Month: November 2016



MEDIA-OCRITIES OF THE WEEK: CARTER: AMERICA MUST RECOGNIZE PALESTINE: “I am convinced that the United States can still shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents, but time is very short. The simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on Jan. 20 is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership…This is the best — now, perhaps, the only — means of countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people. Recognition of Palestine and a new Security Council resolution are not radical new measures, but a natural outgrowth of America’s support for a two-state solution.” — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (New York Times, Nov. 28, 2016)   


NYT IN PANIC MODE: “TRUMP-BANNON WAR CAN ONLY END IN APOCALYPSE”: “Obama is of mixed race. Who could better symbolize the looming decadence? For “Make America Great Again,” read “Make America White Again.” Trump saw that racism and sexism could be manipulated in his favor. He was the self-styled voice of the people to whom he bore least resemblance: those at the periphery far from the metropolitan hubs of the Davos consensus…Taken to its logical conclusion, the Trump-Bannon war can only end in apocalypse. I believe money binds Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Trump. Precisely how we do not know yet. But there is also a cultural aspect. Putin has set himself up as the guardian of an absolutist culture against what Russia sees as the predatory and relativist culture of the West. The Putin entourage is convinced the decadence of the West is revealed in its irreligious embrace of same-sex marriage, radical feminism, euthanasia, homosexuality and choose-your-gender bathrooms. Enter Bannon. It’s all a terrible mistake…I see a high chance of disaster within the first year of the new presidency. Trump won the game. But now the game for him could be up. Or perhaps the world will go down in flames.” — Roger Cohen (New York Times, Nov. 18, 2016)            


“[TRUMP IS] AN ABERRATION AND ABOMINATION”: “You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions. I don’t believe you care much at all about this country or your party or the American people. I believe that the only thing you care about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. Your strongest allegiance is to your own cupidity. I also believe that much of your campaign was an act of psychological projection, as we are now learning that many of the things you slammed Clinton for are things of which you may actually be guilty…You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver. I am not easily duped by dopes. I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so…So let me say this on Thanksgiving: I’m thankful to have this platform because as long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze. I’m thankful that I have the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary. No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.” — Charles M. Blow (New York Times, Nov. 23, 2016)


Contents: | Weekly QuotesShort Takes   |  On Topic Links


On Topic Links


Russian Campaign in Syria Exposes Moscow’s Defense Gaps: Nathan Hodge & Julian E. Barnes, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 28, 2016

Germany Cracks Down on Salafists to Shield Refugees: Alison Smale, New York Times, Nov. 19, 2016

The Ohio State Attack was Honed by Palestinians: Benny Avni, New York Post, Nov. 29, 2016

‘There He Goes Again’ — Jimmy Carter Blames Israel One More Time: Elliott Abrams, National Review, Nov. 29, 2016






"Is this a real statement or a parody? Because if this is a real statement from the PM of Canada it is shameful (and) embarrassing.''— Marco Rubio, Cuban-American Republican senator for Florida. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing criticism for his statement expressing "deep sorrow'' about the death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro. Trudeau made the statement after the announcement that Castro had died at the age of 90. Trudeau acknowledged Castro was a "controversial figure,'' but remembered him as a "larger-than-life leader,'' who made significant improvements to Cuba's education and health-care systems. "I know my father was very proud to call him a friend,'' he added. Rubio said that if anything, Castro’s death should stiffen the resolve of those determined to oppose the Cuban government. “The dictator has died, but dictatorship has not…The future of Cuba ultimately remains in the hands of the Cuban people, and now more than ever Congress and the new administration must stand with them against their brutal rulers and support their struggle for freedom and basic human rights.” (Huffington Post, Nov. 26, 2016)


“If…Trudeau does not believe that Castro was just a superhuman social reformer, and he really sees Cuba’s generations of exiles and political prisoners as more than hazy abstractions, then his family’s sucking up to Castro is fully conscious, fairy-tale evil, rather than the aftertaste of Fidel’s long-standing glamour cult among halfwit intellectuals…Fidel died wallowing in the last ditch of the Cold War, and if the Cold War taught us one verifiable thing…it is that to speak truth about totalitarian governments is important. Consider Ronald Reagan’s 1983 speech in which he called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”… No one expects a Reaganite outburst from Justin. But the guiding maxim in being polite about authoritarian strongmen should be to show some awareness, however obliquely or subtly, of their victims.” — Colby Cosh (National Post, Nov. 28, 2016)


“It’s easy to overlook the truth about the place. The Cuban people are equal in their wretchedness. (Meanwhile, the Castros have salted away a fortune.) Everyone is literate, but there’s nothing to read apart from what the regime approves of. Aspirin and Band-Aids are available only by prescription, and treatment for complicated illnesses is almost non-existent. People can’t vote. They can’t speak freely. According to Human Rights Watch, “Many of the abusive tactics developed during [Castro’s] time in power – including surveillance, beatings, arbitrary detention, and public acts of repudiation – are still used by the Cuban government. Fidel Castro was a failure in every way. He wouldn’t give his people freedom and he couldn’t even give them bread. We should be dancing on his grave. As for Justin – he’s not sorry for what he said. He’s proud of it.” — Margaret Wente (Globe & Mail, Nov. 28, 2016)


“We’re not going to have a unilateral deal coming from Cuba back to the United States without some changes in their government – [on] repression, open markets, freedom of religion, political prisoners. These things need to change in order to have open and free relationships.” — Reince Priebus, President-elect Donald Trump’s chief of staff. Fidel Castro is gone, but the economic thaw between the United States and Cuba remains tenuous amid threats by Trump to roll back Barack Obama’s efforts to normalize relations with the Communist regime. Trump is warning he may re-impose some sanctions and reverse last year’s historic reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana after 54 years unless Cuba agrees to major political and economic reforms. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 27, 2016)


“While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve…Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.” — Donald Trump. (New York Times, Nov. 26, 2016)


“What’s happening now in Aleppo is a genocide against the civilians… In truth, we don’t know what our fate is in the coming days. … Unfortunately we don’t see any movement from the international community, or the major powers who claim to be friends of the Syrian people. We try to retain a sliver of hope that the situation may improve, but if nobody moves to stop the regime and Russian bombardment of civilians, we fear the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of the modern era will take place.” — Khaled Khatib, an official for the Syrian Civil Defense. Over the course of the last week Syrian rebels suffered their worst defeat in four years as forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad managed to sack a third of eastern Aleppo. In a fortnight, at least 500 people have been killed and 1,000 more wounded as Russian and Syrian warplanes pounded the city from the sky while a consortium of Syrian soldiers and Iranian-built militias stormed it on the ground. (Daily Beast, Nov. 28, 2016)


“It’s like doomsday…The problem today, in this moment, is not water and food…We are threatened with slaughtering.” — Zaher al-Zaher, an anti-government activist in eastern Aleppo. Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and former commercial centre, has been contested ground since the summer of 2012. A rebel defeat there could be a turning point in the five-year conflict. If Syrian forces capture all of east Aleppo, Assad’s government will be in control of the country’s four largest cities. (National Post, Nov. 28, 2016)


“In my estimation, nearly 1 million people have died in Syria. These deaths are still continuing without exception for children, women and men. Where is the United Nations? What is it doing? Is it in Iraq? No. We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army [FSA]…Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice. We entered there to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason.” — Turkish President Recep Erdoğan. On Aug. 24, the Turkish Armed Forces launched an operation in Syria with FSA fighters to clear the country’s southern border of both I.S. and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces, which Ankara considers as a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). (Hurriyet News, Nov. 29, 2016)


“We have lost everything, our infrastructure, and we have nothing left to lose…Now it is a long war of attrition.” —Brig. Gen. Sharaf Luqman, a spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi-allied military units. The Houthis surged to prominence after they seized control of Yemen’s northwest in 2014. Since then, they have pushed the national government into exile and set off a new Middle Eastern war in which they are in the cross hairs of an intensive bombardment campaign by Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab countries. Now they are struggling to govern in the middle of a war that has ground to a destructive stalemate. The rebels’ slogan is spray-painted on walls and checkpoints throughout their territory: “God is great. Death to America. Death to Israel. Curse on the Jews. Victory for Islam.” (New York Times, Nov. 26, 2016)


“I prayed that their stolen wealth and belongings burn, so that they taste some of the suffering they have dealt to the people of Palestine…Our prayers are against the occupation, and for the criminal occupiers to taste some of the evil of what they have done to others, so that maybe they will learn a lesson and think about their crimes…The people of Palestine have been burning for decades now under the bombs and oppression of the Zionists. All that is happening now is the occupiers are getting taste of what they have inflicted on the people they oppressed.” — Mazin AbdulAdhim, a prominent Imam of Iraqi descent in London, Ontario. The fires that raged in Israel for five days are over. Israeli firefighters with international help, including a fire truck from the Palestinian Authority, extinguished 1,773 fires. More than 20 Israeli Arabs were detained by police in connection to 24 of the 39 wildfires which are being investigated for arson. AbdulAdhim applauded the suspected arson attacks and prayed to Allah to “cause the winds to increase and the fires to spread far and wide, and burn their [Israelis] illegitimate properties and all their beloved belongings to ashes.” After being criticized on Facebook, AbdulAdhim posted the following clarification: “We are not calling for the death of anyone. We are praying that their illegal properties and stolen wealth are burned.” (CIJ News, Nov. 28, 2016)







REPORT: ISRAEL HITS SYRIAN MILITARY, HEZBOLLAH WEAPONS CONVOY (Damascus) — Israeli jets struck a Syrian military target and a Hezbollah weapons convoy Wednesday, Arab media reported. Israeli warplanes struck the military target in Damascus, while the raid on the weapons convoy occurred on the Damascus-Beirut highway. Israel did not immediately confirm or deny news of the purported attacks. Earlier this week, the IAF struck a military target belonging to I.S. on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. The raid Monday was the second Israeli airstrike to respond to an attack a day earlier by I.S. fighters against IDF soldiers. No Israeli soldiers were injured in the exchange. The IDF responded with an airstrike that morning that killed four members of an I.S.-affiliated terror group that it said had launched the attack. (Times of Israel, Nov. 29, 2016)


FATAH UNANIMOUSLY RE-ELECTS ABBAS AS LEADER (Ramala) —Palestinian political party Fatah unanimously re-elected Mahmoud Abbas as its leader at the opening this week of its first leadership congress in more than seven years. The re-election of the 81-year-old Abbas, who also serves as president of the PA, comes despite growing unpopularity and internal dissent within Palestinian society. Abbas has been increasingly challenged by a younger generation of Palestinian leaders, including exiled rival Mohammad Dahlan, who currently resides in the UAE. Later this week, members of Fatah will hold elections to determine the future of the party. (Algemeiner, Nov. 29, 2016)


ERDOGAN THREATENS TO UNLEASH MIGRANT SURGE (Ankara) — Turkey’s president warned Europe that his nation could unleash another migrant crisis in the West, sharply raising the stakes after E.U. lawmakers called for a suspension in membership talks with Turkey. Quarrels over Turkey’s bid to join the EU have flared for decades and the vote by the European Parliament to freeze membership was largely symbolic. But the latest rift underscored the elevated risks amid new political pressures on both sides more than 10 months after an E.U.-Turkey pact that greatly slowed a surge of more than 1 million migrants and refugees into Europe. Turkey hosts one of the world’s largest refugee population – an estimated 2.7 million Syrians and 300,000 Iraqis, among others. (Washington Post, Nov. 25, 2016)


