Friday, August 31, 2007

Knowing the neighborhood

Israel Warned U.S. on Iraq -Gareth Porter

Israeli officials warned the Bush administration that an invasion of Iraq would be destabilizing and urged the U.S. instead to target Iran as the primary enemy, according to Lawrence Wilkerson, a [former] chief of staff for secretary of state Colin Powell.

"The Israelis were telling us Iraq is not the enemy - Iran is the enemy." Wilkerson describes the Israeli message in early 2002 as being, "If you are going to destabilize the balance of power, do it against the main enemy."

The warning against an invasion of Iraq was "pervasive," conveyed to the administration by a wide range of Israeli sources, including political figures, intelligence, and private citizens.

Wilkerson noted that the main point of their communications was not that the U.S. should attack Iran, but that "it should not be distracted by Iraq and Saddam Hussein" from a focus on the threat from Iran.
(Asia Times-Hong Kong)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Assessment of a Gaza move

Crack down on Gaza now -Efraim Inbar

[R]ocket attacks [from Gaza] have intensified, and work continues on extending the range of the rocket[s]. Infiltration attempts by terrorists into Israel have also grown.

While Israel has recently become slightly more active militarily in the Strip, it still shows unnecessary restraint. The fears that a large-scale ground attack in Gaza might be costly in casualties are exaggerated. It's an assumption which needs reassessment. Similar arguments were voiced against a large-scale invasion of Judea and Samaria before Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, and they were proven wrong.

Gaza has yet to be subjected to [serious] military treatment, and this is why the level of violence emanating from Gaza is so high. Moreover, delay in addressing the Hamas challenge might prove more costly in the future, as our experience with Hizbullah in Lebanon has clearly shown.

Strategically, Israel's reluctance to commit troops in battle to deal with Hamas aggression signals weakness. The widespread perception within the Arab world that Israeli society is extremely sensitive to the loss of human life invites enemy violence.

Palestinian dependence on Israel for electricity and water supply should be capitalized on to impress upon the Palestinians that reciprocity is the name of the game...

International law permits a military response, including artillery, aimed at the sources of fire, even if the fire is coming from urban areas. Israel should not hesitate to create a refugee wave by warning about impending fire on residential areas. Such tactics may result in a degree of Palestinian restraint.

[T]he international atmosphere is very conducive to an Israeli strike on Hamas-controlled Gaza... Moreover, if the West is serious about establishing a united front against Iran, Gaza is a good place to start.

Reoccupation of Gaza is not recommended. Israel's goal should be merely defensive - to destroy Gazan capabilities to harm Israel. This means our temporary presence in all places where such capabilities are developed; their destruction and, after the evacuation of Gaza, systematic surgical strikes against reemerging terrorist cells.

The writer is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.
[Jerusalem Post]

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Full Gas in Neutral? -Herb Keinon

Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas are, to borrow the language of a mechanic, putting the pedal to the metal on a car sitting high up on a hydraulic jack.
In other words, it's full gas in neutral.

As swell as it might be that Olmert and Abbas are holding talks, all the optimism and good cheer and willingness to revisit what are essentially the Clinton parameters of 2001 cannot paper over the fact that Abbas can't implement any agreement...

The idea that if you just show the Palestinians a skeleton of a potential agreement, then they will eject Hamas and hop on board the peace train seems somewhat simplistic.
(Jerusalem Post)

Religious vandalism

Israeli Archaeologists Angered Over Holy Site Work -Martin Asser

A group of Israeli archaeologists is protesting about fresh excavations at Jerusalem's holiest religious shrine, saying it threatens priceless relics. Muslim authorities at the Temple Mount are digging a 150-meter trench for water pipes and electricity cables.

The [Islamic] Waqf resumed work using a mechanical digger on a meter-deep trench, cutting through the subsoil. Dr. Gabriel Barkai of Bar-Ilan University, called it an act of barbarism. "They should be using a toothbrush, not a bulldozer."

