Friday, November 30, 2007

SANTA: no show in Annapolis

In the Middle East, You Can't Buy Peace -Ralph Peters

It's the American way: a can-do spirit, the conviction that no problem's too tough for us. But, in the real world some foreign problems can't be resolved.

Whether the American administration is Republican or Democrat, it pressures Israel for concessions - since the Arabs won't make any.

Yes, there's merit just in bringing folks together and keeping them talking. But the baseline difficulty is that we want to solve problems for people who don't really want those problems solved.

If you want a sober perspective on the Annapolis dog-and-pony show, just ask yourself this: Who will leave disappointed, if nothing much results?

The Arabs won't care. They came because we got on our knees and begged.

The Israelis will just be relieved that their latest trip to the geostrategic dentist is over.

Any Russians soiling the furniture at the Naval Academy will be delighted if another American effort flops.

And the Europeans just popped in to check the "we care" box.

The only unhappy campers will be us. We set ourselves up. Again.

Oh, and even if there's some sort of agreement, only the Israelis will honor it.

We're dealing with people who are fighting for their lives and homes.

By electing ourselves as the Middle East's indispensable problem-solvers, we've just put ourselves on the blame line for other people's problems.

Santa won't show up at Annapolis. If he did, the best gift he could bring the Bush administration and its Democratic rivals would be a sense of reality: It's a lot easier to believe in Santa than in Arabs accepting a just peace with Israel.
(New York Post)

Back door woman

Not peace -Caroline Glick

[I]n accordance with Saudi demands, the Americans prohibited Israeli representatives from entering the hall through the same door as the Arabs.

At the meeting of foreign ministers, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called her Arab counterparts to task for their discriminatory treatment. "Why doesn't anyone want to shake my hand? Why doesn't anyone want to be seen speaking to me?" she asked pointedly.

Israel's humiliated foreign minister did not receive support from her American counterpart. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who spent her childhood years in the segregated American South, sided with the Arabs. As she put it, "I know what it is like to hear that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are a Palestinian. I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness."

[F]or the Secretary of State there is no difference between Israelis trying to defend themselves from a jihadist Palestinian society which supports the destruction of the Jewish state and bigoted white Southerners who oppressed African Americans because of the color of their skin.

[A]s far as Rice is concerned, the Palestinians are the innocent victims. They are the ones who are discriminated against and humiliated, not Livni, who was forced - by Rice - to enter the conference through the service entrance.
[Jerusalem Post]

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Arab Rejectionism from Palestinian moderates

Salam Fayad, PA prime minister and Rice

Accept Israel as the Jewish State? -Daniel Pipes

Surprisingly, something useful has emerged from the misconceived Annapolis meeting. Breaking with his predecessors, Olmert has boldly demanded that his Palestinian bargaining partners accept Israel's permanent existence as a Jewish state, thereby evoking a revealing response.

The Palestinian leadership responded quickly and unequivocally to Olmert's demand:

Salam Fayad, Palestinian Authority "prime minister": "Israel can define itself as it likes, but the Palestinians will not recognize it as a Jewish state."
Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's executive committee: "This issue is not on the table..."
Ahmad Qurei, chief Palestinian negotiator: "This [demand] is absolutely refused."
Saeb Erekat, head of the PLO Negotiations Department: "The Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity."

Arab recognition of Israel's Jewish nature must have top diplomatic priority.
[Jerusalem Post]

France explodes again: will it spread?

Suburban Paris explodes...again

Three Nights of Rioting in French Immigrant Suburbs -Elaine Sciolino

While the scale of the unrest of the past few days among the offspring of Arab immigrants in France, does not yet compare with the three-week convulsion in hundreds of suburbs and towns in 2005, a chilling new factor makes it more menacing.

The one-time rock throwers and car burners have taken up hunting shotguns and turned them on the police. More than 100 officers have been wounded, several seriously. Thirty were hit with buckshot and pellets from shotguns, said Patrice Ribeiro, a police spokesman.
(New York Times)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Fantasy

Bush at Annapolis

President Bush said Tuesday at Annapolis: "We meet to lay the foundation for the establishment of a new nation - a democratic Palestinian state that will live side by side with Israel in peace and security."