PAKISTAN NAMES NEW MILITARY LEADER (Islamabad) — Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan chose Lt. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, a commander with a solid soldierly reputation and a firm belief in civilian supremacy, to lead the country’s powerful army. General Bajwa will replace Gen. Raheel Sharif, an immensely popular commander in Pakistan for his successes against the Taliban. The new army chief faces multiple challenges, including deteriorating relations with neighboring Afghanistan and India as border clashes escalate, as well as conflict with militants inside Pakistan. (New York Times, Nov. 26, 2016)  


POLICE PROBE OHIO STATE ATTACK AS POSSIBLE TERRORISM (Columbus) — Police in Columbus, Ohio, are executing search warrants on the home and electronic devices of Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the suspect in an attack that left 11 injured at Ohio State University on Monday. Artan was killed by police soon after he allegedly jumped a curb in his car, rammed into a group of pedestrians and then stabbed a number of individuals. He was an OSU student and legal U.S. resident from Somalia. A Facebook post by the suspect suggested he was angry over what he perceived as mistreatment of Muslims, but didn’t express loyalty to a specific group or ideology. I.S.’s media arm, Amaq, claimed Tuesday that the Ohio State assailant was a “soldier of the Islamic State.” (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 29, 2016)


U.S. WELCOMED A RECORD NUMBER OF MUSLIM REFUGEES IN 2016 (Washington) —  The U.S. admitted a record number of Muslim refugees in fiscal year 2016, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the State Department's Refugee Processing Center. Of the nearly 85,000 refugees who entered the country from Oct. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016, some 46 percent were Muslim, Pew found. The total — 38,901 — marks the highest number of Muslim refugees admitted since data on self-reported religious affiliations first became available in 2002. A similar number of Christian refugees — 37,521, or 44 percent — were admitted over the course of the fiscal year. This is the first time in a decade that a smaller percentage of refugees were Christian versus Muslim. (NBC, Oct. 5, 2016)


TRUMP TAPS PRO-ISRAEL SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR TO BE UN ENVOY (New York) — President-elect Donald Trump has chosen South Carolina’s pro-Israel governor Nikki Haley as US ambassador to the UN. Last year, Haley brought in state-wide legislation that targets those supporting a boycott of Israel. Haley has also accused President Barack Obama of not sufficiently supporting Israel. An outspoken Trump critic throughout much of the presidential race, Haley will become the first female — and first nonwhite — cabinet-level official if confirmed by the Senate. She’s the daughter of Indian immigrants and is the second Asian-American to serve as a US governor. (Times of Israel, Nov. 23, 2016)


ISRAEL TO BUY AN ADDITIONAL 17 F-35 FIGHTER PLANES (Jerusalem) — Israel will purchase 17 more advanced F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. This brings the total number of F-35’s to be acquired to 50. At approximately NIS 387 million ($100 million) per airplane, these additional 17 F-35 fighter jets will likely set Israel back at least NIS 6.6 billion ($1.7 billion), not including the costs of maintenance and support equipment. The F-35 — known in Israel as the Adir, meaning “awesome” or “mighty” in Hebrew — is a fifth generation stealth fighter jet equipped with an array of the latest technology that is expected to anchor the IAF for years to come. (Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2016)


INDIA INKS DEAL FOR ACQUISITION OF ISRAELI RADAR SYSTEMS AND DRONES (Jerusalem) — India signed a $1.4 billion contract with Israel Aerospace Industries earlier this month for the acquisition of two airborne early warning and control radar systems and ten unmanned aerial vehicles. The deal was said to have been inked during Israeli President Rivlin’s recent visit to India. An Indian Air Force official said a pair of EL/W-2090 AEW&C systems — with a combined value of $1 billion — would be delivered to India within three years. Furthermore, the Indian military is set to receive ten armed Heron TP UAVs — worth a total of $400 million — within three years. Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and India. The two countries currently enjoy a burgeoning relationship, particularly in the defense field. (Algemeiner, Nov. 25, 2016)


FILLON WINS FRENCH PRIMARY (Paris) — François Fillon’s plan to remake France in the image of Margaret Thatcher moved a step closer to reality on Sunday, after the former French prime minister won a resounding victory in the Republican Party primary. Pollsters wrote him off a few weeks ago, saying his message of radical spending cuts, massive government layoffs, challenging unions and ending multiculturalism was too harsh. But Fillon defied the experts, finishing first among Republicans a week ago and taking Sunday’s runoff against establishment figure Alain Juppé with 67 per cent of the vote in a record turnout. Polls show he is now the overwhelming favourite to win the presidential election next spring, ending five years of rule by Socialist President François Hollande. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 27, 2016)


GERMAN COURT UPHOLDS FORMER AUSCHWITZ GUARD’S CONVICTION (Berlin) —  A German federal court said that it has thrown out the appeal a 95-year-old former Auschwitz guard against his conviction for being an accessory to murder. The decision to uphold Oskar Groening’s conviction sets an important precedent for German prosecutors’ efforts to pursue further suspects who served at Nazi death camps. Groening was convicted in 2015 of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews and sentenced to four years in prison. Groening testified at his trial that he oversaw the collection of prisoners’ belongings and ensured valuables and cash were separated to be sent to Berlin. He said he witnessed individual atrocities, but did not acknowledge participating in any crimes. (New York Post, Nov. 28, 2016)




On Topic Links



Russian Campaign in Syria Exposes Moscow’s Defense Gaps: Nathan Hodge & Julian E. Barnes, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 28, 2016 —A flotilla of Russian warships in the Mediterranean is providing a high-profile show of force in support of the Syrian regime. But the deployment has also thrown into sharp relief the limits of Moscow’s conventional military.

Germany Cracks Down on Salafists to Shield Refugees: Alison Smale, New York Times, Nov. 19, 2016 —For years, the authorities in Germany have warily monitored the swelling ranks of Salafists, followers of an ultraconservative branch of Islam who are known for aggressive proselytizing and their sympathies for the Islamic State.

The Ohio State Attack was Honed by Palestinians: Benny Avni, New York Post, Nov. 29, 2016 —Security experts looking at Monday’s car-ramming and stabbing attack at Ohio State University will find it looks familiar: Like many terrorist tactics, it was honed by Palestinians.

‘There He Goes Again’ — Jimmy Carter Blames Israel One More Time: Elliott Abrams, National Review, Nov. 29, 2016 —Jimmy Carter is 92 now, and it has been 36 years since his landslide defeat for reelection. But neither the passage of time nor the debilities of age slow him from making proposals that will do real harm to the State of Israel — and he has just tried one more time.






A European Migrant Reckoning: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 10, 2016 — Europe’s migration crisis may have reached a turning point.

Europe's Planned Migrant Revolution: Yves Mamou, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 12, 2016— Everyone now knows — even German Chancellor Angela Merkel — that she committed a political mistake in opening the doors of her country to more than a million migrants from the the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Syrian Refugees: the Romance and the Reality: Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, Oct. 1, 2016 — Jim Munson has one of those refugee stories that warm your heart.

Shame and Refugees: Burak Bekdil, Hürriyet Daily News, Sept. 9, 2016— [Turkish] President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is right: there is something shameful about the refugee crisis. But he is wrong about whose shame it is.


On Topic Links


After Snub, Turkey’s President Threatens to Unleash Another Migrant Surge on West: Michael Birnbaum & Brian Murphy, Washington Post, Nov. 25, 2016

Save the Refugees on the Berm: Jason Cone, New York Times, Aug. 10, 2016

Quelle Surprise: France’s Political Right Turn: Konrad Yakabuski, Globe & Mail, Nov. 24, 2016

Europe's Terror Challenges: The Returnee Threat: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, Oct. 19, 2016





          Wall Street Journal, Nov. 10, 2016


Europe’s migration crisis may have reached a turning point. With populist and far-right parties on the march across the Continent, mainstream European leaders are starting to listen to voters’ concerns about absorbing more than a million newcomers from the Middle East and Africa. It’s about time.


One sign came Sunday, when the German Interior Ministry called for aggressive interception of refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa. “The elimination of the prospect of reaching the European coast could convince migrants to avoid embarking on the life-threatening and costly journey,” an Interior Ministry official told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.


The Mediterranean crossing from Libya to Italy is one of two major routes used by migrants to reach Europe, and it is by far the more perilous. With revenues down, smugglers are stuffing more would-be migrants aboard unseaworthy boats for a crossing on choppy waters that can take several hours. One in every 44 doesn’t make it.


Even so, some 164,000 crossed through the Libya-Italy route this year. The German proposal could dramatically reduce that number by rerouting intercepted migrants back to African countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. Currently, intercepted boats are towed to the Italian coast. Once rerouted, the migrants would be allowed to apply for asylum through legal channels. This model, which we have long championed, has the benefit of imposing order on a chaotic situation. It also reduces the incentives for the smuggler business model, since the traffickers’ clients—the migrants—will understand that they are wasting their money and risking their lives in vain.


Which brings us to the second migrant route, from Turkey to the Balkans via the Greek islands. About 170,000 have arrived via the so-called Western Balkan Corridor so far this year, and here, too, there are signs that European officials are getting serious. To wit, Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil over the weekend warned that a Brussels deal with Ankara to intercept migrants may not last, and that European governments must be prepared to police EU borders on their own.


Under the current deal, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to stanch the flow and accept some repatriated migrants in exchange for €6 billion ($6.54 billion) in European funding in addition to visa-free travel to the EU for Turkish citizens down the road and renewed talks on Ankara’s accession to the bloc.


So far the deal has held, but there is no guarantee that Mr. Erdogan’s authoritarian regime will honor it indefinitely. He can always reopen the refugee spigot if he is displeased with Brussels. Hence Mr. Doskozil’s warning. “I have always said that the EU-Turkey deal should only be a stop-gap measure until the EU is in the position to effectively protect its external borders,” he told the Bild newspaper. “The time to organize for that is ever closer.” Amen.


It’s an open question whether either of these proposals will become European policy. That depends in large part on Angela Merkel. The German Chancellor has clashed with other officials in her own government in the past to defend her open-borders invitation, and there is still no sign that she is prepared to cap the total number of migrants she is willing to accept. But if she has anything resembling a political survival instinct, Mrs. Merkel would close the gates before Germany’s election season kicks off next year.








Yves Mamou                                                                 

Gatestone Institute, Nov. 12, 2016


Everyone now knows — even German Chancellor Angela Merkel — that she committed a political mistake in opening the doors of her country to more than a million migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It was, politically, a triple mistake:        

Merkel may have thought that humanitarian motives (the war in Syria and Iraq, the refugee problem) could help Germany openly pursue a migration policy that was initially launched and conducted in the shadows. Merkel mainly helped to accelerate the defense mechanisms against the transformation of German society and culture into a "multicultural" space — the "multi" being a segregated, Islamic way of life. The anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) is now a big player on the German political scene. Merkel raised anxiety all over Europe about the migrant problem. She might even have encouraged the United Kingdom to Brexit and pushed central European countries such as Hungary to the point of seceding from the European Union.


