Monday, September 30, 2013

Iran's Smiling Face Earns a Phone Call

Obama and Rouhani Speak by Phone - Peter Baker

U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani became the first leaders of their countries to speak since 1979 in a 15-minute phone call. A senior administration official said Obama repeated that he respected Iran's right to develop civilian nuclear energy, but insisted on concessions to prevent development of weapons.

By talking on the phone instead of in person, Rouhani avoided a politically problematic photo of himself with Obama, which could have inflamed hard-liners in Iran wary of his outreach to the U.S. "The economic pain now is sufficient to oblige a telephone call, though not a face-to-face meeting," said Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "We will see whether the pain is sufficient for the Iranians to shut the heavy-water plant at Arak and reverse Iran's path to a rapid breakout capacity with enriched uranium."
(New York Times)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Iran's Playbook

Iran's Charm Offensive to UN, Agrees to Nuclear Talks
- David Brunnstrom and Arshad Mohammed

Iran's new government took its diplomatic charm offensive to the UN on Monday and agreed to new talks this week on its nuclear program with top diplomats from six world powers, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. U.S. officials have also said a meeting is possible this week between President Barack Obama and Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani. Obama and Rouhani will both address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

Playing by Iran's Rules - James Jay Carafano

Hassan Rouhani has one mission: to get the Europeans to back off sanctions while preserving Iran's option to go nuclear whenever it wants. The way to do that will be to 1) appear less threatening to the West, 2) offer to help the U.S. on some thorny geo-political problems, and 3) slow-walk Tehran's weapons programs while the regime perfects its long-range missiles.

So the deal looks like this. Iran helps perpetuate the Administration's face-saving fiction in Syria and its rush to the zero-option in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Tehran says less threatening things about Israel and goes slow on its nuclear program. For our part, the White House slow rolls sanctions and ignores European countries as they quietly ease their sanctions on Iran.

Meanwhile, the entire region will remain clouded by the shadow of the danger of a Tehran-triggered nuclear war.
(National Interest)



Charm Offensive? Hostile Iranian Messages on the Eve of Rouhani's UN Visit

Iranian President Rouhani attended a military parade in Tehran on Sept. 22, 2013, where he reviewed the forces and spoke.

Among the messages featured during the parade, in Persian and Arabic the Iranians wrote, "Death to America," while in English they wrote, "Down with America."

The parade included a line of missile transports carrying Shahab-3 missiles, which have a 1,300-km. range that can reach both Israel and American bases in the Persian Gulf. On the lead vehicle appeared a banner that reads: "Israel Should Cease to Exist."

Iran's apologists will say that the sentence is in the passive voice, so it is not clear how it ceases to exist. But the very fact that the Iranians attach a sign of this sort to a vehicle carrying Shahab-3 missiles means that Tehran itself is juxtaposing its intention to destroy Israel with the military means to carry it out.

Reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency last year contained information that Iran was seeking to remove the conventional warhead from a Shahab-3 missile and replace it with a spherical nuclear device.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Rouhani Snubs US: Declines to Meet Obama - Jennifer Epstein

President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did not meet at the UN on Tuesday, senior administration officials said. The White House had offered to have "an encounter" between the two leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, but Iranian officials ultimately declined. U.S. and Iranian officials had been discussing the possibility of an Obama-Rouhani meeting for days, an official said. Ultimately, though, "it was clear that it was too complicated for them." 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Iran Will Follow Korean Dance


Iran and the North Korean model -Caroline Glick

Like North Korea, Iran will negotiate until it is ready to vacate its signature on the NPT and test its first nuclear weapon. 
[Jerusalem Post]

Netanyahu:  Nuclear Deal is a Trap - Mark Landler

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel plans to warn the UN next week that a nuclear deal with the Iranian government could be a trap similar to one set by North Korea eight years ago, according to an Israeli official involved in drafting the speech.

"Just like North Korea before it, Iran professes to seemingly peaceful intentions; it talks the talk of nonproliferation while seeking to ease sanctions and buy more time for its nuclear program."

