Friday, February 28, 2014

Christian Persecution

Christians: The World's Most Persecuted Group -Raymond Ibrahim

Why are Christians, as a new Pew report documents, the most persecuted religious group in the world? And why is their persecution occurring primarily throughout the Islamic world?

In the category on "Countries with Very High Government Restrictions on Religion," Pew lists 24 countries—20 of which are Islamic and precisely where the overwhelming majority of "the world's" Christians are actually being persecuted.

The reason for this ubiquitous phenomenon of Muslim persecution of Christians is threefold:

Christianity is the largest religion in the world. There are Christians practically everywhere around the globe, including in much of the Muslim world. Moreover, because much of the land that Islam seized was originally Christian—including the Middle East and North Africa, the region that is today known as the "Arab world"—Muslims everywhere are still confronted with vestiges of Christianity...

Christianity is a proselytizing faith that seeks to win over converts. No other major religion—including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism—except Islam itself has this missionary aspect (these faiths tend to be coterminous with their respective ethnicities: Buddhists, Asians; Judaism, Jews; Hinduism, Hindus). Thus because Christianity is the only religion that is actively confronting Muslims with the truths of its own message, not only is it the primary religion to be accused of proselytizing but, by publicly uttering teachings that contradict Muhammad's, Christians are accused of blaspheming as well.

Christianity is the quintessential religion of martyrdom. Few other religions encourage their adherents to embrace death rather than recant.  Conversely, Islam teaches Muslims to openly renounce their faith (taqiyya)—not just when their lives are threatened, but even as a stratagem of war—as long as they remain Muslim in their hearts.

To summarize, because of their sheer numbers around the globe, including the Muslim world, Christians are the most likely targets of Islamic intolerance; because sharing the Gospel, or "witnessing," is a dominant element of Christianity, Christians are most likely to fall afoul of Islam's blasphemy and proselytism laws, as even the barest pro-Christian talk is by necessity a challenge to the legitimacy of Islam; because most Muslims who apostatize to other religions convert to Christianity, it is as Christians that they suffer persecution; and because boldness in face of certain death—martyrdom, dying for the faith—is as old as Christianity itself, Christians are especially prone to defy Islam's anti-freedom laws, whether by openly proclaiming Christianity or by refusing to recant it, and so they die for it.
[Front Page Magazine]

Muslims Only: Temple Mount Prayer

For the first time, the Israeli Knesset considered Temple Mount prayer in a debate

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Editorial

[T]he Knesset examined the prohibition against Jews and other non-Muslims entering the Temple Mount area to pray or perform any other outwardly religious act. Though no resolution was passed and no actions were taken, the very fact that the Knesset dared to discuss the issue was enough to rile up the Arab world. The Jordanian Parliament passed a non-binding resolution to expel Israel's ambassador.

Today, Hamas and Palestinian Authority flags are flown over the area. The Israeli flag is not. Muslim authorities have unilaterally undertaken construction and excavation projects.

Jews are prevented from praying on the Temple Mount, the holiest place in the world for the Jewish people. Jews who go up to the Temple Mount on the few days and times designated for non-Muslim visitors are accompanied by a Waqf official and an Israeli policeman. If the visitor displays outward signs of prayer - such as moving of lips or reading from a prayer book - he or she is immediately and forcefully removed, and sometimes even arrested. It is incomprehensible to us why the quiet reciting of prayers incenses Muslims so.

Maintaining the status quo is the official policy of the Prime Minister's Office. Still, the controversy surrounding the Temple Mount is just one of many obstacles that need to be overcome before peace is achieved. 
(Jerusalem Post)


Muslims and Jews Once Prayed Together on Temple Mount
- Khaled Diab

There is historic evidence that Muslims and Jews once prayed together on the Temple Mount. Following the surrender of Jerusalem to the Arab armies in the 7th century, Omar Ibn al-Khattab allowed Jews, who had been expelled by the Christian Byzantines, back into Jerusalem.

