Monday, March 31, 2014

Israel Brings Science Fiction To Life With New Missile Defense

The short video above features an amazing Israeli missile defense system that borders on science fiction

Friday, March 28, 2014

Palestinian Apartheid

Palestinian youth welcoming Jews to the Western Wall. 
The golden Dome of the Rock is in the background.

PA Religious Leaders: Jews Have No Right to Pray at Western Wall
- Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash and the former Chief Justice of the PA's Religious Court Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi both recently declared that the PA's Islamic belief and political position is that Jews are prohibited from praying at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.

The PA claims that the area of the Muslim holy site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, includes not only the mosque itself, but extends over the entire Temple Mount and includes Judaism's holy site - the Western Wall.

Accordingly, both PA religious leaders proclaim in the name of Islam that Jews are prohibited from praying there.         
(Palestinian Media Watch)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Keep Your Eye on the Saudis

The Saudis See Iran Trying to Encircle Them - Dennis Ross
  • The Saudis believe that America's friends and interests are under threat, and the U.S. response has ranged from indifference to accommodation. The Saudis see Iran trying to encircle them with its Quds Force active in Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and their own eastern province.
  • The Saudis see an Iranian effort to shift the balance of forces in the region dramatically in Tehran's favor, whether by killing Sunni Muslims in Syria, mobilizing Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq, providing arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen or fomenting unrest among Saudi Shiites.
  • [T]he Saudis perceive Iranian encirclement in existential terms. Like the Israelis, they are convinced Iran is determined to acquire nuclear arms but see it as an instrument in its pursuit of regional hegemony.
  • Saudi leaders see the Iranians using the nuclear program negotiations to buy time, and fear that the U.S. is refusing to compete with the Iranians in the region or to back U.S. friends as they do so.
  • They see the Egyptian military involved in a life-and-death struggle with the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadi terrorists in Sinai, both of whom are also perceived as a threat to Saudi Arabia. And they see the U.S. withholding of Apache helicopters, which are effective as a counter-terror weapon for the Egyptian military, as inexplicable.
  • The Saudis have offered to pay for the $2-3 billion arms package Egypt is seeking from the Russians.

    The writer served as a senior Middle East advisor to President Obama.
(Los Angeles Times)

The U.S.-Saudi Relationship Really Is Too Big to Fail - Aaron David Miller

As President Obama heads off to Riyadh this week, the list of issues on which U.S. and Saudi leaders don't agree has gotten pretty long.

Riyadh opposed Mubarak's fall; we sounded like we welcomed it. They saw the Morsi Muslim Brotherhood government as a threat; we were prepared to live with it. They fully supported the Egyptian military coup and backed it with billions; we waffled and conditioned our military assistance to Egypt.

They backed the Khalifa family in Bahrain; initially we supported reform in their backyard. They remain worried that a Shi'a government close to Iran rules just across their border in Baghdad; we enabled it. Indeed, the Saudis see the Middle East as a struggle between good Sunnis and bad Shi'a; we refuse to take sides.

Yet the U.S.-Saudi relationship really is too big to fail. Key linkages - billions in recent U.S. weapons sales, counter-terrorism cooperation, and all that oil - will keep Riyadh and Washington together for some time to come.
(American Interest)

Textbook Diplomacy: Why the State Department Shelved a Study on Incitement in Saudi Education Materials
- David Andrew Weinberg

With President Obama poised to visit Saudi Arabia, there is a looming counterterrorism problem: Saudi Arabia's ongoing sponsorship of religious hatred in its public education system. 

In 2011, the State Department commissioned a comprehensive study on Saudi Arabia's government-published textbooks, which are widely distributed both inside the country and abroad. However, when the study was ready for release in 2012, U.S. government officials decided not to publish it.

Current and former officials assert that the study was withheld because of how bad it makes the Saudis look. Passages continue to dehumanize Jews and Christians, promote the murder of homosexuals, and sanction violence against Muslims who do not follow the Wahhabi brand of Islam sponsored by the Saudi state. 
(Foundation for Defense of Democracies)

Above, a video on the plight of a Saudi Princess and her children

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Dance of Rejection

David Hazony pens one of the most seminal pieces on the MidEast in recent memory

The Fundamental Reason for the Failure of Peace -David Hazony [pictured]

What is the argument really about?

[A]ccepting the Jewish state (rather than just a political entity called “Israel”) is understood by both sides to represent the ultimate, public and final abandonment of the long-standing explicit Palestinian goal of eradicating Israel.

To accept the Jewish state is to create the minimal conditions for an end to the conflict. It is to signal to the Palestinian factions, divisions, functionaries and public, as well as the whole global pro-Palestinian machine, that the era of “resistance” is reaching its end.

Both sides know it, and always have.

