Friday, January 31, 2014

Confrontation on the Mount of Olives


Allah Is a Zionist - Yishai Fleisher

One day I was on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in a park overlooking the Temple Mount when two Arab youths menacingly approached me and told me that I had no business being there. I utilized a deep-seated Muslim theological premise - submission to Allah's will.

"You know, Allah loves you," I told them. "Allah has given you 22 Arab countries...and just as He has given you all those lands, so too, He has given us Israel and Jerusalem. How else can you explain all this?"

I pointed at the panorama of Jerusalem with its many cranes building for the next generation.

"How were we able to build all this? Are we, Jews, better than you? More numerous than you? It is the will of God that we Jews are on this land in spite of the rest of the world. Allah gave you much, but Al-Quds [Jerusalem] He gave to us."

This had an amazing effect on my Arab interlocutors. Without a word they turned and left.
(Jerusalem Post)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Man Who Could Save Egypt

Can this man save Egypt?

El-Sisi Boldly Calls For Islamic Reformation -Ryan Mauro

General El-Sisi, the commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces and current head of state, is calling for a reformation in Islam. His bold declaration comes as the Egyptian people approved a constitution in a vote that the Muslim Brotherhood boycotted.

The speech, which went unnoticed in the Western media, took place at the Armed Forces’ Department of Moral Affairs. In the speech, El-Sisi said:

Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people, pointing to the need for a new vision and a modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam—rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.”

Notice what El-Sisi did not say. He did not say Zionism or Western oppression is the greatest threat to Egypt, nor did he point to a specific group like Al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood. He accurately framed the struggle as an ideological one within Islam.

When he refers to the “discourse that has not changed for 800 years,” he’s referring to when the most qualified Islamic scholars of that time ruled that all questions about interpretation had been settled. The “gates” of ijtihad, the independent interpretation of Islam, ended by the year 1258. He wants the “gates” reopened, allowing for the critical examination that an Islamic reformation needs.

Elsewhere in the speech, Sisi “called on all who follow the true Islam to improve the image of this religion in front of the world, after Islam has been for decades convicted of violence and destruction around the world, due to the crimes falsely committed in the name of Islam.”

This is another important declaration. He attributes Islamic extremism to this lack of discourse. He doesn’t blame it on a Jewish conspiracy to defame Islam or describe it as an overreaction to non-Muslim aggression.

The next question is whether El-Sisi has the standing in Muslim opinion to be listened to. For now, the answer is yes. The Egyptian military that he leads has a 70% favorability rating, while the Muslim Brotherhood’s rating is at 34%. He is almost certain to run for president and, at this stage, is likely to win.

When the military toppled President Morsi and El-Sisi announced the suspension of the Islamist-written constitution, he was joined by the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University, an institution that is basically the equivalent of the Vatican for Sunni Islam. To date, Al-Azhar has not broken with El-Sisi or condemned his remarks.

General El-Sisi and the overall backlash against the Islamists may spark what the world needs most: An Islamic reformation. It is not enough to topple Islamists. Their ideological underpinning must be debated and defeated. The determinations of scholars from 800 years can no longer be treated as eternal truth, but for what they really are—opinions influenced by the times in which they were made.
[Clarion Project]


Sisi's Incompetent Anti-Islamist Campaign -Daniel Pipes, PhD

An Egyptian court in short order sentenced some 529 people to death today [March 24, 2014] for the killing of a single police officer. News like this gives one pause.

Very tough treatment of Islamists is needed to repress this totalitarian movement, including rejection of their efforts to apply Islamic law, keeping them out of mainstream institutions, even excluding their parties from the democratic process. But Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's extra-legal crackdown on Islamists will likely backfire and help the Islamist cause by winning them broad sympathy. Even if today's absurd judgment gets reversed on appeal, it and others like it are doing real damage.

Sisi is riding high now, with out-of-sight popularity ratings, but he appears as unprepared to rule Egypt...

Two factors in particular – the dismal economy and the hostility between pro- and anti-Islamists – will likely bring Sisi down fast and hard. When that happens, Islamists will benefit from his incompetence no less than Sisi exploited the failures of Mohamed Morsi. The cycle continues, the country falls further behind, and the precipice looms.

More broadly, because the expected Egyptian failure in suppressing Islamism will have global ramifications, Sisi's mistakes damage the anti-Islamist cause not just in his own country but internationally. The stakes in Egypt these days are high indeed.
[National Review Online]

Beauty [Scarlet Johansson] And The Seltzer Maker


Scarlett Johansson officially stepped down from her position as global ambassador for the charity Oxfam in favor of representing Israeli company SodaStream, which has a major production plant in the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.

