Friday, May 19, 2017

MidEast Twilight Zone: Arab Countries Ponder Israel Ties

The Changing Reality of Arab-Israeli Ties - Evelyn Gordon (Commentary)
  • The Wall Street Journal reported on that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have grown tired of having their relationship with Israel held hostage to the Palestinian problem, and are discussing a proposal to normalize certain types of commercial relations with Israel in exchange for Israeli gestures toward the Palestinians.
  • In exchange for Israel freezing settlement construction in "certain areas" of the West Bank and relaxing its blockade of Gaza, the Arabs would establish direct telecommunication links with Israel, let Israeli aircraft overfly their countries, lift certain trade restrictions and perhaps grant visas to Israeli athletes and businessmen.
  • Even if the proposal goes nowhere, these details are significant. They show that Arab leaders are no longer willing to give the Palestinians (or Syria) a veto over their relations with Israel.
  • The last time Arab states proposed normalization with Israel (in the Saudi-sponsored Arab Peace Initiative of 2002), they conditioned it on Israel signing final-status agreements with both the Palestinians and Syria and withdrawing completely to the 1949 armistice lines.
  • The very fact that this proposal is being openly discussed shows that Arab-Israeli relations are thawing at a faster pace than anyone would have predicted a few years ago.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tobin Calls Trump A Wimp

Trump has moved from outsider to wimp - Jonathan Tobin [pictured]

[O]n foreign policy and specifically his attitude toward Israel and Jerusalem, Trump the outsider has become Trump the wimp.

Perhaps those who expected Trump to be the first president to make good on the promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem were kidding themselves. But Trump not only said it repeatedly; his first major Middle East appointment indicated he meant business. By naming attorney David Friedman, ardent supporter of Israel, as his ambassador to the Jewish state, the president was signaling the foreign-policy establishment that he wouldn’t be playing by their rules.

[O]n the eve of Trump’s visit to Israel next week, the administration confirmed that the embassy won’t be moved anytime soon — and that Trump isn’t even prepared to acknowledge that the Western Wall is part of the Jewish state. When the Israeli government asked to have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accompany Trump to the Wall, they were shot down and reportedly told that as far as the Americans were concerned, the holy site was part of the West Bank.

Though the White House disavowed that comment, the assurance rang false when National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster wouldn’t say if he thought the Wall was in Israel.

Part of the problem is that Trump has come under the influence of mainstream figures like McMaster, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. With respect to issues like NATO, they are giving Trump good advice. But on Israel, they may be feeding him the same myths that drove Obama to put pressure on the Jewish state rather than the Palestinians.

He may be different from previous presidents, but like them he has allowed himself to be bamboozled by a Palestinian leader.

Trump seems to have believed the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas when he claimed he opposed terror and the anti-Semitic incitement that fuels the conflict, even though Abbas continues to subsidize terrorists and anti-Israel propaganda in PA schools and media. Yet rather than holding Abbas accountable, Trump is leaving in place the old policy on Jerusalem so as to avoid antagonizing his new friend.

The problem here isn’t just that Trump’s ego has gotten the better of his judgment.

Moving the embassy or recognizing that Jerusalem is part of Israel may generate violence in the Muslim world. But by adhering to the same discredited policies that don’t recognize that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and that for the first time in history the city’s holy places are open to all faiths, Trump is going to get the same disastrous results as Obama.

So long as the Palestinians are allowed to get away with delegitimizing Jewish rights even at the Western Wall, they won’t make peace.

Only by forcing them to accept the reality of Jewish Jerusalem will they come to grips with the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. Reinforcing their delusions, as Trump has done, will make peace even less likely.
[New York Post]

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

US Finally Treats Kurds as Proper Ally

U.S. to Arm Syrian Kurds over Turkish Objections
- Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt

President Trump has approved a plan to arm Syrian Kurds with heavy machine guns, mortars, anti-tank weapons, and armored cars so they can participate in the battle to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State, a strategy that has drawn deep opposition from Turkey.

American military commanders have long argued that arming the YPG, a Kurdish militia fighting against the Islamic State, is the fastest way to seize Raqqa, the capital of the militants' caliphate. A high-level delegation of Turkish officials was informed of the decision by Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the U.S. national security adviser, when they visited the White House. 
(New York Times)

Friday, May 05, 2017

Trump Offers "Arab Umbrella"

Trump's Approach: Figure Out the Details Later
- Brian Bennett and Tracy Wilkinson

President Trump hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House and told him, "I've always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians; let's prove them wrong." Despite the opening flourishes of praise and goodwill, the meeting between Trump and Abbas was expected to become more uncomfortable behind closed doors, as the administration laid out a series of demands.

The White House went out of its way to build up Abbas during the visit, giving in to requests for a lunch with Trump beyond their meeting, as well as that the Palestinian flag be placed behind Trump while the two leaders made statements about the visit, a person close to the White House said.

