Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

Month: February 2018

PAKISTAN, A KEY REGIONAL ALLY OF U.S., CONTINUES TO SUPPORT TERRORISM IN AFGHANISTAN

Pakistan, Seeing New Pressure from the West, Moves Against a Militant Group: Saeed Shah, Ian Talley and Dion Nissenbaum, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14, 2018

Can the United States Change Pakistan’s Behaviour?: Brahma Chellaney, Globe and Mail, Jan. 31, 2018— U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent decision to freeze some $2-billion (U.S.) in security assistance to Pakistan as punishment for the country’s refusal to crack down on transnational terrorist groups is a step in the right direction.
Rescinding Aid to Pakistan: Rachel Bovard, Real Clear World, Jan. 19, 2018— Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, multiple administrations have insisted upon recognizing Pakistan as a crucial ally in U.S.-led counterterrorism efforts.
The U.S. Needs to Rethink What Winning in Afghanistan Looks Like: Nicholas Grossman, National Review, Feb. 7, 2018— Americans want foreign military campaigns to go smoothly…
Protecting Afghan Women Is a National Security Issue: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, Feb. 23, 2018— There was the woman whose husband sliced off her genitalia, and then reached inside her with his hand, damaging her inner organs.

On Topic Links

Pakistan, Seeing New Pressure from the West, Moves Against a Militant Group: Saeed Shah, Ian Talley and Dion Nissenbaum, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14, 2018
Pressure Pays: Trump’s Threats to Pakistan: Meira Svirsky, Clarion Project, Feb. 21, 2018
Pakistani Islamism Flourishes in America: Sam Westrop, National Review, Jan. 24, 2018
On Afghanistan, There’s No Way Out: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Aug. 24, 2017

CAN THE UNITED STATES CHANGE PAKISTAN’S BEHAVIOUR?
Brahma Chellaney
Globe and Mail, Jan. 31, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent decision to freeze some $2-billion (U.S.) in security assistance to Pakistan as punishment for the country’s refusal to crack down on transnational terrorist groups is a step in the right direction. But more steps are needed.

The United States has plenty of incentive to put pressure on Pakistan, a country that has long pretended to be an ally, even as it continues to aid the militant groups fighting and killing U.S. soldiers in neighbouring Afghanistan. In fact, it is partly because of that aid Afghanistan is a failing state, leaving the United States mired in the longest war in its history. More than 16 years after the United States invaded Afghanistan, its capital, Kabul, has come under siege, exemplified by the recent terrorist attack on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel and the suicide bombing, using an explosives-laden ambulance, in the city centre. In recent months, the United States has launched a major air offensive to halt the rapid advance of the Afghan Taliban. The United States has now carried out more air strikes since last August than in 2015 and 2016 combined.

Yet neither the air blitz nor the Trump administration’s deployment of 3,000 additional U.S. troops can reverse the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. To achieve that, Pakistan would have to dismantle the cross-border sanctuaries used by the Taliban and its affiliate, the Haqqani network, as well as their command-and-control operations, which are in Pakistani territory. The problem is that Pakistan’s powerful military, whose generals dictate terms to a largely impotent civilian government, seems committed to protecting, and even nurturing, terrorists on Pakistani soil. Only those militants who threaten Pakistan are targeted by the country’s rogue Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Far from holding Pakistan’s generals accountable for the American blood on their hands, the United States has provided them large amounts of funding – so much, in fact, that Pakistan has been one of the United States’ largest aid recipients. Even when the United States found Osama bin Laden, after a 10-year hunt, holed up in a compound next to Pakistan’s main military academy, it did not meaningfully alter its carrot-only strategy. This has enabled the military to tighten its grip on Pakistan further, frustrating domestic efforts to bring about a genuine democratic transition. Making matters worse, the United States has dissuaded its ally India – a major target of Pakistan-supported terrorists – from imposing any sanctions on the country. Instead, successive U.S. administrations have pressured India to engage diplomatically with Pakistan.

This approach has emboldened Pakistan-based terrorists to carry out cross-border attacks on targets from Mumbai to Kashmir. As for the United States, the White House’s new National Security Strategy confirms that the United States “continues to face threats from transnational terrorists and militants operating from within Pakistan.” This conclusion echoes then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s warning in 2009 that Pakistan “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world.”

Against this background, the Trump administration’s acknowledgment of U.S. policy failure in Pakistan is good news. But history suggests that simply suspending security aid – economic assistance and military training are set to continue – will not be enough to bring about meaningful change in Pakistan. Another step the United States could take would be to label Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. If the United States prefers not to do so, it should at least strip Pakistan of its status as a major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, ending its preferential access to U.S. weapons and technologies. Moreover, the United States should impose targeted sanctions, including asset freezes, on senior military officers who maintain particularly close ties to terrorists.

Finally, the United States should take advantage of its enduring position as Pakistan’s largest export market to tighten the economic screws on the cash-strapped country. Since 2013, Pakistan has attempted to offset the sharp decline in its foreign-exchange reserves by raising billions of dollars in dollar-denominated debt with 10-year bonds. Pakistan’s efforts to stave off default create leverage that the United States should use. Likewise, Pakistan agreed to privatize 68 state-run companies, in exchange for $6.7-billion in credit from the International Monetary Fund. If the United States extended financial and trade sanctions to multilateral lending, and suspended supplies of military spare parts, it would gain another effective means of bringing Pakistan to heel.

To be sure, Pakistan could respond to such sanctions by blocking America’s overland access to Afghanistan, thereby increasing the cost of resupplying U.S. forces by up to 50 per cent. But, as Pakistan learned in 2011-12, such a move would hurt its own economy, especially its military-dominated trucking industry. Meanwhile, the added cost to the United States would be lower than U.S. military reimbursements to Pakistan in the last year.

If Pakistan is going to abandon its double game of claiming to be a U.S. ally while harbouring terrorists, the United States will need to stop rewarding it for offering, as Mr. Trump put it, “nothing but lies & deceit.” More than that, the United States will need to punish Pakistan for its duplicity. And U.S. policy makers must act soon, or an increasingly fragile Pakistan could well be transformed from a state sponsor of terrorism into a state sponsored by terrorists.
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RESCINDING AID TO PAKISTAN
Rachel Bovard
Real Clear World, Jan. 19, 2018

Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, multiple administrations have insisted upon recognizing Pakistan as a crucial ally in U.S.-led counterterrorism efforts. Yet 16 years later, the United States has very little to show for it. Instead, Pakistan has continued to undermine U.S. interests in the region and around the world in almost every conceivable way.

The list of their failures is long. Osama bin Laden, for years the most hunted man in the world, was killed by U.S. Navy Seals almost right next door to the Pakistani military academy, and Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a U.S. airstrike on Pakistani soil in May of 2016. Since late last year, Pakistan has repeatedly refused to grant the U.S. access to a Haqqani network operative — one reportedly with information about U.S. hostages. Pakistani support for the Taliban is enabling the expansion of the Islamic State and al Qaeda militants across Afghanistan. Moreover, Pakistan continues to bankroll insurgents across the region, even as it receives around $1 billion a year from U.S. taxpayers for supposedly combatting those same militants.

Meanwhile, Washington has forked over approximately $20 billion in military aid and equipment to Pakistan, and for what? Pakistan has cashed that American money to arm, fund, and protect the very same militants who have killed thousands of American soldiers, contractors, and civilians in Iraq. In a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, former top Bush diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad called Pakistan’s actions a “perfidious and dangerous double game,” with the country “portray[ing] itself as a U.S. partner, yet support[ing] the Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network.”

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) summed up the situation thusly: “Billions of dollars have been spent, and far too little change has occurred in Pakistan. It seems like paying the mafia.” This is particularly true when one considers how this aid has enriched the Pakistani military at the expense of the rest of the country. Pakistan’s powerful military plays a massive role in domestic affairs, where, in addition to military installments, they own hotels, shopping centers, shipping center, insurance companies, banks, farms, and an airline. According to Pakistani journalist Ayesha Siddiqa, the military is worth more than $20 billion.

It’s little wonder how the Pakistani military became so wealthy on America’s dime. A 2008 assessment from American officials in Islamabad revealed that as much as 70 percent of the $5.4 billion in U.S. assistance to Pakistan had been “misspent.” Pakistan, for its part, continues to perpetuate the myth that it is “too dangerous to fail,” arguing that repercussions of cutting off aid could be severe. In a recent article in Foreign Affairs, C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly challenge these assumptions, particularly that Pakistan lacks the ability to rein in the various terrorist organizations operating within their borders.

This is nonsense, as the authors point out. Not only does the Pakistani military know these organizations inside and out, having spawned and organized many of them, it has previously shown its willingness to crush insurgents with efficiency. “There is no reason,” the authors argue, “to believe that Islamabad could not do so again were it so inclined.” Furthermore, even if Pakistan fails to cooperate after a cutoff of aid, the U.S. has other, more drastic points of leverage it can utilize. Rescinding Pakistan’s designation as a “major non-NATO ally” would strip it of even more financial and military benefits, not to mention diplomatic prestige. Increased sanctions like those contemplated by the White House this summer are also an option.

For years, the U.S. has provided Pakistan with billions of dollars in a vain effort to gain cooperation. That naiveté—assuming Islamabad would act against its own perceived vital interests for billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars—has resulted in thwarted military endeavors and lost American lives. It is long past time for Washington elites to recognize the central role interests play in how other countries behave. President Trump’s recent announcement that his administration will cut off $255 million in aid is a welcome start. Members of Congress are also engaging on this important issue: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has long supported the elimination of aid to duplicitous allies like Pakistan, has introduced a bill to do so.

The U.S. relationship with Pakistan must improve if it is going to be maintained. The United States can ill afford to send billions of dollars to a country which actively undermines our interests. Shrewd diplomacy should replace bribery. In wrapping up his testimony before the Foreign Affairs Committee examining the U.S. policy toward Paskistan in 2016, former U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was asked if he believed the U.S. had been manipulated in its decades long relationship with Pakistan. “To use an undiplomatic term,” he said, “we have been patsies.”
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THE U.S. NEEDS TO RETHINK WHAT
WINNING IN AFGHANISTAN LOOKS LIKE
Nicholas Grossman
National Review, Feb. 7, 2018

Americans want foreign military campaigns to go smoothly: Deploy, sacrifice, win, leave. And if winning isn’t in the cards, then what’s the sacrifice for? Leave as soon as possible. By that logic, the United States is losing in Afghanistan — or at least not winning — and should abandon the effort. But a simple win–loss dynamic is the wrong way to think about that 16-year-old war. America’s not in Afghanistan to win. It’s there to hold the line.

For many Americans, especially older ones, the win–loss dichotomy boils down to World War II vs. Vietnam. World War II was the good war: well-defined, righteous goals, ending in clear, unambiguous victory. After winning, most Americans came home. Those who stayed to oversee reconstruction in Germany and Japan faced minimal violence. Vietnam was the bad war: ambiguous goals of uncertain importance, dragging on at considerable cost before withdrawal. The United States sacrificed immense blood and treasure, but the Communists took over anyway.

Through this lens, Afghanistan is Vietnam. Though responding to September 11 was righteous, the war’s goals were never especially clear and have long since become ambiguous. Within months of invading in October 2011, American-led forces defeated the Taliban government and dislodged al-Qaeda. Then the goals shifted. To prevent another transnational terrorist group from using Afghanistan as a base of operations, the United States  — with support from allies and the broader international community — propped up the democratically elected Afghan government. The plan was for coalition troops to fight insurgents and train local forces, providing domestic security until the Afghans could take over.

It’s been 16 years, and that goal is nowhere in sight. The Taliban and other insurgent networks remain active, with an open physical presence in over two-thirds of Afghanistan, fully controlling about 4 percent. And ISIS recently gained a foothold. In the last two weeks, four attacks in the national capital, Kabul, killed over 130, including eleven at a military base. The Taliban claimed two of the attacks, and ISIS claimed the other two. This violence indicates the government is not in control of the country.

Meanwhile, Pakistan continues playing both sides. The Haqqani network, the Pakistani Taliban, and other insurgents operating in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border, have killed thousands of Pakistanis. But while the Pakistani military fights those groups, elements of the ISI — the country’s powerful intelligence agency — support, or at least turn a blind eye to, FATA-based militants who focus on Afghanistan. Without a path to victory, many Americans wonder why the United States should keep spending money and risking lives. Perhaps it is time to withdraw.

It’s important to learn lessons from the past, but every war is different, and Afghanistan is not Vietnam. From a humanitarian perspective, the Taliban are worse than the North Vietnamese, especially regarding treatment of women. And the Taliban’s religious fundamentalism is less popular in Afghanistan than Communism was in 1960s and ’70s Vietnam.

However, using force abroad requires a compelling national interest. Vietnam did not threaten American security and, though it may not have been easy to see at the time, withdrawing did not put American interests in danger. The theory that Communism would sweep across southeast Asia proved incorrect. Though the Communist party remains in power today, Vietnam evolved with China into a sort of state-managed capitalism, rather than revolution-exporting Communism. And Vietnam is now one of the world’s most pro-American countries, with over 75 percent holding a favorable opinion of the United States.

As with the Vietcong, the Taliban and other Afghan insurgents do not directly threaten American security. But the similarities end there. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Taliban willingly hosted al-Qaeda, which proved itself a threat to American security. If the Taliban retakes power, it could allow transnational jihadists to set up shop. After the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam, the Vietnamese Communist party took control and maintained internal security. But American withdrawal from Afghanistan could easily lead to prolonged civil war. The Soviet Union’s withdrawal in 1989 sparked a seven-year conflict the Taliban eventually won, leaving pockets of territory ungoverned. As in Syria, the chaos would play to ISIS’s advantage. And Vietnam didn’t have a neighbor like Pakistan.

Pakistan is the world’s least stable nuclear-armed country. In the 21st century, insurgents and terrorists have killed over 29,000 Pakistanis, mostly civilians. The country became a military dictatorship in a 1999 coup — a year after its first nuclear test — and then returned to democracy in 2008. But Yousaf Raza Gillani, the first post-dictatorship prime minister, lost his position because of contempt of court, and the second, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, was banned from seeking reelection in 2017 because of corruption. The military owns businesses, which provide independent sources of funding that limit civilian control. And, most concerning, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, A. Q. Kahn, ran a black-market proliferation ring until 2004, selling information to North Korea, Iran, and Libya.

Pakistan’s stability is in America’s interest. If the government collapses, terrorists could steal a nuclear weapon or radioactive material that could be used in a dirty bomb. Because Afghan and Pakistani insurgent networks overlap, the war in Afghanistan is partially about denying sanctuary to militants that attack Pakistan…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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PROTECTING AFGHAN WOMEN IS A NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE
Abigail R. Esman
IPT News, Feb. 23, 2018

There was the woman whose husband sliced off her genitalia, and then reached inside her with his hand, damaging her inner organs. There was the woman whose husband cut off her ear. More commonly, there are the rapes, the forced marriages, and the mob beatings, such as the one last December: video shows a woman dressed in a blue burqa, being beaten by crowds of men – including family members – as onlookers call out “Allahu Akbar!”

Such is life for women in Afghanistan, where an estimated 87 percent of them have experienced physical or sexual abuse, or both. Their stories are part of what has made Afghanistan the worst country in the world for women. In the weeks following America’s first attacks in Afghanistan during the fall of 2001, images of burqa-clad women tearing off the imprisoning garments filled TV news reports. With tremendous satisfaction, Americans praised themselves for beating back the Taliban – the terror-supporting militia that not only ruled much of the country, but had harbored Osama bin Laden – and for liberating Afghan women. The images of them without their burqas were our proof: America had once more helped forge a victory for the oppressed. Except, as it turned out, we hadn’t.

While the Taliban no longer hold power over many of the regions it ruled before the American invasion, the group still maintains control over several rural areas of the country, as do other militia groups which impose similar constraints on women. Moreover, low female literacy rates have ranked Afghan fourth on the list of 10 worst places for girls’ education, according to a report from global anti-poverty group ONE. The other nine countries are all in Africa. In rural regions, 90 percent of women are illiterate, versus 63 percent of men – numbers that are deeply disturbing for both genders, since, as UNESCO and others have observed, literacy is directly related to political empowerment. But the problem particularly affects women, and is arguably a strategic measure: in the words of former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, “by acquiring literacy, women become more economically self-reliant and more actively engaged in their country’s social, political and cultural life.”

The refusal to educate women represents, in other words, not just a systemic oppression, but enslavement. Which is why the abuse of women includes depriving them of schooling – and why such abuse in Afghanistan and other war- torn countries like Iraq, the Congo, Somalia and Sudan, should be of profound concern to Americans and the West.

Researchers, particularly Valerie M. Hudson, director of the Womanstats project and George W. Bush Chair of the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University, have shown definitive links between the societies that produce terrorists and the rate of domestic abuse and the oppression of women. As Hudson puts it in her book Sex And World Peace, “states characterized by norms of gender and ethnic inequality as well as human rights abuses are more likely to become involved in militarized interstate disputes, to be the aggressors in international disputes, and to rely on force when involved in an international dispute…. International security cannot be attained without gender equality.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

Contents

On Topic Links

Pakistan, Seeing New Pressure from the West, Moves Against a Militant Group: Saeed Shah, Ian Talley and Dion Nissenbaum, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14, 2018 —Pakistan is hoping to head off an attempt by the Trump administration to exert further pressure over terrorism by putting the country on a global terror financing watch list, according to a senior Pakistani official.

Pressure Pays: Trump’s Threats to Pakistan: Meira Svirsky, Clarion Project, Feb. 21, 2018—Dear President Trump, Kudos on standing up to Pakistan and its support of terror. I’m sure you took notice of what just happened after you tweeted your first communique of 2018…

Pakistani Islamism Flourishes in America: Sam Westrop, National Review, Jan. 24, 2018—On January 1, President Trump tweeted that Pakistan gives “safe haven to the terrorists.” The State Department subsequently suspended over a billion dollars of security assistance and military funding to the country.

On Afghanistan, There’s No Way Out: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Aug. 24, 2017—When it comes to Afghanistan, we’ve tried everything. The lesson is: Nothing works. We’ve tried “light footprint.” From the initial defeat of the Taliban in 2001 until 2007, monthly U.S. troop numbers never exceeded 25,000. Result: a reconstituted Taliban, their leadership secure in Pakistan, made inroads into more than half of Afghanistan.

CHRISTIANS PLAY VITAL ROLE IN MAINTAINING SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL & FIGHTING ANTISEMITISM

What We Thought of the Rev. Billy Graham: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Feb. 23, 2018— Perhaps the saddest thing about the death of the Rev. Billy Graham on Feb. 21, at the age of 99, was the fact that virtually every obituary gave prominent mention to what was arguably his worst moment.

Mike Pence’s Faith, Israel and Middle East Policy: Ron Kampeas, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2018— When Mike Pence moved to Washington earlier this year, he and his wife took with them a framed phrase they had for years hung over their fireplace in their Indiana home, and then over the fireplace in the governor’s mansion in that state.

Restoring Persecuted Middle East Christians’ Faith in America: Johny Messo, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 21, 2018— Without urgent action on the part of the United States, Christianity in biblically historic lands, such as Iraq, Syria and Turkey, will be clinically dead before the year 2030.

Dealing with the Devil: Pope Francis, Erdogan, and Jerusalem: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Times of Israel, Feb. 18, 2018— The sudden explosion of hostilities between Iran and Israel points to the seemingly permanent instability of the Middle East – which makes the recent 50-minute meeting between Pope Francis and Turkish President Erdogan all the more disturbing.

 

On Topic Links

 

Jewish Leaders Mourn the Passing of Reverend Billy Graham, Friend of Israel: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 21, 2018

Infidel Women: Spoils of War: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 17, 2018

Closing Down Christianity at its Source: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, Dec. 21, 2018

America’s 20 Most Influential Pro-Israel Evangelical Christians: Eliana Rudee, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 24, 2017

 

WHAT WE THOUGHT OF THE REV. BILLY GRAHAM

Jonathan S. Tobin

JNS, Feb. 23, 2018

Perhaps the saddest thing about the death of the Rev. Billy Graham on Feb. 21, at the age of 99, was the fact that virtually every obituary gave prominent mention to what was arguably his worst moment. Graham was a giant of American evangelism, whose worldwide fame as a preacher eclipsed that of any American religious figure of the 20th century. But it was impossible to do an assessment of a life full of achievements without also talking about the fact that he was caught on tape expressing antisemitic sentiments while speaking with former President Richard Nixon.

 

The comments — in which he spoke of his negative feelings about his many Jewish friends and his belief that a Jewish “stranglehold” on the media was destroying the country — were indeed despicable. Graham said those words in 1972, not knowing that Nixon’s taping system would preserve them for eternity. When former Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman first revealed them in 1994, few believed the kindly churchman was capable of speaking in that fashion. Years later, when the Nixon library released the tapes in 2002, there was no denying what he said. Graham publicly apologized and asked the Jewish community for forgiveness. The real damage here was not so much the hurt feelings that the comments caused as much as the way it confirmed the negative opinions that so many in the community already held about Evangelical Christians.

 

The profound distrust among liberal American Jews bordering on contempt for Evangelicals in general and Christian conservatives in particular is so pervasive as to be unremarkable. That it often crosses over into religious prejudice is something few in the American Jewish community — which tends to think of religious bias as something only done to them, rather than what they can possibly do to others — think actually occurs. Most Jews also rarely consider the vital role these same Christians play in maintaining support for Israel and opposing antisemitism.