As part of a growing international BDS movement against Israel's settlement policy, pro-Palestinian groups had called on Oxfam to sever its ties with the actress.

Johansson stepped down after the charity had expressed its disapproval of the actress's new role as spokesperson for SodaStream.

"While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador."
Johansson responded to pressure from Oxfam in a statement released to The Huffington Post on Sunday.

While I never intended on being the face of any social or political movement, distinction, separation or stance as part of my affiliation with SodaStream, given the amount of noise surrounding that decision, I’d like to clear the air,” she said.

I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine. SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights. That is what is happening in their Ma’aleh Adumim factory every working day.”

The SodaStream Super Bowl ad starring Johansson was was censored by Fox, the network airing Sunday's big game, for criticizing its main sponsors Coke and Pepsi, creating further buzz about the controversial company.
[Jerusalem Post]
ScarJo doesn’t mess around.
While Johansson may have been unwittingly thrust into the role of conflict negotiator in the minefield that is the public debate over the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, she’s proven herself to be more than just a glamorous face attached to a product...
She’s turned what could have been yet another celebrity endorsement—or quickly dropped celebrity endorsement—into an actual stance on an actual issue.
[Tablet Magazine]

Palestinian Workers Back Scarlett -Christa Case Bryant

[T]hose most familiar with the factory – Palestinians who work there – largely side with Ms. Johansson.

Before boycotting, they should think of the workers who are going to suffer,” says a young man shivering in the pre-dawn darkness in Azzariah, a West Bank town cut off from work opportunities in Jerusalem by the concrete Israeli separation wall. Previously, he earned 20 shekels ($6) a day plucking and cleaning chickens; now he makes nearly 10 times that at SodaStream, which also provides transportation, breakfast, and lunch.

As a few dozen men in hoodies and work coats trickle out of the alleys to the makeshift bus stop where they wait for their ride to the factory, another adds, “If SodaStream closes, we would be sitting in the streets doing nothing.”
[Christian Science Monitor]


Confronting European Funding for BDS - Gerald M. Steinberg

BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) is a form of political warfare against the State of Israel based on the exploitation of human rights and humanitarian principles. Leaders of BDS campaigns repeatedly express their rejection of any Jewish right to self-determination, regardless of borders.

The BDS movement is led by the Palestinian leadership, in close alliance with a network of political advocacy non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded largely by European governments. This money enables ostensibly "non-political" organizations to flood the media, universities, parliaments and other platforms with a steady flow of anti-Israel demonization.

The most effective and immediate strategy to blunt BDS and other forms of political warfare is to end the massive funding given to radical NGOs that promote these anti-Israel campaigns, particularly in Europe.  
The writer is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor.
(Times of Israel)

10 Brands You'll Have to Give Up If You're Boycotting Israel
- Christa Case Bryant

Ten brands that BDS supporters have urged others to boycott: Pampers, Victoria's Secret, Volvo, Intel, Israeli hummus, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Starbucks, McDonald's, and SodaStream. 

 There are thousands of other products that contain or use Israeli-developed technology, including iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Skype, computer firewalls, and Microsoft XP. 
(Christian Science Monitor)

The blogger known as Elder of Ziyon created the poignant poster above

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Left Wing Israel Minister Pisses Off Palestinians

Once promoted by the New York Times Magazine as Israel's peacemaker extraordinaire, Tzipi Livni now finds that the Palestinians have rejected and banished even her. 

The Palestinians' New Enemy: Tzipi Livni - Khaled Abu Toameh

The Palestinians are angry with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads the Israeli team to the peace talks, for daring to criticize PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

The PA leadership is now saying that Livni must be replaced. In an interview last Saturday, Livni announced that Abbas' positions are "not only unacceptable to us, but to the whole world, and if he continues to stick to them, then the Palestinians will be the ones to pay the price."

Livni's statement has been misinterpreted by Palestinians as a threat to eliminate Abbas. The[ir] goal is to make Abbas appear as a "martyr" who paid a heavy price for standing up to Israel and the US. After Livni made her statement, several PA officials and organizations responded by accusing her of "incitement."

The attacks on Livni correspond with a campaign being waged by Palestinians against U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Over the past few weeks, many Palestinian groups have been waging protests against Kerry's efforts. 
(Gatestone Institute)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

MidEast Scholar's Diagnosis: "Hopeless"

The Sick Middle East -Daniel Pipes, PhD [pictured]

The recent fall of Fallujah, Iraq, to an Al-Qaeda-linked group provides an unwelcome reminder of the American resources and lives devoted in 2004 to 2007 to control the city – all that effort expended and nothing to show for it. Similarly, outlays of hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize Afghanistan did not prevent the release of 72 prisoners who have attacked Americans.