Netanyahu plans to review diplomacy in 2005, when the North Korean government, in what was then seen as a landmark deal, agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program in return for economic, security and energy benefits. A year later, North Korea tested its first nuclear device.

American officials agree that North Korea offers a troubling precedent of nuclear negotiations in which a rogue nation repeatedly extracted concessions from the U.S., only to renege later and test nuclear devices. 
(New York Times)

Rouhani "Will Smile All the Way to the Bomb"

Yuval Steinitz, Israel's minister for intelligence and strategic affairs, confirmed that Israel is alarmed by what he derided as Rouhani's "smiley campaign." "On the one hand, Iran is trying to appease the world with Rouhani's moderate rhetoric. And on the other hand, Iran continues its approach toward nuclear weapons, and if nothing serious will be done, Rouhani will continue to smile, will continue to appease, and he will smile all the way to the bomb."
(AP-Washington Post)

U.S. Strives to Reassure Israel - Mark Landler & Jodi Rudoren

As the Obama administration embarks on a diplomatic overture to Iran, White House officials are engaged in a behind-the-scenes effort to reassure Israel that they will not fall for Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, by prematurely easing pressure on his government to curb its nuclear program.
(New York Times)

The Jordanian Part of the Puzzle

Does Jordan Want Palestinians in Control of the Border?
- Khaled Abu Toameh

PA President Mahmoud Abbas says that the Palestinians will not accept any Israeli presence along the border between a future Palestinian state and Jordan. But in a recent closed briefing, a high-ranking Jordanian security official responded: "May God forbid! We have repeatedly made it clear to the Israeli side that we will not agree to the presence of a third party at our border."

Their worst nightmare is that once the Palestinians are given control over the border, thousands of them from the future Palestinian state would pour into Jordan, strengthening the Palestinian majority already living there.

Israel has its own reasons for refusing to cede control over the strategic Jordan Valley. Israel's main concern is that the border with Jordan will be used by Palestinian terror groups and Islamist fundamentalist organizations to smuggle weapons and terrorists into the West Bank and Israel.
(Gatestone Institute)

Jordan Says No to Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh

Jordan's King Abdullah has turned down a request from Hamas to re-open its offices in his country, according to informed sources in Amman. Qatar offered hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Jordan in return for allowing Hamas to open offices in the kingdom. However, "King Abdullah turned down the Qatari offer," the sources said.

Last year, relations between Jordan and Hamas seemed to be warming up as the Islamist movement's leader, Khaled Mashal, was permitted to visit Amman and hold talks with King Abdullah. But the monarch refused to allow Hamas to resume its activities in Jordan.
(Gatestone Institute)


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The US Israel Relationship and Iran

America, Syria and Israel - Martin Kramer

Israelis got a preview this past week of what the Middle East would look like during a possible Iran crisis, and they didn't like what they saw. What Israelis found alarming was the way Mr. Obama shifted the burden of decision. Every one of his Syrian maneuvers was viewed as a dry run for his conduct in a likely future crisis over Iran's nuclear drive.

Israelis always imagined they would go to Mr. Obama with a crucial piece of highly sensitive intelligence on Iranian progress, and he would make good on his promise to block Iran with a swift presidential decision. So his punt to Congress over what John Kerry called an "unbelievably small" strike left Israelis rubbing their eyes. If this is now standard operating procedure in Washington, can Israel afford to wait if action against Iran becomes urgent?

The Syrian episode has shown how dead-set both Congress and U.S. public opinion are against U.S. military action in the Middle East. Bottom line: The chance that Israel may need to act first against Iran has gone up.
The writer is president of Shalem College in Jerusalem.
(Wall Street Journal)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Iranian Posturing

Why is Rouhani smiling?

Iran Prepared to Shut Down Fordo Nuclear Site - Erich Follath

According to intelligence sources, Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, is reportedly prepared to decommission the Fordo enrichment plant and allow international inspectors to monitor the removal of the centrifuges. In return, he could demand that the U.S. and Europe rescind their sanctions.

When it comes to a possible deal, though, the devil is in the details: Who would monitor the dismantling of the centrifuges? Will the 185 kilos (408 pounds) of enriched material that has been produced so far - three-quarters of what is needed to produce a nuclear warhead - be placed under supervision? And how will it even be transported? What will happen with the heavy water reactor at Arak, which is expected to become operational in 2014 and begin producing plutonium that can also be used to build nuclear bombs?

Friends and foes alike agree that the Iranians are master tacticians.
(Der Spiegel-Germany)

Netanyahu, Obama to Discuss Iran's Nuke Program 

Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet that during his upcoming visit to the UN he will first meet with President Obama. "I intend to focus on the issue of stopping Iran's nuclear program.

The way to stop Iran's nuclear program requires four steps:
1. Halting all uranium enrichment;
2. Removing all enriched uranium;
3. Closing Qom; and
4. Stopping the plutonium track.

Until all four of these measures are achieved, the pressure on Iran must be increased and not relaxed, and certainly not eased."  
(Prime Minister's Office)

Syria Deal Proves Military Threat Deters Rogue Regimes

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said:
"The latest developments, in which a diplomatic solution is emerging for Syria to be disarmed of chemical proof to the countries of the free world that a significant and credible military threat, as applied at the beginning of the crisis, deters dangerous rogue regimes and is able to advance a diplomatic solution to disarming countries of weapons of mass destruction.... In other words, he who seeks peace must prepare for war."

"In parallel, from our point of view, the world must display clear and uncompromising determination toward the extremist regime in Tehran and its advancing program to develop a military nuclear weapon." 
(AFP-Ynet News)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Selling Sex in Arabia

Arab men with their child brides [National Geographic]

Underage Girls Are Summer Rentals for Gulf Arabs - Cam McGrath

Each summer, wealthy male tourists from Gulf Arab states flock to Egypt from the Arabian Peninsula. In El Hawamdia, a poor town 20 km. south of Cairo, they are easy to spot in their luxury cars and SUVs. Egyptian fixers run alongside their vehicles, offering short-term flats and the town's most sought-after commodity - underage girls. Each year, in impoverished rural communities across Egypt, thousands of girls between the ages of 11 and 18 are sold by their parents to wealthy, much older Gulf Arab men under the pretext of marriage. The sham nuptials may last from a couple of hours to years, depending on the arrangement.

"It's a form of child prostitution in the guise of marriage," said Azza El-Ashmawy, director of the Child Anti-Trafficking Unit at the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM). The girl is returned to her family when the marriage ends, usually to be married off again. "Some girls have been married 60 times by the time they turn 18," says El-Ashmawy.

A NCCM-commissioned survey of 2,000 families in three towns near Cairo found that 75% knew girls involved in the trade, and most believed the number of marriages was increasing. The 2009 survey indicated that 81% of the "spouses" were from Saudi Arabia, 10% from the UAE, and 4% from Kuwait.
(Inter Press Service)

Temporary Marriage in the Arab World - Max Fisher

Egypt's economy has been in free-fall since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, with unemployment rising and public services declining. Rural families, driven apparently by a sense that the practice is socially acceptable and a desperate need for income, pressure daughters to enter the trade at puberty, according to the government study. "The girls know their families have exploited them," the Egyptian official told Inter Press Service. "They can understand that their parents sold them."
(Washington Post)

Muslim Persecution of Christians: Summer of Horror for Women
- Raymond Ibrahim

The degradation of Christian women living in the Islamic world continued in the month of June. In Syria, after the al-Qaeda linked rebel group conquered Qusair, a city of the governate of Homs, 15-year-old Mariam was kidnapped, repeatedly gang raped according to a fatwa legitimizing the rape of non-Sunni women by any Muslim waging jihad against Syria's government, and then executed.
(Gatestone Institute)

Russia (& Syria) Rising

These men have a reason to be smiling

Assad Uses Crisis to His Advantage - Brian Stelter

In exchange for relinquishing his chemical arsenal, President Assad of Syria said he will require that the U.S. stop arming the Syrian opposition. He told a Russian TV interviewer that the arms-control proposal floated by his patron in Moscow would not be finalized until "we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists."

Assad, sounding relaxed and confident, hinted in his interview that the Russian proposal could become a lever for endless negotiations and delays, much as Saddam Hussein delayed arms control inspectors during the 1990s. "It doesn't mean that Syria will sign the documents, fulfill the obligations, and that's it," Assad said. He also hinted at another possible stumbling block by saying Israel should ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention first. 
(New York Times)

Assad Has All the Time in the World - Avi Issacharoff

[A] scenario in which the Syrian president actually transfers all his chemical weapons to international oversight, while possible, is not likely. Syria needs this kind of weaponry in order to deter outside players like the U.S. from attempted intervention, and to deter Israel. It is Assad's insurance certificate.

So it is more logical that Assad will agree to hand over part of his chemical weapons, maybe even most, but will keep at least some for himself, just for emergencies.

He has all the time in the world to try to hide this weaponry. It will be weeks until a binding decision is reached at the UN, and even after that, UN delegations will be delayed because of pretexts such as warfare in precisely the areas they are supposed to visit. This could go on for months. Meanwhile, the civil war in Syria has been forgotten altogether, as the crisis is reduced to a debate over chemical weapons. Yet since the August 21 chemical attack, 200-250 people have been dying every day in Syria.
[Times of Israel]

Survival of the Syrian Regime Is a "Red Line" for Russia - Fouad Ajami

The sun may have set on the old Soviet empire, but Syria offered Russia the consolation that it could still play the game of the great powers. From the outset of the civil war, Moscow insisted that it would not stand idly by and accept a repetition of what had happened in Libya. By their lights, the Russians had let Gaddafi down when they let slip through the cracks of the UN machinery a proposal that called for the protection of Libyan civilians. The proposal gave NATO the warrant that led to the destruction of the Libyan dictatorship.

This time around, Russia was determined to see its client regime in Damascus to victory.
(Wall Street Journal)

What Russia's Plan Tells Iran - Ariel Ben Solomon
  • Iran observed how Syria, with Russia's assistance, has wiggled out from what was to be limited U.S. strikes. It will take note at how effectively Syria was able to split the international community over the planned attack and how uneasy people in the West are over military interventions in the Middle East.
  • The good news is that Iran, Russia and Syria saw the U.S. threat to use force as real. It was this threat that caused Russia and Syria to come up with this alternate proposal, thus demonstrating that the U.S. is able to modify behavior of rogue regimes if it chooses to do so.
  • Furthermore, the success of the Russian proposal could result in "the U.S. and Russia moving closer together, meaning Iran cannot count on Russia and the U.S. to be on opposite sides regarding its ongoing nuclear progress."
  • "On the negative side, we have yet to see how this plays out, and what Obama does if the Russian proposal does not materialize into an effective plan."
[Jerusalem Post]

New Syria Agreement Is a Big Victory - for Assad - Jeffrey Goldberg

The agreement to begin disarming Syria of its chemical weapons represents an astonishing victory for the Assad regime. So long as he doesn't use chemical weapons on his people, he'll be safe from armed Western intervention. It's safe to assume that he'll increase the tempo of attacks on rebels and civilians in conventional ways, knowing now that he can do so with impunity.

By partnering with Russia and the West on the disarmament process, a process that is meant to last into 2014 (and most likely won't be finished for years), Assad has made himself indispensable. The U.S. now needs Assad in place for the duration. He's the guy whose lieutenants know where the chemical weapons are.

Yet this plan probably won't work. Assad is a lying, murdering terrorist, and such people aren't, generally, reliable partners. Who are the losers in this episode? The Syrian people. So long as they die in conventional ways, no one will pay their deaths much mind.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Palestinians Stand Out

62 Percent of Palestinians Justify Suicide Bombing - Jessica Chasmar

62% of Palestinian Muslims say that suicide bombing is often or sometimes justified "in order to defend Islam from its enemies," according to a new
Pew Research survey.