"There is strong evidence to suggest that the Jews were not only permitted to return to Jerusalem, but that the Muslims allowed them to worship at their side on the Temple Mount," wrote Francis E. Peters, a professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. "We know that Omar welcomed the Jews back in Jerusalem, that he and the early caliphs allowed Jewish worship on the Temple Mount," Simon Sebag Montefiore noted.

It is even possible that the caliph allowed the Jews to construct a synagogue on the mount and appointed a Jew as the first governor of Jerusalem, according to the 7th century Armenian historian Sebeos. For a century, Jews had full access to this holiest of sites, until the reign of the dogmatic Umar Ibn Abdel-Aziz.

History can teach us that Jews and Muslims were, for many centuries, friends and allies and that they once stood side by side as brothers in faith on Jerusalem's most hallowed ground.
The writer is a Jerusalem-based Egyptian-Belgian journalist.

Israel Boycott's Hot Air

Don't Buy the Israel Boycott Hype - David Rosenberg 

The media has bought into the notion that a new wave of Western boycotts against Israel is underway.

There were countless editorials for and against the boycott in newspapers around the world, strategies offered up on how to stop it and speculation about who would blacklist Israel next. 

But as soon as one examines the individual cases, the boycott story melts away. They are either not new, not motivated by the boycott movement or have limited impact.

The true story is that after nearly 10 years of campaigning, the global BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement has not had the slightest economic impact. Its victories have consisted of coaxing a handful of pop stars and academics to cancel appearances in Israel, and winning empty, sanctimonious declarations of support from the likes of student governments, cooperative grocery stories and leftish church groups.

Far from being isolated, Israel's exports are reaching record highs and it attracts billions of dollars in foreign investment. For now the boycott is nothing more than a creature of the media's imagination.
(Wall Street Journal)

Some Questions for BDS Campaigners - Ant Katz

On Feb. 6, a "Solidarity Conference in support of the people of Palestine, Cuba and Western Sahara" took place at the South African Parliament.

Vivienne Myburgh, an activist Christian Zionist, was shocked to find that the declaration under consideration was all about BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), and that nobody had been invited to make the case for Israel. So, when the chair briefly opened a window of opportunity for comments from the public gallery, Vivienne promptly jumped in.

"Will BDS also consider a BDS campaign against Lebanon, where apartheid laws legally ban Palestinians from owning property and working in most professions?" she asked. "Will BDS consider a campaign against Kuwait, which expelled a quarter of a million Palestinians?" "Will BDS consider sanctions against a potential future Palestinian state if they practice apartheid, as Mahmoud Abbas has stated: 'I would not agree...that there will live among us even a single Israeli on Palestinian land.'" "What alternatives are BDS offering the 15,000 Palestinians employed in the...West Bank who are presently employed by Israeli companies?" 
(South African Jewish Report)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Iran & American Irrelevance

Iran and American Irrelevance -Daniel Pipes, PhD

The Menendez-Kirk "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013" (S. 1881) threatens the Iranian regime with additional sanctions and appears to be the only way to counter the Obama administration's flaccidity vis-à-vis Tehran.

I am skeptical, however, that it can do much good.
  1. Like the megalomaniacs in North Korea, the mullahs are dead-set on building a nuclear arsenal regardless of the toll this takes on their long-suffering subject population. Yes, sanctions increase economic privation which could lead to a counter-revolution but the odds of that happening in time are very small. Thus, the Menendez-Kirk bill is more symbolic than real.
  2. Tehran has threatened to abandon the P5+1 negotiations should the Menendez-Kirk bill become law, but Tehran gains too much from diplomacy to scuttle it for symbolic reasons. Its threat is just a tactic to pressure the Obama administration into opposing the congressional bill. Were the bill to come into effect, Tehran will surely find an excuse to keep talking.
In short, Washington is no longer a player in the Iran game. The views and actions of the U.S. government count about as much as those of the Belgian government - i.e., hardly at all.

