Month: August 2012


Shlomo Riskin

Jerusalem Post August 24, 2012

'When you draw near to a city to wage war against it, you shall call out to it for peace' (Deut. 20:10)

‘When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by wielding an axe against them; for thou mayest eat of them, but thou shalt not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of thee.’
(Shoftim; Deuteronomy 20:19)

Despite the bad press we constantly receive at the hands of the media, I do not believe there is an army in the history of world warfare which operates with the degree of ethical sensitivity that is followed by the Israel Defense Forces. We never target civilians despite the fact that our enemy targets only Jewish civilians. We have always subscribed to a policy known as “purity of arms,” the foundation for which harks back to the Bible, and particularly to this week’s portion of Shoftim.

Both Maimonides and Nahmanides maintain that this principle of initially requesting peace before waging war – and for Maimonides that includes the enemies’ willingness to accept the seven Noahide laws of morality, most notably “Thou shalt not murder” (Maimonides, Laws of Kings 6:1; Nahmanides ad loc.) – applies even when waging a battle in self-defense, even when warring against Amalek or the seven indigenous inhabitants of the Land of Canaan.

But then, as we read further, the picture seems to get a bit complex, even murky. The Bible continues to prescribe that if the enemy refuses to make peace, then “from those of the cities which the Lord your God has given you as an inheritance, you shall not leave any living being alive; you must utterly destroy them” (Deuteronomy 20:16, 17).

This would seem to include innocent women and children. How are we to understand our compassionate Bible, which teaches that every human being is created in the Divine image and is therefore inviolate, sanctioning the destruction of innocent residents?

To compound our question, only two verses after the command to “utterly destroy” appears the following curious and exquisitely sensitive Divine charge (Deut.20:19): “When you lay siege to a city… to wage war against it and capture it, you may not destroy a fruit tree to lift an axe against it; after all, it is from it that you eat; so you may not destroy it because the human being [derives his sustenance from] the tree of the field” (or alternatively rendered – is the tree of the field a human being who is capable of escaping a siege?).

Can it be that our Torah cares more about a fruit tree than about innocent human beings? Furthermore, the very next chapter and the conclusion of our Torah portion records the law of a broken- necked heifer (egla arufa). If a murdered corpse is found in the field between two Israelite cities with the assailant unknown, the elders of the nearest city must break the neck of a heifer for an atonement sacrifice, declaring: “Our hands have not shed this blood and our eyes have not witnessed [the crime]; forgive Your nation Israel” (Deut. 21:1-9).

Clearly as a postscript to the laws of obligatory and voluntary war found in our portion, the Bible is attempting to caution the Israelites not to become callous at the loss of life, even the loss of one innocent human being. Indeed, the elders of the city must take responsibility and make atonement for this unsolved murder, proclaiming their innocence but at the same time admitting their moral complicity in a crime which might have been prevented had they taken proper precautions and exhibited great vigilance in providing protection and adequate welfare services. Once again, if the Torah is so sensitive to the loss of an individual life, how can our Sacred Law command that we destroy women and children? First of all, one might argue that a fruit tree, which gives human beings nutrition, the wherewithal to live, is of greater benefit than an individual born into an environment that preaches death to all who reject jihadic fundamentalism or who do not pass the test of Aryan elitism. Such individuals are sub-apples, because they are out to destroy free society.

Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin – dean of Yeshivat Volozhin at the end of the 19th century – in his masterful commentary on the Bible known as Ha’emek Davar, provides the beginning of a second answer. He insists that when the Bible ordains that we “utterly destroy” even the women and children, this is limited “to those who gather against us in battle; those who remain at home are not to be destroyed by us” (Ha’emek Davar, Deut. 7:1, 2). It is almost as though he took into account our war against the Palestinians, who send young women and children into the thick of the battle as decoys, cover-ups and suicidal homicide bombers. We are trained to be compassionate, even in the midst of warfare; nevertheless, “those who rise up to murder innocents, even if they themselves are children, must be killed” if humanity is to survive and good is to triumph over evil.

Indeed, war stinks, but for the sake of a free humanity we sometimes have no choice than to destroy evil in order that good may prevail. Michael Walzer, in his classic Just and Unjust Wars, maintains that a soldier’s life is not worth more than an innocent victim’s life. But if the “innocent victim” has “bought into” the evil of the enemy, or if the enemy is a terrorist purposely waging war from the thick of residential areas because they know our ethical standards, we dare not allow them to gain the edge and enable evil to triumph.

Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of Hamas, walks the streets of Gaza not with powerful bodyguards but with five small children, knowing that Israel would not risk harming them. Yes, we must try as much as possible to wage a moral war; but never to the point of allowing immorality to triumph. Our Sages correctly teach: “Those who are compassionate to the cruel will end up being cruel to the compassionate!”    (Top)

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, August 29, 2012

One of the conundrums associated with the enduring nature of global anti-Semitism which has soared exponentially in recent years is why, having made such disproportionate contributions towards all levels of civilization and left major imprints on science, ethics, medicine, culture and the arts, we Jews continue to act as a magnet for such virulent hatred.  Equally bizarre is the failure of formerly oppressed groups and nations to reciprocate or even acknowledge the extraordinary Jewish contributions in support of their struggles towards overcoming persecution, discrimination, abuse of human rights and achieving independence.
This is typified by the fact that whereas there is no American group comparable to the Jews who sacrificed so much to help African-Americans to overcome racial discrimination and their struggle for civil rights, ironically, today they are amongst the foremost US racial or ethnic groups promoting anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism.
The recent loathsome outburst by the African-American writer Alice Walker, who sought to prohibit her novel – relating to racism – from being translated into Hebrew, typifies this.…[As does] the current South African government, which is today bitterly anti-Israeli despite the fact that individual South African Jews were at the vanguard of the struggle against apartheid, many having been forced to leave the country during the apartheid regime.
Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose anti-Israeli outbursts have now morphed into vulgar populist anti-Jewish diatribes, conceded that “in our struggle against apartheid, the greatest supporters were the Jewish people….They almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones.”
But in the same breath he paved the way for his government’s recent anti- Israeli initiatives by calling for divestment from Israel which “has oppressed more than the apartheid ideologues could ever dream about in South Africa” and descends into primitive anti-Semitism referring to Jews as “a peculiar people” who “once oppressed and killed” are now “empowered”, and “refuse to listen and disobey God.”
Similar attitudes prevail amongst a number of Third World leaders. I will never forget a meeting in New Delhi in 1981 with the late Indian president, Indira Gandhi, in which she erupted in a frenzied anti-Israeli outburst laced with rage against “international Jewish power”– which she claimed was responsible for having turned the US against India.…
History records the numerous misguided Jewish idealists in Europe and the United States who, in the 1930s, abandoned Judaism and Zionism and devoted their lives towards promoting and even worshipping the false messianic cause of communism.…Yet these same Jewish communists who, out of a misplaced exclusive commitment to universalism, devoted their lives to fanatically serving an evil totalitarian system, subsequently themselves became victims of the anti- Semitic purges and bogus trials initiated by Stalin in the late 1930s, the murder of the Jewish writers in 1948, which culminated with the infamous 1952 Moscow Doctors’ plot.
These initiatives, unquestionably motivated by feral anti-Semitism, would probably have resulted in massive deportations of Jews to the Gulag were it not for Stalin’s timely demise in 1953. There are Jews today who still maintain that the universalist tradition in Judaism obliges us to set aside our own “parochial” Jewish interests and in order to concentrate exclusively on making the world a better place by combating injustice.
Yet in reality, the alleged tension between the Jewish role in maintaining itself as a particularistic nation and promoting universalistic ethical values is often exaggerated and not mutually exclusive. Abraham did not smash the idols and Moses did not struggle for his people’s freedom in order to create a cult. They served the Jewish people but were also providing messages of universal significance to humanity.
An example of the fusion between both concepts is reflected in the oft quoted sentence from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers), “If I am not for myself who will be for me?” But it is balanced by the following sentence, “And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” There is thus every justification for us to take pride in the actions of Jews who contributed towards tikkun olam – repairing a fractured world – and making it a better place for mankind.
That many oppressed groups struggling for freedom, on whose behalf we fought frequently at considerable personal cost, subsequently turned against us, must not deter us from our universalistic obligations towards humanity and ongoing commitment to promote justice and human rights.
When viewing the world in today’s troubled times, we, the Jewish people who have overcome powerlessness and miraculously regained nationhood, are obliged to recognize that our overriding priority must be to safeguard ourselves against those seeking to destroy us. In times of peril, it is both rational and incumbent to focus on our families and our own people before attempting to reform the world. By prioritizing the particularistic goals of defending and securing the well-being of the Jewish State and the Jewish people against those still seeking to fulfill Hitler’s objectives, we are ensuring that Jews will survive. One of the by-products of this will enable us to continue as in the past to contribute towards tikkun olam.    (Top)

Barbara Sofer

The Jerusalem Post August 30, 2012

In this season of taking stock, of counting our blessings and regretting our faults, we recognize with profound appreciation that we live at a time when the Jewish communities of the world are free.
When I speak to student groups about one of the great dramas of my lifetime – the exodus of the Jews of Russia and how, to use Natan Sharansky’s words, “housewives and students” defeated the powerful Soviet Union, I might as well be telling them a Hanukka story. They don’t know who Sharansky is, and the term “Prisoner of Zion” has little meaning.  That’s not a criticism. What moulded our lives doesn’t have to mould theirs.
In more recent times, we have directed our efforts to finding and freeing individual Jews, mostly soldiers of the IDF who are missing in action: Ron Arad, Zvi Feldman, Yehuda Katz, Guy Hever, Zachary Baumel. I wonder if I am the only one who, for so many years, included Gilad ben Aviva (Schalit) in the entreaties of my daily prayers? And who sees that he occasionally still finds his way in, before I remind myself that he was freed last October?
Where does Yehonatan ben Malka fit in our private and community prayers?   He’s not incarcerated in an underground cell in Gaza or in a Communist prison. Yehonatan ben Malka is an Israeli citizen whose exact location we know. Prisoner number 09185016. Butner Federal Correction Complex in Granville County, North Carolina. Jonathan Pollard….
Grave errors had been made in America towards the Jewish people. Although I felt unhampered by my Jewish identity to attend any university, a generation earlier talented Jews faced admission quotas and certain branches of the armed forces were known to be difficult for Jews to enter. The US, with its wide-open spaces and supposed immigrant culture, didn’t take on an organized rescue policy for Jewish victims of Nazi Germany until 1944.  Think of the 937 passengers on the ship called the St. Louis, refugees from Germany, sailing so close to Florida that they could see the lights of Miami, being turned back to the Nazis in May 1939.
Public opposition to immigration, xenophobia and anti-Semitism kept immigration restrictions rigid even after World War II. In addition to the moral greatness of saving the Jewish people, imagine what America would be like today if the country had taken in the Jews of Europe. Take even the simplest parameter: Nobel Prize winners. Thirty-seven percent of American winners are Jews – and that is without the Six Million.…
Jonathan Pollard was born in Texas in August 1954, and grew up in Indiana.  While working as an American civilian in intelligence in Washington, Pollard saw classified material that contained information about maintaining Israel’s security. I don’t care that he was paid – Mossad agents get salaries, too, for taking on dangerous work.
You can spend hours reading the details of his case online and the strong opinions it has generated. Here’s the short of it: Pollard’s illegal activities for Israel were detected. He sought asylum in the Israeli Embassy in Washington but was rejected. To avoid an embarrassing trial, Pollard was persuaded to agree to a plea bargain that would also guarantee that he wasn’t given a maximum sentence. He expressed profound regret for his actions. The prosecutor complied with the plea agreement and asked for “only a substantial number of years in prison.” Nonetheless, Judge Aubrey Robinson, Jr. imposed a life sentence after hearing a “damage assessment memorandum” from the defense secretary.
That was in 1987. Unless he receives a presidential pardon, Pollard’s possible parole won’t come until November 21, 2015.  No one has ever revealed what documents Pollard gave Israel in 11 deliveries of confidential files about the Middle East. Was the information critical in convincing Israel to knock out the nuclear plant in Osirak, Iraq? If so, his perspicuity saved not only Jewish lives but American lives, too.
WHY, THEN, is he still in jail?
Among those who opposed Pollard’s release was his former boss, the late US Navy Rear Adm. Sumner Shapiro, who served as director of the Office of Naval Intelligence from 1978 to 1982. Said Shapiro: “We work so hard to establish ourselves and to get where we are, and to have somebody screw it up… and then to have Jewish organizations line up behind this guy and try to make him out a hero of the Jewish people, it bothers the hell out of me.”  Pollard’s incarceration, then, isn’t only about spying. To a Jew who rose to the rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy, he should be punished for threatening the hard-won proof that he was as loyal an American as his neighbors.
After shameful denials, Israel admitted that Pollard was working for us and declared him an Israeli citizen. His release is often mentioned in connection with prisoner swaps and peace deals, to sweeten an otherwise hard-to swallow deal. Former US deputy defense secretary Lawrence Korb said “the severity of Pollard’s sentence is a result of an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies” in American foreign policy.” Do any of us doubt that US Vice President Joe Biden’s vituperation against Pollard had less do with the spy’s deeds than his anger towards the State of Israel?
Nonetheless, more than a quarter century after Pollard was jailed, many voices across the political spectrum agree that his punishment was excessive. Left-wing Congressman Barney Frank is in rare agreement with rightwing former House speaker Newt Gingrich on this one. Former CIA director James Woolsey says Pollard’s punishment is excessive. Even former defence secretary Caspar Weinberger admitted that “the Pollard matter was comparatively minor. It was made far bigger than its actual importance.”
As we enter 5773 – an election year in the US – Jews of every political orientation should be able to agree that the time to release Pollard and make their views known is now. Synagogue members of every orientation should include him in public declarations. To quote accused spy Sharansky, who now heads the Jewish Agency: “The time has come to vigorously and loudly demand his freedom.”
From one Prisoner of Zion to another.  (Top)

