Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Corrupted by Occupation:" The False Tyranny Narrative


Beware the tyranny narrative

-David M. Weinberg

Yom Yerushalayim is still six weeks off, but foreign critics already have launched their attack.

In their view, there is no miraculous Six Day War victory to extol; no grand return to the Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria to toast; no historic reunification of Jerusalem to celebrate; no liberation and redemption to commemorate; no flowering of religious culture and national creativity to admire; no jubilee to enjoy. Not at all. 

Instead, there is only an entrenched “occupation” of the West Bank to bemoan. Palestinian self-determination is being stifled, and this casts a pall over all.
Worse still, in their view, is that “Israel’s soul has been corrupted,” ostensibly, by the occupation.
The British Guardian got the ball rolling on this sullying narrative last week by giving full play to the nasty remarks of former GSS chiefs Ami Ayalon and Carmi Gillon at a Jerusalem event in support of Breaking the Silence and Babur Gallery.
Gillon painted a bleak picture of Israel’s political trajectory, saying that the country was being “driven by the occupation towards disaster”. He added: “This country was established on the values of liberal democracy; values we don’t fulfill any more. You can analyze what happened to us in the last 50 years, but everything is under the shade of occupation. It has changed us a society. It has made us an unpleasant society.”
Ayalon dove even deeper into calumny by alleging that Israel is being overtaken by a process of “incremental tyranny.” He cited recent moves by ministers in the Netanyahu government to change the laws to hit groups such as Breaking the Silence by banning them from events in schools and targeting their funding, while also “taking aim” at the country’s supreme court and independence of the media.
In short, all liberal, progressive, democratic, good and holy values are being crushed by the shadow of occupation. Yada, yada, yada.
This is a very dangerous and delegitimizing storyline. The Guardian, of course, ate it up.
By perpetuating myths about the illegality and immorality of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria; by exaggerating the impact of Israel’s military rule in the territories and minimizing the evils of Palestinian kleptocracy and intransigence; and by insinuating a non-existent trend towards dictatorship in Israeli society and politics – these critics threaten to smear Israel permanently with the stink of a decaying carcass.
This cannot be tolerated. Such defamation cannot be brooked. Israeli and Jewish leaders worldwide must push back hard against such slander, beginning now. Otherwise, every newspaper around the globe is going to echo the same malevolent messages in their coverage of the June jubilee.
Israel must assert loudly and clearly that its return to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is legitimate, not immoral. Its security control of the “Greater Israel” envelope is a source of regional stability, not conflict. The absence of peace and mutual recognition stems from Palestinian rejectionism, not a lack of Israeli imagination.
AS FOR “CORRUPTION,” ask yourselves the following:
Does the “occupation” corrupt, or do Israeli withdrawals corrupt and destroy more?
What has led to more suffering, death and destruction for both Palestinians and Israelis: Israel’s settling of Judea, Samaria and Gaza; or Israeli withdrawals from parts of the West Bank and all of Gaza leading to the emergence of Palestinian terrorist enclaves and establishment of a corrupt Palestinian Authority and a dictatorial Hamastan?
So should Israel draw more borders and build more fences so that the Palestinians can dig under them, shoot over them, and oppress their own people; or should Israel assert new models of coexistence for a better future? And, should the international community continue to invest tens of billions of dollars in shady and authoritarian Palestinian regimes?
AS FOR THE CHARGES of creeping tyranny inside Israel: These are but the spurious complaints of defeated and cranky old guard that has been out of power for almost three decades. It’s an old guard that has been thoroughly discredited on diplomatic matters, and no-one should take it seriously on domestic matters either.
After all, this old guard once erroneously sold the Israeli public on Yasser Arafat as a peace partner; then it incautiously sold Israelis on the Gaza withdrawal as a path to peace; and now, incredulously, it is hawking unilateral Israeli withdrawals as necessary for this country’s “soul” and “moral fiber.”
They were and are wrong on all three counts. Thus their depredations about Israeli democracy shouldn’t be accorded too much credence, either.
It’s true that the balance of power in Israel has shifted from the liberal to the conservative side of the political map, and in societal terms from the secular to the traditional. But a conservative tilt doesn’t “tyranny” make.
So to all those foreign correspondents getting ready to write their reports for the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War, I say this:
First: Please note that Israel’s soul is just fine. Its temperament remains enlightened. Its gut instincts are healthy and humane. Its democratic institutions are ferociously robust.
Second: The “occupation” isn’t poisoning Israel’s future. The lingering conflict with Palestinians is unfortunate and carries a cost, but it is not largely Israel’s fault nor is it a burden that is crushing the country. The conflict doesn’t define Israel. It shouldn’t be dominant prism through which Israel is viewed or judged.
Third: The whole region doesn’t revolve around Palestinians and their grievances, so go easy on the “fifty years of occupation” melodrama. If you’re going to write about this milestone, you might want to comment on fifty years of grievous Palestinian errors in nation-building and the many opportunities for peace spurned by Palestinian leadership.
Fourth: Have some respect for Israel’s achievements, its perseverance, and its reading of the strategic situation. With some patience – perhaps for another 50 years – things will work out just fine. Israel will grow stronger, the Arabs will mature and moderate and new possibilities for accommodation will emerge.
[Jerusalem Post]