In contrast, the one potential force that still might stop Iran is the Government of Israel; and the only way it can obstruct the Iranian program is through the use of force (as opposed to economic sanctions or computer viruses).

Whether or not Netanyahu and his colleagues decide to deploy military force is the only question hanging over the mullahs' acquisition of a nuclear arsenal.

Maybe that's yet another reason why we need a Jewish state. 
[National Review Online]

The Israeli War of Independence Is Not Over

Give peace a chance? -Rabbi Daniel Gordis

[The] key to America’s greatness, to its optimism, to its sense that every problem has a solution. It has come of age fighting most of its wars in lands far away, buffered by large oceans that make the world the object of interest – but not the source of personal distress.

Israel could not be more different. No one goes to Israel, temporarily or permanently, to forget who they are. No one goes to Israel to get a good night’s sleep in the midst of the nightmare called history.

To go to Israel is to have who you are be the focus of your very existence.

To go to Israel is to sometimes live the nightmare even when you’re awake.

No oceans here to serve as buffers. No luxury of fighting our wars far away, in lands we will never see. During the Second Lebanon War and more recent Gaza conflicts, our friends packed up food for their sons who were on the front – sometimes for Shabbat, and sometimes just because – loaded up the trunk of their car, and drove to deliver the food to the boys.

No Iraq or Afghanistan – out of sight and often out of mind – here.

The DNA of the world’s two largest Jewish communities could not be more different.

We need each other and have much to learn from each other, but we could not be more dissimilar. One is a place where you can imagine that if you play your cards right, you’ll have no enemies; the other is a place where such a delusion can get you killed. One is a place where young people have “Holocaust fatigue” and wish to hear no more about it – after all, it was a long time ago, and it’s time to move on; the other is a place where Yad Vashem is a national institution, where Holocaust imagery and memory are to be found everywhere...

That is why the “give peace a chance” mantra of many thoughtful, Israel- committed and well-intentioned Diaspora Jewish leaders strikes many middle-of-the-political-road Israelis as ludicrous.

If US Secretary of State John Kerry fails, it will be because the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships could not summon the courage to take the painful steps required for peace, security and dignity,” said one recently. Ah, the luxury of balance, of optimism, of the belief that every conflict has a solution.
It’s the gift of the buffer of the oceans.

Where are the Palestinian or Arab committed Muslims who choose to stay in Lebanon, or Syria, or Jordan, or in the West Bank –who write critically of their own culture.

Have you read or even heard of a single book by any citizen of those countries who says that the 1947-1949 Arab attack on Israel was a mistake?

Have you read or even heard of a single book by one of those people that says that the attempt to destroy the justborn Jewish state was morally wrong?

Have you read a single book by a committed Palestinian who says that just as the Palestinians have a right to a state, so too do the Jews, and it’s time for Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?

Neither have I.

When the talks fail...the real reason will be because the War of Independence isn’t over. The real reason will be that to this day, no Palestinian leader will look at their people and say “The Jews, too, are indigenous here. They, too, have a right to a homeland here, so let’s share.”

Have you heard any of them say that, in Arabic, to their street? Do you think it’s likely to happen soon? Do you think you’re likely to live long enough to hear that?

Neither do I.
[Jerusalem Post]


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Iran Policy & The Implications of Failure

The U.S. Undercuts Its Own Power - Ray Takeyh

In the nuclear talks with Iran, the U.S. is not dealing with the Soviet Union but a beleaguered middling power that may still be coerced into more expansive concessions. 

A close reading of Iran's political scene reveals that Ayatollah Khamenei's most important red line has not been on the nuclear issue but on preventing moderates from regaining political power. Given the disparity of power between the U.S. and Iran, Washington has an opportunity to craft a durable accord for arms control while preserving its coercive leverage. Such are the advantages of being a superpower with the world's largest economy and intact alliances.