William Kristol

Weekly Standard,  July 16, 2012

"Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us,” we are told. So we take this occasion to praise three admirable individuals who died in the past two weeks. Each of them was extraordinary in his or her own right, but each of them also exemplified the virtues of a remarkable generation.
Anna Schwartz, who died June 21 at age 96, was an economist who helped overturn the understanding of the causes of the Great Depression. Writing with her coauthor, Milton Friedman, she showed that government—in this case, the Federal Reserve—helped turn a business-cycle recession into a full-blown depression. More generally, her rigorous scholarship and careful analysis over the years exposed wishful policy-making and put facile punditry to shame—and bolstered the empirical case for limited government, free markets, and the rule of law.
Yitzhak Shamir, who died June 30 also at age 96, immigrated to Palestine in 1935. After first serving in the Zionist military organization, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, he led the militant Lohamei Herut Israel—Fighters for the Freedom of Israel—in the 1940s in the fight for Israel’s independence. His means were not always respectable, and he did what he judged necessary—though no more. Founders cannot always be fastidious, and statesmanship involves moral dilemmas. Shamir resolved those dilemmas in favor of the safety and well-being of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. Then, as foreign minister and prime minister 40 years later, he resisted pressure for concessions by Israel for the sake of a fanciful peace process—while opening wide the doors of Israel to massive immigration from Russia and elsewhere, immigration that has, as he foresaw, immensely strengthened the nation he served so selflessly and resolutely.
Joseph Cropsey, who died July 1 at age 92, was a professor of political philosophy at the University of Chicago and an early student and associate of the philosopher Leo Strauss. Convinced that Strauss had rediscovered the great tradition of political philosophy and reopened the possibility of seriously encountering the great thinkers of the past, he devoted himself to teaching alongside and working on behalf of Strauss, notably organizing the important volume of essays that he co-edited with him, History of Political Philosophy. He also compiled his own lasting and distinguished body of scholarship on subjects ranging from Plato to Adam Smith.
Schwartz, Shamir, and Cropsey were by all accounts very impressive human beings: loving spouses and fine parents, good and loyal friends, dedicated and responsible colleagues, individuals of humane disposition and, as it happens, dry wit.
But what is most striking about all three of them is a certain intellectual, moral, and political toughness. They faced challenge and tragedy. They set out against strong currents, joined in the beginning by only a few colleagues, opposed in their various enterprises by large and powerful establishments and a complacent and dominant conventional wisdom. They resolutely faced the odds against them, they were disciplined and intelligent in pursuing their causes, they fought, they persevered, and, to a considerable degree, they prevailed—against all the powers that stood in their way, against all the temptations to go along and get along.
They were strong leaders. But they were strong enough to be willing to follow those they deemed worth following, men of the first rank whom they admired and thought had gotten it right. Joe Cropsey—a considerable scholar and thinker—was willing to serve as a junior partner to his teacher, Leo Strauss. Yitzhak Shamir—a forceful fighter and leader—was proud to serve as a lieutenant to his captains, Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin. Anna Schwartz—who had a more subtle understanding of the relationship of politics to economics than many of her colleagues—was happy to cede the spotlight to them.
What a group! What representatives of a departing generation! One looks up in admiration at their austere courage, their flinty strength, their determination to think seriously about the right path and then set out on it and stick to it—without any expectation of immediate reward or easy gratification.
Their lives remind us of the difference between success, however lauded, and true human achievement, and of the difference between mediocrity, however brilliant, and lasting distinction. And their lives remind us of the moral and intellectual conditions of freedom.(Top)














Guy Millière, 26 août 2012


J’entends m’adresser, bien au-delà des media tricolores, à tous ceux qui souhaitent faire preuve de lucidité, et j’ose espérer qu’ils sont nombreux. Je m’adresse aussi à ceux qui, en Israël ou en France, possèderaient une double nationalité et pourraient voter aux Etats-Unis. Voter en connaissance de cause, et non pas en fonction d’opinions, car ce n’est assurément plus une question d’opinion, mais un choix relevant de données objectives.
Sur le plan intérieur, si on l’observe de manière superficielle, la politique de l’administration Obama a constitué une politique de relance de type keynésien particulièrement dispendieuse. Elle a abouti à un accroissement du nombre de pauvres et de chômeurs, une économie asthénique, un nombre d’emplois productifs en chute – il y a moins d’emplois productifs aux Etats-Unis aujourd’hui qu’il n’y en avait en janvier 2009 -, une succession de déficits budgétaires sans précédents, et un endettement abyssal.


Si l’on regarde de plus près, on voit qu’il s’agit bien plus que d’un plan de relance keynésien dispendieux. On perçoit en effet une volonté non dissimulée de créer, de manière définitive, une couche de population assistée et censée constituer une clientèle électorale captive pour le parti Démocrate. Pour ne citer que ce seul exemple, les possibilités de toucher une pension d’invalidité permanente ont été considérablement élargies, et permettent désormais de considérer comme invalide une personne qui ressent un stress au travail : plus de deux millions de nouveaux « invalides » ont été ajoutés aux listes depuis que les nouvelles règles ont été promulguées.


On décèle également une volonté de créer une forme d’économie mixte, favorisant certains secteurs économiques en les subventionnant massivement, souvent en pure perte, et en accordant les capitaux à des gens qui financent les campagnes démocrates avec une part des subventions qu’on leur a accordées, et asphyxiant d’autres secteurs économiques.


Obama et son entourage n’entendent pas faire des Etats-Unis un pays socialiste, mais un pays placé économiquement sous le contrôle de bureaucraties fédérales, constitué d’entreprises « guidées » et mises sous tutelle, et d’une population ayant une dette ou une dépendance vis-à-vis du gouvernement fédéral. Avec, d’une part, une strate supérieure travaillant en coordination avec le gouvernement dans des secteurs tels que les énergies renouvelables, l’éducation ou la santé, et, d’autre part, une vaste couche inférieure d’assistés, maintenus dans la dépendance.
L’un des Etats des USA illustre ce qui en résulte : la Californie. L’Etat de Californie se trouve en faillite ; des villes de l’intérieur des terres telles Stockton ou San Bernardino déposent leur bilan et s’enfoncent vers une pauvreté endémique ; une région telle la Baie de San Francisco continue à s’enrichir grâce à des entreprises largement protégées ou aidées par le gouvernement fédéral. Un second mandat d’Obama permettrait à ce dernier de parachever la transformation radicale du pays.
Ceux qui souhaitent cette transformation radicale et qui trouvent que la Californie va bien ne doivent pas hésiter, les autres ont toutes les raisons de se montrer circonspects, et de prendre en compte un élément très simple : nous nous situons dans une économie planétarisée, et si l’économie américaine continue sur sa trajectoire du « changement radical », imaginer que cela n’implique aucun effet sur le reste du monde est absolument illusoire. 


Sur un plan extérieur, si l’on reste en surface, on peut avoir l’impression que l’administration Obama ne maîtrise rien, que les Etats-Unis s’affaiblissent et n’ont plus d’emprise dans la plupart des dossiers brûlants. Si on creuse un peu plus, on réalise que, comme l’a écrit voici quelques années Charles Krauthammer, « le déclin est un choix ».
Obama a souhaité un retrait des Etats-Unis des affaires du monde. Il a voulu un affaiblissement de la puissance américaine, et même davantage. Ses conseillers, ceux qui travaillent dans sa proximité immédiate, imaginent un monde post-américain, qui serait régi par des instances internationales telles les Nations Unies, et donc par des puissances autoritaires – Chine, Russie, Organisation de la Conférence Islamique. Ils songent aussi que le monde musulman se porterait mieux si les Etats-Unis et le monde occidental prêtaient davantage attention aux doléances des islamistes.
Tous les documents disponibles – et je les cite abondamment dans le livre – montrent qu’Obama a pris pour interlocuteur privilégié dans le monde sunnite la confrérie des Frères musulmans, qui est loin d’être une organisation modérée, et a considéré que l’Iran chiite pouvait avancer vers une hégémonie régionale, qu’équilibrerait un monde sunnite aux mains des Frères.
Cette politique a progressé, avec les succès que l’on sait, jusqu’à ces derniers mois. Elle est entrée en conflagration avec la guerre civile en Syrie : longtemps, Barack Obama s’est montré incapable de choisir entre un allié de l'Iran (Assad) et les Frères musulmans, et le résultat apparaît désormais aux yeux de tous. Cette politique a permis à l’Iran de continuer à avancer sans réelles difficultés vers l’arme nucléaire et a placé Israël face à des choix difficiles et âpres.


En ce qui concerne Israël, Obama en est devenu un ennemi. Le président américain est un adepte du plan de paix arabe, qui propose le retour aux « frontières de 1967 », donc à la ligne d’armistice de 1949, et la création d’un Etat palestinien dans l’ensemble des territoires de Judée-Samarie, avec Jérusalem-est pour capitale. Le seul point sur lequel il s’éloigne de ces positions est qu’il ne demande pas le retour de cinq ou six millions de réfugiés sur le territoire d’Israël réduit aux frontières de 1967.


Bien qu’il ait multiplié les pressions sur l’Etat hébreu, Obama n’a pas réussi à faire plier le gouvernement israélien. A l’occasion d’un éventuel second mandat, il est prévu qu’il redouble d’efforts pour parvenir à ses fins. Et j’explique dans mon ouvrage comment il envisage de s’y prendre.


Ceux qui regardent dans la même direction qu’Obama pensent qu’un monde régi par un cartel de gouvernements autoritaires et par les Nations Unies, et qu’un Moyen-Orient plus sûr pour l’islamisme et beaucoup moins pour Israël, constituerait un contexte idyllique. Les autres devraient se montrer plus prudents. 


Nicolas Touboul
le CAPE de Jérusalem, 30 août 2012


Une nouvelle année scolaire commence dans les territoires palestiniens. L’UNRWA (office de secours et de travaux des Nations unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient) est né en 1949, au lendemain de la guerre d’indépendance, dans un cadre temporaire depuis régulièrement renouvelé, afin de gérer les camps de réfugiés palestiniens par l’organisation de services sociaux, à commencer par la santé et l’éducation. Cette dernière représente quelques 52% de son budget annuel de 1,2 milliard de dollars. Comme chaque année depuis sa création l’UNRWA dispensera donc dans les prochains mois ses services éducatifs à entre 25 et 30% des élèves palestiniens en écoles primaires et collèges, en plus de ses élèves en centres éducatifs supérieurs.  Au total, à travers le Moyen-Orient (Cisjordanie, bande de Gaza, Jordanie, Liban et Syrie), cet organe de l’ONU ne gère pas moins de 700 écoles où sont inscrits près de 487 000 élèves descendants de réfugiés palestiniens.  Un rôle énorme donc, mais qui n’est pas sans susciter d’importantes critiques quand au fonctionnement et au principe même de l’organisation.
Israël multiplie depuis plusieurs années déjà ses critiques à l’encontre de l’incitation à la haine figurant dans les manuels scolaires palestiniens, et l’UNRWA se retrouve donc sous le feu des projecteurs pour son utilisation des mêmes livres et des mêmes programmes que ceux en vigueur dans les écoles de l’Autorité palestinienne. Ceux-ci nient notamment la présence juive historique et actuelle dans la région, appellent à un retour sanglant dans la Palestine historique ou font l’apologie du martyre. Ce manque de prise de distance va de paire avec l’emploi par l’agence d’instituteurs locaux, à l’inverse des politiques en vigueur dans d’autres officines de l’ONU (UNESCO, Haut commissariat aux réfugiés…) qui considèrent qu’employer des bénéficiaires des services fournis par l’agence constitue un conflit d’intérêt. Ces locaux, qui représentent 99% du total des employés de l’UNRWA, renforcent cette tendance à la politisation de ses pratiques, notamment en matière d’éducation.
Pire, parmi ces employés figurent des membres de groupes islamistes radicaux, comme l’a reconnu lui-même l’ancien commissaire-général de l’organisation Peter Hansen. Un phénomène confirmé juin 2006, quand le Hamas a obtenu la majorité absolue au sein de l’union des travailleurs de l’UNRWA. En mai 2008 Awad al-Qiq est tué lors d’un frappe aérienne israélienne : l’homme, artificier du Jihad islamique, était également directeur d’une des écoles de l’UNRWA à Gaza. En août 2009, l’UNRWA persistait à nier que le mouvement de résistance islamique se servait de trois de ses nouvelles ambulances après même que ce dernier ait confirmé l’information. Par ailleurs, toujours à Gaza, le Hamas s’en est pris violemment à plusieurs reprises à l’organisme pour faire pression contre son utilisation des programmes de l’Autorité palestinienne dominée par le Fatah ou son manque d’éducation islamique aux yeux des radicaux.
Face à ces développements, il est étonnant que ni Israël ni les Etats-Unis n’aient demandé la mise en place d’un système d’audit et de suivi du fonctionnement de l’UNRWA afin de redresse ces défauts de fonctionnement structurels. Les deux pays se sont même opposés en janvier 2010 à la décision du gouvernement canadien de rediriger sa contribution annuelle sous forme d’aide directe à l’Autorité palestinienne pour plus de suivi et de responsabilité dans la gestion de cet argent.

De façon plus générale, l’UNRWA occupe une place unique dans la nébuleuse onusienne. Tout d’abord, les réfugiés palestiniens sont les seuls à ne pas être pris en charge par le Haut commissariat  des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR). Celui-ci était certes jusqu’en 1967 confiné à la prise en charge des déplacés européens, mais, plus intriguant, l’UNRWA pose des principes différents que le HCR. Ce dernier défini comme réfugiés les déplacés eux-mêmes et se donne pour mission de les intégrer dans leur société d’accueil. Sur ces deux éléments l’UNRWA a adopté des critères pour le moins absurdes.
Tout d’abord, ses critères d’éligibilité sont maximalistes. Son exigence de moins de deux ans de résidence en Palestine et le terme même de « réfugié de Palestine » plutôt que « réfugié palestinien » sont faits pour intégrer des travailleurs migrants originaires des régions voisines (de 16 à 25% du total selon Barry Rubin). Par ailleurs, la prise en compte de l’ensemble des descendants patrilinéaires explique la croissance exponentielle du nombre de personnes éligibles aux services de l’UNRWA, de moins de 700 000 en 1949 à plus de 5 000 000 à l’heure actuelle (dont 1,4 million vivent dans ses camps).
De plus, l’office a pour mission non pas la réinsertion des déplacés mais la gestion et l’entretien des camps. D’où la perpétuation d’un organisme censé être temporaire et dont la raison d’être est au final le maintien en situation de dépendance des personnes dont il a la charge. Pour cela, l’agence compte aujourd’hui quelques 25 000 employés, alors que l’ensemble des institutions internationales n’en comptent  que 63 450 (soit 39% du total)!
Malgré sa taille gigantesque, et du fait même de son mandat, l’UNRWA s’avère donc incapable de mettre un terme au problème des réfugiés palestiniens. Au-delà de son utilisation des manuels de l’Autorité palestinienne, en bloquant de fait la réinsertion dans les sociétés d’accueil, il implique que la seule solution soit la réalisation du « droit au retour » de ces réfugiés, comme le montre l’immense clé le symbolisant à l’entrée du camp UNRWA de Aida près de Bethléem. Par là, cette agence de l’ONU travaille au déni de l’existence d’un Etat-membre de la communauté internationale, contrairement aux règles régissant le fonctionnement de l’ONU. Au grand dam évidemment des autorités israéliennes, qui ont proposé à plusieurs reprises de prendre à leur charge la construction de résidences définitives en lieu et place de ces camps de réfugiés.
Quelles alternatives sont possibles à la situation actuelle ? En novembre 2010, John Ging, à la tête des opérations de l’UNRWA à Gaza, le reconnaissait : « nous ne devrions pas exister après tant d’années […] C’est le mandat qui nous a été donné. Je suis d’accord que cet un échec politique mais nous ne définissons pas le mandat, nous ne sommes responsables que de la mise en application. » Parmi les alternatives possibles, le transfert du traitement des réfugiés eux-mêmes au HCR, qui se chargerait notamment de coordonner la sortie de crise pour les palestiniens du Liban, fortement ostracisés par la population locale. L’UNRWA comme délivreur de services pourrait supprimer ses critères d’éligibilité actuels et s’adresser à l’ensemble de la population palestinienne comme suppléant à l’Autorité palestinienne avant d’être progressivement supplanté par cette dernière. Enfin, et c’est crucial, quelque soit son destinataire l’aide internationale devrait être conditionnée à des résultats concrets en terme d’amélioration des conditions de vie et à un suivi de l’utilisation des fonds pour s’assurer qu’ils ne soient pas détournés, que ce soit par corruption ou par récupération politique. Cela passe évidemment en premier lieu par exiger la fin de l’enseignement d’un « droit au retour » aussi chimérique que dangereux.




Jerusalem, August 20, 2012

Baroness Ashton,
…I would like to update you regarding the current situation of Israel's relationship with the Palestinian Authority (PA). As a preamble, I would like to emphasize that the purpose of this letter is to demonstrate Israel's goodwill, desire to build trust and sincere desire to create a positive atmosphere vis a vis the PA, with the goal of bringing our neighbors back to the table of direct negotiations. Unfortunately, we have encountered repeated Palestinian patterns of refusal and consistent attempts to turn to pointless activity, counterproductive to any constructive efforts….
Israel has in recent months undertaken several significant gestures towards the Palestinians: Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Shteinitz and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad concluded (July 31) arrangements with respect to the transfer of goods between Israel and the PA and related tax procedures. These steps, which were recommended by the International Monetary Fund, will improve the PA's tax system, increase revenues and bolster the Palestinian economy.
In light of the PA's budget crisis, Israel transferred at the beginning of the month of Ramadan (July 27) an advance of NIS 180 million (approximately USD 45 million) of August tax remittances. The money was intended to help the P A pay salaries in time to celebrate the holiday. An agreement was concluded (July 14) to employ an additional 5,000 Palestinian construction workers in Israel; the number of roadblocks was reduced to 10, most of which are normally open; the remains of Palestinian terrorists were returned (May 31). In addition, Israel agreed to develop the gas field off the Gaza shoreline.
Israel is promoting infrastructure projects in Area C, including completion of a master plan. In 2011, 119 infrastructure projects were approved, 58 of them with international financing. Fifteen projects relating to the construction and renovation of infrastructures for schools and clinics have received "fast-track" approval. I won't go into all the details of additional Israeli gestures that were made throughout 2012, all of them with the goal of assisting the Palestinian economy and easing the lives of the residents in the West Bank and Gaza.
Unfortunately, despite these steps, we do not see any willingness or positive attitude on the part of the PA. The opposite is the case: we see a rise in the Palestinian activity against Israel in the diplomatic and legal arenas, with attempts to accelerate illegal construction in Area C (including dragging the EU into this problematic activity), to encourage an economic boycott on the Israeli economy in the territories and to generate repeated negative statements against Israel. In addition, we have encountered a relatively new campaign, blaming Israel for the murder of Yassir Arafat, as well as the ongoing institutionalized incitement in the Palestinian media, attacking Israel and the legitimacy of the State's existence.
Mr. Mahmoud Abbas' unfortunate behavior indicates that he apparently is uninterested or unable — due to his standing in the domestic Palestinian scene vis a vis Hamas, and in light of the regional geopolitical situation — to reach an agreement which would bring an end to the conflict, including addressing all the core issues. Instead he is creating a culture of blaming Israel for delaying the process, while attempting to achieve advantages without negotiation via blackmailing and ongoing attempts to internationalize the conflict.
The situation as I have described it is supported not only by the facts but also may be corroborated by the Jordanians, who made a great effort to facilitate Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs direct dialogue between Israel and the PA. Unfortunately, because of the attitudes of Mr. Abbas and his partners, these efforts did not lead to any progress. This situation is very clear to the Jordanians.
This pattern of refusal is not new. With the Annapolis process, under the previous Israeli government, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians far-reaching concessions and gestures of goodwill, more than any other Israeli government, without success….
Two additional matters should be taken into account: the historic Bar-Ilan speech of Prime Minister Netanyahu, which called for a two state solution, and the unprecedented step of the current government, which, in response to Palestinian demands, temporarily froze the construction in the settlements, in order to renew peace negotiations. As part of the Palestinian systematic pattern of avoiding bilateral negotiations, these steps were met with rejection and with unilateral steps by the Palestinians, under Mr. Abbas' leadership.
In a calculated manner, Mr. Abbas is focusing his dialogue with the international community on the subject of settlements. Unfortunately, the international community tends to accept this discourse lock, stock and barrel, without criticism or a nuanced approach. This is a damaging attitude, which does not reflect the reality on the ground.
The entire area of the settlements constitutes approximately one percent of the area of the West Bank. The last settlement which Israel constructed was in 1991. In the framework of the peace accord with Egypt (1979), Israel took the painful step of evacuating all the settlements and military bases in Sinai. In 2005, Israel evacuated all of our settlements from the Gaza Strip, as well as four settlements in the northern West Bank, but instead of peace and security, we received the Hamas government in Gaza which opposes the existence of Israel, and is unwilling to live in peace with us, as well as 14,000 rockets and  missiles which were indiscriminately shot at towns and villages in southern Israel.
Facts and history, as opposed to the simplistic stereotypes and political bias, contradict the idea that somehow the settlement enterprise is the main obstacle to renewing the negotiations. This premise simply does not stand up to the test of reality or the historic precedent of the peace process between Israel and our neighbors. Both peace accords, with Egypt and Jordan, were signed when settlements existed; the claim that settlements are the obstacle to peace is unfounded.…
The Palestinian Authority is a despotic government riddled with corruption. This pattern of behavior has led to criticism even within his own constituency. Due to Abbas' weak standing, and his policy of not renewing the negotiations, which is an obstacle to peace, the time has come to consider a creative solution, to think "outside the box," in order to strengthen the Palestinian leadership. This is crucial, so that the Israeli gestures to strengthen the economy, stability and strength of the PA will not be turned into a boomerang against Israel.
Despite Mr. Abbas' delays, general elections in the PA should be held, and a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic Palestinian leadership should be elected. The PA elections were due to be held in 2010 and have since been postponed several times. As of today, no new date has been set for elections. Only such a leadership can bring progress with Israel….(Top)
Avigdor Liberman
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs


Efraim Karsh

Middle East Forum, August 2012


…[L]et us assume for the sake of argument that Israel and the PLO-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) were to sign a formal peace treaty. Would this stop the effort to delegitimize the Jewish state campaign or eliminate anti-Semitism from the European scene? Hardly—for the simple reason that the Palestinian question has next to nothing to do with either of these. Though anti-Zionism has been the core principle of pan-Arab solidarity since the 1930s—it is easier, after all, to unite people through a common hatred than through a shared loyalty—the Arab states (and the Palestinians' international champions) have shown far less concern for the well-being of the Palestinians than for their own interests.

For example, it was common knowledge that the May 1948 pan-Arab invasion of the nascent state of Israel was more a scramble for Palestinian territory than a fight for Palestinian national rights. As the Arab league's secretary-general Azzam once admitted to a British reporter, the goal of King Abdullah of   Transjordan "was to swallow up the central hill regions of Palestine, with access to the Mediterranean at Gaza. The Egyptians would get the Negev. Galilee would go to Syria, except that the coastal part as far as Acre would be added to Lebanon."
From 1948 to 1967, when Egypt and Jordan ruled the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Arab states failed to put these populations on the road to statehood. They also showed little interest in protecting their human rights or even in improving their quality of life—which is part of the reason why 120,000 West Bank Palestinians moved to the East Bank of the Jordan River and about 300,000 others emigrated abroad. "We couldn't care less if all of the refugees die," an Egyptian diplomat once remarked. "There are enough Arabs around."

Not surprisingly, the Arab states have never hesitated to sacrifice Palestinians on a grand scale whenever it suited their needs. In 1970, when his throne came under threat from the PLO, the affable and thoroughly Westernized King Hussein of Jordan had no qualms about slaughtering thousands of Palestinians, an event known as "Black September." Six years later, Lebanese Christian militias, backed by the Syrian army, massacred some 3,500 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in the Beirut refugee camp of Tel Zaatar. These militias again slaughtered hundreds of Palestinians in 1982 in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, this time under Israel's watchful eye. In the summer of 2007, the Lebanese army killed hundreds of Palestinians, including many civilians, in the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. None of the Arab states came to the Palestinians' rescue. Worse, in the mid-1980s, when the PLO—officially designated by the Arab League as the "sole representative of the Palestinian people"—tried to re-establish its military presence in Lebanon, it was unceremoniously expelled by President Assad of Syria.
This history of Arab leaders manipulating the Palestinian cause for their own ends while ignoring the fate of the Palestinians goes on and on. Saddam Hussein, in an effort to ennoble his predatory designs, claimed that he would not consider ending his August 1990 invasion of Kuwait without "the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Arab territories in Palestine." Shortly after the 1991 Persian Gulf war, Kuwaitis set about punishing the PLO for its support of Hussein—cutting off financial sponsorship, expelling some 440,000 Palestinian workers, and slaughtering thousands. Their retribution was so severe that Arafat was forced to acknowledge that "what Kuwait did to the Palestinian people is worse than what has been done by Israel to Palestinians in the occupied territories."
If the Arab states have shown little empathy for the plight of ordinary Palestinians, the Islamic connection to the Palestinian problem is even more tenuous. It is not out of concern for a Palestinian right to national self-determination but as part of a holy war to prevent the loss of a part of the "House of Islam" that Islamists inveigh against the Jewish state of Israel. In the words of Hamas's covenant: "The land of Palestine has been an Islamic trust (waqf ) throughout the generations and until the day of resurrection…. When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims."

In this respect, there is no difference between Palestine and other parts of the world conquered by the forces of Islam throughout history. To this very day, for example, Arabs and many Muslims unabashedly pine for the restoration of Spain and look upon their expulsion from that country in 1492 as a grave historical injustice….As illustrated by the overwhelming support for the 9/11 attacks throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds, this vision is by no means confined to a disillusioned and obscurantist fringe of Islam; and within this grand scheme, the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is but a single element and one whose supposed centrality looms far greater in Western than in Islamic eyes….[The above is an excerpt from Karsh’s book The War Against the Jews. For the full article please see the On Topic links below – Ed.] (Top)

Seth J. Frantzman

Jerusalem Post August 28, 2012

Recent articles about the village of Sussiya highlight the struggle that is taking place in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank. In the absence of a Palestinian state the West Bank has continued to percolate along the status quo lines set down in the Oslo agreement. Many commentators miss this in their analysis of what is taking place in terms of “the conflict.” People speak about being “pro-peace,” but if one defines the absence of war as a form of peace, in fact the West Bank is quite peaceful. But that masks the quiet conflict that takes place every day for control over a small sliver of land.

Area C is an abstract invention of a peace agreement that was never fully implemented. In this sense it is a bureau-geographic creature, invented so that it could eventually be disbanded. At Oslo in 1993 and 1995 the West Bank was divided into three sections, one of full Palestinian civil and police control, one of mixed control and an area of full Israeli civil and military control. This last area includes all 121 recognized Jewish communities in the West Bank as well as the other 100-odd Jewish “outposts.” The Jewish population of this area is estimated at 270,000.

Almost every study on the size of Area C puts it at 62 percent of the West Bank, or 3,482 sq. km, which makes it slightly larger than Yosemite national park in the US.  That Area C is often said to include a majority of the West Bank is primarily due to the fact that much of the desert was placed in Area C as part of Israeli military reservations. The entire Jordan valley, except Jericho and several villages, is part of Area C….

The quiet conflict for Area C is being waged because, for all intents and purposes, Israel has given up any interest in the rest of the West Bank. Except for Hebron, Israel long ago withdrew its forces from the Palestinian cities which had been re-occupied during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.…

There is a remaining piece of the Area C puzzle: The security fence includes about 8.5% of the West Bank between it and the Green Line. This includes the entire area of east Jerusalem that Israel has annexed.  The dispute is over those areas between the security fence and the major Palestinian population centers which run along the mountainous center of the area. Wherever there is a Jewish community there is [a Palestinian] effort to quietly encroach upon that community, to plough up land, to refurbish terraces, plant orchards, farm land and inhabit houses. The notion is that the more Palestinians can make parts of Area C appear to be Palestinian, the more pressure the international community will bring on Israel to release claims to it.

Like ancient Boeotia, which served as a pawn in the war between Athens and Sparta, Area C is a buffer zone that must be conquered and put to use by one side or the other. After all, Area C is all that is left, it is the place where the land is still in dispute, where a ploughed field or a harvested orchard can make or break states. That might sound ridiculous, but each case, each farmstead, each shack, each deed that is presented in court creates waves that impact beyond the lives of the several dozen individuals involved.

The recent news about Area C is what a World Council of Churches 2011 EAPPI document called the “quiet transfer.” According to this brochure the area “was meant to be gradually transferred to Palestinian administration” but instead Israel has been working to remove Palestinians from it.

The UN estimates that there are some 150,000 Arabs living in the area C in 270 “villages, camps and other communities.” However, according to a UN document produced by OCHA in August 2011, “two-thirds of [them] live in localities which are partly located in Area A and B.” Supposedly the remaining third, 50,000 people, are mostly Bedouin and “herders.” The UN estimates there are 27,000 members of these “herding communities” comprising some 5,000 families.

This little group of people is the focus of a massive international campaign. After OCHA spent a year interviewing some members of this group in the spring of 2011, it released a memo called “displacement and insecurity in Area C of the West Bank.” The memo claimed that the herders or Bedouin faced “restrictive and discriminatory planning…restrictions on movement…[and] military harassment.” The EAPPI factsheet published in 2011 piggybacked on this report with claims that Israel had demolished 342 structures in the area and made 656 people homeless.

On August 28, Mya Guarneiri, a Jerusalem based pro-Palestinian activist, wrote an op-ed in The National in Australia that claimed that “dozens of Palestinian and Bedouin villages are threatened with demolition and over 27,000 men, women and children face forced transfer. Most of these people are refugees.”  Notice how she characterizes the entire Palestinian population as being “threatened” with “forced transfer.”

One of the newest stories about the “transfer” was reported in The New York Times when Jodi Rudoren claimed that “the Israeli government has asked the Supreme Court to allow the demolition of eight Palestinian hamlets in the South Hebron Hills.” She went on to claim that it involves “about 1,800 people who live at least part time in a dozen communities that predate Israel’s 1967 seizure of the West Bank from Jordan, and in some cases have been around since the 1800s.”

An Israeli government spokesman quoted in the article noted that “starting from 2009, an increasing trend of augmenting and strengthening the population on the C Grounds is taking place.”  A great deal of misinformation is bandied about regarding these groups. Not only are they said to be refugees from 1948, but they are also then said to have lived in some ancient village since the 1800s. It is claimed that they cannot build houses because Israel does not provide permits in Area C, and yet it is also claimed their houses predate the creation of Area C in 1993 and the conquest of the area in 1967.

Oddly, the “villages” often appear on no maps, aerial photos or documents until the past several decades…. UN notations and the reports often note that the people live only “part time” in a place or sometimes in Area B and sometimes in C. Yet these nomadic herding groups become permanent residents of ancient villages when Israeli policy is concerned.

Area C has to be understood as the last part of this unsettled dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, the focus on it is generated for propaganda purposes to influence people to believe that one side or the other has more rights to it. (Top)



Adam Kramer


 Lately there has been a rising number of Middle East experts, as well as some Israeli officials, calling for a unilateral disengagement from the West Bank. Ehud Barak, Israel’s Minister of Defense, advocated this type of unilateral action during a speech he gave at the Institute for National Security Studies. Others who have expressed support for a similar plan include members of an organization called Blue White Future, who explained their position in an Op-Ed in the New York Times, and Rafael D. Frankel, who outlined his stance in an article in The National Interest.

Given the moribund current peace negotiations with the Palestinians, these pundits are promoting an Israeli pullout from most of the West Bank settlements as a way to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and to ensure Israel’s permanence, as a Jewish State. While this plan would ensure the crucial caveat that Israel remain a state with a strong Jewish majority, it is not so clear that Jews are in fact losing their hold on remaining the area’s majority. More importantly, though, an Israeli unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank would be replicating too many of the same mistakes that Israel made in its withdrawal from Gaza, thereby making it a plan that Israel certainly shouldn’t pursue. 

To see what would unfold if Israel were to leave the West Bank, one could look at the events that occurred following Israel’s similar unilateral disengagement from Gaza. Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza without negotiations and without fully realizing the future ramifications of his precipitous decision. What has transpired in the seven years since the pullout has been twofold. Firstly, while Gaza was supposed to become a future home-country for Palestinians under the PA, the Strip was quickly over-run by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, who proceeded to expel the PA.

Secondly, Israel has certainly not become safer since the disengagement experience but instead has had to endure seven years of almost endless rocket fire from Gaza terrorists into southern Israeli cities.

By unilaterally handing over the West Bank—which is over ten times as large in landmass as Gaza– Israel would not be receiving any security or peace guarantees in return for the land, thereby replicating the Gaza experience. Radical terrorist groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad that filled the power vacuum in Gaza, would do likewise in the West Bank. Even if the PA and Fatah took steps to ensure this violent takeover would not happen, and instead held their own democratic elections (which is moot), nothing would prevent Hamas’ candidates from winning these elections and then seizing power. Obviously, what would unfold in either situation would be Gaza 2.0: either the terrorist organization Hamas or a terrorist PA ruling over another territory adjacent to Israel.

By handing over the West Bank without peace guarantees from the PA in exchange, which is what these advocates are backing, Israel would be putting itself in an almost impossible security situation, even for Israel’s powerful defense force. The West Bank’s lengthy eastern border with Jordan would need constant monitoring to prevent terrorists from entering the West Bank, as they have been entering Gaza from its now porous border with Egypt. Not to be forgotten is the fact that the West Bank’s western border would only be a few miles from Ben Gurion International Airport; maintaining secure airport use would obviously be an enormous security challenge.

Another security related issue is how to manage Israeli citizens displaced from the West Bank. This issue – of how to resettle, house, and find employment for the displaced persons – was a major issue during the pullout from Gaza. In fact, a recent Israel Hayom article details that many of those who were removed from Gaza back in 2005, still do not have permanent homes or jobs. How would the issue would be handled if it were to be done on a scale ten times greater? 

Many of these leaders who advocate the creation of a de-facto Palestinian state are motivated by a desire to ensure the longevity of Israel as a state with a Jewish majority. They believe that by keeping the status quo, Israel will eventually lose its Jewish majority. Therefore, they believe that the government needs to act with great expediency to maintain the State’s Jewish identity.
In 1950, Jews encompassed over 85% of Israel’s demographic. However, that tremendous majority has now declined a bit, to the point where Jews comprise around 75% of the country’s total population. If this decline were to continue uniformly, as many believe it will, then by the year 2040 or so, Jews would in fact lose their majority.

However, other studies affirm the antithesis. One American-Israel Demographic Research Group, argued that this trend of decline in percentage of Jews will reverse itself,  since Israeli birth rates are rising while Arab birth rates are falling. The population “crisis” is not an imminent threat, and Israel is not in danger of losing its Jewish majority. This report added that previous predictors of Israeli demographics did not end up becoming true, so that predictions that Israel will lose its Jewish majority in only thirty years should certainly be taken with a grain of salt. (A study conducted in the 1960’s had predicted that by the year 1990, Arabs would be the majority in Israel. Obviously, this study has proven false.)

Oftentimes, something that looks good on paper, once it happens in real life, it can end up completely differently.  The Gaza disengagement should teach Israel a strong lesson, that unilaterally evacuating land and allowing terrorist groups to take it over is not the best plan of action. (Top)
[Adam Kramer, 15, is a CIJR 2012 Cohen Summer Intern; he lives in Boston.]




On Topic


∙       Middle East Forum, August 2012
Efraim Karsh

∙       Gatestone Institute, August 16, 2012
Khaled Abu Toameh

∙       Ynet News, August 26, 2012
Asaf Romirowsky

∙       Jeruslaem Post, August 30, 2012
Herb Keinon

∙   New York Times, July 25, 2012
Dani Dayan

∙       CiF Watch, August 12, 2012
Gidon Ben-Zvi



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“Incitement to Genocidal Antisemitism: Radical Islam and the

     Acquiescense of the Western Intellectuals and Policy Makers”




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National Jewish Democratic Council Disappointed in Republican Ron Paul Tribute

A Blog by Lawrence Solomon,
Fellow, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research



The National Jewish Democratic Council is disappointed that the Republicans will be giving Ron Paul a tribute at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week. I’m disappointed that the Republicans aren’t honouring Paul to an even greater extent, and that American Jewish Democrats are so blindly partisan that they fail to understand who Israel’s true friends are.


Jews are right to have concerns over anti-Semitic comments attributed to Paul that appeared in his investment newsletter in the 1990s. But Paul claims he didn't write those comments and disavows them. In a spirit of generosity, I believe we should take Paul at his word. Even if he was once an anti-Semite, and has now changed, why hold that against him?

The main criticism of Paul by Jews today is his attitude toward Israel. But is his attitude truly hostile, as Paul critics contend?


“I do not believe we should be Israel’s master but, rather, her friend,” Paul told Haaretz last December. “We should not be dictating her policies and announcing her negotiating positions before talks with her neighbors have even begun.”


Had Eisenhower, Johnson and Nixon taken this Ron Paul approach, Israel wouldn’t have had to return territory won in the 1956 Suez War without obtaining concessions from Egypt, wouldn’t have had to accept an early ceasefire in 1967, wouldn’t have had to spare Egypt’s army in 1973. In these and other wars, in fact, Israel has had to fight the clock as much as its aggressors, knowing that U.S. presidents had little patience for Israeli success on the battlefield.


If U.S. presidents had their way, neither Saddam Hussein’s or Bashar Assad’s nuclear reactor would have been destroyed. As for Iran, a Ron Paul approach would have let Israel attack Iran early, before a decision to do so became highly risky. Paul believes an Israeli attack on Iran is Israel’s business, not America’s. George Bush didn’t give Israel that much leeway, let alone Barack Obama.


Jewish Democrats attack Paul for wanting to stop foreign aid to Israel. What’s wrong with that? Paul wants the U.S. to stop foreign aid to all countries, Arab states included. This isn’t an anti-Israel position, it’s an entirely reasonable foreign policy and fiscal position perspective that, if it ever happened, might benefit Israel on balance, since it might disadvantage Israel less than its enemies. U.S. aid to Israel is no longer vitally necessary for Israel’s survival – it represents about 1% of Israel’s GDP and is worth less than 1% because the aid comes with strings attached. Even if losing the aid caused Israelis some hardship – say it required Israelis to pay higher taxes to fund the Israeli military – where is the logic or the honour in American Jews asking Americans citizens to be taxed more to fund Israel’s military?


Paul holds various views that, to my mind, are so off-base as to be wacky. He sees Iran as relatively benign, for example, and wouldn’t want the U.S. to intervene to prevent Iran from having the bomb. But why should that disqualify him for being honoured for his profound defence of liberty and the American constitution over the decades? The Republicans in no way endorse his views of Iran – Romney and every other serious candidate made that crystal clear. Ironically, Paul’s view on Iran and on war in general would have far more adherents among Democratic Jews who castigate him than among rank and file Republicans who admire him.

More generally, do Jews really want a litmus test for candidates to high office?


Must all candidates slavishly conform to some Jewish Democratic notion of what’s good for Israel or risk opprobrium? The insults levied against Paul by the Jewish Democrats can only promote animosity toward Jews among millions of Ron Paul supporters, both because the insults are off the mark and because they display an intolerance of those who hold reasonable but contrary views.


From my perspective, Paul has shown uncommon respect for Israel and for Jews. Maybe Jews should reciprocate with a little respect of their own.





“Iran’s current rulers will use your presence to further their own, hateful purposes,” – Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Baird in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the occasion of the Secretary-General’s attendance of the Nonaligned Movement’s meeting in Iran this week. “Such a visit would only serve to legitimize and condone the record of this regime, which Canada views as the single most significant risk to global peace and security today. [Iran’s] egregious human-rights record denies large segments of the Iranian population even the most basic of rights, while threatening the very existence of one of its neighbours,” Mr. Baird wrote. “For example, on August 2, 2012, President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad said that, ‘anyone who loves freedom and justice must strive for the annihilation of the Zionist regime in order to pave the way for world justice and freedom.’ (National Post, August 29, 2012)
“Because of your personal awareness of the facts, there is a high level of confidence that you will not forget or leave unaddressed the plight of our political prisoners.” – Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and former Shah of Iran, in a letter to UN Secretary-Geneneral Ban Ki-moon. (Globa and Mail, August 29, 2012)
"Once again, it has been exposed that Americans and Europeans who claim to be pro-Palestinian are actually just Israel-haters. For them, the Palestinian issue is just a vehicle for vomiting their hatred for Israel, and most likely all Jews. They are closer to Hamas and Islamic Jihad than to moderate Arabs and Muslims. The Palestinians need support from people who promote democracy, moderation, accountability and co-existence with Israel." – Hisham Jarallah, a journalist based in the West Bank commenting on the arrival in Jordan of some 100 “pro-Palestinian” activists in the latest “flytilla” (Gatestone Institute, August 28, 2012)
"Egypt is now a civilian state … a national, democratic, constitutional, modern state," – Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president in his first press conference with international media since assuming the presidency, adding that "International relations between all states are open and the basis for all relations is balance. We are not against anyone but we are for achieving our interests." In response to the question of Egyptian military build-up in the Sinai he said, "Egypt is practicing its very normal role on its soil and does not threaten anyone and there should not be any kind of international or regional concerns at all from the presence of Egyptian security forces," (National Post, August 29, 2012)
“I was happy to hear Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy's talks about Egypt's' commitment to peace with Israel, to the Camp David treaty and the struggle against terrorism," – Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman  "That is a very important message." But “Peace also has tangible expressions. Peace is not a telepathic connection… We hope to see President Morsy host official Israeli representatives; we want to see him give interviews to the Israeli press, and we want to see him in Jerusalem as the guest of President [Shimon] Peres.”
“Unfortunately the young men do this sometimes. They had a party with music and dancing, and they were behaving badly with the women.” – Juma Khan an elder from Helmand province in Afghanistan where the Taliban beheaded 15 men and 2 women after an ‘immoral’ house party. “This attack shows that there are irresponsible members among the Taliban.” averred Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, in response to the slaughter of innocent civilians. (National Post, August 28, 2012)
“Nowadays, the pressure for conformism comes more from the faculty, which tips Democratic like the Titanic in its final throes. Programs that once upheld the value if not the practice of intellectual diversity tend to function more like unions, trying to keep their membership in line. Some professors make a habit of insulting Republican candidates and conservative ideas with the smirking assurance of talk-show hosts, unaware that their laugh lines reap from some students the contempt that they sow.  The increased political conformism at universities may be traced in part to the redefinition of diversity that accompanied the introduction of group preferences, aka "affirmative action." Schools instituting this policy never acknowledged that it conflicted with competing commitments to equal consideration "irrespective of race, religion, or gender," or that at least half the country questioned its wisdom.” – Ruth Wisse, Harvard professor of Yiddish and comparative literature and author of Jews and Power. Conservative students—and not they alone—long for exposure to the ideational diversity of Jefferson and Hamilton, Jesus and the Grand Inquisitor, Marx and Hayek, liberal and conservative. They want a campus where a professor who says he votes Republican isn't considered either courageous or crazy. The pity is that, so far, students who desire such a campus will have to work for its transformation on their own.” (Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2012)
“The spirit that she died for is worth a life. This idea of resistance, this spirit of resisting this brutal occupying force, is worth anything. And many, many, many Palestinians give their lives for it all the time. So the life of one international, I feel, is more than worth the spirit of resisting oppression.” – Rachel Corrie’s ISM [International Solidarity Movement] colleague and handler, Joseph Smith eulogizing Corrie who died after purposely placing herself in a “Military Installations Area,” along the Egyptian border, at the Philadelphi Route, which was considered a hostile battlefield because of the large number of attacks carried out by terrorists.  “The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent,” adding that “[i]n actuality, nonviolence is not enough…Yes, people will get killed and injured.” – ISM co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf adding that such deaths [are] “no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action, they would be considered shaheed Allah.” (Jewish Press, august 28, 2012)
“The ISM assigned itself the task of working alongside the Palestinians against the "Israeli occupation" by using what it called "non-violent protest activities".  However, the evidence presented to me shows a significant gap between the Organization's statements and the true character of its activities and actions.  The actions taken by the members of the organization, in practice, do not match its statements.  In fact, the Organization exploits the dialogue regarding human rights and morality to blur the severity of its actions, which are, in fact, expressed through violence.” –  Summary of the Verdict (T.A. 371/05) Estate of the Late Rachel Corrie, etc.v. The State of Israel – Ministry of Defense (Elder of Ziyon, Augus 29, 2012)
“[B]latant discrimination based on national and political distinction. This kind of discrimination has not been imposed — and rightly so — in any other case of national, territorial or ethnic conflict[.] … What is totally unacceptable is the use of tools which, by essence, discriminate and single out, fostering a general boycott.” – the Israeli government’s outraged response to South Africa’s decision to label goods entering the country from certain places [in Israel] as “IOT” for “Israeli Occupied Territory.”  (The Algemeiner, August 27, 2012)
“So Jesus stepped right here? …I have to tell you, I am more excited stepping on these stones than I was stepping on the moon.” – Neil Armstrong to Israeli archaeologist Meir Ben-Dov as he reached the Hulda Gate at the top of the stone steps leading to the Temple Mount. [Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, passed away this week – Ed.] (quoted in Tablet, August 27, 2012)

“With all the money that has been invested in the problem of [the] Palestinians, it would have been possible long ago to resettle them and provide them with good lives in Arab countries.” Andrei Sakharov, human rights activist and 1975 Nobel Peace Prize laureate (quoted in the Jerusalem Post, August 24, 2012) (Top)


THE CORRIE CASE: RECKLESS CHOICES –(Haifa) …[T]he District Court in Haifa handed down its…verdict in the Rachel Corrie trial. The court found that Corrie’s own negligence led to her death. Corrie was killed in Gaza in 2003 after kneeling in front of an IDF bulldozer which was clearing brush, during a military operation, near the Rafah border crossing to prevent illegal weapons smuggling by terrorists from Egypt.  Corrie, a US college student and member of the radical International Solidarity Movement (ISM), traveled to Gaza to serve as a human shield and to directly participate in hostilities between Israel and Palestinian combatants….Around the time of Corrie’s death, senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya was arrested while he was hiding in ISM’s Jenin office and being assisted by two ISM activists. In 2008, ISM member Richard David Hupper was convicted by a US federal jury for “giving about $20,000 to Hamas while working in Israel with the International Solidarity Movement. (Jerusalem Post, August 29, 2012)
ISRAEL PUSHING FOR UN SUMMIT ON JEWISH REFUGEES –(Jerusalem) Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has been pushing for the UN to hold a summit in September on the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. The summit’s main goal would be to address the issue of Jewish property rights for about 850,000 Jews [who] were expelled or forced out of Arab nations between 1948 and 1951, losing an estimated $700 million in property ($6 billion today). (Algemeiner, August 29, 2012)
FIRST MAJOR PROTEST AGAINST EGYPT’S ISLAMIST PRESIDENT –(Cairo) Several thousand Egyptians rallied Friday in the first significant protests against the country’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, accusing him and his Muslim Brotherhood group of trying to monopolize power….[T]he protests point to the fears many Egyptians feel with the Islamist president and his policies, and reflect the deep divide in Egyptian society over the country’s future direction under Morsi and the Brotherhood.  Protesters…say that [Morsi] exceeded his authority when he assumed legislative powers after forcing senior generals into retirement following a deadly attack this month by militants that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula. (Washington Post, August 24, 2012)
THE BUTLER DID IT(Frankfurt, Germany) The city of Frankfurt is about to present Dr. Judith Butler, a professor in the rhetoric and comparative literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley with the prestigious Theodor Adorno Prize, an award which comes with 50,000 euros. Butler is  a US professor who advocates a sweeping boycott of ties with Israel’s cultural and academic establishment and has defended Hezbollah and Hamas as progressive organizations.   Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, a Frankfurt-based Middle East expert said that by presenting the Adorno Prize to Butler, the city of Frankfurt is legitimizing a “de facto boycott of its partner city Tel Aviv’s academic and cultural institutions,” (Jerusalem Post, August 27, 2012)
POTS REBUKING KETTLES OVER THE ISSUE OF BLACKNESS –(Egypt) Al Ahram reported on Monday that the extremist Salafist Nour Party is sending a delegation to the Sinai Peninsula to “raise religious awareness and combat extremism.” The Sinai-bound commission will include members of the Shura Council (Egypt’s upper house of parliament), the Nour Party and the armed forces…The group will hold a series of meetings urging Sinai citizens to stand by the army in combating the supremacist Islamist groups roaming the area…[T]he visit attests to the Egyptian Islamist leadership’s awareness of the need to corral their out of control rank and file in the Sinai, and the realization that this cannot be done with tanks and planes alone.   (Jewish Press, August 21, 2012)
SHEEP INVADING NORTHERN HILLS INTERFERING WITH ISRAELI TROOPS – (Galilee, Israel) Yedioth Ahronoth reports that the slopes of the northern mountain have become inundated with sheep, disturbing soldiers trying to operate there and turning Israel’s toughest Rambos into veritable shepherds. The army believes the sheep are sent across the border by Lebanese and Syrians looking to cause trouble. “It’s reasonable to assume they were sent to this point. We are talking here about a disruption of Israeli sovereignty in an outstanding way. True, we are talking about sheep, but their presence is dangerous.”
PALESTINIANS UNWANTED IN ARAB WORLD, FINDING JOBS IN ISRAEL (Wast Bank) As the Arab countries continue to impose strict employment restrictions on Palestinians, Israel is opening its doors to Palestinian workers from the West Bank…Israel is becoming one of the largest employers of Palestinians in the Middle East [as] the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in Ramallah showed that [about] 90,000 Palestinians were now working in Israel and even in Jewish settlements [in 2012]. The Arab world, which once used to absorb hundreds of thousands of Palestinian employees, is beginning to close its doors [to] Palestinians. Many of the Arab countries accuse the Palestinians of being ungrateful [and]…consider Palestinians troublemakers and a source of instability, even impos[ing] apartheid-like regulations and laws that prevent Palestinians from earning a decent living.  The Palestinians could have built one of the best economies in the region after the beginning of the peace process in 1993. But instead of using the billions of dollars that were given to them by Americans and Europeans to create new jobs, the PLO leadership stole most of the funds and later blamed Israel for damaging the Palestinian economy. Suicide bombings and financial and administrative corruption are the main reason why the Palestinian economy remains as weak as ever. The Palestinians are experts in shooting themselves in the foot and then blaming Israel.  (Gatestone Institute, August 17, 2012)
SYRIAN REFUGEES IN JORDAN CAMP DOUBLE IN PAST WEEK: UN – (Jordan) Melissa Flemming, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR said, "The pace of arrivals from the Syrian border to the Zaatri camp in north Jordan has doubled in the past week," She said that 10,200 people had poured into the camp in the week ending on August 27, compared with 4,500 the week before. More than 22,000 Syrians have taken shelter at the Al Zaatri camp since it opened on July 30. (AhramOnline, AFP, August 28, 2012)
IRAN: HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN UNDER AGE OF 10 MARRIED –(Tehran) Iran has experienced a dramatic growth in under-age marriages that has seen the number of girls being wed before the age of 10 double in the space of a year…. An Iranian NGO, the Society For Protecting The Rights of The Child, said 43,459 girls aged under 15 had married in 2009, compared with 33,383 three years previously. In 2010, 716 girls younger than 10 had wed, up from 449 the previous year, according to the organisation. Its spokesman, Farshid Yazdani, blamed deepening poverty for the development, which he said was more common in socially backward rural areas often afflicted with high levels of illiteracy and drug addiction. "Financial poverty of the families leads to children's marriages. However, cultural poverty and ignorance is also an element," Mr Yazdani told the semi-official Mehr news agency. The trend has prompted child protection experts to warn of a surge in mental illness, suicides, teenage runaways and girls turning to prostitution as the nuptials frequently end in divorce. (The Telegraph, August 27, 2012)
REINFORCED SCHOOL PROTECTS ISRAELI KIDS FROM GAZAN ROCKETS – (Sderot) Living under a constant threat of rocket fire from militants in the nearby Gaza Strip, their schooldays were often interrupted by mad dashes to bomb shelters. But on Monday, they started the school year safe from attack in a new, fortified, rocket-proof school building. [The] $27.5 million Shaar Hanegev high school with 1,200 students takes protection to the next level; ‘You can finally teach without worrying,’ says principal, Zohar Nir-Levi. The structure features concrete walls, reinforced windows and a unique architectural plan all designed specifically to absorb and deflect rocket fire. (Times of Israel, Auguat 28, 2012) (Top)




∙       Contentions, August 28, 2012

Jonathan S. Tobin

∙       Jewish Press, August 28th, 2012
Adam Levick
Put International Solidarity Movement on
Trial for Rachel Corrie’s Death


∙       Times of Israel, August 27, 2012,
Miriam Shaviv






More than They can Chew

In Syria, Role of Kurds Divides Opposition

Gangs of Aleppo

The Arab Trojan Horse

Stay out of Syria Intervention is a trap

On Topic Links

An action plan for Syria

Syrian Rebels Working in Collaboration with Turkey

A Phantom Wrapped in an Enigma Wrapped in a Riddle

On the Edge

Syria's Explosive Crumbs

Guess Who's Helping Assad Get Away With Murder?