For many years, Germany was the country in Europe most open to immigration. According to Eurostat, the official data body of the European Union, between 2005 to 2014, Germany welcomed more than 6 million people. Not all six million people came from Middle East. The vast majority of them, however, were not from Europe. Clandestine immigration is not, of course, included in these figures.


Other countries also participated in a migrant race. In the same time frame, 2005-2014, three million people immigrated to France, or around 300,000 people a year. In Spain, the process was more chaotic: more than 700,000 migrants in 2005; 840,000 in 2006; almost a million in 2007 and then a slow decrease to 300,000 a year up to 2014.


The "refugee crisis," in fact, helped to make apparent what was latent: that behind humanitarian reasons, a huge official immigration policy in Europe was proceeding apace. For economic reasons, Europe had openly decided years ago to encourage a new population to enter, supposedly to compensate for the dramatic projected shrinking of Europe's native population.


According to population projections made by Eurostat in 2013, without migrants, Europe's population would decline from 507.3 million in 2015 to 399.2 million by 2080. In roughly 65 years, a hundred million people (20%) would disappear. Country by country, the figures seemed even…more terrifying. By 2080, in Germany, 80 million people today would become 50 million. In Spain, 46.4 million people would become 30 million. In Italy, 60 million would decline to 39 million. Some countries would be more stable: by 2080, France, with 66 million in 2015 would grow to 68.7 million, and England, with 67 million in 2015, would shrink only to approximately 65 million.


Is migration in itself a "bad" thing? Of course not. Migration from low-income countries to higher-income countries is almost a law of nature. As long as the number of births and deaths remains larger than the number of migrants, the result is considered beneficial. But when migration becomes the major contributor to population growth, the situation changes and what should be a simple evolution becomes a revolution.


It is a triple revolution: Because the number of migrants is huge. The 2015 United Nations World Population Prospects report states: "Between 2015 and 2050, total births in the group of high-income countries are projected to exceed deaths by 20 million, while the net gain in migrants is projected to be 91 million. Thus, in the medium variant, net migration is projected to account for 82 per cent of population growth in the high-income countries."


Because of the culture of the migrants. Most of them belong to a Muslim and Arabic (or Turkish) culture, which was in an old and historical conflict with the (still?) dominant Christian culture of Europe. And mainly, because this Muslim migration process happens at a historic moment of a radicalization of the world's Muslim population.


Because each European state is in position of weakness. In the process of building the European Union, national states stopped considering themselves as the indispensable integrator tool of different regional cultures inside a national frame. On the contrary, to prevent the return of large-scale chauvinistic wars such as World War I and World War II, all European nation-states engaged in the EU process and decided to program their own disappearance by transferring more and more power to a bureaucratic, unelected and untransparent executive Commission in Brussels. Not surprisingly, alongside Islamist troubles in all European countries, weak European states have now to cope with the strong resurgence of secessionist and regionalist movements, such as Corsica in France, Catalonia in Spain, and Scotland and Wales in United Kingdom.


Why did France, Germany and many other countries of the European Union opt for massive immigration, without saying it and without letting voters debate it? Perhaps because they thought a new population of taxpayers could help save their healthcare and retirement systems. To avoid the bankruptcy of social security and the social troubles of "dissatisfied retirees," the EU took the risk of transforming more or less homogenous nation-states into multicultural societies.


Politicians and economists seem blind to multicultural conflicts. They seem not even to suspect the importance of identity questions and religious topics. These questions belong to nations and since WW II, "the nation" is considered "bad." In addition, politicians and economists appear to think any cultural and religious problem is a secondary question. Despite the growing threat of Islamist terrorism (internal and imported from the Middle East), for example, they seem to persist in thinking that any violent domestic conflict can be dissolved in a "full-employment" society. Most of them seem to believe in U.S. President Barack Obama's imaginary jobs-for-jihadists solution to terrorism.


To avoid cultural conflicts (Muslim migrants vs non-Muslim natives) Germany could, of course, have imported people from the countries of Europe where there were no jobs: France, Spain, Italy. But this "white" workforce is considered "expensive" by big companies (construction, care-givers and all services…) who need cheap imported workers no matter the area (Middle East, Turkey, Northern Africa) they are coming from. Internal migration inside the EU would not have solved either the main problem of a projected shrinking European population as a whole. Added to that, in a world where competition is transferred partially from nations to global regions, the might of European countries might be thought to lie in their population numbers…                                                                                                                                          

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                     




SYRIAN REFUGEES: THE ROMANCE AND THE REALITY                                                                   

Margaret Wente                                                                                                                                 

Globe & Mail, Oct. 1, 2016


Jim Munson has one of those refugee stories that warm your heart. He belongs to a private group in Ottawa that is sponsoring a Syrian family. Last winter, he was asked to make sure the boys got skates and hockey sticks. So he found them skates and hockey sticks and took them skating on the canal. Their first words in English were, “He shoots, he scores!” If only it were all that easy. Canada is held up as a model to the world for our warm welcome to Syrian refugees. People marvel that Canadians are clamouring to sponsor refugee families, sight unseen. In Canada, people complain not that we’re taking in too many refugees, but that we’re taking in too few, and eager sponsors are still waiting.


We are good people. But it’s a bit too soon for self-congratulation. Across Canada, refugees have been turning to food banks because they can’t make ends meet. Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank found that Syrian families have less than $400 a month left after they pay the rent. In Montreal, about 2,000 refugees depend on Moisson Montreal, the country’s largest food bank. In Winnipeg, Yasmin Ali, who runs the city’s newest food bank, told the CBC, “This is very stressful for them because I guess they didn’t expect this.”


To be fair, the federal government is in a bind. Its subsidies are pegged to provincial welfare rates. If refugees were to get better treatment than Canadians, Canadians would get cranky. Canada has a robust network of social-service agencies. But none were prepared for the deluge, and they didn’t get more funding to deal with it. In 2014, Canada resettled about 13,500 refugees; this year the number, from all countries, is expected to be more than 50,000. Language training, translators, trauma and mental-health care – all are in short supply. Refugees can’t find jobs until they learn English (or French in Quebec), but some language schools have run out of money to meet the demand.


“We need more than love,” Mr. Munson, who heads the Senate standing committee on human rights, told me. His committee has been monitoring the refugee program. To say the least, it has a lot of growing pains. In his view, we should be cautious about exporting the Canadian model while we figure out how to address them. On top of that, the rate of processing new refugees has slowed to a crawl. As hopeful families live in limbo abroad, sponsorship groups are increasingly fed up with an unresponsive immigration bureaucracy.


John Bryan belongs to a Toronto group that has agreed to sponsor a Syrian family currently living in Saudi Arabia. They’ve formed strong bonds. They’ve even arranged for one of the children, an engineering student, to go to York University. Now they have been abruptly informed that the family won’t be processed for three years or more. Why? Perhaps lack of resources, or perhaps bureaucratic logistics. Whatever the case, he told me, “The government made a commitment and they’re not going to keep it.”


Privately sponsored refugees do better than government-sponsored ones, in part because they have a better web of support. But for both groups, the money runs out after a year. Then what happens? The answer depends on employability. And the early signs aren’t very good. “Basically I can’t refer them to any employer because they don’t have basic communication skills,” one settlement worker told the Huffington Post. Also, few Syrian refugees are highly educated. (One survey of refugees in Hamilton found that two-thirds of those aged 15 and older had a high-school education or less.) And in some parts of Canada, especially Alberta, the job market is terrible.


“The last thing anybody wants to see is people moving from one government program to a provincial welfare roll,” Mr. Munson says. But it’s likely that more than a few will. No one expects the newcomers to be self-sufficient right away. That’s not why we took them in. We took them in because we have a moral obligation to ease the suffering of people who have survived an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe. We owe it to them – and to ourselves – to give them the best support we can, and also to be realistic about what we can take on and what we can expect.


It would be foolish to open the doors even wider (as some people think we should) while so many newcomers are struggling to find purchase. It would also be smart of us to remember that integration takes more than a generation, and that not all immigrant groups are equally successful, no matter how much help they get. The Vietnamese boat people thrived in Canada. How will the Syrians fare? We’ll find out in 20 or 30 years. Meantime, we shouldn’t underestimate the challenge.          





SHAME AND REFUGEES                                                                                

Burak Bekdil                                                                 

Hürriyet Daily News, Sept. 9, 2016


[Turkish] President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is right: there is something shameful about the refugee crisis. But he is wrong about whose shame it is. Erdoğan repeated his clichéd rhetoric at the G-20 Summit in China that "the West's attitude over the refugee problem is disgraceful." Once again, he accused the West of racism.


… Since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis, Mr. Erdoğan has claimed that it was (Christian) Europe's moral obligation to accept a big part of the refugees. Because the refugees want to go to (Christian) Europe? Why? We all know why. But why is it not the neighboring Muslim countries' moral obligation to host overwhelmingly Muslim refugees in their own Muslim lands? Jordan's (late) King Abdullah wrote in his memoirs: The tragedy of the Palestinians was that most of their leaders had paralyzed them with false and unsubstantiated promises that they were not alone; that 80 million Arabs and 400 million Muslims would instantly and miraculously come to their rescue.


Decades later, Syrians fleeing the civil war in their homeland are not tempted into the same tragedy: They want to use Turkey and other Muslim countries as stepping stones to reach better, more civilized lands. Is it not neighboring Muslim countries' moral obligation to host Muslim refugees in their own lands? First of all, that is an Islamic self-insult: Why do Muslims risk their lives trying to cross into the predominantly Christian West, which probably most of them have viewed as "evil?" Why do our Muslim Syrian brothers not want to live with us? Why do they want to risk their lives and flee to Christian lands?


Even totally irrelevant, faraway non-Muslim countries like Brazil, Chile and Venezuela have said that they would volunteer to take thousands of Syrian refugees. Any Muslim refugees in oil-rich Muslim Gulf countries? How many in the Saudi kingdom that is the custodian of Sunni Islam and is the seat of the holiest Muslim shrines in Mecca and Medina? And, even if they had invited Syrian refugees, would the poor souls prefer to be accepted by Christian lands or by the custodian of Sunni Islam? We all know the answer. The Muslim refugees cannot even stand Turkey, which is heaven compared to the custodian of Sunni Islam.


And for all that self-humiliating picture, Mr. Erdoğan blames the West for having taken "only" over 250,000 refugees as opposed to almost none in the rich Gulf. Why really do Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman keep employing large numbers of Asian workers but have not taken even a few dozen Syrian Muslim refugees? Muslims in this part of the world view the Christian West both as 'evil' and as the most decent place to live.


The moral story is about a grandiose, multi-faceted Middle Eastern dilemma: Muslims in this part of the world view the Christian West as "evil," yet they know quite well that Christian lands are the most decent places to live economically and politically, while wealthy Arab states are programmed to turn their back on the plight of fellow Muslims who are in need of a helping hand and Islamists blame it all on the West – the easiest thing they, too, are programmed to do reflexively. The legitimate questions here are: Why do "West-hating" Muslims want to go to the "evil" Christian West? Why do their fellow Muslim Arab nations not raise even a helping finger, let alone a hand? And why should non-Muslims pay for exclusively intra-Muslim wars and the wave of migrants these wars create?