"The emergence of responsible Palestinian leaders has given Israeli leaders the confidence they need to reach out to the Palestinians in true partnership."
(White House)

Gathering Israelis and Arabs: the Real Feat -Michael Abramowitz

Some experts suggested that getting 16 senior Arab officials into the same room as the Israeli leader might have been the signal achievement of Tuesday's peace conference.
(Washington Post)

The Reality

Violence Is a Way of Life -Paul Martin

"We have orders not to fire any rockets on Tuesday because of the Annapolis summit, but we can resume normal activities after the summit ends," Haroon explained, claiming he is totally loyal to the political leadership of Fatah.
(Washington Times)

Israeli Troops Essential in West Bank -Barbara Opall-Rome

"There's no way to control terror without a persistent physical presence," said Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, the recently retired head of Israel's Central Command with responsibility for the West Bank and Jerusalem.

"I don't want to control the population, but I do want to control terror. And that requires presence in the sector at all times," Naveh said.
(Defense News)

The Challenge of Annapolis -David Horovitz

Palestinians discern a pattern of unilateral concession from Israel and see no incentive or imperative to compromise at all.

Israel has left Gaza. It is talking about leaving all of the West Bank, albeit with settlement bloc adjustments. It is talking about unprecedented concessions in east Jerusalem. It is finding no answer to rocket attacks from Gaza and proved vulnerable to attack from south Lebanon.

So why hurry, they ask, to compromise on the refugee issue and other maximalist demands?
(Jerusalem Post)


After Annapolis: PA TV Shows "Palestine" Map Erasing Israel -Itamar Marcus & Barbara Crook
An information clip broadcast after the Annapolis meeting on Abbas-controlled Palestinian television shows a map in which Israel is painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag, symbolizing Israel turned into a Palestinian state. The description of all of the State of Israel as "Palestine" is part of a formal, systematic educational approach throughout the Palestinian Authority.
(Palestinian Media Watch)

Arab Representatives in U.S. Shun Israeli Foreign Minister -Herb Keinon Foreign Minister Tzipi
Livni failed in attempts to set up meetings in Annapolis or Washington with colleagues from the Arab world, even though the summit was designed to show international support for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israeli officials interpreted this as evidence that the Arab world had not changed its fundamental policy that there would be no warming of relations with Israel... (Jerusalem Post)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jihad can be funny

Enjoy this short, 3 minute clip of Jeff Dunham and the suicide bomber skeleton.
Warning: some foul language and inuendo

Center Stage: Circus or Summit?

There is no Israeli flag flying from any of the flagpoles outside the Washington hotel where Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Israeli delegation are staying for this week's Annapolis summit. Security concerns, presumably.

A short drive away, at the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's hotel, by contrast, the Palestinian flag waves high and proud. And, inside, members of the Palestinian delegation are only too happy to publicize their presence and spread their message.

Whatever comes out of Tuesday's conference, the Palestinians have reasons to be cheerful. Abbas's authority is being publicly bolstered by a grand show of support from across the Arab world and beyond.
[Jerusalem Post]
When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid Syrian strongman Bashar Assad a [visit] back in April, President Bush denounced her for sending "mixed signals" that "lead the Assad government to believe they are part of the mainstream of the international community, when in fact they are a state sponsor of terror."

On Tuesday, said sponsor of terror will take its place at the table Rice has set for the Middle Eastern conference in Annapolis.

(Wall Street Journal)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Shedding light on Annapolis

Bush to Stay on Sidelines of Mideast Talks -Paul Richter

Bush's positions suggest there may be a gap between his views and those of Rice...
(Los Angeles Times)

A Diplomatic Show of Force -Ron Ben-Yishai

The major objective of the U.S. is to produce a diplomatic show of force in Annapolis that would make it clear how robust Washington's status is in the Mideast region and in global politics.

America currently needs a show of force that will reunite the pro-Western camp around it and encourage its allies to continue the struggle against radical Islam's belligerent intention to take over the region.
(Ynet News)

Is the Conflict about the Size of Israel, or About Its Existence?
-Bernard Lewis

Paradoxically, if a Palestinian fled to Britain or America, he was eligible for naturalization after five years, and his locally-born children were citizens by birth. If he went to Syria, Lebanon or Iraq, he and his descendants remained stateless, now entering the fourth or fifth generation.

The reason for this has been stated by various Arab spokesmen. It is the need to preserve the Palestinians as a separate entity until the time when they will return and reclaim the whole of Palestine; that is to say, all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel. The demand for the "return" of the refugees, in other words, means the destruction of Israel. This is highly unlikely to be approved by any Israeli government.