Indeed, since the very beginning of the Zionist enterprise, rejection of the “Jewish state” idea — whether Jewish in character, in purpose, religiously or demographically, or any other reasonable definition— has always been the real core of the problem.

It was the core of the problem when murderous Arab mobs began attacking unarmed Jewish civilians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, culminating in the slaughter of the Jewish community in Hebron in 1929.

It was the core of the conflict when the Arab states rejected United Nations Resolution 181 in November 1947...

It was the core of the conflict when, in 1964 — three years before Israel occupied the West Bank — the Palestine Liberation Organization was founded, declaring the illegality of partition and of Israel itself, with the aim of “elimination of Zionism in Palestine” through “armed struggle.” Thus Yasser Arafat became the godfather of modern terrorism.

It was the core of the conflict when, in 1967, following the failed attempt to destroy Israel in the Six Day War, the Arab leaders issued the infamous “three No’s of Khartoum” — no peace, no recognition, no negotiations with Israel — and when, in 1974, Arafat announced in Cairo his “phased plan” to destroy Israel in stages.

It was the core of the problem when, after the 1993 Oslo Accords were supposed to bring a gradual path to peace, Arafat’s newly constituted Palestinian Authority continued to support and fund terrorist groups, preach hatred rather than peace in the classrooms, transform the refugee camps into armed compounds filled with improvised explosive devices and launch a horrific campaign of suicide bombings in the mid-1990s.

It was the core of the problem when, in the 2001 talks in Taba, Arafat rejected a peace plan from President Clinton that would have given the Palestinians a sovereign state on nearly all the land in the West Bank and Gaza, and instead launched the second intifada, causing thousands of pointless deaths on both sides.

It was the core of the problem when, in 2010, Benjamin Netanyahu called Mahmoud Abbas’s bluff and implemented the first-ever freeze in settlement construction for a period of 10 months. The result? Abbas waited until the freeze was almost expired before coming to the table — proving that the conflict was never really about settlements, after all.

And it is the core of the conflict today. 

Rejection of the Jewish state has always been the core of the conflict. It’s worth noting that those Arab leaders who made significant gestures toward ending rejection — like Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Jordan’s King Hussein — were able to reach peace agreements with Israel in the blink of an eye. It was never Israel that stood in the way of peace.

Rejectionism is the problem, nothing else. Unless, of course, you believe that rejectionism is, in its essence, justified — that all the hatred, all the boycotts, all the violence against Israeli children and civilians, is all a “natural response” to the original sin of “occupation,” meaning of Israel itself. That 1948 justifies it all. If this is what you believe, then say so. But speak not of settlements, and do not pretend to have peaceful aims.

There is no middle ground; either you grant the Jews their place among the nations, or you don’t.

[R]ecognition is a two-way street, and Israel will forever insist on it, as well.
It’s because the only way to confirm that this thing is really over — and that the agreement won’t be another catastrophic failure, like Oslo — is for recognition to replace rejection, not to live alongside it in some ambiguous cloud of diplomatic nicety. Not to dilute it by saying, “Yes, but also right of return,” or, “Yes, but also right to resistance.” But clear, categorical, overriding.

Anything short of that is just more posturing, more blood and tears.

[The Forward]

Abbas Refused to Commit to "End the Conflict" with Israel    

At his meeting with President Obama in Washington last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Secretary of State John Kerry's framework document for continued peace talks with Israel, and said "no" on core issues, Israel Channel 2 TV reported Friday, quoting American and Israeli sources.     
Specifically, Abbas rejected Prime Minister Netanyahu's demand that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

He also refused to abandon the Palestinian demand for a "right of return" for millions of Palestinians and their descendants, and refused to commit to an "end of conflict," under which a peace deal would represent the termination of any further Palestinian demands of Israel.
(Times of Israel)

Israelis Blast EU, UN for Condemning West Bank Construction
- Herb Keinon

Israeli diplomatic officials slammed the EU and UN for condemning plans for new settlement construction, but remaining silent in the face of maximalist Palestinian positions they say are jeopardizing the diplomatic process.

"Are they really putting their fingers on the real problem with these automatic responses," one official said. He questioned why the EU did not see fit to criticize Fatah for organizing a rally Thursday in Ramallah that "celebrated rejectionism, that celebrated 'not one inch,' a position that makes peace impossible."

"A few more housing units inside the settlement blocs will not change the final maps of peace, but it should be clear that the Palestinian refusal to show any flexibility in the talks is preventing things from moving forward." 
(Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian Canaanites: Arafat's Laughable Thesis Returns From The Dead

Changing the Historical Narrative - Alan Baker 

  • Palestinian leaders are manipulating the history of geographic Palestine/Land of Israel.
  • They have manufactured a curious claim, expressed recently by Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, that they are descended from Canaanites and are therefore the indigenous people of the area, present before the emergence of the Jewish people around the year 1500 BCE.
  • Saeb Erekat's family is Bedouin. According to Bedouin genealogy, the family is part of the Huweitat clan which originated in the Hejaz area of Saudi Arabia, arrived in Palestine from the south of Jordan, and settled in the village of Abu Dis in the early twentieth century.
  • Several leading scholars of Middle Eastern studies and Islamic history have confirmed that the Palestinians do not have ancient roots in the area and are trying to invent origins for themselves that predate the Jewish people's presence.
  • They explain that most of the Palestinians arrived as part of the waves of immigration that began in the nineteenth century at the time of the emergence of Zionism, attracted by employment opportunities and economic benefits.
  • The historical presence of the Jewish people in the "Holy Land" is well-documented, not only in the scriptures of all three monotheistic religions, and visible in extensive archeological remains, but also in historic writings by early Greek, Roman, pagan, and other visitors to the area. The fact that Christianity emanated from Judaism is further proof of the presence of a thriving Jewish community in the area.

    Amb. Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel's ambassador to Canada, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Bear Ponders Iran

Russia Warns: We’ll Play the Iran Card - Walter Russell Mead

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Russia could "raise the stakes" in its confrontation with the West over Ukraine by revising its stance on Iran.

The threat has teeth. If Russia switches its stance from pushing Iran, however lightly, toward abandoning its nuclear program toward tacitly or overtly promising to support Iran regardless of the nuclear issue, the West's strategy toward Iran could rapidly unravel.

Linking the Ukraine crisis with the Iran negotiation is an American nightmare; it might just be a Russian dream come true. If Russia shifts into active cooperation with Iran, it is hard to see how the White House can keep hope alive.

If this statement really represents Russian policy rather than rhetoric, President Obama may have to choose between a shattering humiliation in the Black Sea, or a significantly greater risk of war in the Persian Gulf. 
(American Interest)


How Vladimir Putin Sees the Middle East - Michael Doran

When Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stepped forward last September with an offer to strip Syria's Bashar al-Assad of his chemical weapons, President Obama saw the move as a breakthrough. Secretary of State John Kerry and Lavrov also conspired to launch Geneva II, a peace conference designed to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war. In the dawning new era, Syria was seen by the White House as a prototype: a model for stabilizing the Middle East. If successful, it could be applied to other problems in the region, including the Iranian nuclear program.

Just six months later, the new model is collapsing. In fact, it never had a chance. In Putin's view, all accommodations with the U.S. are tactical maneuvers in a struggle for the upper hand. The Kremlin sees itself as the great-power patron not just of the Assad regime but also of Iran and Hizbullah - the entire Resistance Alliance.

In the end, Putin will never sell out Tehran and Damascus in order to win compliments in Washington; if forced to choose, he will always side with the former against the latter, and will certainly leave them in no doubt that Russia is their most dependable friend in the UN Security Council. It is this fact that makes Russia a revisionist power in the Middle East and the permanent adversary of the U.S.

The writer, a senior fellow of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the U.S. National Security Council.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Palestinian Rejection & Denial

A new square was dedicated in Gaza last week, with this lovely monument.  Hamas rules a de facto Palestinian state in Gaza.  They and The Palestinian Authority agree on rejection and denial of Israel and the historical roots of Judaism there.

Abbas: Jewish State is a 'Delusional Myth' - Itamar Marcus

Abbas' refusal to recognize the Jewish state reflects a fundamental element of PA policy to deny Jewish history - especially in Jerusalem. When Israeli archeologists in 2013 displayed gold artifacts with Jewish symbols, such as a menorah and a shofar, found 50 meters from the Western Wall in Jerusalem, former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei immediately denied its authenticity on official PA TV: "I think all this is a forgery, forgery of the truth. It's all an attempt to make claims. They did not find anything." (Official PA TV, September 11, 2013).

The PA's refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is not a mere technicality, but part of an overarching policy of denying thousands of years of Jewish history in Israel, and thereby denying Israel's right to exist. Although in the Oslo Accords in 1993 the PLO recognized the existence of Israel, the PA differentiates between recognizing that Israel exists and recognizing Israel's right to exist.
The writer is director of Palestinian Media Watch. 
(Jerusalem Post)


Obama’s Middle East fallacy -Jackson Diehl

Having invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, Obama welcomed him by publicly declaring to Bloomberg View’s Jeffrey Goldberg that Israel “could face a bleak future — one of international isolation and demographic disaster — if [Netanyahu] refuses to endorse a U.S. drafted framework agreement for peace,” as Goldberg summed it up.

Fair enough, you might say: it’s time for a little presidential arm-twisting.

It follows that when Mahmoud Abbas troops into the Oval Office for his meeting, he should be met with equally dire predictions of Palestinian doom if he fails to accept the framework.