The White House felt that giving Abbas those symbolic concessions would help create an opening to demand that Abbas shut down terror incitement, stop payments by the Palestinian Authority to the families of those killed or imprisoned in terrorist attacks against Israelis, refrain from lobbying the UN for additional resolutions against Israel, and get on board toward a peace deal. 
(Los Angeles Times)

Palestinians Reject Trump's Request to End Terrorists' Payments
- Yasser Okbi

Nabil Shaath, a senior foreign policy adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, described President Trump's appeal to halt payments to convicted terrorists or their families as "mad" during an interview with Israel Radio, Maariv reported. Shaath added, however, his "appreciation" for Trump's "respectful" approach in an attempt to relaunch the peace process. 
(Jerusalem Post-Maariv Hashavua)

Palestinians Delight in Warm Trump Welcome But Have Cause for Concern
- Avi Issacharoff

The meeting between President Donald Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House was "very pleasant," senior Palestinian officials said. "He was very sympathetic," and "the atmosphere was excellent and warm." Yet the Palestinian side has cause for concern on the morning after. Legislation is making its way through the U.S. Congress to stop aid to the PA if it continues to pay salaries to families of security prisoners.

Meanwhile, Al-Hayat in London reported that Trump had promised Abbas an Arab "political umbrella" - Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian backing - if the PA leader agreed to enter talks with Israel.
(Times of Israel)

Trump Approach to the Palestinian Arena
- Brig.-Gen (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser

There is no real difference between the narratives of Hamas and the PA. Both deny the existence of a Jewish people and any sovereign Jewish history in the Land of Israel, both consider Zionists colonizers. Both see as their ultimate and uncompromising goal the liberation of all of "Palestine" and are committed to the so-called "right of return." The only tactical differences are about the attitude toward the Oslo agreements (Hamas opposes them, the PA accepts them but ignores Palestinian obligations under them).
The writer was formerly director general of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.
(Jerusalem Post)

Emerging U.S. Policy on Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Daniel B. Shapiro

On their visits to Washington, leaders of key Arab states - Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states - were showered with praise by President Trump as key partners in the campaign against ISIS. Arab leaders are ecstatic about Trump's tough rhetoric toward Iran and deep skepticism toward the nuclear deal signed by the Obama administration. In turn, Washington has advocated a regional approach to reinvigorating Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, in which the Arab states would contribute by making gestures of normalization toward Israel and encouraging the Palestinians to show flexibility at the negotiating table.

The issue of ending Palestinian Authority payments to terrorist prisoners and their families has gained new currency in Washington, where the murder of U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force by a Palestinian terrorist in 2016 has galvanized bipartisan Congressional efforts to condition assistance to the Palestinians on an end to these payments.
The writer is a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Abbas Lies to Trump, Big Time - Noah Pollak

[A]t the White House, PA President Mahmoud Abbas claimed, "We are raising our a culture of peace." In his campaign speech to AIPAC, Trump said: "In Palestinian textbooks and mosques, you've got a culture of hatred that has been fomenting there for years." But Abbas denied that any such concerns are legitimate or true. Please forget all those videos you've seen of Palestinian kindergarteners declaring their greatest ambition in life is to stab a Jew. The lie Abbas told President Trump to his face told the president almost everything he needs to know about the man he is relying on as his partner.

(Washington Free Beacon)

The New "Softer" Hamas
- Kobi Michael

Hamas is not changing its stripes. Hamas was, and remains, a radical Islamic militant organization and a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood that ideologically rejects the right of Israel to exist. The purported updates to its charter that have been leaked so far are nothing more than political acrobatics by Hamas leaders who are attempting cosmetic changes for political gain.

By appearing to soften its position and temporarily accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines, political leader Khaled Maashal is maneuvering Hamas for an inside takeover of the Palestine Liberation Organization - the umbrella group headed by Abbas. At the same time, the leaked information came from Lebanon, not Gaza, where the new leadership of Yahya Sinwar, known for his militancy, has said nothing about softening any Hamas positions against Israel.

The new text rejects the three basic requirements set by the Middle East Quartet for Hamas to end its isolation as a terrorist organization: accept previously signed accords, reject violence and recognize Israel.
The writer is former deputy director general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs and a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Trump’s tragic mistake - Caroline Glick

[B]y embracing Abbas and the PLO, Trump empowered Hamas. He signaled to Hamas – and to every other terrorist group in the Middle East – that to receive international support, including from his administration, all you need to do is say that you are willing to follow the PLO’s dual strategy of engaging simultaneously in terrorism and political warfare and subterfuge.

