Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Kushner's MidEast Cookbook

Don't Ignore Kushner's Quiet Mideast Gains - Ahmed Charai 

Jared Kushner, who supervises America's Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, recognizes that Iran now matters more to the Arabs than Palestine.

With Iran and Islamic militants threatening the survival of major Arab states, many Arab leaders have quietly decided to align with Israel - dialing down their interest in the Palestinian drama.

Consider that President Trump's plan to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem did not touch off huge protests in Arab capitals or angry editorials in the Arab press.
Kushner realizes that more than 60% of Arabs are too young to remember the 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel.

As a result, younger Arabs largely accept Israel's existence as a settled fact, and generally see trading with its prosperous economy as essential to their own economic growth.

I know. I have heard them tell me these things in the privacy of their living rooms.

Kushner has befriended Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Both are seen as disrupters of the status quo and both favor practical solutions over symbolic displays.

Other Gulf Arab leaders that I have met tell me that they have heard positive things about Kushner and are eager to work with him.

In short, Kushner's correct reading of this unique moment in Arab politics positions the U.S. to make historic progress in the Middle East.
The writer, a Moroccan publisher, is a member of the board of directors of the Atlantic Council.

(National Interest)

Israel and the Arab States: A Historic Opportunity?
- Moshe Yaalon and Leehe Friedman 
  • In recent years, the scope of common interests between Israel and the Sunni Arab world has widened. Given the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS), chaos stemming from stateless Libya, and civil wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, the Arab states - which are a pragmatic lot - can no longer claim that the Palestinian issue is the region's top priority.
  • The Arab people likewise see the Palestinian issue as a less pressing concern. An annual survey of young people in the Arab world, conducted by ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller, revealed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was rated eighth among the region's main threats, down from seventh place in last year's survey. On top of this, the Arab states have reduced their financial assistance to the Palestinians.
  • The main obstacle to normalization is public opinion in the Arab world, which "obliges" Arab regimes to put a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute before normalization. This hurdle must be overcome, either by settling the conflict or by persuading the Arab world that it is worth separating the artificial linkage between the two issues.
  • Current geopolitical conditions have created a critical mass of new and overlapping interests between Israel and the Arab countries, and there is now a historic opportunity to promote a process of normalization.
  • Hinging normalization on the resolution of the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not brought the region any closer to a solution; what it has done is to make both the Arab states and Israel hostages to a conflict that has no solution on the horizon.
  • It is therefore time for the pragmatic Arab camp to abandon this formula, which has so far led only to stagnation, and instead to seriously examine steps toward gradual normalization that will help to build mutual trust.

    Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon is a former Israeli defense minister and IDF chief of staff. Leehe Friedman is a research assistant at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
(Foreign Affairs)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Miracle: Saudis Commemorate Jewish Holocaust

Dr. Mohammed Al Issa

A Holocaust Awareness Awakening in Saudi Arabia - Robert Satloff

In December, I led a delegation from The Washington Institute on a visit to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where among the high-ranking officials we met was Dr. Mohammed Al Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League. The MWL has long been cited as the key facilitator of Saudi Arabia's global effort to export a radical, hate-filled, anti-West, anti-Semitic version of Islam. Al Issa, a former Saudi justice minister, was appointed its head in August 2016.

Taking his lead from Muhammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince who has vowed to cleanse his country of extremism and return it to "moderate Islam," Al Issa seems to have a mandate to transform the MWL from an organization synonymous with extremism to one that preaches tolerance.

I was skeptical, but in our meeting, Al Issa struck an impressive note, underscoring a commitment to religious outreach and speaking fondly of his recent visit to a Paris synagogue. When I returned home, I wrote Al Issa, invited him to Washington to address my institute and urged him to tour the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum during his visit. He surprised me by welcoming my invitation and agreeing to visit the Museum.