Friday, April 28, 2017

Jerusalem [Reunification] Day: VideoBite


 
In celebration of Jerusalem Day [May 24th], this video reviews it's interesting history in 5 minutes!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Trump's "Foreign Policy Trinity" Moves Against Iran

 
Trump's foreign policy trinity: Mattis, Tillerson & Haley
All have played major roles in shifting US policy against the Shia onslaught by Iran

U.S. Weighs Additional Support for Saudi Fight Against Iran-Backed Houthi Rebels in Yemen
- Gordon Lubold

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is considering a range of additional military support for Saudi Arabia's fight against Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen. After meeting with the Saudi king and other top officials in Riyadh, Mattis said that it's important for the U.S. to help "reinforce Saudi Arabia's resistance to Iran's mischief." The U.S. believes Iran is backing the rebels.
   

"Everywhere you look, if there's trouble in the region, you find Iran," Mattis said. "What we're seeing is the nations in the region and others elsewhere trying to checkmate Iran and the amount of disruption, the amount of instability they can cause." 
(Wall Street Journal)


Haley Wants Iran, Not Israel, at Core of UN's Middle East Agenda
- Kambiz Foroohar

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for April, wants to use a monthly meeting on "the situation in the Middle East" to tackle Tehran's role in Yemen and Syria and its support for Hizbullah.


The U.S. seeks "to portray Iran as a criminal enterprise, not just as another bad country but as a rogue state that is engaged in horrible crimes across the region," said Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "We are moving from a position of accommodation to one of confrontation across multiple fronts." 

(Bloomberg)


What North Korea Should Teach Us about Iran - Alan M. Dershowitz

The hard lesson from our failure to stop North Korea before it became a nuclear power is that we must
stop Iran from ever developing or acquiring a nuclear arsenal. A nuclear Iran would be far more dangerous to American interests than a nuclear North Korea. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching numerous American allies. They are in the process of upgrading them and making them capable of delivering a nuclear payload to our shores.
 

The nuclear deal as currently interpreted by Iran will not prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. In all probability, it would merely postpone that catastrophe for about a decade while legitimating its occurrence. This is not an outcome we can live with, as evidenced by the crisis we are now confronting with North Korea. 
The writer is professor of law, emeritus, at Harvard Law School.
(Gatestone Institute)


U.S. Says Iran's Link to Terror Could Scuttle Nuclear Accord
- Michael B. Marois and Nick Wadhams

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a report to Congress, said President Donald Trump ordered his National Security Council to review whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran because of its continued support for terrorism. "Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods," Tillerson told Congress.

(Bloomberg)
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UPDATES: 

- Kelsey Sutton

President Donald Trump accused Iran Thursday of "not living up to the spirit" of the nuclear deal during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. Trump said again that it was "a terrible agreement" and that it "shouldn't have been negotiated the way it was negotiated....We're analyzing it very, very carefully, and we'll have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future."  
(Politico)


Iran on Notice - Lee Smith

Numerous federal agencies are carrying out a comprehensive review of Iran policy including the intelligence community, the State Department, the Treasury Department, Justice, and the Pentagon. The process is being managed by National Security Council staff. The debate over Iran appears to be between those who want to cut them off at the knees and those who want to knock their block off, with arguments over exactly how badly and when.
 

While the Trump administration sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan last week to certify that Iran is in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - the nuclear deal, this does not signal, a Trump official told me, that this White House has concluded the JCPOA serves American interests. Rather, certification is a placeholder during the review process, while the administration plans how to move forward on Iran.
   

This White House does not see Iran as a potential partner in regional stability, as a counterbalance to Saudi Arabia and Israel, as the Obama team did. Rather, it recognizes Iran is a very big problem, and the nuclear program is only one part of that problem. As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week, "We have to look at Iran in a very comprehensive way in terms of the threat it poses in all areas of the region and the world." 
(Weekly Standard)
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Friday, April 14, 2017

20% of Palestinians Ready for Peace



Most Palestinians Dream of Obliterating the Jewish State - Daniel Pipes (Mosaic)
  • In "Do Palestinians Want a Two-State Solution?" Daniel Polisar of Shalem College in Jerusalem studied 400 opinion polls of Palestinian views to find that Palestinians collectively hold three related views of Israel: it has no historical or moral claim to exist, it is inherently rapacious and expansionist, and it is doomed to extinction. 
  • Palestinian rejectionism demands that Palestinians (and beyond them, Arabs and Muslims) repudiate every aspect of Zionism: deny Jewish ties to the Land of Israel, fight Jewish ownership of that land, refuse to recognize Jewish political power, refuse to trade with Zionists, murder Zionists where possible, and ally with any foreign power, including Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, to eradicate Zionism. 
  • So long as rejectionism runs rampant, debates about one-, two-, and three-state solutions, or about electricity grids and water supplies, are for naught. There can be no resolution so long as most Palestinians dream of obliterating the Jewish state. 
  • My research finds, and Polisar's confirms, that about 20% of Palestinians are ready to live peaceably with the Jewish state. The challenge is to increase this number to 60% and more, so that this group at last can wrest control of the Palestinian national movement from rejectionists. 
  • When Palestinians emerge from this ordeal, they will greatly benefit from throwing off the burden of anti-Zionism. Finally, they can begin to build their own polity, economy, society, and culture. All will gain when this proud people turns its attention to creating the institutions of civil society and to teaching children skills rather than hatred.

    The writer is president of the Middle East Forum.

Monday, April 10, 2017

US Receives Sunni Ovation for Syria Strike



 
Assad's gas attacks targeted the town of Khan Sheikhoun, located just east of the Nusayriyah Mountains, the Alawite stronghold east of Syria's Mediterranean coast. The town is also on the M5 highway, Syria's most important artery, which runs from the Jordanian border through Damascus to Aleppo.
   

The gas attack and the hospital bombing that followed are part of an ethnic-cleansing effort designed to chase Sunni populations out and replace them with Shi'ite Arabs from Iraq.
   

Tehran wants to extend its reach to the Mediterranean by cultivating a belt of predominantly Shi'ite communities checkered by an assortment of subservient non-Sunni minorities.
   

Prime Minister Netanyahu told President Putin during their meeting in Moscow last month that the Iranians are out to build their own seaport in Syria.
   

The Iranian march to the Mediterranean provokes the Arab world, Russia and Turkey all at once. The Russians will not want the ayatollahs' vessels parking alongside theirs.
   

Backing Assad's violence is one thing. Accommodating Tehran's imperial intrusion is an entirely different thing.
   

Moreover, the Sunni Arabs along with the Sunni Turks understand what Iran is up to.
(Jerusalem Post)


The U.S. Strike at Syria - Elliott Abrams

Explaining the U.S. airstrike in Syria, Secretary of State Tillerson said: "It's important that some action be taken on behalf of the international community to make clear that the use of chemical weapons continues to be a violation of international norms." This strike will save lives in Syria by preventing Assad from daring to use chemical weapons again, and in unknown future conflicts where the losing side will be tempted to employ chemical weapons, and will think twice and not do it.
   

The strike will have far wider effects. It was undertaken while Chinese President Xi was with Trump in Florida. Surely this will affect their conversations about North Korea. Vladimir Putin will realize that the years of U.S. passivity are truly over. Allies and friends will be cheered, while enemies will realize times have changed.
   

Henceforth, when the U.S. president speaks of American conditions and demands, interests and desires, more attention will be paid. When the president said it was in the "vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons," he was right. 
The writer is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. 
(Weekly Standard)


Trump Raises the Stakes for Russia and Iran - Dennis B. Ross

The U.S. response to the chemical weapons attack by the Syrian air force was clearly about sending messages to President Assad and his allies, as well as the international community: Chemical weapons will not be used with impunity. This American strike will also convey to the Iranians, and to the North Koreans, that they had better take the words of this administration seriously. America's regional allies, who had become convinced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the region, will also take the administration's words much more seriously.
   

Should Assad choose to test the U.S. by carrying out another chemical weapons attack, he runs the risk of losing more of his air force and the major advantage it gives him over the rebels. 
The writer is counselor at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and served in senior positions in four U.S. administrations. 
(New York Times)
 
UPDATES:

Re-establishing the Power of Deterrence - Clifford D. May

If you're still unsure about whether President Trump did the right thing when he launched 59 cruise missiles at Syria's Shayrat air base last week, consider the alternative. He knew that Assad had again used chemical weapons to murder Syrian civilians. He knew that Iran and Russia had enabled this atrocity, as they have many others.
     

He knew he had two choices. He could shrug and instruct his UN ambassador to deliver a tearful speech calling on the "international community" to do something. Or he could demonstrate that the U.S. still has the power and the grit to stand up to tyrants and terrorists - thereby beginning to re-establish America's deterrent capability.
    

In the last century, most Americans recognized, in some cases with enormous reluctance, that there was no good alternative to doing whatever was necessary to rout the Nazis and Communists, whose goal was to kill off the democratic experiment.
     

In this century, jihadists and Islamists harbor the same ambition. We can attempt to appease them. We can try to make ourselves inoffensive to them. We can keep our hand extended, hoping that in time they will unclench their fists. Or we can decide instead to plan for a long war that will end with the defeat of these latest enemies of America and the rest of the civilized world. 
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(Washington Times)


The U.S. Strike in Syria: Global Message - Amos Yadlin & Assaf Orion

Syria basically enabled Trump to send a message to the more problematic countries that are preoccupying the U.S. government. The denouncements from Iran show that Tehran got the message. Above all, the U.S. attack constitutes a challenge to Russia, the power that is the Assad regime's protector and, to date, has expanded its influence in Syria and in the Middle East, largely due to the U.S.' lack of interest.
    

This single U.S. attack does not yet symbolize a change in policy. Trump and administration officials emphasized that at issue is a single strike whose purpose was to deter the Assad regime from launching any further chemical weapons attacks.
     

Israel is very much interested in Syria's chemical weapons disarmament, when it is clear now that this has not yet been completed; in maintenance and enforcement of the ban on the use of chemical weapons; and in the repercussions of these events as a precedent to Iran's compliance with the restrictions prescribed in the nuclear agreement, and the costs that Iran will pay when it violates the agreement.
    

It is important to reexamine the de facto acceptance of Assad's remaining in power in the longer term, as it facilitates the strengthening of Hizbullah and Iran in Syria, and their entrenchment constitutes a very grave threat that is too close to Israel.
Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, heads Tel Aviv University's INSS. Brig.-Gen. Assaf Orion served as head of Strategic Planning in the Planning Directorate in the IDF General Staff (2010-2015).

(Institute for National Security Studies)


The World's Watchdog Is Back in Town - Ron Ben-Yishai

In its strike in Syria, the U.S. conveyed a message: We have red lines, and anyone who crosses them will experience the military force of the strongest power in the world. Another message is: You can't do as you please in the Middle East. Assad suffered considerable damage, as this is the base which is used for attacks against Islamic State targets in eastern Syria.
  

The operation is good news for Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey because the U.S. has made it clear that it views the use of non-conventional weapons as a red line, and that if such weapons are used, it will act as if the U.S. itself has been attacked. The U.S. is also warning the Iranians. If they thought they would be able to violate the nuclear agreement and get away with it like Assad, they will now think twice. 
(Ynet News)
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Monday, April 03, 2017