There is no upside to Trump’s move. It will not bring peace. It harms prospects for peace by empowering Abbas and his terrorist henchmen.
[Jerusalem Post]


Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Corrupted by Occupation:" The False Tyranny Narrative

Beware the tyranny narrative

-David M. Weinberg

Yom Yerushalayim is still six weeks off, but foreign critics already have launched their attack.

In their view, there is no miraculous Six Day War victory to extol; no grand return to the Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria to toast; no historic reunification of Jerusalem to celebrate; no liberation and redemption to commemorate; no flowering of religious culture and national creativity to admire; no jubilee to enjoy. Not at all. 

Instead, there is only an entrenched “occupation” of the West Bank to bemoan. Palestinian self-determination is being stifled, and this casts a pall over all.
Worse still, in their view, is that “Israel’s soul has been corrupted,” ostensibly, by the occupation.
The British Guardian got the ball rolling on this sullying narrative last week by giving full play to the nasty remarks of former GSS chiefs Ami Ayalon and Carmi Gillon at a Jerusalem event in support of Breaking the Silence and Babur Gallery.
Gillon painted a bleak picture of Israel’s political trajectory, saying that the country was being “driven by the occupation towards disaster”. He added: “This country was established on the values of liberal democracy; values we don’t fulfill any more. You can analyze what happened to us in the last 50 years, but everything is under the shade of occupation. It has changed us a society. It has made us an unpleasant society.”
Ayalon dove even deeper into calumny by alleging that Israel is being overtaken by a process of “incremental tyranny.” He cited recent moves by ministers in the Netanyahu government to change the laws to hit groups such as Breaking the Silence by banning them from events in schools and targeting their funding, while also “taking aim” at the country’s supreme court and independence of the media.
In short, all liberal, progressive, democratic, good and holy values are being crushed by the shadow of occupation. Yada, yada, yada.
This is a very dangerous and delegitimizing storyline. The Guardian, of course, ate it up.
By perpetuating myths about the illegality and immorality of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria; by exaggerating the impact of Israel’s military rule in the territories and minimizing the evils of Palestinian kleptocracy and intransigence; and by insinuating a non-existent trend towards dictatorship in Israeli society and politics – these critics threaten to smear Israel permanently with the stink of a decaying carcass.
This cannot be tolerated. Such defamation cannot be brooked. Israeli and Jewish leaders worldwide must push back hard against such slander, beginning now. Otherwise, every newspaper around the globe is going to echo the same malevolent messages in their coverage of the June jubilee.
Israel must assert loudly and clearly that its return to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is legitimate, not immoral. Its security control of the “Greater Israel” envelope is a source of regional stability, not conflict. The absence of peace and mutual recognition stems from Palestinian rejectionism, not a lack of Israeli imagination.
AS FOR “CORRUPTION,” ask yourselves the following:
Does the “occupation” corrupt, or do Israeli withdrawals corrupt and destroy more?
What has led to more suffering, death and destruction for both Palestinians and Israelis: Israel’s settling of Judea, Samaria and Gaza; or Israeli withdrawals from parts of the West Bank and all of Gaza leading to the emergence of Palestinian terrorist enclaves and establishment of a corrupt Palestinian Authority and a dictatorial Hamastan?
So should Israel draw more borders and build more fences so that the Palestinians can dig under them, shoot over them, and oppress their own people; or should Israel assert new models of coexistence for a better future? And, should the international community continue to invest tens of billions of dollars in shady and authoritarian Palestinian regimes?
AS FOR THE CHARGES of creeping tyranny inside Israel: These are but the spurious complaints of defeated and cranky old guard that has been out of power for almost three decades. It’s an old guard that has been thoroughly discredited on diplomatic matters, and no-one should take it seriously on domestic matters either.
After all, this old guard once erroneously sold the Israeli public on Yasser Arafat as a peace partner; then it incautiously sold Israelis on the Gaza withdrawal as a path to peace; and now, incredulously, it is hawking unilateral Israeli withdrawals as necessary for this country’s “soul” and “moral fiber.”
They were and are wrong on all three counts. Thus their depredations about Israeli democracy shouldn’t be accorded too much credence, either.
It’s true that the balance of power in Israel has shifted from the liberal to the conservative side of the political map, and in societal terms from the secular to the traditional. But a conservative tilt doesn’t “tyranny” make.
So to all those foreign correspondents getting ready to write their reports for the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War, I say this:
First: Please note that Israel’s soul is just fine. Its temperament remains enlightened. Its gut instincts are healthy and humane. Its democratic institutions are ferociously robust.
Second: The “occupation” isn’t poisoning Israel’s future. The lingering conflict with Palestinians is unfortunate and carries a cost, but it is not largely Israel’s fault nor is it a burden that is crushing the country. The conflict doesn’t define Israel. It shouldn’t be dominant prism through which Israel is viewed or judged.
Third: The whole region doesn’t revolve around Palestinians and their grievances, so go easy on the “fifty years of occupation” melodrama. If you’re going to write about this milestone, you might want to comment on fifty years of grievous Palestinian errors in nation-building and the many opportunities for peace spurned by Palestinian leadership.
Fourth: Have some respect for Israel’s achievements, its perseverance, and its reading of the strategic situation. With some patience – perhaps for another 50 years – things will work out just fine. Israel will grow stronger, the Arabs will mature and moderate and new possibilities for accommodation will emerge.
[Jerusalem Post]