On Topic Links


After Snub, Turkey’s President Threatens to Unleash Another Migrant Surge on West: Michael Birnbaum & Brian Murphy, Washington Post, Nov. 25, 2016 —Turkey’s president warned Europe on Friday that his nation could unleash another migrant crisis in the West, sharply raising the stakes after E.U. lawmakers called for a suspension in membership talks with Turkey.

Save the Refugees on the Berm: Jason Cone, New York Times, Aug. 10, 2016— For millions of Syrian civilians trapped for five years by a relentless war, mere lifesaving aid, let alone refuge, is out of reach. But for the 75,000 displaced people caught on Jordan’s desert frontier with Syria, salvation is only yards away. Unlike many of their fellow citizens, they can be saved. So why have they been effectively abandoned?

Quelle Surprise: France’s Political Right Turn: Konrad Yakabuski, Globe & Mail, Nov. 24, 2016 —In a year of shocking ballot-box upsets, what’s truly shocking is that anyone could be so shocked by another one. Yet, France’s political establishment was knocked off its chair by François Fillon’s first-place finish in last Sunday’s opening round of the Republicans’ primary. With it, every assumption about the country’s 2017 presidential election went down the drain.

Europe's Terror Challenges: The Returnee Threat: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, Oct. 19, 2016— Another week, another barrage of headlines illustrating the depth of Europe's terror threat.




Left to right: Prof. Frederick Krantz (CIJR), Prof. Paul Merkley (ICEJ), Christine Williams (ICEJ), Donna Holbrook (ICEJ), LTC Sargis Sangari (ICEJ), Cantor Jeremy Burko (Beth Radom)


Cantor Jeremy Burko (Beth Radom)


Prof. Frederick Krantz (CIJR)


Christine Williams (ICEJ)


Donna Holbrook (ICEJ)


LTS Sargis Sangari (NEC-SE)


Prof. Paul Merkley (ICEJ)

Posted in Uncategorized


Wed, 2016-12-14 17:30











Dr. Asaf Romirowsky is the Executive Director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME). Trained as a Middle East historian he holds a PhD in Middle East and Mediterranean Studies from King's College London, UK and has published widely on various aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict and American foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as on Israeli and Zionist history. 
Romirowsky is co-author of Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and a contributor to the The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel (MLA Members for Scholar's Rights, 2014)



Location: CIJR Office, Montreal

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Register online

Posted in Uncategorized



Israel’s Terror Fires: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Nov. 27, 2016 — The primary culprit for the wave of fires that swept through Israel in recent days was nature, not a criminal mind or the unpreparedness of first responders.

As Trump Charts New Mideast Policy, White House Contemplates Sabotage: Gregg Roman, Miami Herald, Nov. 21, 2016— After their first meeting, with cameras broadcasting their every word across the globe, President Obama turned to Donald Trump and pledged "to do everything we can to help you succeed."

Obama's Distorted Rhetoric: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 16, 2016— For many years to come, doctoral dissertations and other studies will be written about the Obama administration.

Tackling the Middle East after the Election: Clifford Smith, American Spectator, Nov. 4, 2016— The next U.S. president will have a difficult job in the Middle East.


On Topic Links


ISIS: A catastrophe for Sunnis: Liz Sly, Washington Post, Nov. 23, 2016

Five Rules to Get State-Building Right: Roger B. Myerson & J. Kael Weston, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2016

In Letter to Outgoing UN Chief, Arab Nations Slam Iran for Support of Mideast Terrorism, Say Islamic Republic Must Be Confronted: Barney Breen-Portnoy, Algemeiner, Nov. 16, 2016

An Economic Ultimatum for the Arab World: Marwan Muasher, Project Syndicate, Nov. 16, 2016




Jonathan S. Tobin                                                                           

Commentary, Nov. 27, 2016


The primary culprit for the wave of fires that swept through Israel in recent days was nature, not a criminal mind or the unpreparedness of first responders. But by the end of last week it was equally apparent that wildfires were spreading not solely due to the winds and dry conditions but as a result of politically inspired arson. Some 32,000 acres of natural brush and forests were destroyed in the Judean Hills near Jerusalem, as well as in the Haifa region. Hundreds of Israelis were injured (though thankfully none killed) and hundreds of homes were destroyed as tens of thousands were forced to evacuate as the fires spread. But as bad as the original fires that were the result of the weather were, they were made worse by what security officials say was an arson spree by Palestinians from the West Bank and some Israeli Arabs. The authorities reportedly detained at least 35 suspects in connection with the fires. Palestinian social media also seems to have played at least a small part in encouraging the fires that were celebrated by many Arabs.


As scary as the notion of terrorists using fire rather than explosives might be, it would probably be a mistake to characterize what happened last week as an organized “arson intifada.” Along with the assistance provided to Israel by friendly countries such as the United States, the Palestinian Authority also sent crews to help put out fires that could spread to territory under its control as well as assisting Israel in dealing with an arson fire at one West Bank settlement. There is no evidence of a concerted effort on the part of Hamas or Fatah to start the fires. Rather, like the so-called “stabbing intifada” that afflicted Israel over the course of the last year (and which appears to have died down), the willingness of dozens of individuals to start fires they hope will injure Jews or destroy their property is more the result of a Palestinian political culture in which hate and violence directed at Israelis is both encouraged and praised.


It is appropriate for Israeli leaders to make it clear that Jews will not be burned out of their country anymore than they can be bombed out of it. This isn’t the first instance of Palestinians using arson as a terror tactic and it probably also won’t be the last. But while no one should underestimate the determination of Israelis to stand fast in the face of terror, the lesson of the last week is that there is that the conflict between two peoples over one land is still so bitter that many some Arabs appear to be still willing to destroy it rather than let Jews live there in peace.






Gregg Roman                                                                          

Miami Herald, Nov. 21, 2016


After their first meeting, with cameras broadcasting their every word across the globe, President Obama turned to Donald Trump and pledged "to do everything we can to help you succeed." Media outlets across the spectrum fawned over his magnanimity. Guess again. Washington DC insiders widely expect the president to launch a bold effort to constrain the president-elect's options in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by supporting unilateral international recognition of Palestinian statehood, possibly in the UN Security Council.


U.S. policy has long maintained that a Palestinian state should be established in conjunction with a comprehensive peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). While Israel has said time and time again that it is eager to live alongside a Palestinian state, the Palestinian leadership has remained unwilling to make the necessary concessions for a final status agreement, such as accepting the existence of a Jewish state alongside their own. Indeed, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has steadfastly maintained that millions of Palestinians must have the "right of return" to Israel – a move that would effectively eviscerate a Jewish Israel.


Instead of pursuing a peaceful path to statehood, Palestinian leaders have incited violence against Israel, while trying to persuade the rest of the world to recognize Palestinian statehood in the absence of peace. Amid surging anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, European governments have come under intense pressure to recognize a Palestinian state. Sweden was the first Western European government to do so in 2014. Legislatures in the United Kingdom, Spain, and France have passed (largely non-binding) resolutions doing so.


Successive U.S. administrations have vocally opposed unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations and other international actors, maintaining correctly that it would irreparably damage the prospects for a viable, secure two-state solution.


In a position paper released last week, the Trump campaign emphasized that "the U.S. cannot support the creation of a new state where terrorism is financially incentivized, terrorists are celebrated by political parties and government institutions, and the corrupt diversion of foreign aid is rampant," pledged to veto any UN action that unfairly targets Israel, and affirmed that Palestinians must first "renounce violence against Israel or recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state" before being granted statehood.


In seeking to overturn longstanding precedent and thwart the expressed policy positions of his successor, Obama presumably hopes that supporting (or not vetoing) a UN Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood will create an irreversible fait accompli that will eventually spur Israel to make concessions, like a settlement freeze, which will in turn strengthen moderates on the Palestinian side.


Unilateral statehood recognition communicates to Palestinian leaders that they don't need to concede anything. It's the same thinking that led the United States to make concession after concession in the Iran nuclear deal, and it is likely to backfire in the same way. Unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will communicate to Palestinian leaders that they do not need to concede anything and validate the use and incitement of violence, vindicating hardliners. Until the Palestinian leadership can recognize and accept a Jewish state in the land of Israel, the United States must continue working to prevent international recognition of a Palestinian state.


A Trump national security adviser warned the Obama administration last week not "to try to push through agenda items that are contrary to the president-elect's positions." President-elect Trump should follow up by publicly reaffirming that his administration will vigorously oppose unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood and will not be bound by commitments the current administration has made or will make regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The rest of us should do our part by calling on President Obama to respect the will of voters and allow his duly-elected successor to chart a new course in Mideast policy without any impediments.                          



OBAMA'S DISTORTED RHETORIC                                                                                            

Manfred Gerstenfeld                                                                                                                     

Arutz Sheva, Nov. 16, 2016


For many years to come, doctoral dissertations and other studies will be written about the Obama administration. As rhetoric is one of President Barack Obama’s greatest skills, there is also much need for analysis of statements he made during his presidency. This should, as well, include what Obama did not say, as he has systematically ignored evident facts. Remaining silent about them constituted a major distortion of reality.


How Obama spoke about the Middle East and Muslims, what he did and what he did not say or do, is not only of interest to Israelis and Jews. It is also of great relevance to many others. In an article of limited size, one can only look at a few aspects of Obama’s ex‎pressions. Even these need further in-depth investigation.


The “Hope” poster created in 2008 by street artist Shepard Fairey became iconic for Obama, even though it was never officially adopted by his campaign.  One word Obama used frequently was “change.” In his victory speech after being elected in November 2008 Obama said that “change has come to America.” He also spoke of changing the world, for instance in 2008 and in 2016.


Obama has brought no hope to the Middle East. To the contrary it has changed greatly for the worse under his presidency. The region is now far more chaotic than it was when he became President. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the Middle East during the Obama presidency, mainly in Syria, but also in Iraq and other countries. The U.S has conducted airstrikes on seven countries from 2009 until today: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria.



After the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, the po‎sition of Russia in the Middle East was greatly weakened. Putin’s policies have enabled Russia to become a leading player in the Syrian civil war. It now has an anti-aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea to serve its ambitions. The flawed policies of the Obama administration made this possible.


In 2011 the United States moved away from decades of support for American ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. That facilitated the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is currently considered a terrorist group in Egypt. In 2013, field marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against the latter’s rule. The Egyptian Army and Sisi, now Egypt’s President, have greatly reduced the dangers of this extremist Muslim organization. Yet his government is largely ignored by the Obama administration. There are various indications of his administration’s sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood, the breeding ground of most Islamic terrorist organizations, including ISIS.


Obama’s distorted view of the Muslim world was already apparent early in his presidency. In his 2009 Cairo speech Obama apologized for Western “colonialism,” and understated the major criminality prev‎alent within many parts of the Muslim world.

Obama applied double standards when he consistently ignored many important facts concerning the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. He demanded that the Israeli government stop building in the "settlements". When he visited Israel and the Palestinian Autority territories in 2013 his be‎havior and rhetoric betrayed these double standards.


A thorough investigation is required about the American interference in the 2015 Israeli elections. In that year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would not build any new "settlements in the West Bank". Yet the Obama Administration regularly condemns Israeli building in the territories, even if minor.