Which brings us back to the Annapolis summit. If the issue is not the size of Israel, but its existence, negotiations are foredoomed. And in light of the past record, it is clear that is and will remain the issue, until the Arab leadership either achieves or renounces its purpose - to destroy Israel. Both seem equally unlikely for the time being.
(Wall Street Journal, 26Nov07)

Seeding jihad

Scott Atran, PhD

Where Boys Grow Up to Be Jihadis -Andrea Elliott

Increasingly, terrorism analysts have focused on the importance of social milieu. [T]errorists are not loners, overcome by a militant cause. They radicalize together with others who share the same passions.

Terrorists don't simply die for a cause, Scott Atran, an anthropologist who studies terrorism, told me. "They die for each other."
(New York Times Magazine)

Friday, November 23, 2007

The tame ones are freed

List of Palestinians Slated for Release

The government of Israel has confirmed the release of 431 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture before the Annapolis conference.

They had been jailed for offenses including: shooting at people, throwing Molotov cocktails, manufacture of explosive material, placement of an explosive device with intent to cause death, and throwing pipe bombs.
(Israel Prison Service/IMRA)

Saddam's Chess Game?

Former federal prosecutor and the head of the non-governmental International Intelligence Summit, John Loftus, has released a report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, based on a private study of captured Iraqi documents.

As Loftus summarized, "Roughly one-quarter of Saddam's WMD was destroyed under UN pressure during the early to mid-1990s. Saddam sold approximately another quarter of his weapons stockpile to his Arab neighbors during the mid-to-late-1990s. The Russians insisted on removing another quarter in the last few months before the war."

"The last remaining WMD, the contents of Saddam's nuclear weapons labs, were still inside Iraq on the day when the coalition forces arrived in 2003. His nuclear weapons equipment was hidden in enormous underwater warehouses beneath the Euphrates River. Saddam's entire nuclear inventory was later stolen from these warehouses."

Loftus then cites Israeli sources who claim that the Iraqi nuclear program was transferred to Syria. Israel reportedly destroyed a Syrian nuclear installation.
(Jerusalem Post)

Give 'em bullets to shoot you with

Prime Minister Olmert has approved the supply of 25 armored vehicles to the Palestinian security services in the West Bank as a goodwill gesture to Mahmoud Abbas ahead of the Annapolis peace conference. The Palestinians will also receive from Israel two million bullets supplied by Jordan.

The Prime Minister's Office denied previous reports that Israel would supply 50 armored vehicles and 1,000 rifles to the Palestinians.
(Ynet News)

"Yet another finger of the Islamic Revolution"

The Annapolis Fiasco -Brett Stevens

"Annapolis" was conceived earlier this year by the Bush administration as a landmark conference... [T]he operative theory is that Israel's neighbors, fearful of Iran's growing regional clout, have a newfound interest in putting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to rest.

On the contrary, [Israelis believe] that such a [Palestinian] state would become yet another finger of the Islamic Revolution...
(Wall Street Journal)

Unpopular Child -Hillel Halkin

The Annapolis conference represents the kind of mistaken thinking that has characterized every American or international attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 1991 Madrid Conference: Namely, the belief that there is something in the world of diplomacy called "process" that has an intrinsically positive momentum of its own capable of overcoming deep disagreements on substance between two sides to a dispute.

This is nonsense. There is nothing intrinsically positive about any diplomatic process. Such processes work when potential points of agreement already exist and can be focused on. When they don't exist, all the processes in the world can't conjure them up.
(New York Sun)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving wishes to friends in the USA

Who's teaching at our universities?

Hamas Supporter Gets 11 Years -Mike Robinson

Abdelhaleem Ashqar, 49, Associate Professor of Business at Washington's Howard University, accused of taking part in a Palestinian terrorist network, was sentenced to 11 years in prison...

VideoBite: Rare Israeli Military Footage

Video: IDF Hits Palestinian Rocket Cell in Gaza
-Hanan Greenberg

The IDF Tuesday released a video of a Palestinian terror cell in Gaza preparing to launch Kassam rockets towards Israel last week. After army intelligence makes a positive identification and confirms the men are not civilians, the IDF attacks the cell, killing all four cell members and destroying the rocket launchers.
(Ynet News)

Professor Uzi Even

Something Far More Vicious Targeted by Israel -Yossi Melman

[T]he prevailing assumption [was] that [Israel's] target was a nuclear reactor under construction that would have enabled Syria to produce plutonium to manufacture a nuclear bomb.