"Support for suicide bombing and other violence aimed at civilian targets is most widespread in the Palestinian territories," the report said.

Most Muslims in other countries said suicide bombings are "never" justified.    
(Washington Times)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Obama Pulls Back Syria Threat

Obama Push to Hit Syria Takes Detour - Carole E. Lee & Janet Hook 

President Barack Obama's campaign for an attack on Syria took an unexpected turn as his administration inadvertently gave the Assad regime a potential way out that spawned second thoughts on Capitol Hill and enthusiasm among international opponents of a military strike.

After Secretary of State John Kerry suggested in off-the-cuff comments that President Bashar al-Assad could avert an attack by promptly handing his chemical weapons to the international community, Russia declared its support and quickly got Damascus on board.

The shift, which Mr. Obama called "a potentially positive development," paused a Senate debate and complicated the president's pitch...
(Wall Street Journal)

Dismantling Chemical Weapons Could Take Years - Phil Stewart 

Any deal with Syria to hand over its chemical weapons in the middle of a civil war would be difficult for inspectors to enforce and destroying them would likely take years, U.S. officials and experts caution.

Syria's chemical arms cache is believed to be spread over dozens of locations and it would be difficult to shield arms inspectors from violence.

Brig.-Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, a Syrian army defector, said that most of the chemical weapons have been transported to Alawite areas in Latakia and near the coast, though some chemical munitions remain in bases around Damascus.

Assad Could Win without Chemical Weapons - Avi Issacharoff

If Assad agrees to Moscow's suggestion to hand over the chemical weapons he has, not only could he avoid a U.S. military strike, he'll also preserve the current situation in Syria, which gives him and his army an advantage over the disorganized and fragmented opposition.

Over the past year Assad has used chemical weapons around 13 times, mainly for tactical reasons - like conquering an area and clearing it of opposition fighters and local population.

The incident outside Damascus on Aug. 21 was an exception. Assad can reach similar results using conventional weapons alone.   
(Times of Israel)


Putin's Desperate Attempt to Save Assad - Ron Ben-Yishai

If Syria will be given time to hide a certain amount of its chemical weapons, and if Syria will not be forced to destroy its chemical weapons, then the agreement will not be worth anything. In addition, should the negotiations on an agreement drag on, Syria will be able to transfer at least part of its chemical weapons arsenal to Hizbullah in Lebanon. Such a development would be just as bad for Israel as having the WMDs fall into the hands of the jihadists in Syria.
(Ynet News)

Russian-Brokered Deal a Mixed Blessing for Israel - Herb Keinon

If Syrian President Assad honors the deal - a huge "if" - then a very deadly weapon will be removed from Israel's doorstep. Israel would also be relieved of worrying that these chemical weapons could be transferred to Hizbullah or other terrorist organizations. While the assessments in Jerusalem have long been that Assad would be reluctant to use his chemical weapons against Israel because of fear of retribution, radical terrorists might not harbor a similar fear or even care about the payback.

The bad news is that Assad is left standing, which sends the message to Iran: No worries, this world won't interfere, you can get away with it. Even if Assad has to forfeit his WMD stockpile, he will still literally get away with murder. Assad is now turning his country from an Iranian proxy into an Iranian client state. If he survives, it will be because of Russian political cover and Iranian and Hizbullah physical and material assistance.

The main peril to Israel right now is not the Sunni terrorists, but rather the possibility of an Iranian-led Shi'ite axis - one that soon could be armed with nuclear weapons - stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria and into Lebanon. Iran remains Israel's principal threat today, a threat that becomes existential if it gains nuclear arms. As such, anything that benefits Iran is bad for Jerusalem. Assad remaining in power benefits Iran. 
(Jerusalem Post)

Obama's Diplomatic Acrobatics -Daniel Pipes, PhD

Lurching from self-imposed trap (the "red line" statement) to self-inflicted crisis (the need for congressional approval), the administration erodes the credibility of the U.S. government and increases the dangers facing Americans. Enemies of the United States, its allies, and modern civilization itself will take succor in this ignominious performance and grow in strength.
[National Review Online]

Monday, September 09, 2013

Obama Gets AIPAC Support for Syria Strike

President Obama at AIPAC Conference

Pushed on the Bandwagon -Steven J. Rosen

Responding to a full-court press by the Obama administration -- a call to Netanyahu, a direct message to AIPAC, and messages via congressional leaders -- AIPAC has weighed in fully in support of the president's call for intervention.

This is a major change in precedent. Ten years ago, AIPAC struggled to stay out of the Iraq War vote when that issue was before Congress, and did not openly endorse that authorization. Neither the Israeli government nor AIPAC supporters in the United States considered Saddam Hussein nearly the threat that Iran was. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon then warned President George W. Bush privately that he thought an attack on Iraq would be a mistake. After the Iraq vote, to prove its innocence, AIPAC organized a letter from 16 Jewish members of Congress stating that "AIPAC as an organization never took a position on the war and none of us were ever lobbied by the organization on the war in Iraq." It did not work. Israel's detractors never cease asserting that the Iraq War was fought on Israel's behalf, and that belief has eroded support for Israel on the left wing of the Democratic Party.

But now, President Obama is making everyone stand up and be counted, and he is putting maximum pressure on all prospective allies to come out from behind the curtain and speak up. As a White House official told the New York Times, AIPAC is "the 800-pound gorilla in the room" because it has close relations with and access to a vast array of members on both sides of the aisle and on all sides of the debate. Simply put, the president has staked a lot of political capital on the gambit to sway Congress on his Syria plan -- and he needs AIPAC's support.

The administration is certainly aware that many of the wavering members in the House and Senate could be influenced if Israel's outgoing but powerful ambassador, Michael Oren, and the pro-Israel lobby joined the fray. Public statements of support are helpful, but the main thing is the mobilization of AIPAC's vast network of trusted "key contacts" to speak privately with members they know well.

AIPAC's leaders, like other Americans, don't see much to support on any side of the civil war in Syria, and in their hearts they would probably like to see both sides lose. But an American military strike that destroys Syria's aircraft and helicopters, degrades its air defenses, and disables its runways, would be a benefit to Israel and the region -- no matter who emerges victorious there.

And if, conversely, the red lines that have been declared by President Obama were to be wiped out by an isolationist Congress (much as British Prime Minister David Cameron was repudiated by Parliament), it could begin a wider U.S. retreat in the Middle East. It would certainly undermine the campaign to prevent Iran from completing its nuclear weapons program.

Already, the Syrian regime and Hezbollah are boasting about a "historic American retreat," and extremist elements from al Qaeda to North Korea must be rubbing their hands in glee. Without a strong United States, the world of our children will descend into a very dark void, because after America there is no one else waiting in line to assume leadership except these forces of evil and chaos.

If AIPAC sits on its hands, Obama might well lose this historic vote on Capitol Hill. If so, the Rand Paul/isolationist right and the antiwar left may celebrate, and conservative critics can blame it on Obama's feckless leadership. But it will be a disaster for the Middle East and the world, and it may be impossible to contain the damage.

Some can close their eyes to these realities, but Israel and its friends in Washington don't have that luxury. Americans and Brits are far away, but Israel's permanent reality is that it lives in that very bad neighborhood, faced with an existential crisis and a Syrian civil war in danger of spiraling out of control.

That is why, while Americans are divided on the issue, an overwhelming majority of Israelis are hoping President Obama will prevail. And why, in the end, the pro-Israel camp knows it needs to support Obama.
Steven J. Rosen served for 23 years as a senior official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He is now the director of the Washington Project of the Middle East Forum.
[Foreign Policy]

Jordanian Learns to Love Israel

Peace on Paper Is Not Peace on the Ground - Yan Barakat

As a Jordanian, I was taught that Israel is our first enemy. People in Jordan (and almost all Arabs in the Middle East) think that Israel seeks to destroy them. It is common to hear conspiracy theories asserting that decisions by the governments of the U.S., Russia and Europe that have adversely affected Arab countries can all be traced back to the Jews. In the mosque, the Imam asks God to make widows of Jewish wives and orphans of Jewish children. In the minds of most, nearly any problem in the Middle East can be traced back to Israel. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that if we stop Israel, or expel them from the Middle East, our situation will be better.

