Month: November 2011


During “All-Stars Week”, CIJR’s Isranet Briefings will highlight the work of outstanding individuals, whose invaluable efforts contribute to strengthening public perception of the Jewish state’s regional and global position. Each Briefing will include a sample of articles written over the last year by a given author, dealing with issues such as Israeli politics and security, as well as matters concerning Diaspora Jewry, and ways of combatting the delegitimation of Israel.


Today’s Briefing:


Born in Washington, DC and living in Tel Aviv, Barry Rubin is Pajama Media’s Middle East Editor. He is presently a professor at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, the Director of the Global Research and International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and a Senior Fellow at the International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism.

Mr. Rubin has written and edited more than 40 books on the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy, with publishers including Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge University Press. His next book,Israel: An Introduction, will be published in early 2012.

Barry Rubin

Jerusalem Post, October 23, 2011

Every day in the Middle East, terrible things happen. The worst are the acts of violence and oppression. The second worst are the lies and distortions of truth that help ensure things don’t get better. Every day in the West, the lies are echoed and amplified, and new ones invented. This not only helps ensure things don’t get better in the Middle East, it guarantees they will get worse in the West.

There is an ancient Navaho proverb that explains this phenomenon: You cannot awaken someone who is only pretending to be asleep. Or in other words, someone who deliberately believes a lie cannot be convinced of the truth. Such people have abandoned professional ethics, democratic and intellectual norms. They are propagandists and supporters of authoritarian and bloody regimes.

If there was a last straw for me regarding what was once the English-speaking world’s greatest newspaper, it is this New York Times editorial of October 19, 2011:

“One has to ask: If Mr. Netanyahu can negotiate [the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit] with Hamas—which shoots rockets at Israel, refuses to recognize Israel’s existence and vowed to take even more hostages—why won’t he negotiate seriously with the Palestinian Authority, which Israel relies on to help keep the peace in the West Bank.”

What has one thing have to do with the other? Israel isn’t negotiating with Hamas on a political level but to save the life of a young Israeli who has been in horrible captivity for five years. But what’s really disturbing here is the idea that it is Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who have been refusing to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority rather than the other way around.

Funnily enough, within hours of this editorial we have the ultimate Palestinian “moderate,” Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, saying: “We want to see an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967. We want the Palestinian people to live with dignity.” Fayyad went on to explain that while the Palestinians are committed to resolving the conflict, “the conditions are not right to resume talks.”

In other words, even when the Palestinian prime minister openly rejects talks and even after dozens of previous rejections by him and Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas, and dozens of documented acceptances of negotiations by Netanyahu and Israel, the lie that Israel doesn’t want to negotiate and the Palestinian Authority does is repeated.

Obviously, this is not a misunderstanding.

One reason for the perpetuation of this lie is that if the truth were to be told it would have to be explained why the “poor,” “desperate,” “victimized” Palestinians don’t want to negotiate. The answer would have to be an uncomfortable truth: Their leaders don’t want peace, compromise, or a two-state solution, but total victory.

Note the reaction of the leaders of the two Palestinian regimes to the prisoner swap: Abbas told the released prisoners: “You are freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and the homeland.” Hamas deputy leader Abu Marzouk insisted: “The rest of the prisoners must be released because if they are not released in a normal way they will be released in other ways.” By murdering Israeli civilians, both the “moderate” and the “radical” explain, these people have done nothing wrong and are free—even encouraged—to do so again in future.

You cannot build a democratic state on the basis of calling terrorists “freedom fighters” (and note the “secular” Abbas’s reference to jihad). You cannot truly be interested in compromise with the other side when you continue to urge and justify the deliberate murder of its civilians.…

How did Abbas react to the prisoner swap? By demanding that Israel release even more Palestinian terrorists. Here’s the Time magazine coverage: “As Palestinians exult in the release of 477 prisoners from Israeli jails, and anticipate the arrival of the 550 more due to be freed in December under the terms of the bargain Hamas brokered for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is pushing Israel to release even more, citing what he terms a secret promise from a previous prime minister.” Of course, no such promise exists. On the contrary, Abbas rejected prime minister Ehud Olmert’s peace proposal.

But, wait, there’s more. Here’s the Washington Post coverage : “Newly released Palestinian prisoners held rambunctious homecoming receptions…as leaders of the Hamas militant group that secured their freedom expressed hope that Israel would ease the blockade it imposes on the Gaza Strip.” Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar claimed that Israel should now “make an end to the blockade,” no doubt so that Hamas could import more weapons, money, equipment, and gunmen to attack Israel. So now that Israel has made a big concession, they can only demand more concessions.

This has been the pattern of the entire “peace process” to date, and another factor making peace impossible and so much of Western policy in the region entirely futile.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “I am very encouraged by the prisoner exchange today after many many years of negotiation. The United Nations has been calling for [an end to] the unacceptable detention of Gilad Schalit and also the release of all Palestinians whose human rights have been abused all the time.” It would be bad enough if the leader of the global community established a moral equivalence between Schalit and terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians, but in fact he treats the latter as superior. He doesn’t mention their murderous deeds (which almost all of them admit, indeed brag about) or their conviction in courts, but claims, on no basis whatsoever, that their human rights have been abused. A listener would think these are Palestinian civilians pulled at random off the streets. In short, he has declared that the terrorists are the true victims. This is the agency supposedly fit to judge the future of the conflict and which constitutes one-fourth of the Quartet?

In the words of the Greek playwright Euripides, though many have said something similar, “Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first deprives of their senses.” Those who willfully misinterpret events in the Middle East are setting up their own destruction. Perhaps the real reason they cannot forgive Israel is that it does not choose to join them in this endeavor.

Barry Rubin
Rubin Reports, October 18, 2011

Media, “experts,” and governments find it very hard to understand an amazing phenomena. No matter what they offer to the Palestinian Authority (PA)—even if it includes money, concessions, and steps toward statehood—the PA says “no.”

I wouldn’t even bother to write this since the answer seems so simple but a lot of people who are paid to deal with this stuff don’t get it. So let me elucidate:

The PA wants everything, an independent state on all the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem with no restrictions, no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, no serious security guarantees, no limits on militarization, no agreement that this means an end of the conflict, no insistence that Palestinian refugees be resettled in the state of Palestine, and nothing to prevent them from pursuing a second stage of wiping Israel off the map entirely.

Now, one could say that it is common for people to want everything and to give nothing in exchange but certain factors—missing in this case—push toward compromise. These factors include:

-Knowing that they cannot get a better deal. The Palestinians` know that the West will always offer more if they are intransigent.

-The impasse favors your adversary because your intransigence will gain it international support. In this case, the more intransigent the Palestinians, the more Israel is blamed.

-Economic pressure to change the situation. Since the PA is almost completely supported by foreign aid that is not threatened by its hardline approach, this pressure does not exist.

-Public opinion pressure to change the situation. In this case, Palestinian public opinion is relatively radicalized and ideological and does not demand a compromise settlement.

-Concern that your political rivals will “out-moderate” you and win by offering to make a deal. In this case, the opposite is true: rivals “out-radicalize” and threaten to destroy you politically and perhaps even physically if you make a deal.

-Belief that time is not on your side. Due to religious and nationalist ideology, along with misperception of Israel, the PA (and even more Hamas) believes that time is on its side; that waiting a couple of generations and many decades doesn’t matter.

That’s not a complete list. But the point is that the world in general, the United States and Europe, the UN and Arabic-speaking states and Muslim-majority states, have created a “perfect” system in that it is pretty unbreakable. Here’s a brief description:

-The PA has no incentive to make peace and won’t do so.

-The world insists that “peace” is an urgent top priority.

-The only variable is Israel, which must be made to give way. But Israel won’t do so because of past experience and the fact that the risks are now too high.


Nothing will change. There will be no peace process; no Palestinian state. No “progress” will happen. You can read this article in two or three years and it will still be completely up to date. If you don’t understand the points made above it is impossible to comprehend the Middle East.…

This is not left-wing or right-wing but merely an explanation as to why all the schemes and theories of those who do not see these facts never actually take wing. It is not politically correct but factually correct.

Now, you might ask, do I just criticize or do I have constructive policy advice? I do. Here it is:

When the Palestinian Authority rejects the Quartet proposal for negotiations, the United States, European Union, and anyone else who wants to go along tells them, “We’ve tried to help you and you don’t want to listen so since we have lots of other things to do we will go do it. Good luck and if you ever change your mind and get serious about making peace you have our phone number.…”

Barry Rubin

Pajamas Media, October 24, 2011

Virtually since the day President Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, I’ve been reporting in great detail on his disastrous Middle East policy.… And so I am often asked whether I believe this situation is caused by a deliberate, conscious effort to destroy U.S. interests, subvert Israel’s existence, and promote anti-American Islamists on the part of the president and his closest colleagues.

No, I answer, it is the result of ignorance, incompetence, and a ridiculous ideological approach that has nothing to do with reality. But, I add, it certainly says something that the policy is so bad that it makes people think that deliberate treason is a credible explanation.…

The great French diplomatist (and thoroughly evil human being) Charles de Talleyrand put it this way: “This is worse than a crime, it’s a blunder.” You can have some respect for an evil genius cleverly following his plan but none at all for a fool putting his country’s interests and the lives of millions of people at risk, refusing to change course even when his strategy is obviously failing.

You just have to sit at dinner with a State Department guy, for example, who tells you in great detail how the battle went within the bureaucracy over accepting Islamism as something good for the United States or watch how the CIA generated studies fixed to exclude truth in arguing Islamism isn’t a threat. It’s only mysterious if you don’t see it up close.

Here is what we should see:

First, Obama thinks he’s very knowledgeable about Islam, based on very limited personal contacts. Aside from his profound misunderstandings, his experiences come from Indonesia, the place where mainstream Islam was more moderate than in any other Muslim-majority country. And even that predates the infusion of Wahhabi and al-Qaeda radical thinking and theology even in that country.

In my opinion, the worst single blunder of Obama in the Middle East was his Cairo speech telling people in the region that they should perceive their primary identity as Muslim rather than in national terms. The idea that political Islam could be some asset for the United States—rather than an enemy being held back largely by nationalism—was like putting a big bomb next to a fragile dam. Yet Obama thought it was some act of far-sighted genius on his part because he could tame political Islam.

Second, Obama is a narrow-minded and arrogant man who understands little about international affairs or the profound differences of other cultures. He neither listens to ideas outside his own conception nor heeds proof that he has failed. A clever evil genius adjusts himself to circumstances, determined he will always look good. Obama is merely wrong and incompetent, openly displaying ignorance.

Third, his conception of the United States and its role in the world should render him unfit to be president. He views the United States as evil and aggressive historically while also rejecting the most basic concepts of U.S. interests and the conduct of international affairs.

He deliberately refuses to show leadership; doesn’t think American diplomacy should reward friends and punish enemies; believes concessions and apologies can win over enemies; and really doesn’t understand the importance of credibility, deterrence, and leverage to frighten and constrain enemies. He is obsessed with popularity, that least important factor in international affairs. In his mind, there is a sneaking suspicion that the enemies are the good guys.…

Fourth, he has two sets of people eager to misadvise him. One is the ideologues he has brought into government, especially in the National Security Council and several other appointees (David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel are of little or no importance on these foreign policy decision-making issues). The other is a significant portion of the CIA.

Large elements in the State and Defense Departments are horrified by Obama’s Middle East policy. The Defense Department is burdened with new commitments and handed impossible missions by a man its officials know looks down on them, has little sympathy for their problems, and no appreciation of their professional culture.

State gasps as Obama dismantles a Middle East policy it has spent decades building and nurturing. Briefly, that policy was alliance with relatively moderate states—Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia—to fight radical regimes and movements. They disliked Israel because they thought it got in the way of links to Arab powers. But they certainly don’t want their pet regimes overthrown and systematically insulted, while the president cares more for the very radical Islamists they were fighting to keep out of power!

What is the alternative, now dominant, view? This interpretation considers the virtually sole danger to be al-Qaeda and its terrorist attacks against America. In order to ensure Islamists aren’t radicalized to behave that way, they want to co-opt radical Islamists they consider far less threatening. They insist that such Islamists are far less extreme than people like me say and that holding power will moderate them. This travesty is born of Western ignorance about Islam and Islamism.…

These people believe that the “Turkish model” is just fine and dandy rather than seeing it as an extremely dangerous way for radical Islamists to seize and hold power to carry out anti-American and aggressive goals.… We’ve seen this before many times. Major General William Elphinstone, commander of the British army in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1842, was no traitor. He simply believed the Afghan rulers who promised him safe passage back to India. Of 12,000 soldiers and civilians, only about 12 survived the subsequent massacre.…

When Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said last February that the Muslim Brotherhood was a harmless reformist group, he meant it. That’s what his CIA briefers told him. The only administration correction was that it isn’t a “secular” group. All the really damaging misconceptions were fully accepted by the Obama administration.

So the administration is either helping Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood to get into power or risking this happening (wrongly thinking they won’t win elections) not because it wants to hurt America but because it is stupid and ignorant enough to think that will ultimately help America. Islamists will be moderated by power and the “need” to be pragmatic; or won’t win because the people want smart phones instead of suicide bombers; or they will love a U.S. government that is so nice to them.

Similarly, this administration doesn’t hate Israel so much as think that country is foolish for not following policies that in fact would risk its existence. If only Israel realized how easy it would be to have a stable peace with a Palestinian state next door based on the 1967 borders, the Obama administration thinks, the Israelis, too, would join the party and be much better off. Why are they such a stiff-necked people?

This is all wrong and disastrous. But as George Orwell—who understood these things—once said, some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual will believe them.…


During “All-Stars Week”, CIJR’s Isranet Briefings will highlight the work of outstanding individuals, whose invaluable efforts contribute to strengthening public perception of the Jewish state’s regional and global position. Each Briefing will include a sample of articles written over the last year by a given author, dealing with issues such as Israeli politics and security, as well as matters concerning Diaspora Jewry, and ways of combatting the delegitimation of Israel.


Today’s Briefing:


Melanie Phillips, a British journalist and author, is best known for her controversial column in the Daily Mail which deals with political and social issues.

Born in 1951, Mrs. Phillips read English at St Anne’s College, Oxford before training as a journalist on the Evening Echo, Hemel Hempstead. After a short period on New Society magazine, she joined the Guardian in 1977 and soon became its social services correspondent and social policy lead writer. After a stint as the paper’s news editor, she started writing her column in 1987, taking it to the Observer and then the Sunday Times before moving to the Daily Mail in December 2001.

Her book Londonistan was published in the US and UK in 2006 and immediately became a best-seller. Her latest book, The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power is published by Encounter, (2010). In 1996, Mrs. Phillips was awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism.

Melanie Phillips

Jewish Chronicle, September 9, 2011

Government ministers might be concerned to know quite how often I am now accosted by strangers in public places. These strangers are usually, although not always, Jews. They accost me on the Tube, at the theatre, in the supermarket, in restaurants and in the street.  They all say the same thing: keep on saying it about Israel, keep on telling it as it is, don’t ever give up.

What is happening to us? they murmur. It’s unbelievable, astonishing, terrifying. The bias, the hatred, the lies. Where is it all going to end? And an increasing number say there’s no longer see any future for us Jews in Britain.

Almost every few days brings fresh examples of the Israel Derangement Syndrome that so disturbs and frightens them. [Recently], anti-Israel hooligans disrupted a Promenade concert where the Israel Philharmonic was playing, causing the BBC to abort its live broadcast. [Soon thereafter], a St Andrews University student was convicted of racially abusing a Jewish postgraduate student over his support of Israel. And week in, week out, Israelis are blamed for defending themselves against mass murder.