But Prof. Uzi Even of Tel Aviv University is challenging this conclusion.

In the satellite photos of the structure in Syria there is no chimney, which is necessary for the emission of radioactive gases. No less strange is the fact that the "reactor" did not have cooling towers.

"In my estimation this was something very nasty and vicious, and even more dangerous than a reactor," says Even. "I suspect that it was a plant for processing plutonium, namely a factory for assembling the bomb." In other words, Syria already had several kilograms of plutonium.

Satellite photos taken after the bombing clearly show that the Syrians made an effort to bury the entire site under piles of earth. "They did so because of the lethal nature of the material that was in the structure, and that can be plutonium," he said.

"Don't tread lightly"

Treading Lightly upon Muslim Sensibilities Is an Error

The premise of Western policy is to tread lightly upon Muslim sensibilities. That is an error of first magnitude, for Muslim sensibilities are what prevents the Islamic world from creating modern states. Free elections in Muslim lands tend to hand power to fanatical despots.

Because success is central to Islam's promise, and the restoration of the Jewish commonwealth in its historic territory along with its ancient capital validate[s] Jewish scripture rather than the Koran, Israel offers an existential challenge to the Muslim world. Muslims will never accept the permanent presence of Israel unless compelled.
(Asia Times-Hong Kong)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Who's amused?

When a reporter asked about the aims of his visit, Venezuelan President Chavez quipped: "I came to look for an atomic bomb, and I've got it here. If anyone should cross me, I'll fire it."
(Oil Week-Canada)

Getting it backwards

Iran and Annapolis -Editorial

The idea that brokering an Arab-Israeli peace would be a setback for Iran is a valid one. An end to the century-long Arab campaign to prevent Israel's founding and seek its destruction would indeed be a tremendous feather in the West's cap and a major defeat for the jihadi camp. It should go without saying that this is the dream of the Israeli people and of every Israeli leader.

There is a problem, however, with the American theory: It suffers from a high degree of circularity. Essentially, it proposes that fear of Iran is producing an opportunity... If anything, the arrow of causality points much more strongly in the other direction: Arab-Israeli peace depends on preventing the current Iranian regime from becoming a nuclear power.

This is so because if that regime is allowed to go nuclear, all of the most radical forces in the region - from Hizbullah to Hamas to al-Qaida - will suddenly enjoy a tailwind from Teheran. For the first time, the world's most dangerous terrorist regimes will have their own nuclear umbrella. The opportunity that the US has identified will instead be brought to a close, as Arab regimes are forced to accommodate Iran rather than the US.

Accordingly, the idea of setting a deadline for wrapping up an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is missing something as important: a deadline for turning back the Iranian threat.
[Jerusalem Post]

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Diplomacy with the Devil"

Diplomacy with the Devil -Danielle Pletka

Back in 2001, the newly minted Bush administration was scornful of Bill Clinton's efforts to build a Palestinian state with a terrorist government in place. Bush refused to allow Arafat to darken the White House door and said he would "not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists."
(New York Times)

Olmert caves: he'll negotiate under fire

U.S. Pushes Israel to Increase Turnout at Conference -Steven Erlanger

By pushing Israel to accept immediate negotiations with the Palestinians on the thorny "final status" issues, with the aim to conclude a peace settlement within a year, the Bush administration is trying to attract a significant Arab presence at the peace conference in Annapolis.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's main concession so far: to agree to have final-status negotiations with Abbas before the road map first stage is carried out.
(New York Times)

Looming storm

Hamas Obtaining Military Capabilities Like Hizbullah -Hanan Greenberg

According to intelligence sources, Hamas is just 2-3 years away from obtaining the same military capabilities it took Hizbullah a decade to obtain.
(Ynet News)

Militias roam free

Palestinian Militias Against Handing Over Guns -Khaled Abu Toameh

PA Interior Minister Abdel Razzak Yahya confirmed that the PA leadership had promised Israel to dismantle all militias and armed groups in the West Bank ahead of the Annapolis peace conference.

"They are making many arrests, but it's mostly of suspects involved in petty crime," said a prominent Nablus businessman. "
[Jerusalem Post]

Friday, November 16, 2007

Saudi outrage

200 Lashes for Rape Victim -Rasheed Abou-Alsamh

A Saudi court on Tuesday more than doubled the number of lashes that a female rape victim was sentenced to after her lawyer called his client's conviction unjust and said the sentences of the seven men who raped her were too lenient.