He accuses the Islamic authorities of wanting to "show who is the boss" by destroying Jewish remains at the site. "The earth here is saturated by history."
(BBC News)

Archaeologists: Muslim Dig Damaged Temple Wall - Etgar Lefkovits

A month-old Islamic dig on Jerusalem's Temple Mount to replace faulty electrical cables has damaged an ancient wall that is likely a remnant of the Second Temple, Israeli archaeologists said Thursday. Among the antiquities that have been damaged are a 7-meter-wide wall that apparently dates back to Second-Temple times and was likely part of the Temple courts, according to Israeli archaeologists from the nonpartisan Committee Against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount.
(Jerusalem Post)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two reflections on Iran

France's Sarkozy Raises Prospect of Iran Airstrikes -Francois Murphy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday a diplomatic push by the world's powers to rein in Tehran's nuclear program was the only alternative to "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."

Sarkozy said a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable and that major powers should continue their policy of incrementally increasing sanctions against Tehran while being open to talks if Iran suspended nuclear activities.

"This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran," he said, adding that it was the worst crisis currently facing the world.

Deadly Persian Provocations -Reuel Marc Gerecht

Iran represents a much greater threat than Europe typically recognizes. It is not a status quo state that favors stability, as most pundits and governments portray it.

Iran is, instead, a radical revolutionary force determined to sow chaos beyond its borders. The mullahs don't want peace in Iraq-just the opposite. The widespread belief (shared by the Iraq Study Group) that Iran wants stability in Iraq is wrong.

[T]he Islamic Republic [is] unlikely to be overwhelmed by moderate tactics. Instead, they seem set to continue killing Americans in Iraq, waiting to see if and when the United States gives up and run for the exits.

The writer, a former Middle East specialist at the CIA, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Muslim groups impeding FBI inquiry?

One of the controversial photos released by the FBI

Debate Swirls Around 2 Men on a Ferry -William Yardley

Earlier this summer a concerned crew member of a Washington State ferry boat snapped pictures of two men who had raised suspicions on several ferry rides by asking questions about structural details and entering areas of the boats that are off limits.

Now, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation released two photographs of the men to the public with the goal of identifying them, a debate has erupted over alleged racial profiling...

Muslim groups have said the release of the photographs amounted to profiling because the men could be perceived as Middle Eastern.

Mr. [Larry] Carr [special agent, F.B.I.] disputed the idea that the agency was profiling based on race or nationality. He noted that the ferry has had 150 million riders since the terror attacks of Sept. 11 and that a great number of those riders had dark skin and were of different nationalities.

“If there’s profiling going on,” Mr. Carr said, “we would have hundreds of these pictures every day.”
[New York Times]

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ideology trumps all

A Nuclear Iran Would Not Be Good -Greg Sheridan

Iran sponsors Shia and Sunni [terror] elements.

Iran is a classic demonstration of the limits of realist theory in foreign relations. It is genuinely motivated by ideology, not by a normal calculus of national interest.

Once Iran possesses nuclear weapons, [i]t can paralyze Israel and render life there unbearable, by moving periodically to nuclear alert, forcing Israel to do the same and effectively chasing out foreign investment and tourists and shutting down industry.

A strike on Iran would be an awesomely dangerous and fraught action to take. Allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons may be equally as dangerous. There are no good options.
(The Australian)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Terror Tweens

Palestinians Send Children to Retrieve Rocket Launchers
-Yuval Azoulay, Yoav Stern and Mijal Grinberg

On Tuesday two figures were seen moving in a field toward rocket launchers immediately after Kassam rockets had been fired on towns in Israel. The two were killed by a tank shell. Later it was learned that they were a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old sent to collect Kassam rocket launchers.

"Every Palestinian, including the militants, knows that anyone who hangs around these launchers is endangering themselves. Children have no business being near Qassam rocket launchers," IDF officers said in a statement last night.

The militants fled immediately after the launch and then sent the children to collect the launchers," a source added.

Unintended consequences

U.S. Training Was Key to Intifada's Success -Aaron Klein

American-run programs that train Fatah militias were instrumental in the "success" of the Palestinian intifada that began in 2000, said Abu Yousuf, a senior officer of Mahmoud Abbas' Force 17 Presidential Guard.

"I do not think that the operations of the Palestinian resistance would have been so successful and would have killed more than one thousand Israelis since 2000 and defeated the Israelis in Gaza without these [official American] trainings," he said.

"All the methods and techniques that we studied in these trainings, we applied them against the Israelis," he added.
(New York Sun)

The Jihadi Goal

Growing Muslim Movement -Mark MacKinnon

[Their] goal is the establishment of a worldwide caliphate, a global Islamic empire. A newly assertive Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) has been showing its strength across the Muslim world, most impressively drawing 100,000 people to a soccer stadium in Indonesia earlier this month.