 

While his message of faith inspired countless numbers of people who flocked to hear his sermons at his “crusades,” Graham was not a profound religious philosopher. His homespun, God-centered philosophy and strict views about sex was not the sort of things most liberal Jews contemplated with respect. So in that sense, Jewish opinion about Graham, which was often negative even before the public learned of his conversation with Nixon, illustrates both the difficult nature of the relationship between Jews and Evangelicals, as well as the need to rise above negative attitudes that are rooted in the prejudices of the past, rather than on the needs and realities of the present. The salient point about Graham is not so much what he was taped telling the president, but that in his public life he was an important friend of the Jewish people, even though most Jews often dismissed him as the epitome of a “holly roller” who hated Jews.

 

Graham was an early and impassioned supporter of Israel. A much-publicized tour of the country in 1960 helped galvanize support for the Jewish state among Evangelicals at a time when sympathy for Zionism in this country was far greater among liberals than among conservatives, who were Graham’s base of supporters. He was willing to stand with Israel when it was both popular and unpopular, publicly urging it not to endanger its security and even producing a film about it that’s still popular among Christian audiences. He was also an early and influential supporter of the cause of freedom for Soviet Jewry.

 

There will be those who will look back on his antisemitic remarks as “proof” that Evangelicals are not sincere about their love for Israel and their friendship for the Jews. But such reasoning ought to be rejected by thinking people. As George Will pointed out in a not particularly sympathetic appreciation of Graham in The Washington Post, the famous preacher’s predilection for fawning over world leaders (including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, as viewers of Netflix’s series “The Crown” learned) may have been the real reason for his comments to Nixon. One can, as he put it, “acquit him of anti-Semitism only by convicting him of toadying.”

 

But there was more to the man than that gaffe or any other foolish statements uttered in several decades in the limelight. Born in North Carolina in 1918 and the grandson of two Confederate soldiers, Graham was a product of an era in the American South in which antisemitism and racial bigotry were commonplace. But Graham was able to transcend those prejudices to become an opponent of segregation, as well as a very public supporter of Jewish causes.

 

His willingness to embrace Israel is significant because the world in which he made his mark as an international religious celebrity was not one in which Jews were widely accepted. Nor was his advocacy for Zionism rooted in dispensationalist beliefs about Jews being converted and bringing on the end of days. Unlike some Evangelicals — and in spite of the fact that conversions were a prominent part of his ministry — Graham opposed proselytizing Jews, reminding Christians that seeking to impose faith on those who resisted such overtures was wrong.

 

Seen in that context, a Jewish rejection of Graham and the tens of millions of other Evangelicals not only makes no sense, but also is deeply self-destructive. Why continue to question the good intentions of people who not only think well of Israel, but also donate generously to charities that help Jews (as Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has proved) and who only vote for candidates that support Israel with a single-minded mindset that most Jews reject.

 

In remembering Billy Graham, Jews can acknowledge his flaws, but they must also understand how much good he did not just for his own flock of believers, but for them as well. At a time when Israel remains beset by hatred and many are urging boycotts rooted in antisemitic animosity, friends like Billy Graham — and all the many other evangelicals who followed in his footsteps in support of Israel — should be embraced, rather than disdained. To do otherwise says more about our own prejudices against Christians than it does about the shortcomings of Evangelicals.                                                                                                

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MIKE PENCE’S FAITH, ISRAEL AND MIDDLE EAST POLICY

Ron Kampeas

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2018

When Mike Pence moved to Washington earlier this year, he and his wife took with them a framed phrase they had for years hung over their fireplace in their Indiana home, and then over the fireplace in the governor’s mansion in that state. Now it hangs over the mantle at the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. The words, from the Book of Jeremiah, read: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope, and a future.”

 

The “you” is the people of Israel, and Pence, an evangelical Christian, makes that clear when he addresses pro-Israel audiences. “They’re words to which my family has repaired to as generations of Americans have done so throughout our history, and the people of Israel through all their storied history have clung,” Pence said last August at the annual conference of Christians United for Israel. Pence took that message to Israel this week on a trip ostensibly aimed in part at reviving the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. He is seen as a key Trump administration figure when it comes to Israel policy and reportedly helped nudge the president to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

 

Pence’s first visit to Israel as vice president led some to ask to what degree are his views — and the administration’s policies — shaped by the brand of evangelical Christianity that invests his faith? Pence, a convert to evangelical Christianity from Roman Catholicism, has spooked some liberals with his insistence on rooting his pro-Israel bona fides in faith as much as realpolitik considerations of the United States’ national security. Their fear is that a messianic outlook might run riot over one of the most delicate dilemmas facing successive US governments, namely stability in the Middle East.

 

“Trump has handed Israel policy to Evangelicals,” The Forward’s Jane Eisner wrote last week in an editorial as Pence headed to Israel. “That’s terrifying.” Like many liberals, she worries that policy will be driven by evangelical beliefs that certain conditions — like Jewish control over the West Bank and sovereignty in Jerusalem — fulfill biblical prophecies.

 

Republicans and conservatives say that it is reductive to believe that Pence shapes his views solely according to the tenets of his faith. “They always highlight the fact that he’s an evangelical, as if that’s a pejorative when in fact [Pence and other evangelicals] are motivated first and foremost by shared values with Israel,” said Matt Brooks, the director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, who has known Pence for years. “And not just by the shared values, but the important efforts of collectively standing up to threats of Iran, pushing back on ISIS, and on radical Islam, or whether it’s being a critical democratic foundation in a very dangerous place. There are so many places where US and Israel’s interests intersect.”

 

Pence began his speech to the Knesset by outlining the shared values Brooks described. “We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight,” he said. “We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil and in liberty over tyranny.” But he quickly pivoted to depict support of Israel as both biblical (Deuteronomy 30:4, to be exact) and rooted in an American strain of Christianity. “Down through the generations, the American people became fierce advocates of the Jewish people’s aspiration to return to the land of your forefathers, to claim your own new birth of freedom in your beloved homeland,” he said to applause. “The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages, written so long ago, that ‘even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens,’ from there He would gather and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed.”

 

Pastor John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, described a natural trajectory for evangelical supporters of Israel from biblical belief to the more practical modern reasons for supporting the state. “The promises of the Hebrew Bible are the foundation of Christian Zionism, but our motivations for supporting Israel do not end there,” he told JTA in an email. “We see in Israel a democracy that shares Western values and is a force for stability in the Middle East. While standing with Israel is a Biblical mandate, it is also a moral imperative and in the national security interests of the US. I am confident that all three of these considerations inform the Vice President’s approach to the Middle East and I believe that is perfectly appropriate.”

 

Pence has since the outset of his political career made it clear that his support for Israel is first grounded in biblical precepts. “My support for Israel stems largely from my personal faith,” he told Congressional Quarterly in 2002, a year after he was first elected to Congress. “God promises Abraham, ‘those who bless you, I will bless, and those who curse you, I will curse.’” Sarah Posner, a journalist who for years has tracked evangelicals, said Pence’s faith seemed to be preeminent in his consideration of Israel. “I don’t think he is thinking about that in terms of shared democracy or not shared democracy, he’s thinking about it providential terms, that these missions are God’s plans for Israel,” said Posner, a reporting fellow at The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund…

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

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RESTORING PERSECUTED MIDDLE EAST CHRISTIANS’ FAITH IN AMERICA

Johny Messo

Gatestone Institute, Jan. 21, 2018

Without urgent action on the part of the United States, Christianity in biblically historic lands, such as Iraq, Syria and Turkey, will be clinically dead before the year 2030. The current administration in Washington has expressed, in words, that this situation cannot be tolerated. It is time now for deeds, as well, to reverse the previous administrations’ virtual abandonment of Christians in the Middle East to the fate of persecution at the hands of Islamists.

 

In September 2007, then-Senator Obama wrote a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, expressing “concern for Iraq’s Christian and other non-Muslim religious minorities, including Catholic Chaldeans, Syriac Orthodox, Assyrian, Armenian and Protestant Christians, as well as smaller Yazidi and Sabean Mandaean communities.” Obama warned: “These communities appear to be targeted by Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish militants… And according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, ‘violence against members of Iraq’s Christian community occurs throughout the country’… Such violence bespeaks a humanitarian crisis of grave proportions. The severe violations of religious freedom faced by members of these indigenous communities, and their potential extinction from their ancient homeland, is deeply alarming… and demand an urgent response from our government.”

 

In spite of Senator Obama’s having addressed the growing threat to Christians and other ethno-religious minorities in Iraq, their situation would only deteriorate during the eight years of his presidency. While President George W. Bush may have opened the gates of hell for Iraq’s Christians, President Obama not only widened them, but unleashed the demons on Syria. The following give some idea of this downward spiral: Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, after earlier underreported exoduses of Christians from the country, there were 1.4 million Christians in Iraq, making up 5.4% of its overall population of 26 million. Today, 15 years later, Iraq’s Christian population stands at less than 250,000, a drop of 82%, and a mere 0.65% of Iraq’s general and much larger population of 38 million. In 2011, there were 1.8 – 2 million Christians in Syria, who made up 8% of the country’s total population of 23 million. Today, less than seven years later, no more than 500,000 Christians, out of a total population of 18.2 million can be found in their war-torn homeland — a drop of more than 72%.

 

The classical Christian populations in the Middle East consist of Copts, Greeks, Armenians and Arameans — the latter being the indigenous people of Southeast Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. As a stateless Semitic people, who live in a global diaspora, the Arameans include the traditionally Aramaic-speaking churches of the Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholics, Chaldeans, Nestorians (also known as Assyrians), Maronites, Melkite Orthodox and Melkite Catholics. Their incessant pleas and cries for help from the international community seem to have fallen on deaf ears for more than a decade; these Middle Eastern Christians feel abandoned and betrayed by both the United Nations and America. Statements emerging from the Trump administration, however, have given rise to new hope. Addressing the “In Defense of Christians” summit in Washington at the end of October, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a message that “help is on the way.” Declaring that the U.N. “has too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities… [and] too often denies their funding requests,” Pence promised that “from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted [Christian] communities through USAID.”…

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

                                                           

                                                                       

 

Contents

DEALING WITH THE DEVIL: POPE FRANCIS, ERDOGAN, AND JERUSALEM

Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Times of Israel, Feb. 18, 2018

The sudden explosion of hostilities between Iran and Israel points to the seemingly permanent instability of the Middle East – which makes the recent 50-minute meeting between Pope Francis and Turkish President Erdogan all the more disturbing. Why would the Pope appear so relaxed, collegial and accepting of one of the most volatile leaders of our day? Why did he let stand Erdogan’s claim that the two of them see eye to eye about Jerusalem?

 

Ostensibly, this new strange alliance grew out of President Trump’s recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Neither of these two leaders is a friend of Donald Trump.  But Erdogan is a supporter of Hamas and a frequent demonizer of the Jewish State. Pope Francis is not. Trump’s Jerusalem announcement simply does not suffice to explain this new apparent geopolitical partnership. The US President made clear that the final map of Jerusalem would be left to Israel and the Palestinians to figure out. He did not recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of the city. Indeed, the reaction of the Arab world was generally muted. Calls for another Intifada fell on deaf ears. So why would the Pope, in effect, encourage a leader who constantly strives to ignite the flickering embers of Palestinian violence in the crucible of faiths that is Jerusalem?

 

Does the Pontiff believe that weakening Israel’s control of the holy places, in place since 1967, would strengthen Christendom? In all those decades, Israel has been a protector of religious freedoms. It is her police who are called in by disputing Christian denominations to restore peace when physical violence breaks out between factions. In 2018, the Church bells ring throughout the Holy City and the Vatican’s flag flies atop its properties across all sectors of Jerusalem, something that was impossible to conceive of when the Ottoman Empire was in charge. And while the Ottomans were not particularly into religious fanaticism, Erdogan has been pushing Turkey– once the role model of a Muslim secular state– down the road towards extreme Islamization.  Does this pope believe that Christian interests will be safer with an Islamist state with which Israel’s enemies want to replace Israel?

 

Hard to believe when the Pope daily reads reports on the fate of the shrinking presence of threatened Christian minorities in many Arab and Muslim countries, where Christians face discrimination, persecution, and even death. Could it be about taxes? Israel has attempted to tax the property of churches that is not used for religious purposes, and Rome is not happy about that. But Israel is hardly alone. The same conflict has taken place in Italy, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, and Montreal. In fact, taxation in the United States of church-owned property that does not serve a religious function is the rule, not the exception.

 

Getting cozy with the tyrannical Erdogan is a strange way to jockey for a tax break for the Vatican. Perhaps the Pope was blind-sided by the wily Turkish leader.  No. Even before their meeting, Erdogan announced that the two of them were of a common mind regarding Jerusalem. If the Pope was walking into a trap, he could have politely but firmly used the meeting to create some distance between the two. This never happened. The ugliest possibility is that the Vatican has signaled a shift from its policies of the last decades. There are conservative elements in the Vatican who are unhappy over the rapprochement with the Jews that was engineered by the last few popes. These forces would lose no sleep if the current occupant of the Throne of St. Peter will jeopardize that relationship.

 

There are those in the Church hierarchy who would argue that the Vatican stands more to gain by currying favor with Muslims. Let Jewish concerns be damned; Israel won’t turn around and persecute the Christian faithful, while Muslims, they fear, are more likely to do just that.  It is difficult to fathom, however, that any Church leader could think that such an approach would do anything but hasten and seal Christian dhimmitude in a Middle East. Sometimes, even the inscrutable ways of G-d make more sense than the decisions of those who speak in His name. Aquinas, Maimonides, and Ibn Rushd together would not be able to make sense out of the Pope’s dangerous Middle East move. Getting in bed with the Erdogan will not serve the Divine. It will only strengthen the devil.

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Jewish Leaders Mourn the Passing of Reverend Billy Graham, Friend of Israel: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 21, 2018—Reverend Billy Graham, a powerful advocate of Israel and one of the most influential Evangelical leaders of the era, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 99. In a career that spanned six decades and reached all corners of the world, his message of faith was listened too by over 215 million followers. Recently, Newsmax voted Reverend Graham one of the most influential Evangelicals in America, praising him for his influence that crossed all boundaries.

Infidel Women: Spoils of War: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 17, 2018—One aspect of radical Islamist aggression that is overlooked – or purposely ignored – by Western liberals is that non-Muslim women tend to be its greatest victims. According to a recent Open Doors study, “Christian women are among the most violated in the world, in maybe a way that we haven’t seen before.” The study revealed that six women are raped every day simply for being Christian.

Closing Down Christianity at its Source: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, Dec. 21, 2018—The Muslim campaign to extirpate Christianity has been inaugurated at the place of the birth of Jesus– and no one seems to have noticed. The Mayor of Bethlehem, has decreed that, in protest of President Trump’s recent declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, it is necessary for him to close down Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. The result has been catastrophic for Bethlehem’s Christmas trade.

America’s 20 Most Influential Pro-Israel Evangelical Christians: Eliana Rudee, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 24, 2017—Newsmax has recently published its 100 Most Influential Evangelicals in America list, ranking pastors, teachers, politicians, athletes, and entertainers “from all walks of life whose faith leads them to live differently and to help others in a variety of ways.” Breaking Israel News wondered: How many of these prominent Christians use their influence to support Israel through investment and advocacy? Below, find BIN’s exclusive list of the top 20 pro-Israel Christians in America.

 

 

                                                              

 

 

AUX FRONTIÈRES D’ISRAËL, LA TENSION EST À SON COMBLE

  

    

 

 

 

SYRIE-ISRAËL-IRAN-RUSSIE :

RETOUR SUR LA PASSE D’ARMES DU 10 FÉVRIER

Michel Duclos

Institut Montaigne, fev. 16, 2018

 

 

On serait tenté de résumer le bilan de la passe d’armes entre l’Iran, Israël et la Syrie au petit matin du 10 février en une formule simple, voire simpliste : victoire politique pour Assad et Téhéran, succès militaire, au moins relatif, pour Tsahal. Mais la séquence sans précédent qui s’est produite dans cette nuit de sabbat ne revêt-elle pas en réalité une signification plus complexe ?

 

Eléments d’un premier bilan

 

Victoire politique pour le régime de Damas et son parrain iranien : c’est la première fois en effet depuis 1982 que les forces syriennes parviennent à descendre un avion militaire israélien (et de surcroît à contraindre un second à se poser en catastrophe). Il n’est pas indifférent que cette action ait eu lieu dans l’espace israélien, et non au-dessus du territoire syrien ou libanais.

 

Il ne faut pas s’y tromper : dans l’opinion des pays de la région, Assad a marqué un point très important. On peut voir dans l’épisode du 10 février une illustration du regain de confiance que le régime syrien éprouve depuis la défaite de l’opposition et de la détermination maintenue du Corps des Gardiens de la Révolution Islamique à avancer ses pions dans la région. L’hybris ne semble pas loin. La prétention de l’axe Iran-Damas-Hezbollah à incarner la "résistance" contre le sionisme trouve un début de réalisation. Le rêve de l’établissement d’une "parité stratégique" avec Israël, qui était celui de Hafez al-Assad, va vraisemblablement revivre dans l'esprit des décideurs de l’"axe chiite".

 

Le paradoxe est que sur le plan militaire Israël a sans doute remporté la manche. La pénétration d’un drone iranien jusqu’à 35 km en territoire israélien et le sort des deux avions militaires de Tsahal ont certes dévoilé des vulnérabilités réelles. Il reste qu’Israël a été en mesure d’infliger en Syrie même deux séries d’attaques de très grande ampleur. Presque simultanément avec le tir d’un hélicoptère sur le drone iranien, l’aviation israélienne a frappé la base T4 à côté de Palmyre d’où était parti le drone, ainsi que plusieurs autres infrastructures militaires en territoire syrien, dont quatre iraniennes. C’est lors de ces attaques que les deux jets de Tsahal ont été touchés. En riposte, Israël a enclenché deux autres vagues de frappes décrites comme massives sur des cibles syriennes et iraniennes (en Syrie). Les porte-paroles de Tsahal évoquent la destruction d’environ la moitié des dispositifs anti-aériens syriens.

Leçons stratégiques

 

Au-delà de ce premier bilan plusieurs questions se posent :

 

Premièrement, quel était l’objectif réel du drone iranien dans la nuit de sabbat ? Les stratèges parlent comme toujours dans ces cas là d’une mission de “test” de la réactivité de l’adversaire ou encore d’un avertissement à l’égard d’Israël concernant tel ou tel sujet de crispation caché ou larvé qu’ignorent les observateurs. Le fait est cependant que cette fois la défense aérienne syrienne a fonctionné et a été en mesure d’infliger une perte encore une fois symboliquement majeure à la défense israélienne. Sans entrer dans la logique complotiste qui a souvent cours dans la région, il est tentant de soulever l’hypothèse d’un piège dans lequel le drone iranien aurait servi d’appât à une opération combinée entre forces iraniennes et syriennes.

    

    Deuxièmement, quel a été le rôle de la Russie dans cette affaire ? M. Netanyahou était encore à Moscou le 27 janvier. Il affiche depuis longtemps une certaine proximité avec M. Poutine et, depuis l’intervention russe en Syrie en septembre 2015, une sorte de connivence stratégique : le premier ministre israélien semblait compter sur les Russes pour contenir la présence iranienne ou à tout le moins pour laisser Israël de manière quasi routinière – cent attaques aériennes israéliennes depuis 2011 – faire respecter ses “lignes rouges”.

 

    Or, dans l’épisode du 10 février, il serait étonnant que les Russes aient tout ignoré de l’action montée par les Iraniens en conjonction avec le régime de Damas. Les journaux israéliens parlent en outre maintenant d’un coup de fil qui aurait eu lieu dans la matinée du 10 entre M. Poutine et M. Netanyahou. Au cours de cet échange, le président russe aurait dissuadé le premier ministre israélien de déclencher une autre vague de frappes sur la Syrie encore plus importante que celles qui venaient d’avoir lieu. Les communiqués officiels émis à Moscou appellent au respect de la souveraineté nationale syrienne et mettent en garde contre d’éventuelles pertes de vies humaines russes.

    

    Dans ces conditions, la véritable leçon de la passe d’armes du 10 février ne réside t-elle pas dans une sorte de rappel à Israël que l’équilibre des forces n’est plus désormais aussi nettement en sa faveur qu’autrefois ? N’était-ce pas là le vrai message qu’ont voulu adresser les Iraniens et les Syriens ? Et si tel est bien le cas, les Russes n’ont-ils pas, en laissant faire l’opération d’abord, puis en dissuadant Jérusalem d’aller plus loin dans l’escalade ensuite, contribué à faire passer le message ?

 

Questions troublantes bien entendu – surtout si on les replace dans un double contexte.

 

En premier lieu, un débat occupe les spécialistes, au moins depuis l’été dernier,  sur l’inévitabilité d’une nouvelle guerre entre Israël et le Hezbollah, impliquant cette fois l’Iran. Aucun des acteurs concernés ne semblait avoir intérêt à provoquer une épreuve de force décisive dans l’immédiat. Il était couramment admis cependant qu’Israël se trouverait contraint un jour ou l’autre de donner un coup d’arrêt – avant qu’il ne soit trop tard pour sa sécurité – au renforcement constant de la puissance du Hezbollah et de l’Iran à ses portes. Depuis le 10 février, on peut se demander si ce diagnostic général demeure pertinent. Un rapport de l’International Crisis Group, publié quelques jours avant la passe d’armes du 10 février, avait d’ailleurs noté qu’Israël avait dû constamment réviser ses “lignes rouges” en Syrie au cours des dernières années – dans un sens qui globalement n’indiquait pas un renforcement de sa position stratégique (voir annexe).

 

En second lieu, le conflit syrien connait en ce moment une nouvelle mutation : d’une part, le régime et ses soutiens entendent aller jusqu’au bout de l’élimination de dernières poches de résistance dans la Ghouta et dans la province d’Idlib ; d’autre part un élément de conflit interétatique direct émerge clairement sur la scène syrienne : entre Turcs, Russes, Iraniens, Israéliens et Américains, une bataille pour le contrôle de zones d’influence en territoire syrien est engagée. A Afrin, les forces turques sont à portée de canon d’unités américaines ; à Deir ez-Zor l’aviation américaine est intervenue contre une colonne où se trouvaient des Iraniens et des Russes ; le 10 février,  le combat a mis pour la première fois au contact direct Israéliens et Iraniens (par ailleurs, des éléments russes devaient se trouver très près de bien des cibles visées par l’aviation israélienne).

 

Or, l’une des leçons de la passe d’armes du 10 février est bien entendu à quel point on est passé très près d’une escalade au moins régionale : si par exemple, l’un des pilotes israéliens s’était trouvé entre des mains ennemies (du point de vue d’Israël), une guerre entre Israël, le Hezbollah et l’Iran aurait peut-être déjà commencé.

 

La raison serait bien sûr d’engager immédiatement des discussions internationales sur un mécanisme de réduction des tensions et de gestion des risques autour de la crise syrienne : contrairement aux idées reçues jusqu'ici, il apparaît maintenant douteux que la solution passe par la pax russica. Ce qui s’est passé le 10 février ouvre peut-être une fenêtre d’opportunité pour une sorte de “Dayton sur la Syrie”, dans lequel les membres permanents du Conseil de Sécurité et les puissances régionales, à défaut dans un premier temps de régler les problèmes internes de la Syrie, s'entendraient au moins pour éviter l’engrenage fatal vers une guerre régionale.

 

 

 

 

LE HAMAS POURRAIT VOULOIR IMITER LE HEZBOLLAH,

MAIS GAZA N’EST PAS LE LIBAN

Avi Issacharoff

Times of Israel, 19 fev. 2018

 

 

 

 

Samedi, dans la bande de Gaza, quelques minutes après des frappes de l’aviation israélienne sur une liste de cibles appartenant pour la plupart au Hamas, l’aile militaire du groupe terroriste a publié un communiqué affirmant que ses équipes de défense aérienne avaient fait fuir « les avions lâches de l’ennemi », prétendant que des missiles anti-aériens avaient été tirés dans leur direction.

 

Ce ne serait pas les premiers ni les derniers tirs anti-aériens dirigés contre les avions israéliens à Gaza. Depuis des années, l’armée de l’air israélienne opère en ayant conscience que le Hamas dispose de missiles anti-aériens relativement peu sophistiqués.

 

Ce n’est pas non plus la première fois que le Hamas se vante de capacités anti-aériennes qu’il ne possède probablement pas.

 

Mais cette fois-ci, suite au crash d’un jet israélien F-16 abattu il y a plus d’une semaine par l’armée syrienne dans le nord du pays, ces commentaires avaient une autre signification.

 

En d’autres termes, le Hamas s’efforce d’être – ou d’être perçu comme – militairement comparable à l’armée syrienne, ou au moins au Hezbollah.

 

Indépendamment des tentatives – parfois pathétiques – du Hamas de se rapprocher du Hezbollah, qui est devenu l’une des forces les mieux armées du monde, le groupe sunnite palestinien au pouvoir à Gaza qui menace Israël par le sud et le groupe chiite libano-iranien qui menace Israël par le nord sont devenus remarquablement proches au cours des derniers mois.

 

Malgré l’inimitié naturelle entre les deux organisations en raison de leur appartenance religieuse opposée, les choses ont évolué depuis 2011, quand un conflit manifeste opposait la direction du Hamas, alors basée à Damas et dirigée par Khaled Meshaal, et « l’axe du mal » dirigé par l’Iran.

 

Plusieurs dirigeants du Hamas à l’étranger, tels Saleh al-Arouri, chef-adjoint du bureau politique, et Osama Hamdan, chef des affaires étrangères, vivent actuellement au Liban sous la protection du Hezbollah.

 

Arouri vit à Dahieh, le quartier chiite du Hezbollah à Beyrouth. Hamdan opère dans tout le monde arabe, mais principalement au Liban. Il publie quasi quotidiennement des photos de ses réunions au Liban et à l’étranger, y compris avec des membres et des associés du Hezbollah. Il y a quelques mois, le frère de Hamdan a été blessé dans une mystérieuse explosion dans le sud du Liban – une présumée tentative d’assassinat dirigée par des agents du Mossad.

 

Ce réchauffement des relations soulève à nouveau la possibilité d’une coopération entre le Hamas et le Hezbollah en cas de guerre avec Israël, ouvrant ainsi la voie à un conflit multi-fronts.

 

Des déclarations dans ce sens ont récemment été exprimées par plusieurs personnalités palestiniennes non seulement du Hamas mais aussi du Jihad islamique. Ils ont ainsi suggéré qu’en cas de guerre entre le Hezbollah et Israël au nord, les Palestiniens de Gaza se joindraient à eux.

 

Un tel scénario ne peut évidemment pas être pris à la légère et l’establishment sécuritaire d’Israël peut le craindre. Mais, une fois encore, Gaza n’est pas le Liban et le Hamas n’est pas le Hezbollah.

 

Les dégâts militaires causés au Hamas et à Gaza seraient beaucoup plus graves que les dégâts causés au Hezbollah et au Liban. Les capacités militaires du Hamas sont bien plus faibles que celles du Hezbollah et, plus important encore, l’économie de Gaza ne dispose pas des ressources nécessaires pour faire face à une autre guerre similaire à celle de l’été 2014. Les dirigeants du Hamas à Gaza le savent aussi ; par conséquent, la probabilité d’une guerre multi-fronts contre Israël reste faible.

 

Samedi, nous avons assisté à une reconnaissance du Hamas de sa position de faiblesse. Une bombe placée par des « manifestants » palestiniens près de la barrière frontalière, sous un drapeau palestinien, a blessé quatre soldats israéliens.

 

L’attaque a probablement été commise par ces groupes qualifiés de « voyous » à Gaza – ce qui signifie qu’elle n’a pas été commise par le Hamas ou le Jihad islamique. Cependant, étant donné qu’elle a été commise lors de manifestations organisées par le Hamas à la frontière, le groupe terroriste est en partie responsable de l’incident. Un tel scénario n’aurait pas été possible au Liban, où aucun groupe n’aurait pu mener une attaque contre les soldats israéliens à l’insu du Hezbollah.

 

La réaction israélienne face à l’attaque a été rapide et plusieurs sites du Hamas ont été ciblés dans tout Gaza. Le Hamas, ayant reconnu sa faiblesse et le danger d’une escalade des tensions avec Israël, a opté pour la retenue – une retenue masquée par une grandiose déclaration concernant son armement anti-aérien capable de « chasser » les avions israéliens.

 

 

 

 

VERS UNE GUERRE DU GAZ LIBAN/ISRAËL ? :

LE HEZBOLLAH SE DIT “PRÊT À AFFRONTER” TSAHAL AU LARGE DES CÔTES LIBANAISES

Faouzi Ahmed

 Le Monde Juif , 17 fev., 2018

 

 

“Aujourd’hui, les ressources d’hydrocarbures offshore se trouvant au large des côtes du Liban-Sud appartiennent à tous les Libanais. Cette manne représente un espoir de prospérité. La bataille du bloc 9 est celle de tous les Libanais”, a déclaré le chef du Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, dans un discours télévisé prononcé à l’occasion de la “commémoration annuelle des grands martyrs du parti”, Ragheb Harb, Abbas Moussaoui et Imad Moghnié.

 

Ce discours intervient alors que l’émissaire du département d’État américain, David Satterfield, mène une médiation entre le Liban et Israël dans le contentieux au sujet du bloc 9 de la Zone économique exclusive (ZEE) du Liban, Israël arguant qu’une partie de cette zone se trouve dans son territoire.

 

“C’est l’Etat libanais qui est responsable du tracé des frontières terrestres et maritimes. Mais il doit mener cette bataille en position de force”, a affirmé le leader terroriste.

 

“La seule force que vous pouvez utiliser dans cette guerre du pétrole et du gaz, c’est la résistance car il est interdit à l’armée libanaise d’avoir les missiles et les armes pour affronter les ennemis”, a-t-il assuré.

 

“Le principal conflit n’est pas la question du tracé des frontières terrestres. Le vrai conflit réside dans le tracé des frontières maritimes”, a-t-il poursuivi.

 

Par ailleurs, Hassan Nasrallah est revenu sur l’opération de l’aviation israélienne menée samedi dernier en Syrie, au cours de laquelle un avion israélien a été abattu. ” Ce qui s’est passé la semaine dernière est un grand exploit qui a fait perdre à Israël sa sérénité”, a-t-il estimé, ajoutant que “ce sont les responsables syriens et le président syrien Bachar el-Assad, pas l’Iran, ni la Russie, qui ont pris la décision de cibler tout appareil israélien entrant dans l’espace aérien” de la Syrie.

 

 

 

LA RUSSIE AFFIRME ÊTRE CONTRE LA DESTRUCTION D’ISRAËL…MAIS DÉFEND L’IRAN.

Elie Kaplan

Israel Valley, 20 fev., 2018

 

Le Ministre des Affaires Etrangères Russe, Serguei Lavrov, a indiqué qu’il était hors de question de détruire Israël et que ce ne serait en aucun cas une solution pour régler les crises qui agitent le Proche-Orient. Il a ensuite précisé qu’il n’approuvait pas plus l’approche consistant à aborder chaque problème sous le prisme de la lutte contre l’Iran. Ou comment, habillement, ménager la chèvre et le chou.

 

« Nous avons déclaré à plusieurs reprises que nous n’acceptions pas l’idée selon laquelle Israël devrait être détruit comme entité sioniste, voire éradiqué de la surface de la Terre. Nous considérons comme inacceptable cette approche politique visant uniquement à promouvoir ses propres intérêts », a expliqué le ministre à l’occasion du Forum de discussions Valdaï.

 

« De la même manière, nous n’acceptons pas l’approche selon laquelle chaque problème de la région doit être observé à travers le prisme de la lutte contre l’Iran », a t’il ajouté. « Le récent développement des événements autour du problème palestinien, y compris la décision de Washington de reconnaitre Jérusalem en tant que capitale d’Israël, est largement prédéterminé par la même rhétorique anti-iranienne », a conclu le ministre Lavrov qui a finalement précisé que l’escalade récente des tensions irano-israéliennes « risquait d’aggraver davantage la situation déjà précaire dans la région. »

 

 

 

 

Actualité 

 

 

HISTORIQUE: SIGNATURE D’UN GIGANTESQUE CONTRAT

DE FOURNITURE DE GAZ ISRAÉLIEN À L’EGYPTE

Shraga Blum

Lphinfo, fev.19, 2018

 

Les compagnie associées Noble Energy et  Delek Kidou’him ont annoncé lundi la signature de deux contrats fermes d’exportation de gaz à la compagnie égyptienne Dolphinus. Les contrats portent sur la fourniture de 64  milliards de mètres cubes de gaz naturel sur 10 ans, extrait des gisements Leviathan et Tamar. Le montant du contrat est gigantesque: 15 milliards de dollars! Suite à cette annonce surprise, les actions des deux compagnies associées ont grimpé de  25%!

 

Le contrat doit cependant obtenir encore l’aval des autorités de régulation et des gouvernements israéliens et égyptiens. Le gaz naturel israélien servira aux besoins domestiques et industriels égyptiens. Il faut souligner que ce genre de contrat avec l’Egypte est exceptionnel car d’importants gisements de gaz ont été découverts dans les eaux territoriales égyptiennes mais qui sont loin d’être exploitables, d’où la nécessité pour l’Egypte d’importer du gaz dans les années qui viennent. Tout comme Israël, ce pays entend devenir un acteur régional central dans le domaine énergétique.

 

Itshak Techouva, propriétaire du groupe Delek Kidou’him a déclaré: “Nous sommes arrivés à une étape-clé dans la voie  de la réalisation de notre rêve à tous dans lequel l’Etat d’Israël deviendra un exportateur significatif de gaz en direction de pays de la région et bien au-delà. Cet accord va renforcer les liens entre Israël et ses pays voisins ainsi que leur coopération économiques”.

 

Le ministre des Infrastructures nationales, de l’Energie et de l’Eau, Dr. Youval Steinitz a lui-aussi exprimé sa grande satisfaction: “Ce contrat avec l’Egypte est une preuve de plus que l’accord sur le gaz, tant combattu, fonctionne. Ce gigantesque contrat d’exportation, qui se rajoute à celui déjà signé avec la Jordanie, place aujourd’hui Israël comme acteur central dans le marché énergétique de la région. C’est la première fois depuis la signature des accords de paix avec l’Egypte qu’un contrat d’une telle ampleur est signé entre les deux pays. Les sceptiques et les opposants de principe vont continuer à critiquer l’accord sur le gaz conclu entre l’Etat et les compagnies d’exploitation, et de notre côté, nous allons continuer à développer le marché énergétique de notre pays et protéger ainsi nos importants atouts stratégiques”.

 

Quant au Premier ministre Binyamin Netanyahou, il n’a pas caché sa joie: “Je salue la signature de cet accord historique avec l’Egypte.  Cet accord va faire entrer des milliards de shekels dans les caisses de l’Etat, qui pourront être consacrés à l’Education, à la santé et aux besoins sociaux des citoyens d’Israël. Nombreux sont ceux qui ne croyaient pas dans l’accord sur le gaz (Avi Gabbaï en premier). Nous l’avons mené car nous savions que cela renforcera la sécurité et l’économie de notre pays, nos relations avec des pays de la région mais surtout les citoyens. d’Israël. C’est un jour de fête!”.

 

 

 

NETANYAHOU ACCUSE ABBAS DE "FUIR LA PAIX"

I24, 20 fev., 2018

 

 

Le Premier ministre israélien Benyamin Netanyahou a accusé Mahmoud Abbas de "fuir la paix" mardi après que le dirigeant palestinien a appelé à une conférence internationale à la mi-2018 pour lancer une campagne de paix plus large.

 

"Abbas n'a rien dit de nouveau, il continue de fuir la paix et continue de payer les terroristes et leurs familles", a déclaré Netanyahou dans un communiqué publié par son bureau.

 

Dans une rare allocution devant le Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU, M. Abbas a présenté ce qu'il a appelé un "plan de paix" pour relancer les négociations israélo-palestiniennes avec une nouvelle médiation internationale – dans laquelle les Etats-Unis auraient moins de poids.

 

La décision du président Donald Trump de reconnaître Jérusalem comme capitale d'Israël a rendu furieux les Palestiniens, qui ont déclaré que Washington ne pouvait plus jouer le rôle de médiateur principal dans le processus de paix au Moyen-Orient.

 

Abbas attribue carrément l'échec des efforts de paix à Israël, affirmant qu'il "agissait en tant qu'État au-dessus de la loi" et qu'il avait "fermé la porte à la solution à deux Etats" dans le conflit israélo-palestinien.

 

Il a indiqué que la conférence rassemblera Israël et les Palestiniens, les acteurs régionaux, les cinq membres permanents du Conseil de sécurité – Grande-Bretagne, Chine, France, Russie et États-Unis – et le Quatuor diplomatique composé de l'Union européenne, des Nations Unies, La Russie et les États-Unis.

 

"La conférence devrait aboutir à l'adhésion complète de l'ONU de l'État de Palestine, à la reconnaissance mutuelle d'Israël et de la Palestine et à la création d'un nouveau mécanisme international pour parvenir à un règlement définitif", a-t-il expliqué.

 

Le dirigeant palestinien a immédiatement quitté la salle du conseil à la suite de son discours, laissant l'ambassadeur israélien Danny Danon se plaindre de ce qu'il "fuyait" une fois de plus le dialogue.

 

"Vous avez précisé, avec vos paroles et avec vos actions, que vous ne faites plus partie de la solution, vous êtes le problème", a déclaré Danon.

 

D'autres hauts responsables israéliens ont fustigé Abbas et ont mis l'accent sur les paiements allégués, selon eux, que les autorités palestiniennes font aux familles de "terroristes".

 

"Nous savons tous qui vous êtes", a déclaré le ministre de la Défense, Avigdor Lieberman, dans un communiqué.

 

"Une main verse les salaires aux terroristes qui frappent Israël et leurs familles et l'autre demande la reconnaissance de l'ONU".

 

 

 

SONDAGE: L’ACHARNEMENT ANTI-NETANYAHOU

PROPULSE LE LIKOUD VERS LES SOMMETS

Shraga Blum      

LPH Info, 21 fev., 2018

 

 

L’avalanche des nouvelles sur les diverses enquêtes qui touchent le Premier ministre produisent l’effet inverse de celui souhaité par les médias et l’opposition. L’acharnement inédit et disproportionné contre Binyamin Netanyahou donne le sentiment à l’homme de la rue qu’il se cache autre chose derrière cette suite ininterrompue de dossiers qui s’ouvrent et de déclarations dramatiques sur la corruption supposée du Premier ministre.

 

L’Institut Geocartographia, du Prof. Avi Degani a réalisé un sondage d’intentions de vote qui montre un net ras-le-bol de la population face à cette corrida anti-Netanyahou.

 

Voici d’abord les résultats du sondage réalisé le 3 février, il y a presque trois semaines par ce même institut de sondage:

 

Likoud 30 (-), Yesh Atid 24 (+13), Camp Sioniste 13 (-11), Habayit Hayehoudi 12 (+4), Israël Beiteinou 8 (+2), Liste arabe 8 (-5), Yahadout Hatorah 7 (+1), Koulanou 7 (-3), Meretz 6 (+1), Shass 5 (-2).

 

Et voici les intentions de vote aujourd’hui:

 

Likoud avec Netanyahou 34 (+4), Yesh Atid 20 (+9), Habayit Hayehoudi 14 (+6), Camp Sioniste 12 (-12), Liste arabe 12 (-1), Yahadout Hatorah 9 (+3), Koulanou 7 (-3), Israël Beiteinou 6 (-), Meretz 6 (+1). Shass n’atteint pas le seuil d’éligibilité.

 

C’est la première fois depuis les dernières élections que le Likoud est crédité de plus de sièges qu’il n’en possède actuellement! La coalition reste stable avec 67 sièges, mais la droite sort renforcée avec 54 sièges face à une gauche qui atteint à peine 18 sièges et 30 si on lui adjoint la Liste arabe.

 

Le Premier ministre n’a pas manqué de réagir à ce sondage réalisé en pleine tempête judiciaire et médiatique contre lui. Sur sa page Facebook, il a repris un passage biblique du début de l’Exode relatant des Enfants d’Israël en Egypte: “Et plus ils l’opprimaient, plus il se développait”.

 

Il reste à savoir ce que les derniers développements produiront comm effet dans l’opinion publique. Avec l’éclatatement de l’affaire Bezeq (dossier 4000) et la signature de Shlomo Filber comme témoin d’Etat à charge contre Binyamin Netanyahou les choses peuvent changer. Certains commencent déjà à parler d’élections anticipées, ce qui permettrait au Premier ministre de maintenir le camp national au pouvoir à défaut de sa propre personne s’il était mis en examen.

 

 

 

TEL AVIV, PRÊTE POUR LE TOP DÉPART DE SON MARATHON

Laura Jeanneau

I24, Feb. 20, 2018

 

Depuis quelques jours, c'est une étrange installation qui a envahi "Kikar Rabin", l'une des plus grandes places de Tel Aviv.

 

De grands chapiteaux blancs, habillés d'affiches colorées, qui vantent tantôt une paire de chaussures de sport dernière génération, tantôt les mérites d'une barre énergisante aux effets révolutionnaires…

 

Au fur et à mesure que l'on s'approche de l'entrée, la musique pop se fait de plus en plus forte… Celui qui est derrière toute cette logistique nous explique : "Le grand événement va avoir lieu dans quelques jours, donc les coureurs commencent à venir récupérer leurs dossards pour le marathon!".

 

A l'intérieur des énormes tentes, qui s'étendent sur plusieurs milliers de mètres carré, des dizaines de stands sur le running et ses produits dérivés.

 

Un sac de la marque à trois bandes à la main, Miki, 38 ans, confie : "Je viens d'acheter un collant et une paire de chaussettes. Je suis plus prêt que jamais!". Le marathon est une tradition pour cet habitant de Raanana, qui vient chaque année participer à cette course de Tel Aviv.

 

A deux pas de l'énorme boutique Adidas, sponsor de l'événement qui a apposé son logo sur tous les maillots de la course, une grande piscine à boules à l'effigie de Tel Aviv et de Samsung, co-organisateurs du marathon ; un responsable de Kapaïm Active, Oren Naïm, qui planifie les moindres détails de l'événement depuis 12 mois, confie : "On ne parle pas seulement du marathon, c'est une grande fête de la course. En parallèle de la compétition il y a aussi un festival du film sur le running, ou encore un grand dîner, une "Pasta Party" pour faire le plein de féculents la veille du top départ".

Marathon, semi-marathon, 10 km , 5 km … à chacun sa course!

 

Si l'événement qui se tiendra ce vendredi 23 février a été nommé le "Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon", il offre en vérité bien plus d'options aux coureurs.