Lashing is a common sentence under the Saudi penal code, applied for crimes ranging from homosexuality and drinking alcohol to theft and adultery. The sentence is frequently delivered in public...
(New York Times)

Saudi Arabia Marks 136th Beheading of 2007
The execution brought to 136 the number of people beheaded in the kingdom this year. Saudi Arabia beheaded 38 people last year and 83 people in 2005.
(AP/FOX News)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lessons from Rachel's Tomb

Views of Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem,
from the early 1900's
thru today's fortress-like structure.
Military escorts and bullet-proof buses are required in order to access this popular Jewish holy site.

Palestinian Authority and Jewish Holy Sites: Rachel's Tomb as a Test Case
-Nadav Shragai

[F]or more than 1,700 years [the site] has been identified as the tomb of the [Biblical] matriarch Rachel.

"The building with the dome and olive tree" became a Jewish symbol, appearing in thousands of drawings, photographs, and works of art and depicted on the covers of Jewish holy books. However, today the little domed structure has been encased in a sleeve of reinforced concrete with firing holes and defensive trenches, and covered with camouflage netting.

[T]he State of Israel has been badly disappointed by agreements transferring responsibility for Jewish holy places to neighboring Arab or Palestinian rule. [In] 1995, [an] Interim Agreement was signed on the White House lawn, making the Palestinians responsible for areas of the West Bank.

With the outbreak of the second intifada in the fall of 2000, Joseph's Tomb in Nablus was attacked, set ablaze and desecrated. [A] synagogue in Jericho was attacked. Holy books and relics were burned, and the synagogue's ancient mosaic was damaged.

Bullets were fired at Rachel's Tomb as soon as the riots began. Palestinian security forces not only failed to prevent the violence, they actively participated in it. Two Israeli soldiers were killed in the battles.

Unfortunately, there has been a discernable deterioration in Palestinian treatment of Jewish holy sites in 2007, including the Tomb of Joshua. Israel's experience since the Oslo agreements has shown that the responsibility for Jewish holy sites or the roads leading to them should remain in Israeli hands.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Assessing Hamas' troubles

Hamas Lost in Gaza -Guy Bechor

Today, the Hamas state is boycotted by all global elements, with the exception of Iran. However, the ties with Iran are turning out to do more damage than good.

They indeed bring in tens of millions of dollars a year, but they have tainted Hamas' image in the eyes of the [Sunni] Arab world and in the eyes of some Palestinians themselves. Hamas is being portrayed as a servant of a foreign phenomenon.
(Ynet News)

Hamas Kills Palestinian Who Objected to Shooting at Israelis

On Saturday, Ahmed Suleiman Abu Meghassib, 25, from Gaza, died from a gunshot in the back fired by Palestinian militants when he attempted to prevent them from getting close to his house to fire at Israeli military posts.
(Palestinian Center for Human Rights)

Economic Woes Behind New Unrest in Gaza -Karin Laub

The backdrop to the violence in Gaza: skeletons of unfinished apartment towers, shuttered factories, empty store shelves and skyrocketing prices for bread and cigarettes after five months of rule by the Islamic militants of Hamas and isolation from the world.
Still, Hamas' grip on power doesn't appear in serious danger.

Hamas Puts Down Gaza Schoolgirl Demonstration -Paul Martin & David Byers

The headscarved students had gathered in front of the town's police station chanting "Shia, Shia, Shia," a derogatory reference to Iran's backing of Hamas, after going on strike in protest at the killings of Fatah members.

Dangerous carelessness

Ex-FBI Employee Raises New Security Concerns -Joby Warrick & Dan Eggen

A Lebanese national who fraudulently gained U.S. citizenship through a sham marriage managed to obtain sensitive jobs at both the FBI and CIA, and at one point used her security clearance to access restricted files about the terrorist group Hizbullah, according to court documents.

U.S. officials say there is no evidence that Nada Nadim Prouty, 37, passed secrets to Hizbullah, but Prouty's ability to conceal her past from two of the nation's top anti-terrorism agencies raised new concerns about their vulnerability to infiltration.
(Washington Post)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Arab Rejectionism 2007-style

Chief PLO Negotiator: We Will Not Accept "Jewish State"
-Barak Ravid

Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, rejected Palestinians recogniz[ing] Israel as a Jewish state.

The Crime of Being a Jewish State
-Bradley Burston

If Palestinians cannot bring themselves to accept a Jewish Israel, there is always the default option. For Palestinians to choose not to accept a Jewish state is to choose statelessness.

Is Israel a Jewish State? - Jeff Jacoby

If the more than 55 countries that make up the Organization of the Islamic Conference are entitled to recognition as Muslim states, and if the 22 members of the Arab League are universally accepted as Arab states, why should anyone balk at acknowledging Israel as the world's lone Jewish state?

In no region of the world do countries so routinely link their national character to a specific religion as in the Muslim Middle East. The flag of Saudi Arabia features the Islamic declaration of faith; on the Iranian flag, the Islamic phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is great") appears 22 times. In the Palestinian Authority's Basic Law, Article 4 provides that "Islam is the official religion in Palestine."

The refusal of the Palestinian Authority to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate Jewish state isn't a denial of reality; it is a sign of their determination to change that reality. Like Arab leaders going back a century, they seek not to live in peace with the Jewish state, but in place of the Jewish state.
(Boston Globe)

The Recognition Sham -Editorial

The Palestinian refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state suggests that all their solemn and myriad expressions of Israel's right to exist did not mean anything. If Israel is not a Jewish state, it is Palestine, which is exactly the[ir] point.

There is no way for Israelis to understand the refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state other than as a rejection of the two-state solution and the embrace of the "strategy of stages," whereby a Palestinian state is not an end of claims against Israel, but a down-payment toward Israel's destruction. As Olmert says, there is no point in entering a "peace process" on this basis. Without mutual recognition, there is no basis for negotiation.
(Jerusalem Post)

Monday, November 12, 2007


U.S. and Israel Play Down Hopes for Peace Talks -Steven Erlanger

The long buildup to Annapolis, together with Ms. Rice's many trips to the region, have given birth to a new verb in Israeli government circles: "lecondel," meaning, to come and go for meetings that produce few results.

The word is based on Ms. Rice's first name.
(New York Times)

Strategic challenge

The Challenge of Assessment
-Shabtai Shavit

Should fighting terrorism be based on reaction or on pre-emption? Since there is an ongoing war, since the threat is permanent, since the intention of the enemy in this case is to annihilate you, the right doctrine is one of pre-emption and not of reaction.

The writer was former head of the Mossad.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Holiday Greetings from Osama?

FBI: Al-Qaeda May Strike U.S. Shopping Malls -Richard Esposito & Vic Walter

The FBI is warning that al-Qaeda may be preparing a series of holiday attacks on U.S. shopping malls in Los Angeles and Chicago, according to an intelligence report distributed to law enforcement authorities. The alert said al-Qaeda "hoped to disrupt the U.S. economy and has been planning the attack for the past two years."
(ABC News)

Beauty above

Half Billion Birds Flock to Galilee Migration Paradise -Jacques Pinto

Around half a billion birds flee the European winter and pass through the Hula Valley in northern Israel's Upper Galilee.At this time of year, more than 400 known bird species will cross the region, pausing to rest for several days before heading off to find winter homes in Africa.

In a magical sight, the air fills with thousands of cranes soaring and twirling in the sky.
(Agence France Presse)

Looking forward and tough words

In the Next War, Expect Missile Attacks -Amos Harel

[I]n the future [if] Israel gets into a war with the conventional army of a neighboring country, the missile and rocket threat the country will face will make the Second Lebanon War look like child's play.

On several occasions, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has said that in case of war, one of his main objectives would be that, at the end, "no one will ask who won, because it will be obvious that we won."

"La La Land"

Annapolis: A Journey to La-La Land -Yoel Marcus

Rice will go back to Stanford University and write her memoirs, and Bush will build his library and ride horses at his ranch.

But we will still be here, as Hizbullah, Hamas and other terror organizations, gear up for the next round.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Columbia fallout

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

Americans Turning Hawkish on Iran -James D. Besser

A majority of Americans now support military action to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. A national survey conducted by Zogby International shows that slightly more than half of Americans now favor a strike against Iran before it becomes a nuclear power.

"We have seen a dramatic shift in public opinion in the past 12 months, and particularly since Ahmadinejad came to Columbia," said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of The Israel Project.
(New York Jewish Week)

Shifting gears

The Missing Arab Psychological Shift

For years, the notion of creating a Palestinian state was rejected by most Israelis and even by the U.S. government. The U.S. and Israeli positions have changed beyond recognition in this respect, and this sea change in Israel has permeated the public and transformed our politics.

By contrast, no Arab or Palestinian leader has uttered the words "Jewish state." Defending the notion of Jewish national rights in [the Arab world] is still taboo. It is on creating this "psychological shift" on the Palestinian/Arab side that international diplomacy must explicitly focus, rather than continuing to pretend that it has already happened.

Such an Arab shift would directly dismantle the obstacle at the heart of the conflict.
(Jerusalem Post)

Eliezer regrets Gaza pullout (so do citizens of Sderot)

Benjamin Ben-Eliezer with Ariel Sharon [in healthier days]

"I admit and confess," Ben Eliezer said, "I was with those who strongly supported [former prime minister] Ariel Sharon, and today I say: We erred, we made a very big mistake."

According to Ben Eliezer, a move such as the Gaza pullout can only be successful when the territory one leaves is "handed over to responsible hands and anchored in agreements and international guarantees. Here we have a precedent - a territory we left turns into a base for terror - period."

Regarding the ongoing Kassam rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Ben Eliezer said there is no escaping the need to act and to respond to the barrages. When asked about potential harm to Palestinian[s] from an Israeli military response, the Infrastructure Minister said attempts to prevent harm to civilians are futile in light of the current situation.

"Israel must respond, what else?"
[Jerusalem Post]

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Express Train"

IDF Intelligence: Iran Nuke by 2009 -Mark Weiss & Sheera Claire Frenkel

Iran could have nuclear weapons by 2009, Brig. General Yossi Baidatz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

[F]ormer Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz [said]:

"Iran's nuclear program is proceeding like an express train. The diplomatic efforts to thwart Iran are like a slow train. If we cannot derail the Iranian train from the tracks, we are on the verge of a nuclear era that will totally alter the regional reality."
(Jerusalem Post)

Palestinians: "occupy me"

Thousands of Palestinians Apply for Israeli Citizenship -Ronny Shaked

In recent months, talk of a future division of Jerusalem has prompted a staggering increase in requests for Israeli citizenship by Palestinians seeking to escape life under the Palestinian Authority.

[T]he Interior Ministry has registered an unprecedented 3,000 applications, from residents of Arab neighborhoods unlikely to remain under Israeli sovereignty...
(Ynet News)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Watching the Jordan card

King Abdullah with Palestinian wife Queen Rania

The End of the Palestinian National Movement -Danny Rubinstein

[T]he clearest sign of the decline of the Palestinian national project is the departure of many of its key figures.

Nabil Shaath, a PLO veteran has return to his home in Cairo where he runs a thriving business. Muhammad Dahlan and Hasan Asfor, who not long ago were ministers and powerful advisors, now spend most of their time in Cairo with their families. In Ramallah, it is estimated that 50,000 residents have left the West Bank in recent years, most to return to their homes and property in Amman [Jordan].

With the failure of the PA experiment, the Arab states have begun to return to the scene. The Jordanian government, with the encouragement of Israel, is establishing a renewed presence in the West Bank, especially in eastern Jerusalem. King Abdullah [is] careful to publicly announce that [he has] no designs on the West Bank. [But] there is no doubt that [his] interest in events there is growing.

There is every reason to expect further cooperation between the West Bank and the East Bank in Jordan. As long as the separation fence between Israel and the West Bank continues to be built, relations between the West Bank and Jordan will strengthen.
(Ha'aretz-Hebrew, 6Nov07)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Yaalon's analysis

Ethical Dilemmas in Counterterrorism -Gen. Moshe Yaalon

In recent years, we have witnessed a shift from conventional warfare between armies and states to "subconventional" warfare (such as terrorism and rockets) and superconventional warfare (such as missiles and weapons of mass destruction).

This new type of warfare, and the ideology that fuels it, are defined by the intent to kill civilians. Terrorism, rockets, missiles, and WMDs all avoid engaging the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) directly, aiming instead at the general Israeli population. They do so primarily because of their belief that Israeli society is the weakest link in Israel's national-security chain.
(Azure-Shalem Center)

Echos of Churchill

The Kosher Conspiracy -Suzanne Fields

Winston Churchill admired Jews for their energy, their intellect and their creative drive...

British historian Martin Gilbert, in his new book Churchill and the Jews, [quotes him]:

"Why is there harsh injustice done if people come and make a livelihood for more and make the desert into palm groves and orange groves?" Sir Winston asked. "Why is it injustice because there is more work and wealth for everyone? There is no injustice. The injustice is when those who live in the country leave it to be a desert for a thousand years."