But for that to happen, the U.S. must stop underestimating its power and overestimating its adversary's resilience. 
The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
(Washington Post)

Obama Weapons Expert: No Chance of Success - Jeffrey Goldberg

Gary Samore, who was until recently the Obama administration's top expert on weapons of mass destruction, says the Iran nuclear talks have an almost zero chance of success because the West has given the Iranian regime insufficient cause to feel as if it must give up its nuclear dreams. 


The Impending Clash between Iran & Saudi Arabia
- Jonathan D. Halevi

In 1987, Ayatollah Khomeini declared that Mecca was in the hands of a "band of heretics." For the current Iranian leadership, Khomeini's remarks remain authoritative and frame the way Iran views Saudi Arabia.

In January 2014, Frederic Hof, a former adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, disclosed during a congressional hearing that he heard from the Iranians that they viewed Saudi Arabia as their primary enemy, and not the U.S. or even Israel.

In Riyadh's eyes, Iran remains the most serious security challenge to the stability and territorial integrity of the Saudi kingdom. Saudi Arabia is preparing to purchase an atomic bomb "off the shelf" from Pakistan in order to create deterrence against Iran. Iran's determination to persist with its nuclear program and the Saudi determination to acquire a nuclear shield may drag the Middle East into a nuclear arms race.

Whatever understandings might be reached between Iran and the West on the nuclear file, Iran has no intention of retreating from its efforts to establish its hegemony in the Middle East.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

The Long Iran Stall Begins Again - Jonathan S. Tobin
  • It's not just that the Iranians are pouring cold water on any optimism about the negotiations, with their Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying they "will lead nowhere" or his representatives' adamant refusal to even discuss the dismantling of any of their nuclear infrastructure.
  • What is most distressing about the Iran talks is the blithe assumption on the part of the negotiators that they will drag on for as long as a year, allowing the Iranians to keep delaying while they continue to get closer to their nuclear goal.
  • The deal Secretary of State John Kerry signed in Geneva on November 24 stipulated that the talks that would follow were to take place over a six-month period. Kerry and his boss President Obama stressed the six-month time frame in order to assure Americans and nervous Israelis that the agreement couldn't be used by Tehran to stall the West indefinitely.
  • Yet we are now being assured that we should expect the negotiations to drag on until 2015 with little hope that they will end even then. With Iran's economy showing signs of a revival in the wake of the West's loosening of sanctions, there appears to be no reason to expect Tehran will ever give up its nuclear dream.
  • Open-ended negotiations were exactly what the president promised he would not be drawn into. For a decade, Iran has been able to engage in diplomatic tricks that have enabled it to stall the West indefinitely as they tried to run out the clock until their nuclear project was completed.
  • Right now, faith in diplomacy with Iran seems to have more to do with a disinclination to pressure them than it does with any belief that the U.S. can achieve its objectives.

The coming crash of American diplomacy in the Middle East
-John Bolton

President Obama has three significant Middle East diplomatic initiatives underway, treating, respectively, Iran's nuclear weapons program; Syria's deadly, exhausting conflict; and the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Into these negotiations, Obama and his administration have poured enormous amounts of American prestige, time and effort.

Although rarely considered collectively, these three efforts constitute a significant strategic package...

[A]ll three of Obama's diplomatic maneuvers are based on errors and will almost certainly fail. And what will happen then? Failing on one is bad enough, but failing on all three will be devastating.

Iran will emerge more powerful, verging on deliverable nuclear weapons, while still financing and arming terrorists worldwide. Assad seems likely to survive, which is bad enough by itself, but it will be compounded by the affirmation it affords Iranian and Russian strength. Israel will trust Washington even less than now, and ironically, Palestinians will be even more anti-American because Obama will not be able to deliver to them the Israeli concessions he predicted.

Perhaps this prospect of massive strategic failure will awaken Obama and America as a whole, but that seems unlikely. Instead, the increasing danger is that only another 9/11, another disaster, will produce the necessary awakening. There is tragedy ahead for our country if we continue on this course.
[Los Angeles Times]

Friday, February 14, 2014

Arab Welcomes Jews to MidEast with "Arms Wide Open"

Arab, Muslim and Pro-Israel - Abdel Bioud [pictured above]

I was born and raised in Algeria during a brutal civil war where Islamists were trying to take over the country to impose their worldview on everyone else. Friends and family members were killed. Individual liberty and freedom are values that I cherish very dearly.