A few days later, with International Holocaust Remembrance Day approaching on Jan. 27, I asked Al Issa whether he would send a letter to the Museum's director, Sara Bloomfield, for the occasion. Again, Al Issa surprised me, labeling the Holocaust "an incident that shook humanity to the core."  
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 
(New York Daily News)

- Dr. Mohammad Al Issa 
  • "On the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, celebrating the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp...I confirm...our great sympathy with the victims of the Holocaust, an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person."
  • "This human tragedy perpetrated by evil Nazism won't be forgotten by history, or meet the approval of anyone, except criminal Nazis or their genre. True Islam is against these crimes. It classifies them in the highest degree of penal sanctions and among the worst human atrocities ever."
  • "One would ask, who in his right mind would accept, sympathize, or even diminish the extent of this brutal crime."
  • "We consider any denial of the Holocaust or minimizing of its effect a crime to distort history and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished....Islam...decrees that anyone who assaults and kills an innocent soul will be held accountable as if he has killed all people."
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Iranian Woman Becomes Symbol of Resistance

In the footage, she could be seen waving a white scarf which appeared to be her own head covering.  The brave woman is now missing, having not been seen since. 
- Danyal Hussain 

The Iranian woman who protested the country's 'modesty' dress code by standing on a pillar box in Tehran and waving a hijab, is missing and feared to have been arrested.

She had taken off her white headscarf and tied it to a stick in an apparent reference to the 'White Wednesday' protests against clothing restrictions on women in Iran.

Not covering your hair in public is a punishable offense for Iranian women, and the unnamed protester, a 31-year-old mother-of-one, is believed to have been arrested by police.

The woman has not been seen since the video of her standing on the pillar box on one of the city's busiest thoroughfares, without a headscarf or long coat as required under Islamic law, went viral.

The video, widely shared on social media, showed her waving a white scarf in a solemn and brave protest. 

The video and images of the woman are thought to have been taken on December 27, a day before economic protests broke out across the country, which helped the images go viral even though they were apparently unconnected.

Thousands of social media users have shared messages, dubbing her the 'Girl of Enghelab Street' after the area in central Tehran where she staged the protest. 

Using the hashtag '#Where_is_she?', supporters have been sharing the video and images of the woman, demanding that authorities reveal her whereabouts.

Graphic illustrations show her fighting dragons and using her hijab as a weapon against police batons.

Others have been inspired by her brave protest, and copied her act of defiance by filming themselves waving their headscarf in public.
[Daily Mail - UK]


Iranian Woman Who Removed Headscarf Jailed for Two Years
An Iranian woman who publicly removed her hijab in protest against Iran's compulsory headscarf law has been sentenced to two years in prison, Tehran's chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, said.

"We must act with force against people who deliberately question the rules on the Islamic veil," he said.

"Paying to be Abused"

- Yoram Hazony 
  • In a speech to the PLO last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the British, Dutch, French, and Americans for having conspired, ever since the 1650s, to create a Jewish colonial outpost. He then cursed both President Trump and the U.S. Congress: Yehrab beitak("May your house be razed").
  • American administrations have sought to make a peace partner out of the PLO since President Ronald Reagan announced a dialogue with it in 1988. President Trump, Vice President Pence, and UN Ambassador Haley are pioneering an alternative policy, which can be summed up in Haley's words: "We're not going to pay to be abused."
  • For decades, Washington has crafted policies based on the tacit assumption that America needs the PLO if it is to bring peace to the Middle East. In its effort to "balance" the demands of this extremist organization against Israel's concerns, American policy inflated the PLO's importance, and it learned to tolerate and even embrace an organization whose views have always been profoundly anti-Western, not to mention anti-Semitic.
  • These policies did not bring peace to the Middle East. But they severed the ties between American diplomacy in the region and common sense - to the point that more than a few U.S. officials ended up believing that not only the PLO, but even Iran, whose parliament regularly curses the U.S., could be made a peace partner if it were paid handsomely enough.
  • In the relations between nations, it matters who blesses you and who curses you.
(National Review)