He defended the Jewish presence in Palestine as historical precedent. Jews arrived before the Arabs, who arrived as outsiders and conquerors. "In the time of Christ," Churchill observed, "the population of Palestine was much greater when it was a Roman province." The majority in that Roman province were Jews.

(Washington Times)

Dichter's angry words and other reflections

Dichter: Annapolis Is Not a Scientific Experiment -Herb Keinon

"The Annapolis peace parley is not a scientific experiment and the Israeli people are not guinea pigs," Public Security Minister Avi Dichter [said].

He added that the Palestinians must establish law enforcement bodies and "real prisons," before negotiations can begin. Without such bodies, Dichter said, any declarations by the Palestinians have no merit.
(Jerusalem Post)

Defining Down the Roadmap -Rick Richman

PA officials said they plan to deploy security forces in Nablus, the largest city in the West Bank, in an effort to end the anarchy there. U.S. security coordinator Gen. Keith Dayton was quoted as saying, "This is where the Palestinian state will get its first real test."

[But a]ctually, this will be the fourth "real test" for the PA security forces. They have already had at least three such tests in the past two years, and flunked them all.
[A]fter Israel withdrew from Gaza, the PA security forces stood by as the former Israeli synagogues, which could have been used as schools, were burned and as Israeli greenhouses, which could have provided jobs, were looted. Security at the Gaza-Egyptian border collapsed within three days.

Over the succeeding two years, the PA forces proved unable to prevent massive smuggling of weapons and terrorists across the border from Egypt, or stop the daily firing of rockets into Israel from Gaza, or prevent tunneling under the border and the kidnapping and killing of Israeli soldiers. Finally, PA forces were routed from Gaza by Hamas forces they outnumbered.

Gen. Dayton's "test" for the PA reflects the continuing process of defining down the conditions for a Palestinian state...
(New York Sun)

A Mis-step on the Path to Middle East Peace -Jon Alterman

Rice's conference does nothing to move the debate forward. Instead, it seeks to bring together people already on record as favoring a negotiated solution to rehash their stated positions. Rather than move the parties toward peace, it will demonstrate how difficult it is even for those leaning toward peace to make such a peace.

In so doing, it will strengthen the rejectionists.
(Financial Times-UK)

Cracks in the wall

Bahrain Accuses Iran of Nuclear Weapons Lie -Giles Whittell

[Bahrain's] Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad has become the first Arab leader to jettison the language of diplomacy and directly accuse Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons. "While they don't have the bomb yet, they are developing it," he said - the first time one of Iran's Gulf neighbors has accused it of lying about its nuclear program.

In a newspaper editorial this summer, a close associate of President Ahmadinejad rekindled an old claim on Bahrain as Iran's 14th province, with echoes of Saddam Hussein's designs on Kuwait in the late 1980s...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Phillips snubs peace conference

The Lethal Illusion -Melanie Phillips

The U.S. persists in its dangerous pretense that it can bring about a resolution of the Israel/Arab dispute at Annapolis by insisting on treating Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah as credible interlocutors for peace.

This is a war to exterminate the Jewish state, being waged by Arabs with differing strategies on the same continuum of annihilation - and with not one single credible interlocutor on their side who genuinely wants to live in peace with Israel.

The Western refusal to acknowledge this inconvenient truth gives this conflict its surreal dimension, in which a country that has been under exterminatory attack for the past six decades is expected to make reparations to its assailants and reward them with a state of their own even while they continue with their war against it; to provide food, power and other supplies to its attackers in Gaza in order that they can continue their murderous assault upon it; and to treat a leader who refuses to stop the war as an apostle of peace simply because no one can think of a better idea.

The Annapolis Meeting: Not at Any Price -Yoel Marcus

Olmert must go to Annapolis as Mr. Peace, but play Mr. Security when he gets there. Annapolis is good, but not at any price.

Religious persecution in Ramallah

Pastor Isa Bajalia [left, in blue shirt]

Palestinians Threaten Arab Christian Pastor in Ramallah -Etgar Lefkovits

An Arab-American pastor said he was threatened by a Palestinian security official in Ramallah, and fled to Jerusalem for safety.

Pastor Isa Bajalia, 47, a U.S. citizen born in Birmingham, Alabama, who has been living in Ramallah with his family since 1991, said he had been threatened over the last two months by a Fatah security official from the Tanzim militia who also demanded $30,000 in protection money.
(Jerusalem Post)