Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Soundbites" on vacation

"MidEast Soundbites" will return on or around July 9th!

Imaging Gaza's future: 2 views

The Risks of International Forces in Gaza -Pinhas Inbari

The international-forces idea is a sharp departure from the widely admired principle that Israel does not rely on foreigners for its defense and only wants to be able to handle it alone. This doctrine yielded massive U.S. military assistance and political backing for Israel.

Once Israel changes its approach and starts asking for foreign troops to defend all its borders, the perception of Israel may well also change - from asset to burden.

Rethinking America's "Grand Strategy" for the New Palestinian Authority
-Robert Satloff

[P]ursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian "political horizon" may in fact run counter to the interests and preferences of both sides. Instead, investing in an Arab-Palestinian political horizon - including early negotiation on the outline of an eventual Jordanian-Palestinian confederation - may be more realistic, valuable, and effective.

So far, the [US] administration has responded with its previously failed policy...

[I]t is unclear why Washington would want to busy itself with an empty exercise that distracts from the important business of fixing the problems that produced the current situation.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Child killers

Iran: The Last Executioner of Children
- Nora Boustany

In a troubling report on the execution of minors in Iran, Amnesty International said Tuesday that at least 71 child offenders are on death row and more than 24 have been executed since 1990, more than in any other country.

The report, "Iran: The Last Executioner of Children," said 11 of the child offenders executed were younger than 18 at the time of their deaths.
(Washington Post)

Blame for Gaza

Who Lost Gaza? - Editorial

Increasingly, one hears that the disaster is the consequence of Israeli [or American] policies. It is necessary to insist, therefore, that the primary responsibility for Palestinian actions falls on Palestinians.

For many decades, the world has clamored for Palestinian self-determination. Well, Palestinian self-determination is here for all the world to see.
(New Republic)

Nationalist Suicide - Fouad Ajami

The Palestinians have lived for decades on a sense of historical entitlement. The world owed them a state...

The disorder now on full display is the harvest of Palestinian history. What we see is the inevitable fate of a movement given over to the cult of the gun.
(U.S. News)

A different view of Guantánamo

The Guantánamo I Know
-Morris D. Davis

[T]he reality of Guantánamo Bay has been all but ignored or forgotten.

Today, most of the detainees are housed in new buildings modeled after civilian prisons in Indiana and Michigan. Detainees receive three culturally appropriate meals a day. Each has a copy of the Koran. Guards maintain respectful silence during Islam’s five daily prayer periods, and medical care is provided by the same practitioners who treat American service members.

Critics liken Guantánamo Bay to Soviet gulags, but reality does not match their hyperbole.

Some imply that if a defendant does not get a trial that looks like Martha Stewart’s and ends like O. J. Simpson’s, then military commissions are flawed. They are mistaken. The Constitution does not extend to alien unlawful enemy combatants. They are entitled to protections under the Geneva Conventions...

The facts show the current alternative is worth keeping.
Morris D. Davis, a colonel in the Air Force, is the chief prosecutor in the Defense Department’s Office of Military Commissions.
[New York Times]

Abbas supports Hamastan; condemns "occupation" that ended a year ago

IDF wraps up Gaza operations -Yaakov Katz

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abba's office released a statement condemning the IDF operations [against terrorists in Gaza]. "The crimes that were committed in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli occupation must be strongly condemned," read the statement.
[Jerusalem Post]

"In the name of peace..."

Winds of War. -Joshua Muravchik
[T]he demands that we throw in the towel in Iraq, their attempts to constrain the president’s freedom to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the proposal of the Baker-Hamilton commission that we appeal to Iran to help extricate us from Iraq—all of these may be read by the [Islamic] radicals as signs of our imminent collapse. In the name of peace, they are hastening the advent of the next war.
[Wall Street Journal]

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

IDF is the finger in the dike

Is This the End of Palestine? - Martin Peretz

The final fall of Gaza to Hamas puts the whole question of Palestine and the Palestinians into a new perspective.

Palestine was never anything of special importance to the Arabs or to the larger orbit of Muslims.

When the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine was passed, envisioning a "Jewish" state and an "Arab" (not, mind you, Palestinian) state, even the idea of a separate Arab realm was met at best with a yawn. Though almost no Arab wanted Jewish sovereignty in any of Palestine, virtually no Arab seemed to crave Arab sovereignty, either.