 

"Nous sommes fiers que tout le monde puisse participer" indique Ron Huldai, le Maire de Tel Aviv – Yafo.

 

Parmi les 40 000 inscrits, "seuls" 3 000 courageux se sont fixés le défi d'arriver à la fin des 42,195 km de parcours.

 

D'autres courses sont proposées, comme les 5 et 10 km, mais aussi un parcours en vélo à main, adapté aux personnes à mobilité réduite.

 

Pour Yaelle, qui fêtera ses 8 ans la veille de la course, ce sera l'option mini-marathon : au choix, 500 mètres ou 1 km. Sa maman, Adi, 39 ans, en fera 10 fois plus. Elle confie : "C'est un projet qui tient à coeur à tout la famille. Mon mari est marathonien. On habite Tel Aviv et c'est sympa de courir ici, on va passer par le Parc HaYarkon, le bord de mer…". Oren Naïm nous confie d'ailleurs qu'il a vérifié, "ce marathon est l'un des seuls au monde qui longe ainsi la côte".

Le marathon de Tel Aviv, vitrine de la ville blanche

 

Sur le site du Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon, on ne manque pas de vanter les atouts de la capitale économique israélienne : "300 jours de soleil par an, 450 bars, 14 km de plages magnifiques", on oublierait presque que l'on se trouve sur un site Internet dédié à un événement sportif… et pour cause : "Il y a trois événements porte-drapeau à Tel Aviv" précise Oren Naïm, "la Laïla Lavan (Nuit Blanche, célébrée à Tel Aviv depuis 2003), la Gay Pride, et le marathon".

 

Ron Huldai précise : "Le parcours s'articule tout autour de la ville de Tel Aviv – Yafo, il passe par le Boulevard Rothschild, le coeur de la "startup city", par le parc de Sarona, la vielle ville de Jaffa, et bien sûr, notre promenade de renommée mondiale, récemment rénovée".

 

2 000 participants viennent d'ailleurs de l'étranger ; "Il y a beaucoup d'Allemands, de Polonais… qui viennent chercher le soleil qu'ils n'ont pas chez eux, mais aussi des Français et des Américains de la communauté juive, qui viennent participer au marathon, puis restent en Israël pour la fête de Pourim" ajoute Oren Naïm.

 

Les chiffres fournis par Kapaïm Active sont impressionnants : 2 000 agents de sécurité seront déployés vendredi 23 février dans la ville blanche. C'est l'une des courses les plus sécurisées au monde selon les organisateurs. De nombreuses routes seront fermées, un sujet duquel il a fallu discuter avec les hôpitaux de Tel Aviv et même les aéroports!

 

La logistique de s'arrête pas là : pour ravitailler les 40 000 sportifs tout au long des parcours, pas moins de 350 000 verres d'eau, 15 000 dattes ou encore 40 000 bananes seront nécessaires!

Un défi sportif qui peut rapporter gros

 

Pour la plupart des participants au Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon, cette course est un défi personnel.

 

A peine leurs dossards récupérés, Avi et Savion, deux quinquagénaires qui courent 20 kilomètres tous les samedi, enfilent leurs maillots : "Malheureusement, on est légèrement blessés…". Ils gardent le sourire et précisent : "On court régulièrement de longues distances. Cette fois, notre objectif c'est de terminer les 42,195 km de parcours, on ne vise pas de chrono".

 

Fort possible qu'il en soit de même pour les doyens du marathon, homme et femme, respectivement âgés de 83 et 77 ans!

 

Mais si pour certains "l'important est de participer", pour d'autres, l'enjeu est bien plus important.

 

Le record du marathon de Tel Aviv est de 2 heures 10 minutes et 30 secondes ; pour la dizaine de sportifs d'élite qui se sont inscrits à cette course depuis le Kenya ou l'Ethiopie, un seul objectif : battre ce temps!

 

Oren Naïm a déjà fait ses pronostics : "Le meilleur chrono de Gilbert Kiptoo Chepkwony est de 2h08mn26. Il a toutes ses chances de battre le record de la ville, et même peut-être le sien!". 40 000 dollars sont à la clé.

 

Le top départ du Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon sera donné, en personne, par le Maire de Tel Aviv, vendredi matin.

 

Prêts ? Feu, partez!

 

 

 

Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

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TURKEY’S AIM TO “REINCARNATE” OTTOMAN EMPIRE RISKS CONFLICT WITH NATO & WESTERN PARTNERS

Middle East Regression: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 31, 2017— A century after the Ottoman Empire's demise, it has been reincarnated.

Turkey Will Not Emerge Victorious From the Battle of Afrin: Akil Marceau, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2018— Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, must be turning in his grave like a whirling dervish. “Peace at home, peace in the world,” was his motto.

Hamas: Turkey's Longtime Love: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 22, 2018— Despite the nominal 'normalization' of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel, Ankara is still fully supporting a terrorist organization — one that Washington, among others, lists as terrorist.

Turkey’s Jews Are Scared – But Afraid to Talk About it: Kristina Jovanovski, The Media Line, Feb. 4, 2018— Movie producer Jozef Ercevik Amado sits at a bar in central Istanbul stressing how, as a Jewish Turk, he can live his daily life without any fear.

 

On Topic Links

 

Turkey: U.S., Iran, Russia Are Working Against Turkish Interests In Syria, President Says: Stratfor, Feb. 6, 2018

Analysis: Turkey Causing Major Escalation in Syrian War: Yochanan Visser, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 9, 2018

Shin Bet Investigation Exposes Depth of Turkey's Hamas Support: Yaakov Lappin, IPT News, Feb. 15, 2018

Turkey Stokes Unrest Over Jerusalem Recognition: Dmitri Shufutinsky, Daily Caller, Feb. 13, 2018

 

 

 

MIDDLE EAST REGRESSION

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Arutz Sheva, Jan. 31, 2017

 

A century after the Ottoman Empire's demise, it has been reincarnated. Once again, Turkey is conquering parts of the Arab World, with Syria serving as its current goal. Using the "war on terror" as its lame excuse, Turkey has managed, in the last two weeks, to take over a strip of Syrian land along the border shared by the two countries, in order to prevent the Kurds from controlling a contiguous region.

 

Turkey intends to extend its "security belt" on Syrian soil to cover the entire length of its 500 mile-long border with Syria, and to widen that strip to a depth of 18 miles inside Syrian territory. If Turkey succeeds in doing this, that "security belt" will be larger than the State of Israel, and span over 9000 square miles. The Turks intend to turn the area into a no-man's land.

 

The only name that this plan can be given is "ethnic cleansing." The tens of thousands of villagers and town-dwellers who have lived on this "belt" for hundreds and  even thousands of years will have to uproot themselves and scatter in  all direction, all because Erdogan does not want an independent or non-independent Kurdish entity south of the Turkish border. Calling the Syrian Kurds "terrorists" who must be expelled from their historic living space is exactly the same as calling all the Arabs or all the Jews "terrorists" and treating them all as equally guilty. Erdogan's racism is simply beyond the pale.

 

What is most shocking about Turkey's behavior is the world's total silence. The Security Council has not met to discuss the new takeover and has not uttered a single word of condemnation. There are no demonstrations and the streets of the Arab, European and North America are as silent as the tomb. For those who have short memories, Turkey conquered 37% of the island of Cyprus in 1974 and established a state there that not one country recognized "de jure" – barring Turkey itself, of course. Its presence there is "occupation" any way you look at it, but who is aware of it?  Who condemns Turkey for occupying more than a third of Cyprus?  Has it crossed anyone's mind to boycott, sanction or divest of investments in Turkey – BDS – because of its 44 year occupation of Cyprus? Now it is the turn of the Turkish takeover of Kurdish Syria. Is the world going to wake up now and realize what Turkey is doing?  Will it demonstrate? Condemn? Boycott? Do anything at all?

 

It is not only the current occupation that presents a problem, it is Turkey's problematic behavior way before 1974. Anyone with a conscience remembers what happened to the Christian Armenians in Turkey. They suffered mass genocide from 1894-1896 and another during WWI from1915-1918. Millions of Armenians and Christians were cruelly murdered by Muslim Turks and the world's absolute silence is what led Hitler to believe, in 1941, that the world would do nothing if he did the same to the Jews. The cynical world in which we live acts in accordance with its best interests and the West – read that the US and Europe – fears that angering impulsive and hot-headed Erdogan may result in his forcing them out of Incherlake air force base, which is the foundation of every Western campaign plan in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iran.

 

The big unknown is how the Kurds will react in response to the threats of ethnic cleansing Erdogan has in store for them: Will they sit quietly and wait for death to strike or will they put up a fight against the Turkish forces?  Another question lurking in the background is how the Kurds in Turkey will react to what may happen to their Syrian brothers. Reminder: Every Turkish city includes a Kurdish neighborhood. If the Kurds wish to, they can sow destruction over all of Turkey. The price they will have to pay is steep, but they are well aware of that.

 

The question of Kurdish response is not without its own problems. We recently witnessed what occurred in the Kurdish region of Iraq, where the Kurds lacked solidarity, were split into warring factions, and at times, even fought one another. Erdogan may be counting on that divisiveness to allow him to continue the brutality he has shown against the Kurdish Syrians without having to worry about the Kurds in Turkey coming to the aid of their Syrian brethren. Enter another factor, the volunteers pouring in to help the Kurds from all over the world. Some have arrived from France, others from the USA, the UK, Algeria, Japan and more. They are being drafted through social media in a way reminiscent of how ISIS succeeded in getting volunteers. Some have adopted Kurdish names and learned the Kurdish language. If this phenomenon continues to grow and leads to foreign volunteers falling in battle, the Turks are going to find themselves lost in an international blizzard…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

 

Contents

TURKEY WILL NOT EMERGE VICTORIOUS FROM THE BATTLE OF AFRIN

Akil Marceau

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2018

 

Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, must be turning in his grave like a whirling dervish. “Peace at home, peace in the world,” was his motto. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his successor and current Turkish head of state, has transformed this into “war at home, war in the world.” This secular republic was established in 1923 by Ataturk to align with the West. Today, it is allied to fundamentalist Muslim groups in a war unleashed against the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin.

 

Present-day Turkey is separating itself from Western values and is now in open conflict with its Western partners on multiple hot topics. Erdogan’s Turkey has supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, supports the Hamas movement in Gaza, and has for years allowed aspiring European jihadists to transit through Turkey to Syria. He continues to arm and finance Syrian Salafist armed groups from the Muslim Brotherhood. Western intelligence services and think tanks are perfectly aware of the structural reasons that, if this evolution continues, will see us accelerating toward an inevitable divorce between Turkey and the West.

 

This Turkish Islamist shift is torpedoing Western plans in the current phase to end Islamic State (ISIS) terrorism, the cause of the deadly attacks on the streets of European capitals. The latest military intervention in Syria clearly prevents the stabilization of areas which required cost of heavy fighting and thousands of deaths to liberate.

 

The Kurdish enclave of Afrin borders Idlib province, largely controlled by local groups affiliated with al-Qaida. The fall of the enclave would consequently reinforce these groups and other Salafist movements linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, all of which are part of the Turkish-led military intervention. Not one bullet had been fired from Afrin at Turkey. The enclave had been, until now, preserved from the war. Its peace and security offered refuge to tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing both the regime and jihadist groups. The only possible justification for the Turkish military intervention is to halt the establishment of a Kurdish zone in northern Syria. A zone that is already creating its own administrative structures and local elections.

 

Turkey is fearful of the consequences regarding its own Kurdish population, whose legally elected representatives to the Turkish Parliament are either being prosecuted or are already in prison. With 15 to 20 million Kurds living in its territory and 40 years of failed military interventions, shouldn’t Turkey be convinced that such an option is not exportable and will only lead to the same failure in neighboring Syria? On top of which, the local Syrian Kurdish population is hostile and, given the military complexity on the ground, the Western powers involved in the Syrian conflict are not in any position to offer support.

 

The Kurds, as part of a secular, multi-faith society, have proven to be the most reliable allies and the only option on the ground able to fight ISIS alongside the international alliance. Today, they are paying the price for this alliance, attacked by Turkey and Sunni Salafist groups within Syria. This is a replay of the attack by Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia on Kurdish territory following the recent Iraqi Kurdish referendum on independence.

 

In an Arab-Muslim world devoid of leadership, especially in its Sunni version, and still struggling with modernity, the all-out populism of the Turkish president, who dreams of himself as a new caliph, acts as a performance enhancer for the mass of the disinherited. His dubious alliances with Islamist networks in countries across the region as well as his vocal position on the status of Jerusalem, outsmarting any Arab leader on this issue, provides a Trojan horse in his strategy of regional domination.

 

When Erdogan and his Islamic AKP party came to power, many in the West hoped that he would form the “Christian Democrats of the East.” Unfortunately, those who placed their bets on the “Islam Democrats” have been roundly disappointed. When, in 1998, Erdogan was tried and jailed for reciting a jihadist poem, “the minarets are our bayonets, the domes are our helmets, the mosques are our barracks,” the army was still guardian of Turkish secularism. After silencing the moderates from his own party, such as former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu and former president Abdullah Gul, the 2016 coup d’etat then gave him the opportunity to purge both the army and judicial apparatus.

 

Thousands of academics, teachers and journalists have also been fired, and many arrested. Erdogan’s hands now free to ally with jihadist groups, he launched the current military operation with a public recitation in mosques across the country of the “Victory” verse from the Koran, banned demonstrations hostile to the war and imprisoned opponents of it. This Turkish intervention will fail. Encouraged behind the scenes by Russia and Iran to distance Turkey from the West, these two countries will never allow Turkey to become a serious player on the Syrian chessboard. As veterans, they consider it their private hunting ground and retain exclusive leverage, with Turkey being the novice in this demonic alliance.

 

Faced with the massive challenge that political Islam poses now and for some time to come, let us not forget that its victims are overwhelmingly Muslims themselves. We must not waiver from the values and ethics that are the foundations of Western democracies. These values remain the best weapons to fight the international jihadist. Abandoning the Kurds to slaughter would be a major moral defeat for the West. Furthermore, the fall of Afrin would be a defeat of Western strategy in its fight against terrorism, reinforcing the jihadists and forcing us back to square one.                                               

                                                                       

 

Contents

   

HAMAS: TURKEY'S LONGTIME LOVE

Burak Bekdil

Gatestone Institute, Feb. 22, 2018

 

Despite the nominal 'normalization' of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel, Ankara is still fully supporting a terrorist organization — one that Washington, among others, lists as terrorist. The Shin Bet's report, the Istanbul conference and its contents, the official Turkish support for that conference and Turkish Foreign Ministry's explicit support of Hamas make new evidence that Turkey insists on siding ideologically with a terrorist organization — ironically at a time when Erdogan claims Turkish troops are fighting terrorists in Syria.

 

In 2014, Turkey hosted Salah al-Arouri, a Hamas commander whom the Palestinian Authority had accused of planning multiple attacks against Israeli targets. At that time, the newspaper Israel Hayom called Turkey's important guest "an infamous arch-terrorist believed to be responsible for dozens of attacks against Israelis". In August 2014, speaking at the World Conference of Islamic Sages in Turkey, Arouri admitted that Hamas had instigated the "heroic action carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades [the military wing of Hamas], which captured three settlers in Hebron." The "heroic action" consisted of Hamas operatives kidnapping and murdering three teenage boys, an incident that triggered the spiral of violence that led to the 50-day war in Gaza.

 

In December 2014, a Hamas leader confirmed that his organization was using NATO member Turkey as a refuge for logistics, training and planning terrorist attacks. The same month, then-Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu hosted the chief at that time of Hamas's political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, at a high-profile party congress in Konya, Central Turkey. Taking the stage at the event, Mashaal congratulated the Turkish people "for having [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and Davutoglu." His remarks were received passionately, with thunderous applause, the waving of Palestinian flags and thousands of party fans shouting, "Down with Israel!"

 

In June 2016, Jonathan Schanzer forcefully reminded the public that although Arouri had been expelled from his safe base in Istanbul, "many other senior Hamas officials remain there [a]nd their ejection from Turkey appears to be at the heart of Israel's demands as rapprochement talks near completion." Schanzer named half a dozen or so Hamas militants enjoying refuge in Turkey. These included Mahmoud Attoun, who had been found guilty of kidnapping and murdering a 29-year-old Israeli. Also enjoying safe haven in Turkey were three members of the Izzedine al-Qassam brigades. Ten Hamas figures were believed to be in Turkey, Schanzer said: "There are a handful more that can be easily identified in the Arabic and Turkish press, and nearly all of them maintain profiles on Facebook and Twitter, where they regularly post updates on their lives in Turkey."

 

Stubbornly ignoring Hamas's violent past –and present — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed more than once that Hamas is not a terrorist group but a legitimate political party. He has also repeatedly described Hamas militants as "freedom fighters". In November 2016, Erdogan said again that he did not view Hamas as a terrorist organization; he called it instead a "political movement born from [a] national resurrection," and mentioned that he meets with Hamas "all the time".

 

Erdogan's ideological love affair with Hamas is obligatory for all Islamists in this part of the world, and they do not tend to forget it. In February, a deported Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) board member, Sami al-Arian, denounced the United States as "our enemy." The venue was an Istanbul conference sponsored by Diyanet, Turkey's powerful religious affairs authority. Diyanet's president and Turkey's top cleric Ali Erbas, an Erdogan loyalist, said: "Diyanet is with the suffering Palestinian Muslims who have been serving as the guardians of al-Aqsa for years despite any kind of invasion and violence, and will continue to be by their side and provide any kind of support for them." Arian, meanwhile, is the founder of a charity called the Islamic Committee for Palestine and raises money for PIJ. It was only too normal that Diyanet sponsored an event featuring hatred of the U.S. and Israel while promoting the "Palestinian cause."

 

Recently, the U.S. government declared Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh a "specially designated global terrorist" and imposed a raft of sanctions against him. Immediately afterwards, the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the U.S. for this decision. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the timing of Washington's decision was "suspicious". Apparently, the Turkish love affair with Hamas is not only about nice words. Israel's Shin Bet security service has announced that a Turkish law professor was deported and that an Israeli Arab was facing indictment over involvement in a Hamas effort to funnel money for terrorism to the West Bank and Gaza via Turkey. According to Shin Bet, both men were recruited by a Hamas operative who was deported from the West Bank after Israel released him from prison in 2011 as part of the deal to ensure the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

 

Enter Arouri — again. The Hamas recruiter, according to Shin Bet, was one of the chiefs of Hamas's West Bank Command, headed by Arouri, until recently Turkey's very important guest. The Hamas West Bank Command's mission is to plan and fund acts of terror in the West Bank. The Shin Bet also accused Turkey of aiding Hamas's military build-up by means of a Turkish company called SADAT, a security services and training specialist. SADAT's owner, Adnan Tanriverdi, is a retired Turkish general who is now one of Erdogan's chief advisors…

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

 

 

Contents

TURKEY’S JEWS ARE SCARED – BUT AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT IT

Kristina Jovanovski

The Media Line, Feb. 4, 2018

 

Movie producer Jozef Ercevik Amado sits at a bar in central Istanbul stressing how, as a Jewish Turk, he can live his daily life without any fear. But the backlash to the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has made some in the Jewish community feel unsettled. “There are all these Israeli consulate protests and that’s not something that I enjoy… it’s scary,” Amado says. He says that some of his fellow citizens who talk to him believe he isn’t fully Turkish. “I think the essence of the problem is with otherness or foreignness… There’s this hospitality in Turkey, incredible hospitality, but then when you hit the wall, for some reason, that you don’t belong in that conversation or there, then it’s something different.”

 

The Jewish minority – believed to number around 15,000 – has been under threat for decades, including deadly terrorist attacks targeting synagogues in Istanbul. But the Turkish government’s shift toward greater Muslim conservatism has put the minority under the spotlight. That shift has only strengthened since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a strong stance against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In December, Turkey hosted a meeting of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, denouncing the decision. Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at Brooklyn College CUNY who focuses on Turkey and Israeli/Palestinian issues, says supporting Palestinians is beneficial for Erdogan because it will play well with Turks across the political spectrum. “Politically, [Erdogan] doesn’t have much to lose, in the sense it does capture not just his own audience but other audiences.”

 

However, Turkey still has motivation to protect its relationship with Israel, partly due to their strong economic relations. Turkish Airlines, for instance, was the most popular airline for people flying to and from Israel last year according to the daily Haaretz. Fishman, who has lived in both Turkey and Israel, says there has been a sharp rise in antisemitism over the last couple of years. “It’s not something that’s systematic within the law that you’re going to feel [discriminated] against on a daily basis, but the weight of antisemitism is there.” A 2015 poll reported that 71% of respondents in Turkey held antisemitic beliefs, a result borne out by a terrorist attack against a synagogue in 1986 that killed 22 people, while a series of deadly bombings in 2003 also targeted synagogues…

 

Betsy Penso, a lawyer who volunteers for an organization called Avlaremoz, which keeps track of antisemitism online and in the media, says hate speech seems to be on the rise. “I think it’s getting stronger… since there is no punishment, people continue to write it, [and] nobody says anything to them.” Part of that, she suspects, is the advent of social media, which have allowed people to voice opinions they may already have held but kept to themselves. Yet, social media have also allowed the small Jewish minority a chance to speak up as well. “Avlaremoz” means “Let’s talk” in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish dialect. Penso says it is to contrast a tradition among Turkish Jews called “Kayadez” – to be invisible or unseen – which means people do not speak out on issues – even among their own families. “They’ve faced lots of things… they believe if they speak, they won’t be welcome anymore, so they don’t speak.” She says much of the problem for Turkey’s Jews is that many fellow citizens equate them with Israel and blame them for the actions of the government. “They see us as foreigners for sure,” Penso says…

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

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Turkey: U.S., Iran, Russia Are Working Against Turkish Interests In Syria, President Says: Stratfor, Feb. 6, 2018—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States is working against the interests of Turkey, Iran and possibly Russia by sending military supplies to northern Syria, Reuters reported Feb. 6. Erdogan also repeated his call for the United States to withdraw its troops from Manbij, Syria, despite a Jan. 29 report that the United States would not.