By now, it must be obvious to all but the most supine or hostile to Israel within the UK Jewish community that what is happening is an evil uniquely targeted at the Jewish people. For the demonisation of Israel is of a nature and type extended to no other country.

While atrocities by tyrannies and rogue states provoke almost total indifference, Israel is treated as in a class apart: apparently the very worst country in the entire world, a kind of global blight which has to be expunged altogether from civilised society if not from the face of the earth.

Sound familiar? Oh, sorry, I forgot. Part of the madness is that we are totally forbidden to identify what this actually is—a prejudice directed solely at the Jewish people, who in this latest manifestation are uniquely demonised as usurpers in their own historic homeland.

Few [British] government minsters grasp the nature and scale of what is happening. Most don’t think there is a problem, and many of those who do think it is Israel’s own fault. Ministers would be amazed and appalled to know how many British Jews now feel so betrayed and abandoned. That’s because ministers tend to meet only those Jews who tell them that anyone who thinks like that can be safely disregarded as an hysteric, extremist or right-winger. They would be even more appalled to be told that they themselves play a significant part in fuelling the madness.

They maintain—and probably genuinely believe—that the British government is a true if candid friend of Israel. To which one can only say: with friends like these who needs enemies? Actually, it’s more like having a close relationship with someone suffering from multiple personality disorder. For there is no doubt that at the military and intelligence level, Britain’s relationship with Israel is close and mutually supportive. British spooks and soldiers tend to understand very well the immense benefit to the UK of Israel’s intelligence and military prowess.

The problem lies at the political level. While many Tory backbenchers support Israel, the government—with some very honourable exceptions—is hostile. So much so that a group of Tory MPs and others in the party who are well-disposed to Israel have reportedly formed an informal group to prevent [Prime Minister] David Cameron from throwing Israel under the bus altogether.

This group has become very alarmed by the government’s repeated sniping against Israel, such as Cameron’s calculated gesture of hostility in stepping down as patron of the JNF. And then there was last month’s video by International Development Minister Alan Duncan, in which he made false and inflammatory claims that, through its security barrier, Israel was annexing the Palestinians’ land and was also stealing their water.

First, the Foreign Office briefed that Duncan was only stating British government policy; later, it seemed to distance itself from his remarks. But the fact is that, despite his grossly ignorant and prejudiced rant, Duncan is still in post.

Why? Because the callow and opportunistic Cameroons are blank slates upon which can be written the fashionable bigotry and historical illiteracy of our times. The Cameron government did not create the madness now raging against Israel. It could, however, control it by standing up for truth and justice against lies and prejudice. Tragically, it is choosing to fan the flames of ignorance and hatred instead.

Melanie Phillips

Daily Mail, October 29, 2011

During the past 24 hours, Israel has been under sustained rocket attack from Gaza. Some 35 rockets and mortar shells were fired deep into the country, killing one man in Ashkelon and injuring four other people elsewhere. In Ashdod, vehicles were set on fire and a school—fortunately empty—was hit. The rocket barrage followed an IDF strike on Gaza which killed five members of Islamic Jihad—and which itself was targeted at the IJ terrorist cell responsible for launching a Grad rocket that exploded in Ashdod.

This, however, is how BBC News has reported the past day’s events on its website, [under the banner of] “Militants killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza”:

Five Palestinian militants have been killed in a number of Israeli air strikes on the south of the Gaza Strip. The violence is the most serious since a major prisoner exchange deal earlier this month between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that governs in Gaza.

The militants were killed at an Islamic Jihad training site in Rafah in the south of the strip. Doctors say at least 10 other people were injured in the strike. The Israeli air force has confirmed it carried out the attack. It said the militants were preparing to launch rockets into Israel.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed to the AFPnews agency that aircraft had attacked other sites. A statement said the Israeli military had ‘attacked three terrorist sites in the Gaza Strip as well as an arms factory in the south of the territory.…’

The violence comes less than two weeks after a major prisoner exchange which saw about 500 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails in a swap for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Some of those released were Islamic Jihad members.

A further 500 Palestinian prisoners are due to be freed as part of the deal later this year. BBC Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison says an escalation in violence could jeopardise those releases.

No mention of the Palestinian rocket attack on Ashdod. No mention of the 35 rocket attacks on Israel during the past day, nor the Israeli killed in Ashkelon. Instead, the BBC has given the false impression on its website that the Israelis initiated the attacks—and the only casualties it reported were Palestinian.

This website report was timed as “last updated” at 14:12 on Saturday. But even on the midnight Radio Four news bulletin just now there was still no mention of the rocket attacks on Israel over the past day, nor the murdered Israeli.…

This reporting is simply disgraceful and inexcusable. Such selective manipulation of the facts and consequent misrepresentation of cause and effect, which reverses victim and aggressor in the Middle East, serves the cause of Arab propaganda and foments public hatred of Israel, all with untold consequences around the world.

As has been observed for years, the BBC’s reporting on Israel is out of control. The BBC is clearly incapable of putting its own house in order; its abuse of journalism on this most sensitive of issues is now so egregious that it is surely a matter that should be raised in Parliament.

Melanie Phillips

Standpoint, October 2011

Mahmoud Abbas is the man who Britain, America and Europe think deserves to be the president of an independent state of Palestine—the establishment of which, they tell themselves, would end the Middle East impasse.

To Western eyes Abbas, the Fatah-backed President of the Palestinian Authority, is a moderate. It is, however, simply astounding that he should be viewed in this way. It is even more astounding that Western liberals should endorse him and give him a free pass for his behaviour.

Both he and the Palestinian establishment he controls repeatedly say they will never accept Israel as a Jewish state. So his aim remains the destruction of Israel. He and his people repeatedly say that not one Jew would be allowed to live in Palestine. Such a state would therefore be a racist entity ethnically cleansed of Jews.

Abbas has gone even further in making plain that his bigotry is directed not just at Israel. Considering the possibility that NATO forces might be brought in to police a settlement, Abbas declared: “I will not accept the presence of Jews in these forces.”

Such bigotry is hardly surprising given that he earned the Soviet equivalent of a PhD in Moscow for a dissertation published in Arabic entitled “The Other Side: the Secret Relations between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement” in which he claimed that the Holocaust didn’t happen.

He declared that the gas chambers were never used to murder Jews, and that at most 890,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis. This happened, he claimed, in part because the Zionists led a campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule in order to fuel their extermination and so bring about the victory of Zionism.

Not only does Abbas thus odiously deny the Holocaust, but he and his cronies also repeatedly deny the history of the Jewish people in their false claim that the Palestinians, rather than the Jews, were the authentic inhabitants of the land.

Despite mouthing platitudes in English about the aim of two states living side by side, when speaking in Arabic Abbas and Co deny Israel’s right to exist at all.

Although the Jews are the only people for whom Israel was ever their nation-state, the PA-controlled paper Al-Hayat al-Jadida stated earlier this year: “The Zionists must acknowledge publicly, in front of the world, that the Jews have no connection to the Palestinian Arab land.” And last May (in a speech read by an adviser), Abbas scorned as a mere Israeli claim the 3,000-year old historical presence of the Jews in the Land of Israel—and asserted an entirely fictitious 9,000-year-old Palestinian presence dating back to 7000 BCE. Despite the fact that no such people as the Palestinians then existed, Abbas declared that this made them “the owners of history”.

Abbas may look like a mild-mannered businessman but in fact he is steeped in terrorism. He has boasted of dispatching “fighters” to murder Israeli civilians during the terrorist intifada of 2000-05. And today he persists in glorifying the murder of Israeli innocents and showering honours upon their killers.…

Under Abbas, the PA regularly glorifies terrorists and turns them into role models. After the death of Amin al Hindi, a senior planner of the massacre of Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics, Abbas personally attended the official red-carpet military funeral provided for him by the PA. He described another of the Munich terrorists, Muhammad Daoud Oudeh, as “a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter”. And he does nothing to end the incitement to hatred and murder of Jews and Israelis promulgated in the educational materials, sermons and media under his control.

This is not the behaviour of a moderate. This is a man who should be in a courtroom being prosecuted for mass murder. Yet this is the man to whom the West declares that Israel must make concessions so that he can plant a state of his own on its border, which the people around him make clear will be used as a springboard from which to destroy Israel.

The fact that Abbas has made no concessions is ignored. The fact that he demands an end to settlement building but nevertheless refused to negotiate while such building was frozen is ignored. The fact that he is a Jew-hater committed to ethnic cleansing and the destruction of a country is ignored.

The West gives Abbas a free pass because they think there is no alternative solution to the one he proposes. But, appallingly, the solution that he represents risks being a final one.

Melanie Phillips, February 27, 2011

Some people would doubtless be amazed to learn that, some 10 centuries before the birth of Christ and 17 centuries before the birth of Mohammed, the city of Jerusalem was created by King David as the capital of the united kingdom of Israel and Judea. The Jews were in fact the only people for whom the land of Israel was ever actually their national home.

And the Arabs knew it. “Who can contest the rights of the Jews to Palestine?” the then mayor of Jerusalem, Yusuf Khalidi, told the Chief Rabbi of France in 1899: “God knows historically it is indeed your country”—even though, he added, the problem was that now there were others living there too.

Those others were only there, however, because of the extraordinary impulse to conquer and possess this tiny piece of land—and above all, the prize of prizes at its heart, Jerusalem. For after the Jews were finally driven out by the Romans in 70 CE, a myriad of different peoples and dynasties piled in to conquer it: Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Ummayads, Abbasids, Fatimids, crusaders from all over Christendom, Seljuks, Kurds, Mamluks, Mongols, Albanians, Ottomans and (in 1918) Britons. (The one name that does not figure in this great procession is the Palestinians—for no such people ever existed.)

Accordingly, as Simon Sebag Montefiore illuminates in his impressive “biography” of this most transcendent, mysterious and unique city, all these civilisations are embedded in its ancient stones like geological strata. What he brings out is that, from the start, Jerusalem was a global obsession. Peoples, religions and civilisations fought over it, conquered it and were in turn conquered. It was seen, quite simply, as the centre of the world, the hinge between heaven and earth. And everyone wanted to possess it.

On the face of it, this was extraordinary. For Jerusalem was hardly propitiously situated—devoid of seas or rivers, a mere lump of barren rock in the middle of the desert. Throughout the centuries it was often desperately poor and squalid.… And yet it is still magnificent, luminous and utterly special.

And that is because it is a city of profound spirituality and religious longing. For both Judaism and Christianity, Jerusalem was the place where the end of days would occur; and because the Muslims knew that this was foretold by the Jewish and Christian prophets, they wanted to own it too. Like all millenarian dreams of redemption, this one exacted a horrific toll of fanaticism.

To this eye-opening narrative of obsession, power-lust, and unspeakable savagery, Sebag Montefiore brings a novelist’s touch: vivid vignettes, stories and descriptions that leap off the page. Indeed, we could surely do without some of this graphic detail: Roman crucifixions, Tartar disembowellings, Crusaders piling up mounds of hacked-off limbs as a kind of religious sacrament. A city of peace this never was.…

In describing these claims and counterclaims to Jerusalem, Sebag Montefiore takes pains to be totally even-handed—rather too much so. For he gives the impression that the fight for the city is between three religions with equal claims.

But they are not equal. The Jews created the city as their capital. Everyone else marched in and conquered it and did their damnedest to keep the Jews out. Christianity’s attempt to conquer Jerusalem derived from its desire to supersede Judaism; the Muslim attempt to conquer it—as today—derived from the Islamic drive not just to supersede its predecessor faiths but to appropriate and Islamise Judaism itself. But throughout, the Jews always retained their connection with the city, their holy of holies that has always been the focus of their prayers.

Today, there are repeated Arab attempts to erase the copious, growing archeological evidence of David’s city and the ancient kingdom of Israel and Judea, which establishes the Jews’ indisputable claim to Israel and to Jerusalem. What is clear, however, is that it is only since the Israelis liberated east Jerusalem from the Jordanian occupation in 1967 that, for the first and only time in the city’s history, Jews, Christians and Muslims may freely worship at their shrines.

Sebag Montefiore, however, claims that this is only theoretically true. Non-Jews, he says, have their freedom to worship restricted because of the security barrier and other bureaucratic harassments. But that’s only because of the need to defend these places from yet more violence. For exactly the same reason, Jews are forbidden by Israeli law to pray on the Temple Mount.

In a war between truth and lies, justice and injustice, even-handedness ceases to be admirable and risks becoming instead partisanship for wrong-doing. Towards the end of this otherwise fine book, Sebag Montefiore falls into this trap. It is a similar trap—the misguided belief that fairness means splitting the difference between good and evil—that has led the West increasingly to abandon Israel to the prospect of yet further conquest and destruction. And so, as always, the peace of Jerusalem tragically remains merely a prayer.


During “All-Stars Week”, CIJR’s Isranet Briefings will highlight the work of outstanding individuals, whose invaluable efforts contribute to strengthening public perception of the Jewish state’s regional and global position. Each Briefing will include a sample of articles written over the last year by a given author, dealing with issues such as Israeli politics and security, as well as matters concerning Diaspora Jewry, and ways of combatting the delegitimation of Israel.


Today’s Briefing:


Isi Leibler is a veteran international Jewish leader with a distinguished record of contributions to the Jewish world and the cause of human rights.

Born in Antwerp Belgium in 1934, Leibler was brought to Australia by his parents as an infant just before the outbreak of World War II. Described in the new edition of Encyclopaedia Judaica as “unquestionably the dominant Jewish lay leader in Australia during the previous quarter century”, Leibler was leader of the Australian Jewish community (Executive Council of Australian Jewry) between 1978 and 1995.

In 1962, Mr. Leibler engineered a public campaign which resulted in Australia becoming the first country in the world to raise the plight of Soviet Jewry at the United Nations. Before the collapse of the Soviet Empire, Leibler made numerous visits to the Soviet Union and developed close associations with the leading Jewish dissidents and refuseniks, which he still maintains in Israel.

Following the liberation of Soviet Jewry, Mr. Leibler focused his attention on the Asia-Pacific region. His meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen were recognised as major contributions towards accelerating the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and both countries.

Leibler has occupied senior roles in the World Jewish Congress, the umbrella organization representing global Jewry, including Chairman of the Governing Board and Senior Vice President.

Leibler, an outstanding scholar of Jewish thought and history, and collector of one of the world’s outstanding libraries in the history of antisemitism and Judaica generally, writes prolifically and is a weekly columnist to the Jerusalem Post, enjoying a vast following throughout the world. He is also a regular columnist for Israel Hayom.

Mr Leibler was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1977 and an AO (Officer of the Order of Australia) in 1989. Isi Leibler lives in Jerusalem with his wife Naomi (herself a renowned leader of Emunah Women International).

Isi Leibler
Jerusalem Post, September 22, 2011

Traditionally, Diaspora Jewish leaders speak up on behalf of Israel, frequently even taking the lead on issues in which geopolitical considerations made it problematic for the Jewish state to be engaged. Examples abound: the plight of Soviet Jewry, the campaign to rescind the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism, the World Jewish Congress exposure of Kurt Waldheim as a war criminal and, more importantly, achieving restitution for Jewish assets plundered by the Nazis from various bodies including the Swiss banks and insurance companies.

However, with the erosion of cabinet solidarity after the Rabin era, the intimate relationship which existed between Diaspora Jewish communities and the Israeli government and its ambassadors rapidly deteriorated.

In stark contrast to former charismatic leaders like David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin and even Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is inclined to release trial balloons to test the waters of public opinion rather than articulate his policy in advance to the nation. This was exemplified by the contradictory rumors floated from government sources before it was resolved not to concede to the outrageous Turkish demands in the wake of the Mavi Marmara affair.