Prior to a meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the president said: "We will be moving our embassy, as you know, to Jerusalem. And as we also know, that is way ahead of schedule, by years, and we anticipate having a small version of it opened sometime next year."
President Trump said, "When they [the Palestinians] disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great Vice President to see them - and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support - tremendous numbers; numbers that nobody understands. That money is on the table, and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace. Because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace. And they're going to have to want to make peace too, or we're going to have nothing to do with it any longer."
"This was never brought up by other negotiators, but it's brought up by me. So I will say that the hardest subject they had to talk about was Jerusalem. We took Jerusalem off the table, so we don't have to talk about it anymore....You won one point, and you'll give up some points later on in the negotiation, if it ever takes place. I don't know that it ever will take place."
"But they have to respect...the fact that the U.S. has given tremendous support to them over the years, in terms of monetary support and other support....Respect has to be shown to the U.S. or we're just not going any further."  
(White House)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Pence's Stellar Knesset Speech

Wow!  Vice President Pence delivered pro-Israel speech that will blow you away.  At just over 30 minutes, it's no 'soundbite.'  But it's a good time investment.

  • Through the generations, the American people became fierce advocates of the Jewish people's aspiration to return to the land of your forefathers.
  • Jerusalem is Israel's capital - and, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem - and that United States embassy will open before the end of next year.
  • In announcing his decision on Jerusalem, the President also called, in his words, "on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites, including at the Temple Mount, also known as the Haram al-Sharif." And he made it clear that we're not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders.
  • President Trump reaffirmed that, if both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution.
  • The United States appreciates your government's declared willingness to resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. We strongly urge the Palestinian leadership to return to the table.
  • The United States will continue to work with Israel, and with nations across the world, to confront the leading state sponsor of terror - the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • Two-and-a-half years ago, the previous administration in America signed a deal with Iran that merely delays the day when that regime can acquire a nuclear weapon. The Iran nuclear deal is a disaster, and the United States of America will no longer certify this ill-conceived agreement. At President Trump's direction, we're working to enact effective and lasting restraints on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
  • Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed, President Trump has said the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately.
(White House)

    Pence Says Embassy to Move on Faster Timetable
    - Jenna Johnson, Loveday Morris and Carol Morello 

    The U.S. will open its embassy in Jerusalem next year, Vice President Pence said Monday in Israel's parliament. After Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December, the State Department began looking for a possible site on which to build an embassy to replace the existing one in Tel Aviv.
    The administration weighed whether to build an entirely new embassy, which could take as long as a decade and be very expensive, or whether to retrofit one of the consulate buildings in Jerusalem. A State Department official said the building being eyed is the U.S. consular service building in the Arnona neighborhood, which opened in 2010 on a site originally slated for the embassy. 
    (Washington Post)


    Pence Visits Israel's Capital - Rabbi Meir Soloveichik

    Vice President Mike Pence's address was one of the most Zionist speeches ever given by a non-Jew in the Knesset. The vice president is a devout evangelical Christian and threaded his remarks with references to Scripture. His speech was a window into the heart of many American Christians who observe Israel's emergence with wonder and reverence. "The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world," Pence concluded.
    For many centuries the Jewish people received little love and much hate from the nations of the world. Today, tens of millions of non-Jewish Americans share Mr. Pence's sincere affection for Israel. 
    The writer is director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought of Yeshiva University. 
    (Wall Street Journal)

    At the Knesset on Monday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence reiterated for anyone who may have forgotten that Israel is right when it comes to the conflict with the Palestinians, Iran, and the world. And perhaps most importantly, that Israel is on the right side of history. I sat in the Knesset and saw a modest American vice president with a clear message for the Middle East: The rules have changed. The U.S. will operate based on the values it shares with Israel and will not grant veto power to destabilizing players that issue threats. 
    (Israel Hayom)

    - Zev Chafets

    The Arab countries that matter aren't even pretending to be outraged by the Trump administration's tilt to Israel. The Palestinian Authority, having boycotted an American vice president, has had a chance to measure the efficacy of that approach. Mahmoud Abbas came home understanding that salvation is not going to come from Brussels. 

    Palestinians in Race Against Time - Prof. Eyal Zisser

    The Palestinians have steadfastly held to the belief that the passing of time without a peace agreement works against Israel, and that it was to their advantage to avoid making tough decisions and painful concessions for the sake of peace in the hopes that Israel would collapse or that the international community would force Israel to accept the Palestinian position. But the majority of Arab states have come to understand that time is actually on Israel's side and that every day that passes without peace ultimately inches them, not Israel, closer to social and economic ruin.

    President Trump's efforts to think outside the box and try to dismantle some of the landmines blocking the path to peace - such as the Jerusalem question - have thrown PA President Mahmoud Abbas off balance. Abbas' response was to declare diplomatic war on the U.S. In doing so, however, he is squandering an opportunity to entrust the diplomatic process to the only player who can move it forward. 
    The writer, vice rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. 
    (Israel Hayom)

    Friday, January 19, 2018

    USA Pops Palestinian Bubble

    U.S. Won't Pay Additional $45 Million Pledged for Palestinian Aid

    The U.S. will not provide $45 million in food aid for Palestinians that it pledged last month as part of the West Bank/Gaza Emergency Appeal led by UNRWA - the UN refugee agency for Palestinians, the U.S. State Department said.

    The State Department said that Washington would withhold a separate $65 million from UNRWA, saying it needed to make reforms. 

    US Pops Palestinian Bubble - Caroline Glick 

    The Trump administration may be just about done allowing the PLO to use the US as its piggy bank and punching bag. 

    The US’s first response to Abbas’s call for Trump’s “house to be destroyed” was to announce on Tuesday that it will postpone the transfer of $65 million of its annual $370m. contribution to UNRWA. 

    On Wednesday, Haley indicated that the hold on the funds was not going to be the administration’s last move.  Speaking to Voice of America, Haley said the administration is done being the Palestinians’ patsy.

    On Thursday, Israel Hayom reported that Haley isn’t UNRWA’s only problem. The US Justice Department is conducting an investigation of UNRWA’s relationship with the PLO and Hamas for the US Congress.

    Abbas said that Jews have no ties to the Land of Israel. He said the Zionist movement – that is, the Jewish national liberation movement – has nothing to do with the Jews. Rather, Abbas the historian, who got a doctorate for his dissertation denying the Holocaust, said that Zionism is a European imperialist conspiracy cooked up by Oliver Cromwell four centuries ago and implemented by mercantile mariners from the Netherlands.

    On Tuesday, Channel 2’s diplomatic reporter Dana Weiss had a “scoop.”

    It works out, she revealed, that Abbas only torched his relations with the Americans because he was desperate and hopeless, poor thing. His representative had just been to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis told him the details of Trump’s developing peace plan. Trump, it seems, is willing to give Abbas far less than he is demanding.

    Obviously, under the circumstances, he had no recourse but to call for Trump’s home to be destroyed and to curse Trump’s ambassadors.

    As ridiculous as Weiss’s scoop was on its face, it was even more ridiculous at second blush. Abbas has never met an offer he liked. In 2008, thenprime minister Ehud Olmert offered him everything he demanded, and Abbas walked away.

    In 2014, then-president Barack Obama offered him even more than Olmert did.

    And Abbas walked away.

    So the fact that Abbas now rejects the draft of the Trump proposal is no surprise.

    Weiss’s story tells us more about the Israeli media than it does about Abbas.

    Her report, which every major and minor Israeli media outlet then re-reported, begs the question: What is our problem? Why do we make excuses for our enemy? 

    For 25 years Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat, and the PLO, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority more generally, have not hidden that they are Israel’s enemies. They have said outright that they will never make peace with Israel, and seek our destruction.

    And for 25 years, our media and security and political elites have made excuses for them.

    Right after Arafat signed the initial Oslo Accord on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, he jetted off to give a speech at a mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa. A courageous member of the Jewish community recorded the speech.

    Arafat told the faithful that the peace process was a Koran-inspired ruse. He was simply following the example that the Prophet Muhammad set with the Quraish tribe of Jews in Arabia. When Muhammad started out, the Jews of Quraish were more powerful than he. So he signed a peace deal with them. When the balance of power shifted in his favor, he invaded their territory and annihilated them.

    When news of Arafat’s Johannesburg’s speech reached Israel, the media, along with then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-foreign minister Shimon Peres, were quick to dismiss its importance.

    What did you expect Arafat to say, our betters sneered? Did you expect him to be a Zionist? And anyway, what does it matter what he says? If he so much as tries to continue his terrorism, we’ll crush him like a bug and send him packing back to Tunis.

    And when the suicide bombers started exploding on buses and cafes, they said it wasn’t Arafat, it was Hamas.

    And when Arafat rejected then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s peace and statehood offer at Camp David in 2000, the media said it was Barak’s fault. He was rude and domineering. The two men just didn’t have the right chemistry.

    And when Arafat launched the largest terrorist campaign against Israel in its history, our elite said Arafat was a patsy. He was too weak to stop the attacks so we shouldn’t blame him. And then they turned around and said Arafat was the only one who could stop the attacks, so we needed to be nice to him.

    Finally they said, true, Arafat was our enemy. But it didn’t matter because Abbas was replacing him and Abbas was a real peacemaker.

    And when Abbas wouldn’t make peace, it was our fault. And when he financed Hamas and paid hundreds of million a year to terrorists, he had no choice. If he didn’t finance terrorism, he would be overthrown.

    And when he incited terrorism and said Jews were poisoning Palestinian wells and “polluting the Temple Mount with their filthy feet,” well, he was hopeless and frustrated, and anyway, he’s really old.

    The thing of it is that the public has never bought these excuses. Rabin was elected on an anti-PLO platform in 1992. And despite the fact that the media and the Left said the entire right wing was responsible for Rabin’s assassination in November 1995, the public’s desire not to be associated with the murder couldn’t surpass its desire not to be murdered. So less than six months after Rabin was killed, the public voted in the Likud and Binyamin Netanyahu into power.

    [T]he Israeli media make[s] excuses for a tin pot dictator who spends his time inciting the murder of Israelis and pretending that the Palestinians are the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Jebusites and the Hittites, all rolled in one[.] 
    [Jerusalem Post via Jewish World Review]

    U.S. to Relocate Embassy to Jerusalem by 2019 - Mark Landler

    The Trump administration is moving to transfer the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by 2019, senior officials said, following Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Instead of constructing an entirely new embassy compound, the State Department has settled on a more modest plan to convert an existing consular building in Arnona, a neighborhood in west Jerusalem. That will reduce the cost of the project and allow Ambassador David M. Friedman and his staff to move there as early as next year.
    The building, which now issues visas and offers consular services to American citizens, is a fairly new structure with better physical security than the embassy in Tel Aviv. 
    (New York Times)

    On Jan. 15, the Palestinian Central Council called on the PA to stop "all forms" of security coordination with Israel and declared all Palestinian commitments under the Oslo Accord "null and void." Yet the PCC decisions will probably quickly be exposed as empty threats. The PA is in a bind. It cannot exit the Oslo Accord and survive.
    An Israeli security source said "[o]n the day the PA, backed by the PLO, decides to suspend recognition of Israel and cast off the Oslo and Cairo [economic] accords, it will collapse."
    The PA's entire structure and that of its security, economic and civilian institutions are based on the Oslo Accord. If Abbas decides to adopt the PCC's recommendations, he will be signing the death warrant of his rule and of the PA he is heading. 

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Reframing The Arab Israeli Conflict

    The existing approach of a "peace process," which goes back 30 years, is not working. It can be improved, which the Trump administration is doing, but it ultimately will crumble because it depends on Palestinian acceptance of Israel, which has not come about, and isnot coming about. And that is the problem that needs to be addressed, a problem that cannot be addressed by diplomacy. It needs to be addressed in a very different way.
    I'd like to take a step back into history before proposing the new approach. Please consider two sets of three dates. The first three are 1865, 1945, and 1975 – the end of the Civil War, World War II, and the Vietnam War. All of those were conclusively ended wars. They ended the fighting, nothing more followed. The South never rose again. The Germans didn't try to conquer Europe again. And Americans didn't return to Vietnam.
    Then, three other dates: 1918, 1953, and 1967 – the end of the First World War, the Korean War, and the Six-Day War. Those were inconclusive. The Germans did try again. Any day, the Korean War could restart. Hostilities did resume between the Arabs and Israel.
    The difference between these two sets of dates lies in the losers' sense of defeat. In the former triad, that sense existed; in the latter, it did not. Losing a round of a war is not tantamount to feeling defeated. Defeat means the loser giving up on war goals. That's what we Americans experienced in 1975. Victory means imposing one's will on the enemy. The enemy gives up; the winner prevails.
    Applying this analysis to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, one finds that for 45 years, from 1948 to 1993, the Israelis sought victory. After that, meaning since the Oslo Accords were signed, they have not. Israelis have tried various other approaches – appeasement, unilateral withdrawal, putting out brush fires – but not sought victory.
    The peace process has been dominated in those years by an emphasis on diplomacy, on assuming that what PLO leader Yasir Arafat said on the White House lawn in September 1993 was valid – that the Palestinians now accepted Israel, that the war was over. But it wasn't, and it isn't. It continues. So, what is needed is an approach that confronts the irreducible problem of Palestinian rejectionism.
    As Elliott Abrams pointed out, there's a delusion among Palestinians that they can defeat Israel, that they can cause the Jewish state of Israel to disappear. That fantasy needs to be broken.
    That is what the U.S. government, as a great power, needs to deal with. I'm suggesting that it should adopt a policy encouraging the Israelis to win. To win, as in 1865-1945-1975, to end the conflict by causing the Palestinians to understand that the jig is up and they lost. When they're really upset they can write a strongly worded letter to the editor. Enough with the UN resolutions against Israel; enough with building up militaries; enough with the campus BDS. Enough. Over. It's done.
    I'm hoping that some American president – this one or a future one – will say to his staff, "You know, diplomacy isn't working. We've been at this for decades, it's not going anywhere. Is there an alternative?" And yes, there will be another alternative, what we call Israel Victory.
    Let me emphasize that this is an approach, not a policy. We're not saying two-states or not two-states. The point is, Israel needs to convince the Palestinians that it's over. The conflict has been resolved by the objective facts in that Israel is a flourishing, powerful state whereas the Palestinians have oppressive and dysfunctional polities.
    It's a long-term effort. The goal is not to change policy in the next few months. But it is, with time, to put something else on the table that fits the historical pattern. You don't end wars through negotiating. Think of Vietnam: It didn't end through diplomacy but by the North Vietnamese army coming in and taking over. Wars end when one side gives up.
    We have close relations with Israel. As Rep. De Santis said, we share interests and a moral base with it. Therefore, we should help it win.
    Ironically, once the Palestinians give up, then they can go on to build something good. When they abandon the foul, irredentist goal of eliminating the Jewish state, they can then build their own polity, economy, society, and culture. In the long run, the Palestinians will gain even more than the Israelis. Yes, the Israelis will not be murdered on their way to the pizzeria, will not face this barrage of hostility at the United Nations and elsewhere. But Israelis already live the good life. Palestinians don't. They live under oppression, backwardness. They will only be able to build once they give up on rejectionism and move on to something constructive.
    This offers a new paradigm that pulls us out of the mire of the "processing" that goes nowhere and that, in fact, is counterproductive. Palestinian-Israeli relations are worse today than 25 years ago, when the Oslo Accords were signed. So, we need new thinking. I offer this to you as new thinking, as a way for the "ultimate deal" to be achieved.

    Abbas' Ramallah Rant - Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi

    In his speech to the PLO Central Council in Ramallah on Sunday, Mahmoud Abbas denied the Jewish people's historical and religious link to the Land of Israel, and hence its right to the land. "This is our land since the days of the Canaanites, and in this context we are the descendants of the Canaanites." He maintained that the Jews were brought to Israel in the 20th century as part of a Western colonial endeavor "that has no connection to Judaism." 

    (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told a visiting AIPAC delegation in Jerusalem on Monday that in Mahmoud Abbas' speech on Sunday, he reengaged with ideas for which he had in the past been accused of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. "To say that Israel is the result of the Western conspiracy to settle Jews in Arab lands? To say that the Jewish people have no connection to the Land of Israel? He said exactly what he had been accused of years ago with anti-Semitism and denial of the Holocaust. These are exactly the things that block us [from making any progress]."

    In his words, he denies our return to our homeland, even though Abu Mazen [Abbas] also knows very well that the Koran itself mentions the recognition of the Land of Israel as our land."  


    Monday, January 01, 2018

    Iran Percolates

    Dec. 30, 2017: In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, anti-riot Iranian police prevent university students from joining other protesters in Tehran, Iran.  (AP)

    New Protests in Iran - Editorial

    A durable truth about dictatorships is that their surface stability disguises discontent that needs only a spark to ignite. The demonstrations have grown into a broad display of discontent with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani's repressive regime.
    One notable theme are denunciations of the Islamic Republic's foreign
    adventurism. Iranians are frustrated that the mullahs are spending so much of their national wealth to build a Shiite version of the Persian empire to dominate the Middle East. Religious imperialism is expensive, as is the ballistic-missile development the regime continues despite the nuclear deal.
    Iranians need to know that the world supports their demands for freedom. 
    (Wall Street Journal)

    Iran's Leaders Face Challenge over Protests - Aresu Eqbali and Asa Fitch

    Iran's biggest wave of street protests in almost a decade, which began Thursday, is presenting a mounting challenge to the country's leadership, as demonstrations mushroomed Sunday. Video shared on social media showed unrest Sunday in dozens of cities including Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz, Sandanaj, Kermanshah, Isfahan, and Chabahar.
    Some videos showed large numbers of people in the streets chanting against Khamenei and in some cases clashing with security forces. The precise scale of the protests was difficult to judge because foreign media access to the country is tightly controlled.
    "We support the right of the Iranian people to express themselves peacefully," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday. "Their voices deserve to be heard. We encourage all parties to protect this fundamental right to peaceful expression and to avoid any actions that contribute to censorship."
    "It's the most antiregime event I've ever seen," said Alireza Nader, a senior researcher at the Rand Corp. in Washington. "People are not calling for reforms....Their anger is directed toward the entire establishment."  
    (Wall Street Journal)

    The current protests in Iran have quickly spread while morphing into mass demonstrations. The protesters are openly calling for the leader to be removed and for the regime to fall.

    The protesters are unequivocally demanding the cessation of financial support for Hizbullah, Hamas and the tyrannical Syrian regime.

    They are shouting "Death to the dictator," "Khamenei next," "Leave Syria and take care of the Iranian people," "Let go of Palestine," and "Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I'd give my life only for Iran."

    The lifting of sanctions, which should have boosted the country's economy, has failed to do so. The protesters accuse the regime of stealing vast sums of money from the pensions of ordinary Iranians.
    The writer is former head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Persian language division.
    (Israel Hayom)

    Protests Spread across Iran - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

    Since Dec. 28, 2017, thousands of Iranians have been demonstrating across the country against the Islamic regime in the most widespread demonstrations in Iran since 2009.

    Although it is not clear at this point who is behind the demonstrations, the fact that they have "spontaneously" erupted at a number of locations suggests a guiding hand that has organized them.

    Even if the Iranian regime succeeds in suppressing the current wave of protest, the next wave is already in the making.

    The Iranian people yearn for an improvement of their living conditions, and the current Iranian regime cannot meet their demands with its adventurous foreign policy and export of the revolution.

    At the same time, the Revolutionary Guards will not give up any power without a violent struggle to preserve their share.
    The writer is a senior Iran affairs analyst at the Jerusalem Center.
    (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


    An Iranian woman raises her fist amidst the smoke of tear gas at the University of Tehran during a protest in Tehran on Dec. 30, 2017. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) 
    The Explosion of Truth - Caroline Glick 

    The protests are potentially so important because the Iranian regime is so dangerous. Thanks to Obama, the regime is on a glide path to a nuclear arsenal. Its proxy armies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq possess sophisticated armaments most militaries can only dream of. Its tentacles spread throughout the globe.

    The longer the Iranian regime remains in power, the greater the likelihood humanity will soon face a global conflagration that will dwarf World War II.

    It is self-evident that if the protesters get their way and the ayatollahs are overthrown, that money would stop flowing to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis and the Shi’ite militias in Iraq. Instead, that money, and billions more, would be spent developing Iran.

    There are many ways that the nations of the world can help the protesters in Iran. The US and Iran’s other targets can expose the financial corruption in the Islamic Republic, including the bank account information of everyone from Supreme Dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei down to local Basij commanders. They can broadcast anti-regime information into Iran through multiple platforms outside the regime’s control. They can bypass the regime and unblock Twitter, Facebook, Telegraph and other social media platforms.

    [E]ven if the protesters’ prospects of success are small, there is no excuse for not supporting them, as constructively, enthusiastically and unconditionally as possible. There is certainly no excuse for working to preserve Obama’s foreign policy legacy at the expense of a popular uprising that has the potential to avert a world war.
    [Jerusalem Post]

    The West Should Support the Protesters in Iran - Editorial

    Five days of street protests in cities across Iran have underlined the fundamental weakness of a regime sometimes portrayed in Washington as a regional juggernaut. Protests quickly mushroomed into a nationwide uprising directed squarely at the rule of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The popular demand for change is justified and deserves international support. 

    (Washington Post)

    The Lion and the Sun are traditional emblems of the Persian nation. They remained the official symbol of Iran until the 1979 revolution, when the "Lion and Sun" symbol was removed from public spaces and government organizations

    It Was a Mistake to Ignore Iran Demonstrations in 2009 - Dennis Ross

    In 2009, I was serving in the Obama administration as the secretary of state's special advisor on Iran and was part of the decision-making process. Because we feared lending credence to the regime's claim that the demonstrations in Iran at the time were being instigated from the outside, we adopted a low-key posture.

    In retrospect, that was a mistake. We should have shined a spotlight on what the regime was doing and mobilized our allies to do the same; we should have done our best to provide news from the outside and to facilitate communication on the inside. 
    The writer, a former American envoy to the Middle East, is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 
    (Foreign Policy)

    - Natan Sharansky (Washington Post)

    • An opinion piece in the New York Times recently argued that the best way for the U.S. government to help the Iranian protesters is to "Keep quiet and do nothing." It is vital to understand why failing to support the protesters at this critical juncture would constitute a moral and strategic mistake.
    • Any regime that refuses to respect its citizens' most basic rights, and especially the right to think and speak freely, can maintain its power only by intimidation and force. Revolutions take place when enough people simultaneously cross that fateful line between silent questioning and open dissent. Once they do so, the regime can no longer contain the upsurge of opposition and must either begin to liberalize or collapse.
    • World powers should warn Tehran - and thereby reassure protesters - that it must respect its citizens' rights if it wishes to continue receiving benefits from their countries. Articulating a clear policy of linkage would put pressure on the regime to make genuine changes and give hope to protesters that their sacrifices will not be in vain.
    • It is time for all those who value freedom to state clearly that the Iranian people - like all people - deserve to be free, and that when they fight for this right, those of us who already enjoy it will stand unequivocally by their side.
      The writer was a prisoner in the Soviet Gulag for nine years for his human rights activities. He is Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

    Protests Threaten Iran's Ascendant Role in the Middle East - Liz Sly

    The eruption of political unrest in Iran has presented an unforeseen challenge to Tehran's rising influence in the Middle East. "Before the protests, you had this dominant narrative that Iran is unstoppable, Iran is undefeatable, Iran is as solid as a rock," said Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle East politics at the London School of Economics. "The protests have undermined the posture of the Islamic Republic in the region as the unrivaled superpower."

    "This will make Iran's allies and proxies nervous and feeling vulnerable," added Paul Salem of the Middle East Institute in Washington. 
    (Washington Post)