Analysis: Turkey Causing Major Escalation in Syrian War: Yochanan Visser, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 9, 2018—More than two weeks after Turkey launched another invasion into Syria dubbed “Olive Branch” by the Erdogan regime, it looks as though the Turkish army is slowly drowning in the Syrian swamp.

Shin Bet Investigation Exposes Depth of Turkey's Hamas Support: Yaakov Lappin, IPT News, Feb. 15, 2018—Hamas is operating freely on Turkish soil, gathering terrorist finances and looking for ways to upgrade the capabilities of the Hamas armed wing in Gaza, an Israeli security source has told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). It is highly likely that these activities occur with the knowledge of Turkish authorities, the source said.

Turkey Stokes Unrest Over Jerusalem Recognition: Dmitri Shufutinsky, Daily Caller, Feb. 13, 2018—For decades, politicians and pundits have claimed that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would destabilize and further radicalize the Middle East. Two months after President Trump signed the order to move the embassy, however, the Palestinian Territories are relatively calm.

                                                              

 

 

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

 

 

Contents: | Weekly Quotes | Short Takes   | On Topic Links

 

 

On Topic Links

 

On the Brink of War, Israel Faces a Scandal and 'Bibi Fatigue': Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Feb. 16, 2018

Pressure Pays: Trump’s Threats to Pakistan: Clarion Project, Feb. 21, 2018

Poland-Israel Meltdown Demands Elisha Wiesel: Shmuley Boteach, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 19, 2018

WATCH: A Brave Polish Voice Stands Up Against Anti-Semitism (Video): United With Israel, Feb. 19, 2018

 

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“Israel will not allow Iran’s regime to put a noose of terror around our neck…We will act without hesitation to defend ourselves. And we will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.” — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During Netanyahu’s speech at the Munich Security Conference, he brandished a piece of an Iranian drone downed in Israeli airspace and threatened military action against Iran. Netanyahu singled out Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif in his speech as he lifted up a piece of the drone’s wreckage. “Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should, it’s yours. You can take back with you a message to the tyrants of Tehran — do not test Israel’s resolve!” proclaimed Netanyahu to the audience, which included Zarif. The drone, which entered northern Israel from Syria near the Jordan border on February 10, was shot down by an Israeli attack helicopter. (Times of Israel, Feb. 20, 2018)

 

"The entire speech was trying to evade the issue. What has happened in the past several days is the so-called invincibility (of Israel) has crumbled." — Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's Foreign Minister.  Zarif slammed Netanyahu's speech at the Munich Security Conference, calling it "a cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve the dignity of a response." Zarif dismissed Netanyahu's challenge, saying Israel was trying "to create these cartoonish images to blame others for its own strategic blunders, or maybe to evade the domestic crisis they're facing." "Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbors," Zarif said, accusing Israel of "mass reprisals against its neighbors and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon…Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes it's as if a disaster has happened," Zarif said of the February 10 downing of an Israeli F-16. Anti-aircraft fire downed the jet as it was returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria. (Ynet, Feb. 18, 2018)

 

“About Netanyahu’s unwise words, I should say that if they carry out the slightest unwise move against Iran, we will level Tel Aviv to the ground.” — Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council and former chief of the Revolutionary Guards. Adding a personal threat, Rezaei added that Tehran “will not give Netanyahu any opportunity to flee.” (Times of Israel, Feb. 20, 2018)

 

“We have stated many times that we won’t accept the statements that Israel, as a Zionist state, should be destroyed and wiped off the map. I believe this is an absolutely wrong way to advance one’s own interests… By the same token, we oppose attempts to view any regional problem through the prism of fighting Iran…This is happening in Syria, Yemen and even the latest developments around the Palestinian issue, including Washington’s announcement of its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, are largely motivated by this anti-Iranian stance.” — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Lavrov issued a rare rebuke of Tehran on Monday as he sat next to his Iranian counterpart. Speaking at the opening of the Valdai International Discussion Club’s conference in Moscow, Lavrov slammed Iran's calls for Israel’s destruction. (Jerusalem Online, Feb. 19, 2018)

 

“What’s particularly concerning is that this network of proxies is becoming more and more capable, as Iran seeds more and more…destructive weapons into these networks.” — U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. McMaster said the time has come to “act against Iran.” During this speech, McMaster also stated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is still using chemical weapons in the ongoing Syrian civil war. “Public accounts and photos clearly show that Assad’s chemical weapons use is continuing,” he said. “It is time for all nations to hold the Syrian regime and its sponsors accountable for their actions and support the efforts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.” (Newsweek, Feb. 17, 2018)

 

“We met with the president of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump, four times in 2017, and we have expressed our absolute readiness to reach a historic agreement…Yet this administration has not clarified its position…Is it a two-state solution, or one state?” — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas, the leader on whom three U.S. presidents have hung hopes for successful negotiations, all but wrote off Washington as a potential peace broker during an angry address to the U.N. Security Council. He appealed instead to the United Nations, and called for an international peace conference this year under U.N., not American, sponsorship. (Washington Post, Feb. 20, 2018)

 

“The Palestinians in Gaza live under Hamas terrorist oppression. I can't even call it a governing authority, as Hamas provides so little in the way of what one would normally think as government services. The people of Gaza live in truly awful conditions, while their Hamas rulers put their resources into building terror tunnels and rockets…The Palestinian leadership has a choice to make between two different paths. There is the path of absolutist demands, hateful rhetoric, and incitement to violence. That path has led, and will continue to lead, to nothing but hardship for the Palestinian people. Or, there is the path of negotiation and compromise. History has shown that path to be successful for Egypt and Jordan…The United States stands ready to work with the Palestinian leadership. Our negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk. But we will not chase after you." — U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. (U.S. Mission to the U.N., Feb. 20, 2018)

 

“You just addressed the members of the Security Council and spoke of your commitments to peace. This is what you often do when speaking to international forums; but, when you address your people, you convey a very different message…Mr. Abbas, your incitement does not end with rhetoric…You have made it official Palestinian policy to sponsor terrorism. In 2017, you spent $345 million paying terrorists for killing innocent Israelis. That is fifty percent of the total foreign aid donated to the PA.  This is money you could have spent building forty hospitals. This is money you could have used to build over 170 schools. Every single year.” — Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. Noting that Abbas left the chamber immediately after his speech, Danon said, “Unfortunately, he is once again running away. … Mr. Abbas came in, put his demands on the table, and left.” Danon said this was typical of Abbas’ approach to the conflict, since he always tries to “avoid the hard choices necessary for peace,” compounding “70 years of missed opportunities by the Palestinian leadership.” Nonetheless, Danan said that Israelis were an optimistic people, and expressed hope that a new, less intransigent Palestinian leadership would emerge. “Three times a day Jews in Israel and all over the world turn to Jerusalem, and pray for peace,” he concluded. “We have no doubt that the day will come when the Palestinian people will also be blessed with leadership that shares these noble aspirations.” (Algemeiner, Feb. 20, 2018)

 

“Our rulers are making this country an American colony…We want to make Pakistan a country of true Islam…Tragically, our rulers are bowing their heads before external powers and doing all they say.” —Hafiz Saeed, leader of Pakistan’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa. While Pakistan says it is shutting down Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Saeed, who has a $10 million bounty on his head, delivered a blistering attack on Islamabad and Washington last week. Under U.S. pressure that could put Pakistan on an international terror financing watch list, Islamabad said it is seizing the assets of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is blamed for the 2008 attack on the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people. The Trump administration has demanded that Pakistan take action against militants and last month withheld $2 billion in security aid. Islamabad says there are no terrorist havens in its territory. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 15, 2018)

 

“It’s not going to be seen as criminal to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian: not only German perpetrators.” — Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Morawiecki said at the Munich Security Conference that Nazis were not the only perpetrators of the Holocaust – there were Jewish perpetrators as well. The question was raised regarding Poland’s new law criminalizing public statements “falsely” blaming the government, nation or Polish citizens for perpetrating or collaborating with Nazi crimes during World War II. “Of course it’s not going to be punishable,” Morwaiecki claimed. Morawiecki was responding to an Israeli journalist who questioned whether writing the story of his own mother’s survival of the Holocaust in Poland wouldn’t land him in a courtroom. (Jewish Press, Feb. 17, 2018)

 

“In the course of being evicted she shouted ‘Polish animals.’ They beat her up but she was the one the police arrested and she was put in prison for two months for insulting the Polish nation…The pre-war maximum for insulting the Polish nation in the late 1930s was three years, exactly as stipulated in the contemporary Polish legislation. Where are the examples coming from? Go figure.” — Prof. Jan Grabowski. The maximum jail time given in Poland before WWII for insulting the Polish nation was three years – the same amount specified in the new “death-camp legislation,” Grabowski, a prominent Polish historian, said. Speaking in Tel Aviv, Grabowski showed a clipping from a Warsaw newspaper in 1936. The article was about a Jewish woman who was evicted from Warsaw University by nationalistic Poles, he explained. In his opinion, the new law is unlikely to actually be implemented: “In legal terms it’s nonsense. A non-starter. However, it has a ‘freezing effect…You throw on the table legislation that will probably, hopefully, will never be implemented – but it’s hanging over their heads,” he said. The law, he explained, is likely to deter history graduates or journalists, for example, from delving into related subjects for fear of losing jobs and opportunities as a result. “It is the freezing effect which will be the long-lasting legacy of this legislation, regardless of what happens with its implementation,” he opined. The historian says his research shows that more than 200,000 Jews were killed directly or indirectly by Poles during WWII. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 20, 2018)

 

“Just waking up in Israel to news of heartbreaking school shooting in FL…Reminded that Israel pretty much eliminated it by placing highly trained people strategically to spot the one common thread–-not the weapon, but a person with intent.” — Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas. Huckabee reacted to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last week by comparing Israeli gun safety policy to America’s. Many, including a prominent Israeli commentator, took issue with Huckabee’s analysis, saying it isn’t tight security that protects Israel from mass shootings but laws that carefully control who can own and carry a gun, and when. Huckabee is a strict supporter of the right to bear arms. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2018)

 

"Let me reassure you: the coalition is stable. No one, not I and no one else, plans to go to elections. We will continue to work together with you for the people of Israel until the end of our term…After I read the recommendations report, I can say it is biased, extreme, full of holes like Swiss cheese and doesn't hold water."— Prime Minister Netanyahu. Netanyahu vowed to carry on after police recommended indicting him on corruption charges, angrily dismissing the allegations and the critics calling on him to step down. The police announcement that Netanyahu's acceptance of nearly $300,000 in gifts from two billionaires amounted to bribery sent shockwaves through Israel. In his defense, Netanyahu took aim at police investigators saying their figures were inflated and tried "to create a false impression of exchanges that never existed." Though he is not legally compelled to resign, opposition figures called on Netanyahu to do so to avoid corrupting the office further. (CTV News, Feb. 14, 2018)

 

Contents

 

 

SHORT TAKES

 

GHOUTA RESIDENTS ‘WAIT TO DIE’ AS BOMBS KEEP FALLING (Damascus) — Residents of Syria's eastern Ghouta district said they were waiting their "turn to die" amid one of the most intense bombardments of the war by pro-government forces on the rebel-held enclave near Damascus. At least 27 people died and more than 200 were injured on Wednesday. At least 299 people have been killed in the district in the last three days. The eastern Ghouta, a densely populated agricultural district on the Damascus outskirts, is the last major area near the capital still under rebel control. Home to 400,000 people, it has been besieged by government forces for years. (Globe & Mail, Feb. 21, 2018)

 

BEZEQ OFFICIALS ARRESTED IN CORRUPTION CASE (Jerusalem) — Israel Securities Authority opened an investigation into the Israel telecommunications company Bezeq, part of an ongoing corruption investigation involving Prime Minister Netanyahu. Several suspects were arrested as part of the investigation, called Case 4000, looking into whether Netanyahu had a relationship with the company. The Israel Securities Authority recently completed an investigation into Bezeq majority shareholder Shaul Elovitch’s ties with Netanyahu and the allegation that he received political favors for Bezeq in return for favorable coverage of Netanyahu on the Walla! News website. (Arutz Sheva, Feb. 19, 2018)

 

ISRAEL TO EXPORT NATURAL GAS TO EGYPT IN $15 BILLION DEAL (Jerusalem) — The lead partners in Israel’s gas fields signed a $15 billion export deal with Egypt. Noble Energy Inc. and Delek Drilling-LP said they plan to supply around 64 billion cubic meters of natural gas over 10 years to Egypt from Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan reservoirs. The deal needs regulatory and government approval in Israel and Egypt. Substantial obstacles still remain — including how to transport the gas to Egypt — but the agreement suggests Israel and its neighbors are bolstering ties as they seek to benefit from large discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean in recent years. (Bloomberg, Feb. 19, 2018)

 

ISRAEL DESTROYS HAMAS TUNNEL FOLLOWING ROCKET FIRE (Gaza) —The Israel Air Force struck an underground network of terrorist tunnels in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, after a rocket southern Israel. It was the second Hamas tunnel in Gaza to be struck in as many days, and the sixth tunnel destroyed since October. Earlier on Sunday, incoming rocket sirens were activated in Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip. A rocket fell in open territory near the city of Sderot causing no damage or injuries. According to Palestinian reports, jets fired some 10 missiles towards the Hamas tunnel. No casualties were reported. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 19, 2018)

 

IDF REVEALS IT THWARTED ATTEMPTED I.S. BOMBING OF AUSTRALIAN FLIGHT (Sydney) — The Israeli army on Wednesday revealed that the Military Intelligence Unit 8200 foiled an Islamic State attempt to bomb a flight from Australia last August. Wednesday’s revelation was an unusual move for the Israeli army, which generally keeps mum on the operations of the secretive Unit 8200, which is similar to the American National Security Agency, collecting information from electronic communication, also referred to as signals intelligence. (Times of Israel, Feb. 21, 2018)

 

ISRAEL BOYCOTTERS FACE ‘MASSIVE SETBACK’ AT NDP CONVENTION (Ottawa) — Canada’s third-largest political party will not be voting on a resolution that has been criticized for sanctioning economic warfare against Israel at its national convention in Ottawa. Members of the New Democratic Party (NDP) voted against re-prioritizing the “Palestine Resolution” on Friday. The resolution includes a number of demands targeting Israel — including an end to the “occupation and settlement program,” as well as the blockade of the Gaza Strip — but makes no mention of any Israeli concerns that spurred these policies, such as the sustained threat of Palestinian terrorism. (Algemeiner, Feb. 16, 2018)

 

LABOUR ACTIVIST WHO CALLED JEWS ‘ZIOS’ EXPELLED FROM PARTY (London) — Jewish groups in Britain are hailing the Labour Party’s expulsion of a virulent anti-Israel activist, but warned that further steps needed to be taken. Tony Greenstein was a prominent Labour supporter and a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign who regularly employed slurs like “Zio” on his blog and social media accounts. “Zio” is a term used by American white supremacists to slander Jews. It has been adopted by the radical Left as well. Greenstein, who is Jewish, was expelled for “repeatedly using ‘zio’ as a term of derision, stating ‘Gay zionists make me want to puke’ and referring to others as ‘Zionist scum’”; accusing a Labour MP of supporting child abuse; and making a “distasteful joke” about the Holocaust in an email to the general-secretary of the Labour party. (Algemeiner, Feb. 19, 2018)

 

SWASTIKAS DRAWN ON POLISH EMBASSY IN ISRAEL (Tel Aviv) — Poland's embassy in Tel Aviv was daubed with swastikas a day after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki caused outrage by claiming Jews were among the perpetrators of the Holocaust. Profanities were scrawled across a noticeboard outside the embassy and a swastika had been drawn on the entrance gate. Tensions between the two countries have ratcheted up since Poland passed a controversial new Holocaust-related bill. Israel has been vociferous in its criticism, accusing Poland of attempting to rewrite history. (CNN, Feb. 19, 2018)

 

POLISH JEWS REEL FROM WAVE OF ANTISEMITISM (Warsaw) — Poland’s Jews are reeling from a wave of antisemitism as a furious controversy intensifies over Poland’s role in the murder of three million Polish Jews during the Holocaust. Polish television commentators, government officials, and a prominent Catholic priest have since been caught making antisemitic statements. These public pronouncements have occurred in tandem with direct antisemitic incidents such as threatening phone calls and emails to the Jewish community, urination in front of a historic synagogue, and racist graffiti.  There has also been a noticeable rise in inquiries about aliyah in Poland. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2018)

 

On Topic Links

 

On the Brink of War, Israel Faces a Scandal and 'Bibi Fatigue': Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Feb. 16, 2018—Last Tuesday night, four days after an Iranian anti-aircraft missile breached Israeli airspace and downed an F-16, forcing two pilots to eject to safety, the premiere evening television news program in Israel dropped another bomb, of sorts: following a long investigation, Israeli police were recommending to the attorney general that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with two counts each of bribery and breach of trust.

Pressure Pays: Trump’s Threats to Pakistan: Clarion Project, Feb. 21, 2018—Addressing the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel “will act if necessary, not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.”

Poland-Israel Meltdown Demands Elisha Wiesel: Shmuley Boteach, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 19, 2018—Our gala event in New York City celebrating Israel’s 70th anniversary will take place March 8 at the Plaza hotel and feature the awarding of the Elie Wiesel Defender of Israel Award posthumously to Yonatan Netanyahu for laying his life down for the Jewish state in modern history’s greatest military action against terrorism. The legendary leader of the Entebbe rescue mission was selected by Elie’s wife, Marion, and son, Elisha, and the award will be presented by them to a recipient that will be announced.

WATCH: A Brave Polish Voice Stands Up Against Anti-Semitism (Video): United With Israel, Feb. 19, 2018—The Polish Parliament and Senate approved a law that prohibits any references to Polish involvement in the Holocaust, severely hindering free speech and essentially censoring discussion of the Holocaust. The bill prohibits describing Nazi death camps in Poland as “Polish,” and sets fines or a three-year jail term as punishment. The bill’s objective is to hide any Polish complicity in the Holocaust.

IDF PREPARES FOR MULTI-FRONT WAR AMID GROWING TENSION IN THE REGION

How the IDF Is Preparing for Multi-Front War: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Feb. 19, 2018— An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) plan designed to get it prepared for the challenge of multiple-front warfare is entering its third year.

How Israel Could Take the Fight Directly to Iran: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Feb. 17, 2018— The conflagration this past weekend between Israeli and Iranian forces is being billed as a new stage in the longstanding, albeit to date largely covert, war between the two adversaries.

Israeli Bombing Syria ENHANCED US National Security: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Feb. 15, 2018— Sinai strikes are a reminder that Israel should never count on Arab states to guarantee its safety. It’s the other way around.

Syrian Downing of F-16I Begs Question: Why Didn’t Israel Deploy F-35s?: Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News, Feb. 14, 2018— As the Israeli Air Force continues to investigate the Feb. 10 loss of an F-16I to Syrian anti-aircraft fire…

 

On Topic Links

 

One Step Ahead: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2018

IDF Acknowledges Serious Hezbollah Missile Threat to Israeli Natural Gas Rigs: Algemeiner, Feb. 7, 2018

U.S. Air Force Weighs International Squadrons to Strike Terror Targets: Julian E. Barnes and Gordon Lubold, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19, 2018

US May Boost Marine Corps Force in East Asia: Jeff Daniels, CNBC, Feb. 9, 2018

 

 

HOW THE IDF IS PREPARING FOR MULTI-FRONT WAR

Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Feb. 19, 2018

 

An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) plan designed to get it prepared for the challenge of multiple-front warfare is entering its third year. The ability to operate effectively on multiple battle fronts simultaneously will be crucial for Israel’s ability to deal with unpredictable, explosive events that can begin on one front but quickly spread to others. According to Israeli intelligence assessments, none of Israel’s enemies wants a full-scale war any time soon (and neither does Israel), but the growing tension in the region means incidents can quickly escalate.

 

During a speech given to the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya at the start of January, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot identified the five fronts that pose threats to Israel’s security. He noted that a “big, strong Iranian umbrella is hovering” over all five of these sectors. The first is Lebanon, where Hezbollah, with Iranian assistance, has built up a major capability. Based on a relatively simple concept, Hezbollah’s assets in Lebanon are designed with strong layers of defense around them, combined with an ability to heavily strike the Israeli home front with projectiles. This is a model the Iranian Republican Guards Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah believe can challenge Israel’s military superiority.

 

Eisenkot named the second front as Syria, which has undergone drastic changes over the past year. Members of a Russian-led coalition, consisting of Iran, the Assad regime, Hezbollah, and Shiite militias, view themselves as the victors in Syria’s conflict and seek a presence on the Golan Heights. Iran has plans to establish an air, ground, and naval presence in Syria. “The danger to us is significant,” Eisenkot said.

 

The West Bank forms the third threatening sector. Hamas seeks to orchestrate terror attacks from there and divert “fire” away from Gaza, which it rules. Unorganized terrorism and ISIS-inspired lone attackers remain threats here too. Gaza is the fourth sector. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions have built up terrorist guerilla armies, armed with arsenals of projectiles. These forces are embedded in a densely populated urban jungle. The Sinai Peninsula, where ISIS remains highly active, is the fifth sector.