In a major interview he gave to Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic all Obama could say about the Palestinian Arabs was the caricature remark: “The Palestinians are not the easiest of partners.” Not a word by Obama about the fact that the largest party Hamas is a genocidal Islamo-Nazi movement. Not a word about the glorification of murderers of Israeli civilians by the Palestinian Authority. Nor has Obama ever demanded that various Arab or Muslim countries stop murderous anti-Semitic incitement.


Obama has defended his criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu arguing that such criticism gives him credibility when defending the Jewish state in the world arena. According to both the State Department definition of anti-Semitism and the IHRA definition which needed the agreement of the U.S government to pass, Obama’s double standards condemning Israel while remaining largely silent about the many huge crimes in parts of the Muslim world qualify as anti-Semitic.


One subject which should be investigated in far more detail is to what extent Obama’s frequent criticism of Israel has contributed to the anti-Israel mutation of anti-Semitism on campuses in the United States. Another topic for investigation of Obama’s rhetoric concerns the major persecution of Christians in the Muslim world that took place during his presidency. One would have to check whether it was entirely or largely ignored. Part of his whitewashing technique was the doubtful claim that ISIS and Al Qaeda distort Islam. Obama was also silent regarding the frequent, radical, anti-Semitic hatred emerging from large parts of the Muslim world.


Obama avoids linking terrorism to Islam. He has admitted that he refrains from using the words “Islamic terror” in describing Middle East extremism. The Obama administration has referred to terror attacks by Muslims as “lone wolf attacks” and refused to use the term “radical Islam.” The terms “Islam” and “jihad,” “Islamic extremism,” “radical Islamic terrorism,” and “radical Islam” have been banned from US Security documents.


Obama does not remain largely silent about Muslim criminality because he is ignorant or uneducated in these matters. He does so intentionally. In the interview with Obama, Goldberg mentioned that Obama has not come out against the huge criminality in large parts of the Muslim world in order not to “exacerbate anti-Muslim xenophobia.” During his first trip to a mosque while in office, Obama said that Muslim-Americans were being "targeted and blamed for the acts of a few". In a 2012 speech to the UN General Assembly, Obama said, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” This contrasted with his structural silence about the anti-Semitic hatred and other slander coming out of large parts of the Muslim world.


In a speech to the American people after the cruel murder of journalist Jim Foley by the ISIS movement, Obama said, “No faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” One can only hope that the Trump Administration will make it clear that much of the world’s terror is linked to Islam and that this is a factor in changing the world for the worse. In his first meeting with the press after the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, Obama had advice for him, which included maintaining “a commitment to reason and facts and analysis.” If Obama had applied that advice himself he would have spoken often and truthfully about the huge problems emanating from parts of the Muslim world.


The above are not more than fragments which require both further investigations and far more profound analysis. Another major issue, though not in the category of rhetoric, is to what extent Obama has saddled the world through the agreement with Iran with a huge future problem. Much depends however on what the Trump administration will do concerning this matter.





TACKLING THE MIDDLE EAST AFTER THE ELECTION                                                             

Clifford Smith                                                                                           

American Spectator, Nov. 4, 2016


The next U.S. president will have a difficult job in the Middle East. The Obama administration's failure to appreciate the long-term consequences of its actions (and inactions) have allowed forces unfriendly to the United States to make unprecedented strategic, political, and even territorial gains.


The Obama administration's recently reaffirmed strategy toward ISIS has required Iraq's security forces to spend two years gradually getting the upper hand over an enemy they outnumber well over 10 to 1. Nonetheless, ISIS is on the verge of losing Mosul. The next administration should help the Iraqi Government consolidate these gains, even if it means more boots on the ground. Additionally, it should get over our hang-up about providing heavy weapons to Kurdish Peshmerga who have proven themselves loyal U.S. allies time and again.


In Syria, the years-long conflagration and the Obama administration's failure to deter heavy Russian military intervention has left the next administration with few good options. The status quo is producing not only a cataclysmic death toll, but also a massive refugee crisis that threatens political stability in Europe …


Unfriendly forces have made major strategic, political, and territorial gains in the Middle East. A longer-term problem is what to do with the Islamist, increasingly authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, the man responsible for channeling the flow of refugees from Syria into Europe. This longstanding NATO "ally" has clearly jumped off the secular democratic train. The historic role of the military in preserving secular democracy is a thing of the past.


Erdogan's Turkey is busy establishing itself as an Islamist force, oppressing its Kurdish minority, and even threatening to expand into Iraq and other surrounding areas. The effects are aiding ISIS and further destabilizing the region. Erdogan nevertheless has the gall to actively provoke nearby Russian forces and then call on NATO for support. This kind of behavior risks drawing the West into a much larger conflict with Russia. The next administration will be forced to redefine our relationship with Turkey. It should work with our European allies to exert maximum pressure on Erdogan to change course. If he won't, we must disentangle ourselves from Turkey, including working to end its NATO membership.


Iran is arguably the gravest immediate and long-term threat to American security in the region. The Iran deal is not working to moderate the regime or end the threat posed by the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, and the price keeps getting higher. The costs now include ransom payments, allowing Iran access to ballistic missiles, and increased Iranian terror financing. Though international sanctions have been lifted and funds transferred, the U.S. can still back out of the agreement. The next president must prioritize the rollback of Iran's aggressive bid for regional hegemony.


But this will not be enough — the next president must prioritize the rollback of Iran's nuclear program, as well as its aggressive bid for regional hegemony, for which Syria, Iraq, and Yemen are paying a devastating daily toll. A robust effort to weaken Iran (like opposition to the Iran deal last year) is sure to command large, bipartisan majorities. The Iranian regime is not popular at home or in the region, and a thousand signs, small and large, show its vulnerability. The next administration should use all its leverage working with our allies and the regime's opponents, internal and external, to change course. Of course, as the existential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran draws nearer, the military option must be considered.


No individual policy decision, or series of decisions, will fix these problems. As former Secretary of State Dean Acheson said, "At the top there are no easy choices. All are between evils, the consequences of which are hard to judge." However, a forward-looking policy that prioritizes long-term interests over expediency can reassert America's leadership and help improve our lot in the Middle East, and that of those in the region who want peace and stability. The U.S. is still the "indispensable nation."


On Topic Links


ISIS: A catastrophe for Sunnis: Liz Sly, Washington Post, Nov. 23, 2016 —he Islamic State is being crushed, its fighters are in retreat and the caliphate it sought to build in the image of a bygone glory is crumbling. The biggest losers, however, are not the militants, who will fulfill their dreams of death or slink into the desert to regroup, but the millions of ordinary Sunnis whose lives have been ravaged by their murderous rampage.

Five Rules to Get State-Building Right: Roger B. Myerson & J. Kael Weston, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2016—In the wake of long, painful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are understandably wary of the idea of state-building. But the issue won’t go away.

In Letter to Outgoing UN Chief, Arab Nations Slam Iran for Support of Mideast Terrorism, Say Islamic Republic Must Be Confronted: Barney Breen-Portnoy, Algemeiner, Nov. 16, 2016 —Iran is actively wreaking havoc across the Middle East, a group of 11 Arab nations declared in a letter sent recently to outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

An Economic Ultimatum for the Arab World: Marwan Muasher, Project Syndicate, Nov. 16, 2016—If Middle Eastern countries do not start making real progress on fundamental political and economic reforms, further regional turmoil is inevitable. With the rentier systems that governments have maintained for decades now at a breaking point, policymakers must begin the difficult, but not impossible, process of establishing new social contracts.





Russia Emerges as a Center of Gravity for Israel: Yury Barmin, Al-Monitor, Nov. 7, 2016 — As Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev prepares to visit Israel and Palestine on Nov. 9-11 to facilitate peace negotiations, Russia and Israel find themselves recovering from a diplomatic spat that could not only have derailed those attempts but also soured their relationship.

Russia's Growing Middle Eastern Prowess: Anna Borshchevskaya, Middle East Forum, Nov. 17, 2016 — Moscow's military intervention in Syria has not only made it a key factor in that country's civil war but has also boosted its regional standing, netted it a major naval outlet in the Eastern Mediterranean, and exacerbated Europe's domestic problems by accelerating the refugee outpour into the Continent.

Beware the Hungry Bear: Norman A. Bailey, Asia Times, Nov. 17, 2016 — With the world’s attention fixed on the astonishing victory of Donald Trump in the American presidential election, grossly insufficient attention is being paid to another and potentially very dangerous development.

‘Winter Is Coming,’ by Garry Kasparov: Serge Schmemann, New York Times, Nov. 2, 2016 — Russians in positions of power tend to measure their country’s standing in the world against the United States, longing to be recognized as equally important and powerful and getting very angry when they’re not so treated.


On Topic Links


Israeli Official: Russia Has Long-Term Ambitions in the Middle East: Jerusalem Post, Nov. 16, 2016

Is Russia More Dangerous than ISIS?: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Nov. 21, 2016

Tip of the Iceberg: Russian Use of Power in Syria: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Oct. 9, 2016

A Trump-Putin Axis?: Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2016




Yury Barmin

                                                Al-Monitor, Nov. 7, 2016


As Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev prepares to visit Israel and Palestine on Nov. 9-11 to facilitate peace negotiations, Russia and Israel find themselves recovering from a diplomatic spat that could not only have derailed those attempts but also soured their relationship. On Oct. 13, UNESCO adopted a controversial resolution that criticizes Israel’s “escalating aggression” regarding a holy site in Jerusalem known as the Temple Mount to Jews and Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) to Muslims. The resolution, which was backed by Russia, refers to the holy site only by its Arab name, which understandably infuriated Jerusalem.


A week later, on Oct. 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his birthday. According to Israeli sources, Netanyahu expressed his disappointment at Russia’s support for the “anti-Israel” UNESCO resolution and protested the move. Putin had to go to great lengths to cushion the blow, eventually dispatching a high-level Foreign Ministry delegation to Jerusalem to explain the Russian position on the UNESCO vote.


Remarkably, incidents like this are uncharacteristic of the general understanding Israel and Russia enjoy across a variety of contexts. Netanyahu might not have been happy to see Russian Sukhoi Su fighter jets interfere in the already-complex Syrian equation, but evidently he found certain benefits in it. Russia and Israel, despite their different visions of a post-war Syria, have one thing in common: Neither wants to see more governments being destabilized in the Middle East, because at the end of the day the spillover of instability threatens them both.


Regarding the Syrian war, Israel’s interests are shaped around guarding its borders from a multitude of perceived threats, including Hezbollah incursions and the group’s growing strength; the Syrian government’s claims to the Golan Heights; Sunni rebels developing military infrastructure along Israel’s borders; and most importantly, attacks by Iran. In this context, the physical presence of Russian forces in Syria may not necessarily be against Israel’s own interests, as it may help contain these threats.


The involvement of Russian officers in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military planning will discourage Damascus from taking any action against Israel, which is as good a guarantee as Netanyahu can expect in current circumstances. The Israeli prime minister traveled to Russia twice this year and insists that he received assurances from Putin that the country’s borders would not be violated in the course of the ongoing war, something Washington, Israel’s closest ally, is presently unable to guarantee. To that end, Moscow and Jerusalem have agreed to coordinate their actions in Syria as well as share intelligence.


Despite occasional cross-border operations, Israel would like to avoid interfering militarily in Syria due to the high risk of being drawn in deeper or provoking retaliation. Intelligence-sharing also greatly benefits Moscow, which receives more balanced intelligence, allowing it to put into perspective the kind of information provided by its allies from the Baghdad coordination center. Initial stages of the Russian operation in Syria showed that intelligence gathered by Damascus and Tehran was not always accurate.


It's not so much Assad that worries Israel, but rather Iran's influence on Assad. Containing Tehran and its allies in the region, including the Syrian leader and Hezbollah, is the endgame for Jerusalem at the moment. Controlling the arms flow to Hezbollah fighters is part of the effort to contain unfriendly forces, and Russia is instrumental in achieving this. After Russia increased its aid to the Syrian government in mid-2014, Israel noticed a spike in deliveries of surface-to-surface missiles to Hezbollah. Jerusalem demanded that the Kremlin control weapons turnover in Syria.


Some sources in Israeli diplomatic circles told Al-Monitor that Russia went as far as to intentionally delay the delivery of S-300 missile systems to Iran for breaking its promise not to transfer Russian weapons to Hezbollah. These incidents encouraged Moscow and Jerusalem to reach an agreement whereby Israel reserves the right to attack Hezbollah convoys carrying weapons that could potentially be used against it, and Russia received assurances that as long as Israel’s territory is not threatened, Israel will refrain from a military intervention in Syria.


Beyond Syria, however, Russia’s influence in the Middle East remains limited. The role Moscow plays in this conflict is the reason its opinion matters to policymakers in the region. Having invested so much effort and money trying to resolve the Syrian crisis, Putin would see it as his own geopolitical loss if he couldn’t cement Russia’s influence in the region beyond the conflict. With this in mind, Russia is actively looking for other entry points that could move it into a position as a key decision-maker in the Middle East in the long run. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one such point.


The first signs that Russia’s vision of its role in the Middle East is evolving came in late 2015. Two months into Russia's military campaign in Syria, Putin changed the leading figures: The Foreign Ministry and Putin’s Mideast envoy, Mikhail Bogdanov, were sidelined, and the military intelligence circles came to the fore. As a diplomat in Moscow confirmed to Al-Monitor, Bogdanov was charged with handling a number of “second-tier” issues related to the Middle East where Russia could act as a mediator, including the crises in Yemen and Libya, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


In Russia’s view, the impasse in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks since 2014 presents a perfect opportunity for it to spearhead a renewed diplomatic effort. Given the problems with past rounds of talks, the Kremlin is cautious in its ambitions but has proposed to host Netanyahu and Abbas in Moscow for direct talks, to which both reportedly have agreed. Russia is unlikely to break the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, but Jerusalem will play along anyway. The cases of Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict indicate that the United States could be gradually retreating from the Middle East, which would mean that US partners in the region might have to seek new alliances. While remaining wary of Russia’s intentions in the Middle East, Israel may have no choice but to gravitate toward Moscow.



RUSSIA'S GROWING MIDDLE EASTERN PROWESS                                                                     

Anna Borshchevskaya                                                                                          

Middle East Forum, Nov. 17, 2016


Moscow's military intervention in Syria has not only made it a key factor in that country's civil war but has also boosted its regional standing, netted it a major naval outlet in the Eastern Mediterranean, and exacerbated Europe's domestic problems by accelerating the refugee outpour into the Continent.


While minimizing the Middle East's sectarian divide and portraying its intervention as support for the Syrian government's legitimate fight against terrorists, Moscow has effectively backed a Shiite, anti-Sunni bloc by aligning itself with Tehran – a historic-enemy-turned-ally in opposition to Western regional interests.


This assertiveness is emblematic of Putin's proclivity for military adventures abroad – from Georgia (2008), to Ukraine (2014), to Syria – as a means to reassert Russia's international standing and to consolidate his rule by diverting public attention from the country's domestic problems. The 2014 annexation of Crimea, for example, enabled him to rally the nation behind him in the face of tightening economic sanctions; the Syrian intervention has had a similar effect.


As the economy worsens still further, the Kremlin suppresses dissent and whips up ultra-nationalist sentiment by glorifying the likes of Ivan the Terrible and Stalin. This in turn makes Russia into an unstable and unpredictable one-man rule without eliminating Putin's need to generate recurring crises to continue diverting the restive population from the country's domestic problems.


In order to contain Moscow, which is likely to test the Trump administration by exploiting the divergences between Washington and its European allies, the West needs a long-term, unified strategy that will place future talks with Russia within an unambiguous and comprehensive framework. It can demonstrate its support for its Middle Eastern allies by tightening the sanctions against the Russian military-industrial complex; making Moscow accountable for its Syrian war crimes; and credibly threatening a limited use of force against the Assad regime for any future ceasefire violations.


Ultimately, the Russian options are limited and contingent on what the West will or will not do. The devastating consequences of taking Putin at his word in Syria for a year now has blinded the West to his hostile intent. Western success will therefore depend on drawing a firm and decisive line in the sand that Moscow will not dare to cross.                      




BEWARE THE HUNGRY BEAR                                                         

Norman A. Bailey                                                                                            

Asia Times, Nov. 17, 2016


With the world’s attention fixed on the astonishing victory of Donald Trump in the American presidential election, grossly insufficient attention is being paid to another and potentially very dangerous development. Trump may end up being a disaster of continental proportions or he may be just what the doctor ordered for a country that has been drowning in debt and political correctness…But halfway around the world a crafty master of negotiation, propaganda, subversion, and military display is making huge strides towards the achievement of his immediate and long-term goals.


Vladimir Putin is playing a difficult hand masterfully. The Russian economy is weak and getting worse as the market for its principal mainstays, oil and gas, is increasingly unstable. This explains why the preceding list of the elements of statecraft used by Putin does not include economic strategies. Despite this and a serious demographic meltdown, Russia is expanding its power and influence in every direction.


It is obvious why a great connoisseur of negotiating skills such as Trump finds Putin a fellow spirit. The Russian armed forces are engaged in a massive display of military might, up to and including engaging in ongoing hostilities in Syria, where naval and air bases have been acquired and ships and aircraft deployed, now including its single aircraft carrier. In a very short time Russia has become a recognized player in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East.


Turkey has been humbled and has sued for peace. Chalk up another Putin victory. Moldova and Bulgaria are now governed by pro-Russian regimes and no-one will be surprised if Moldova now merges with the Russian enclave Transnistria and then applies for reincorporation into the Russian empire. Whether that happens or not Ukraine is now threatened on both its western and eastern flanks.


The dismemberment of Georgia and Ukraine have become accepted facts subject only to occasional toothless denunciations from the West. That stalwart of post-Soviet progress on both the political and economic fronts, Estonia, is now suddenly politically unstable. Former Soviet satellites Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are now governed by anti-Western regimes as well. While all that is going on, Russian ships and planes incessantly violate the waters and airspace of neighboring (as well as some non-neighboring) countries. Again, reaction has been feeble.


Despite its economic weakness, Russia has been able to devote sufficient resources to its armed forces so that they can deploy state-of-the-art equipment (at a time when Western defense establishments are starved of resources) and of course a massive nuclear arsenal inherited from the Soviet Union.


There is nothing backward about Russian science and technology, as demonstrated by constant hacking of an assortment of Western targets, both governmental and non-governmental. Blatant interference in the recent US election has elicited not much more than a tepid response and of course Edward Snowden is still plying his trade in Moscow.


The significance of all this activity resides in the confluence of economic weakness and demographic decline coupled with brilliant statecraft and military might. Having to depend on the pride of the Russian people in their enhanced international standing for his popularity may well lead Putin to engage in ever-increasing levels of challenge to the West. Any number of circumstances could set off a military confrontation, escalating to open warfare and even the use of nuclear weapons.


A friend in the White House is not necessarily a bad thing under these circumstances. Putin may feel that escalating conflicts might jeopardize his relations with Trump. We must hope so, because the alternative—a Russia hurtling towards armed confrontation with the West, is a prospect that should thoroughly frighten us all.                                                                       




‘WINTER IS COMING,’ BY GARRY KASPAROV                                      

Serge Schmemann                                                                  

New York Times, Nov. 2, 2016


Russians in positions of power tend to measure their country’s standing in the world against the United States, longing to be recognized as equally important and powerful and getting very angry when they’re not so treated. President Vladimir Putin has made victimhood at America’s hands a leitmotif of his reign, and many Russians have bought into his claim that Washington tirelessly seeks ways to weaken, impoverish and otherwise humiliate their country. Many critics of Putin, in Russia and in the West, similarly hold that Washington’s treatment of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union was disdainful and thus undermined embryonic moves toward democracy, contributing to the rise of Putinism.


Garry Kasparov, the great Russian chess grandmaster who has become a fierce Putin opponent, offers a mirror image of this theme. In his view, espoused in many articles and now in “Winter Is Coming,” the West — more specifically, the United States, and even more specifically the Democratic Party under President Obama — is guilty of chronic appeasement and weakness in letting bad guys like Putin stay in power.


I should say up front that I cannot agree that the United States somehow deliberately sought to humiliate Russia in those chaotic days in the 1990s when Communist rule collapsed, or somehow failed to support the first tentative democratic reforms. To argue that the United States had the prescience and power to understand and direct events in Russia overlooks the enormous complexity in the disintegration of a vast, nuclear-armed, totalitarian empire. From the time Mikhail Gorbachev first loosened Soviet control until the Soviet Union was dissolved in December 1991, events moved in ways nobody in the East or West could predict or fully grasp, and it is to Russia’s and America’s credit that so little blood was shed in that momentous transition.


Kasparov sees things differently. To him, what hope there was for Russia after the Berlin Wall came down soon turned into a steady march toward authoritarian rule under a former K.G.B. agent, aided and abetted by a feckless West. Half the book is about the evolution of Putin from Boris Yeltsin’s handpicked successor to the capo di tutti capi of a mafia state. There is not much new here, and most readers will not need to be convinced that Putin is a bad guy.


The other and more important theme of the book is the reputed absence of a moral component in Western foreign affairs, which has “encouraged autocrats like Putin and terrorist groups like ISIS to flourish around the world.” Kasparov’s message is aimed at an American audience. Written in English (with the chess writer Mig Greengard), and with a title borrowed from “Game of Thrones,”  “Winter Is Coming” is meant as a warning of impending doom should the West persist with the “moral capitulation” that Kasparov repeatedly decries.


There’s no pretense of nonpartisanship here, no subtlety. A fiery man known for his dynamic play in chess and for his self-assurance, Kasparov fully credits Ronald Reagan for the end of the Cold War and the fall of the “evil empire” — “Lesser problems were left to lesser men” — and he has no doubt that “the world would be a safer, more democratic place today had John McCain been elected” president, or at least Mitt Romney, who called Russia “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.” Barack Obama, by contrast, is relentlessly and repeatedly skewered: The president is “reluctant to confront the enemies of democracy to defend the values he touts so convincingly”; he is “busy retreating on every front”; and even when he does seem to be standing up to Putin, the most Kasparov can allow is, “I suppose that doing the right thing for the wrong reason is better than never doing it at all.”


The politicking becomes somewhat tedious, as do the “I told you so” moments scattered through the book: “It is cold comfort to be told, ‘You were right!’ ” Kasparov laments in his introduction. But much as one may disagree with Kasparov’s analyses, the main problem here is not so much with his accusations of Western or American perfidy. He has his right to his opinions, and even to the aggressive tone in which they are served up. That’s who he is. I covered Kasparov’s ascent to the world chess championship against the grandmaster openly preferred by the Kremlin, Anatoly Karpov, in matches that became a memorable ideological contest between the audacious upstart and the dull company man. In 2005, Kasparov retired from professional chess and dedicated himself “to push back against the rising tide of repression coming from the Kremlin,” and he was admirably active in the ­anti-Putin marches until a relentless crackdown curtailed open opposition. Kasparov now lives in self-imposed exile — temporary, he insists — in New York.


The real problem with “Winter Is Coming” is with its presumption that the United States is somehow responsible for what Russia has become, or for what it should become. Certainly Washington has an obligation to challenge Moscow and Putin when international norms or human rights are violated. Indeed, Obama and America’s democratic allies have done just that with the progressively tougher sanctions they have ordered against Russia. But even Reagan, the president Kasparov so adulates, never sought regime change in the “evil empire,” instead looking for areas of cooperation with Gorbachev. And ultimately it was Gorbachev, more than any American or other Western leader, who played the greatest role in bringing down the Soviet system.


Yet Kasparov, born and raised in the Soviet Union and intimately aware that Communism was overthrown first and foremost by Russians themselves, acknowledges their responsibility for Putin’s rule only in one throwaway line — “In the end, Putin is a Russian problem, of course, and Russians must deal with how to remove him.’’ The next sentence is: “He and his repressive regime, however, are supported directly and indirectly by the free world.” What the free world should be doing, he argues, includes adopting a “global Magna Carta” uniting all democracies in the fight against dictators, arming Ukraine, developing substitutes for the energy Europe imports from Russia and heeding Kasparov. Over the years, he laments, he has provided long lists of ways to counter Putin, but “even now, after he has proven my worst fears correct and everyone is telling me how right I was, few of those recommendations have been enacted.”


This is not the place to argue the merits or feasibility of arming Ukraine or cutting Russian gas imports. Nor is there a need to defend President Obama against Kasparov’s crude and baseless insults. The question to be posed is whether even the most aggressive Western stance toward Putin would make him less dictatorial or Russia more free. That change must come from within, and I would have much preferred to hear Kasparov’s take on what must change in Russia and how the Russians might do it. There are plenty of other people to trash Barack Obama.


On Topic Links


Israeli Official: Russia Has Long-Term Ambitions in the Middle East: Jerusalem Post, Nov. 16, 2016—Israel should be concerned about the deepening disconnect between Russia's aims in the Middle East and its own goals, according to a senior Israeli official who held high-level meetings in Moscow last week.

Is Russia More Dangerous than ISIS?: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Nov. 21, 2016—As President-elect Donald Trump begins to fill his top administration spots, his selection of retired General Michael Flynn suggests that Trump’s  campaign trail flirtations were not empty rhetoric and he intends to move forward with a partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Tip of the Iceberg: Russian Use of Power in Syria: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Oct. 9, 2016—Russia's status in the Middle East has changed remarkably in recent years. Some go so far as to argue, with some justification, that it has become the most powerful superpower in the region, or at least within the context of the Syrian conflict. The main reason for this has been Russian President Vladimir Putin's ability to invest significant resources in the region, coupled with his willingness to take significant risk.

A Trump-Putin Axis?: Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2016— US President-elect Donald Trump admires Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.  That much became clear during Trump’s presidential campaign, as did his intention when in office to repair the US’s damaged relations with the Russian Federation.  At the moment the US and Russia, although both nominally combating Islamic State (IS) in the Syrian civil war, are so far from allies that they are very nearly belligerents.







The Billion-Dollar Deal That is Stirring up Israeli Army: Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, Oct. 31, 2016— On Oct. 26, the Israeli Cabinet secretly authorized a huge weapons transaction that developed under the radar over the recent year…

The New IDF: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2016— Two discernible and potentially conflicting trends arise from the manpower data published this week by the IDF on the percentage of eligible young men and women who are conscripted for mandatory military service.

UN Ranks IDF Emergency Medical Team as ‘No. 1 in the World’: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Nov. 13, 2016— The United Nation’s World Health Organization recognized the Israeli army’s field hospital,

Rationality, Irrationality and Israel's Changing Order of Battle: Louis René Beres, Israel Defense, Oct. 30, 2016 — In every traditional military lexicon, strategies of international deterrence automatically assume enemy rationality.


On Topic Links


Submarines and Advisers: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2016

Israel Puts the Spike Missile on its Apache Helicopters: Shoshana Bryen, Jewish Policy Center, Nov. 21, 2016

Behind the Scenes of the Israeli Army: Tsivya Fox, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 22, 2016

Women Increasingly Join the Fight in Israel's Army: Michael Blum, Yahoo News, Nov. 20, 2016





Ben Caspit

                                                 Al-Monitor, Oct. 31, 2016


On Oct. 26, the Israeli Cabinet secretly authorized a huge weapons transaction that developed under the radar over the recent year: Three additional Dolphin-class submarines will be purchased from a German shipyard in the port city of Kiel. A memorandum of understanding between Israel and Germany is expected to be signed this month in Berlin. The deal is assessed at about 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion), approximately 400 million euros ($439 million) per submarine, after a discount of about 30% financed by the German government.


The clandestine negotiations between Israel and Germany were relatively brief. Many Israelis are strongly criticizing the deal, from various aspects. One clear conclusion can be reached regarding the policies and strategic mindset of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: The Iranian threat, including concern regarding a nuclear Iran, continues to preoccupy Netanyahu and assume center stage in his very essence.


According to foreign reports, these submarines (Israel already possesses five of them; the sixth will arrive in 2019) are viewed as the Israeli answer to the Iranian threat, as they are capable of carrying and launching ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. According to foreign reports, the impressive submarine fleet Israel is building will give the country a significant “second strike” capability even in the event that it absorbs an Iranian nuclear attack. These submarines transform Israel from a “one-bomb country” (which would be so devastated from one nuclear attack that it could not respond in kind) to a state that could respond and cause great destruction to any country that would dare attack it.


In a conversation with Al-Monitor, an Israeli military source emphasized that Israel has no intention of enlarging its fleet of submarines from six to nine, but to gradually replace aging submarines with new ones. According to the source, the life span of a submarine is 20-30 years. Over the next decade, the three oldest submarines in the Dolphin fleet will become obsolete, and will be replaced gradually by the new submarines.


This argument does not convince the naysayers, many of which come from within the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). They believe the tremendous sum of money wasted on the submarines should have been earmarked for more urgent needs. “The first Dolphin submarine will begin to become obsolete only in 2030,” an Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity. “Until then, it’s not certain that we will need such a large quantity of submarines. The current commitment to pay billions of shekels in a huge deal for products that may not be absolutely necessary is rather strange, to say the least.”


Critics of the transaction feel that the monies should have been used to upgrade the IDF in more important spheres. “The submarines are not effective in the war against terror,” a high-level Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “Submarines are ineffective in fighting against the Islamic State and Hamas; even the third Lebanon war [if this happens] will not be decided in the ocean depths. It would have been better to spend all this money to provide armored shield protection for all of the army’s armored personnel carriers, or for unmanned aircraft [drones], for cyber strengthening, and other spheres that are critical to the war against terror. Unfortunately, Israel is making its traditional mistake: It is once again preparing for yesterday’s wars and not tomorrow’s conflicts.”


Another debate raging between the sides is connected to the price of the deal. Netanyahu’s main concern, when he pushed for a speedy agreement with the Germans, was that German Chancellor Angela Merkel might not survive the elections awaiting her in 2017. Those close to Netanyahu say that Merkel’s replacement might not be as generous as she is and might not approve a discount of 30% on the submarines to Israel. Better to close the deal now, before it’s too late, they say.


This argument does not satisfy the critics. The German discount is fictitious, they claim; instead, they say, the Germans upped the price and then gave a discount on the higher amount. Not long ago, that same German shipyard sold four similar submarines to Egypt at a much lower price. No one in Israel did the necessary preparatory work; no one conducted the kind of negotiations that are necessary for a transaction of such magnitude. There are other, more experienced shipyards in the world that produce the kind of submarines that Israel needs. To the final price, the Germans added their investment in research and development (R&D), but no one checked if this R&D hadn’t been carried out in any previous transaction it signed with other countries. The additional characteristics that are supposed to be added to the new submarines belong to the specialized fields of other shipyards, mainly in France, and common sense would dictate that additional price quotes be obtained from French shipyards as well (before deciding from whom to buy). Instead, someone was in a very big rush to complete this transaction and threw away Israeli taxpayer money with a very ready hand — so say the critics…                                                                 [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]           



THE NEW IDF                                                                                                                        


Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2016


Two discernible and potentially conflicting trends arise from the manpower data published this week by the IDF on the percentage of eligible young men and women who are conscripted for mandatory military service. On one hand, there has been a sharp rise in the number of religious women who are opting to enlist in the IDF instead of performing National Service or receiving an exemption. In all, 2,159 enlisted in 2015 compared to 1,853 in 2014. Women as a whole – both religious and non-religious – are enlisting at a rate of 58%, the same as in 2012. Also, more and more women are being integrated into combat units. There has been a 400% rise in the number of women serving in combat roles, with more mixed-gender battalions opening every year.


Brig.-Gen. Eran Shani, speaking before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, noted that the IDF is considering allowing women to serve in the Armored Corps and in the elite 669 air force rescue unit. In parallel with the increasing integration of women in the IDF, there is a potentially conflicting trend. The number of religious soldiers is growing. In 2015, 2,475 haredi young men were conscripted. And religious soldiers as a percentage of the total number of IDF soldiers is also growing due to demographic changes.


A weakening of rabbinic authority seems to be one of the causes of both trends – both the higher conscription rate of religious women and of haredi men. Though a majority of religious Zionist rabbis opposes IDF service for women, a number of institutions have been created to give support to religious females who choose to enlist. For instance, the NGO Alumah provides religious women with advice and intervenes on their behalf vis-a-vis the IDF command. Tzahali, a pre-military academy, prepares religious women for military service not unlike the many academies that exist for religious men. Few rabbis openly support these bodies.


Haredi men who enlist are also bucking rabbinic leadership’s authority. They often face stiff opposition from family members, friends and neighbors. And despite rabbinic opposition, large percentages of religious Zionist or modern Orthodox Israeli men enlist without first attending a yeshiva, a pre-military academy or joining a hesder yeshiva that combines military service and religious study.


These two distinct trends – the increasing integration of women and the rise in the number of religious men – could potentially result in a clash of interests. Integrating larger numbers of women in the IDF entails opening more avenues of service. The sharp rise in the number of women who serve in combat units is one example. But in order to make the IDF truly gender egalitarian, the length of service of IDF soldiers must be based on the role they serve and not their sex. Because they serve only two years, women are prevented from serving in many IDF positions unless they agree to volunteer. Also, exemption criteria should be identical for men and women. Women need to be part of the decision-making process on the highest levels within the IDF.