Combining the vagueness of publicly stated government policies with the dramatic upsurge in anti-Israel hostility, it is not surprising that most Diaspora Jewish leaders are now far more hesitant than in the past to criticize their host governments over Israel-related issues.

The change in behavior is especially obvious with American Jewish leaders who were formerly renowned for their feisty domestic and global initiatives on behalf of Israel. AIPAC continues to effectively lobby the case for Israel on a bipartisan level in Congress but its role is, by definition, limited to this arena.

However, over the past six months, the principal organizations involved in public affairs—the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations (Presidents Conference), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Anti- Defamation League (ADL), and Bnai Brith International—while remaining unreservedly committed to Israel have generally been reluctant to explicitly challenge the Obama administration’s pressures and one-sided demands upon Israel.

American Jews are understandably hyper-sensitive about a further erosion in the bipartisan relationship, a crucial factor in maintaining public support for Israel. Yet reluctance to publicly criticize their president contrasts sharply with the dramatic Jewish grassroots backlash against Obama exemplified by the stunning upset in the New York’s 9th Congressional District, a largely Jewish-populated electorate—where the Democratic candidate, an Orthodox Jew, was defeated by a Roman Catholic Republican.

In addition, many Democratic congressmen have themselves uninhibitedly contradicted their president by supporting Israel.

Despite the extraordinary support which emerged when Netanyahu articulated the case for Israel [this past May] in Congress, since then the Israeli government has consciously avoided airing its differences with the US administration. There are even rumors that Israeli officials encouraged Jewish leaders to remain silent to avoid further alienating the administration.

Irrespective of the merits of such an approach, it would be a major blunder for Israelis to encourage American Jews to behave passively while the Obama administration treats Israel, its ally, in such a shabby manner.

Take for example the Turkish imbroglio and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s intense pressure on the Israeli government to apologize and concede to their outrageous demands. One can imagine how Begin or Rabin would have reacted had the US pressed them to capitulate over such an issue, but our government decided not to respond. Yet why should American Jews not express indignation at the chutzpah of their government pressuring Israel to apologize for its soldiers defending themselves against terrorists?…

Surely American Jews, angered by their government’s one-sided demands, which place Israel at such a disadvantage, should not feel inhibited about protesting against such behaviour.… Public opinion in the United States is currently overwhelmingly supportive of Israel. But this should not be taken for granted and it would be shameful to rely on Christians and conservative friends of Israel to publicly protest against the double standards employed by the Obama administration.…

We return to the original question. Why are most reputable American Jewish leaders off the radar and reluctant to publicly confront the excesses of the administration? If, for purported diplomatic reasons, the Netanyahu government has asked them to remain silent, this would be scandalous. Diaspora Jews living in a democracy like the US do not require a green light from the government of Israel to speak up.… If Jewish leaders persist in remaining silent, their kinsmen at a grassroots level will simply continue bypassing them.

Isi Leibler
Jerusalem Post, September 15, 2011

It is a somber reflection on the naivety of well-intended Jewish philanthropists that they continue donating vast amounts of money to Israel’s largest NGO, the New Israel Fund (NIF). They do so despite repeated documented exposures demonstrating that this body is sponsoring anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian and post-Zionist organizations, committed to undermining the Jewish state and promoting the narrative of the Palestinians as victims and Israelis as oppressors.

Many of the donors are liberal Jews genuinely committed to Israel who blindly accept at face value statements from NIF officials who obfuscate the truth.

Recently, yet another bombshell discrediting this organization was revealed by Wikileaks. A confidential cable quoted a conversation between officials at the Tel Aviv US embassy and NIF associate director Hedva Radanovitz, who until last year controlled the NIF distribution of grants to 350 NGOs totaling $18 million per annum. She told embassy personnel that “she believed that in 100 years, Israel would be majority Arab and that the disappearance of the Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.” Radanovitz was in fact, rationalizing why the NIF has and continues to provide millions of dollars to groups supporting the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.

In response to media coverage of these bizarre remarks, NIF CEO Daniel Sokatch stated that Radanovitz was at the time “not optimistic about Israeli support for human rights and democracy” and that her views were not supported by his organization. He also stressed that she was now no longer employed by the NIF. However, Sokatch and other NIF leaders failed to explain why many other senior NIF officers share an ideological view of Israel as a Jewish state which most Israelis would bitterly oppose.…

When NIF spokesmen address the public, they speak exclusively of the bona fide social organizations they fund. They fail to disclose that they are also providing vast funds to organizations that by no stretch of the imagination could qualify for inclusion in that category. Even after their recent adamant assurance to the public and donors that organizations opposed to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state would no longer be sponsored, last year they still directed over a quarter of their funding ($4.3 million) to groups engaged in delegitimization and other forms of anti-Israeli activity.

Here are a few examples of NIF allotments last year to organizations for political advocacy that are deeply engaged in anti-Israeli campaigns.

Nearly $500,000 was provided to Adalah, a group which contributed to and campaigned for the Goldstone report, urged foreign governments to “reevaluate their relationship with Israel,” described Israel as “a colonial enterprise promoting apartheid,” called for implementing the Palestinian right of return to Israel, provided affidavits to Spanish courts in order to charge Israeli officials with war crimes, and defended Hizbullah spy Amir Makhoul as a “human rights defender.…”

Mada al-Carmel, another recipient of NIF funds, engages in anti-Israeli agitation and openly repudiates the legitimacy of the Jewish state. NIF continued to fund the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), a leader of the campaign expressly promoting global “boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.” CWP also organizes events for Israel apartheid week.

In 2010, NIF tripled the funding for “Breaking the Silence,” another organization which paved the way for the Goldstone report by making unsubstantiated claims of war crimes by the IDF. During the Goldstone committee inquiry “Breaking the Silence,” in conjunction with B’tselem and other NIF-funded NGOs, accused Israel of war crimes and provided “evidence” to the Goldstone Commission to substantiate their biased and defamatory report.

The sordidness of these virulently anti-Israeli, NIF-funded NGOs is heightened by the fact that many are primarily funded by foreign foundations, in particular European governments, promoting campaigns against Israel and engaged in bolstering far Left Israeli fringe groups.… One could not visualize any European state tolerating such interference in its domestic affairs by foreign countries or organizations seeking to subvert the democratically elected government under the cloak of promoting human rights.

Indeed, without the perseverance and determined investigative analysis of Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, the public would be totally unaware that such vast sums are provided to anti-Israeli organizations. Steinberg has also been instrumental in promoting Knesset legislation which now requires NGOs to be transparent and disclose their sources of foreign funding, based on the model of the US Foreign Agent Registration ACT (FARA). This requirement will enable Israelis to appreciate the extent of foreign initiatives designed to fund anti-government “political activity.…”

Clearly, in these difficult times there is a need for drastic change in the personnel managing [the NIF] organization and an end to the secrecy under which they operate in order to ensure that funds raised for the welfare of Israel are not diverted to organizations committed to undermining the Jewish state.

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, July 9, 2011

This week the Conference on Material Claims against Germany (Claims Conference) is convening its annual board meeting in New York. The agenda has already been circulated. Yet most of the 60 well-intentioned directors, whose principal involvement with the conference involves attending annual meetings, will have difficulty comprehending the complex and confusing data presented to them. As they have for over 40 years, the majority are likely to continue acting as a rubber stamp, automatically endorsing resolutions and allocations recommended by the small inner-management clique.

It is evident that the burning issues raised last year remain unresolved, and in many cases were not even seriously considered. Directors are thus unlikely to gain further insight into who was responsible for the lack of oversight that facilitated the greatest fraud ever inflicted on a Jewish charitable organization.

The theft, first disclosed in February 2010 as a $350,000 swindle, had risen by July to $7 million. In November, the amount had escalated to $42.5m. A few weeks ago, we were blithely informed that the sum was about $50m. and likely to rise even higher.

How could such a scam proceed unimpeded for over 15 years in the head office of the Claims Conference, literally under the noses of the chief executives, with six key staff members, including a manager, being the alleged perpetrators? In any enterprise—private or public—after such a scandal, one would expect resignations or at least some acceptance of responsibility.

The Claims Conference, a nonprofit charity, employs highly paid, purportedly top “professional” executives. The CEO receives a salary commensurate with the head of the International Monetary Fund. Despite ignoring repeated warnings that a single part-time internal comptroller was absurdly insufficient for an organization handling billions of dollars, no one is now willing to accept responsibility.

After the theft was discovered, the chief executive even had the gall to praise management for its “efficient” response, insisting that there had been no deviation from standard operating procedures.…

Directors will no doubt be informed of the commendable steps undertaken following the much-heralded K2 Global Consulting company’s recommendations to implement greater safeguards and ensure that such an outrage is not replicated. However, K2 is not qualified to undertake an audit or review. In the wake of such a scandal, it is surely mandatory for directors to demand a fully independent forensic audit to guarantee that there are no additional areas in which lack of oversight could enable the plundering of public funds—for example, allocations of funds, alleged conflicts of interest, the recovery and sale of German properties, and other issues. However, the management adamantly rejected such a review.

The reality is that a handful of people—basically an old boys’ club—operates the Claims Conference like a personal fiefdom. The excessive centralization of control and lack of checks and balances is highlighted by the fact that Chairman Julius Berman (who has occupied the position for a decade) also appointed himself chairman of key committees such as the all-powerful Allocations Committee, the US Allocations Advisory Committee, and even its Israeli counterpart. That the chairman, an American resident, appoints himself to head the Israeli Advisory Allocations Committee says it all.…

It is astonishing that since the last annual meeting, there has been no public outcry, and the management continues to deny any responsibility for the $50m. fraud. The onus surely rests with organizations represented on the board to rectify this and ensure that substantive reforms are instituted to achieve genuine transparency and accountability.

A genuinely independent forensic audit reviewing all aspects of the organization should be immediately undertaken to ensure that there are no additional ‘black holes’ requiring attention. Those responsible for the failure of oversight regarding the financial scandal should retire or be retired. Term limits for senior elected officers must be introduced. Berman should do the honorable thing and step down as chairman. Potential conflicts of interest for directors whose organizations obtain funding should also be reviewed.

Most importantly, intensified efforts must be undertaken to ease the desperate plight of the remaining ailing survivors. Despite the commendable agreement by the Germans to substantially increase support for those requiring home services, it is an indictment on us all that many elderly Jewish survivors still have insufficient resources to pay for food, fuel and basic medical expenses.…

We must demand that the Claims Conference act ethically and with the highest possible standards of integrity, transparency and sensitivity. If there is the slightest doubt as to whether those standards are being upheld, board members and the organizations they represent have a legal fiduciary obligation to act.

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, November 9, 2011

The Bible tells us that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah despite Abraham’s intercession because there weren’t even 10 righteous people in these cities. Alas, I believe that if one were to review the entire spectrum of Palestinian political, religious and intellectual leadership, one would be unable to identify even a single righteous or moderate Palestinian leader who is committed to achieving a genuine peace.

We are repeatedly told that President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are our genuine peace partners and that we are unlikely to find more moderate Palestinians with whom to negotiate.

Yet Abbas, who obtained his “doctorate” by justifying Holocaust denial:

• Refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, insists that the “occupation” dates back to 1948 and even denies any Jewish link to the Holy Land.

• Sanctifies mass murderers of Israeli women and children by bestowing honor on the killers and granting state pensions to their families.

• Rules over an Authority in which the controlled media, mosques and state educational system incite hatred against Jews and deny Israel’s right to exist.

• Endorses the execution of any Palestinian who sells land to a Jew.

• Assures his people that any future Palestinian state will be entirely cleansed of Jews.

• Is committed to reuniting with the genocidal Islamic Hamas, whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews and the elimination of Israel.

Even when he did negotiate with Israel, Abbas effectively rejected offers made by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert to cede 95 percent of the territories conquered in response to Jordan’s offensive against Israel. Indeed, the more Israelis concede, the more Abbas demands. Today he has escalated the issue of so-called “right” of return of refugees to Palestine as a non-negotiable demand, despite realizing that this would bring an end to Jewish sovereignty which no Israeli government could contemplate.

On the surface, the PA appears moderate compared to Hamas. But their objectives are identical. Abbas speaks with a forked tongue and is vague about his long-term goals when he addresses non-Arab audiences, whereas Hamas is completely honest and boasts that it will never negotiate and will continue to fight until the Jewish state is destroyed.

Some PA leaders are now becoming less inhibited. Only a few weeks ago, a prominent Fatah leader explicitly proclaimed that a Palestinian State would merely represent the first stepping stone towards the ultimate objective of eliminating the Jewish state. Unfortunately, all opinion polls demonstrate that the Palestinian masses have been brainwashed and endorse these views.

Professor Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Bir Zeit University, was hailed by many naive Israelis as a Palestinian model of moderation. Dr. Yossi Beilin referred to him as a living testimony to the fact that Oslo was not a failure.

Nearly 10 years ago I challenged the bona fides of Nusseibeh, pointing out that he was appointed by, reported to and accepted instructions from Yasser Arafat. I observed that political dissidents under Arafat’s authority had extraordinarily limited life-spans and suggested that Nusseibeh’s role was to provide the PA with a moderate face to present to the Western world. His amiable and soothing approach was obviously designed to revive Israel’s fond memories of the “irreversible peace process” and Arafat’s cynical “peace of the brave.…”

In a lengthy article recently published on the al-Jazeera website, Nusseibeh set aside his cloak of moderation and demonstrated that despite the sophisticated chatter, he was no more moderate than any of his Palestinian counterparts. His article is a passionate opposition to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. The arguments he employs, arguing that Jews should be the only people denied the right to statehood, testify to the fact that his moderation is a sham.

He warns that were Israel to be recognized as a Jewish state, it would become an “apartheid” entity. Not only would Israel’s Arabs be stripped of their citizenship and other rights, but they would also be killed like the ancient Canaanites and Jebusites were by the Israelites according to the Bible. He conveniently ignores that Israel being a Jewish state was the rationale for its creation by the United Nations in 1947. He also overlooks the inconsistency that the new Palestinian entity would be governed by Shari’a law and cleansed of any Jews and that there is no Arab country which remotely extends similar rights to minorities comparable to Israel.

Furthermore, he has the gall to condemn Jewish intolerance towards other faiths in Jerusalem, disregarding the fact that it was only when Jerusalem came under Jewish sovereignty in 1967 that freedom of religious association and worship were extended for the first time to all religions—in dramatic contrast to the manner in which the Jordanians ruled the city.

Adopting the Abbas UN approach, Nusseibeh also reneged on his previous call to Palestinians to cease promoting the right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel. He actually insisted that—hold your take a deep breath—7 million diaspora Palestinians are entitled to repatriation or compensation.

Nusseibeh’s turnaround reaffirms that there is not a single Palestinian leader of political, religious, or intellectual distinction who could be described as a moderate and who would be willing to support a negotiated settlement to achieve genuine peace deal with the Jewish state. But in this insane Alice in Wonderland global environment, we are being told to deal with these bigots as though they were genuine peace partners.…

To the world and those calling on us to continue providing unilateral concessions—which without exception have weakened our position and encouraged our adversaries—I make one challenge: Please identify one single Palestinian leader or intellectual who genuinely advocated moderation and was not assassinated.






Simon Deng, 22 novembre 2011

Ce sont les paroles de Simon Deng, qui a été un esclave soudanais. Il s’est adressé à la conférence de «Durban III» à New York sur «Les périls de l’intolérance globale» le 22 septembre 2011. Il dit, avec raison, que le procès démesuré fait à Israël se fait au détriment de toutes les victimes du racisme arabo-musulman.


Je tiens à remercier les organisateurs de cette conférence, les Périls de l’Intolérance Mondiale. C’est un grand honneur pour moi et c’est vraiment un privilège d’être parmi les distingués conférenciers aujourd’hui. Je suis venu ici en tant qu’ami de l’État d’Israël et du peuple juif.

Je suis venu pour protester contre cette conférence de Durban qui est basée sur un ensemble de mensonges. Elle est organisée par des nations qui sont-elles-mêmes coupables des pires sortes d’oppression. Elle n’aidera pas les victimes du racisme. Elle isolera seulement et visera l’État juif. C’est un outil des ennemis d’Israël. L’ONU est devenue un outil contre Israël. Depuis plus de 50 ans, 82 pour cent des réunions d’urgence de l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU n’ont fait que condamner un État – Israël. Hitler en serait très heureux.


La Conférence de Durban est un outrage. Tous les honnêtes gens le savent. Mais les amis, je viens ici aujourd’hui avec une idée radicale. Je viens vous dire qu’il y a des peuples qui souffrent de l’anti-israélisme de l’ONU, bien plus que les Israéliens. J’appartiens à l’un de ces peuples. S’il vous plaît écoutez-moi.


En exagérant la souffrance des Palestiniens, et en blâmant les Juifs, l’ONU a étouffé les cris de ceux qui souffrent à une bien plus grande échelle. Depuis plus de cinquante ans, la population indigène noire du Soudan – Chrétiens et Musulmans – ont été les victimes de la brutalité, des régimes racistes arabo-musulmans à Khartoum. Au Sud Soudan, mon pays natal, environ 4 millions d’hommes innocents, de femmes et d’enfants ont été massacrés de 1955 à 2005. Sept millions ont été victimes d’un nettoyage ethnique et ils sont devenus le plus grand groupe de réfugiés depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale.


L’ONU est préoccupée par les soi-disant réfugiés palestiniens. Elle a dédié un organisme distinct rien que pour eux. Et ils bénéficient d’un privilège spécial. Pendant ce temps, mon peuple, ethniquement nettoyé, assassiné et asservi, est relativement ignoré. L’ONU refuse de dire au monde la vérité sur les causes réelles des conflits au Soudan. Qui sait vraiment ce qui se passe au Darfour?


Ce n’est pas un «conflit tribal». Il s’agit d’un conflit enraciné dans le colonialisme arabe bien connu en Afrique du Nord. Au Darfour, une région dans le Soudan occidental, tout le monde est musulman. Tout le monde est musulman parce que les Arabes ont envahi l’Afrique du Nord pour convertir les peuples autochtones à l’islam. Aux yeux des islamistes à Khartoum, les habitants du Darfour ne sont pas assez musulmans. Et les habitants du Darfour ne veulent pas être arabisés. Ils aiment leurs propres langues africaines, leurs vêtements et leurs coutumes. La réponse arabe est un génocide! Mais personne à l’ONU dit la vérité au sujet du Darfour.


Dans les monts Nuba, une autre région du Soudan, le génocide a pris place alors que je vous parle. Le régime islamiste de Khartoum cible les noirs Africains – Musulmans et Chrétiens. Personne à l’ONU ne dit la vérité au sujet des monts Nuba.


Entendez-vous l’ONU condamner le racisme arabe contre les Noirs?

Qu’est-ce que vous trouvez sur les pages du New York Times, ou dans le dossier des condamnations de l’ONU? Seulement «les crimes israéliens» et la souffrance palestinienne. Mon peuple a été évincé des Unes des journaux au profit d’une exagération de la souffrance palestinienne. Ce que fait Israël est dépeint comme un péché en Occident. Mais la vérité est que le vrai péché arrive lorsque l’Occident nous abandonne: nous, les victimes de l’apartheid arabe/islamique.


L’esclavage a été pratiqué pendant des siècles au Soudan. Il a été réanimé comme un outil de guerre dans les années 90. Khartoum a déclaré le djihad contre mon peuple et pour le légitimer ils ont pris des esclaves comme butin de guerre. Les milices arabes ont été envoyées pour détruire les villages du Sud et ont été encouragées à prendre les femmes africaines et les enfants comme esclaves. Nous pensons qu’environ 200.000 ont été enlevés, transportés au Nord et vendus comme esclaves.


Je suis une preuve vivante de ce crime contre l’humanité.Je n’aime pas parler de mon expérience en tant qu’esclave, mais je le fais car il est important que le monde sache que l’esclavage existe encore aujourd’hui.


Je n’avais que neuf ans quand un voisin arabe nommé Abdullahi m’a amené par ruse avec lui sur un bateau. Le bateau s’est arrêté dans le Nord Soudan où il m’a donné en cadeau à sa famille. Pendant trois ans et demi j’ai été leur esclave subissant les choses qu’aucun enfant ne devrait subir: brutalité, humiliation, coups, travaillant sans relâche; dormant à même le sol avec les animaux, mangeant les restes de la famille. Pendant ces trois ans, j’ai été incapable de dire le mot «non». Tout ce que je pouvais dire était «oui», «oui», «oui».


Les Nations Unies connaissaient l’asservissement du Sud Soudan par les Arabes. Leur propre personnel l’a signalé. Il y a eu l’UNICEF – sous la pression d’un groupe juif américain anti-esclavage – seize ans pour reconnaître ce qui se passait. Je tiens à remercier mon ami le Dr Charles Jacobs pour mener la lutte anti-esclavagiste.


Mais le gouvernement soudanais et la Ligue arabe ont fait pression sur l’UNICEF, et l’UNICEF a fait marche arrière, et a commencé à critiquer ceux qui ont travaillé à la libération des esclaves soudanais. En 1998, le Dr Gaspar Biro, les courageux rapporteurs spéciaux de l’ONU pour les Droits de l’homme qui ont signalé l’esclavage au Soudan, ont démissionné pour protester contre les actions de l’ONU.


Mes amis, aujourd’hui, des dizaines de milliers de noirs Sud-Soudanais servent encore leurs maîtres dans le Nord et l’ONU est silencieuse à ce sujet. Elle offenserait l’OCI et la Ligue arabe.


En tant qu’ancien esclave et victime de la pire espèce de racisme, permettez-moi d’expliquer pourquoi je pense que dire qu’Israël est un État raciste est absolument absurde et immoral.


J’ai été en Israël à cinq reprises pour visiter les réfugiés soudanais. Laissez-moi vous dire ce qu’ils sont devenus là-bas. Ce sont des Soudanais qui ont fui le racisme arabe, en espérant trouver un abri en Égypte. Ils ont eu tort. Lorsque les Forces de sécurité égyptiennes ont abattu 26 réfugiés noirs au Caire, qui protestaient contre le racisme égyptien, les Soudanais se sont rendus compte que le racisme arabe au Caire est le même que celui de Khartoum. Ils avaient besoin d’un abri et ils l’ont trouvé en Israël. Tout en esquivant les balles des patrouilles égyptiennes frontalières, ils ont marché de très longues distances, l’espoir des réfugiés était d’atteindre le côté israélien de la barrière où ils savaient qu’ils seraient en sécurité.


Les Musulmans noirs du Darfour ont choisi Israël à tout autres pays arabo-musulmans de la région. Savez-vous ce que cela signifie!!!?? Et les Arabes disent qu’Israël est raciste!?


En Israël, les Soudanais noirs, Chrétiens et Musulmans ont été accueillis et traités comme des êtres humains. Il suffit d’y aller et leur demander, comme je l’ai fait. Ils m’ont dit que par rapport à la situation en Égypte, Israël est le «Paradis».


Israël, un État raciste? Pour mon peuple, des gens qui connaissent ce qu’est le racisme – la réponse est absolument, non! Israël est un État composé de personnes aux couleurs de l‘arc-en-ciel. Les Juifs eux-mêmes sont de toutes les couleurs, même noir. J’ai rencontré des Juifs Éthiopiens en Israël. De beaux Juifs noirs.


Donc oui… Je suis venu ici aujourd’hui pour vous dire que les gens qui souffrent le plus de la politique anti-israélienne de l’ONU ce ne sont pas les Israéliens, mais tous ces peuples que l’ONU ignore au profit de son grand mensonge contre Israël: nous, les victimes d’abus arabo-musulmans; les femmes, les minorités ethniques, les minorités religieuses, les homosexuels, dans le monde arabo-musulman. Ceux-ci sont les plus grandes victimes de la haine contre Israël de l’ONU.


Regardez la situation des Coptes en Égypte, celle des Chrétiens en Irak, au Nigeria et en Iran, les hindous et les Bahaïs qui souffrent de l’oppression islamique. Les Sikhs. Nous – Une coalition arc-en-ciel de victimes, cibles des djihadistes – tous en souffrance! Nous sommes ignorés, nous sommes abandonnés. Alors que le gros mensonge contre les Juifs peut aller de l’avant.


En 2005, j’ai visité un des camps de réfugiés au Sud Soudan. J’ai rencontré une jeune fille âgée de douze ans qui m’a parlé de son rêve. Dans son rêve elle voulait aller à l’école pour devenir médecin. Et puis, elle voulait visiter Israël. J’ai été choqué. Comment une fille de réfugiés qui a passé la plupart de sa vie dans le Nord connaissait Israël? Quand je lui ai demandé pourquoi elle voulait se rendre en Israël, elle m’a dit «C’est notre peuple». Je n’ai jamais été capable de trouver une réponse à ma question.


Le 9 janvier 2011 le Sud-Soudan est devenu un État indépendant. Pour le Sud-Soudan, cela signifie la fin de l’oppression, de la brutalité, de la diabolisation, de l’islamisation, de l’arabisation et de l’asservissement.


De la même façon, les Arabes continuent de nier aux Juifs leur droit souverain à leur patrie et la conférence de Durban III se poursuit en niant la légitimité d’Israël.


En tant qu’ami d’Israël, je vous fais part d’une nouvelle de mon Président, le Président de la République du Sud-Soudan, Salva Kiir – a publiquement déclaré qu’une ambassade sera construite en Israël – pas à Tel-Aviv, mais à Jérusalem, capitale éternelle du peuple juif.


Je tiens également à vous assurer que ma propre nouvelle nation, et l’ensemble de ses gens, s’opposeront aux forums racistes comme Durban III. Nous nous opposerons tout simplement en disant la vérité. Notre vérité.


Mes amis juifs m’ont appris quelque chose que je veux vous dire maintenant.




Le Peuple d’Israël est Vivant ! Merci.

Dépêche, 24 novembre 2011

Leur condition n'a jamais été aussi précaire. Il faut les recevoir comme réfugiés car ils sont condamnés à la persécution et l'épuration par la religion suprématiste.


Radio-Canada a montré un extrait du reportage de l'émission Second Regard qui sera diffusé dimanche le 27 novembre à 13h et qui porte sur les Chrétiens coptes d'Égypte. Le père Henri Boulad, jésuite au Caire, n'entretient pas beaucoup d'espoir pour leur avenir. Il dit: «Il se peut bien que le dernier bastion du christianisme africain, qui est l’Église copte d’Égypte, finisse par s’écrouler.»


Dans le National Post, Barbara Kay signe un article intitulé The Coptic condition (la condition copte), dans lequel elle invite les Coptes à se réfugier en Israël:


Les Coptes sont comme les Juifs au regard de leur nombre et de leur histoire de séjour précaire dans les pays islamiques, mais ils sont différents des Juifs en ce qu’ils n’ont aucune affinité particulière avec l'Occident ni, évidemment, leur propre patrie. Or les Juifs ont une patrie; ils ont déjà accueilli des réfugiés d'autres pays (y compris de l’Afrique sub-saharienne) et ils devraient éprouver une sympathie naturelle pour les Coptes.


Tel Aviv n’est pas comparable à Alexandrie pour sa beauté, sa grandeur et son histoire culturelle légendaire. Mais elle est située à proximité; le climat et le paysage sont familiers; de nombreuses langues y sont parlées, y compris l'arabe, et la tolérance des autres religions et modes de vie abonde. Les Coptes sont pacifiques et chérissent les mêmes valeurs fondamentales que les Juifs. Ce sont des éléments à considérer, car en Égypte, des mots sont inscrits sur le mur. Mene mene tekel upharsin: Dieu a décompté tes jours et ils ont pris fin.


Offrons-leur l'asile au Canada et au Québec. Les Coptes sont respectueux des lois et sauront bien s'intégrer. Nous chérissons les mêmes valeurs fondamentales. De plus, ils sauront prendre soin de notre patrimoine religieux et de nos églises, qui manquent de fidèles.


David Ouellette, 23 novembre 2011

En juin dernier, j’avais critiqué ici le travail biaisé et incomplet de la correspondante au Moyen-Orient de Radio-Canada, Ginette Lamarche, sur des manifestations palestiniennes et des tentatives de forcer la frontière syro-israélienne pour marquer l’anniversaire de la Guerre des Six jours. Elle y reprenait à son compte des revendications palestiniennes, faisait passer une organisation terroriste pour un «parti de gauche» et évoquait l’emprisonnement de son chef sans préciser qu’il avait participé à l’assassinat d’un ministre israélien.


Dans sa révision envoyée aujourd’hui au Centre consultatif des relations juives et israéliennes, l’ombudsman de Radio-Canada conclut que les reportages de Ginette Lamarche sur les événements de juin contreviennent à l’impartialité et à l’exactitude de l’information enchâssée dans ses propres normes.


Il est tout à l’honneur de Radio-Canada de reconnaître ses défauts, mais il est plus que temps pour elle de prendre des mesures concrètes pour redresser la qualité de son journalisme en ce qui a trait à Israël.


Via le site web du Centre consultatif des relations juives et israéliennes:


Dans un dossier aussi controversé que celui des relations israélo-palestiniennes, le choix des mots, la précision des informations livrées et l’identification de leur provenance prennent une importance particulière. Par ailleurs, le fait d’être en direct ajoute aux difficultés d’un reportage en matière d’exactitude, ce qui n’enlève rien à l’obligation du journaliste de rapporter des informations «vérifiées de manière


La journaliste aurait donc dû: attribuer aux Palestiniens la désignation du passage de Qalandya comme «symbole de leur humiliation quotidienne»; préciser que le FPLP était aussi considéré comme une organisation terroriste; indiquer qu’Ahmad Saadate avait été condamné pour avoir commandité le meurtre d’un ministre israélien; spécifier que l’information faisant état d’un bilan de 13 morts lors d’affrontements à la frontière entre Israël et la Syrie provenait d’une source syrienne non autrement corroborée. Elle aurait aussi pu être plus précise dans son échange en direct sur le déroulement des événements sur le plateau du Golan. Sans entrer dans les détails, elle aurait pu, par exemple, dire que l’armée israélienne avait servi plusieurs avertissements aux militants palestiniens avant d’en arriver à leur tirer dessus.


En ce qui concerne la question du droit de retour des Palestiniens abordée par la journaliste dans son reportage en direct, même si la question est au cœur du conflit au Proche-Orient et fait l’objet d’interprétations divergentes par les parties en cause, et bien que ce droit n’ait pas force de loi n’ayant pas été entériné par le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU, il demeure que c’est un droit reconnu et réitéré à plusieurs reprises depuis 1948 par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies. Quoi qu’il en soit, la journaliste n’a fait qu’évoquer rapidement ce droit, revendiqué par les uns, nié par les autres, reconnu par la plupart, à deux reprises dans son reportage, essentiellement pour dire que les
réfugiés palestiniens «essaient de faire valoir leur droit de retour». (…)




Deux reportages sur des affrontements entre des Palestiniens et l’armée israélienne, diffusés le 5 juin 2011 dans des radiojournaux de Radio-Canada, ne respectent pas la valeur d’exactitude ni celle d’impartialité, du moins en apparence, telles que définies dans les Normes et pratiques journalistiques de Radio-Canada.


Richard Grenell

Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2011

On Nov. 13, President Obama made some remarkable statements. “When I came into office,” he said at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Honolulu, “the world was divided and Iran was unified around its nuclear program.” Now, he said, “the world is united and Iran is isolated. And because of our diplomacy and our efforts, we have, by far, the strongest sanctions on Iran that we’ve ever seen.” Mr. Obama added, “China and Russia were critical to making that happen. Had they not been willing to support those efforts in the United Nations, we would not be able to see the kind of progress that we’ve made.”

This was pure spin. The United Nations Security Council actually began instituting resolutions and sanctions in 2006, agreed to and voted on by all 15 members, that called upon Iran to stop enriching uranium.

In its nearly three years in office, the Obama administration has helped pass just one of those resolutions—in June 2009. Only 12 of the 15 members of the Security Council voted in favor of it. Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon did not.

The simple fact is that the world is less unified on Iran now than it was under President George W. Bush. True enough, Mr. Obama may hear fewer complaints about hard-charging U.S. foreign policies than his predecessor. But silence is not cooperation.

The Bush administration got five Security Council resolutions passed on Iran starting in 2006. Three were sanctions resolutions. The Security Council was unanimous on two of the votes and lost only one country’s support (Indonesia) in the third vote in 2008. In total, the Bush team lost the support of one country in its three sanctions resolutions while the Obama team lost the support of three countries in one resolution.

Two views are emerging in response to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report on Iran’s nuclear weapons. While one camp believes the Iranians are close to obtaining nuclear weapons, the other side believes they haven’t mastered the technology and that time still remains to work out a diplomatic, non-military solution. The Obama team falls in the second camp. It is calling for more diplomacy and more international pressure—as if U.S. diplomats haven’t tried to convince Iran or its neighbors that its pursuit of a nuclear weapon is not a good idea.

And that’s what’s so dangerous about the president’s spin. His administration professes that the world is unified in pressuring Iran, but what the international community is really unified about is doing nothing.

The pronouncements from the White House that unity from the international community is its priority are naïve and treacherous excuse-making. And if consensus is the mandate, then the Obama team has already failed that test with the divided-support for their only resolution. More importantly, the Russians and the Chinese, with their complaints about another round of sanctions, have scared off the Obama team from calling for a vote on another resolution.…

The strategy to increase pressure on Iran through international sanctions had a chance to work. But the president released that pressure and ignored the previous U.S. work to try his personal diplomacy. The Obama team has succeeded in stopping countries from grumbling about U.S. policy, but that’s only because they haven’t called for an Iran vote in almost 18 months.

(Mr. Grenell was the director of communications and spokesman
for four U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations from 2001-2008.

Lee Smith

Weekly Standard, November 21, 2011

The Obama administration’s Iran policy rested on three pillars—the peace process, engagement, and containment. The first would win the newly elected president credit with the Arab people of the Middle East and empower the Arab states to gather in a robust coalition against Tehran. As for the second, even if engagement failed to bring Iran back into the community of nations, it would prove to Washington’s European allies and, more important, to Russia and China, that the Obama White House had gone the extra mile, which would, in turn, make containment possible.

All three efforts have now failed, which may explain why recent Israeli news reports suggest Jerusalem is moving toward a decision about a military strike of some sort against Iran’s nuclear program.

After more than half a year of relative quiet as the Arab Spring rolled through the Middle East, the Israeli government has helped shift the regional conversation back to Iran. It’s hardly surprising that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are reportedly in favor of a strike since their historical legacies might rest on how the Iranian issue is resolved. However, the fact that Israel’s president Shimon Peres now calls military action “more and more likely” suggests that, regardless of the eventual decision, Israel has embarked on a public diplomacy campaign intended to seize international attention.

Jerusalem has been aided in this by the release of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report, which not only details the military intent of Tehran’s nuclear program, but also exposes the U.S. intelligence community’s 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) as a politicized effort to downplay the threat. If the Obama administration could write off that NIE as someone else’s embarrassment, it was forced to admit its own failure to engage Tehran when it announced indictments on October 11 in the Iranian plot to blow up the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

The Israelis saw that Washington was shaken by the plot, and while it is difficult to know how much their contribution to the debate over Iran was planned or just timed fortuitously, the administration has been galvanized. The State Department sent off a flurry of démarches to U.S. allies, which according to Pentagon sources contained the strongest statements they’d ever seen coming from State on the issue of Iran. To shore up its policy of containing Iran with regional clients, Washington now intends to provide the United Arab Emirates with 4,900 additional bunker-buster bombs, presumably intended for Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Don’t expect any of this to quiet the talk from Jerusalem, though, for the simple reason that deterrence and containment aren’t going to work with Iran. To date, the question of whether it is possible to deter Iran has centered on the rationality of the revolutionary regime. For instance, can a leadership that wishes to usher in the rule of the occulted, twelfth imam be convinced that a nuclear exchange is a bad idea?… [Meanwhile] the hegemon of the Middle East, the United States, is weak. Therefore, Tehran can save its revolution by extending its imperial sway over the entire Middle East.

A more useful question, then, is whether Washington has the will to deter a nuclear Iran.… Even as the Obama administration is exiting from Iraq, it contends that the withdrawal will be offset by a beefed up troop presence in Gulf states like Kuwait. But when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warns, like many before him, that a strike on Iran “could have a serious impact on U.S. forces in the region,” he reveals that Washington sees U.S. troops in the region not as a forward position against Tehran, but effectively as Iranian hostages. The U.S. forces there deter attacks on Tehran, not the other way round.

The notion that the Gulf Cooperation Council forces can be strengthened to balance the Iranians is at odds with the historical rationale for arms sales to Gulf Arab states. The Israelis get American weapons for use against American adversaries; the Arabs are sold U.S. munitions because it pleases them to have expensive new toys and it keeps U.S. production lines rolling.… Arab armies and their weapons are typically turned against their own populations—which is why there was so much resistance recently to a $53 million arms sale to Bahrain. Indeed, with the recent parade of Bahraini dignitaries through Washington, American policymakers cannot help but be dismayed by the fact that a vital U.S. strategic interest—the home port of the Fifth Fleet—has been entrusted to a gang of incompetents.

Administration officials may well believe they can deter a nuclear Iran—without figuring nonstate actors (and possible delivery mechanisms) like Hezbollah into the equation. But the fact that the Obama White House decided not to pursue further sanctions against the Iranians for the plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington—an operation that might have killed hundreds of Americans—signals that the administration has no credible threat of force, not even against a nonnuclear Iran.

Accordingly, Israel may well escalate its public diplomacy campaign—and may move beyond diplomacy if it thinks a mortal threat is being ignored. There are options short of a full-scale bombing campaign that Jerusalem might take: an aerial strike on one facility, or even a ground operation designed by a defense minister obsessed with commando raids—anything that might make the international community, and especially the United States, take the Iranian threat seriously. Israel may not be able to destroy the Iranian nuclear program in its entirety by itself, but it might settle for less than that in the hopes of inspiring others to finish the job.

John Ibbitson

Globe & Mail, November 21, 2011

As early as Monday, Canada will impose tough new sanctions on Iran, which has become a top-tier foreign-policy concern for the Harper government. The West is getting ready to move against Iran. Canada will be part of the push.…

It’s Iran, not Syria, that worries the Harper government the most. The rogue regime in Tehran is firmly in control, and determined to acquire a nuclear weapon, as the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded once and for all earlier this month.

An Iranian bomb would not only threaten the very existence of Israel. As Republican Senator John McCain warned Sunday, the rest of the Middle East is every bit as frightened by the prospect. To protect themselves, “the Saudis will acquire nuclear weapons, maybe even the Egyptians, other countries will acquire nuclear weapons in the most volatile part of the world today,” he said.

Israel is warning that it simply won’t allow Iran to go nuclear. Republicans and Democrats in the United States are competing to see who is more determined to stop the regime from getting the bomb. With a presidential election less than a year away, jaw, jaw, jaw could lead to war, war, war.

But an attack on Iran would be hugely difficult, highly dangerous and likely to fail, because the most important facilities are hidden deep underground. Air strikes probably wouldn’t be enough. That means special forces would have to go in. Even if they succeeded, the Iranian government would stop at nothing to punish the Israelis, the Americans and their allies, including us.

So what to do? Not many people noticed that Canada co-sponsored [last] Friday’s resolution by the IAEA’s board of governors demanding that Iran give up on trying to acquire the bomb. But every Canadian should pay close attention to what the Harper government said during the debate.

“Canada will continue to work with like-minded nations on next steps. The question is not if, but rather the degree to which, we will act.” That means, according to officials within the government, that if the United States or the European Union impose stronger sanctions on Iran, Canada will at least match those sanctions.…

But as someone once said, it takes time for sanctions to be proved ineffective. And China, which buys Iranian oil, and Russia, which also has close business ties, will block any meaningful action at the United Nations Security Council. That means that, at some point, Israel may launch a strike against Iran, even if that strike only delays final production of the weapon by a year or so. If they do…sources say that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will fully support the action.… The only thing that the Harper government will not support is doing nothing.

Benny Morris
National Interest, November 15, 2011

The recent publication of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report on Iran—“Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran”—has pushed Israel a large step closer to launching an assault on Iran’s nuclear installations. One report emanating from London’s The Daily Mail last week stated that the British Cabinet believes Israel will strike this Christmas or a few weeks after.…

The data presented by the UN agency—on Iran’s nuclear-enrichment program and nuclear-detonation work, warheads, equipment and knowledge acquisition—all point to the giant strides that Iran has made during the past decade and indicate that Iran will be in possession of a nuclear bomb, should it so desire and if left unhampered, within twelve to twenty-four months.

Israel’s defense establishment has for years been divided about the wisdom and feasibility of assaulting the Iranian nuclear installations, which are dispersed around the country and, in many cases, buried deep underground. A major recent argument of those opposing an immediate strike—and they have included the heads of the IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet (the internal security service) and military intelligence—was that there was still time for international diplomacy and sanctions to curb Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA report means that time has now run out.

To be sure, President Obama and his chief European allies will now push for a new, upgraded round of sanctions. But they are unlikely to receive UN Security Council endorsement, given Chinese and Russian support of Tehran. The West could conceivably institute sanctions on its own—but they aren’t likely to be any more effective than the previous three or four rounds. The only sanctions that might conceivably force the ayatollahs of Tehran to change tack would be a complete boycott of Iran’s central bank and a complete freeze on purchases of Iranian oil, the country’s only export (except for pistachios). But Chinese and Russian (and, perhaps, Indian) noncooperation dooms these measures before they even get off the ground.

Which leaves the world, including Israel, with only two options: allowing the Iranians to attain the bomb and then hope that mutual deterrence will work to keep the Iranian finger off the red button, or militarily assaulting the Iranian nuclear facilities before that can happen.

Europe, of course, is out of the picture altogether. But the United States, in its post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan mood appears to lack the stomach for new military adventures. So the onus is on Israel, which has (relatively) small but effective air, naval and commando units.…

[Given] the current sense of crisis and immediacy in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv…Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the leading proponents of a strike against Iran, have charged that their opponents are sowing fear and demoralization in order to stay the government’s hand. These opponents argue that Iran’s retaliation for an Israeli strike would be inordinately damaging and costly for Israel (rockets on its cities, terrorists blowing up its embassies); it’s best, they say, to let the Iranians get the bomb and rely on mutual deterrence.

Barak went on record about the possible effects of prospective Iranian—and Hamas and Hezbollah—rocketing of Israel in the wake of a strike against the Iranian nuclear installations. He told Israel Radio: “When a journalist says that there might be 100,000 [Israeli] dead or a major newspaper argues that Israel might be destroyed or an important Knesset Member says the [existing] cemeteries may prove insufficient, I say…the sowing of panic is reaching a crescendo.…War is no picnic, but in no scenario will we suffer 50,000 dead; not even 5,000 dead, [not even] 500 dead.”

He added that he and Netanyahu will not decide the issue on their own. Launching an attack will require a Cabinet decision, and a decision has not yet been taken, he said. But “we are preparing for this,” he added.…

Alex Ryvchin

Jerusalem Magazine, November 15, 2011

The Middle East is so frequently embroiled in violence that the world failed to note the region’s descent into cold war. That blindness could have continued had it not been for several dramatic incidents that brought the depth of loathing between the Sunni Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Shiite Republic of Iran into sharp focus.

First, there was the explosive WikiLeaks revelation that Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud had repeatedly urged then-US Army general David Petraeus to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program. Then, last month, in a mob-like move aimed at showing Riyadh that Iran does not take kindly to Saudi interference, US Attorney General Eric Holder revealed an Iranian plot to assassinate Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

These incidents have not only demonstrated the extent of hostilities between these two regional giants, they have shown that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons will resonate far beyond Israel’s borders.

Fueled by the ancient Persian suspicion of Arab hegemony coupled with years of sectarian tension, relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have descended steeply since the fall of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979.…

This intense feud has all the ingredients of destruction—religion, money and power.

Presently, the delicate peace in the Persian Gulf is maintained by US presence in the region, which in turn ensures the stability of the global oil supply. A nuclear Iran would fundamentally transform this fragile arrangement.

If faced with a vastly superior military rival, Saudi Arabia—at the expense of both Israel and the Saudi-allied Gulf States—would be forced to either give in and allow Iran to reign over the region, or it would enter a 1950s-style nuclear arms race. Most likely, Saudi Arabia will seek to acquire its own arsenal through its Sunni ally, Pakistan.

In either scenario, the region would be thrust into chaos and the world would be faced with the choice of either Iranian supremacy in the Middle East or a nuclear arms race between two extremist, radical regimes.

The implications of a nuclear Iran for Israel are twofold: First, a nation committed to Israel’s destruction would have the military capability to match its annihilationist rhetoric. While political commentators may squabble over whether Iran would ever use nuclear weapons to eradicate the Jewish State, the stakes are too high for Israel to risk underestimating Iran’s intentions.

Second, the landscape of the Arab-Israeli conflict would be immediately and fundamentally transformed. The presence of Israel is, at best, begrudgingly tolerated by its neighbors. At worst, they merely bide their time until the balance of power shifts in their favor.

The Arab characterization of the 1967 War as a mere “setback” (Naksa) and the Palestinian insistence that millions of its refugees be resettled in Israel – thereby shifting the demographic balance in the Palestinian’s favor – points to an Arab intention to eradicate Jewish self-determination in the region; whether by force or by stealth.

A recalibration of power in the Middle East would significantly bolster these aspirations and would gravely diminish the military deterrent that is so central to Israel’s survival. Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons may be the battle cry for which Israel’s enemies have been waiting. Israel’s relationship with its enemies to the north and to the south would also be catastrophically altered.…

[Hamas and Hezbollah], safe in the knowledge that Israel will think long and hard before engaging in battle with a satellite of a nuclear state, will be encouraged to undertake more daring provocations. Syria and Lebanon would also be emboldened: A volatile Syria, led by an increasingly desperate and fragile regime, but now with the protection of a nuclear Iran, may seek to divert attention from its brutality towards its own people by directing some of it towards its preferred foe and scapegoat, Israel.…

Lebanon may decide to pick its own fight.… Israel’s recent discovery of massive natural gas reserves off its poorly-delineated Mediterranean coast constitutes a far greater prize, one which Lebanon may now be prepared to fight for.

Either way, Iran may view these issues as suitable pretexts for waging war through its proxies in order to test Israel’s willingness in challenging a nuclear power.

Since its birth, Israel’s survival has been predicated on possessing a military might greater than that of its combined enemies.…

Iran now stands poised to rock any stability that Israel enjoys and to transform the balance of power in the Middle East. If at first glance this may appear to be just an Israeli problem requiring an Israeli solution, a closer analysis of a nuclear Iran shows that this is an international catastrophe that demands a united and determined international reaction.