 

Beyond the five fronts, Iran to the east – its nuclear ambitions and regional hegemony efforts – continue to threaten Israel.  The potential of reaching a high level of escalation “is immediate,” Eisenkot cautioned. The IDF’s preparations for multiple-front war rest on several capabilities. The first is Israeli intelligence supremacy. This gives the military a high-quality picture of enemy assets and activities and the ability to launch mass, precision strikes in the event of a war. The second key capability is robust air power.

 

During a speech delivered to the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in 2017, former Israel Air Force Chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel stated that Israel’s air power remains its most generic military force, giving it the flexibility to deal with multiple fronts quickly and simultaneously. “Speed – physics – still has a significance,” Eshel said. Threats, whether asymmetrical forces or older classical enemy divisions, can appear in bordering areas, or thousands of kilometers away. “When these approach, they can become a big problem. The solution of air power… arrives within minutes to hours,” Eshel said.

 

With no other military force able to respond this quickly, the IAF remains Israel’s first port of call in multiple-front warfare. Eshel said the IAF must be able to operate in three main sectors simultaneously, presumably referring to the north (Lebanon and Syria), the south (Gaza), and the east (Iran). “In the morning, aircraft can be over the northern front. By noon, they can be to the east, thousands of kilometers away. And in the evening, they could be operating over Gaza. No other force can do this,” he said.

 

The IAF is structuring itself to deal with symmetric and asymmetric threats, near and far, all at the same time. In addition, the idea of a preemptive strike, if necessary, is making a return to military high command due to new air capabilities. The IAF’s strike rate has “doubled twice” in recent years, Eshel said, meaning that several thousand targets can be hit within 24 hours, every 24 hours. This degree of air power is unprecedented in military history.

 

The days in which the IDF relied mainly on air power to wage a full-scale conflict are long gone. In line with the IDF’s multi-year plan, a major effort is underway to improve war readiness among ground forces. This year, enlisted operational forces are set to begin training for 17 weeks to match every 17 weeks of active security missions. This division of labor is designed to bump up combat readiness significantly, and not to let routine missions erode combat readiness.

 

In addition, the IDF has been creating light infantry brigades and deploying them to the borders with Egypt and Jordan. Their mission is solely limited to border security, thus freeing up enlisted combat forces, which would take part in ground maneuvers, for more war training. To counter the threat of armor-piercing RPGs and anti-tank missiles, which are highly prevalent in Gaza and Lebanon, the IDF is mass producing modern armored personnel carriers (APCs) and tanks. These are the tracked Namer and the wheeled Eitan APCs. The latter can travel 90 kilometers an hour on roads, giving it the ability to leap from one battle front to another.

 

Israel is also mass producing the Merkava 4 tank. On all these platforms, the Defense Ministry is installing Rafael’s Trophy active protection system. This gives the armored vehicles the ability to intercept incoming missiles and to instantly detect and share the location of enemy cells that are firing at them, enabling rapid, accurate return fire. As the IDF strengthens its ground war abilities, various command levels are training to improve their ability to launch multi-front attacks simultaneously…

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

                                                           

                                                                       

 

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HOW ISRAEL COULD TAKE THE FIGHT DIRECTLY TO IRAN

Charles Bybelezer

The Media Line, Feb. 17, 2018

 

The conflagration this past weekend between Israeli and Iranian forces is being billed as a new stage in the longstanding, albeit to date largely covert, war between the two adversaries. For the first time, Iranian troops perpetrated a direct attack on Israel, initially by sending a drone across the border from Syria and then by firing the anti-aircraft missile that downed an IDF jet which had reentered Israeli airspace after conducting a retaliatory mission.

 

The events were significant both because of the success in downing the Israeli warplane, the first such occurrence in decades, but also because it evidences Iran’s growing foothold in the Syrian theater, a development that Jerusalem vehemently opposes and has vowed to prevent at all costs. Overall, Iran’s actions suggest that it feels sufficiently emboldened to use its own forces to harm the Jewish state.

 

The incident constitutes a strategic shift, according to Lt.-Col. (ret.) Yiftah Shapir, a career officer in the Israel Air Force and the former head of the Military Balance Project at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, “as it marks the first occasion that the Iranians openly engaged Israel, whereas previously this was done via its proxies. It may be,” he qualified, “that the Iranians misjudged the [intensity of the] Israeli response and that the status quo will be restored for a period of time.”

 

By contrast, Saturday’s flare-up was not the first time that Israel directly struck Iranian assets. In December, the IDF reportedly destroyed a military facility being built by Tehran ​​in al-Kiswah, just south of Damascus. Notably, in 2015, Israeli strikes killed at least six Iranian troops in the Syrian Golan Heights, including a general in the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Also targeted was Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the notorious former Hezbollah operations chief, Imad Mughniyeh, who was himself killed in an Israeli-attributed 2008 car bombing in Syria.

 

Furthermore, the Mossad has been implicated in the assassination of multiple nuclear scientists on Iranian soil, not to mention the deployment of the Stuxnet cyberweapon, a computer worm developed in conjunction with Washington that wreaked havoc on Iranian nuclear installations even after being discovered in 2010. So whereas the latest confrontation along the northern border was in some ways exceptional, it does not inevitably entail a long-term escalation or that the conflict be brought out into the open, although these are both distinct possibilities.

 

In fact, while the political and military echelons have made clear that Israel is not seeking an escalation, its so-called “red lines” – namely, the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria – continue to be violated; this, despite the IDF having conducted well over 100 cross-border strikes to protect its interests over the past 18 months. Additionally, Iran has started construction on a subterranean facility in Lebanon to manufacture long-range precision missiles that could allow Hezbollah to target, with great accuracy, critical Israeli infrastructure in a future war. Taken together, these developments raise the question of whether Israel’s deterrence vis-a-vis Tehran and its Lebanese proxy may be weakening, which would necessitate modifying its military strategy…

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

 

                                                                       

 

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ISRAELI BOMBING SYRIA ENHANCED US NATIONAL SECURITY

Yoram Ettinger

Jewish Press, Feb. 15, 2018

 

Israel’s unique contribution to US’ national security and US defense industries was reaffirmed on February 10, 2018, by Israel’s effective military operation against Syrian-based Iranian-Syrian surface-to-air missile batteries, early-warning radar stations, a launching-base of unmanned aerial vehicles and a command-control bunker. While Israel lost one F-16 combat plane, its air force demonstrated exceptional capabilities in the areas of intelligence, electronic warfare – especially radar jamming – firepower capabilities, precision, maneuverability, penetration of missile batteries, early-identification and destruction of advanced unmanned aerial vehicles and their mobile controller, etc.

 

Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) are analyzing the lessons of this recent operation, most of which will be shared, promptly, with the US – the manufacturer and provider of most of the systems operated by the IDF – as has been the case with a multitude of Israel’s military operations and wars.  For example, much of the battle-tactics formulation in the US Army Headquarters in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas has been based on the Israeli battlefield experience.

 

The February 10, 2018 Israeli Air Force operation against Syrian-Iranian military targets has reinforced the legacy of the late Senator Daniel Inouye, who was the Chairman of the full Appropriations Committee and its Defense Subcommittee.  Senator Inouye considered Israel a moral ally of the US, as well as the most effective battle-tested laboratory of the US military and defense industries – a primary outpost, in a critical region, sparing the US billions of dollars, which would be required to deploy additional US military forces to the area.

 

Senator Daniel Inouye, who was also the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, contended that the flow of Israeli intelligence to the US exceeded – quantitatively and qualitatively – the flow of intelligence from all NATO members combined. Chairman Inouye maintained that Israel’s battle experience – shared with the US – enhanced US national security, yielding billions of dollars to the US treasury.

 

For instance, the shared-lessons of the June 1982 Israeli destruction of 19 Syrian-operated advanced Soviet surface-to-air missile batteries and 97 Soviet combat planes, saved the US’ defense industries 10-20 years of research and development, enhanced the competitiveness of US military systems in the global market, increased US exports and expanded US employment. Moreover, the lessons of the Israeli military operation upgraded the capabilities of the US Air Force and the US’ posture of deterrence, exposed the vulnerabilities of advanced Soviet military systems – which were deemed impregnable until then – undermined the regional and global Soviet strategic stature, tilted the global balance of power in favor of the US and prevented the loss of many American lives.

 

When visiting the General Dynamics plant (currently, Lockheed-Martin) in Ft. Worth, Texas, which manufactures the F-16 and F-35, I was told by the plant manager that the US manufacturer was privy to an almost daily flow of operational, maintenance and repair lessons drawn by Israel’s Air Force, which generated over 600 upgrades, “worth mega-billion of dollars.”  Common sense suggests that similar mega-benefits are afforded to McDonnell-Douglas, in St. Louis, Missouri, the manufacturer of the F-15, which is also operated by the Israeli Air Force.

 

In Dallas, Texas, a retired US combat pilot suggested to me that “a most productive time for US combat pilots are joint-exercises with Israeli pilots.” Responding to my doubts – since Israeli pilots fly US-made planes and are not smarter than US pilots – the US combat pilot elaborated: “Israeli pilots fly, routinely, within range of the enemies’ radar and missiles, and therefore always fly under a do-or-die state of mind, which results in more daring and creative maneuvers, stretching the capabilities of the US plane much more than done by US pilots.”

 

The February 10, 2018 Israeli Air Force operation highlighted the US-Israel mutually-beneficial, two-way-street, featuring Israel’s unique contributions to US national security and defense industries. It provided additional evidence of the exceptionally high rate-of-return on the annual US investment in Israel, which is erroneously defined as “foreign aid.”  Israel is neither foreign to the US, nor is it a supplicant; it has been an unconditional, productive junior partner of the US in the liberty-driven battle against rogue regimes.

 

 

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SYRIAN DOWNING OF F-16I BEGS QUESTION:

WHY DIDN’T ISRAEL DEPLOY F-35S?

Barbara Opall-Rome

Defense News, Feb. 14, 2018

 

As the Israeli Air Force continues to investigate the Feb. 10 loss of an F-16I to Syrian anti-aircraft fire, experts here are privately questioning why, given the operational circumstances that denied Israel the element of strategic surprise, it did not opt to deploy its newest front-line fighter: the stealthy F-35I. In early December, the Air Force declared initial operational capability of the nine F-35s now in its possession. And from the aerial activity reported by residents near its home base at Nevatim, southern Israel, the aircraft are accruing significant flight time.

 

Yet none of the operational F-35s were part of the eight-aircraft force package tasked with destroying an Iranian command center in central Syria. The command center was reportedly operating the unmanned Shahed 171 drone that Israel says penetrated its airspace in the early morning of Feb. 10. Nor were they tasked to lead the follow-on wave of strikes on 12 separate Syrian and Iranian assets in the punitive operation launched later that day in response to the F-16I downing. But why not?

 

Perhaps these costly stealth fighters are too precious to use. Or perhaps the Israeli Air Force is not sufficiently confident in the aircraft or its pilots’ proficiency in operating the fifth-generation fighter.

 

Given pledges by Syria and its Hezbollah allies of “more surprises” should Israel venture additional attacks on Syrian soil, will the Israel Air Force opt to use these front-line assets next time around?

 

The official answer to all these questions, according to Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, is: “No comment.” Unofficially, former Israeli Air Force officers offer a spectrum of explanations and conjecture, including: Anemic operational experience by the service’s F-35 pilots; Failure thus far to integrate required Israeli weaponry in the aircraft’s internal weapons bay; The need to reserve these assets for only the most strategically significant missions against a much more sophisticated array of enemy air defenses.

 

However, all conceded — and on condition of anonymity due to the ongoing investigation — that the Air Force miscalculated. By failing to anticipate the threat from saturation attacks by Syrian-based air defenses — however antiquated those SA-5 and SA-17 missiles, which were deployed to support the Syrian government, might have been — Israel suffered not only the loss of its first fighter to enemy fire in 36 years, but a serious blow to its carefully crafted and well-earned aura of invincibility.

 

With the acknowledged benefit of 20/20 hindsight, some in Israel are wondering where the F-35 was. “They were sure the F-16I could easily survive the environment, as it has done so many times before,” a retired Air Force major general told Defense News. Another former officer surmised that the weaponry Israel used in that initial strike on the T-4 airfield in central Syria was not yet integrated into the weapons bay of the F-35 stealth fighter. “If it was determined to use our own special weapons for this particular scenario and this specific formation, what good would it do to hang it under the wings? You’d lose the stealth,” the officer said.

 

The Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, refused to specify which missiles were used in the initial attack on the Iranian command-and-control trailer, but multiple sources point to the Israeli SPICE, an autonomous, all-weather, precision-attack weapon that the Air Force is well-practiced in delivering at standoff range. In conjecture officially denied by Conricus, the IDF spokesman, one officer suggested Washington may have discouraged or even vetoed Israel’s use of the F-35 at this point in the multinational program out of concern that Russian and Iranian specialists in Syria could gather information on its radar-evading capability and other characteristics. “That would be highly unlikely and would set a dangerous precedent,” a former U.S. ambassador to Israel told Defense News. “Once delivered, these aircraft are wholly owned and operated by the Israelis.”

 

Retired Israeli Air Force Brig. Gen. Abraham Assael, IAF Reserve Brig. Gen. Abraham Assael, CEO of the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, was the only officer who agreed to be identified by name. According to the former fighter pilot, the Air Force had no reason to risk “strategic assets” against what was termed a “strategically insignificant” target. “In the past, everything went very well, so why jeopardize something so valuable and precious in an operation that used to entail no significant obstacles?” Assael said.

 

He cited the small number of F-35s in Israel’s possession and the relatively meager operational experience accrued on the aircraft as reasons for not including them in the Feb. 10 strike operations. “If they thought that the targets were so strategically important, I’m sure they’d consider using them. But they weren’t. So why risk use of the F-35s at such an early point in their operational maturity?” “Glitches and mishaps happen,” he added. “So now they’re investigating, and it could be one of the lessons will be that in this new strategic environment, we’ll see the F-35 called into action.”

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

One Step Ahead: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2018—Israel is no slouch at cyberwarfare. The Jewish state has been under incessant attack from its inception and has had to grapple with myriad enemies.

IDF Acknowledges Serious Hezbollah Missile Threat to Israeli Natural Gas Rigs: Algemeiner, Feb. 7, 2018—A senior IDF naval officer confirmed this week that Hezbollah — Iran’s proxy Shi’ite terror organization based in Lebanon — now possesses missiles that could cause serious damage to the natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea that provide Israel with 60 percent of its electricity.

U.S. Air Force Weighs International Squadrons to Strike Terror Targets: Julian E. Barnes and Gordon Lubold, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19, 2018—The U.S. Air Force is considering forming international squadrons of low-cost fighter planes to strike terrorist targets in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, allowing deployment of higher-tech jets to areas requiring their advanced capabilities.

US May Boost Marine Corps Force in East Asia: Jeff Daniels, CNBC, Feb. 9, 2018—In a move seen as largely signaling to China, the Trump administration could soon boost its military presence in East Asia. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday the Pentagon is considering increasing its Marine Corps Expeditionary Units in East Asia as it draws down its deployments in the Middle East, citing unnamed military officials.

                                                              

 

 

IRAN’S LAND CORRIDOR AND HEGEMONIC GOAL POSE SIGNIFICANT RISKS FOR ISRAEL & REGION

Waking Up to the Iranian Threat: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 15, 2018— Perusing global media coverage of the sharp skirmish on our northern border last weekend, I was struck by the fact that few outlets focused on the Iranian aggression.

Russia and the Israeli-Syrian-Iranian Confrontation: Emil Avdaliani, BESA, Feb. 15, 2018— Russian politicians have been surprisingly mute on the Israeli airstrikes in Syria that took place on February 11.

‘Outside-In’ is ‘Inside Out’: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Feb. 9, 2018— Sinai strikes are a reminder that Israel should never count on Arab states to guarantee its safety. It’s the other way around.

Quest for Arab Democracy: David Pryce-Jones, National Review, Dec. 31, 2017— One day in December 2010, a policewoman in a small and rather humdrum town in Tunisia slapped the face of Mohamed Bouazizi.

 

On Topic Links

 

Why Sunni Middle East ‘Powers’ Cannot Win Their Own Battles: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Feb. 5, 2018

How to Restore US Credibility in the Middle East: Michael Oren, CNN, Jan. 31, 2018

Surviving Donald Trump: Israel’s Strategic Options: Prof. Louis René Beres, BESA, Feb. 2, 2018

Trump Echoes Talleyrand in Middle East Diplomacy: EJ Kimball, The Daily Caller, Feb. 2, 2018

 

 

 

WAKING UP TO THE IRANIAN THREAT

David M. Weinberg

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 15, 2018

 

Perusing global media coverage of the sharp skirmish on our northern border last weekend, I was struck by the fact that few outlets focused on the Iranian aggression. Instead, the story was played out as a clash between Israel and Syria. This is a serious mistake. It is an error in analysis that belies a deeper and more dangerous trend, which is the tendency of Western observers to ignore the root of so much evil in the region: Iran.

 

It continually surprises me that public figures I meet here, visiting from North America and Europe, are truly not aware of the scope of Iranian muckraking and troublemaking in the region. Generally, they know that there are bad actors at play here, from al-Qaida and ISIS to Hezbollah, but they don’t have a comprehensive picture of Iranian belligerence and ambition, or the transformative, tectonic threat of Iran to Middle East stability. If anything, they often think that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (former US president Barack Obama’s nuclear deal) has shunted concerns about Iran to the back-burner, and that the ayatollahs are now placidly focusing on rebuilding their society and economy.

 

But, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The Islamic Republic is on an aggressive march across the Middle East, presenting significant security challenges to Israel, to moderate Sunni Arab countries, and to Western interests. Iran does not hide its overarching revolutionary ambitions: to export its brand of radical Islamism globally, to dominate the region, and to destroy Israel.

 

So, for the purposes of briefing those who haven’t been paying sufficient attention, here is a summary of the treacherous Iranian record: Iran is carving out a corridor of control – a Shi’ite land bridge – stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, including major parts of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and its Quds Force, various Shi’ite militias, and the Hezbollah organization. This corridor gives Iran a broad strategic base for aggression across the region.

 

Iran is establishing air and naval bases on the Mediterranean and Red seas, and especially in Syria, in order to project regional power. It has also stepped-up its harassment of international shipping and Western naval operations in the Persian Gulf. Iran is inserting militia forces into many regional conflicts, including support for the Houthi rebels in the Yemeni civil war. It seeks control of the Horn of Africa and the entrance to the Red Sea – a critical strategic choke point on international shipping. Iran is fomenting subversion in Middle East countries that are Western allies, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. It is particularly focused on destabilizing the Hashemite regime in Jordan in order to gain access to Israel’s longest border (its border with Jordan) and from there to penetrate Israel’s heartland.

 

Iran is arming guerrilla armies on Israel’s northern border (Hezbollah), southern border (Hamas and Islamic Jihad), and terrorist undergrounds in the West Bank. It has equipped Hezbollah with an arsenal of more than 150,000 missiles and rockets aimed at Israel, and supplied Hamas with the arms and rockets that fueled three military confrontations with Israel over the past decade. Iran is sponsoring terrorism against Western, Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, including unambiguous funding, logistical support, planning and personnel for terrorist attacks that span the globe – from Buenos Aires to Burgas. Iran maintains an active terrorist network of proxies, agents and sleeper cells worldwide.

 

Iran is building a long-term nuclear military option, under the cover of the 2015 nuclear deal; an agreement that expires within a decade and which legitimizes Iranian uranium enrichment and advanced nuclear research as it sunsets. Iran is developing a formidable long-range missile arsenal of great technological variability, including solid and liquid propellant ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The latest Iranian missile, called the Khorramshahr, seems to be based on the North Korean BM-25 missile with a range of 3,500 km. The Iranian ballistic missile program is in violation of United Nations Security Council prohibitions.

 

Iran is threatening Israel with war and destruction. The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, regularly refers to Israel as a cancerous tumor in the Middle East that must be removed, and speaks of the complete liberation of Palestine (meaning, the destruction of Israel) through jihad. Israel and Iran have essentially been in a war of stealth since the early 1980s (when Hezbollah was formed), but now Iranian generals and military forces have decamped on Israel’s border with Syria and have moved to direct and open military confrontation with Israel. Last weekend, the Iranian military launched an attack drone from Syria on a spy mission into Israel, and commanded the antiaircraft batteries that subsequently fired on Israeli jets (and hit a $50 million F-16I – the first Israeli jet felled by enemy fire in 30 years).

 

With the weakening of ISIS, the growing strength of Russia in Syria, and the continuing retraction of American involvement in the region, Iran apparently feels emboldened enough to escalate its confrontation with Israel. Iran is also confident enough to continue to oppress its own people, with no regard for human rights or free speech. It had no problem putting down large anti-corruption protests that erupted this winter, and the ayatollahs continue to hunt down and assassinate critics of the regime abroad, too. It is time to pay attention to the grave Iranian threat to us all.

 

                                                                       

 

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RUSSIA AND THE ISRAELI-SYRIAN-IRANIAN CONFRONTATION

Emil Avdaliani

BESA, Feb. 15, 2018

 

Russian politicians have been surprisingly mute on the Israeli airstrikes in Syria that took place on February 11. Nothing notable has been said beyond an official statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry urging all sides to show restraint and avoid actions that could lead to further complications.