They noisily called for a return to the time of the caliphs, a line of centuries of Islamic rulers that ended with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire more than 80 years ago.
(Globe and Mail-Canada)

[Note from Bruce: To the western ear, this odd goal sounds unlikely as the Pope announcing that he wishes to return the Church to the relationship it had with Europe a few hundred years ago. However, this is precisely what the Jihadists are seeking...not just to rule the lands they live in, but to rule the world. Minus the religious fuel, this should sound disturbingly familiar.]


Palestinians Back Caliphate over Politics - Carolynne Wheeler
By night, a growing number of supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic fundamentalists who reject modern democracy in favor of a pan-Islamic religious caliphate, gather in the West Bank to recruit the thousands who have grown disillusioned with the vicious stand-off between the secular Fatah and Islamist Hamas.
(Telegraph -- UK)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Early Jihad Education

Hamas' Approach to Jihad: Start Them Young -Dan Murphy

The basic unit of the Hamas organization isn't cells or political committees - it's families. Hamas has shown that by introducing children early enough to its hard-line Islamic thinking, it can recruit lifelong supporters. Hamas is sending tens of thousands of poor Gazan children to camp this summer where they can enjoy sun, surf, and paramilitary training.
(Christian Science Monitor)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wrong move; Sharansky evaluates

Should Hamas Have Participated in Elections? -Peter Baker

Prior to the Palestinian elections, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat down with aides to consider if the elections should be canceled. Israeli leaders had implored Bush advisers to not let the vote proceed. Hamas, deemed a terrorist group by the U.S., could easily win, they warned. Even Natan Sharansky urged the Americans to postpone the vote, arguing that democracy is about building institutions and civil society, not just holding elections.

But Mahmoud Abbas told the Americans that his Fatah party needed the vote for credibility and it had to include his opposition.

Sharansky, whose book [The Case for Democracy] so inspired Bush [said,] "I give him an A for bringing the idea and maybe a C for implementation."

"There is a gap between what he says and what the State Department does, and he is not consistent enough." The challenge Bush faced, Sharansky added, was to bring Washington together behind his goal.

"It didn't happen," he said. "And that's the real tragedy."
(Washington Post )

Friday, August 17, 2007

Abbas wooing Hamas back

The nature of Palestinian Jihad -Caroline Glick

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas stated openly that he seeks to reconcile with Hamas. In his joint press briefing with [the] Japanese Foreign Minister, Abbas called for a "return to national unity." He said, "The split as a result of Hamas's coup is temporary and will be removed."

Both Israel and the US are treating the Palestinian jihad in a manner that completely contradicts the US's strategy for contending with the forces of jihad everywhere else in the world. In stark contrast to the [US] administration's embrace of Fatah and Palestinian statehood, everywhere else in the world, the US works to defeat terrorists and deny them control of territory.
[Jerusalem Post]

Voldemort: The Dark Lord Returns

The Dark Genius of Hizbullah - Jonathan Kay

The 2006 Lebanon War will be remembered as an important milestone in the long war between the West and militant Islam. While the Taliban and al-Qaeda are alienating their would-be followers with nihilistic violence, Hizbullah has developed a strategy that combines terrorism with sophisticated guerilla warfare, state-of-the-art weaponry, savvy public relations, charismatic leadership and state sponsorship. The group's surprisingly strong effort a year ago highlighted at least a half-dozen important innovations in Islamist war-making.

In public relations, al-Qaeda and the Taliban are shadowy organizations that occasionally emit videos full of rambling apocalyptic speechifying. Hizbullah, on the other hand, operates a professional satellite channel, Al-Manar television. When Israeli bombs went astray and killed civilians, Hizbullah media handlers quickly descended on the scene to manage the coverage.
(National Post-Canada)

US hosting terror

Web of Terror
-Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen

Hamas purchased more than 61% of its Internet services from U.S. and Canadian providers.

According to the Patriot Act, everyone affiliated with or supporting them are also deemed terrorists. Thus, North American corporations that sell server space and IP services to Hamas aid and abet a terrorist network.

The U.S. companies selling services to these Hamas Web sites include:;; Network Solutions LLC; OnlineNIC, Inc.;; eNom, Inc.; Defender Technologies Group; and

Canadian firms selling service to Hamas include:
Groupe iWeb Technologies. Inc., Tucows, Inc and

We need not stand helplessly by while terrorist groups work to destroy us. Their Web sites can be shuttered, especially when IP companies are American.
(Washington Times)

Padilla pays the price

Padilla Is Guilty on All Charges
-Abby Goodnough & Scott Shane

[A] federal jury found Jose Padilla guilty of terrorism conspiracy charges after little more than a day of deliberation. Mr. Padilla, a Brooklyn-born convert to Islam who became one of the first Americans designated an “enemy combatant” after Sept. 11, now faces life in prison.

Mr. Padilla’s military detention — and his sudden transfer to the criminal courts in 2006 — made his case the centerpiece of a heated debate over that approach. But some experts said the very success of the prosecution raised doubts about the administration’s insistence that the terrorism threat cannot be handled in the civilian justice system.

Professor Silliman said the treatment of Mr. Padilla at first as an enemy combatant and later as a criminal defendant exposed the “ad-hoc approach” of the administration toward accused terrorists.

But Craig S. Morford, the acting deputy attorney general, said at a news conference in Washington that terrorism must be handled on a case-by-case basis.

The Padilla verdict, he said, “clearly shows that in some cases, yes, the system can handle it.” In other instances, he said, the need to protect secret intelligence and other factors make terrorism cases unsuitable for the criminal justice system.
[New York Times]

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Must we choose poison?

Hamas Optimism vs. Fatah Despair -Dan Murphy

"Audiences in the U.S. have a strong feeling of black and white and they're betting on which side will win based on whether it agrees with them," says Mouin Rabbani, an analyst. "But there's an issue that is overlooked: The virtual disintegration of Fatah."

[T]he local security forces are seen by many average citizens as unruly thugs.
(Christian Science Monitor)

Fatah Legislator Convicted in Tel Aviv Suicide Bombing -Ali Waked

Jamal Tirawi, a Fatah member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was convicted on Wednesday of having been an accomplice in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in March 2002.

According to the indictment, the suicide bomber that blew himself up in a coffee shop in the city made his way to Israel from Tirawi's Nablus home.
(Ynet News)


Spending Aid to Palestinians Wisely - David Aaron and Ross Anthony

The Palestinian institutions of justice are feeble and often nonexistent. In many places there are no police to apprehend criminals, no place to jail them, no courts to try them, no judges, no prosecutors and no defense attorneys.

[M]easures must be put in place to ensure that international aid does not fall into the black hole of corruption. Hamas' election success was fed by public revulsion at blatant official theft by members of Fatah. Abbas will not regain credibility unless he puts an end to it.
(International Herald Tribune)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rudy snubs Bush on MidEast policy

[P]residential hopeful Rudy Giuliani said he opposes creation of a Palestinian state at this time and would take a tough stand with Iran, including destroying its nuclear infrastructure "should all else fail."

Giuliani said "too much emphasis" has been placed on brokering negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians - an apparent swipe at President Bush and Condoleezza Rice, who have been pushing for final status negotiations despite Hamas's takeover of Gaza in June.

"It is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism," the former New York City mayor said.

"Palestinian statehood will have to be earned through sustained good governance, a clear commitment to fighting terrorism, and a willingness to live in peace with Israel," Giuliani said.
[Jerusalem Post]
[Note from Bruce: Though posts about partisan posturing are generally not my concern, this position may interest MidEast watchers looking at potential policy shifts]

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Window of opportunity?

Is there a window of opportunity for Israel-Palestinian peace right now?

True, Abbas is less extreme than Arafat, but he is far weaker. He himself has reportedly admitted that his regime cannot stop terrorist attacks on Israel from the territory it supposedly controls. Fatah is so fossilized, factionalized and corrupt that it is incapable of changing course. Nor does most of the leadership want it to. They would prefer to steal aid money rather than use it effectively. And they don't want to be considered traitors to the cause by pursuing moderation.

Thus, there is no chance of their agreeing to a peace accord ending the conflict.
Politicians should not making fools of themselves by racing around to create peace blueprints, conferences and financial give-aways which will fail in a humiliating manner...
(Jerusalem Post)

A call for new leadership

President Shimon Peres was the principal architect of the disastrous Oslo Accords, but his new proposal extends far beyond his original failed plan.

By accepting a return to the 1967 lines, supposedly described by the late Abba Eban as the "Auschwitz borders," the Peres plan forfeits the April 2004 assurances provided by President Bush to former premier Ariel Sharon and conclusively jettisons any meaningful concept of "defensible borders."

The repercussions of previous unilateral territorial concessions were obviously ignored. They include the outbreak of the first wave of suicide bombings in the wake of Oslo; the failed Clinton-Barak negotiations with Arafat which led to the second intifada; the catastrophic Gaza unilateral disengagement which transformed Israeli citizens in Gush Katif into refugees in their own land and facilitated the subsequent Hamas takeover in Gaza, and the ongoing bombardment of Sderot.

In a nutshell, the evidence clearly demonstrates that, without exception, every Israeli retreat has emboldened jihadists into intensifying the violence. It is simply mind boggling that at a time when utter chaos prevails among the Palestinians, such a bizarre proposal could even be contemplated.

Olmert's Jericho meeting with Abbas indicates that contrary to statements from his spokesmen, he is indeed proceeding in the direction of the Peres recommendations...

To expedite this, Olmert dispensed with the requirement that the PA uproot the terrorist infrastructure as a prerequisite to further Israeli concessions. Instead he facilitated transfers of arms to Fatah which will invariably ultimately be employed against Israelis and undertook to release more terrorists. He also took pride in having granted amnesties to the IDF's most wanted murderers...
[Jerusalem Post]

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dems shift on Iraq

Democratic presidential candidates are setting out positions that could leave the United States engaged in Iraq for years.

[T]he Democratic bumper-sticker message of a quick end to the conflict — however much it appeals to primary voters — oversimplifies the problems likely to be inherited by the next commander in chief.

Democrats are increasingly taking the position, in televised debates and in sessions with voters across the country, that ending a war can be as complicated as starting one.

United States’ security, [Mrs. Clinton] said, would be undermined if part of Iraq turned into a failed state "that serves as a Petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda.”
[New York Times]
[Note from Bruce: I generally avoid posts that cover partisan concerns, however, trends such as these may be of intellectual interest to MidEast watchers]

Friday, August 10, 2007

What is Syria up to?

We're talking about a Hizbullah-style war - but on an immense scale. Syria is currently completing the accelerated deployment of a large rocket arsenal on the Golan aimed at Israel. We're not talking about Katyusha rockets with a few dozen kilograms of explosives, but rather heavy rockets that can carry hundreds of kilograms of explosives and can reach Tel Aviv.

[A]t this time the IDF has no good technological response to heavy rockets. The Syrian army is quickly equipping itself with hundreds of advanced anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets made by Russia and funded by Iran...

The military implication is that Syria is preparing and able to embark on a Hizbullah-style war of attrition...
(Ynet News)

Salsa flavored terror?

Islamic Terrorists Teaming with Mexican Drug Cartels -Sara A. Carter

An El Paso, Texas, law enforcement report documents the influx of "approximately 20 Arab persons a week utilizing the Travis County Court in Austin to change their names and driver's licenses from Arabic to Hispanic surnames."
(Washington Times)

Letting imagination run wild?

Imaginary Coalitions -Caroline Glick

The Olmert government's policies towards Hamas today are driven by its presumption of a partnership with Fatah and Egypt. The government asserts that both Fatah and Egypt share Israel's goal of limiting Hamas's power to the Gaza Strip in the short run and overthrowing the jihadist movement in the long run. But reality tells a different tale.

This week, we learned that the $100 million that Israel transferred to Salaam Fayad's Fatah government last month was used to pay the annual salaries of soldiers in Hamas's army in Gaza. Then too, this week it was reported that far from eschewing Hamas politically, Fatah is engaged in intense discussions with Hamas towards the establishment of a new Hamas-Fatah government. Far from cooperating with Israel in weakening Hamas, Fatah is actively maintaining Hamas's strength.

Rather than acknowledge that Fatah, Egypt and UNIFIL share none of Israel's national interests, the government continues to embrace them and hopes that no one will notice that its imaginary coalition partners endanger, rather than advance Israel's national security.
[Jerusalem Post]
[Art Credit: Le collectionneur by Gilbert Garcin]

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Maintain diplomatic gain

Don't Relinquish the Road Map -Dov Weisglass

The Road Map constitutes recognition on the part of the majority of the international community, of Israel's right not to accept a Palestinian state, as long as it cannot guarantee that it can prevent terror from within its territory.

This premise must not be relinquished and should not be ruined.

The writer was former Prime Minister Sharon's bureau chief and senior adviser.
(Ynet News)

Could Iraq turn?

Sunnis in Iraq:
Tentative Alliance with U.S.

-Ann Scott Tyson

[A] Sunni insurgent leader explained why he stopped attacking Americans: "Finally, we decided to cooperate with American forces and kick al-Qaeda out and have our own country." Abu Lwat is one of a growing number of Sunni fighters working with U.S. forces.

The tentative cooperation is driven as much by political aspirations as by a rejection of the brutal methods of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, U.S. officers and one-time insurgents said. "This is much less about al-Qaeda overstepping than about them [Sunnis] realizing that they've lost," said Lt. Col. Douglas Ollivant.

As a result, Sunni groups are now "desperately trying to cut deals with us," he said. "This is all about the Sunnis' 'rightful' place to rule" in a future Iraqi government, he said.
(Washington Post)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lethal graduation

Israeli Shot by Palestinian:
High School Graduation Blamed

-Roni Singer Heruti

A man was shot and wounded in central Israel while traveling on Route 6, which at some points runs adjacent to the separation fence with the West Bank. Police said the shots came from the West Bank and struck the driver in the chest.

[I]t appears the man was hit by a stray bullet fired in the air during celebrations at a high school graduation in a nearby Palestinian village.

Blood brothers and brothers in blood

Fatah and Hamas officials said Tuesday they are conducting secret talks, after PA Chairman Abbas told Prime Minister Olmert during their meeting in Jericho on Monday that he had no plans to talk to Hamas.
(Jerusalem Post)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ignoring Lebanon's important war with Jihad

Israel Judged by Double Standard -Ezra Levant

A Western ally in the Middle East, armed with U.S. weapons, attacked Muslim guerrillas in a Palestinian refugee camp last week, killing seven. No Western newspaper has run a banner headline about a "massacre" and no emergency meetings of the UN have been convened. That's because the Western ally rooting out terrorists was Lebanon, not Israel. Since May 20, Lebanon has been engaged in a mini-war against Fatah al-Islam, a Muslim terrorist group holed up in Nahr el-Bared.

Lebanon's military action has been less careful than Israel, which would never have used artillery to root out terrorists from populated areas as Lebanon has done. The Lebanese are not as concerned about the niceties of Western public opinion, and the yawning silence of the West in the face of 200 casualties shows the fickle nature of the media and the UN.

Why are military strikes by Israel news, but not those by Lebanon? Why is an Arab killed by a Jew news, but not an Arab killed by an Arab?
(Calgary Sun)

Unwise risk

Will Fear of Iran Help Peace Process? -Gideon Rachman

A new theory making the rounds argues that the rise of Iran is scary enough to give all sides in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute a new interest in finding a settlement. But fear of Iran still seems unlikely to be powerful enough to compel the Saudis to recognize Israel.

Furthermore, the Israeli military - backed by public opinion - is unwilling to take the risk of handing control of security on the West Bank back to the Palestinians. Rocket attacks have been launched against Israel from Lebanon and from Gaza. Similar attacks from the West Bank could hit Israel's big cities.

In addition, memories of the suicide bombings that killed 1,000 Israelis have hugely undermined public willingness to take risks with security.
(Financial Times-UK)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Handy baseball skills!

U.S. Immigrant Awarded IDF Medal of Valor -Michael Medved

In last summer's war against the Hizbullah terrorists, Lt. Eli Kahn, 23, led a unit of paratrooper commandos against heavily defended Hizbullah positions...

The Israelis drew unexpectedly intense fire and sustained heavy casualties. While tending to one of his wounded soldiers, Kahn saw a terrorist run toward them and throw a grenade that landed at their feet. Kahn picked up the grenade and threw it back at the Hizbullah fighter - killing him. For his leadership and quick thinking, he received the Medal of Valor.

His father, Howie Kahn, remembered that his boy played Little League before the family immigrated to Israel from the U.S. and suggested that his skills as a slick-fielding shortstop paid off on the field of battle.

Straight talk

Magdi Allam

New "Salman Rushdie" in Italy?

Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born Italian journalist and editor of Italy's most influential newspaper, is again at the center of the storm following his seventh book, Viva Israele (Long Live Israel).

The book is the tale of his life under the regime of Egyptian President Nasser. According to Allam, Nasser is responsible for having turned Egypt - and the rest of the Arab world - into the cradle of the "ideology of death." Allam claims Nasser brought about an aggressive pan-Arabic dream based on the denial of Israel's right to exist.

More straight talk

Why Are We So Scared of Offending Muslims? -Christopher Hitchens

As one who has occasionally challenged Islamic propaganda in public and been told that I have thereby "insulted 1.5 billion Muslims," I can say what I suspect - which is that there is an unmistakable note of menace behind that claim. No, I do not think for a moment that Mohammed took a "night journey" to Jerusalem on a winged horse. And I do not care if 10 billion people intone the contrary. Nor should I have to. But the plain fact is that the believable threat of violence undergirds the Muslim demand for "respect."

Islamists are the current leaders in the global book-burning competition. After the rumor of a Koran down the toilet in Guantanamo was irresponsibly spread, a mob in Afghanistan burned down an ancient library that (as President Hamid Karzai pointed out dryly) contained several ancient copies of the same book.

The enemies of intolerance cannot be tolerant, or neutral, without inviting their own suicide. And the advocates and apologists of bigotry and censorship and suicide-assassination cannot be permitted to take shelter any longer under the umbrella of a pluralism that they openly seek to destroy.

Sitting on the fence for 60 years

Arabs on the Fence -Editorial

The Arab states, not the Palestinians, we must remember, created the Arab-Israeli conflict. These states played a major role in tipping the scales toward radical Palestinians before Israel's establishment, invaded Israel in 1948, and created the PLO in 1964, when Gaza, Judea and Samaria were held by Egypt and Jordan. For the last 60 years, including during the heyday of the peace process in the mid-1990s, most Arab states have continued to wage diplomatic warfare against Israel, maintaining their trade and diplomatic boycotts.

The Arab states cannot have it both ways. They cannot urge the U.S. to act while barely lifting a finger to remove impediments to action that are largely of their own making and certainly within their power to ameliorate. The Saudis and other Arab states can take serious steps to dismantle the monster they created and continue to feed: the Arab-Israeli conflict. Attending a conference would be nice, but it is substance that matters.

The key substantive things they can do is to stop their diplomatic warfare against Israel, drop their illegal trade boycotts, combat the rampant anti-Semitism in their countries, and start openly breaking it to the Palestinians that their "right of return" can only be to a future state of Palestine, not to Israel.
(Jerusalem Post)

Parrot talk

Palestinian Leaders Say What the Americans Want to Hear -Meron Benvenisti

After years of bloodshed that has brought the Palestinians only terrible disaster, Prime Minister Salam Fayad is returning to the formulas that his teacher and spiritual mentor Yasser Arafat declaimed when he was on the skids after the first Gulf War and was in desperate need of American aid. In moments of weakness, Palestinian leaders say what the Americans want to hear.

A new generation of Fatah people will extend their hands into the coffers of the Palestinian Authority, which will fill up again with donations from the international community.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Palestinian intellectual trends

Professor Mohammed Dajani

West Bank Scholars Push for Spiritual Reply to Hamas Extremism -Joshua Mitnick

The recent dominance of Islamic politics in Palestinian life is part of a pan-Arab trend in which religious parties have become the main opposition to regimes perceived as corrupt and undemocratic, says Hanna Siniora, codirector of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information in Jerusalem. "[I]t is becoming fashionable in the Arab world to be an Islamist," he said.

Mohammed Dajani, a political science professor at Al Quds University, argues that the only way to challenge Hamas is by setting up a separate religious party that will push interpretations of Islam that back non-violence and tolerance. Dajani named his party Wasatia - a term used in the Koran that means moderation. "What we want to do is change the culture of the people," he says. "Our goal is to teach youth that suicide bombing is not Islam."
(Christian Science Monitor)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rethinking ceasefire

Hizbullah Officer: We Would Have Given Up If Not for Cease-Fire

"The cease-fire acted as a life jacket for the organization [at the end of the Second Lebanon War]," a Hizbullah officer said in an interview...

The officer said Hizbullah gunmen would have surrendered if the fighting last summer had continued for another ten days. He said the gunmen had been running low on food and water and faced rapidly diminishing arms supplies.
(Jerusalem Post)