By applying that freedom filter to the Israeli-Arab conflict, you get the following:

All Arab countries are dictatorships, with ruling gangster families on top, who use their monopoly of violence to kill/imprison anyone who questions them. On one hand, you have the families in power who are trying to steal as much money as possible, while using violence against their own people. On the other hand, you have the by-product of this insanity - the Islamists - confused people who had their vision of reality completely distorted by the system they were born in.

If you're a citizen of Israel, your basic freedoms are respected. You can live peacefully, raise a family, and send your kids to competitive and globally recognized universities. This puts them light-years ahead of any Arab state. Israel is a force of good for that region and for the world. And this is coming from someone with a Muslim name and an Arab face.

Even if you drop any rational judgment and go tribal on this issue, the Jewish people are the Arabs' cousins! If your cousins were being slaughtered and discriminated against all over the world, wouldn't you welcome them with your arms wide open?
The writer is a graduate student and vice president of communication for McGill Students for Israel. 
(Times of Israel)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kerry's Mission Redux

Negotiations and the American Set of Principles
- Shlomo Brom
  • Secretary of State Kerry's original intention was to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians and draft a framework agreement that would be signed by both.
  • Only after it became clear that the gaps between their positions were too wide to reach such an agreement did Kerry adopt the more modest goal of drafting an American set of principles that the two sides could accept in principle even if they expressed reservations about part of the content.
  • The U.S. is proposing an alternative system that would prevent the smuggling of weapons and people through the Jordan Valley without an Israeli presence.
  • However, there are no signs that Israel has relinquished its demand for IDF forces to have a continued presence in the Jordan Valley for many years. In addition, Israel is demanding the right of hot pursuit in any part of the Palestinian state.
  • It is difficult at this stage to see how Kerry will succeed in squaring the circle in the area of security.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv)

Palestinian Demands Western Wall Be Returned to PA
Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, rightfully belongs to the Palestinians, PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud al-Habbash told Israel Channel 10 TV.

"All the holy places, including the Aksa mosque and the Western Wall," must be returned to the Palestinian Authority, Habbash said.
(Jerusalem Post)


The Cost of the "Peace Process" - Elliott Abrams
  • Once upon a time, the U.S. worked hard to give Yasser Arafat, a terrorist and thief, a state to rule. That policy was changed in the George W. Bush administration, when we began to care not only about the borders of the new Palestine but what was within those borders. Bush said he would not support establishment of a Palestinian state if that state would just be another dictatorship, another kleptocracy, another home for terrorism.
  • It is widely believed that corruption in the Palestinian Authority has exploded since the departure of former prime minister Salam Fayyad, who fought it. For example, the Sunday Times of London reported in October that "billions of euros in European aid to the Palestinians may have been misspent, squandered or lost to corruption, according to a damning report by the European Court of Auditors, the Luxembourg-based watchdog."
  • Has the U.S. reverted to the position we had in the 1990s, when Yasser Arafat visited the White House 13 times and our policy goal was to hand him a state, no questions asked? How can it possibly contribute to the building of a decent, peaceful, democratic Palestine for the U.S. to be indifferent to the actual conduct of the Palestinian Authority?
  • State Department spokesmen issue statement after statement about Israeli settlement activity, seemingly whenever one brick is laid atop another, yet ignore these serious issues. What kind of Palestine is it that the U.S. is seeking to create?The writer, former deputy national security adviser in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East, is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR.
(Council on Foreign Relations)

Suppressing the Urge to Survive - Wesley Pruden

The Israelis have this unreasonable itch to survive. Self-preservation is the strongest human urge, but only the Israelis, alone in the world, are expected to suppress the urge and die without making a lot of unseemly fuss and noise about it. You don't have to be Jewish to share the outrage.