 

The quiet reflects the Kremlin’s tough position. Moscow has been cooperating closely with both Israel and Iran of late, hence is in no position to unequivocally take sides. As Irina Zvyagelskaya, member of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, put it, “The situation for Russia is difficult as our country has good relations with Iran and Israel, which share deep differences.” Other political commentators say that nothing new has in fact occurred, as Israel has always vowed to destroy military buildups near its borders. The action was entirely foreseeable, they argue, in view of Israeli PM Netanyahu’s comments during his visit to Moscow in late January.

 

At the same time, many Russians are wondering to what extent the Kremlin will allow Israel to continue to carry out preventive strikes on Syrian soil. The incident suggested that an Israeli-Syrian military engagement could evolve into a serious situation that could spin out of Russian control. This is worrisome to the Russians, as they are keen to keep the balance in Syria.

 

On a broader level, the latest incident shows how ineffective Russian efforts have become to maintain a dominant position on the Syrian battlefield. The Turkish operation in Afrin, in the north of the country, made clear that Moscow is unable to forestall the growth of Ankara’s influence. Iranian proxy forces are now close to the Israeli border, and Russia failed to accomplish anything significant in this respect at the Sochi Conference in late January. Comments in the Russian media hint that, strategically speaking, Russia does not want Israel – a powerful player – to enter the already overcrowded Syrian battlefield. This is particularly true as Moscow is working right now on solidifying its positions following important military victories. Deep Israeli involvement could unravel Russia’s dominant role in Syria.

 

At the same time, suggestions in the Russian media over the past few days point to an interesting scenario in which the Israeli involvement in Syria forces Russia to more openly declare a pro-Iranian strategy. Up to this point, Moscow has consistently tried – at least officially – to cooperate with both countries. Alternatively, some Russian pundits surmise that because Moscow has been concerned that its major ally, Iran, might try to seize the strategic opportunity through its proxies and increase its clout in Syria, the Kremlin might welcome – if not Israel’s total engagement in Syria – at least some actions that limit Tehran’s power.

 

At a January 30 meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow, just days before the incident, Netanyahu said, “[t]he most important thing I think is to make sure that we understand each other and that we don’t shoot down each other’s planes.” Indeed, over the past two days, some Russian analysts have raised the idea that the Israeli involvement in the Syrian conflict will be confined solely to maintaining its own security along the borders. Overall, the tone of the Russian media towards Israel’s actions has been neutral, while remaining studiously noncommittal about those of Iran.

 

Considering Israel’s security imperatives, it is arguable that the Israeli intervention was expected. Tehran is gaining the most from the Syrian chaos. It is likely that Israel will have to respond again, even if the Golan Heights are not directly threatened. As there are no other official statements from Russian officials, nor direct government leaks in leading Russian dailies such as Kommersant, Izvestia and others, Moscow’s position will be important to watch. Like most players in Syria, the Russians would not welcome additional actors in the country. However, the Kremlin will not be able to forestall further possible Israeli involvement in Syria.                                                              

 

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‘OUTSIDE-IN’ IS ‘INSIDE OUT’

Jonathan S. Tobin

JNS, Feb. 9, 2018

 

Sinai strikes are a reminder that Israel should never count on Arab states to guarantee its safety. It’s the other way around. We’re not hearing much anymore about President Donald Trump’s desire to broker the “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians. But though the peace process is currently in the deep freeze, the concept that animated Trump’s approach lives on. The idea was called “outside-in,” and the conceit of it was that moderate Arab nations like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia would persuade the Palestinians to make peace, and then supply the money and muscle to make it stick. It had the virtue of being rooted in the hard truths of realpolitik, rather than utopian peace fantasies, and seemed to promise the kind of paradigm change that might actually make a difference.

 

But the notion that Arab states can be relied upon to safeguard Israel’s security in a theoretical peace deal is as much a pipe dream as Shimon Peres’ “New Middle East” vision of Israel and the Palestinians acting like Belgium and the Netherlands in the aftermath of Oslo. Far from the Arabs protecting Israel, the reality is that Israel protects them. That’s the upshot of a report from this past weekend’s New York Times about Israel conducting a bombing campaign in the Sinai. The Egyptians are apparently not only cooperating with Israel in a battle against al Qaeda terrorists there, but have given their assent to Israeli air strikes against them on Egyptian territory. This would have been unimaginable a few years ago. The peninsula was the crucible of four Arab-Israeli wars as Israeli forces repeatedly bested the Egyptians. After the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty that followed Anwar Sadat’s dramatic visit to Jerusalem in 1977, the Sinai was a source of concern to those who thought the “cold peace” might disappear altogether.

 

But the aftermath of the Arab Spring protests that brought down Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, led to a change. The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood brought the most populous Arab nation to the brink; however, when a coup backed by a mass uprising brought the military back into power, they knew who they could count on. The current Egyptian government understood that the Obama administration, which had helped pushed Mubarak out, was not a reliable friend. Israel was its main ally in the struggle against Islamist terror and the Muslim Brotherhood. That led to a joint effort to isolate Gaza, which is governed by Hamas, an offshoot of the Brotherhood. And when the Egyptians lost effective control of the Sinai where al Qaeda terrorists operate, cooperation with Israel became even more important.

 

Despite the size of Egypt’s military and the fact that it has, as part of the deal that led to the peace treaty with Israel, been given $1.5 billion in U.S. aid every year, it needs Israel if it’s to maintain control of the Sinai. As the Times reports, for more than two years, Israel has conducted weekly strikes on the area via drones, helicopters and jets. All of them were apparently carried out with the direct approval of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

 

The same is true of the much vaunted under-the-table alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis couldn’t persuade P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas to engage in peace talks with the Israel and the United States. But they look to the Israelis as a strategic ally in their struggle with Iran, which is just as, if not more of, a threat to the desert kingdom and other Gulf emirates than it is to the Jewish state.

 

Given its pose as the guardian of Islam, the Saudis are unlikely to convert their closeted relationship with Israel into an open one. Nor will Egypt or Jordan, whose government is even more dependent on Israel for its survival, stop supporting anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations as they try to appease the anti-Semitic sentiments of their populations. But that won’t stop them from looking to Israel to save them from their enemies. With Iran now firmly established in Syria and Lebanon under the effective control of Tehran’s Hezbollah auxiliaries, the region is a tinderbox. Yet the ability of Israel and the Arab states to cooperate acts as a deterrent against a bad situation that’s growing worse, even though expectations that these alliances can positively impact the peace process with the Palestinians remain unfounded.

 

Former Secretary of State John Kerry proposed that Egypt and Jordan would guarantee Israel’s security as part of a peace deal in which it would be expected to give up the West Bank and part of Jerusalem. Others have mooted the same role for the Saudis. But if neither Egypt nor Jordan can guarantee their own security, how can they be expected to protect Israel against terrorism and the implicit threat that a terrorist state in the West Bank, like the one that currently exists in Gaza, would pose to its future?

 

Seen in that light, the “outside-in” strategy touted by the Trump foreign-policy team is, at least as far as the peace process is concerned, just as much of an intellectual snare as anything produced by the Obama administration. The cold hard reality is that as long as the Palestinians refuse to concede defeat in their century-old war against Zionism, all such clever strategies are a waste of time.

 

That makes Israel’s role as the defender of moderate Arabs—and America’s sole reliable and democratic ally in the region—even more important. What’s going on in the Sinai proves this surprising but irrefutable principle: While Israel can trust no one but itself to safeguard its security, its former Arab enemies can now trust no one but Israel to ensure their survival.

 

 

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QUEST FOR ARAB DEMOCRACY

David Pryce-Jones

National Review, Dec. 31, 2017

 

One day in December 2010, a policewoman in a small and rather humdrum town in Tunisia slapped the face of Mohamed Bouazizi. The dispute was over his permit to be selling fruit and vegetables off a barrow. The injustice that he encountered, and the humiliation, drove the poor man to take his life. Just as a butterfly fluttering its wings is supposed to cause a cascade of faraway atmospheric effects, this suicide set off a movement of protest and solidarity in one Arab country after another. The monarchies and republics in which Arabs live are, in reality, dictatorships, and the time had apparently arrived for them to reform and take their place in what was supposed to be an emerging worldwide democratic order.

 

What became known as the Arab Spring did not live up to these expectations; far from it. Since 2010, Arab countries have suffered civil war, coups, terrorism, invasion by foreign powers, genocide, the sale of women in slave markets, the ruin of historic cities and monuments, the death of civilians by the hundreds of thousands, and the flight of refugees in their millions. The rise of the Islamic State, self-described as a caliphate, redesigned the boundaries of Syria and Iraq, countries that may not be reconstituted for a very long time, if ever. Islamist volunteers in this misappropriated territory murdered, beheaded, crucified, or tortured to death, often in public, whomever they pleased. Libya, Yemen, and Lebanon are also states in varying stages of collapse. A whole civilization seems to be coming apart.

 

The proper human response to such calamity is that something ought to be done about it. Elliott Abrams takes it for granted in Realism and Democracy that the United States can and should come to the rescue. His career has given him authority to comment on matters of power politics. In the Reagan administration, he was assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs (1981–85) and assistant secretary for inter-American affairs (1985–89); he later served as President George W. Bush’s adviser for global democracy strategy (2005–09). His sympathies are very wide, his quotations from the academic literature are numerous and apt, and his prose is almost miraculously jargon-free.

 

His introductory chapter, almost a hundred pages long, is a kind of handbook to the mindsets of American policymakers concerning the Middle East in recent decades. The U.S. approach during the Cold War was perhaps an unfair great-power exercise but at least it kept the peace after its fashion. The most frequent cause of a clash during that era was some independent but rash manipulation on the part of one of the superpowers’ clients. The superpowers’ balancing of laissez-faire and a tight fist was usually enough to keep major clients such as Turkey and Iran, and even Arab-nationalist dictators, on the straight and narrow path of cooperation with them. Those times are over. In the absence of the external pressures of the Cold War, former clients are now in a position to pursue their own ambitions, forming alliances and enmities without regard for Western interests. Military intervention in Afghanistan, Libya, and elsewhere so far has only sustained or increased the level of instability. The sole alternative is to make a moralizing speech, but if the decision not to intervene militarily has already been taken, this is pointlessly sanctimonious.

 

Put simply, what Realism and Democracy is asking is whether the United States should deal with the present free-for-all in the role of policeman or of paramedic. Abrams takes his lead from President Reagan, once his boss, who was convinced that whatever Arabs might do or say, basically they want the same freedom as Americans, and they are able to acquire it, too. In this view, freedom is the function of democracy, and democracy in turn is the function of human rights. In the course of his career, Abrams also met and admired the like-minded senators Scoop Jackson and Daniel Moynihan and, last but not least, George W. Bush, the president who did his best to give freedom to Iraqis. Proud to be an unreconstructed Reaganite, Abrams further awards himself the title of neo-con.

 

In contrast, he has not much good to say of President Nixon or his secretary of state Henry Kissinger, the leading proponents of the different doctrine that goes by the name of “realism.” If they judged military intervention to be in the national interest, they ordered it, but the main geostrategic goal of their day was détente with the Soviet Union. The pursuit of democracy and human rights was bound to be understood in Moscow as anti-Communist incitement, in particular encouraging dissidents who then were likely to be deported to the Gulag…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link…Ed]     

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Why Sunni Middle East ‘Powers’ Cannot Win Their Own Battles: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Feb. 5, 2018— The New York Times this weekend reported on Israel’s secret air campaign against Islamic State terrorists in the Egypt-controlled Sinai Peninsula, bringing into stark focus the close military cooperation that has developed between Jerusalem and Cairo.

How to Restore US Credibility in the Middle East: Michael Oren, CNN, Jan. 31, 2018— As Israel's ambassador to Washington and, later, as a member of its government, I held many conversations with Arab diplomats, ministers, journalists and businessmen from Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States. All candidly offered their views on the Middle East and, without exception, all believed that America was secretly allied with Iran.

Surviving Donald Trump: Israel’s Strategic Options: Prof. Louis René Beres, BESA, Feb. 2, 2018— While Israel has always been determinedly self-reliant on core matters of national security, this posture needs to become even more explicit in the disjointed “Trump Era.”

Trump Echoes Talleyrand in Middle East Diplomacy: EJ Kimball, The Daily Caller, Feb. 2, 2018— President Trump's public diplomacy, from his first days in office to his State of the Union speech earlier this week, often appears inspired by the immortal words of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand at the Congress of Vienna in 1814: "If it goes without saying, it would go better by saying it."

                                                              

 

 

LE FRONT IRANIEN SE RAPPROCHE D’ISRAËL

  

    

 

 

 

SYRIE/ISRAËL: LES ETATS-UNIS DÉNONCENT

"LES ACTIVITÉS NUISIBLES DE L'IRAN DANS LA RÉGION"

i24NEWS, fev. 10, 2018

 

Le département d'Etat américain a apporté samedi son soutien à Israël et a dénoncé "l'escalade calculée de la menace de l'Iran" mettant la région "en danger" suite à l'interception plus tôt dans la journée d'un drone iranien sur le territoire israélien.

 

"Les Etats-Unis sont vivement préoccupés par l'escalade de la violence à la frontière d'Israël et soutiennent fermement le droit souverain d'Israël à se défendre", a expliqué de département d'Etat dans un communiqué, dénonçant également "les activités nuisibles de l'Iran dans la région".

 

L'armée israélienne a quant à elle réaffirmé la connivence militaire qui existe entre l'Iran et la Syrie après qu'Israël a mené samedi une série d'attaques aériennes, frappant des cibles syriennes, mais aussi "iraniennes".

 

"Pendant longtemps, l'Iran et les Forces Al-Qods ont opéré avec le soutien des forces syriennes et l'approbation du régime syrien, depuis la base aérienne syrienne T-4 près de Tadmor", a décalré Tsahal sur les réseaux sociaux.

 

L'aviation israélienne a bombardé samedi matin plus de douze cibles militaires en Syrie, dont trois batteries de défense anti-aériennes et quatre cibles iraniennes non précisées mais "appartenant au dispositif militaire iranien en Syrie", a affirmé l'armée dans un communiqué.

 

L'Iran a pour sa part accusé Israël de "mensonges" et souligné le droit de la Syrie à la "légitime défense", en riposte aux raids israéliens.

 

"Les allégations à propos du survol d'un drone iranien sont trop ridicules", a déclaré le porte-parole du ministère iranien des Affaires étrangères, Bahram Ghassemi.

 

Ces hostilités interviennent sur fond de crispations grandissantes coïncidant avec le cours pris par le conflit syrien en faveur du régime de Bachar al-Assad, un ennemi d'Israël soutenu militairement par la Russie, mais aussi par l'Iran et le Hezbollah libanais.

 

Le Premier ministre israélien a dit samedi ne pas chercher l'escalade, mais a prévenu qu'il ne permettra aucun "ancrage" militaire de l'Iran en Syrie.

 

Benyamin Netanyahou ne cesse de mettre en garde contre ce qu'il décrit comme l'expansion de l'Iran et de prévenir qu'Israël ne permettra pas que Téhéran vienne porter la menace à ses portes, en Syrie.

 

C'est toutefois la première fois que l'armée israélienne dit ouvertement avoir visé des cibles "iraniennes" depuis le début en 2011 de la guerre en Syrie, où Israël a effectué ces dernières années de nombreuses frappes contre le régime de Damas ou le Hezbollah libanais.

 

"Israël tient l'Iran et ses hôtes syriens pour responsables de l'agression d'aujourd'hui", a ajouté M. Netanyahou. "Nous continuerons à faire tout ce qui sera nécessaire pour défendre notre souveraineté et notre sécurité".

 

Il a par ailleurs indiqué s'être entretenu avec le président russe Vladimir Poutine, autre soutien de taille du régime syrien, et avec le secrétaire d'Etat américain Rex Tillerson, au sujet des derniers développements.

 

 

 

 

 

ANALYSE: LES IRANIENS FONT PRESSION

POUR UN NOUVEAU STATU QUO DANS LE NORD

Ron Ben-Yishai

I24, 10 fev. 2018

 

 

L'incident grave d'un drone iranien violant le territoire aérien de l'Etat hébreu et la frappe de l'aviation israélienne qui a suivi pourraient indiquer le début d'une nouvelle conjoncture, dans laquelle les Iraniens et les Syriens coordonnent des offensives militaires contre Israël.

 

Alors que les Syriens ont surtout riposté par la voie diplomatique ou en tirant des missiles antiaériens suite aux attaques israéliennes, les événements de samedi marquent une action initiée par le régime de Damas et ses alliés qui a commencé avec le lancement d'un drone iranien en direction d'Israël, et a progressé avec des tirs antiaériens massifs contre des avions de combat israéliens en Syrie en riposte au lancement du drone.

 

Un avion de combat F-16 – le modèle le plus sophistiqué des forces aériennes – a été abattu lors des représailles israéliennes. Si l'avion a été effectivement touché par un missile antiaérien syrien, l'armée de l'air devra rapidement tirer des conclusions et changer ses méthodes d'opération.

 

Le drone iranien a été lancé à partir de la base aérienne militaire de Tiyas, connue sous le nom de base T-4, située à environ 60 km au nord-ouest de Palmyre, aux environs de Homs.

 

C'est l'un des aérodromes les plus importants de l'armée de l'air syrienne et il est également utilisé régulièrement par l'aviation russe, ainsi que par des agents iraniens.

 

L'attaque de la base devait donc être effectuée avec une précision chirurgicale afin d'éviter de toucher du personnel militaire russe ou leur matériel. La remorque de contrôle et les rampes de lancement du drone iranien sont une cible relativement petite qui devait également être frappée avec la plus grande précision pour éviter les dommages collatéraux.

 

Dans ces circonstances, l'armée de l'air devait lancer ses avions avec un "profil de vol" qui permettait une précision maximale de la frappe, mais qui faisait également des avions une cible plus facile et plus visible.

 

Les circonstances des frappes seront connues plus tard. Une enquête sera également nécessaire pour s'assurer que les dommages subis par les avions n'ont pas été causés par un manque de vigilance ou un excès de confiance, à la fois en ce qui a trait aux capacités de détection des avions et aux capacités des pilotes.

 

L'armée de l'air israélienne a jusqu'à présent mené avec succès des dizaines d'opérations offensives en Syrie – selon des publications étrangères – sans jamais mettre en péril ni ses avions ni ses pilotes.

 

Ces manoeuvres ont été réalisées alors que le système antiaérien syrien – l'un des plus puissants et modernes au monde – a tenté de les stopper à l'aide de dizaines de missiles, y compris des SA-5 de longue portée, également connus sous le nom de SA-200.

 

Sur le plan politique et stratégique, Israël doit se préparer à une situation dans laquelle les Iraniens ne se limiteront plus à des réponses verbales lorsque leurs infrastructures en Syrie seront touchées, mais entreprendront des actions à la fois pour dissuader Israël mais aussi pour protéger leurs installations en territoire syrien.

 

Les frappes contre les positions iraniennes et, en particulier, contre le système antiaérien syrien ont été effectuées en partie pour envoyer un message de dissuasion à l'Iran et à la Syrie.

 

Le message a également été transmis aux Russes et aux Américains, affirmant que la présence iranienne en Syrie empêche le calme régional ou les règlements politiques.

 

En conclusion, le drone iranien a peut-être été lancé pour tester à la fois la vigilance de l'armée israélienne et ses capacités contre les drones.

 

Il est également tout à fait possible que cette action ait eu pour objectif de prouver que le territoire israélien pouvait être violé, ce qui permettrait au gouvernement iranien de renforcer la propagande perçue par la conscience populaire.

 

Plusieurs autres possibilités subsistent également, mais nous devons attendre les résultats de l'enquête et les conclusions de l'armée israélienne.

 

Pour l'instant, on peut supposer que ces incidents n'entraîneront pas une escalade totale sur le front nord dans un proche avenir, mais il est également probable qu'ils ne sont pas les derniers.

 

 

 

 

 

L’AXE IRANIEN TENTE SA CHANCE

CONTRE ISRAËL ET LES ETATS-UNIS

Avi Issacharoff

Times of Israel, 11 fev., 2018

 

Depuis samedi matin, les autorités syriennes et iraniennes multiplient les manifestations de joie suite au crash d’un chasseur israélien de type F-16 par les défenses aériennes syriennes.

 

A Damas, les habitants ont distribué des bonbons aux passants. Les internautes sur les réseaux sociaux ont partagé des caricatures montrant un avion israélien frappé par des missiles syriens, tandis qu’à Damas, Téhéran et même Gaza, il y a eu des déclarations parlant de « changement stratégique dans la région » et de « nouvelle équation ».

 

En effet, ce fut une victoire symbolique pour l' »axe chiite » dirigé par les Iraniens, avec ses alliés, la Syrie et le groupe terroriste chiite libanais du Hezbollah, qui ont réussi là où personne d’autre n’a réussi depuis la Première guerre du Liban en 1982.

 

L’Iran déclare d’ores et déjà qu’il n’autorisera plus aucune action israélienne violant la souveraineté de la Syrie, et Téhéran et ses alliés peuvent paraître triomphants, en particulier parmi leurs populations déjà anti-israéliennes.

 

Mais Israël peut également déclarer victoire, l’armée israélienne affirmant que ses frappes contre les cibles en Syrie ont été « les plus importantes et les plus significatives » depuis 1982.

 

Ces positions respectives expliquent peut-être le calme relatif qui règne depuis les représailles israéliennes de samedi matin.