These two examples point to a larger conclusion: maladies run so deep in the Middle East (minus remarkable Israel) that outside powers cannot remedy them.

Poor schools, repressive governments, and archaic social mores assure abysmal rates of economic growth. Starvation haunts Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan.

Vast reserves of oil and gas have distorted nearly every aspect of life. Miniature medieval-like monarchies like Qatar become surreal world powers playing at war in Libya and Syria, indifferent to the lives they break, as a vast underclass of oppressed foreign workers toils away and a princess deploys the largest budget for art purchases in human history. The privileged can indulge their cruel impulses, protected by connections and money. Sex tourism to poor countries like India flourishes.

Efforts at democracy and political participation either wither, as in Egypt, or elevate fanatics who cleverly disguise their purposes, as in Turkey. Efforts to overthrow greedy tyrants lead to yet-worse ideological tyrants (as in Iran in 1979) or to anarchy (as in Libya and Yemen). One commonly roots for both sides to lose.

Islamism, currently the most dynamic and threatening political ideology, is summed up by a morbid Hamas declaration to Israelis: "We love death more than you love life." Polygyny, burqas, genital mutilation, and honor killing make Middle Eastern women the world's most oppressed.

Middle Eastern life suffers from acute biases – often official – based on religion, sect, ethnicity, tribe, skin color, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, work, and disability. Slavery remains a scourge.

Conspiracy theories, political zealotry, resentment, repression, anarchy, and aggression rule the region's politics. Modern notions of the individual remain weak in societies where primordial bonds of family, tribe, and clan remain dominant.

The Middle East suffers from an urge to snuff out whole countries. Israel is the best known potential victim but Kuwait actually disappeared for a half year while Lebanon, Jordan, and Bahrain could be swallowed up at any time.

Middle Eastern states spend outsized amounts of their wealth on intelligences services and the military, creating redundant forces to check each other. They venture abroad to buy tank, ship, and plane baubles. They devote inordinate resources to chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and the platforms to deliver them. Even terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda plot to acquire WMD. Cutting-edge methods of terrorism develop in the Middle East.

Economic and political failure creates large bodies of refugees; Afghans have made up the world's largest refugee population since the 1980s; Syrians now threaten to overtake them, sowing poverty and chaos in their lands of refuge. Desperate souls attempt to leave the region altogether for Western countries, with more than a few dying along the way. Those who make it bring their region's maladies to such tidy countries as Sweden and Australia.

Nineteenth-century diplomats dubbed the Ottoman Empire "the Sick Man of Europe." Now, I nominate the whole Middle East the Sick Man of the World. The region's hatreds, extremism, violence, and despotism require many decades to remedy.

While this process perhaps takes place, the outside world is best advised not to expend blood and treasure to redeem the Middle East – a hopeless task – but on protecting itself from the region's manifold threats, from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and harems to mega-terrorism and electromagnetic pulse.
[The Washington Times]

Monday, January 27, 2014

Iran & Obama See Eye to Eye

A Convergence of Interests between the U.S. and Iran
- Ephraim Asculai

Sanctions had a severe impact on Iran, but were they the main motive for the interim agreement? Iran is well aware that should it be found to be constructing even a primitive nuclear weapon, it would be susceptible to military attack, if not by the U.S., then by Israel, which has demonstrated its capability and willingness to carry out such an attack.

The main U.S. aim is to avoid conflict. Reaching an agreement with Iran was a brilliant move that served this purpose, and effectively neutralized any call for military action, specifically by Israel

Thus, there is a convergence of interests between the U.S. administration and Iran, and the terms of the interim agreement are not as important as the results of the agreement: reduction of tensions, postponing conflict and the easing of global economic concerns.

Iran can, regardless of the agreement, continue to develop anything it wants at undeclared sites, and as long as these activities remain concealed, all will be well. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif was quite correct in stating, on Jan. 23, that Iran had not agreed to dismantle anything.
The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv. 
(Jerusalem Post)

How to Solve Obama's Iran Dilemma - Dennis Ross
  • There is nothing in what the Iranian leadership is now saying that suggests they believe they will have to seriously reduce their program. Their concept would leave them as a nuclear threshold state. Many observers, me included, believe that has been their goal all along.
  • The only chance of getting Iran to give up this objective is for Iran to believe that the cost of pursuing it is simply too high. It was not inducements that got us this far, but the pressure of the sanctions. If Khamenei thinks the sanctions will collapse of their own weight or that there is no prospect for the use of force or that the U.S. is desperate for a deal, there is no prospect of the Iranians accepting that they must roll back their program to the point of not being a threshold state.
  • The administration needs to recognize the importance of being willing to add to the pressure. When the Iranians are doing work on new and more advanced centrifuges, they are sending a signal to us about what they will do if diplomacy fails. The administration can match that by agreeing with key members of Congress on which new sanctions it would be prepared to adopt if there is no follow-on agreement to the Joint Plan of Action.
  • Congress would not adopt the new sanctions during the life of the Joint Plan of Action, but the Hill would know that the administration is preparing the ground to increase the pressure in a meaningful way - and so would the Iranians.