On Friday, October 21, US President Barack Obama announced that “the long war in Iraq will come to an end by the end of this year,” marking the conclusion of a nearly 9-year war that cost the U.S more than 4,400 lives, more than 30,000 injured servicemen and servicewomen, and upwards of one trillion dollars.


As American troops in Iraq continue their phased withdrawal, many questions remain, primary of which is whether Iraq is in fact “safe, stable, and self-reliant,” as the White House claims, or whether a war-torn society, governed by a fractured and frail government, can resist and overcome the challenges that lie ahead. And lurking in the shadows is Shiite Iran. As described this past July by then-Joint Chiefs Chairman US Adm. Mike Mullen, “Iran is playing an out-sized role [in Iraq].”


The precipitate departure of US forces from Iraq stands to further empower Tehran’s mullahs, as another roadblock to their nuclear-weapon-fueled pursuit of nuclear weapons and Middle East hegemony will soon be removed.


Max Boot
National Post, November 7, 2011

Friday afternoon is a traditional time to bury bad news, so at 12:49 p.m. on Oct. 21, U.S. President Obama strode into the White House briefing room to “report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.…” He acted as though this represented a triumph, but it was really a defeat.… Why did we fail?

The popular explanation is that the Iraqis refused to provide legal immunity for U.S. troops if they are accused of breaking Iraq’s laws. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki himself said: “When the Americans asked for immunity, the Iraqi side answered that it was not possible.… Now that the issue of immunity was decided and that no immunity to be given, the withdrawal has started.”

But Mr. Maliki and other Iraqi political figures expressed exactly the same reservations about immunity in 2008 during the negotiation of the last Status of Forces Agreement. Indeed those concerns were more acute at the time because there were so many more U.S. personnel in Iraq—nearly 150,000, compared with fewer than 50,000 today. So why was it possible for the Bush administration to reach a deal with the Iraqis but not for the Obama administration?

Quite simply it was a matter of will: President Bush really wanted to get a deal done, whereas Mr. Obama did not. Mr. Bush spoke weekly with Mr. Maliki by video teleconference. Mr. Obama had not spoken with Mr. Maliki for months before calling him in late October to announce the end of negotiations. Mr. Obama and his senior aides did not even bother to meet with Iraqi officials at the United Nations General Assembly in September. The administration didn’t even open talks on renewing the Status of Forces Agreement until this summer, a few months before U.S. troops would have to start shuttering their remaining bases to pull out by Dec. 31. The previous agreement, in 2008, took a year to negotiate.

The recent negotiations were jinxed from the start by the insistence of U.S. State Department and Pentagon lawyers that any immunity provisions be ratified by the Iraqi parliament—something that the U.S. hadn’t insisted on in 2008 and that would be almost impossible to get today. In many other countries, including throughout the Arab world, U.S. personnel operate under a Memorandum of Understanding that doesn’t require parliamentary ratification. Why not in Iraq? Mr. Obama could have chosen to override the lawyers’ excessive demands, but he didn’t.

He also undercut his own negotiating team by regularly bragging—in political speeches delivered while talks were ongoing—of his plans to “end the war in Iraq.” Even more damaging was his August decision to commit only 3,000 to 5,000 troops to a possible mission in Iraq post-2011. This was far below the number judged necessary by our military commanders. They had asked for nearly 20,000.…

When the White House then said it would consent to no more than 5,000 troops—a number that may not even have been able to adequately defend itself, much less carry out other missions—the Iraqis understandably figured that the U.S. wasn’t serious about a continued commitment. Iraqi political leaders may have been willing to risk a domestic backlash to support a substantial commitment of 10,000 or more troops. They were not willing to stick their necks out for such a puny force. Hence the breakdown of talks.

There is still a possibility for close U.S.-Iraqi military cooperation under the existing Strategic Framework Agreement. This could authorize joint exercises between the two countries and even the presence of a small U.S. Special Operations contingent in Iraq. But it is no substitute for the kind of robust U.S. military presence that would be needed to bolster Iraq’s nascent democracy and counter interference from Iran, Saudi Arabia and other regional players.…

Iraq will increasingly find itself on its own, even though its air forces still lack the capability to defend its own airspace and its ground forces cannot carry out large-scale combined arms operations. Multiple terrorist groups also remain active, and almost as many civilians died in Iraq last year as in Afghanistan.

So the end of the U.S. military mission in Iraq is a tragedy, not a triumph—and a self-inflicted one at that.

(Max Boot is a senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.)

Charles Krauthammer

National Review, November 3, 2011

Barack Obama was a principled opponent of the Iraq War from its beginning. But when he became president in January 2009, he was handed a war that was won. The surge had succeeded. Al-Qaeda in Iraq had been routed, driven to humiliating defeat by an Anbar Awakening of Sunnis fighting side-by-side with the infidel Americans. Even more remarkably, the Shiite militias had been taken down, with American backing, by the forces of Shiite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. They crushed the Sadr militias from Basra to Sadr City.

Al-Qaeda decimated. A Shiite prime minister taking a decisively nationalist line. Iraqi Sunnis ready to integrate into a new national government. U.S. casualties at their lowest ebb in the entire war. Elections approaching. Obama was left with but a single task: Negotiate a new status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) to reinforce these gains and create a strategic partnership with the Arab world’s only democracy.

He blew it. Negotiations, such as they were, finally collapsed last month. There is no agreement, no partnership. As of December 31, the American military presence in Iraq will be liquidated.

And it’s not as if that deadline snuck up on Obama. He had three years to prepare for it. Everyone involved, Iraqi and American, knew that the 2008 SOFA calling for full U.S. withdrawal was meant to be renegotiated. And all major parties but one (the Sadr faction) had an interest in some residual stabilizing U.S. force, like the postwar deployments in Japan, Germany, and Korea.

Three years, two abject failures. The first was the administration’s inability, at the height of American post-surge power, to broker a centrist nationalist coalition governed by the major blocs—one predominantly Shiite (Maliki’s), one predominantly Sunni (Ayad Allawi’s), one Kurdish—that among them won a large majority (69 percent) of seats in the 2010 election.

Vice President Joe Biden was given the job. He failed utterly. The government ended up effectively being run by a narrow sectarian coalition where the balance of power is held by the relatively small (12 percent) Iranian-client Sadr faction.

The second failure was the SOFA itself. The military recommended nearly 20,000 troops, considerably fewer than our 28,500 in Korea, 40,000 in Japan, and 54,000 in Germany. The president rejected those proposals, choosing instead a level of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.

A deployment so risibly small would have to expend all its energies simply protecting itself—the fate of our tragic, mission-less 1982 Lebanon deployment—with no real capability to train the Iraqis, build their U.S.-equipped air force, mediate ethnic disputes (as we have successfully done, for example, between local Arabs and Kurds), operate surveillance and special-ops bases, and establish the kind of close military-to-military relations that undergird our strongest alliances.

The Obama proposal was an unmistakable signal of unseriousness. It became clear that he simply wanted out, leaving any Iraqi foolish enough to maintain a pro-American orientation exposed to Iranian influence, now unopposed and potentially lethal. Message received. [Last month], Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurds—for two decades the staunchest of U.S. allies—visited Tehran to bend a knee to both Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It didn’t have to be this way. Our friends did not have to be left out in the cold to seek Iranian protection. Three years and a won war had given Obama the opportunity to establish a lasting strategic alliance with the Arab world’s second most important power.

He failed, though he hardly tried very hard. The excuse is Iraqi refusal to grant legal immunity to U.S. forces. But the Bush administration encountered the same problem, and overcame it. Obama had little desire to. Indeed, he portrays the evacuation as a success, the fulfillment of a campaign promise.

But surely the obligation to defend the security and the interests of the nation supersede personal vindication. Obama opposed the war, but when he became commander-in-chief the terrible price had already been paid in blood and treasure. His obligation was to make something of that sacrifice, to secure the strategic gains that sacrifice had already achieved.

He did not, failing at precisely what this administration so flatters itself for doing so well: diplomacy. After years of allegedly clumsy brutish force, Obama was to usher in an era of not hard power, not soft power, but smart power.

Which turns out in Iraq to be…no power. Years from now we will be asking not “Who lost Iraq?”—that already is clear—but “Why?”

Harold Rhode

Jerusalem Post, November 9, 2011

Most Iraqi political leaders of all factions have privately said that they want US troops to stay. In Baghdad, you could hear them time and time and again imploring us to do so. Cultural pride, however, a major component of Middle Eastern culture, does not allow them to say so publicly, lest they appear weak in a rough neighborhood. They can, however, respond to a request that appears to be from others. We might, for example, say that we would like to stay in Iraq in order to help ensure security, and the Iraqis would then be appearing to be to “acceding to our request,” and their cultural pride would remain intact.…

Absent such a statement from Obama, the Iraqis had no choice other than to ask the Americans to leave.

What alarms the Iraqis is precisely that bad neighborhood, where almost all of their neighbors—Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and even Jordan—have been doing their utmost to make sure that the remarkable experiment of a democratic country…totally fails.

As long as some Americans remain in Iraq and are willing to do what is needed to do counter the negative involvement of Iraq’s neighbors, especially Iran, Iraq’s politicians believe they have the maneuverability to stand up and continue working towards a system of government that that includes every ethnic and religious group, and that at least quietly could stand up to its neighbors.

Anbar, for example—the Sunni-dominated area in western Iraq—was, until President George Bush’s surge in the mid-2000s, well on its way to becoming an al-Qaeda-dominated statelet. Before the surge, only three of the 21 major tribal groupings supported the US in some way. When President Bush sent in the Marines, who demonstrated that America was serious about eliminating the terrorists, however, within less than a year almost all of the Sunni tribes had switched from supporting the fundamentalists to supporting the Americans—all because America had demonstrated that it was the strongest power in the area. As the locals put it, the Marines were the strongest “tribe” in the area. Of course, as Osama bin Laden observed about people respecting the “Strong Horse,” everyone wanted to be allied with the winner.…

How come all the Iraqi leaders are now jumping on the bandwagon to demand that the Americans leave, even though the Iraqis are at the same time quaking in their boots at the prospect? Iraq’s leaders know that in reality, they are too weak stand up by themselves to the despotic rulers of Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

They also know that President Obama repeatedly declared during his campaign and in the first year of his presidency that he wanted America out of Iraq. They must have correctly heard it as an announcement that America was not to be relied on. If the Americans say they are leaving, then the Iraqis have no choice other than to make deals with whoever they are stuck with.…

[This] is potentially a recipe for disaster in Iraq. If we do not wish the entire region to be overrun by Muslim extremists sitting on half the world’s oil and using it to fund the Islamic obligation of a worldwide Caliphate—as is being implanted now in Europe, Africa and North and South America—we will need to return to Iraq. At that time, though, it will be at even a greater cost of life and treasure—which probably means that we will not.

Instead, we shall probably continue accommodating the Islamists, as we have already been doing in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Turkey and South America.

Obama’s desire to bring American troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of making a commitment to leave a small force as his military emphatically recommended, may instead spell failure for our missions in both places. But evidently Obama’s political agenda matters more to him than the security of the West.

(Harold Rhode, a Ph.D. in Islamic History, worked on Iraq in the office of the Secretary of Defense. He is now a senior adviser to Hudson Institute, New York.)

Michael S. Schmidt & Eric Schmitt
NY Times, November 5, 2011

As the United States prepares to withdraw its troops from Iraq by year’s end, senior American and Iraqi officials are expressing growing concern that Al Qaeda’s offshoot here, which just a few years ago waged a debilitating insurgency that plunged the country into a civil war, is poised for a deadly resurgence.

Qaeda allies in North Africa, Somalia and Yemen are seeking to assert more influence after the death of Osama bin Laden and the diminished role of Al Qaeda’s remaining top leadership in Pakistan. For its part, Al Qaeda in Iraq is striving to rebound from major defeats inflicted by Iraqi tribal groups and American troops in 2007, as well as the deaths of its two leaders in 2010.

Although the organization is certainly weaker than it was at its peak five years ago and is unlikely to regain its prior strength, American and Iraqi analysts said the Qaeda franchise is shifting its tactics and strategies—like attacking Iraqi security forces in small squads—to exploit gaps left by the departing American troops and to try to reignite sectarian violence in the country.… “I cringe whenever anybody makes a pronouncement that Al Qaeda is on its last legs,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the American military’s top spokesman in Iraq.…

The Qaeda affiliate’s nascent resurgence has helped fuel a debate between some Pentagon officials on one side, who are seeking a way to permit small numbers of American military trainers and Special Operations forces to operate in Iraq, and some White House officials on the other, who are eager to close the final chapter on a divisive eight-year war that cost the lives of more than 4,400 troops.…

According to General Buchanan, there are 800 to 1,000 people in Al Qaeda’s Iraq network, “from terrorists involved in operations to media to finance to fighters.” A document released by the military in July 2010 said Al Qaeda had about 200 “hard core” fighters in Iraq. The weak Iraqi economy is providing a large pool of young and vulnerable recruits, analysts say.… Foreigners make up only a small percentage of the organization’s membership base.…

Although the United States is withdrawing all but a handful of its remaining 33,000 troops, leaving a few to guard the American Embassy, both governments are discussing a continuing military partnership. Among the main American goals is for the Iraqi government to approve a contingent of American Special Forces that would train and assist Iraqi security forces.… The White House [has] announced that President Obama will meet with [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki on Dec. 12 to discuss the continuing “strategic partnership” between the United States and Iraq.…

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Pajamas Media, November 2, 2011

As the U.S. troop presence in Iraq continues to diminish, it is worth examining what sort of political system has been left behind. Is Iraq really a democracy?… Sadly, the answer to this question cannot be in the affirmative.

It is of course true that in March 2010, Iraq conducted elections recognized as free and fair by the UN. However, as Osama al-Nujayfi, the Sunni speaker for the Iraqi parliament, astutely observed, democracy is more than just about holding elections. In many of the other essential aspects of a truly democratic society, Iraq’s status is far from satisfactory.

Absence of rule of law: Most Iraqi politicians still think they are above accountability to the law. Illustrating this tendency is the case of the arrest warrant that was issued against Muqtada al-Sadr, whose followers form a key part of the ruling coalition, concerning his suspected role in the killing of moderate Shi’ite cleric Abdul Majid al-Khoei in Najaf in April 2003.

The case has now been dropped entirely, with the Supreme Judicial Council claiming that it had no evidence against al-Sadr or any reason to interrogate him. Bizarrely, the council’s spokesman, Abdul Sattar Bayraktar, is denying that there was ever an arrest warrant issued by an Iraqi court, additionally affirming that “no lawsuits exist originally against the leader of the Sadrist movement in the Iraqi courts.” In fact, a senior Iraqi judge, Raed al-Juhi, issued an arrest warrant against al-Sadr in April 2004, and the al-Khoei family filed a lawsuit against al-Sadr at the Court of Najaf in 2003.…

Persecution of political opponents: Following Obama’s announcement that all U.S. troops would be home for the Christmas holidays, reports emerged of a large number of arrests of “Baathists,” with generic accusations of plotting to destabilize and overthrow the political system.… However, being a former member of the Baath party is not the same thing as a being a terrorist, and as Article 135 of the Iraqi constitution stipulates, simply having been a member of the Baath party is “not a sufficient basis for transfer to the court.…”

It follows that the current wave of arrests is likely to be yet another attempt by the Shi’ite parties to crack down on political opponents with vague allegations of Baathism, a key part of their electoral campaign in 2010.

Squabbling among the politicians: More than 19 months after the elections in March 2010, a government has still not been fully formed, owing to the preoccupation of the country’s politicians with their own rewards of power. This is not merely a problem of sectarianism, but also a case of personal power struggles, particularly evident in the manner in which the premier, Nouri al-Maliki, has tried to win as much control of the government as possible for his State of Law bloc.

Indeed, in violation of the compromise agreement forged by Massoud Barzani in December 2010 that allowed al-Maliki to have a second term as prime minister, the premier is still attempting to take control of the Defense and Security ministries that should have been awarded to Ayad Allawi’s al-Iraqiya bloc, which won the largest single number of seats in the elections (91 seats as opposed to 89 for State of Law).…

The only conclusion to be drawn from the above observations is to agree with Freedom House’s comment that Iraq is still “not an electoral democracy” and the think-tank’s classification of the country as “Not Free.”


Media-ocrities of the Week


All three of us entirely agree on the objective, which is making sure that Iran does not weaponize nuclear power and that we don’t trigger a nuclear arms race in region.”—U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking in Hawaii at the conclusion of the Asia-Pacific leaders summit, proclaiming that the United States, China and Russia are united on the need to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Two days later, the Wall Street Journal published an article, “China, Russia Resist Sanctions Against Iran,” describing Russian and Chinese opposition to a U.S.-led push to censure Iran, and confirming that any forthcoming condemnation of Tehran’s nuclear work will not involve Iran’s referral to the U.N. Security Council nor a fifth, more severe round of U.N.-backed sanctions. According to diplomats cited by the Journal, “The fallout could allow Iran to emerge largely unscathed after the release of an IAEA report that detailed extensive evidence that Iran has been developing the technologies used in producing nuclear bombs.” (VOA News, November 14 & Wall Street Journal, November 17.)


The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported yesterday that the UNESCO committee on human rights had accepted Syria as a member: ‘A short time after UNESCO, the UN’s organization for education and science, accepted the Palestinian Authority as a full member despite strong U.S. and Israeli opposition, it is now Syria’s turn to receive a present from the organization. Last Wednesday, the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad was chosen to be the Arab representative on the UNESCO committee that deals with issues relating to the implementation of human rights. UNESCO’s decision comes after Assad’s regime managed to kill 3,500 demonstrators and arrest tens of thousands, without any due process whatsoever.’”—Daniel Harper, describing UNESCO’s appointment of Bashar Assad’s Syria to a human rights position. In response, an Israeli official told Israel RadioWe are talking about an outrageous absurdity. UNESCO is legitimizing Syria [as a human rights champion] even as it is slaughtering its own people.” (Weekly Standard, November 18.)

Weekly Quotes


The Obama administration pledged that Iran would suffer painful consequences for plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and for refusing to freeze its nuclear program. Key European allies and Congress—not to mention Israel—are ready for decisive action. But on Monday the administration unveiled another series of half-steps. Sanctions were toughened on Iran’s oil industry, but there was no move to block its exports. The Iranian banking system was designated ‘a primary money laundering concern’…but the administration declined to directly sanction the central bank. The result is that President Obama is not even leading from behind on Iran; he is simply behind.… The administration’s slowness to embrace crippling sanctions is one of several persistent flaws in its Iran policy. Another is its continued insistence on the possibility of “engagement” with a regime that has repeatedly rejected it while plotting murder in Washington..… The Obama administration merely makes it more likely that drastic action, such as a military attack, eventually will be taken by Israel, or forced on the United States.”—Washington Post editorial board, in “More Half-Measures From Obama Administration On Iran,” criticizing US President Barack Obama’s futile Iran policy. (Washington Post, November 22.)


We share a common concern with regards to Iran and their effort to develop a nuclear capability. But I think the United States feels strongly that the way to deal with that is to work with our allies, to work with the international community to develop the sanctions and the diplomatic efforts that would further isolate Iran in the international community. That is the most effective way to try to confront them at this point.”—US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, ahead of talks last week in Canada with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, cautioning Israel against taking military action against Iran, and urging more time for diplomacy. (Wall Street Journal, November 17.)


If a review of the facts confirms that CBI [Central Bank of Iran] is involved in illicit activities linked to Iran’s nuclear program and terrorist activities, we urge you to quickly designate CBI as a facilitator of Iran’s weapons of mass destruction proliferation.… We also urge you to make the Central Bank of Iran’s involvement in proliferation and terrorist activities the target of coordinated multilateral sanctions.”—A bi-partisan letter written to US President Barack Obama by the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives—including Reps. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader, Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the majority leader, Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the committee’s top Democrat—urging the US President to take the necessary steps towards sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank. (JTA, November 17.)


We will never allow to transfer them money. They are joining forces with Hamas, giving up on (Palestinian Prime Minister) Salam Fayyad, building houses for released terrorists—and all this money is coming from the funds we give them. That’s crossing the red line as far as we are concerned.”—Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, stressing that Israel will continue to enforce a freeze on the transfer of tax funds collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, given renewed reconciliation efforts between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas. (Ynet News, November 21.)


Nearly every day, we witness new scenes of destruction. Israeli men, women and children continue to be killed and injured. Shrapnel flies into homes, schools and playgrounds. Fires rage in the streets. Yet, the Security Council still has not uttered a single syllable of condemnation against these attacks. The Security Council’s silence in the face of the constant terrorism emanating from Gaza speaks volumes.”—Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, in his fourth letter written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon this month, denouncing the more than 70 rockets and mortars fired since October at civilian targets in Israel from Gaza. Prosor, who called the attacks “a flagrant violation of international law,” added that “all responsible members of the international community have a duty to speak with a common voice and act with a common purpose against the continuous terrorism emanating from the Gaza Strip.” (Jerusalem Post, November 16.)


The army is ready to go back to barracks immediately if the people wish that through a popular referendum, if need be. The armed forces, represented by their Supreme Council, do not aspire to govern and put the supreme interest of the country above all considerations “—Leader of Egypt’s ruling military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, in a concession to tens of thousands of protestors in Tahrir Square demanding an end to military rule, promising that Egyptian presidential elections will be held by the end of June, 2012 and that the first of 12 parliamentary votes will go ahead as scheduled next Monday (National Post, November 23.)


We are in the midst of an earthquake, and I still can’t see it subsiding, definitely not in the near future when elections are on the horizon. Today it is clear that for the first time in history the Muslim Brotherhood will win at least a third (of the seats in parliament). Islamization is taking the place of nationalism. We must take into account that we may find ourselves in a confrontation with Egypt.…”—Israeli member of Parliament, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, warning that the latest developments in Egypt indicate that “over time Israel will find itself in a head-on confrontation” with its Arab neighbor, and that Israel “should start preparing for a conflict” with Egypt. (Ynet News, November 15.)


My brothers, you are at a historic moment in a new cycle of civilization, G-d willing. We are in sixth caliphate, G-d willing.”—Hamadi Jebeli, Secretary General of the Islamist Ennahda Party and frontrunner to become Tunisia’s first democratically elected prime minister, claiming the arrival of the “sixth caliphate,” or Muslim empire. Last month, Ennahda romped to victory in Tunisia’s elections, gaining more than 40% of the vote. (Gazette, November 17.)


Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when a senior official at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization called him in for a tongue-lashing. The reason? A cartoon published in Haaretz. The November 4 cartoon, a riff on the government’s anger at UNESCO’s decision to accept Palestine as a full member, showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak sending an air force squadron to attack Iran, with Netanyahu ordering, ‘And on your way back, you’re gonna hit the UNESCO office in Ramallah!’ When he met with Eric Falt, UNESCO’s assistant director general for external relations and public information, Ambassador Nimrod Barkan was stunned to be handed a copy of this cartoon and an official letter of protest from UNESCO’s director general, Irina Bokova. Falt told Barkan the cartoon constituted incitement.…A cartoon like this endangers the lives of unarmed diplomats, and you have an obligation to protect them,’ he said.… Barkan pointed out that the government has no control over editorial cartoons printed in the papers. ‘Ask yourselves what you did to make a moderate paper with a deeply internationalist bent publish such a cartoon,’ Barkan said. ‘Perhaps the problem is with you.… It seems your work environment is getting more and more reminiscent of Animal Farm.’”—Barak Ravid, describing UNESCO’s censoring of Israeli Ambassador Nimrod Barkan over a cartoon published in an Israeli newspaper. (Haaretz, November 11.)


We can have great cooperation against the common enemies of Iran and Iraq in the region and outside the region. This cooperation can be in the fields of security, training, joint maneuver and sharing experiences.”—Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, following a meeting with Chief of Staff of Iraqi Armed Forces, General Babak Zebari, announcing that Iran and Iraq have signed several memoranda of understanding to bolster their military cooperation. Jafari’s visit to Iraq comes as US forces prepare to leave the country by the end of 2011. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, November 17.)


Short Takes


CONTINUED VIOLENCE SPURS EGYPT’S CABINET TO QUIT—(Jerusalem) Egypt’s entire interim government has tendered its resignation, following a three-day explosion of violence that has killed nearly 40 people and wounded 1,200 more. In a speech announcing concessions to over 100,000 protesters who massed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand the army withdraw from power, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi said the council accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s cabinet. “The armed forces, represented by their Supreme Council, do not aspire to govern and put the interest of the country above all considerations,” Tantawi said in the televised address. Egyptians are set to elect a new parliament in a staggered vote that starts November 28, but presidential powers remain with the army until a presidential poll, which may not happen until late 2012 or early 2013. Protesters want a much swifter transition. (Jerusalem Post, November 22.)


BIDEN MEETS TOP JEWISH LEADERS ON POLLARD—(Jerusalem) US Vice President Joe Biden has met with top Jewish leaders in Washington, becoming the highest-ranking American official ever to hold a meeting about the fate of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard. The American Jewish leaders, including Anti- Defamation League National Director Abe Foxman and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive-vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told Biden that the average sentence given to Americans convicted of Pollard’s crime of spying for an ally has been two to four years and that people convicted of treason had also served much less time than Pollard. Thousands of Americans and Israelis called the White House switchboard to request Pollard’s release on Monday, the 26th anniversary of his arrest, and efforts to persuade Obama to grant Pollard clemency are intensifying. (Jerusalem Post, November 22.)


IRAN TRAINS GAZANS TO OPERATE ANTI-TANK MISSILES—(Jerusalem) According to the Jerusalem Post, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip recently have undergone extensive military training in Iran, turning them into skilled operators of sophisticated anti-tank missiles. The IDF believes that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have obtained several hundred advanced Russian-made antitank missiles, which have a range of more than 4 kilometers and are capable of penetrating armored personnel carriers and some IDF tanks. The level of expertise was demonstrated earlier this year when Hamas fired a Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missile at a school bus near Nahal Oz, which killed 16-year-old Daniel Viflic. To counter the growing threat, the IDF is moving forward with plans to install the Trophy active protection system on Merkava Mk 4 tanks, which uses an advanced radar system to detect, track and intercept inbound missiles. (Jerusalem Post, November 17.)


IF ASSAD FALLS, HEZBOLLAH WILL TAKE BEIRUT—(Jerusalem) Dubai-based Arabic-language news website Al Arabiya has reported that Hezbollah may launch a military offensive to take over the Lebanese capital of Beirut if Syrian President Bashar Assad is forced out of power. Citing a “source close to Hezbollah,” the paper stated that Hezbollah officials have begun to worry about the potential fallout that may result following the collapse of the Syrian regime, especially given the alliance between Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. “The moment that Hezbollah feels that the fall of the Assad regime is imminent…it will move quickly to take control of East and West Beirut,” the source told Al Arabiya. Hezbollah has denounced any potential foreign intervention inside Syria, with Nasrallah warning earlier this month in a televised speech to commemorate “Martyr’s Day” that any attack on Syria would lead to an all-out regional war. (Jerusalem Post, November 22.)


KING ABDULLAH II PAYS RARE VISIT TO WEST BANK—(Ramallah) Jordan’s King Abdullah II has paid a rare visit to the West Bank to show support for Mahmoud Abbas, ahead of the PA President’s power-sharing talks later this week with Khaled Mashaal, top leader of Hamas. The king’s visit to the West Bank is his first in more than a decade, and is being considered as an endorsement of Abbas as the sole legitimate Palestinian leader. Abbas praised the king’s visit as a “generous initiative,” and acknowledged the ongoing close coordination with the king. Following Palestinian unity talks in Cairo, Mashaal is scheduled to travel to Jordan for his first official visit since he and other Hamas leaders were expelled more than a decade ago. Jordanian officials have said Mashaal’s visit might include a meeting with the king but that a date has not been set. The officials insist Jordan would not allow Hamas to reopen its offices in the kingdom, but that the visit would mark an end to the Jordan-Hamas estrangement. (Associated Press, November 21.)


ISRAELI-ARAB LAWMAKER HAILS ARAFAT AT RAMALLAH CEREMONY—(Jerusalem) Israeli-Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi at a memorial for Yasser Arafat in Ramallah claimed that the Israeli government will soon “propose a ‘death to Arabs’ law.” Tibi, a former adviser to Arafat and current Knesset member (United Arab List-Ta’al Party), caused an uproar by referring to the late PLO chief as “the father of our homeland” and by calling Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman “the fascist settler that recently came to my homeland.” Several Israeli lawmakers have vowed complaints against Tibi for his appearance in Ramallah, a West Bank city that is off-limits for Israeli citizens. Many lawmakers filed similar complaints against Tibi when he flew with the Palestinian Authority delegation on Abbas’ plane to the United Nations in September in order to submit a bid for Palestinian statehood. (JTA, November 16.)


MAN CHARGED WITH TRYING TO ASSASSINATE OBAMA—(Jerusalem) A 21-year-old man from Idaho has been charged with trying to assassinate US President Barack Obama. Oscar Ortega-Hernandez was arrested at a hotel near Indiana, Pennsylvania, after allegedly firing shots at the White House last week. The Secret Service said one bullet broke a White House window but was stopped by protective ballistic glass, while another round struck the exterior of the building. An FBI affidavit said a witness interviewed who “knows Ortega-Hernandez well” believes he had become increasingly agitated against the government, and “wanted to ‘hurt’ President Obama. If convicted, Ortega-Hernandez faces up to life in prison. (Reuters, November 17.)


BOEING DELIVERS FIRST BATCH OF 30,000-POUND BOMBS TO US AIR FORCE—(Los Angeles) Boeing Co. has delivered the first batch of 30,000-pound “bunker busters”, each nearly five tons heavier than anything else in the military’s arsenal, to the U.S. Air Force. At a total cost of about $314 million, the military has developed and ordered 20 of the GPS-guided bombs, called Massive Ordnance Penetrators. Packed with more than 5,300 pounds of explosives and more than 20 feet long, there is “no other weapon that can get after those hard and deeply buried targets,” according to Brig. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm. The military disclosed delivery of the new weapons less than a week after the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that Iran was secretly working to develop nuclear weapons. Iran is known to have hidden nuclear complexes that are fortified with steel and concrete, and buried inside mountains. (LA Times, November 16.)


GADHAFI’S SON CAPTURED IN LIBYA—(New York) Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of the deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, has been captured by fighters loyal to the new transitional government. Libya’s militias had been hunting Seif al-Islam since he disappeared in late August after Tripoli fell under rebel control. The news of the son’s capture sparked celebrations across the country, as many Libyans feared that as long as Seif al-Islam remained at large, he could marshal the resources to launch an insurgency against the nascent government. The new interim Libyan prime minister, who flew to the western city of Zintan to confirm the capture over the weekend, indicated that Libya would try Seif al-Islam and not immediately turn him over to the international court, where he is wanted for crimes against humanity. (Wall Street Journal, November 20.)