 

La principale leçon à tirer de l’escalade n’est cependant pas les points marqués à domicile par les deux parties, mais ce que cela signifie pour la dissuasion israélienne, ainsi que pour l’Iran et la Syrie.

 

L’Iran et son mandataire, le Hezbollah, ont déjà déclaré que la chute de l’avion marque la « fin de l’ère de l’agression israélienne en Syrie ».

 

Il est toutefois peu probable que cela se produise, car Israël continuera probablement de frapper en Syrie, alors que l’Iran continue d’essayer de transférer des armes sophistiquées au Hezbollah et à d’autres groupes chiites, ainsi que de mettre en place des usines de missiles perfectionnés et de consolider sa présence militaire en Syrie.

 

Et les Iraniens ? La Force Quds du Corps des Gardiens de la Révolution iranienne, dirigée par le tristement célèbre général Qassem Soleimani, ne cessera pas son enracinement militaire en Syrie. Soleimani, qui s’enorgueillit de ses victoires au Yémen, en Irak et en Syrie, fera probablement le contraire et continuera comme prévu.

 

Le drone iranien qui a pénétré dans l’espace aérien israélien, déclenchant l’échange de tirs du matin, a été lancé depuis la base aérienne militaire T-4, près de l’ancienne ville abandonnée de Palmyre. La base avait été aux mains du groupe terroriste de l’État islamique, mais reprise avec l’aide de la Force Quds.

 

Après avoir décollé en Syrie, le drone high-tech a survolé la Jordanie, avant d’entrer dans l’espace aérien israélien, où il est resté pendant une minute et demie avant d’être abattu, ce qui montre que l’audace de l’Iran est à son plus haut niveau.

 

Cependant, Téhéran devrait y réfléchir à deux fois avant de refaire voler un drone iranien au-dessus d’Israël, à la lumière du prix de la réponse d’Israël sur les défenses aériennes syriennes.

 

L’escalade de samedi a eu lieu au moment où la Syrie et l’Iran sont engagés dans des combats acharnés contre les groupes rebelles dans la province septentrionale d’Idlib et les banlieues de Damas.

 

A ce stade, on ne peut qu’espérer que l’Iran comprendra qu’un conflit militaire avec Israël serait trop lourd à supporter.

 

Qu’est-ce qui a motivé l’Iran à faire voler un drone dans l’espace aérien israélien ?

 

Avec sa victoire sur la sécurité israélienne et le désintérêt des Américains ou des Russes pour son renforcement militaire en Syrie, Téhéran est peut-être devenu trop confiant, croyant qu’il pouvait faire voler un drone dans le ciel israélien sans qu’Israël s’en aperçoive, ou que toute réponse serait limitée.

 

Le drone iranien était un modèle « low signature », ce qui signifie qu’il est difficile à capter par les radars, et la capacité d’Israël à détecter le drone a été un témoignage du succès des défenses aériennes de Tsahal.

 

Apparemment, c’est en raison d’une erreur de jugement ou d’un malentendu sur la position israélienne et l’étendue des capacités de renseignement d’Israël en Syrie, que les Iraniens ont pris cette initiative.

 

Cet aveuglement, ou hubris, a également été le principal facteur qui a motivé la décision de l’armée syrienne de planifier une attaque à grande échelle contre les forces démocratiques syriennes – composées de combattants kurdes et syriens soutenus par les États-Unis dans l’est de la Syrie.

 

Quelle qu’en soit la raison, la Syrie pensait qu’une telle attaque contre les forces alliées des États-Unis ne susciterait pas une réponse forte. Les États-Unis, qui étaient au courant avant l’attaque prévue, ont lancé une attaque préventive contre les forces syriennes, contrecarrant l’offensive et tuant plus de 100 combattants soutenus par les Syriens.

 

Tout cela montre que la victoire contre Israël est montée à la tête de l’Iran et de la Syrie. On ne peut qu’espérer que malgré avoir réussi à abattre un F-16, la réponse israélienne parviendra à calmer l’axe chiite dirigé par l’Iran et à le ramener sur terre.

 

 

 

L’INCIDENT DANS LE CIEL SYRIEN AVEC L’IRAN,

UN TOURNANT DANS LA CONFRONTATION AVEC LES MOLLAHS ?

Maurice-Ruben Hayoun

Times of Israel, 13 fev., 2018

 

 

A l’évidence, les Iraniens jouent avec le feu. Il semble même, si on analyse sans hâte et en profondeur, la réaction de Hassan Rouhani, que c’est l’aile dure du régime, celle des Gardiens de la révolution, qui est aux manettes en Syrie et qui a voulu délibérément provoquer Israël dans l’espoir d’une réelle déflagration, laquelle ferait alors oublier les problèmes de politique intérieure et ressouderait le peuple tout entier autour de ses gouvernants.

 

En effet, Rouhani n’a pas, comme à son habitude, fulminé d’anathème contre Israël ni contre les USA. Il a disserté vaguement sur le terrorisme (sic), mis en garde ceux qui croient résoudre les problèmes par la violence, au point qu’on ne sait pas très bien qui il visait…

 

Etait-ce ceux qui ont téléguidé le drone vers Israël ou s’en tenait-il à la violence de la réaction israélienne qui s’en est suivi ? Difficile de le dire avec exactitude.

 

Visiblement, le président iranien est inquiet car il connaît, lui, la situation exacte de son pays, avec une population qui n’a manqué de se soulever contre le régime. C’était imprévu et cela a été étouffé dans l’œuf. Mais cela ne signifie pas que tout danger a été écarté.

 

Par ailleurs, il y a la leçon nord-coréenne : les anti-Trump ont cloué le président au pilori et savourent désormais le calme, apparent, qui règne entre les deux frères ennemis. Ils oublient opportunément que sans les menaces très fortes de Trump, le dictateur nord-coréen n’aurait jamais adouci son attitude. Il sait que Trump est aux antipodes de son prédécesseur et qu’il prépare son armée pour lancer, si besoin est, une large offensive contre son ennemi.

 

Rouhani qui est d’abord un religieux, un ecclésiastique, frotté aux techniques exégétiques les plus subtiles, sait à qui il a affaire. Il connaît l’état précis de ses forces armées et les difficultés de continuer à voler au secours du Hamas, du Hezbollah et des chiites de Bahreïn.

 

Il connaît aussi l’effet dévastateur des sanctions de l’ONU et des USA dont le président est à l’affut du moindre prétexte pour remettre en œuvre une panoplie de mesures qui paralyseront à nouveau une économie déjà exsangue…

 

Alors, que s’est-il passé au juste ? On oublie souvent que dans cette république islamique, ce n’est pas le président qui est le commandant en chef des forces armées mais bien le Guide suprême, lequel ne cache plus son désaccord ou au moins ses divergences avec Rouhani.

 

On ne peut donc pas exclure que les gardiens de la révolution, postés à la frontière avec Israël, aient déclenché cet incident gravissime, d’une part pour tester la réaction d’Israël (réaction foudroyante) et d’autre part pour placer leur président potiche devant le fait accompli.

 

Mais que s’est-il passé au juste ? D’après ce qu’on entend, de Syrie, un drone a pénétré en Jordanie avant de se placer dans ciel israélien où il fut abattu après un parcours d’environ une minute trente. Selon l’explication fournie par les militaires, on l’a laissé entrer afin de l’abattre dans l’espace aérien et de le récupérer pour l’analyser et savoir au juste ce qu’il cherchait. L’explication tient la route.

 

On nous dit qu’il y eut plus trois raids en Syrie et cela a engagé près de huit chasseurs-bombardiers F16 dont l’un est venu s’écraser non loin de Haïfa… A-t-il été touché dans l’espace aérien syrien ou israélien ? On attend la réponse à cette question.

 

Certains pensent que les adversaires d’Israël ont fait voler en éclats le mythe de l’invincibilité de l’armée de l’air de Tsahal. Je pense que c’est aller vite en besogne car chaque fois qu’il y a un engagement armée, le risque de perte plus ou moins importante subsiste.

 

Il existe un autre enseignement à tirer de cet échange si violent : le discours du Premier ministre d’Israël qui a rendu compte de sa conversation avec Vladimir Poutine. Soyons sérieux : si les Russes ne couvraient pas, au moins en regardant ailleurs, les opérations de l’Etat juif en Syrie, les choses seraient plus compliquées pour Tsahal.

 

Certes, l’armée de l’air arriverait malgré tout à atteindre ses objectifs, mais ce serait moins facile… En tout état de cause, il était singulier que Netanyahou appelle M. Poutine au lieu de s’entretenir d’abord avec Donald Trump… Lequel a apporté son soutien à son allié israélien et souligné son droit de se défendre.

 

Mais à présent que va t-il se passer ? Il est indéniable que les Iraniens ont bien reçu le message d’autant qu’on signale des pertes dans leurs rangs à la suite des bombardements. Vont-ils réagir ? J’en doute car dans ce cas, Israël leur infligerait des frappes d’une tout autre ampleur.

 

Et cette fois-ci, Rouhani fera valoir ses idées. Si la situation devait s’envenimer, les USA pourraient être de la partie. Et dans ce cas, Poutine sera obligé de calmer son turbulent allié iranien.

 

C’est un aspect des choses qu’on a tendance à oublier : Poutine a à l’œil cet encombrant allié iranien qui campe sur le terrain et dont les objectifs ne coïncident pas vraiment avec ceux du maître du Kremlin. L’homme fort de Russie a l’impression que les Iraniens ont tenté de le déborder, de lui forcer la main, de l’impliquer dans un conflit dont il ne veut pas.

 

Son vœu le plus cher est de conserver ses positions et ses bases en Méditerranée orientale, de calmer le jeu et de trouver une issue politique au problème syrien. En agissant comme ils l’ont fait, les Iraniens prouvent qu’ils ont un autre agenda. On comprend mieux que le silence tacite de Poutine qui n’est peut-être pas mécontent des raids israéliens contre les Iraniens et leur allié du Hezbollah…

 

On se perd en conjectures. On se demande pourquoi il est si difficile de résoudre pacifiquement les problèmes, éloigner les conflits. Ce serait si simple si les Iraniens comprenaient enfin qu’ils doivent développer leur pays, le reconstruire et le moderniser au lieu de se lancer à corps perdu dans des aventures militaires incertaines, si loin de chez eux.

 

Une nouvelle flambée de violence sur place, au sein de l’Iran, n’est plus à exclure. Et qui sait, le régime sera peut-être contraint de changer ou de céder la place.

 

 

 

 

 

Actualité 

 

 

RÉACTION DU PREMIER MINISTRE À LA DÉCISION DE LA POLICE

Shraga Blum

Lphinfo, fev.14, 2018

 

C’est un Premier ministre au regard grave, mais déterminé et sûr de lui qui s’est adressé mardi soir aux citoyens du pays après l’annonce des recommandations de la police de le mettre en examen. Binyamin Netanyahou a parlé durant près d’un quart d’heure en retraçant son parcours au service de l’Etat depuis le début puis en tentant de démonter les accusations dont il fait l’objet et dénonçant les attaques continuelles contre lui et sa famille. Il a surtout tenu à dire qu’il entend poursuivre son activité à la tête du gouvernement jusqu’au terme de cette législature, et même au-delà en demandant le renouvellement de la confiance des électeurs lors des prochaines élections.

 

Voici la traduction des principales parties de son intervention: “Citoyens d’Israël, je m’adresse à vous de coeur à coeur. Toute ma vie, je l’ai consacrée à un seul objectif: assurer la sécurité et l’avenir de l’Etat d’Israël. C’est la force qui m’a animée lorsque j’étais officier dans la Sayeret Matkal, lorsque mes amis et moi avons fait irruption dans l’avion de la Sabena pris en otage, c’est la force qui m’a animée lorsque j’étais ambassadeur à l’ONU pour marteler à chaque occasion notre vérité, c’est la force qui m’a animée comme ministre des Finances lorsque j’ai instauré des réformes sans précédent qui ont propulsé notre économie vers des sommets, et c’est la force qui m’anime jour après jour, en tant que chef du gouvernement israélien: bâtir notre Etat, le développer et surtout lui assurer la sécurité.

 

Je me sens le profond devoir de continuer à diriger le pays sur une voie qui assurera notre avenir, sur la voie dans laquelle la majorité de la population croit. C’est la raison pour laquelle je travaille énormément, parfois tard dans la nuit et très tôt le matin, lorsque le téléphone rouge se met à sonner, et croyez-moi, dans notre petit pays, cela ne manque pas d’arriver. C’est ainsi que j’ai agi jusqu’à présent et c’est ainsi que je continuerai à agir, avec responsabilité, jugement et dévouement. Ce sentiment de mission est la raison de ma présence ici, et parce que vous m’avez accordé votre confiance à plusieurs reprises. Parce que vous savez très bien qu’il n’y a qu’une chose devant mes yeux: le bien de l’Etat. Et non pas des cigares offerts par un ami, non pas pour bénéficier de médias favorables, pour rien d’autre non plus si ce n’est le bien de l’Etat d’Israël. Et rien ne m’a jamais détourné ni ne me détournera jamais de cette mission sacrée. Pas même ceux qui incitent contre moi, et D. merci, ils ne s’arrêtent jamais.

 

Dès lors, ce jour n’a rien de différent des autres jours, depuis les vingt dernières années. Depuis que j’ai été élu à la tête du gouvernement, il ne s’est presque pas passé un seul jour où des calomnies et autres affabulations n’aient pas été émises contre moi. Et elles ne visent pas uniquement ma personne.

 

Elle s’attaquent de manière cruelle et méchante aux membres de ma famille, à mon épouse, à mes enfants. Ceci afin de m’atteindre. Cela me fait mal parce que je les aime énormément. Durant ces années également, d’énormes pressions ont ét exercées pour ouvrir contre moi pas moins de quinze vérifications et enquêtes, dans le seul but de me chasser du pouvoir. Toutes ces tentatives avaient commencé par des titres tonitruants, avec des flashs et émissions spéciales sur les plateaux de télévision. Certaines annonçaient des conclusions terribles de la police. Exactement comme aujourd’hui. Toutes ces tentatives sans exception se sont terminées sur rien du tout. Et comme je connais la vérité, je vous le dis, cette fois-ci également, cela se terminera sur absolument rien.

 

Les recommandations que nous avons entendues aujourd’hui ont été publiées il y a plus d’un an déjà, peu après le début de l’enquête et depuis, elles ont été reprises sans cesse. Je tiens à rappeler cette réalité limpide: ces recommandations n’ont aucun statut dans un régime démocratique. Je ne dis pas cela à des fins de provocation, mais pour mettre le doigt sur un principe de base de notre démocratie:

 

Israël est un Etat de droit, et selon ce droit, ce n’est pas la police qui prend les décisions mais ce sont uniquement les instances judiciaires. Et heureusement qu’il en est ainsi. Et la statistique montre que plus de 50% des recommandations de la police ne sont pas prises en compte par les instances judiciaires. Ceci est la réalité. Mais il y a plus. Une lourde ombre pèse sur les recommandations de ce soir. On ne peut pas se défaire de l’idée qu’elles ont été influencées par des sentiments infondées auprès d’acteurs de l’enquête qui sont persuadés que j’ai ourdi contre eux (le Premier ministre énonce alors les diverses accusations selon lesquelles il aurait ordonné de monter des dossiers contre certains enquêteurs).Qu’est ce que cela nous dit alors à propos de cette enquête? Et à propos de ces recommandations? Si celui qui enquête est persuadé que vous complotez contre lui, comment peut-il alors poursuivre son enquête de manière objective? Et publier des recommandations objectives? Je ne suis donc pas surpris par ces recommandations. Je suis convaincu que lorsque les instances judiciaires examineront tout le matériel, elles se rendront compte à quel point ces recommandations étaient fantaisistes.

 

(Binyamin Netanyahou prend alors des exemples tirés des enquêtes pour démontrer notamment qu’il n’a pas accordé le moindre avantage à son ami Arnon Milchan en contrepartie des fameux cigares ni qu’il ait agi en faveur de Noni Moses en échange d’un changement de ligne éditoriale de Yediot A’haronot à son égard).

 

Citoyens d’Israël, je ne suis pas là pour favoriser mes intérêts personnels. Si c’était le cas, je serais ailleurs depuis longtemps. Je suis là pour une seule chose: assurer l’avenir de l’Etat d’Israël. Je vous le dis: ce gouvernement ira jusqu’au bout de son mandat. Ensemble avec les ministres de mon gouvernement, je continuerai à transformer Israël en puissance mondiale montante, une puissance technologique, militaire et économique, qui jouit d’un statut international jamais atteint. Je continuerai à diriger Israël avec responsabilité et fidélité, tant que vous, citoyens d’Israël continuerez à me faire confiance.

 

Je suis certain que la vérité se révélera, et je suis convaincu que lors des prochaines élections également, qui auront lieu à la date légale, je recueillerai à nouveau votre confiance, avec l’aide de D.ieu. Merci à vous”.

 

 

 

ST VALENTIN DEVIENT ST CUPIDON

Abbé Alain Arbez

Dreuz, 10 fev., 2018

 

 

A l’époque se déroulait chaque printemps la fête des Lupercales, donnant l’occasion à de jeunes hommes et à de jeunes femmes de déposer leurs noms dans des urnes pour pouvoir ensuite tirer au sort les partenaires d’un jour. Ces festivités orgiaques étaient organisées sous le patronage de la déesse Junon et du dieu Pan, et les prêtres de Lupercus organisaient des fêtes délirantes. Face à ces solennités païennes et leurs débordements, des chrétiens voulurent mettre en valeur un amour véritable entre un homme et une femme. Ils étaient à l’évidence à contre-courant de l’opinion majoritaire ! Ce n’étaient pas des rabat-joie, mais des êtres convaincus que l’amour vraiment respectueux des personnes serait fondé sur un engagement mutuel, selon les valeurs éthiques de la parole de Dieu.

 

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D’après la chronique, Serapia et Sabin ont fait appel à Valentin pour qu’il bénisse leur union basée sur un amour sincère et définitif. Comme pour d’autres mariages semblables célébrés par l’évêque Valentin en infraction des décrets de l’empereur, ces démarches furent réprimées par le martyre. Il faut préciser qu’une des raisons d’interdiction du mariage – outre la licence des mœurs – était qu’un soldat marié avait beaucoup moins de motivation pour partir faire la guerre.

 

Mais comment en est-on arrivé à confondre le témoignage courageux de Valentin avec un Cupidon capricieux décochant ses flèches pour des partenariats sans lendemains ?

 

On entend souvent l’argument selon lequel l’Eglise aurait été assez habile, dans les premiers siècles, pour évangéliser des rites païens. Or, si l’on observe bien le cours des choses, c’est exactement l’inverse qui s’est produit : la Saint Valentin, initialement dédiée à une union loyale et durable, est devenue la fête des amoureux pour partenaires provisoires. Au contraire des idées reçues, la société a donc paganisé et popularisé une fête aux motivations spirituelles en occultant les dimensions éthiques qui l’accompagnaient.

 

C’est au XIV° siècle que la Grande Bretagne a popularisé la St Valentin pour les amoureux. Mais le promoteur de la célébration était un Vaudois établi outre-Manche, le capitaine Othon de Grandson, qui dans ses poèmes mettait en valeur les serments d’avenir que se font les véritables âmes sœurs (« Le souhait de Saint Valentin »). William Shakespeare fait mention de la St Valentin dans Hamlet : il compare poétiquement les amoureux qui échangent de doux messages avec les oiseaux qui commencent leurs approches nuptiales.

 

C’est cette mise en valeur de l’amour d’un couple qui aurait préparé ce qui a donné naissance au rituel médiatique d’aujourd’hui.

 

Mais il est tout de même étonnant de voir St Valentin – qui a donné sa vie pour avoir consacré des mariages – devenir à notre époque un logo publicitaire de rencontres frivoles sous l’égide de Cupidon.

 

 

 

L'ÉCRIVAIN DAVID GROSSMAN LAURÉAT

DU PRIX ISRAËL DE LITTÉRATURE

i24NEWS, 12 fev., 2018

 

 

L'écrivain israélien David Grossman s'est vu attribuer lundi le prestigieux Prix Israël de Littérature, qui lui a été remis par le ministre de l'Education Naftali Bennett.

 

"J'étais très ému d'annoncer à David Grossman qu'il avait reçu le prix Israël de Littérature pour la 70ème année de l'Etat hébreu," a déclaré le ministre.

 

"Depuis le début des années 1980, David Grossman a pris une place centrale dans la culture israélienne et demeure l'une des voix les plus profondes, passionnantes et influentes de notre littérature", a-t-il affirmé.

 

Le ministre a salué tous les genres d'écriture de l'auteur, "romans, récits, essais" mais aussi ses nombreux travaux pour les enfants.

 

"Les traductions de ses livres ont fait de lui l'un des écrivains israéliens les plus célèbres, les plus admirés et les plus aimés du monde", a-t-il ajouté, selon un communiqué.

 

"Avec tous ces élements, nous estimons que David Grossman est digne du prix d'Israël de Littérature pour cette année", a conclu le ministre.

 

L'auteur israélien avait remporté en juin dernier à Londres le Man Booker International Prize, prestigieux prix britannique, pour "Un cheval entre dans un bar", brossant un douloureux portrait de la société israélienne.

 

Né le 25 janvier 1954 à Jérusalem, David Grossman a abordé dans ses oeuvres aussi bien les souffrances des Israéliens que celle des Palestiniens, alors que les deux peuples vivent piégés dans un conflit qui dure depuis des dizaines d'années.

 

Ses livres ont été traduits en 30 langues.

 

 

 

Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

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