Antakya And Idleb,
The Economist, August 27, 2012
A MONTH after rebel forces launched a blazing attempt to capture Aleppo, Syria’s second city, they are starting to wilt. The regime claims to have routed them from their main stronghold in the Salaheddin district. Clashes continue in the southwest of the city and around the airport, but the best that rebel commanders can now hope to achieve is to draw the regime into a quagmire.…
Many Syrians—as well as outside observers—conclude that the rebels overreached by taking the fight to Aleppo. “Rebel commanders had a sensible strategy of fighting a war of attrition that matched their capabilities. They were going after roads, military outposts and consolidating control of the rural areas where the regime has retreated,” says Emile Hokayem, an analyst at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. “Then suddenly they diverted to a plan to ‘liberate’ a city which they knew they couldn’t do.”
Part of the problem is that the rebels are failing to win hearts and minds among the urban middle class in Aleppo. The same was true of the failed attempt to take the capital, Damascus, in July. Most Aleppans cannot stomach the regime, whose brutality has left some 20,000 dead. But they find the rebels’ tactics off-putting too, including summary executions such as that of Zaino Berri, head of a pro-regime militia. Some rebel groups have sent captives in booby-trapped cars to blow up checkpoints.…
Foreign powers are trying to strengthen civilian institutions inside the country. Late last year they cheered local co-ordination committees coalescing into more sophisticated councils overseeing cities and provinces. “But many of those have now been taken over by the rebels as the militarisation grows,” says one dejected activist. Fuel and bread go to fighters first.
Some help from Western governments, including intelligence, is still reaching the rebels. In the country’s east and north-west, fighters hope to push the army out of smaller cities by making it too dangerous for them to use the roads to resupply bases. But without a no-fly zone or plenty of surface-to-air missiles to bring down regime jets many rebels think they will struggle.…
The Idleb Military Council is one of nine or so provincial military councils that were set up late last year by defectors to oversee the fighting groups that are staffed mainly by volunteers. But this is far from a unified force. “There was a lot of hope these councils would create a nationwide military, but we haven’t seen that,” says Asher Berman at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.
Competition for resources and personal feuds have already led some groups to fall out. The two main rebel forces in the Homs area, the Khaled Ibn Walid Brigade and Farouq, both work out of the rebellious town of Rastan, but their leaders are at loggerheads. …One of Idleb’s largest groups, Saquor al-Sham, churns out mini-documentaries…These films are used to attract funding, which comes mainly from wealthy Syrians abroad and Gulf traders. Because the West will not arm and defend the opposition, weapons must often be bought with cash. So far at least there is no sign of its running out. (top)
Babak Dehghanpisheh,
Washington Post, August 18, 2012
Opponents of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad are showing signs of splintering along a deep regional fault line, with Arabs and Turks uneasy about a military offensive last month by Syrian Kurds, who overran four towns in the country’s north.
The attacks marked the first time since the 17-month-old uprising began that Kurdish fighters had joined in military action against Assad’s forces. But the Kurdish muscle-flexing has rattled groups such as the Arab-led Free Syrian Army, which until now has played the leading role in the upheaval, and it has unsettled neighboring Turkey, whose animosity toward Assad is surpassed only by apprehension about the Kurds’ broader ambitions in the region.
“Turkey is in a predicament,” said Joost Hiltermann, the deputy Middle East director for the International Crisis Group. “Turkey is very much pushing for the Syrian regime to fall. The predictable consequence and almost the inevitable consequence is the empowerment of Syrian Kurds.”
As one of the largest stateless groups in the world, the Kurds have long sought autonomy, a cause that unnerves governments across a broad belt sprawling from Syria into parts of Turkey, Iraq and Iran, which have all fought long and bloody battles with Kurdish separatists. In Syria, the Kurdish region is home to 2 million people (the actual number is more like 4 million and everyone keeps repeating the lower number without knowing the truth) , and many Turkish officials fear that the Kurds will begin using the area as a base from which to launch attacks on the Turkish military, as they have done for years from neighboring Iraq.
Until the recent attacks, Syrian Kurds had stayed on the sidelines, mostly, it appeared, out of concern that a victory by Arab-led opposition groups over Assad’s forces might do little to alter a power balance that has left Kurds relatively weak in Syria. There has been little cooperation between the armed Kurdish groups in the north and the Free Syrian Army, and their relationship seems to be one of mutual distrust.
But in response to the Kurdish moves, Syrian opposition groups such as the Free Syrian Army were quick to reiterate a vow that they will not permit Syria to be divided along ethnic or sectarian lines. The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said he stood ready to send troops into Syria to confront Kurdish forces there if it becomes a base for incursions into Turkey by Kurdish guerrillas.
The U.S. government has also expressed alarm, warning Kurdish groups in Syria that they should not seek to work with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, whose insurgency against the Turkish government has killed at least 40,000 people.
Many Kurds still dream of a greater Kurdistan, stretching across the borders of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria, but few Kurdish leaders dare discuss it….“Every Kurd believes in this dream of a united homeland,” said Alan Semo, the London-based foreign affairs representative for the PYD. “But in the regional and international circumstances today, we can’t demand separation for a united Kurdistan.”
It’s not clear how appealing this pan-Kurdish sentiment — or the idea of regional autonomy — is to the Kurdish community in Syria. But it could lead to bitter fighting between Kurds and Arabs there if Assad falls. In the view of many Kurds, the Arab-led Syrian opposition, including the Free Syrian Army, embraces the same kind of Arab nationalism that has been used to quash rights in the past.
The main Kurdish attacks took place July 19, when fighters loyal to the PYD spread out in the town of Kobani and pushed forward for three days, taking over Efrin, Derik and Amuda. There was no fighting and no casualties were incurred.…The situation has become even more complicated because of the role being played by Kurds from neighboring Iraq, where the division of power after the fall of Saddam Hussein has left Kurds with a strong base. Massoud Barzani, a prominent Iraqi Kurdish leader, said last month that he was helping to arm and train fighters from the Kurdish National Council, which is jockeying for power in Syria as a rival to the PYD.
Barzani organized a meeting this month in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Irbil that brought Kurdish and Arab Syrian opposition leaders together with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu but excluded the PYD, the Syrian Kurdish group regarded by the Turks as the most problematic.
“What Turkey needs to do is divide and rule, and that’s exactly what they’re going to do,” said Hiltermann, of the International Crisis Group. “They’re going to woo some Kurds, and they’re going to fight a lot of Kurds. And they’re going to use one Kurd against another Kurd.” (top)
William S. Lind
American Conservative, August 28, 2012
In the view of our Laputan foreign-policy establishment, what is happening in Syria and elsewhere is a conflict between “democracy” and dictatorship. Valiant youths who fight for “freedom” are destined to triumph, bringing happiness and prosperity to their formerly oppressed lands. This is the Whig version of history—the progressive narrative. It bears little resemblance to reality.
A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi came closer to truth. He was quoted in the New York Times as saying that Syria faces “gang warfare.” Gangs are one of the most basic, and most potent, building blocks of stateless Fourth Generation war. [from state to non-state warfare,  conflict common in pre-modern times – Ed..] We commonly think of gangs in connection with crime. But through most of history, the line between crime and war was blurred, often to the point of vanishing. (See Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century.)
It was the state that drew the line clearly, but today in much of the Middle East and elsewhere states and the state system are collapsing. What is succeeding the state looks much like the 14th century Europe Tuchman describes: people and regions are at the mercy of roving bands of armed men who hire themselves out as soldiers when they can and otherwise take what they want from anyone too weak to resist them. Their only loyalty is to each other—to their gang.
One of the characteristics shared by most disintegrating states is a vast surplus of young men who have no access to jobs, money, or women. Gangs are a magnet for them. We see this in American contexts as well: in public schools, in ethnic neighborhoods, and in our prisons.…Young men are also drawn to fighting, which, conveniently, is something gangs do. 
Much of what we see in states struggling for their lives such as Syria is supply-side war. Fighting spreads not because of some “cause” like democracy but because idle young men see a fight and join in. Why not? They have nothing to do, nothing to lose, and thanks to their new gang and AK-47, lots to take: money, women, and fame. The New York Times reported from Aleppo:
Residents said there were not just clashes between the government and insurgents, but also rival militias from the countryside fighting for control of individual streets. … In a central old quarter, one man said a friend had warned him not to visit because young gunmen had established a checkpoint to rob car passengers.
Gangs fight not only the government but also each other, and their internecine wars further weaken the state.…The state arose to bring order, and widening gang wars reveal the state’s impotence. In the struggle for legitimacy that lies at the core of Fourth Generation war, a state that cannot control gangs becomes an object of contempt for friend and foe alike.…
The voices in Washington who call for us to suppress gangs in places halfway around the world underestimate the opponent.…If you want to envision places such as Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali—the list keeps growing—you could do worse than to think of spreading rumbles in the ’hood. That is a far more accurate picture than the two-sided “democracy vs. dictatorship” image purveyed by politically correct Polyannas. The bulletins of the Syrian Foreign Ministry, it seems, mislead less than those of the U.S. State Department. (top)
Eiad Wannous
Syria Today, August 2012
The Arab Spring has changed the political scene in the Middle East. Most striking is the re-touching of the image of a radical organization such as the Muslim Brotherhood to that of a potential “civil” form for future governance in the region. One might argue: “As other ideologies have not achieved well-being for Arabs, why don’t we try Islamism?” When it comes to Syria, the Egyptian presidential election and the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise within the “Egyptian Spring” have re-enforced such arguments, especially given the general public’s disappointment with the Ba’ath party’s socialist policies.
However, before any judgment can be made, a few points related to both the general history of the Brotherhood and its history within Syria must be reviewed. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, a fundamentalist Egyptian schoolteacher who advocated violent jihad and the replacement of secular governments with a worldwide totalitarian caliphate governed under strict Islamic sharia law. By the 1940s, branches of the Brotherhood had been established across the Arab world; during this period, the Syrian branch was considered second only to Egypt’s in size.
The Muslim Brotherhood is known for its supposed hostility to US policies and Israel. What is not well-known is that the spread of the movement in Arab countries was facilitated by the CIA during the Cold War era as part of the famous “strategy of containment”, the anti-Soviet, anti-communist initiative adopted by Eisenhower’s administration which lasted until the late eighties. Over these decades, the Muslim Brotherhood turned into a “Trojan horse” within countries allied with the Soviet Union.
This is not a “conspiracy theory”. Rather, recall the July 1953 photo of Eisenhower with the Princeton Islam Seminar delegation at the White House: Said Ramadan, Banna’s son-in-law and then the most distinguished figure within the Brotherhood’s hierarchy, is standing second from the right.
Now, however, although the Brotherhood’s success in Egypt may have revived its dream of becoming a 'regional governance system', differences among its branches make that a long shot in practice.…
The organisation entered Syria in 1936 thanks to Mustafa al-Siba’i, a pupil of Banna, who returned from Cairo after studying at Al-Azhar Mosque. The major shift took place in 1973, when the Vanguard Fighters, the Brotherhood’s armed wing, was established to change the Ba’athist secular government by force of arms and establish an Islamic state in Syria. A violent rebellion conducted in Syria during the late 1970s and into the 1980s left bloody memories of doctors, academics, and army officers assassinated by Muslim Brothers, along with the massacres they carried out against civilians in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama.
Such memories make this organisation much less appealing for Syrians, especially since fundamentalists represent only 1 percent of Syrian Muslims….Currently, the Muslim Brotherhood has managed to benefit from the Egyptian Spring, although it is too early to say it has succeeded in taking over the country’s political system. But in Syria, the situation does not seem promising for the Brotherhood or its allies.  [Eiad Wannous is a Syrian political analyst and journalist.] (top)
Daniel Pipes
Washington Times, August 20, 2012
Bashar Assad’s wretched presence in the presidential palace of Damascus may, contrary to Western assumptions, do more good than harm. His murderous, terroristic and pro-Tehran regime is non-ideological and relatively secular; it staves off anarchy, Islamist rule, genocide and rogue control of Syria’s chemical weapons.
As Syria’s civil war intensifies, Western states increasingly are helping the rebels overthrow Mr. Assad and his henchmen. In doing so, the West hopes to save lives and facilitate a democratic transition. Many Western voices call for more than the nonlethal aid now being offered, wanting to arm the rebels, set up safe zones and even join their war against the government.
Helping the rebels, however, neglects a fundamental question: Does intervention in Syria against Mr. Assad promote our own interests? This obvious question is missed because many Westerners feel so confident about their own well-being that they forget their security and instead focus on the concerns of those they perceive as weak and exploited.… Westerners have developed sophisticated mechanisms to act on these concerns (e.g., responsibility to protect, animal rights activism).
For those of us not so confident, however, fending off threats to our security and our civilization remains a top priority. In this light, helping the rebels entails multiple drawbacks for the West.
First, the rebels are Islamist and intend to build an ideological government even more hostile to the West than Mr. Assad‘s. If the rebels prevail, their break in relations with Tehran will be offset by their assistance for the barbarism of Islamism’s Sunni forces.
Second, the argument that Western intervention would reduce the Islamist thrust of the rebellion by replacing materiel pouring in from Sunni countries is risible. Syria’s rebels do not need Western help to bring down the regime (and wouldn’t be grateful for it if they did receive it, if Iraq is any guide). The Syrian conflict at its core pits the country’s disenfranchised Sunni Arab 70 percent majority against Mr. Assad’s privileged Alawi 12 percent minority. Add the assistance of foreign Islamist volunteers as well as several Sunni states (Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar) and the Assad regime is doomed.…
Third, hastening the Assad regime’s collapse will not save lives. It will mark not the end of the conflict but merely the close of its opening chapter with yet worse violence likely to follow. As Sunnis finally avenge their nearly 40 years of subjugation by Alawis, a victory by the rebels portends potential genocide. The Syrian conflict likely will get so extreme and violent that Westerners will be glad to have kept a distance from both sides.
Fourth, the continuing Syrian conflict offers benefits to the West. Several Sunni governments have noted the Obama administration’s reticence to act and have taken responsibility to wrest Syria from the Iranian orbit. This comes as a welcome development after their decades of accommodating the Shiite Islamic Republic. Also, as Sunni Islamists fight Shiite Islamists, both sides are weakened, and their lethal rivalry lessens their capabilities to trouble the outside world. By inspiring restive minorities (Sunnis in Iran, Kurds and Shiites in Turkey) continued fighting in Syria also could weaken Islamist governments.
When the regime falls, the Alawi leadership, with or without Mr. Assad, might retreat to ancestral redoubts in the Latakia province in Syria. The Iranians could well supply it by sea with money and arms, permitting it to hold out for years, exacerbating the confrontation between Sunni and Shiite Islamists and further distracting them from assaulting others.
The one exception to the policy of nonintervention would be to secure Syria’s vast chemical-weapon arsenal to prevent terrorist groups from seizing it and Mr. Assad from deploying it in a Gotterdammerung scenario as he goes down, although this difficult mission could require as many as 60,000 foreign ground troops deployed to Syria.
Nothing in the constitutions of Western states requires them to get involved in every foreign conflict. Sitting this one out will prove to be a smart move and staying away permits the West eventually to help its only true friends in Syria, the country’s liberals. (top)
∙       The Ottawa Citizen, August 23, 2012

Irwin Cotler

∙       BIA News Center, 28 August 28, 2012
Ayça Söylemez

∙       Gatestone Institute, August 11, 2012
Claire Berlinski

∙       Syria Today, August 2012
Alma Hassoun

∙       Gatestone Institute, July 8, 2012
Claire Berlinski

∙       Real Clear Politics, August 8, 2012
Austin Bay



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CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.




A Show Of Strength Against The West

Middle East Media Research Institute, August 27, 2012

Tehran is hosting this year's Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference August 26-31, 2012; the conferees are slated to include U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is set to meet with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, along with top officials of the participating countries. These officials include Saudi King Abdallah's son Abd Al-Aziz bin Abdallah, as well as the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait; the king of Oman; the presidents of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the Palestinian Authority; the prime minister of India; and the speaker of the Libyan parliament.
Tehran is attempting to use the conference as a show of political and diplomatic strength against the West, on two main levels: political-diplomatic and economic. On the political-diplomatic level, Iran is demonstrating that it is not isolated in the international arena despite the efforts of the West to make it so, while on the economic level it is demonstrating its ability to bypass the harsh economic sanctions against it by, according to Iranian officials, signing contracts totalling some $60 billion.

With regard to the ideological aspect, at the conference Tehran will emphasize the "New World Order" as a replacement for the West's hegemony and liberal-democratic system.…Reflecting this direction, the Iranian daily Kayhan, which is close to Supreme Leader Khamenei, defined the NAM conference in Tehran as "a ringing slap not only to Israel's face, but also to the face of the U.S. and the entire 5+1."
The following are the main points of an August 23, 2012 Kayhan editorial titled "Prelude to the Establishment of the New International Order," that was published in advance of the conference:
"Under the conditions of the awakening against the Western dominance of an extensive part of the territory of the NAM [countries], the NAM is drawing closer to its origins… Under the conditions of the undermining and reduction of the West's economic and political supremacy in the [current] world order, particularly in the territory of the NAM [countries], the NAM – and especially its strong countries, such as Iran, India, and Egypt – now have an important opportunity to review [the movement's] primary aims, and to redefine the movement's approach, so as to adapt to these new conditions. In this way, they will establish an important bloc of strong [countries] – or, in other words, the largest international power bloc, because two-thirds of the world's countries are NAM members.
"It is precisely for this reason that the holding of the 16th [NAM] conference in Tehran is especially important. This is because while Iran is the standard-bearer and the focal point of the Islamic awakening on the international level, on the economic and political level it has always been [i.e. since the 1979 Islamic Revolution] and remains the West's most important challenger.
"For this reason, the Americans are [right to be] very concerned about the convening of the NAM conference in Tehran, and have taken a resolute stand against it. The Americans know that the process of change proves the justice of the Iranian position vis-à-vis the U.S., and they also know that if this trend continues, the number of countries severing relations with them and coming out against them will grow daily. By the same token, the number of pro-Iran countries, and of the countries siding with Iran, will also grow daily. In practical terms, this is the most natural thing that could happen, and the presence in Tehran of nearly 150 countries and delegations can demonstrate such an event and such a change in world public opinion…"
"The NAM conference in Tehran may be essentially the last volley against the liberal-democratic system, and may pave the way for the ignition of a new process in the international arena. It will also yield new economic contracts between Iran and several of the strong NAM members – meaning that the neutralization of the West's boycott against Iran will be one of the conference's main accomplishments. The freezing of the sanctions on Iran can raise a question mark, and challenge the raison d'être of forums such as the U.N. Security Council…
"During the conference, Iran has an opportunity to make the delegations aware of Iran's progress in the areas of science, economics, technology, the military, politics, and culture… The diplomatic delegations' awareness of Iran's great progress will bolster the [NAM] countries' desire to disconnect from the unilateral international system and to establish an independent bloc – and this poses the greatest danger for the West…" (Top)