Friday, April 28, 2017

Jerusalem [Reunification] Day: VideoBite

In celebration of Jerusalem Day [May 24th], this video reviews it's interesting history in 5 minutes!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Trump's "Foreign Policy Trinity" Moves Against Iran

Trump's foreign policy trinity: Mattis, Tillerson & Haley
All have played major roles in shifting US policy against the Shia onslaught by Iran

U.S. Weighs Additional Support for Saudi Fight Against Iran-Backed Houthi Rebels in Yemen
- Gordon Lubold

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is considering a range of additional military support for Saudi Arabia's fight against Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen. After meeting with the Saudi king and other top officials in Riyadh, Mattis said that it's important for the U.S. to help "reinforce Saudi Arabia's resistance to Iran's mischief." The U.S. believes Iran is backing the rebels.

"Everywhere you look, if there's trouble in the region, you find Iran," Mattis said. "What we're seeing is the nations in the region and others elsewhere trying to checkmate Iran and the amount of disruption, the amount of instability they can cause." 
(Wall Street Journal)

Haley Wants Iran, Not Israel, at Core of UN's Middle East Agenda
- Kambiz Foroohar

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for April, wants to use a monthly meeting on "the situation in the Middle East" to tackle Tehran's role in Yemen and Syria and its support for Hizbullah.

The U.S. seeks "to portray Iran as a criminal enterprise, not just as another bad country but as a rogue state that is engaged in horrible crimes across the region," said Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "We are moving from a position of accommodation to one of confrontation across multiple fronts." 


What North Korea Should Teach Us about Iran - Alan M. Dershowitz

The hard lesson from our failure to stop North Korea before it became a nuclear power is that we must
stop Iran from ever developing or acquiring a nuclear arsenal. A nuclear Iran would be far more dangerous to American interests than a nuclear North Korea. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching numerous American allies. They are in the process of upgrading them and making them capable of delivering a nuclear payload to our shores.

The nuclear deal as currently interpreted by Iran will not prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. In all probability, it would merely postpone that catastrophe for about a decade while legitimating its occurrence. This is not an outcome we can live with, as evidenced by the crisis we are now confronting with North Korea. 
The writer is professor of law, emeritus, at Harvard Law School.
(Gatestone Institute)

U.S. Says Iran's Link to Terror Could Scuttle Nuclear Accord
- Michael B. Marois and Nick Wadhams

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a report to Congress, said President Donald Trump ordered his National Security Council to review whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran because of its continued support for terrorism. "Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods," Tillerson told Congress.



- Kelsey Sutton

President Donald Trump accused Iran Thursday of "not living up to the spirit" of the nuclear deal during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. Trump said again that it was "a terrible agreement" and that it "shouldn't have been negotiated the way it was negotiated....We're analyzing it very, very carefully, and we'll have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future."  

Iran on Notice - Lee Smith

Numerous federal agencies are carrying out a comprehensive review of Iran policy including the intelligence community, the State Department, the Treasury Department, Justice, and the Pentagon. The process is being managed by National Security Council staff. The debate over Iran appears to be between those who want to cut them off at the knees and those who want to knock their block off, with arguments over exactly how badly and when.

While the Trump administration sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan last week to certify that Iran is in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - the nuclear deal, this does not signal, a Trump official told me, that this White House has concluded the JCPOA serves American interests. Rather, certification is a placeholder during the review process, while the administration plans how to move forward on Iran.

This White House does not see Iran as a potential partner in regional stability, as a counterbalance to Saudi Arabia and Israel, as the Obama team did. Rather, it recognizes Iran is a very big problem, and the nuclear program is only one part of that problem. As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week, "We have to look at Iran in a very comprehensive way in terms of the threat it poses in all areas of the region and the world." 
(Weekly Standard)

Friday, April 14, 2017

20% of Palestinians Ready for Peace

Most Palestinians Dream of Obliterating the Jewish State - Daniel Pipes (Mosaic)
  • In "Do Palestinians Want a Two-State Solution?" Daniel Polisar of Shalem College in Jerusalem studied 400 opinion polls of Palestinian views to find that Palestinians collectively hold three related views of Israel: it has no historical or moral claim to exist, it is inherently rapacious and expansionist, and it is doomed to extinction. 
  • Palestinian rejectionism demands that Palestinians (and beyond them, Arabs and Muslims) repudiate every aspect of Zionism: deny Jewish ties to the Land of Israel, fight Jewish ownership of that land, refuse to recognize Jewish political power, refuse to trade with Zionists, murder Zionists where possible, and ally with any foreign power, including Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, to eradicate Zionism. 
  • So long as rejectionism runs rampant, debates about one-, two-, and three-state solutions, or about electricity grids and water supplies, are for naught. There can be no resolution so long as most Palestinians dream of obliterating the Jewish state. 
  • My research finds, and Polisar's confirms, that about 20% of Palestinians are ready to live peaceably with the Jewish state. The challenge is to increase this number to 60% and more, so that this group at last can wrest control of the Palestinian national movement from rejectionists. 
  • When Palestinians emerge from this ordeal, they will greatly benefit from throwing off the burden of anti-Zionism. Finally, they can begin to build their own polity, economy, society, and culture. All will gain when this proud people turns its attention to creating the institutions of civil society and to teaching children skills rather than hatred.

    The writer is president of the Middle East Forum.

Monday, April 10, 2017

US Receives Sunni Ovation for Syria Strike

Assad's gas attacks targeted the town of Khan Sheikhoun, located just east of the Nusayriyah Mountains, the Alawite stronghold east of Syria's Mediterranean coast. The town is also on the M5 highway, Syria's most important artery, which runs from the Jordanian border through Damascus to Aleppo.

The gas attack and the hospital bombing that followed are part of an ethnic-cleansing effort designed to chase Sunni populations out and replace them with Shi'ite Arabs from Iraq.

Tehran wants to extend its reach to the Mediterranean by cultivating a belt of predominantly Shi'ite communities checkered by an assortment of subservient non-Sunni minorities.

Prime Minister Netanyahu told President Putin during their meeting in Moscow last month that the Iranians are out to build their own seaport in Syria.

The Iranian march to the Mediterranean provokes the Arab world, Russia and Turkey all at once. The Russians will not want the ayatollahs' vessels parking alongside theirs.

Backing Assad's violence is one thing. Accommodating Tehran's imperial intrusion is an entirely different thing.

Moreover, the Sunni Arabs along with the Sunni Turks understand what Iran is up to.
(Jerusalem Post)

The U.S. Strike at Syria - Elliott Abrams

Explaining the U.S. airstrike in Syria, Secretary of State Tillerson said: "It's important that some action be taken on behalf of the international community to make clear that the use of chemical weapons continues to be a violation of international norms." This strike will save lives in Syria by preventing Assad from daring to use chemical weapons again, and in unknown future conflicts where the losing side will be tempted to employ chemical weapons, and will think twice and not do it.

The strike will have far wider effects. It was undertaken while Chinese President Xi was with Trump in Florida. Surely this will affect their conversations about North Korea. Vladimir Putin will realize that the years of U.S. passivity are truly over. Allies and friends will be cheered, while enemies will realize times have changed.

Henceforth, when the U.S. president speaks of American conditions and demands, interests and desires, more attention will be paid. When the president said it was in the "vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons," he was right. 
The writer is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. 
(Weekly Standard)

Trump Raises the Stakes for Russia and Iran - Dennis B. Ross

The U.S. response to the chemical weapons attack by the Syrian air force was clearly about sending messages to President Assad and his allies, as well as the international community: Chemical weapons will not be used with impunity. This American strike will also convey to the Iranians, and to the North Koreans, that they had better take the words of this administration seriously. America's regional allies, who had become convinced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the region, will also take the administration's words much more seriously.

Should Assad choose to test the U.S. by carrying out another chemical weapons attack, he runs the risk of losing more of his air force and the major advantage it gives him over the rebels. 
The writer is counselor at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and served in senior positions in four U.S. administrations. 
(New York Times)

Re-establishing the Power of Deterrence - Clifford D. May

If you're still unsure about whether President Trump did the right thing when he launched 59 cruise missiles at Syria's Shayrat air base last week, consider the alternative. He knew that Assad had again used chemical weapons to murder Syrian civilians. He knew that Iran and Russia had enabled this atrocity, as they have many others.

He knew he had two choices. He could shrug and instruct his UN ambassador to deliver a tearful speech calling on the "international community" to do something. Or he could demonstrate that the U.S. still has the power and the grit to stand up to tyrants and terrorists - thereby beginning to re-establish America's deterrent capability.

In the last century, most Americans recognized, in some cases with enormous reluctance, that there was no good alternative to doing whatever was necessary to rout the Nazis and Communists, whose goal was to kill off the democratic experiment.

In this century, jihadists and Islamists harbor the same ambition. We can attempt to appease them. We can try to make ourselves inoffensive to them. We can keep our hand extended, hoping that in time they will unclench their fists. Or we can decide instead to plan for a long war that will end with the defeat of these latest enemies of America and the rest of the civilized world. 
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(Washington Times)

The U.S. Strike in Syria: Global Message - Amos Yadlin & Assaf Orion

Syria basically enabled Trump to send a message to the more problematic countries that are preoccupying the U.S. government. The denouncements from Iran show that Tehran got the message. Above all, the U.S. attack constitutes a challenge to Russia, the power that is the Assad regime's protector and, to date, has expanded its influence in Syria and in the Middle East, largely due to the U.S.' lack of interest.

This single U.S. attack does not yet symbolize a change in policy. Trump and administration officials emphasized that at issue is a single strike whose purpose was to deter the Assad regime from launching any further chemical weapons attacks.

Israel is very much interested in Syria's chemical weapons disarmament, when it is clear now that this has not yet been completed; in maintenance and enforcement of the ban on the use of chemical weapons; and in the repercussions of these events as a precedent to Iran's compliance with the restrictions prescribed in the nuclear agreement, and the costs that Iran will pay when it violates the agreement.

It is important to reexamine the de facto acceptance of Assad's remaining in power in the longer term, as it facilitates the strengthening of Hizbullah and Iran in Syria, and their entrenchment constitutes a very grave threat that is too close to Israel.
Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, heads Tel Aviv University's INSS. Brig.-Gen. Assaf Orion served as head of Strategic Planning in the Planning Directorate in the IDF General Staff (2010-2015).

(Institute for National Security Studies)

The World's Watchdog Is Back in Town - Ron Ben-Yishai

In its strike in Syria, the U.S. conveyed a message: We have red lines, and anyone who crosses them will experience the military force of the strongest power in the world. Another message is: You can't do as you please in the Middle East. Assad suffered considerable damage, as this is the base which is used for attacks against Islamic State targets in eastern Syria.

The operation is good news for Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey because the U.S. has made it clear that it views the use of non-conventional weapons as a red line, and that if such weapons are used, it will act as if the U.S. itself has been attacked. The U.S. is also warning the Iranians. If they thought they would be able to violate the nuclear agreement and get away with it like Assad, they will now think twice. 
(Ynet News)

Monday, April 03, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Palestinian Rejectionism: VideoBite

Palestinian rejectionism is featured in this short but poignant video
[Prager University]

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Revisiting The Jordanian Option

The Opposite of a Two-State Solution Is Not One State - Shoshana Bryen

The so-called “two-state solution,” to subdivide the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea between independent Israel and independent Palestine, fails the tests of logic and history. And it ignores the Kingdom of Jordan – whose participation is required for any stable, long-term arrangement.

There are presently three “states,” or at least three governments, west of the Jordan: Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Gaza. Pro-Israel “two-staters” think Gaza and the West Bank territory should become one state with Israel as the other, assuming-for-no-reason that it is Hamas that will disappear. Hamas vociferously disagrees. Assuming-for-no-reason that a single PA-governed state does emerge in both places, Israel would be left divided north from south by a corridor across the country so Palestinians could access both parts of their state. Arab armies tried multiple times to sever Israel’s waist in pursuit of conquest -- this would have Israel do it for them.

The Palestinians -- at best -- would have a split rump state squeezed between a hostile Israel and a more hostile Jordan. But the only thing Hamas and the PA appear to agree on is that the State of Israel is the one that has to do the disappearing. They believe the establishment of Israel in 1948 was a mistake by the international community that needs to be rectified. Hamas believes it should be through violence and bloodshed; the PA would negotiate Israel away through the “right of return.” A nasty Hamas-Fatah civil war in 2007 was never concluded, and the PA government rightly fears Hamas more than it does Israel -- in fact, the IDF and Shabak (Israel’s internal security agency) are what keep the PA in power.

The arrangement that might have the best chance of working for America’s two regional allies -- Israel and Jordan -- is King Hussein’s old confederation. The Palestinians would have to live with something less than independence (independence is not part of the Oslo Accords), but could have political and economic benefits they do not now possess. And if Gaza has to remain on the outside, West Bank Palestinians will have more security than they now have.

It is not time to push for a confederated solution – or any solution – and it is unlikely the Arab states will soon come forward and meet their obligations under Resolution 242. But broader thinking is more likely to produce results than the illusory “two state solution,” and in fact, leaves two states – Israel and Jordan – where two were intended to be.
[American Thinker]

Monday, March 20, 2017

Robust US Foreign Policy in MidEast

The U.S. Is Back - Eyal Zisser (Israel Hayom)
  • The Middle East is already feeling the change. The U.S. is once again taking an active role in the region and, more importantly, Washington is once again standing by the allies and friends it had abandoned.
  • Despite being portrayed as an enemy of Islam, the election of President Donald Trump was greeted with a sigh of relief in the region. America's allies were fed up with former President Barack Obama's administration, which turned its back on them during tough times and did not hesitate to criticize them and even question their legitimacy.
  • The Obama administration was obviously biased in favor of pro-Islamic elements in the region, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. It also courted Iran and tried to appease it. This all created an unbridgeable gulf between Washington and its old friends.
  • Last week, Trump hosted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia's interior minister, whose associates declared it a historic turning point in the countries' bilateral relations. Similar voices have been heard in Cairo and in Ankara.
  • Trump is also sending additional forces to Syria to strengthen the American hold on its eastern part. This is designed to help deal a crushing blow to Islamic State and provide a counterweight to the Russian presence, and even more importantly, to the Iranian presence there.
  • Trump has also tried to have the Israelis and the Palestinians resume direct talks without accepting the prerequisites set by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

    The writer, vice rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Iran's Terror Cells Embedded in US?

Hassan Abbasi

Iranian Official Boasts of "Guerilla Movement" within the U.S.
- Candice Malcolm 

In a new video, Hassan Abbasi, a senior advisor to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who now runs a security policy division of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is seen boasting about a "guerilla movement" of Iranian agents living and working in the U.S.

Abbasi claims there are over two million Iranians in the U.S., and that Iran is leading a clandestine army of potential martyrs within the U.S.

"We have identified the United States' Achilles' heel," said Abbasi. "We [know] all their ground, naval, air, technological and other vulnerabilities."

Abbasi said that while only a handful of Saudis carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Iranians are even better organized and more committed to waging war against the West.
View the video   
(Toronto Sun-Canada)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dershowitz Nails Anti-Semitism

Israel Does Not Cause Anti-Semitism - Alan M. Dershowitz

The view that it is Israel that is causing anti-Semitism is simply wrong. Anyone who hates Jews because they disagree with the policy of Israel would be ready to hate Jews on the basis of any pretext.

Has there been growing anti-Chinese feelings around the world as the result of China's occupation of Tibet? Is there growing hatred of Americans of Turkish background because of Turkey's unwillingness to end the conflict in Cyprus? Do Europeans of Russian background suffer bigotry because of Russia's invasion of Crimea? The answer to all these questions is a resounding no. If Jews are the only group that suffers because of controversial policies by Israel, then the onus lies on the anti-Semites rather than on the nation state of the Jewish people.
(Gatestone Institute)


Are Jews ready to leave America? - Dr. Phyllis Chesler

It is important to choose our allies carefully. 

Islamist Linda Sarsour and her Islamist, terrorist, and anti-Zionist allies (such as Angela Davis and Rasmeah Odeh) are making political hay out of the vandalized Jewish cemeteries by offering to raise funds to restore the damaged headstones.

I suggest that the Jewish communities politely and firmly refuse their funding--although I might suggest that Sarsour and Company consider restoring the synagogues and cemeteries that Muslims have been destroying for 1400 years. With tongue in cheek, I might also suggest: Why not start with restoring the Temple in Jerusalem? Any vandalized graves on the Mount of Olives? How about the Jewish gravestones Jordan destroyed?
[Fox News]

BDS Failing

Performers Are Flooding Israel: Sign of Cultural Boycott's Failure
- Itay Stern    

Many top performers have had good runs in Israel in recent years.

Guy Besser, one of the owners of Blue Stone Productions, the company bringing over Guns and Roses and Aerosmith, says, "The boycott has only marginal influence on artists, and the ones who do come here leave as goodwill ambassadors."

"After their performance they realize that there is a huge gap between what they were told as part of the pressure they were subjected to and the local reality."

"We notice the weakening of the boycott from year to year."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Saudi - Israel Alliance Comes Out of the Closet

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir

Saudi Foreign Minister: Arab-Israeli Conflict will be Resolved

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir spoke at the 53rd Munich Security Conference today about the option of achieving regional cooperation in order to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I believe that 2017 will be a year when a number of challenges in the Middle East will be resolved,” he said, adding that Saudi Araba is ready to do what is necessary in order to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Al-Jubeir also sounded optimistic about the Trump administration, saying that the US president and Riyadh both want to destroy ISIS and stop Iran from gaining too much power. “Iran remains the single main sponsor of terrorism in the world,” al-Jubeir said. “It’s determined to upend the order in the Middle East.”

Shortly before al-Jubeir spoke, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on the Arab world to help put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The Palestinians do not have a capacity to sign a final status agreement with Israel,” he said. “It is possible only as a part of [an] all regional solution. We must sign simultaneously a regional solution with the Arab world and [the] Palestinians.”
[Jerusalem Online]

Saudi Arabia, Israel Present United Front Against Iran
- John Irish and Andrea Shalal

Saudi Arabia and Israel both called for a new push against Iran, signaling a growing alignment in their interests. Their ministers demanded at the Munich Security Conference that Tehran be punished for propping up the Syrian government, developing ballistic missiles, and funding separatists in Yemen.