[T]here’s no sign of it: no presidential interviews, no statements by Secretary of State John Kerry, no leaks of potential U.S. punitive measures if Abbas says no.

Therein lies the fallacy that has hamstrung Obama’s Middle East diplomacy for the past five years.
[Washington Post]

Don't be scared to support a One State Solution -Caroline Glick

PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas must have gotten a kick out of it when he visited the White House and President Barack Obama praised him as "somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security."

After all, the same day the men met, Abbas's regime continued its week-long celebration of the deadliest Palestinian terrorist attack on Israel to date. On March 11, 1978, PLO terrorists commandeered a passenger bus on the coastal highway and massacred 37 people, including 12 children. Dalal Mughrabi, a female terrorist, led the raid. Ever since, she has been lionized by the PLO.  

While he met with Obama, Abbas's adviser Sultan Abu al-Einein proclaimed that Mughrabi was the ultimate role model for Palestinian women.
[Jewish World Review]

Dennis Ross: Recognition of Jewish State Raised at Camp David in 2000

- Rick Richman

The latest Palestinian assertion (swallowed whole by the New York Times) that recognition of a Jewish state is a new issue, allegedly raised by Netanyahu to prevent peace, is a Big Lie.

On March 19, Amb. Dennis Ross, speaking in Los Angeles, said: "When I hear it said that this is the first time this issue has been raised - the people who say that think that no one knows history....When we were at Camp David [in 2000], this issue was raised...for obvious reasons. From the Israeli standpoint, there is a need to know that the Palestinians are committed to two states, meaning in fact that one state is Palestinian and one is the state of the Jewish people. They need to know the Palestinians are not about two states, one Palestinian and one bi-national."


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ya'alon Changes Opinion on Iran

Ya'alon Leans Toward Israeli Operation in Iran - Barak Ravid

Based on his evaluation that the U.S. isn't going to do anything to frustrate the Iranian nuclear program, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said he's changed his mind and now leans toward supporting unilateral Israeli action against Iran.    

"We had thought the one who should lead the campaign against Iran is the United States. But at some stage the United States entered into negotiations with them, and unhappily, when it comes to negotiating at a Persian bazaar, the Iranians were better....Therefore, on this matter, we have to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves."

"People know that Iran cheats, but comfortable Westerners prefer to put off confrontation. If possible, to next year, or the next president. But in the end, it will blow up." "The [interim] agreement is very convenient for the Iranians. They're settling down at the threshold and can decide when to make the breakthrough to a nuclear bomb."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sunni-Shia Divide Brings Opportunities

Shifting Sands Reveal New Alliances -Jonathan Spyer

[A]mid the confusion, a new topography is emerging.

This was the month in which a long-existent split in the Sunni Arab world turned into a gaping fissure.

On March 5th, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced that they were withdrawing their ambassadors from the Emirate of Qatar. This decision was clearly a response to Qatar's continued support and sponsorship of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. This movement is regarded as a subversive threat by the three Gulf states. They are worried by the Brotherhood's capacity for internal subversion.

Qatar, by contrast, affords generous subsidies to its tiny citizen body, and has little to fear from potential internal unrest. It continues to support the Brotherhood and to domicile key leaders of the Egyptian branch of the movement. The latter is now engaged in an insurgency against the Egyptian authorities.

Saudi patience was at an end. The removal of the ambassadors reflects this.

On March 7th, Saudi Arabia made the additional move of declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. In the same week, an Egyptian court banned all activities by the Hamas organization in Egypt, and referred to the movement as a "terrorist organization."

The proximity of these announcements reflects the very close emergent alliance between Saudi Arabia and the de facto Sisi regime in Egypt, which is likely to become de jure following presidential elections later this year.

This alliance is the core component of an emergent dispensation in the Sunni Arab world which also includes UAE, Bahrain and Jordan, as well as the fragile West Bank Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas.

This alliance is set to emerge as the strongest element among the Sunni Arabs.

It is opposed both to the Iran-led, mainly Shia "resistance" bloc, and to what is left of the Qatar/Muslim Brotherhood alliance that just a short year ago was proclaiming itself the wave of the future in the Middle East.

The Hamas authority in Gaza has no buy into the new Saudi-Sisi bloc. Formerly aligned with Iran, it put its bets on the Qatar/Muslim Brotherhood axis. But this putative bloc was fatally damaged by the Sisi coup in Egypt of July 3rd, 2013, and by the departure of the Muslim Brotherhood-related Nahda party in Tunisia.

Hamas appears to be trying to find its way back to the Iranians. Gaza's "foreign minister" Mahmoud al Zahar and Iran's parliament spokesman Ali Larijani both made statements this week suggesting that relations had returned to normal between Teheran and Hamas.

Hamas is stuck between Qatar and the Iranians, with the support of the former no longer worth what it once was, and the support of the latter available only in a truncated and reduced form.

The week's events in Gaza, meanwhile, showcased the continued vigor of the Iran-led camp. The most staunch supporter of Iran among the Palestinians, and now apparently the main beneficiary of Teheran's largesse, is the Islamic Jihad movement. This is a purely paramilitary and terrorist group, with no pretensions to mass political leadership. As such, it is a less complicated prospect from Teheran's point of view than Hamas.

The recent apprehending of the Klos-C arms ship by Israel, as it brought a consignment of weapons evidently intended for Islamic Jihad in Gaza, was the latest indication of Teheran's willingness to offer practical backing to those it favors.

Islamic Jihad's furious response to the Israeli apprehending of the craft, and to the killing in recent days of a number of its operatives by Israel, was certainly done with Iran's blessing and probably at its instruction (along with tacit permission from the Hamas authorities in Gaza). The interrupted route of the weapons intended for Gaza and the subsequent rocket fire should remind us that the Iran-led Shia bloc remains a potent gathering, capable of coordinated, region-wide action.

So three power blocs currently dominate the Middle East — the Iran-led Shia group; a rival emergent Cairo-Riyadh axis leading a group of smaller Sunni states; and a smaller, much weaker Qatar-Muslim Brotherhood alliance. Their competition is set to dominate regional affairs in the period opening up.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia, along with Israel, were in recent decades the main allies of the U.S. in the area. The former two countries are now in search of new friends, and have found each other. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have tried to lobby on Sisi's behalf in Washington in recent weeks, though as yet with limited success.

Israel, of course, will be a charter member of none of these groups. But Jerusalem is a de facto ally of the Saudi-Egypt camp.

[T]he current drawing together of Saudi Arabia and Sisi's Egypt is surely significant. It is likely to form the basis for the Sunni Arabs' attempts to contain Iranian ambitions in the period ahead.
[Middle East Forum]

Monday, March 10, 2014

Israel Displays Iranian Missles

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking today in Eilat,  Iranian missles are in the background. 

"IRICA," [Iran Informatics Companies Association]
tag is clearly visible


At last week's AIPAC gathering, Netanyahu warned that Iran already had missiles that can reach Israel, so Iranian development of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles [ICBM's] were meant to reach Europe and the United States.  He used an analogy to a Budweiser commercial to drive his point home. 

Netanyahu slams world's hypocrisy -Herb Keinon & Yaakov Lappin

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blasted the world's hypocrisy, saying there is a wave of condemnation of Israel when it "builds a balcony in Jerusalem," but only a drizzle of censure when Iran tries to smuggle long-range missiles into Gaza.

Netanyahu, standing at the Eilat port in front of rows of interdicted Syrian missiles and Iranian mortar shells, said that there are those in the world who did not want Israel to show the intercepted ordnance because they were not interested in knowing what was truly happening inside Iran, but rather to "develop the illusion that Iran has changed direction."

"But the facts," Netanyahu said, "prove the exact opposite." Without mentioning EU policy chief Catherine Ashton by name, he did refer critically to her current visit to Iran.

"I heard only isolated and weak condemnation of Iran from the international community regarding this deadly shipment," he said. "By contrast, we are witness to smiles and handshakes of representatives of the west with the representatives of Iran in Tehran at the very time that these missiles were being unloaded in Eilat.”

Netanyahu said that the world's ignoring Iran's involvement in the deadly shipment "is more evidence of the era of hypocrisy in which we live." This hypocrisy is not only morally wrong, he said, but dangerous.

"This time there were long-range missiles in these containers," he said. "In the containers in the future Iran can arm nuclear suitcases that it can send to every port in the world. The world must wake up from its illusions before it is too late and prevent Iran from getting the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons."
[Jerusalem Post]

The Amazing Coincidences of Iran's Javad Zarif - Claudia Rosett
Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif [pictured] ridiculed the seizure by Israel of Iranian munitions in the Red Sea, implying it was a public relations stunt timed to the AIPAC meeting in Washington.

But the time lines surrounding this shipment are intriguing. From details of this latest Iranian munitions-smuggling saga, it can be gleaned that while Zarif was in Vienna, standing next to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the freighter, secretly stuffed with weapons, was already enroute from Iran toward the Red Sea.