Smadar Peri
YNet News, August 27, 2012

Here is another reason why Israel must continue seeking ways to reconcile with Turkey and bring the "Marmara" affair to a close.…
Turkey is the only country that spat directly in the face of the Revolutionarily Guards, Khamenei and the ayatollahs and said: We will not be attending the gathering of nonaligned nations in Tehran. President Gul is "busy," Prime Minister Erdogan has "health problems," and even Foreign Minister Davutoglu found more important things to do.
The summit would not have attracted any attention had it not been held in Tehran. The Non-Aligned Movement, which was established following the collapse of the Soviet Union and managed to recruit 119 nations, does not have sharp teeth. But hosting the summit marks a victory for Iran, which is breaking out of its isolation – if only temporarily.
A red carpet will be rolled out for Morsi, who will hand the Non-Aligned Movement's keys to Ahmadinejad. If it were up to him, the Egyptian president would have remained in Cairo rather than scrap the 33-year-old boycott, which began when Egypt closed its embassy in Tehran.
It would be interesting to hear what Morsi had to say when his convoy passed through Tehran's Islambouli Square, which is named after Sadat's killer. Mubarak did not set foot in Iran for 30 years because of the assassination, and Morsi also has a score to settle with the Islamic Republic over its funding of terror and secret training camps – which eventually resulted in the murder of 16 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai.…
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's insistence on attending the summit is baffling, particularly after he was recently informed that Iran does not plan to cooperate with the UN nuclear agency's inspectors. Moreover, one of Ban's aides has complained that Iran is continuing to transfer weapons and equipment to Syrian forces loyal to President Assad, and Lebanon has told the UN that Iran is trying to ignite a civil war in the country. (Top)


Evelyn Gordon
Jerusalem Post, August 27, 2012

Of all the arguments against an Israeli attack on Iran, the most inane has to be the “legitimacy argument.” This argument, beloved of leftists like Haaretz columnists Sefi Rachlevsky and Ari Shavit, holds that Israel lacks either domestic or international legitimacy to attack Iran because it hasn’t done everything possible to show itself a peace-seeker. Without such legitimacy, they argue, an attack can’t succeed. Therefore, Israel must launch a far-reaching diplomatic initiative on the Palestinian front, and at the very least postpone any strike until spring, to satisfy U.S. demands for more time to try nonmilitary means of stopping Iran’s nuclear program.
This theory is so patently historically false that it’s hard to believe anyone could seriously propound it – which is precisely why most proponents eschew any attempt to provide evidence. Just consider the “proof” offered by those who do make the attempt, like Shavit: Israel, he claims, won in 1948 and 1967 because both the world and Israelis themselves “recognized the legitimacy” of its actions, but failed in 1973 because its “inflexible” policies undermined its domestic and international legitimacy.
In reality, Israel certainly didn’t enjoy international “legitimacy” in 1948, despite the recent destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust and its adoption of the UN Partition Plan (which the Arabs rejected): Its declaration of independence had so little international support that the entire world, including the U.S., slapped an arms embargo on it, even as Britain was pouring arms into the five Arab armies attacking it. Israel won a decisive victory not because of international “legitimacy,” but thanks to a global arms smuggling network run by pre-state leaders and Jewish supporters worldwide, bolstered by Czechoslovakia’s courageous decision to sell it planes despite the embargo.
Nor did Israel benefit from global “legitimacy” in 1967, despite having as yet “occupied” no territory: UN peacekeepers in Sinai tamely packed their bags and left at Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s request; the U.S. reneged on its 1956 pledge (given in return for Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai after that year’s war) to ensure that Egypt didn’t close the Straits of Tiran to Israel; France, Israel’s main arms supplier, halted all arms sales the moment the war began, refusing even to deliver planes and boats that Israel had already paid for; and most of the Communist bloc severed diplomatic relations with it. Instead, its stunning victory stemmed from a superbly executed battle plan built around a pre-emptive strike. And [it was] that victory over two Soviet-supplied armies (Egypt and Syria) at the height of the Cold War, rather than any global “legitimacy,” [that] led to the ensuing American-Israel alliance.

In contrast, Israel actually went to extraordinary lengths to secure international legitimacy in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, to the point of refusing to launch a pre-emptive strike or even mobilize its reserves, lest it be accused of warmongering. That quest for international approval cost it dearly: Though it ultimately won a smashing victory, it came within a hairsbreadth of losing the war and suffered higher casualties than in any other war since 1948. And it got nothing in exchange:
Every country in Europe still sought to block America’s emergency arms airlift, refusing to let the planes refuel on their soil or even overfly their territory….And due to the ensuing Arab oil embargo, Israel still lost diplomatic relations with most of the Third World.
Moreover, by the left’s standards, the 2008 Gaza war should have enjoyed unparalleled international legitimacy: It was launched in response to three years of nonstop rocket fire from territory that Israel had evacuated to the last inch, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was then conducting far-reaching peace negotiations with both the Palestinians and Syria. Instead, it produced unprecedented condemnation, culminating in the infamous Goldstone Report and its allegations of war crimes…
As for domestic legitimacy, the Israeli public has consistently judged military actions by one, and only one, criterion: whether they achieved their goals at a reasonable price. Hence Israelis deemed the Second Lebanon War of 2006 a resounding failure despite its unquestioned “legitimacy” by the leftist yardstick: Israel was responding to a cross-border attack launched after it withdrew from every inch of Lebanon, while Olmert, having just been elected on a platform of sweeping territorial withdrawal from the West Bank, was lauded as a peace-maker both overseas and by Israel’s left. The war did enjoy enormous public support initially. But the incompetent way it was waged soon turned Israelis against it.…
The bottom line is that most Israelis couldn’t care less about the left’s “legitimacy” criteria; indeed, most support the government’s policy on the Palestinian issue, viewing the Palestinians as utterly uninterested in peace. Rather, they’ll back an attack on Iran if it proves successful at a reasonable cost and oppose it if it doesn’t.
As for the “international community,” it is guaranteed to condemn the attack regardless of any efforts Israel makes to appease it, just as it has every other military action Israel has ever taken. But the alliances that matter, like the American one, will survive, just as they survived spats over previous Israeli operations. Nor will a strike affect international efforts to prevent Iran from reconstituting its nuclear program…(Top)

Rotem Sella
Gatestone Institute, August 17, 2012

In the on-going debate over an Israeli attack on Iran, attention has largely focused over the last few weeks on Israel and America, for good reason. But what about Russia?
A very senior person in the Israeli gas industry tells me: "The Russians have been poking around here for a while. Everyone knows about the Russian interest in controlling the European energy market. Do they want to buy from us, or delay our efforts? I don't know. But they are here."
In early July, the Israeli energy and infrastructure news website "Thastiot" claimed that during Vladimir Putin's much publicized visit to Israel, Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to form a junior company to Gazprom – the Russian oil and gas giant—which would help develop Israel's biggest gas field, the recently discovered reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, the so-called "Levyatan" (Leviathan) reserves.
"Eventually Israeli gas will be exported to the far east," Ohad Marani, CEO of IDLC energy which is already drilling the Myra, said to me. For him, the question is purely economic. "In the Far East we will see three times what we see in Europe. While we won't be able to keep the whole margin, it's surely better than any European option, which would involve an expensive pipe."
The senior industry veteran with whom I spoke is not quite sure. Yes, the Far East has unlimited demand…but the European market remains relevant and we have this massive amount of gas already discovered or to be discovered. The US geological survey (USGC) estimates that gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean amount to 345 trillion cubic feet while Russian gas reserves in Siberia are estimated at 643 trillion cubic feet.
Big business! With lots of Russians having come and gone to Israel on this question, one wonders about the relationship between the gas deal and Russian involvement on the Iran question.  The same week Putin visited Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Eurasia monitor published that:  “the government agency that oversees Russia's arms exports and imports… confirmed that Iran is suing Russia for damages to the tune of some $4 billion in the Court of Arbitration in Geneva for cancelling in 2010 a contract to sell five divisions of the S-300 long-range antiaircraft missile system worth an estimated $800 million to $1 billion."
By some estimates the worth of the Levayatan gas-field might be 15 billion dollars say Gilad Alper, the gas industry analyst at the Excellence Investment house. It trades today at a price of 3 billion dollars.
Another way to look at it: Levayatan contains 473 billion cubic meters of gas. Gazprom exported 150 billion cubic meters of Gas to Europe in 2011, at a price of 384$ per thousand cubic meters – revenue of 57.6 billion dollar—this year Gazprom raised the price to 415$, an 8% increase that will generate another 4.6 billion dollar of revenue to Gazprom. What would be the cost of keeping Israeli competition neutralized? Would it be worth the cancellation of an 800 million dollar deal? Could Russian action over the missile sale and Israeli gas reserves indicate that they have come to terms with the Israeli point of view?
Prominent Americans like David Petraeus have been saying non-stop that Israel does not have the capability to destroy Iranian Nuclear capacities, and surely not Iran's ambition to go nuclear. But if Israel can indeed delay the project while in the meantime having taken out of the picture one of Iran's most important allies, then things might look very different from the office of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Everyone knows that Russia intends to play the 'spoiler' in the International arena. But this spoiler frequently has a price tag. (Top)


Ely Karmon
Ma’ariv, August 22, 2012


The main issue in the internal dispute in Israel, and between Israeli and American leaders, concerning the timing of an attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities is the question if Israel can trust that President Obama will keep his promise and order the strike before Iran achieves a military capability. Israeli President Shimon Peres recently said "that he trusted U.S. President Barack Obama to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons."

The historical record of American presidents' response to the challenges posed by the Tehran regime speaks to the contrary.  President Carter not only did not support the Shah of Iran in his fight against the Khomeinist revolution, but he did not solve politically and operationally the ensuing 444 days hostage crisis of the 44 American diplomats imprisoned by the Khomeinist regime. And Carter lost his second bid to the presidency.

President Reagan, an acclaimed fighter against international terrorism, bombed Libya and Kaddafi personally for the killing of two GIs in a bar in Berlin but did not dare challenge Tehran, albeit [he] withdrew American peace troops from Lebanon, after Hezbollah under Iranian guidance twice bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killed 270 marines in one suicide bombing, kidnapped and assassinated dozens of Americans in Lebanon and hijacked American planes.

President Clinton knew precisely the Iranian intelligence's role in the 1996 terrorist attack on the Khobar Towers in Dahran, Saudi Arabia, where 19 U.S. servicemen were killed and dozens wounded. He kept secret the information provided by the Saudi driver of the reconnaissance vehicle in the attack, who flew to Canada and was extradited to the U.S… He preferred to engage in negotiations with the Iranian "reformist" President Khatami (who remembers him?) rather than punish Iran.

President Bush junior…preferred to give Israel the green light to bomb the Syrian plutonium reactor rather than engage the United States in such an adventure.  Public declarations by leading US military leaders…warning against a military attack on Iran, …probably convinced the Ayatollahs and the Iranian military commanders there is little to worry from the Americans.

Finally, the North Korean nuclear military project is a living example of non-fulfilled promises by Presidents Clinton and Bush to dismantle a rogue regime from its aggressive capabilities.

President Obama has adopted a strategy of asking for the legitimacy of the UN Security Council and the international community before deciding on a military intervention abroad, as the Libyan and presently the Syrian crisis prove.…

The Israeli leaders should decide on an independent attack only at the last possible moment of the so called "zone of immunity." They should resist the temptation to do it hastily before the outcome of the Syrian crisis, which could have tremendous impact on the regional balance of power vis-à-vis Iran but also generate major political and social repercussions in Iran itself, possibly leading to a popular uprising of the Persian people. [English version supplied by author – Ed.] (Top)


On Topic


∙       Commentary, August 24, 2012
Seth Mandel

∙       Front Page Magazine, Aug 24th, 2012
Daniel Greenfield

∙       The National Interest, August 22, 2012
Ray Takeyh

∙       Israel National News, August 27, 2012
Prof. L Beres & Gen. J. Chain

∙       Egypt Independent, August 27, 2012
Egypt Independent

∙       New York Times, August 26, 2012
Thomas Erdbrink

∙       Israel ministry of Foreign Affairs, August 19, 2012
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs