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA also notes in its most recent report that "the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities . . . including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile."

Oh, and (4): Despite this, Israel finds itself on the diplomatic back foot because Iran's new president, unlike his predecessor, has alighted on a less-uncouth way to deny the Holocaust. Israel is now in the disastrous position of having to hope that Iranian hard-liners sabotage Mr. Rouhani's efforts to negotiate a deal that, if honored, would leave Iran first-and-five at the nuclear goal line.

How does Mr. Netanyahu get out of this trap? Here's another line I never thought I'd write: by downgrading relations with Washington.

That isn't to say that Israel doesn't benefit from good relations with the U.S. But the U.S., like Britain after World War II, is in retreat from the world, and Israelis need to adapt to a global reality in which the Americans are willing to do less, and consequently count for less. What Mr. Netanyahu has been doing instead is granting Mr. Obama a degree of leverage and a presumption of authority over the Jewish state to which he is not entitled and has done little to deserve. That needs to stop.

What also needs to stop is the guessing game over Israel's intentions toward Iran. Mr. Obama will not—repeat, will not—conduct a military strike against Iran. Israelis who think otherwise are fooling themselves.

But Israel will soon have to decide whether to act alone. If so, Israelis must proceed without regard to Mr. Obama's diplomatic timetable. If not, they'll need to reconsider the concept and structure of Israeli deterrence, including nuclear ambiguity.

One last thing worth noting: Reflecting on Mr. Olmert's decision to act against his wishes, Mr. Bush wrote this: "Prime Minister Olmert's execution of the strike made up for the confidence I had lost in the Israelis during the Lebanon war. . . . The bombing demonstrated Israel's willingness to act alone. Prime Minister Olmert hadn't asked for a green light, and I hadn't given one. He had done what he believed was necessary to protect Israel."

That is the voice of respect. Better for Israel to have that than any other mark of international approval or popularity.
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ccp
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« Reply #1799 on: October 01, 2013, 07:23:56 AM »

The US, thanks to Obama placed enormous pressure on Netanyahu not to act.
At least Bush didn't get into Olmert's way.

Also bombing a single facility in Syria was far easier than bombing multiple facilities in Iran that have been hardened over decades.

The US will not act for sure.  Obama has a Muslim background.  Not Jewish.  (except he has no problem taking their money and their political advice).

Once again, ironically, the world is against the Jews.

Rouhani is playing the international politics well.  There must have been many in Iran who thought Amedinajad was a big mouth who was giving their game away.
If he didn't publically threaten the existence of Israel, deny the Holocaust, etc. he wouldn't have drawn as much attention to Iran's nuclear program.

Israel will have to act alone.  Or face a nuclear Iran.  That's it.
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