But religious men are the main force within in the IDF preventing the full integration of women – both religious and non-religious – into the IDF. As the number of religious men in the IDF grows as percentage of the total, opposition to the integration of women will grow as well. Accommodating these conflicting trends is one of the major manpower challenges facing the IDF. The IDF has long ago abandoned the “melting pot” model for conscription in parallel with a change in Israeli society as a whole toward a more multicultural mosaic of groups – haredi, Arab, religious Zionist, secular, Sephardi, Druse, and Beduin. This shift has created opportunities and challenges.


The IDF has become both more gender egalitarian and open to the special needs of haredi and religious men. As long as Israel maintains the ideal of universal conscription or “the people’s army,” the IDF will have to find ways of integrating diverse segments of the population. Succeeding in navigating conflicting interests will make the IDF stronger. Talents that previously went untapped can be enlisted in the concerted effort to defend Israel from its many enemies. This week’s data seem to prove that it possible to accommodate the needs of diverse groups, providing yet another reason to be optimistic about Israel’s future.                                                                     



UN RANKS IDF EMERGENCY MEDICAL TEAM AS ‘NO. 1 IN THE WORLD’                                                      

Judah Ari Gross                                                                                                            

Times of Israel, Nov. 13, 2016


The United Nation’s World Health Organization recognized the Israeli army’s field hospital, which is regularly sent abroad to provide aid at natural disaster sites, as “the number one in the world” in a ceremony last week, classifying it as its first and only “Type 3” field hospital, according to its commander, Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Ofer Merin. As reported in The Times of Israel last month, the WHO and the Israel Defense Forces had been in talks to determine if the army unit met the demands of a “Type 3” medical team, a status no medical team had ever reached before.


Last Wednesday, the IDF’s field hospital team received the “Type 3” designation, along with some additional “specialized care” recognitions, which technically made it a “Type 3 plus,” though the army kept the information quiet until Sunday. “We’re going to recommend the director-general verifies [Israel’s team] as a Type 1, Type 2, and also Type 3 and multiple different types of specialty cells,” Dr. Ian Norton, the lead author of the classification system and head of the WHO delegation, said Wednesday at the ceremony in the Medical Corps’ base in Ramat Gan, outside Tel Aviv. “We haven’t had that ever before,” Norton said, praising the months of work put in by the Israeli team to receive the designation.


Israel will receive official WHO patches noting the new designation, and members of the IDF’s Medical Corps, including Merin, will meet with the head of the international organization at a formal ceremony in Hong Kong at the end of the month, the army said. The United Nations is generally seen as having a negative attitude toward Israel, giving this recognition of the IDF’s abilities some additional weight, Merin said. The representatives from the World Health Organization were “not biased, not one bit,” he said.


In 2013, the United Nation’s WHO created a set of criteria to classify foreign medical teams in sudden onset disasters, on a scale from one to three. Israel is now the only country to receive the top mark. “Only a handful in the world could even think of” doing so in the future, Norton said in a conversation with The Times of Israel last month. In a phone conversation with reporters on Sunday, Merin, who has personally invested “hundreds of hours” in the recognition process, described the experience of having the work he and his team have done be classified as the best in the world as “emotional.”


“I wish I could sit here and say it’s a ‘Mazal tov’ for me, but it’s a ‘Mazal tov’ for the army, for Israel,” Merin said, using a Hebrew term that literally means “good luck,” but is used as “congratulations.” The recognition process took nearly a year, beginning in January 2016, most of that meticulously reviewing manuals and ensuring that Israel met the criteria, Merin said. In the past two months, WHO delegations also visited Israel and met with Merin and his team in order to assess the IDF Medical Corps’ field hospital, a sprawling structure that can comprise up to 30 tents, according to the IDF. However, the version seen by Norton’s team during an exercise in northern Israel in September contained just 26.


The military’s field hospital is “not just some medics and doctors spread out in the field”; rather it is a “national treasure” that has the capabilities of an advanced, permanent hospital but can be set up almost anywhere in under 12 hours, Merin told The Times of Israel last month. Israeli disaster relief delegations — some of them led by Merin — have been some of the first and largest to arrive at the scenes of natural disasters. Teams from the IDF Medical Corps and Home Front Command provided rescue and medical services after an earthquake in Turkey in 1999, an earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a typhoon in the Philippines in 2013 and, most recently, an earthquake in Nepal in 2015.


This Type 3 classification ensures that Israeli teams will continue to be the first allowed on the scene of future disasters and further cements Israel’s position as a world leader in emergency medicine, proving to friends and foes alike that the Jewish state knows how to handle catastrophes. “This recognition isn’t just international. It’s also recognition for ourselves, showing us what we can do,” the army spokesperson said Sunday.


While Israel’s emergency medical teams may be best known for their work abroad, Merin stressed that this takes a backseat to its primary directive. “Our role is, first of all, to deploy and assist in either — God forbid — a natural disaster, which can happen because Israel’s on an active [fault line] or in cases of war,” he said. Israel’s regular humanitarian relief efforts have drawn both international praise and accusations of “rubble-washing” — or using its disaster relief effort to boost its international standing. Helping other countries in need is “the most effective kind of diplomacy,” then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman said in 2015, after Israel sent a team to Nepal. “In crafting a country’s image, nothing is more effective than providing aid.”


However, diplomats insist the drive is mostly altruistic. “If we’re sending aid to Haiti, the Philippines and Nepal, we’re obviously not looking to reap great diplomatic benefits from these countries, which I might be allowed to describe as not superpowers,” said a former senior diplomat in 2015, responding to a question about Liberman’s comment…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    





CHANGING ORDER OF BATTLE                                                                           

Louis Rene Beres                                                                   

Israel Defense, Oct. 30, 2016


In every traditional military lexicon, strategies of international deterrence automatically assume enemy rationality. In the absence of rationality – that is, in those more-or-less residual circumstances where an enemy state might rank order certain preferences more highly than “staying alive” as a nation – deterrence is necessarily expected to fail. Regarding those inherently more serious and complex circumstances involving nuclear deterrence, the plausible consequences of failure could be catastrophic. They could even prove to be unprecedented.


Dealing with sub-state or terrorist adversaries presents a somewhat different and potentially even more hazardous set of nuclear deterrence risks. By definition, these increasingly hard-line adversaries (e.g., ISIS, Hezbollah) generally do not have sovereign national territories to protect (Palestinian Hamas has a sort of quasi-sovereign status in Gaza). Their core objectives are also apt to include “martyrdom,” a faith-driven preference that is plainly inauspicious for maintaining orthodox Israeli deterrence strategies. The basic problem is easy to recognize. Certain beleaguered states in the Middle East already have to deal with ISIS, Hezbollah, and related adversaries that may never habitually conform to the ordinary definitions of decisional rationality in world politics. This quality is far more portentous than a merely inconvenient truth. It represents a potentially existential peril.


For the most part, at least for now, nuclear deterrence should continue to be examined and assessed in Israel vis-à-vis national or state adversaries, not sub-state enemies. Moreover, irrationality, it must be understood, is not the same as “crazy,” or “mad," and must always be systematically differentiated from these imprecise and common-sense terms. Israeli strategic planners must expressly understand that even an irrational enemy leadership could still maintain a distinct and identifiable hierarchy of preferences, albeit one in which national survival does not predictably rank at the top.


Using correct strategic terminology, professional military analysts would likely report that such irrational state actors still exhibit an ordering of preferences that is “consistent,” "instrumental," and “transitive.” In principle, therefore, even certain "irrational" states could be rendered subject to alternative forms of deterrence. For any state that must rely more-or-less on threats of retaliatory destruction, correctly recognizing such "forms" could prove indispensable to its core national security.


By definition, a genuinely “crazy” or “mad” leadership would have no discernible order of preferences. Its strategic actions and interactions would expectedly be random and unpredictable. It follows that facing a crazy or mad adversary in world politics is substantially “worse” than confronting "just" an irrational adversary. Although it might still be possible and even reasonable to attempt deterrence of an irrational enemy, there would be little or no point to seeking such protections against a seemingly “mad” one. "Do you know what it means to find yourselves face to face with a madman," inquires playwright Luigi Pirandello's Henry IV. "Madmen, lucky folk, construct without logic, or rather with a logic that flies like a feather."


What is true for individuals is sometimes also true for states. In the bewildering theater of modern world politics, a drama that routinely bristles with absurdities, strategic decisions that rest upon logic can quickly crumble before madness. Corresponding dangers may reach the most singularly threatening or existential level. This is the case whenever madness and a nuclear weapons capability would overlap. Pertinent strategic questions of rationality and irrationality are not narrowly theoretical. On the contrary, they are profoundly real and current, especially in the still- adversarial dyad of Israel and Iran.  Because the “international community” could never agree to undertake an appropriately preemptive action (“anticipatory self-defense,” in the formal language of law), and had committed itself, instead, to the futile diplomacy of the July 2015 Vienna Pact, Jerusalem could still have to face an effectively genocidal Iranian nuclear adversary.


All along, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has understood that Iran’s senior leadership could, at least at some point, value Israel’s physical destruction more highly than its own national survival. Should this calculation actually happen, the “play” would end very badly for all the “actors," including the "victorious" Iranians.


For the foreseeable future, Israel’s ultimate source of national security will assuredly have to lie in some pattern or other of sustained nuclear deterrence. Whether still deliberately ambiguous or newly disclosed, this Israeli “bomb in the basement” could expectedly “crumble before madness.” This suggests that in certain easily-imaginable instances involving aberrant enemy behavior, the outcome of failed Israeli retaliatory threats could sometimes include irremediable harms. All things considered, while the logic of deterrence has traditionally required an assumption of rationality, history also reveals the persistent fragility of any such theoretical expectation. We already know all too well that nations can behave in ways that are consciously and conspicuously self-destructive…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    


On Topic Links


Submarines and Advisers: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2016—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s successful navigation of a turbulent Middle East is undoubtedly one of the reasons he may soon surpass David Ben-Gurion to become the nation’s longest-serving prime minister.

Israel Puts the Spike Missile on its Apache Helicopters: Shoshana Bryen, Jewish Policy Center, Nov. 21, 2016 —Sometimes when decisions do not work out exactly as intended, they work out just fine. In the midst of Operation Protective Edge — Israel’s response to 182 Hamas rockets and mortars fired at Israeli towns and villages in the first week of July 2014 — the Obama administration accused Israel of “heavy handed battlefield tactics,” including the use of artillery instead of precision-guided munitions. U.S. President Barack Obama halted the supply of Hellfire missiles and announced that all military equipment supplied to Israel would be vetted individually in the White House, instead of shipped, according to prior agreements, by the Pentagon to Israel.

Behind the Scenes of the Israeli Army: Tsivya Fox, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 22, 2016—The Israeli army (IDF) is known for its prowess and advanced technology. Lesser known is the wide range of projects which maintain soldier welfare and morale. These programs might just be the secret to the IDF’s outstanding success.

Women Increasingly Join the Fight in Israel's Army: Michael Blum, Yahoo News, Nov. 20, 2016—Her face covered in mud, 18-year-old Smadar crawls beneath thorny brush, her automatic rifle around her neck. She smiles despite the intensity of the training, and her commander, also a woman, shouts encouragement. "I don't regret choosing this unit," said Smadar, who was not allowed to provide her last name under Israeli army rules. "I wanted to do my military service in the most combative unit possible."