Nineteen-year-old “white Jewish rapper” known as Mac Miller has reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts with his debut album, “Blue Slide Park.” According to ABC News, the album sold 144,487 copies during its first week of sale, and prompted the high-praise headline: “Mac Miller: The Next Eminem?” In a recent interview, Miller was quoted as saying, “I’ve grown up Jewish. I went to Emma Kaufmann Camp, I had a bar mitzva. Part of it was to remember that’s who I always will be. But I could’ve gotten a number of Jewish-related tattoos; I got the chai because life is really important. (Haaretz, November 20.)


On Saturday, Syrian President Bashar Assad was quoted as saying he would press on with a crackdown against anti-government unrest in his country: “I assure you that Syria will not bow down and that it will continue to resist the pressure being imposed on it,” Assad told Britain’s Sunday Times.


The Arab League, which set a deadline of this coming weekend for Syria to comply with a peace initiative requiring a military pullout from cities, has gone so far as to threaten sanctions if Assad fails to halt the violence.


Nevertheless, activists from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say that forces loyal to Assad continue killing civilians in droves. The United Nations now estimates that more than 3,500 people have been killed during the eight-month crackdown on protests.


As the death toll rises, increasingly strong voices within the Syrian opposition are calling for a Libya-style intervention. Assad himself went so far as to say that the Arab League’s intervention could provide a pretext for Western military action. Such a step, he darkly warned, would create an “earthquake” across the Middle East.


Yet the West seems content to pursue the sanctions route, while propping up Syria’s best-organized, largely Islamist opposition group, the Syrian National Council. With both Turkey and the US seemingly leading efforts to usher in a Sunni Islamist government, it will likely be left to other arties to defend against Syria’s Islamization should Assad eventually be deposed.


Barry Rubin
Jerusalem Post, November 21, 2011

The only honest answer to the question of what will happen in Syria is that nobody knows. The battle has gone on for eight months, killed more than 3,500 people, and could go on for many more months. There’s no telling who will be ruling Syria when the dust settles. A regime victory is quite possible—perhaps most likely—and its overthrow would not necessarily bring about an Islamist regime.

But what do we know about Syria? Here’s a guide.…

[1]. Turkey isn’t the good guy here

The Islamist regime in Ankara isn’t opposing the Syrian regime out of its love for democracy. Erdogan’s government wants to have a fellow Sunni Islamist dictatorship in Damascus, preferably under its influence. In this situation, Turkey is just as bad as Iran.

[2]. Will the two sides make a deal?

No, this is a war to the death. The regime cannot make a deal and yield power because the elite would lose everything. Moreover, the government elite would face death, exile, or long-term imprisonment if it loses. Similarly, the dominant Alawite community and large portions of the Christian one (together roughly 25 percent of the population) risk massacre if the government falls.…

[3]. Will economic collapse bring down the regime?

No.… Nobody is going to quit because they get hungry. This is a kill-or-be-killed situation.

[4]. Who is the opposition leadership?

…The best-known group is the Syrian National Council (SNC). It has announced its 19-member leadership group which includes 15 Sunni Muslims, two Christians and two Kurds. Note that there are no Alawites.… The SNC has an advantage because it was assembled by the United States using the Islamist regime in Turkey.

Given its Western backing, the SNC is surprisingly dominated by Islamists. Ten of the 19 are identifiable as such (both Muslim Brothers and independent—Salafist?—Islamists) and a couple of those who are nominally Leftists are apparently Islamist puppets.

The fact that US policy is backing an Islamist-dominated group indicates the profound problems with Obama administration policy. It should be stressed, though, that the SNC’s popular support is totally untested. Many oppositionists—especially Kurds—are disgusted by the group’s Islamist coloration and refuse to participate.

The National Coordination Committee (NCC) is a Leftist-dominated alternative. The Antalya Group is liberal. There is also a Salafist council organized by Adnan Arour, a popular religious figure; a Kurdish National Council and a Secular Democratic Coalition (both angry at the SNC’s Islamism).

It is hard to overestimate how disastrous the Obama administration’s policy has been.

Not only has it promoted an Islamist-dominated leadership (which might be pushed into power by monopolizing Western aid) but this mistake has fractured the opposition, ensuring there would be several anti-SNC groups. This strategy has also angered the Kurds and Turkmen minorities who view the SNC as antagonistic to their hopes for some autonomy. As a result, these two groups have reduced their revolutionary activities.…

Again, it should be stressed that in terms of actually directing the rebellion, there is no leadership.

[5]. So who do we want to win?

Despite the threat of a Sunni Islamist regime, I hope that Assad will be overthrown.

Why? If the regime survives we know it will continue to be a ferociously repressive dictatorship, allied with Iran and dedicated to the destruction of US and Western interests, the imperialist domination of Lebanon, wiping Israel off the map and subverting Jordan.

With a revolution, there is a chance—especially if US policy doesn’t mess it up—for a real democracy that is higher than in Egypt. In Syria only 60% of the population is Sunni Muslim Islamist. The minorities—Alawite, Christian, Druse and Kurdish—don’t want an Arab Sunni Islamist regime. As for the Sunnis themselves, they are proportionately more urban, more middle class and more moderate than in Egypt. Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular have never been as strong in Syria as in Egypt. In Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, the Islamists face what is largely a political vacuum; in Syria they have real, determined opposition.

Today, the Syrian people have two major enemies blocking the way to a moderate, stable democracy. One is the regime itself; the other is the US-Turkish policy that is determined—naively for the former; deviously deceitful from the latter—to force a new repressive Islamist regime on the Syrians.

(Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) center
and Middle East editor at Pajamas Media.)

Amir Taheri
NY Post, November 21, 2011

Whichever way one looks at it, the revolution in Syria is a classic example of an event that should prompt the United Nations into action. Every day, large numbers of Syrians take to the streets to call for the departure of Bashar al-Assad, the despot who has ruled them for 12 years. Each time, the despot’s henchmen fire on unarmed civilians with the publicly stated intention to kill.

Over the last eight months, thousands have been killed and thousands more thrown into prison. Many more have been forced into exile.… The Syrian “situation” (as forked-tongued diplomats like to call this tragedy) is also threatening regional peace, providing yet another justification for UN intervention.

Claiming hot pursuit of army deserters, Assad’s forces have violated Lebanon’s territorial integrity several times. Also in Lebanon, the despot’s secret services have organized the kidnapping of Syrian dissidents with help from Hezbollah and its Iranian masters, often under the nose of the Lebanese police. Assad has also renewed terrorist attacks against selected targets in Turkey, often using remnants of the Kurdistan Workers Party, a Marxist guerrilla outfit. Syrian propaganda publicly threatens Turkey with a “bloodbath worse than Afghanistan.” And Iraqi government spokesman Muwaffaq al-Rubaie has warned against the “crisis” spilling into Iraq, more than hinting that Assad is trying to foment armed clashes in the Jazirah, an area straddling the Syria-Iraq border. Assad has also ordered a military buildup near the border with Jordan, threatening to plunge the Hauran upland, shared by the two countries, into chaos.

Yet another development gives the Syrian tragedy an international dimension.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is reportedly expanding its presence in Syria to supervise a dramatic increase in the shipment of weapons to Damascus from Tehran. The Guard’s “military assistance” project is headed by a rising star of the Iranian military, Gen. Reza Zahedi. As the official Syrian army is weakened by desertions and demoralization from Assad’s policy of rule by massacre, Zahedi’s elite force enhances its position as a bigger player in Syrian politics.

Against such a background, the Arab League’s desperate efforts to persuade Assad to stop the killing may seem derisory.… The trouble is that, as a grouping of weak countries bedeviled by their own contradictions, the league can’t do much on its own. Only intervention by the major powers, with the United Nations as an umbrella, could prevent a much bigger tragedy.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague took a first step in that direction the other day, when he announced the establishment of official contact with the pro-democracy opposition in Syria. The European Union is expected to follow the British lead. France has already announced a coming meeting between Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and the Syrian National Council, the umbrella group of the pro-democracy uprising.

Yet the Assad clan is still encouraged by the fact that the Obama administration appears undecided on a course of action. While the State Department seems sympathetic to the Syrian revolution, the White House is sending mixed signals.

A public admission by Washington that Assad has no future could make it easier for the United Nations to put the Syrian dossier back on the table and try to work for a peaceful transition. The debate on direct UN intervention to protect civilians against Assad’s death machine can’t be postponed. The configurations that persuaded Russia and China to veto a resolution on Syria last month no longer hold. Things are changing fast in Syria in favor of the uprising. If a week is a long time in politics, in a revolution a day can be longer still.

Matthew RJ Brodsky

National Interest, November 16, 2011

With the conclusion of NATO’s military operations in Libya, it is time for the White House to shift focus to the protests in Syria. Since Syrians took to the streets in March, the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has committed a growing list of atrocities in cracking down on peaceful protesters. The regime has maimed and murdered those it has detained and trained sniper fire on unarmed civilians. It seems Assad will stop at nothing to maintain power.

It took half a year and two thousand dead for President Obama to finally call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to “step aside,” but those words were backed by no concrete plan to realize that goal. According to a United Nations report, the death toll in the Syrian spring has now topped three thousand five hundred, with an additional thirty thousand more detained, tortured or missing. The U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, recently was recalled due to threats against his personal security, and the Assad regime pulled its ambassador, Imad Moustapha, from Washington. Thus, events have rendered this a crucial moment in determining U.S. policy toward Damascus.

Nearly all of the hindrances to American involvement have dissipated over recent months. The original argument against protecting Syrians held that, unlike in Libya, the Syrian opposition was fractured and the majority opposed Western military intervention. But with the recent creation of the 140-member Syrian National Council (SNC) and its call for international protection from the government’s military crackdown, those arguments now hold little weight.…

Moreover, when it came to Libya, those in favor of military assistance pointed to Qaddafi’s loss of high-level officials. Ambassadors abroad resigned from their posts en masse, and, inside the country, many ministers and soldiers also defected. In Syria, the pace in which officers and soldiers are turning away from the regime is quickening, and it would hasten further if people believed Assad could fall. Until August, Turkey was hesitant to abandon the Assad regime and sent its foreign minister to Damascus to discuss concrete steps to bring the violence to an end. Today, Ankara has played a role in the creation of the Syrian National Council by protecting Syrian refugees and dissidents and allowing the council to form on Turkish soil, where it continues to meet. They are also hosting the Free Syrian Army, a militia composed of defectors from the Syrian armed forces.

In terms of humanitarian considerations, there are now more than three times the number of dead Syrians than Libyans murdered by Qaddafi when NATO decided to intervene in mid-March. But unlike Libya—a country that was a previous but not current thorn in America’s side—the Assad regime continues to undermine and attack U.S. interests with impunity. Syria is Iran’s only Arab ally, and it ships weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, where it serves as a permanent threat to Lebanon’s sovereignty and stability. Syria has also served as the primary gateway for foreign jihadists entering Iraq to kill coalition forces. And while it is assumed that Syria’s nuclear program was destroyed by a 2007 Israeli air strike, the IAEA has been stonewalled by the regime at every turn.

Perhaps most compelling is that as autumn turns to winter, the result of U.S. engagement in the so-called “Arab Spring” has so far empowered the Muslim Brotherhood in countries relatively friendly to Washington—in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and beyond. Meanwhile, Washington has proved ineffective in getting Iran and Syria to respond to U.S. interests. Taking a pass on Syria now could give Tehran domination over the Shia crescent—from Iran to Iraq to Syria to Lebanon—which it has pursued since its 1979 revolution. The key to any possible gains in the Arab Spring lies in helping the Syrian spring succeed.

The goal of U.S. policy, therefore, should be an end to the violence, the fall of the Assad regime and the creation of conditions for a stable democratic system that protects the rights of the Christian, Kurdish and Alawite minorities. American strategy should aim to weaken those that support the regime within and outside of Syria while encouraging the opposition to demonstrate its goal of a nonsectarian and democratic country.…

(Matthew RJ Brodsky is the director of policy at the Jewish Policy Centerin Washington D.C,
and the editor of
inFOCUS Quarterly.)

Lee Smith

Weekly Standard, November 28, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 11

Bashar al-Assad is finished. The Arab League has condemned him, as have former allies Qatar and Turkey. One time Saudi intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal says Assad’s exit is inevitable. Perhaps most significantly, King Abdullah II of Jordan felt sufficiently confident of Assad’s fall to call for the president of Syria, the Hashemite Kingdom’s historical nemesis, to step down.

In the past, a more vigorous Syrian regime would have lashed out against its critics and rivals by unleashing its terrorist assets. But to date, Hezbollah has kept its head down, balancing its support of Damascus with the recognition that the regional Sunni majority has come to detest a regime that has so far slaughtered upward of 3,500 people, most of them Sunni. Hamas is doing its best to distance itself from Assad and is looking to relocate—maybe to Qatar, or even to Islamist-friendly Tunisia. It’s true that Assad hasn’t played all his cards yet: He’s still threatening to destabilize Turkey, but attacks on embassies in Damascus—including those of France, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Morocco, and others—rather than terrorist operations abroad suggest the regime is hemmed in.

The domestic front is no better for Assad. The Syrian economy is in free fall. Businessmen are betting against his survival by holding on to dollars and euros and devaluing the local currency. The last few weeks have seen more and more defections from the Syrian military and armed operations against security and military outposts. Assad has the Russians in his corner, for the time being, but soon he may have only Iran standing with him.

Meanwhile, as Assad is running out of time, the Obama administration’s Iran policy is running out of options.

The peace process that was supposed to galvanize a coalition of pro-American Arab states to take on the Islamic Republic is moribund. Moreover, some of those allied regimes no longer look the way they did when Obama came to office. Egypt, for instance, is too consumed with its domestic upheavals to align its foreign policy with the foreign powers whom the loudest voices in post-Mubarak politics perceive to be the real enemy—not Iran but Israel and the United States.

Obama’s engagement with Tehran also proved fruitless. The prospect of reaching an accommodation so clouded the president’s judgment that when the Green Movement took to the streets in June 2009, he missed a huge opportunity to back the regime’s internal opposition.…

Obama has a big move left on the board, but it will require the president to turn his worldview on its head. He came to office with the idea that Syria was central, and as it turns out it is—but not for the reasons he imagined three years ago.…

Before the Alawites came to power, Syria was ruled by a succession of Sunni governments that fell in coups and countercoups, some engineered by outside forces, others merely the natural result of domestic rivalry between various centers of Sunni power. That is to say, while Islamists are undoubtedly going to have a role in a post-Assad Syria, they are going to have a lot of competition. Among others, there are the military leaders, including those who’ve already defected from the army, as well as the Sunni merchant class, which itself is split into rival branches, most famously between Damascus and Aleppo. Then there are the tribal leaders, who tend to take a dim view of Islamists or those absolutely devoted to a religious faith that specifically challenged the authority of the tribes.

The administration cannot imagine a post-Assad Syria because its vision is obscured by a post-Saddam Iraq. The Obama White House wants to avoid the sectarian bloodshed that split Baghdad. More than anything else, it wants to steer clear of anything that smacks of George W. Bush. Accordingly, the administration has petitioned the opposition to stay peaceful and include minorities in the Sunni-majority movement. A White House wary of Bush-style nation building has taken on the role of opposition building.

It’s too late for that. The opposition already exists on the ground. Administration spokesmen have perversely tried to discourage the opposition from taking up arms. It will only play into the regime’s hands, said a White House spokesman. It will cost the peaceful opposition international support.

It appears that it doesn’t matter to the Syrian opposition that they can only win Washington’s affection by extending their necks willingly to the regime’s executioners. They’re already fighting. A recent report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies explains that the Free Syrian Army, made up of defectors from the Syrian military, estimates that there are already 17,000 men under arms, operating out of Turkey and, of all places, Lebanon, the Damascus regime’s terror lab. According to the report, the FSA’s leaders will call for more defections—as soon as the international community implements a no-fly zone.

That’s the one move the White House has right now. Time to make it.