According to the Lloyd's List Intelligence shipping database, the Klos C arrived at Iran's Bandar Abbas anchorage about Jan. 23, lingering there for almost a fortnight - the window for the weapons to be stashed onboard - and departed about Feb. 3. On Jan. 24 - as the rockets were being loaded - Zarif along with Rouhani was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, telling an audience, "We can prepare for a better future by opening our minds and our hearts, and avoiding old stereotypes." By Feb. 2 - as the Klos C prepared to leave Iran - Zarif was meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Munich


Iran Weapons Ship Not Changing Any Minds - Lee Smith

The Klos C affair wasn't just about moving arms to terrorists. Rather it's part of the strategic missile campaign that Iran embarked on after Hizbullah's 2006 war with Israel. In arming its clients on Israel's borders (Hamas, Hizbullah, the Assad regime), Tehran seeks to change the balance of regional power by deterring Israel from striking its nuclear weapons facilities.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right to think the seizure is a big deal. But clearly it had no effect on Brussels, or more importantly on the White House. Obama administration officials explained that they're not happy about the Iranian action, but it's not changing any minds about engaging Tehran.

Netanyahu says the Iranians must never be allowed to have nuclear weapons capacity, and Obama says he wants to see Iran normalized and re-integrated into the international community
(Weekly Standard)

When Iran Goes Nuclear, the Saudis Will Buy Bomb from Pakistan
- Yaakov Lappin

As soon as Iran gets a nuclear bomb, Egypt will develop its own nuclear weapon, and Saudi Arabia will purchase one from Pakistan, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, director of political-military affairs at the Israel Defense Ministry, warned. "I'm disturbed that they [the international community] are going for an interim agreement mechanism. After six months, there will be another six months, and then there will be cracks in the wall of sanctions," he added.
(Jerusalem Post)

Hamas and Iran Approved Gaza Rocket Fire - Ron Ben-Yishai

We have not seen such a simultaneous barrage of dozens of rockets since November 2012. It was a move initiated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, likely in coordination with Hamas, which did not even try to prevent the fire. It's impossible that Hamas was unaware of the preparations for the parallel firing of dozens of rockets, so we can comprehend that Hamas gave its silent approval, even if it did not take part in the fire.

The rocket fire was likely related to the capture of the shipment of heavy rockets on the Klos C weapons ship from Iran. Islamic Jihad is the primary Palestinian organization with direct ties to Iran. The seizure of the arms ship required an Iranian response, and Islamic Jihad was probably asked to execute it.

Wednesday's rocket fire was massive quantity-wise, but they only fired short-range rockets, dozens of which didn't even reach Israel. 
(Ynet News)

Saturday, March 08, 2014

How Israel Saved 'Palestine'

The Palestinians' Real Enemies - Efraim Karsh

Had Israel lost its war of independence in 1948, its territory would have been divided among the invading Arab forces. The name Palestine would have vanished into the dustbin of history.

By surviving the pan-Arab assault, Israel paradoxically saved the Palestinian national movement from complete oblivion. After the war, the Arab states continued to manipulate the Palestinian national cause to their own ends. Neither Egypt nor Jordan allowed Palestinian self-determination in the parts of Palestine they occupied. In the West Bank, King Abdullah of Jordan moved to erase all traces of Palestinian Arab identity. On April 4, 1950, he formally annexed the territory and its residents became Jordanian citizens.

In Egyptian-occupied Gaza, the Palestinians were kept under oppressive military rule. "The Palestinians are useful to the Arab states as they are," President Gamal Abdel Nasser told a Western reporter. "We will always see that they do not become too powerful. Can you imagine yet another nation on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean?" 
The writer is professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London and professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University.
(Middle East Quarterly)

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Iran's Dirty Dealing


The IDF's interception of a ship that Iran sent to deliver powerful rockets to Gaza is a small glimpse into an ongoing, daily covert war. On one side is Iran, which is transporting powerful arms to terrorist organizations sworn to jihad against Israel. On the other side are Israel's intelligence agencies which use classified techniques to track the weapons' movements.
Islamic Jihad, which is Iran's official proxy in Gaza, would likely have taken possession of the M-302 rockets, but the weapons may also have been destined for Hamas, since Iran and Hamas have begun a dialogue to try to repair their divisions.
(Jerusalem Post)
In the wake of the seizure of advanced Iranian-supplied rockets by the Israeli Navy in the Red Sea, a former U.S. official observed that "the so-called [Iranian] moderates are presiding over an aggressive foreign policy designed to create instability throughout the region. If Rouhani is in favor of all this, he is no moderate; if he is opposed to it but cannot stop it, he has no influence....His only function is to mislead the United States into thinking he is a moderate, so that we change our policy toward Iran and weaken the sanctions."
As Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) pointed out, the Iranians are not only using the talks and sanctions relief for cover to continue their advanced research and missile program, but also they are inhibiting the U.S. from responding to Iranian behavior outside the talks.
Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a key architect of sanctions, warns, "The nuclear talks with Tehran already have constrained the Obama administration's willingness to respond to a range of Iranian provocations including the arming of anti-American terrorists like Hamas, Hizbullah, Iraqi Shiite militias and the Taliban, extremist groups in Yemen and Bahrain, and rogue regimes like Assad's."

"Iran's threat network will be supercharged when the Islamic Republic becomes a threshold nuclear state and American willingness to push back forcefully will be even more severely constrained....That freedom for terror, after all, is a major reason why Tehran has pursued nuclear weapons capability in the first place."

Iran is a fundamentalist Islamic state that employs terror and murderous allies (e.g., Syria) to accomplish its aims, including the destruction of the State of Israel. In putting a friendlier face on its interlocutors with the West, the regime hopes to lift sanctions while keeping its sponsorship of terror going full tilt and its nuclear weapons program intact.

So far, it's working like a charm.
(Washington Post)


The False Urgency of the Peace Process - Jed Babbin 

Look at the "peace process" track record. In 2000 at Camp David, Bill Clinton wanted to rush things along. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered essentially the same deal that Obama wants now - a return to Israel's 1967 lines with land swaps. That fell apart when Palestinian chieftain Yasser Arafat abruptly left the negotiations and never asked to resume them.

In 2005, Ariel Sharon pulled back from Gaza and the West Bank - without land swaps - and the Palestinians launched rocket attacks on Israel. In 2008, Ehud Olmert presented Abbas with a map proposing a Palestinian state on nearly 100% of the West Bank and Gaza. Abbas left and never came back.

Now Obama is again pushing the same deal, cloaking it in an urgency that isn't there, because there is no flexibility whatsoever in the Palestinians' position, no compromise they will accept. The Palestinians' desire for peace was demonstrated Wednesday when the Israeli navy seized the Klos C carrying missiles for terrorists in Gaza that can reach almost all of Israel.
(Washington Examiner)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Netanyahu Turns The Other Cheek

Reading the Obama Interview -Alexander H. Joffe

Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg's interview with President Obama on the eve of his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is highly significant, verging on a turning point in US-Israeli relations.

Several points emerge from the interview. First is the implied threat that if current peace negotiations with the Palestinians fail, the US will be unable – read unwilling – to defend Israel. Moreover, it is up to the Palestinians to judge: "If Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited."

Declaring "our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited" is not accidental; indeed, Obama repeats it twice. Obama's statement that "What we also know is that Israel has become more isolated internationally" is not simply a prediction but a prescription. Similar statements by Secretary of State John Kerry in recent months have given European governments and industry the license to begin quietly exploring ways to boycott Israeli industries and corporations, arguably as part of an American strategy to pressure Israel during negotiations. A statement by the US president [is] paradigmatic. This alone is a momentous policy shift.

[T]hese and other fiascos will prompt Obama to redouble pressure on Israel, particularly by unleashing Europeans, not for the sake of a rare policy success – which Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has repeatedly assured will not be forthcoming. It will be to punish a vassal state and a domestic minority that refuse to comply fully and cheerfully.
[The Times of Israel]

Netanyahu's inaction to Obama Provocation sends powerful message
-Jonathan Tobin

The last time President Obama ambushed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Israeli gave as good as he got. This time he turned the other cheek.
The reason for this turnabout by the normally combative prime minister tells us everything we need to know about the relative strength of the positions of these two leaders.

While the assumption on the part of most pundits was that Obama has Netanyahu in a corner, the latter's reaction to the assault the president launched at him in an interview with Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg this past weekend shows us this isn't true. Though Netanyahu had to be infuriated by the president's single-minded determination to blame Israel for the lack of peace as well as his obtuse praise for Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, he felt no need to publicly respond to it.

Far from feeling threatened by Obama's tirade, Netanyahu's decision to ignore the president's attack shows that he understands the dynamics of both the peace process and U.S. foreign policy actually give him the upper hand over the weak and increasingly out-of-touch lame duck in the White House.

Netanyahu's seeming dismissal of this broadside shows that Obama is not in as strong a position vis-à-vis Netanyahu as he thinks. Netanyahu chose to ignore the president's slights. There were no public or even off-the-record remarks from his party expressing anger. And in his speech to AIPAC , Netanyahu barely mentioned the president.

It's likely that Israel's future participation in Kerry's talks will be cited by some in this group as evidence that Obama's spanking of the prime minister worked. But this is nonsense. Given that Israel had already signaled that it will accept Kerry's framework for more talks, that explanation won't hold water.
A better reason for Netanyahu's decision to turn the other cheek is that, unlike the president, the prime minister has been paying attention to the currents currently roiling Palestinian politics and knows that Abbas' inability to rally his people behind a peace agreement renders any potential U.S.-Israeli arguments moot.

Far from needing to defend himself on the American stage as he felt it important to do in 2011, Netanyahu now understands that forbearance is the best way to respond to Obama's provocations. Try as [Obama] might, to put the onus for the lack of peace on the Jewish state, Netanyahu knows it will always be the Palestinians who say "no" to peace, not the Israelis.

Similarly, as much as he must have been itching to directly take on Obama's appeasement of Tehran, Netanyahu realizes that it is Iran's lust for a nuclear weapon that will do more to undermine the administration's negotiating tactics than anything he can say.
[Jewish World Review]


The End of the 'Wrong Side of History' -Jonathan Spyer

Israelis remember that they buried 1,100 of their own citizens in the period 2000-2005 because of a mis-reading of history and the consequent placing of trust in an enemy committed to their demise. They will be unlikely to rush to repeat the experiment. The waving of the bogeyman of increasing isolation will not induce them to do so.
[PJ Media]

The Fantasy Middle East - Jeff Jacoby

In the fantasy Middle East there is a robust Palestinian peace camp eager for a two-state solution. In the real Middle East, the real Mahmoud Abbas spurned Israel's offer of a Palestinian state in 2008, then refused for years to take part in talks with Israel, confident that Washington would pressure Israel into making more concessions. Yet instead of negotiating in good faith at last, Abbas wants still more up-front concessions, a demand he repeated on Monday.

What drives the conflict is not a hunger for Palestinian statehood, but a deep-rooted rejection of Jewish statehood. Palestinian leaders heatedly insist that they will never agree to any such thing. 
(Boston Globe)

No, Israel Is Not Doomed - David Harsanyi

President Obama['s]
posture is confusing when we consider that nearly all reports indicate it is Mahmoud Abbas' stubbornness that's slowed down the process toward a deal. 
(The Federalist)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Welcome to America: Obama Kicks Sand at Netanyahu

President Obama will not speak this week at AIPAC's National Conference.  Instead, he spit fire at Netanyahu, who will speak there Tuesday morning.  The President is pictured at a prior AIPAC gathering. 

The President's Threats to Israel - John Podhoretz

In an extraordinary — and I don’t use the word in a complimentary way—interview, President Obama warns Israel and its leader that a failure to "make peace" now with the Palestinians will have terrible consequences.

Palestinian rejectionism plays almost no role in the Obaman calculus. The Palestinians, in Obama's view, do not actually need to make changes; astonishingly, he says, they're ready for peace, overlooking every piece of polling data we have about the opinions of the Palestinians.

60% of the Palestinians reject a two-state solution. They are so eager for peace and coexistence with Israel that they remain the only significant Muslim population that still has a favorable view of suicide bombings, according to a Pew survey.

Obama said: "Nobody would dispute" that Abbas is committed to "diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue."

Yet in 2008, offered a peace deal by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert giving the Palestinians 92-95% of the territory, Abbas basically fled the table and didn't return.    

Obama to Israel: Time Is Running Out - Jeffrey Goldberg

When Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu visits the White House, President Obama will tell him that his country could face a bleak future - one of international isolation and demographic disaster - if he refuses to endorse a U.S.-drafted framework agreement for peace with the Palestinians. Obama told me in an interview Thursday that he views Abbas as the most politically moderate leader the Palestinians may ever have. It seemed obvious to me that the president believes that the next move is Netanyahu's.

Obama said: "If there's something you know you have to do, even if it's difficult or unpleasant, you might as well just go ahead and do it, because waiting isn't going to help. When I have a conversation with Bibi, that's the essence of my conversation: If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who? How does this get resolved?" 

For Netanyahu, a Bombshell Battering by Obama - David Horovitz

The timing of President Obama's interview with Jeffrey Goldberg could not have been any more deliberate - an assault on the prime minister's policies delivered precisely as Netanyahu was flying in to meet with him. At the very least, that might be considered bad manners, poor diplomatic protocol, a resounding preemptive slap in the face: I've just told the world you're leading your country to ruin, Mr. Prime Minister. Now, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?    

The president's comments reinforce years of grievance that have accumulated in Netanyahu's circles and some distance beyond, to the effect that the president ignores the inconsistencies, duplicities and worse of the Palestinian Authority and its leader Mahmoud Abbas, while placing exaggerated blame for the failure of peace efforts at the door of the Israeli government. The president's public display of disaffection will hardly encourage the Palestinians to adopt more flexible positions on such core issues as their demand for a "right of return" for millions of Palestinians to Israel.

The president's resort to an interview on the eve of their talks to issue near-apocalyptic warnings to Netanyahu is unlikely to bolster the prime minister's confidence in their alliance. 
(Times of Israel)

Netanyahu: It Takes Three to Tango - Herb Keinon

Prime Minister Netanyahu said upon arriving in the U.S. on Monday that for peace in the Middle East to take hold, the Palestinians must demonstrate their desire to reach a solution.

"The tango in the Middle East needs at least three," Netanyahu said. "For years there have been two - Israel and the U.S. Now it needs to be seen if the Palestinians are also present."  
(Jerusalem Post)