    The writer served as special assistant to President Barack Obama from 2009-11.


Iran Is Not Our Friend - Leon Wieseltier
  • The American government is no longer disgusted by the Iranian government. We are partners now, Washington and Tehran, and not only in the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program. The administration hopes for an Iranian contribution also to a diplomatic solution to the Syrian excruciation.
  • There is a bizarre warmth between the governments, a climate of practicality and cordiality, as if a new page has been turned in a history of ugly relations, as if the ugliness of those relations were based only in illusion and misunderstanding.
  • Hassan Rouhani is an improvement over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He does not deny that the Holocaust happened, which for the Islamic Republic counts as a breakthrough in enlightenment. But it is important to remember that Iran is still the Islamic Republic, a theocratic tyranny ruled by a single man, a haughty cleric who subsumes the state beneath religion and his interpretation of it, and maintains his power by means of a fascistic military organization that brutalizes the population and plunders the economy.
  • This same mullah-king supports the murderer in Damascus and the murderers in Lebanon and Gaza, and remorselessly pursues a foreign policy animated by anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. We may have extended our hand, but the Supreme Leader - the title itself is repugnant to decent modern ears - has not unclenched his fist.
  • I appreciate the need for a diplomatic exploration of the Iranian nuclear challenge, but believing we must choose between a nuclear-free Iran and a tyranny-free Iran is a false choice.
  • In the twentieth century, Soviet missiles threatened the U.S. infinitely more than Iranian centrifuges threaten us now, but arms control was not permitted to eclipse human rights in our policy toward the nuclear dictatorship; and we learned that human rights had vast strategic implications.
(New Republic)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Those Nasty Israeli Checkpoints

Palestinian child's Disney school bag contained quite a surprise

IDF Discovers Firearm Hidden in Child's Backpack    

IDF forces at a checkpoint in the Jordan Valley discovered an improvised firearm and ammunition inside a child's bookbag in a Palestinian vehicle during a routine inspection.                  
(Israel Defense Forces Blog)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Canadian Prime Minister Wows Israel [How An Ally Should Treat Israel]

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper sings the meaningful
"With A Little Help From My Friends"

Canadian Prime Minister tours Jerusalem
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper surprised the guests at a festive Jewish National Fund gala in Jerusalem Tuesday when he took off his tie and performed several sixties songs to the enthusiastic crowd.
- David Horovitz
Many members of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's delegation were "surprised" and "taken aback" that he was heckled by two Arab MKs during his address to the Knesset on Monday.
"A lot of us were a bit taken aback that members of a national parliament would heckle a visiting foreign leader," Jason Kenney, Canada's minister of employment and social development, said.
Arab MK Ahmad Tibi had earlier heckled Prime Minister Netanyahu, claiming that his colleague Abu Arar, a Bedouin MK from Ar'arat in the Negev, did not have water or electricity in his home because of Israeli discrimination.
Israel Channel 2 TV showed on Tuesday that Abu Arar lives in a three-story home with water, electricity, air-conditioning and a satellite dish, and his street is well lit.      
(Times of Israel)
The remaining Knesset members then rose in a lengthy standing ovation for Harper. 

"Canada Supports Israel Because It Is Right to Do So"
- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed Israel's Knesset on Monday: 

  • Canada and Israel are the greatest of friends, and the most natural of allies. Our military establishments share information and technology to our mutual benefit. For example, during Canada's mission to Afghanistan, the use of Israeli-built reconnaissance equipment saved the lives of many Canadian soldiers.
  • We share the understanding that it is right to support Israel because, after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in that homeland.
  • Canada supports Israel fundamentally because it is right to do so. It is a Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular.
  • Those forces which have threatened the State of Israel every single day of its existence threaten all of us. We either stand up for our values and our interests here in Israel, stand up for the existence of a free, democratic and distinctively Jewish state, or the retreat of our values and our interests in the world will begin.
  • Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel. We refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage.
  • The new anti-Semitism targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable to a new generation. What else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to exist, to defend itself, while systematically ignoring or excusing the violence and oppression all around it?
(Prime Minister of Canada)
Video of full speech: click HERE


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Iranian Martyr Honored in HBO Movie

The above HBO movie "For Neda" is available [in its entirety] on YouTube.  At over an hour, this is certainly no "soundbite."  However, if you can put aside an hour, you will understand Iran much better than you do now.  The film explores the 2009 Iranian Green Movement uprising through the lens of its most famous martyr.  

The Invisible Palestinian Suffering

Silence about Palestinian suffering in Yarmouk, Syria

Critics of Israel Silent as Arabs Starve Palestinians - Walter Russell Mead

Silence reigns among Israel's critics as Palestinians suffer brutality at the hands of pro-Assad forces in Syria. In the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus, residents are undergoing a campaign of forced starvation, as pro-regime forces are blocking the flow of food and medicine. Yarmouk's population has dwindled from 160,000 to 18,000 since the civil war began.

Of course if Israel did anything even remotely this heinous, everyone including the UN General Assembly would be screaming in righteous wrath.

The total silence among Israel-bashers while Palestinians are starved and murdered tells us that the suffering of Palestinians only becomes visible when Israelis do something to them
(American Interest)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Native Rights Activist Lauds Israel

Ryan Bellerose

Israel, Palestine: Who's Indigenous? - Ryan Bellerose

I am a Metis, one of the recognized aboriginal peoples in Canada, a native rights advocate, and a Zionist. There is a very clear guideline to being an indigenous people, as detailed by anthropologist Jose R. Martinez-Cobo (former special rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities for the UN).

Israel is the world's first modern indigenous state: the first time in history that an indigenous people has managed to regain control of its ancestral lands and build a nation state - a great example for indigenous peoples to emulate.

Palestinians have what are called "rights of longstanding presence," and although these are legitimate rights, they do not trump indigenous rights. If indigenous people allow the argument that conquerors can become indigenous, we are then delegitimizing our own rights. If conquerors can become indigenous, then the white Europeans who came to my indigenous lands in North America could now claim to be indigenous.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Obama Seeks Partnership With Iran

Can Iran Become a Cooperative Partner? - Michael Doran & Max Boot
  • President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are quietly pursuing a strategic realignment that, they believe, will end decades of semi-open warfare between Iran and the U.S. In our view, the Obama administration wants to see a "concert" of great powers - Russia, America, the European nations and Iran - working together to stabilize the Middle East.
  • There are two main reasons for this attempted shift. One is simply the desire of the president to extricate the U.S. from the Middle East. The other is fear of al-Qaeda: The White House undoubtedly sees Iran and its Shiite allies as potential partners in the fight against Sunni jihadism.
  • However, this strategy is destined to fail. Iran does not share a common enemy that would force it to unite with America. Though Iran's proxies are fighting Sunni extremists in a number of theaters, Iran itself has cooperated with al-Qaeda and other Sunni extremists, such as Hamas and the Taliban, when it has served its interests to do so.
  • Iran's rulers simply do not regard al-Qaeda as an existential threat on a par with the "Great Satan" (as they see the U.S.).
  • The second major problem is that Iran has always harbored dreams of regional hegemony. There is no sign that the election of the "moderate" cleric Hassan Rouhani as president has changed anything. On the contrary, Iran is stepping up its support for militants in the region.

    Michael Doran is a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
(New York Times)


Allies don't let allies destruct -Caroline Glick

Kerry is holding marathon meetings with Netanyahu to try to coerce him into helping the PLO build another Jew-free terrorist state in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Rather than try to blunt the growing power of Hezbollah - Iran's terrorist army - in Syria, the US's policy is inviting Iran, the party most responsible for the war, to join the phony peacemakers club at Geneva.

As for the rest of the region, from Tunisia to Bahrain, from Egypt and Libya to Iraq, and Yemen, Kerry and the Obama administration as a whole are content to watch on the sidelines as al-Qaida reemerges as a significant force, and as Iran undermines stability in country after country.
[Jewish World Review]

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

US & Iran's Secret Deal

The revelation that a secret deal accompanies the public deal, may explain why Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's Nuke Head, is smiling.

Iran Agreement Includes Secret Side Deal, Tehran Official Says
- Paul Richter

Key elements of a new nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers are contained in an informal, 30-page text not yet publicly acknowledged by Western officials, Iran's chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi disclosed Monday.

When officials from Iran and the world powers announced that they had completed the implementing agreement, they didn't release the text of the deal, nor did they acknowledge the existence of an informal addendum.

The side agreement deals with such important details as the operation of a joint commission to oversee how the deal is implemented and Iran's right to continue nuclear research and development during the next several months. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf denied that there was any secret agreement.
(Los Angeles Times)

Obama’s “Secret Side Deal” with Iran? Is this for real?

The Los Angeles Times is reporting the existence of a secret 30-page document the spells out understandings between the U.S. and Iran regarding expectations of what Iran can and cannot do with its nuclear program, understanding not included in the official, public deal that is being negotiated in Geneva.

The Times indicates that according to the “secret side deal” worked out by the Obama administration:

* not a single Iranian nuclear facility will be shut down
* Iran will continue to enrich uranium
* Iran’s nuclear research operations will actually expand; and
* new, state-of-the-art centrifuges will be allowed to come on-line in Iran


Rouhani Calls Nuclear Pact a Western "Surrender" - Oren Dorell

"Do you know what the Geneva [nuclear] agreement means? It means the surrender of the big powers before the great Iranian nation," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a crowd in Khuzestan province. "The Geneva agreement means the wall of sanctions has broken."  

(USA Today)

How the Nuke Deal Looks to Iran - Benny Avni
  • Iran's been busy in the weeks between the November signing of the nuclear deal in Geneva and Sunday's signing.
    • Tehran continued to grow its nuclear program, reportedly introducing a new generation of centrifuges to its facilities in Natanz and Fordow, and vigorously building its Arak heavy-water facility.
    • It added 1,000 pounds to its stockpiles of uranium enriched to 5%, and 66 pounds to its 20% stock, getting it close to breakout capacity.
    • International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors were turned away when they sought to visit the Parchin military base, where the IAEA indicates that Iranians are experimenting with ways to weaponize nukes.
  • And while the U.S. claims it can undo the rollback of Iran sanctions at any time:
    • Next month, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is to visit Tehran to ink a trade pact worth up to $50 billion a year, which would give Turkey access to Iran's oil and open a major regional market for Iranian goods.
    • Iran is also negotiating an oil-for-goods deal with Russia, worth $1.5 billion a month.
  • Meanwhile, Tehran insists that the November deal affirms its Allah-given right to enrich uranium, while top Iranian figures emphasize that they'll never halt their nuclear program.
  • (New York Post)

    Iran Continues Campaign to Become Leading Regional Power
    - Walter Russell Mead

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Lebanon this week, where he laid a wreath at the tomb of Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh. Zarif then met with Hassan Nasrallah, the chief of Hizbullah. Iran is using the discussions on its nuclear program to project an image of moderation even as it dramatically steps up its campaign to establish itself as the leading power in the Middle East.

    While officials from the P5+1 countries congratulate each other on an "interim agreement" and a "temporary freeze" on Iran's nuclear enrichment program, Iran is stepping up its military and economic support for Hizbullah, the Assad regime in Damascus, and Shiite militia groups in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain.

    Franklin Roosevelt once said that you can't turn a tiger into a kitten by stroking it.
    (American Interest)

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    The General, Of Blessed Memory

    Ariel Sharon during 1967's Six Day War

    The Man Who Executed the Vision - Nahum Barnea

    Ariel Sharon was everything the State of Israel's forefathers dreamed of seeing in the generation of the sons, the born Israelis: handsome, strong, a farmer working his land, a soldier for life. The footsteps he leaves behind are huge.

    I'll remember him not in his uniform, but with the mischievous, sly smile of a person who ate people like me, and bigger than me, for breakfast.
    (Ynet News)

    Former Prime Minister Epitomized Country's Warrior Past
    - Glenn Frankel

    Ariel Sharon, a monumental figure in Israel's modern history who epitomized the country's warrior past, died Jan. 11, eight years after a massive stroke at the height of his political power. As a soldier, defense minister and prime minister, Sharon fought or commanded forces in every one of Israel's military conflicts for more than half a century, beginning with its 1948 independence war. Sharon chose the title Warrior for his autobiography. 
    (Washington Post)

    Ariel Sharon: 1928-2014 - Benny Morris

    From 1953 to 1955, as the leader of Unit 101 and then of Paratroop Battalion 890, Sharon fashioned the ethos and tactics of IDF commando operations. In the 1967 Six-Day War, Sharon, a division commander, brilliantly conquered the Umm Katef-Abu Agheila Egyptian fortification complex in the Sinai.

    In 1970 and 1971, as head of Southern Command, he successfully uprooted Palestinian terrorists from Gaza.

    In 1973, Sharon led the game-changing assault across the Suez Canal that forced Egypt, which had launched the Yom Kippur War together with Syria, to beg for a ceasefire.
    The writer is a professor of history at Ben-Gurion University.

    Sharon: You Have to Be Creative - Jeffrey Goldberg 

    "Once, we captured a Lebanese fishing boat," Sharon told me.

    "We filled it with Lebanese food and newspapers and we put our soldiers in it, dressed as Arabs, who spoke Arabic. And they landed on the beach in Gaza, and the Palestinians hid them. They thought they were their people, fugitives. And we were pursuing them ourselves, making believe they were hunted terrorists."

    "The Palestinians took them to meet an important group of terrorists in the northern part of the Gaza district. And when they met them our soldiers killed them. Then they were evacuated out of Gaza. You have to think of things like that. You have to be creative."   

    How Will Sharon Be Remembered? - Sima Kadmon

    One has to mention the charisma, the capabilities, the magnetism, the ability to make fun of himself. A meeting with Sharon was pure joy. He was a man with unusual diagnoses, with a fantastic understanding of the human soul, its motives and impulses, who knew how to identify weak points and didn't hesitate to use them.
    (Ynet News)


    Sharon: Myths, Facts, and Blood Libels - Tom Gross

    Time magazine was one of many publications to slander Sharon, falsely claiming he ordered the 1982 the Sabra and Shatila massacre of Muslims by Christians in Beirut. Sharon successfully sued Time.

    The BBC is already repeating lies on its website that Sharon caused the Second Intifada, failing to report what the Palestinians themselves say. For example, Marwan Barghouti, the de facto leader of the intifada, said: "The intifada did not start because of Sharon's visit to Al-Aqsa." PA communications minister Imad Al-Faluji added: "This intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat's return from the Camp David negotiations."
    (National Review)

    What Went Wrong: The PLO Pushed Out Moderate Arabs

    It's Not about Arabs Hating Jews, But Arabs Hating Arabs
    - Jack Engelhard

    When it comes to the Arab world we simply do not know what we are doing and because of that everything we do is wrong. [W]hen it comes to the Arab world we are strangers in strange lands and we will always be strangers. There is nothing we can fix unless they fix it themselves.

    Some time ago, in Bethlehem, when Arafat and his thugs were on the run, tearing it up in Tunis, the Christian Arab mayor of Bethlehem, Elias Freij, implored me to take a message first to Israel and then back to America:
    let Arafat and his PLO remain cast out.

    “Please do not give them shelter. They will ruin everything.”

    The message was not heeded…and they did ruin everything.
    (Washington Times)

    Thursday, January 09, 2014

    Understanding Iran's Interests

    Mike Ramirez, Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2006

    What's worse than an Iranian bomb? An Iranian almost-bomb
    -Gary C. Gambill

    For all of their sharp disagreements over the particulars of foreign policy, everyone in Washington seems to agree on one thing — that the overarching objective of American policy toward Iran should be, as President Barack Obama frequently intones, to "prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon."

    They've got it wrong. The primary objective of American policy must be a sweeping degradation of Iran's nuclear industrial infrastructure, preferably by diplomatic means, even if the resolute pursuit of this goal provokes Iran into rashly attempting the construction of a bomb — indeed, especially if it does so.

    Bear in mind that Iran hasn't been rushing to build a bomb. Rather, it has been working steadily to increase its breakout capacity — the ability to successfully produce a nuclear weapon on short notice, if it made a mad dash to do so.

    Iran's paramount goal is to inch as close as possible to the finish line without triggering a military response, then reach a permanent settlement with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany) that preserves as much of its breakout capacity as possible in exchange for an end to sanctions that have hobbled its economy.

    Achieving an internationally-legitimized nuclear threshold status has immense strategic advantages for the Islamic Republic, above and beyond the ability to rapidly weaponize at a few months' notice: Fear of provoking Tehran to cross this final threshold likely will discourage the international community from slapping on future sanctions for sponsoring terrorism, bloody proxy interventions in the region (including Syria), human rights violations, and Iran's various other rogue-state activities. And Iranian threshold status is just as bad as a bomb in instigating a regional nuclear arms race.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's frequent admonitions that, absent the JPA, Iran would "rush towards a nuclear weapon" are absurd. Iran won't seriously consider a breakout unless or until its leaders are prepared to absorb Israeli, and possibly American, air strikes and live with a far more debilitating sanctions regime — or until one or both of these threats fade away. Thankfully, we're not there yet.

    We should all be so lucky if Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is foolhardy enough to launch a breakout prematurely and unite the world against his regime. Even if he manages to squeeze a weapon's worth of fissile material out of what's left of Iran's smoldering enrichment facilities, I like the international community's chances of ensuring that it is destroyed or relinquished once the ayatollahs have shown their true colors.

    The nightmare scenario isn't that the Iranians rush to weaponize; it is that they are allowed to perch on or near the precipice of doing so ...
    [National Post]

    Wednesday, January 08, 2014

    Kerry Stirring Up the Pot

    Kerry Proposes Return of 80,000 Palestinian Refugees to Israel

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry proposed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the return of 80,000 Palestinian refugees to Israel, a senior official of the Palestinian government told Xinhua.

    "Kerry's proposal on the return of refugees is the same proposal offered by former U.S. President Bill Clinton during Camp David peace talks held in the United States in 2000," said the official. During their meetings, Abbas wanted to increase the number of Palestinian refugees returning to Israel to 200,000, and the demand is still under discussion with Kerry.
    He added that "gaps are still wide concerning the permanent status issues of the refugees, Jerusalem, borders, settlements and the Jewish state."  


    Netanyahu: "You Cannot Base Policy on Illusions" - Shlomo Cesana

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the peace process, saying, "The Americans presented their stances and I am trying to bring reality into the plan....In our entire region, from Morocco in the west to Pakistan in the east, there is no country that is not undergoing turbulence, other than Israel, and that teaches us that you cannot base policy on illusions. Every policy based on illusions eventually bursts [when it meets] reality."

    He added that Israel is seeking to extend negotiations by a year.
    (Israel Hayom)

    Why Palestinian Recognition of a Jewish State Matters
    - Avi Shilon

    The Palestinians raise three objections to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

    First, such recognition would be perceived as discrimination against Israel's Arab citizens. However, Israel defines itself as a Jewish state in any case and Israeli Arabs are officially not affected by this.

    Second, Israel did not make this demand of Egypt or Jordan, and it is not the Palestinians' place to define Israel's identity. This is disingenuous since the conflict with both those countries was mainly territorial and political. In contrast to Egypt and Jordan, as long as the Palestinian national movement does not recognize the right of Jews over at least part of the Land of Israel, the conflict will continue to simmer even after the signing of an agreement.

    Third, defining Israel as Jewish compels the Palestinians to contradict their historical narrative. This demonstrates that even in the eyes of moderate Palestinians, Jews are not perceived as a nation but as a religious community. Thus, they have no authentic claim for sovereignty over any part of the land.

    Israelis who claim they have no need for Palestinian recognition of Israel's Jewish character and essence are right. What they don't understand is that [Israel] needs such recognition as proof that the Palestinians are serious about ending the conflict.

    Palestinian Action an "Empty Threat" - Raphael Ahren

    According to Alan Baker, a former legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the Palestinian threat of a unilateral statehood drive is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. "This is a big bluff; it's just an empty threat," he said.

    "So the Palestinians will go to the International Health Organization, the International Postal Union and the Civil Aviation Authority. So what? That won't give them statehood. It won't make a difference, because Israel is still sitting in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], and any change can only come about as the result of a negotiation process."

    Palestinian attempts to influence the agendas of UN bodies actually did more damage to those organs than to Israel's interests, he posited. Many diplomats and parliamentarians have told him that the international community is becoming "increasingly fed up" with Palestinians trying to appropriate UN organizations for their political purposes and, in the process, distracting those bodies from their actual jobs.

    Baker called the specter of an International Criminal Court (ICC) trial against Israel "a completely empty and utterly unrealistic threat." Even if the court's prosecutor ruled that "Palestine" could file a complaint against Israeli leaders for war crimes, an investigation would have zero chances of succeeding because the Palestinians would need to prove that the alleged offenses took place on Palestinian sovereign territory.
    (Times of Israel)

    No End to Palestinian Claims - Pinhas Inbari 
    • An internal, strategic document formulated in the office of Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in 2013 states that the aim of the current U.S.-led talks is not to reach an agreement but, rather, to create an alibi for imposing a solution on Israel. The Palestinians agreed to enter the talks only after receiving a written commitment from Kerry to support the Palestinian position on the 1967 lines.
    • However, there have been repeated signs that the Palestinian leadership has claims to Israeli territory within the 1967 lines. In 1999, the PLO was planning to replace the Oslo Accords with Palestinian territorial demands based on the Partition Map that appeared in UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947 and thereby extend Palestinian territorial claims.
    • After Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005, the Palestinians demanded the annexation to Gaza of the Israeli border village of Netiv Ha'asara. In negotiations over the water issue, the Palestinians demand not only the water of the West Bank and Gaza, but also a division of the Israeli aquifer and the Sea of Galilee. They also claim sovereignty over the al-Hama enclave in the Golan Heights because it was part of the British Mandate for Palestine.
    • In September 2011, Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly that he was applying for UN membership "on the basis of the 1967 borders." But in the formal Palestinian submission to the UN, there is no reference whatsoever to the 1967 lines but only to Resolution 181 from 1947.
    • Thus, there is considerable, cumulative evidence that the Palestinian leadership is maintaining claims to Israeli territory within the 1967 lines.

      Pinhas Inbari, a veteran Palestinian affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, currently serves as an analyst on the Palestinian issue for the Jerusalem Center.
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)