Mr. Kerry has devised a formula that might look good on a State Department white paper, but it assumes that everyone will be nice. Too bad, but Israel's critics and tormentors don't do nice.

The Palestinians could have their state on the West Bank if they would give up the fantasy of destroying the Israelis and getting it all. The Israelis would be pleased in the event to help the Palestinians make a success of nationhood. 
(Washington Times)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Israeli Singer Famous in Yemen!

Israeli Singer Proves Surprise Hit in Yemen - Yoav Appel

Israeli singer Zion Golan has become an unlikely star in Yemen, an Arab country where his hit songs blare from cafes and taxis.

Known in Yemen as Ziyan Joulan, his songs - whose Arabic lyrics are written by his mother-in-law - are distributed on bootleg CDs and downloaded from the Internet.

"Yemeni music is in my heart and in my soul," said Golan, whose parents were born in Yemen.

MidEast Scholar Extraordinaire

 Former 60's radical Dr. Barry Rubin, PhD, of blessed memory, was a Mideast expert who was cautious with predictions.  When he made them, he was usually correct. What a huge hole he leaves in the intellectual discourse that is the MidEast. I quoted his work 12 times in 2013 on my blog. Who will fill this chasm? Who will fill this chasm?

Barry Rubin: An appreciation -Jonathan Spyer

Barry Rubin was one of the leading Middle East scholars and analysts of his generation.

He was a patriot of two countries – Israel and the United States – a dissenter, and a moral and intellectual beacon for thousands of people in many lands.

Barry brought to his work a tremendous, searing energy, which made him famously prolific. This energy stayed with him throughout the illness [cancer] which has now prematurely ended his life.

[He] was also among the first to predict the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood and the acute dangers inherent therein.

Barry was similarly among the first to detect the anti-Western and anti-democratic tendencies of the Erdogan government and the AKP in Turkey. I remember him issuing a passionate, uncompromising warning in this regard on many platforms, as other scholars sought to outline what they imagined to be more “nuanced” or “measured” positions. Of course, Barry’s assessment of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the nature of his ambitions is now mainstream.

In his book The Truth about Syria, Barry wrote the only serious, book-length treatment of the Assad dictatorship in Syria that sought to issue a clear moral indictment of this brutal and murderous regime. This work is in my estimation the equivalent in the Syrian context of Iraqi dissident Kenan Makiya’s famous Republic of Fear, which revealed to the world the true nature of Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1980s.

Again, at a time when the prevailing wisdom was that Syria was a rather pleasant place, when Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife were received by the Queen of England, when The New York Times was running long segments on Damascus and Aleppo as charming and adventurous tourist destinations, it was Barry Rubin who pulled off the mask and revealed the Assad regime for what it was.

Once again, he incurred the condescension of much of the academic community on Syria for his passionate and strident tone. And once again, events have proved him right. This book, and the moral courage of the man who wrote it, deserve far wider recognition.

Finally, Barry was among the first analysts of US politics to recognize that the Barack Obama presidency would represent a sharp break in American policymaking, rather than a continuum. He noted this when Obama was still a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2008, and he sought to raise the alarm for what he saw as a danger both to America’s global standing and to its relationship with Israel. Again, his analysis was ahead of its time.

Barry’s writing deserves to be placed high in the canon of contemporary Middle East analysis. But there was another, more private aspect to his work, which involved his consulting with senior figures in the Israeli policymaking world, and advising and mentoring younger scholars, researchers and activists.

Regarding the former, Barry had been acting in the year prior to his death as an unofficial adviser to a senior minister in Israel’s government, a member of the inner security cabinet.

This relationship had great promise, but was sadly cut short by Barry’s illness. In a similar vein, in recent years he had developed a close connection to one of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s closest advisers.

Barry was both discreet and modest about these connections, but he was also aware of their importance.