The most serious near-term danger actually comes from the West Bank. Rockets and more precise weapons aimed at the thickly populated heart and narrow waist of Israel from almost any place in what is now Fatah land, would revive both the anxieties and military reflexes of Israel. That is why U.S. policy must not assume that there are facile ways to render the West Bank peaceful. What keeps that area more orderly than Gaza is the presence of Israeli troops.
(New Republic)

Goal: Destroy Israel, line your pockets

"Dozens of officers in the (Fatah-affiliated) security forces are suspected of cooperating with Hamas during the Islamist group's takeover of the Gaza Strip," a senior Palestinian security official said Sunday.

He said the officers received money from Hamas in exchange for transferring information...
(Ynet News)

Monday, June 25, 2007

CartoonBite: priceless


Israel to Release 250 Fatah Prisoners - Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh
Prime Minister Olmert, in a surprise gesture intended to strengthen PA Chairman Abbas, announced the unilateral release of 250 Fatah prisoners. Olmert said he would release frozen PA tax revenue...
Olmert also said he acceded to Abbas' request to continue to supply Gaza with electricity, water, medical services, food and drugs.
(Jerusalem Post)

Wishful thinking?:
The Anti-Hamas Alliance Gathers - Khaled Abu Toameh
Abdel Bari Atwan, the Palestinian editor of Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, said Monday's summit was part of an unprecedented effort to create an Israeli-Arab alliance against Hamas. He said the new alliance was the first step toward confronting the bigger threat: Iran and its major Arab ally, Syria.
(Jerusalem Post)

Al-Qaida backs Hamas

Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's top deputy called on Muslims around the world to back Hamas with weapons, money and attacks on US and Israeli interests in a Web audiotape Monday, urging the Palestinian militant group to unite with al-Qaida's "holy warriors" after its takeover of Gaza.
[Associated Press]

Friday, June 22, 2007

"Down the Drain"

Congratulations Hamas - Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed

Hamas has buried the Palestinian cause and thrown the world's respect for the rights of Palestinians down the drain.
(Asharq Alawsat-UK)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Reflections on Hamas' Gaza

A Road to Ruin - Justus Reid Weiner

Had Israel acquiesced to the U.S. plan several months ago when it was first brought up by Secretary of State Rice to allow truck convoys to connect Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas would have been well-positioned today to complete its conquest of the West Bank as well.
(Washington Times)

In Israel, Palestinians Tell of Hamas Butchery - Fadi Eyadat and Mijal Grinberg

"Hamas has money and weapons for the next 20 years. All the youngsters want to join it," [a Palestinian patient in an Israeli hospital] said.

Zecharia Alrai, 39, an officer in Fatah's Force 17, had been abducted by four Hamas gunmen who shot three bullets into his leg. "How ironic that Israel is rescuing us from our Muslim 'brothers,'" he said.

What Failed in Gaza Won't Work in the West Bank - Editorial

If "supporting Fatah" is now the Administration's policy, we are in for rougher times ahead.

Fatah's troops were routed last week despite being better armed and far more numerous than Hamas. Why the same recipe that failed in Gaza should now work in the West Bank is anyone's guess.
(Wall Street Journal, 21Jun07)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"A black eye" and begging for more

Munich 1934, Gaza City 2007 - Editorial

The bloody anti-Fatah putsch staged by Hamas constitutes a strategic black eye for the U.S. and another sign of the Tehran-Damascus Axis project[ing] power...

Washington and the Europeans are discussing a resumption of aid to the PA, but to what end? [H]ow do we know that money going to Abbas won't "trickle down" to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades...

It's time for some serious congressional oversight hearings about the continued usefulness of U.S. assistance to Abbas.
(Washington Times)

Fatah Isn't the Answer - Michael Oren

[Funding Fatah] ignores every lesson of the abortive peace process to date as well as Fatah's monumental corruption, jihadism and militancy.

Though Fatah originally aspired to replace Israel with a secular state, it refashioned itself in the 1990s as an Islamic movement, embracing the lexicon of jihad.

Abbas has never disavowed the al-Aqsa Brigades, a Fatah affiliate responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks against Israeli civilians.

PA soldiers will perform no more credibly than they did in Gaza. Abbas will continue to denounce terror while ignoring the terrorist units within his own organization, while PA imams will persist in preaching their jihadist sermons.

Clearly no progress toward Palestinian statehood can be made before Fatah has reformed itself financially, ideologically and structurally. This process is certain to take many years - longer if economic aid and political support are provided to the PA unconditionally.

Security [in the West Bank should] be jointly administered by Israel and Jordan. The Jordanian involvement is crucial to convincing Palestinians that the status quo of occupation has ended. Such an arrangement will benefit Jordan as well, by facilitating its efforts to fight radicalism and stem the flight of Palestinians over its borders.
(Wall Street Journal, 20Jun07)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Good terrorists, bad terrorists

[T]he masked men of Fatah have the run of the West Bank while the masked men of Hamas have their dominion in Gaza. Some see this as an improvement, envisioning a secularist Fatah-run state living peacefully alongside Israel...
It’s always tempting to look for salvation, but in this case it’s sheer fantasy.

The Palestinian ruin was a long time in coming. No other national movement has had the indulgence granted the Palestinians...

We must not overdo the distinction between the “secularism” of Fatah and the Islamism of Hamas. [T]his is really a distinction without a difference.

Arab poets used to write reverential verse in praise of the boys of the stones and the suicide bombers. Now the poetry has subsided, replaced by [silence]...

Palestinian society has now gone where no “peace processors” or romantic poets dare tread.
[New York Times]
Graphic credit: Anthony Russo

"West Bank First": It Won't Work - Robert Malley and Aaron David Miller

Having embraced one illusion - that it could help isolate and defeat Hamas - the Bush administration is dangerously close to embracing another: Gaza is dead, long live the West Bank.
(Washington Post)

Time to Postpone the "Political Horizon" - Dennis Ross

Pushing for an objective that is demonstrably not achievable now is not going to enhance our already shaky position in the Middle East.
(Wall Street Journal, 19Jun07)

CartoonBite: worth a thousand words

Rice Announces Return of Direct Aid to Palestinian Government
The U.S. is lifting financial and diplomatic restrictions on the PA and will donate $40 million to UN programs serving the Palestinian territories, Secretary of State Rice said Monday. "The [Fatah] Palestinian government, rejects the path of violence," Rice said.
(State Department)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Arafat's legacy

Arafat's Children: Gaza's Mayhem - Editorial

The cult of violence that has typified the Palestinian movement for much of its history has been tolerated and often celebrated by the international community. If Palestinians now think they can advance their domestic interests by violence, nobody should be surprised: The way of the gun has been paying dividends for 40 years...

A society that has spent the last decade celebrating suicide bombing has inevitably become a victim of its own nihilistic impulses. It is the bitter fruit of Yasser Arafat...
(Wall Street Journal)
Graphic credit: W.Horvath: "Yasser Arafat" Oil on canvas

Ethnic cleansing: Christians first

Hamas turns on Gaza Christians -Ryan Jones

A [Hamas] spokesman appeared on Palestinian television and announced the “end of secularism and heresy in the Gaza Strip.”

Shortly after, a group of militants stormed the Latin Church and the adjacent Rosary Sisters School in Gaza City, reportedly using rocket-propelled grenades to blow through the doors.

After gaining entrance, the rampaging jihadists burned every Bible and destroyed every cross they could get their hands on before setting both buildings alight...

In a scene reminiscent of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, Hamas militants uprooted a cement statue from a public square in Gaza City because they said it violated Islamic laws...

Some fear that elements within Hamas may go so far as imposing a dress code on women in Gaza.
[Israel Today]

Hamas Activists Burn Gaza Church - Jonathan Dehoah Halevy
Hamas activists broke into a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza, stole its contents, and set on fire an adjacent monastery. They also attacked a school for nuns.
(News First Class-Hebrew)


"Christians Must Accept Islamic Rule" - Aaron Klein
Christians can only continue living safely in Gaza if they accept Islamic law, including a ban on alcohol and on women roaming publicly without proper head coverings, an Islamist militant leader in Gaza said.
(World Net Daily/Ynet News)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

New Islamic State born

Hamas Orders Rivals to Surrender as Gaza Falls Under Its Control - Paul Martin and Sonia Verma

Hamas' most spectacular attack was the detonation of a one-ton tunnel bomb under a Fatah security headquarters in Khan Yunis. The ambush, which was apparently weeks in the planning, killed at least six and appeared to give Hamas control of the strategic southern town.

Hamas taking control of Gaza has terrified its secular residents, who fear that Islamist rule will be imposed.

UPDATES: June 15, 2007

Arabs Fear Spread of Gaza Conflict - Lee Keath
"Gaza is steadily turning into a failed mini-state," wrote Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi. "And in failed states, extremism breeds and spreads."
Arab states fear a Hamas-run Gaza could become a power center for the group's allies Iran and Syria.
(Washington Post)

Fundamentalists Threaten Israel from All Sides - Con Coughlin
Hamas is trying to replicate Hizbullah's success in Gaza, not a pleasing prospect for Israel, which now faces the threat of having two Iranian-backed, Islamic fundamentalist organizations dedicated to its destruction camped on its northern and southern borders.

Hamas Takeover in Gaza Makes Defining Targets Easier for IDF - Yaakov Katz
Some Israeli defense officials said there was reason to be thankful for Hamas' takeover of Gaza. Prior to this, Israel had to distinguish between Fatah and Hamas gunmen in Gaza and make sure that Abbas loyalists were not targeted. Now, all gunmen are Hamas and therefore fair game. "

"Hamas is a clear and defined enemy, and that means that when we decide to respond it will be easier than before, since all their buildings are now targets, as is anyone walking around with a weapon."
(Jerusalem Post)

From Gang Wars to Delegitimization - Editorial
Most of the Palestinian people and all their many Arab supporters find this, an act of juvenile political immaturity at best, and depraved criminality at worst. Whether these gunmen think they are acting in the name of God or a nationalist revolution is beyond any reasonable credibility, because their actions in recent months have deeply scarred the powerful authenticity and legitimacy of the Palestinian cause.
(Daily Star-Lebanon)

The Consequences of the Civil War in Gaza - Shmuel Rosner
After Ariel Sharon pulled Israel out of Gaza two years ago, Israel didn't get the security it wished for; the daily shelling of Israeli towns continued and even intensified.
However, he did succeed in transforming Gaza from an Israeli headache into a Palestinian problem.

Hamastan - Barry Rubin
Unwilling to make peace and uninterested in governing well, Fatah dug its own grave. Why should anyone be surprised that Hamas replaced it?

Let's get this straight: There is no near-term solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. There is no Palestinian side with which a compromise agreement can be negotiated. Western and especially U.S. policy must get beyond an obsession with solving this conflict. It is going to go on for decades.

Hamas will not be persuaded to moderate - why should it when it expects victory at home and appeasement from Europe? Hamas is the enemy, just as much as al-Qaeda, because it is part of the radical Islamist effort to seize control of the region, overthrow anything even vaguely moderate, and expel any Western influence.

It is time to support Israel proudly and fully. Israel has done everything possible for peace, taking great risks to do so.
(Wall Street Journal, 15Jun07)

Arming the enemy

Kalashnikov rifle, like the ones the US helped provide

Hamas Seizes Weapons Provided Under U.S. Plan - Khaled Abu Toameh

Fatah officials confirmed that Hamas had seized large amounts of weapons and military equipment belonging to Abbas' security forces in Gaza. Some of the weapons were supplied to the PA in recent weeks by Egypt and Jordan as part of a U.S. security plan to boost Fatah-controlled forces.
(Jerusalem Post)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Raping Gaza

Hamas on Verge of Conquest of Gaza - Avi Issacharoff

Hamas was on the verge of completing its conquest of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, with positions in Gaza City remaining as the only significant bastions of Fatah resistance.

Hamas swept into the headquarters of Abbas' National Security Forces facing only token resistance.

Fatah sources said Tuesday they believed Hamas was seeking a decisive victory in Gaza.

Hamas Is Staging a Coup in Gaza - Danny Rubinstein

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas says Hamas is attempting to stage a coup. Hamas' military drive seems to have been meticulously planned in advance...

Hamas' Gaza and Fatah's West Bank - Khaled Abu Toameh

The entire Gaza Strip is likely to fall into the hands of Hamas.
(Jerusalem Post)

Civil War / Hamastan, Fatahstan - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff

Anyone in Israel still contemplating the question of a Palestinian partner might also need to do some rethinking.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cancerous notion

The Evils of Holocaust Denial - Abdurrahman Wahid and Israel Lau

Holocaust denial is gaining currency. By lying about the events of the past, the deniers are paving the way toward the crimes of the future.
(Wall Street Journal, 12Jun07)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Boycott Blues

It's Time to End the Vilification of Israel - Howard Jacobson

Whether it's in the best of taste to like Jews better when they're in concentration camps than when they're in their own country I leave to less interested parties to decide.

But if anti-Semitism is repugnant to humanity, then it is no less repugnant to humanity to single out one country for your hatred, to hate it beyond reason and against evidence, to pluck it from the complex contextuality of history as though it authored its own misfortunes and misdeeds as the devil authored evil, to deny it any understanding and - most odious of all - to seek to silence its voices.

For make no mistake, this is what an intellectual boycott means. We silence you. We will not let you speak.

British Academics' Boycott of Israel Provokes Reaction - Matthew Taylor, Suzanne Goldenberg and Rory McCarthy

Few could have predicted the scale of the backlash to the University and College Union's resolution to boycott Israel. Tony Blair phoned the Israeli prime minister to reassure him that the motion did not reflect wider public opinion. In Israel, MPs began drafting a bill to label British imports - allowing consumers to stage their own counter boycott. In the U.S., 2,000 American scholars - including at least nine Nobel laureates - have vowed to stay away from any event from which Israelis are excluded.

British Journalists Union Abandons Israel Boycott - Stephen Brook
The UK's National Union of Journalists will take "no further action" on implementing the controversial resolution to boycott Israeli goods and services.

Money talks

Florida Bars Investment in Iran, Sudan - Brian Skoloff

Florida became the first state in the nation Friday to have a law that its pension fund dollars cannot be invested in companies doing business with Iran's energy sector and [genocidal] Sudan.
(AP/Houston Chronicle)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Joe urges military option

[I]f there's any hope of the Iranians stopping, for instance, their nuclear weapons development, we can't just talk to them."

Lieberman said much of the action could probably be done by air, although he would leave the strategy to the generals in charge.

"[T]hey can't believe that they have immunity for training and equipping people to come in and kill Americans," he said. "We cannot let them get away with it. If we do, they'll take that as a sign of weakness on our part and we will pay for it in Iraq and throughout the region and ultimately right here at home."
[Associated Press]

Friday, June 08, 2007

3 Reflections on Six Day War

Amid General Amnesia - Hillel Halkin

It is no longer remembered that immediately after the June 1967 war, Israel was ready to return nearly all of the land conquered by it in return for peace and was answered by a monolithic Arab refusal to negotiate...

The history of the 1967 war and what came before it has been so successfully written by the losers that the winners' account is scoffed at incredulously today even by supposedly knowledgeable people.
(New York Sun)

Forty Years Later, Doing Nothing Is the Best Policy - Youssef Ibrahim

It is pointless even to think about structuring new accords with Arab societies that are relentlessly marching toward various stages of radicalism, Islamic or otherwise. It would not help, and it would not hold. As for Israel, going forward with more unilateral evacuations, as in Lebanon and Gaza, has only liberated land for terrorist operations.
(New York Sun)

Forgotten Legal Rights - Dore Gold

Today, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have replaced the Arab states as claimants to the territories that Israel captured and that have been disputed since 1967. Who would suggest placing the holy sites of Jerusalem under Hamas, whose ideological cousins are attacking churches and mosques across the Middle East?
(New York Sun)

Chip off the old block

"Al-Qaeda Franchises" Spreading - Richard Engel

The term "al-Qaeda franchises" [describes] the business of the modern jihad industry. Like a franchise, these al-Qaeda cells are locally owned and operated. They are fully responsible for picking targets, training, smuggling and all of the day-to-day business of jihad.

The franchise home office only provides the overall flavor, guidance and a few secret ingredients.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Reflections on Gaza

Dangerous Illusions - Reuel Marc Gerecht

The Palestinians are in the early stages of their "civil war," and it's impossible to know where it will finish - though one could make a decent guess that in these early rounds, Hamas will win and the illusion of a Palestinian partner for peace will end.
(Weekly Standard)

The Campaign to Delegitimize Israel - David Horovitz
Why are Palestinians still living in refugee camps in Gaza when there is no Israeli presence there?
(Jerusalem Post)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Porous border dangers

A Back Door for Terrorists -Richard A. Clarke

Amid all of the xenophobia and nativism surrounding the immigration debate, there is a real security concern. In the language of the bureaucracy, the problem is referred to as the "O.T.M.'s," or Other Than Mexicans.

Since 9/11, it has been far more difficult to get a visa to enter the United States if you are a citizen of a country considered a terrorism concern. But it is not difficult for a Pakistani, for example, to enter Mexico or another Central American country from which he can get to our border relatively easily, cross it and blend in.

Indeed, those arrested for allegedly planning to attack Fort Dix in New Jersey included illegal immigrants who apparently had little difficulty getting along in this country.

In the absence of a secure border and verifiable biometric identification systems, preventing terrorists from getting in to this country and setting up sleeper cells here is almost impossible. Maybe we will get serious after the next attack.
[New York Times]

Bush and Fatah: blunder

Echoes of 1919 -Caroline Glick

Bush has opted to ignore Fatah's involvement in terrorism, its jihadist indoctrination of Palestinian society and its strategic collaboration with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah, Iran and Syria.

By upholding Fatah, Bush blocked all possibility that an alternative, liberal and democratic Palestinian leadership could emerge. The same pattern has held in Egypt.
[Jerusalem Post]