Turkey also joined the de facto united front against Tehran, as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized an Iranian "sectarian policy" aimed at undermining Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. He added, "It's good that we are now normalizing our relations with Israel." 

Regional Cooperation with Israel Is Growing - Tamara Zieve

After visits to Morocco and Egypt, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, stressed the importance of fostering ties between Israel and moderate countries in the region. The Conference of Presidents works to foster closer relations between Israel and countries in Asia, Africa and the Arab world, largely behind the scenes. Hoenlein said there are many other "surprising" countries which have privately expressed interest in increasing cooperation with Israel.

(Jerusalem Post)


Animosity Towards a Sovereign Jewish State Is the Root Cause of the Conflict - Einat Wilf and Adi Schwartz (The Hill)
  • True peace requires addressing the deep sources of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Those lay with the Arab and Muslim reaction to the return of the Jewish people to powerful sovereignty in their ancient homeland. As far as Muslim theology and Arab practice were concerned, the Jews were non-believers, only to be tolerated, never as equals. They should have never been allowed to undermine Muslim rule over the lands which the Jews claimed as their homeland but the Arabs viewed as exclusively theirs since conquering them in the seventh century. 
  • The return of the Jewish people to restored sovereignty in their ancient homeland required Arabs and Muslims to accept that a people, whom they have for centuries treated as inferiors, worthy of contempt, were now claiming equality and exercising power in their midst. This unnatural historical development, in Arab eyes, led Arab governments to take revenge and forcefully expel hundreds of thousands of Jews living in their midst, often in communities predating the birth of Islam, just after the establishment of the State of Israel. 
  • It is also the reason why Arab states kept the Arabs who were displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and their millions of descendants as perpetual "refugees" - to deprive the Jewish state of legitimacy and peace. 
  • It is the reason that even after losing repeated military wars against the State of Israel, Arab countries have continued their diplomatic and economic war against it to this day. 
  • This attitude towards the Jewish state is an Arab - and Muslim - issue, and not only a Palestinian one. The Palestinians are the thin end of the wedge by which the Arab and Muslim world wages its war against a sovereign Jewish people. 
  • If the word "peace" is ever to truly describe the situation between Israel and its neighbors, it requires the Arab and Muslim world to accept the Jews as their equals and as an indigenous people who have come home.

    Einat Wilf is a former member of the Knesset. Adi Schwartz is a researcher and writer in Tel Aviv.

Nikki Haley Knocks It Out of the Park: VideoBite

A poignant video displaying strong US support for Israel. 
We haven't seen anything like this in some time.
Haley's Comet - Editorial

A star is born is our reaction to the first press briefing by the new U.S. ambassador at the UN Nikki Haley. 
(New York Sun)
Full text click HERE

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mistaken for a Jew, Shifts Views on MidEast

Pro-Palestinian Reporter Changes His Views on Israel - Hunter Stuart

In the summer of 2015 I moved to Israel for a year-and-a-half stint freelance reporting in the region. I was very pro-Palestinian. Almost everyone I knew was, viewing Israel as an aggressor, oppressing the poor noble Arabs who are being so brutally denied their freedom.

It wasn't until the violence became personal that I began to see the Israeli side with greater clarity. When I traveled to the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan for a story, a Palestinian kid pointed at me and shouted "Yehud!" which means "Jew" in Arabic. Immediately, a large group of his friends were running toward me with a terrifying sparkle in their eyes. I shouted at them in Arabic "I'm not Jewish," over and over. I told them in Arabic that I was an American journalist who "loved Palestine." They calmed down after that, but the look in their eyes when they first saw me is something I'll never forget.

Even the kindest, most educated, upper-class Palestinians reject 100% of Israel - not just the occupation of east Jerusalem and the West Bank. They simply will not be content with a two-state solution and they want the Israelis who live there now to leave. They almost never speak of coexistence; they speak of expulsion, of taking back "their" land. The ongoing desire of Palestinians to wipe Israel off the map is unproductive and backward-looking and the West must be very careful not to encourage it.

I know a lot of Jewish-Israelis who are willing to share the land with Muslim Palestinians, but for some reason finding a Palestinian who feels the same way was near impossible. If the Palestinians are given their own state in the West Bank, who's to say they wouldn't elect Hamas, an Islamist group committed to Israel's destruction? That's exactly what happened in Gaza in democratic elections in 2006. Having Hamas in control of the West Bank and half of Jerusalem would be suicide for Israel. And no country can be expected to consent to its own destruction.
(Jerusalem Post)