When I crossed the border on a visit to Israel, I saw the opposite of what people told me. No policemen detained me for hours. Instead, people were welcoming and one beautiful woman actually said, "Welcome to Israel Habibi." It was wonderful.

When I arrived in Jerusalem I went to the Israeli Arab neighborhoods. There, I met Arabs who love their country, Israel. After I asked one his opinion about racism from Jewish Israelis, he told me, "If I am in an Arab country, I will not have what I have here. If I go to a hospital, I find all the services I need. I have insurance because of my age. I do not experience discrimination."

I would like to encourage my friends here in Jordan and cousins from my tribe to visit Israel and to meet real Israelis in everyday life, to break down the stereotypes they hold onto. I will not be intimidated by organizations which seek to enforce a boycott on those who visit Israel.
The writer is a Jordanian journalist.
(Jerusalem Post)

Monday, September 02, 2013

Syria Strike on Pause

Obama Unleashes Horror in Jerusalem - David Horovitz

The Israeli political and security leadership is privately horrified by President Obama's 11th-hour turnaround on striking Syria. It is profoundly concerned that the president has set a precedent that may complicate, delay or even rule out credible action to thwart Iran's drive to nuclear weapons. 

Obama has given Assad more time to ensure that any eventual strike causes a minimum of damage, and to claim initial victory in facing down the U.S. At the very least, too, Obama has led the Iranians to believe that presidential promises to prevent them attaining nuclear weapons need not necessarily be taken at face value.

If a formidable U.S. strike does ultimately come, some of that damage can yet be undone, the Israeli leadership believes. If there is no strike, the U.S. - hitherto Israel's only dependable military ally - will be definitively perceived in the region as a paper tiger, with dire implications for its regional interests and for Israel.
(Times of Israel)

Weak World Response on Syria Boosts Chance of Strong Israeli Action on Iran
- Herb Keinon

Whether or not Israel decides to act against Iran could be determined in large part by how the world acts now against Syria. "Trust us," the world - led by the U.S. - has urged Israel for years on Iran. "We will deal with Iran, we will not allow them to get nuclear weapons." Really? One could not blame the Iranians for calculating what action they could expect if they run at full speed to nuclear capability. The British will vote military action down in Parliament, and Obama will bring the matter to Congress for a vote if Congress is in session.

Besides, if this is how the world acts when 1,429 people are gassed, how should we expect it to act if Iran just crosses the nuclear threshold but doesn't kill anybody yet? If the response is not harsh enough, or swift enough, or serious enough, the Iranians may very well conclude that they would face a similar situation and proceed with their nuclear program at full speed.

Israel, too, may conclude that if the world's response is not harsh enough, or swift enough, or serious enough, then they too will feel that they have a green light to take action to stop the Iranians. The lack of a strong international response in Syria might compel Israel to think twice about relying on the world to rid it of the Iranian nuclear menace.
(Jerusalem Post)

Decision to Delay Strike against Syria Sends Dangerous Message
- Ron Ben-Yishai

Should Congress approve an attack, President Obama will not be as limited as he is now with regards to the scope of the attack and the damage it will cause.
(Ynet News)


Israel Views America and Syria - Jennifer Rubin

A former U.S. official tells me the top levels of the Israeli government are convinced that Assad is not about to make more enemies by lashing out against Israel in the event the U.S. responds militarily to the use of weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, most Israelis are coming to the conclusion that it will be up to them to deal with Iran's nuclear arms program.

Imagine for a moment how different this situation would be if Iran had a nuclear weapon. Iran would rule the roost, daring the U.S. to act while threatening to take out Tel Aviv - or Berlin. Iran's nuclear capability would soon become a shield for every bad actor in the region. Israel swims in a sea of violence and unchecked Islamic extremism.
(Washington Post)