In his youth, he had been a radical, in the ferment of the US campuses of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the second part of his life, Israel and the Jewish People were his abiding passion. Throughout, he was fascinated by the history of the land of his birth, the USA, and by its traditions of liberty and possibility.

As Walt Whitman described America itself, so Barry too “contained multitudes.”

Because of all this, there will be thousands of people, in Israel, in the broader Middle East, in the US and in Europe who will be feeling themselves diminished by his passing.
[Jerusalem Post]


Thursday, February 06, 2014

Israel's Military Edge

Click HERE for an amazing video of the Katana in action

Israel Unveils New Unmanned Surface Vessel - Michal Margalit

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) unveiled its new unmanned vessel, the Katana, designed for routine security missions near the shore and at sea. "The Katana is designated for homeland security missions and for missions of security of offshore installations such as oil rigs and fuel or gas pipelines. It will also be used for port security missions, will aid in closing off certain areas at sea and interception missions of ships," said Eyal Sharabani of IAI. It "is equipped with many optical systems, weapon systems and advanced communication systems." The vessel can travel at over 110 km. (68 miles) per hour and is unsinkable.
(Ynet News)

My, How You've Grown

Al-Qaeda's reach.  Click image for larger version

How Al-Qaeda Has Grown Since 9/11 - 'Abderrahman ar-Rashed

We are confronting a growing phenomenon, even by the criteria set by al-Qaeda itself when it destroyed the Twin Towers in New York in 2001.

At the time, the organization comprised no more than a few hundred members based in a single state, Afghanistan.

Today, it includes entire armies with tens of thousands of fighters.

Its geographical reach has spread from a single country to some ten countries where its members are fighting on a daily basis.    
(Mideast Mirror, Asharq al-Awsat, 5 Feb 2014)


U.S. Intel Officials Differ with Obama in View - John T. Bennett

Senior U.S. intelligence officials offered a more alarming assessment of al-Qaeda than President Obama's declaration that the organization is on the run and headed toward defeat. During testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Director of National Security James Clapper described al-Qaeda as "morphing," with new groups popping up in North Africa.

When asked if al-Qaeda is on a path to defeat and on the run, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn replied, "they are not." 
(Defense News)

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Dancing in the Nuclear Dark

Dancing in the Nuclear Dark:
How Will We Know When Iran Sprints toward a Bomb?

- Bret Stephens
  • Last month the Pentagon's Defense Science Board published an "Assessment of Nuclear Monitoring and Verification Technologies," which reported that our ability to detect a nuclear breakout is not good.
  • According to the report, "The pathways to proliferation are expanding. Networks of cooperation among countries that would otherwise have little reason to do so, such as the A.Q. Khan network or the Syria-North Korea and Iran-North Korea collaborations, cannot be considered isolated events."
  • In his 2012 debate with Paul Ryan, Joe Biden insisted that the Iranians "are a good way away" from a bomb and that "we'll know if they start the process of building a weapon." The report junks that claim.
  • Now the administration is pressing for an agreement with Iran based on the conceit that the intelligence community will give policy makers ample warning before the mullahs sprint for a nuclear weapon.
  • That is not true. We are dancing in the nuclear dark.
(Wall Street Journal)

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Kerry's Mission


Satirical video shows mock Kerry offering humorous solutions to the Israeli- Palestinian dilemma
- Herb Keinon

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will likely require more time than the April 29 deadline, U.S. officials acknowledged. The Americans now view the date they originally set to be "artificial" and suggest that even the framework might need more time, given some important gaps that still remain.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  dismissed as "absurd" the notion that Israel would sign an agreement recognizing a nation-state for the Palestinian people without mutual recognition by the Palestinians of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews.
"Now let's see if those same elements in the international community, which until now have placed pressure only on Israel, will make clear to the Palestinians what exactly the ramifications will be for them if there will not be an agreement," Netanyahu said.  
(Jerusalem Post)



State Department Spokeswoman
Responds To Spoof Video:

Another spoof of Kerry and American foreign policy,
but this time it's in Hebrew: