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FOUAD AJAMI 1945-2014 —Fouad Ajami, who was a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and one of the most passionate critics of President Barack Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East, passed away Sunday after a battle with cancer. The 68-year-old Ajami had remained active and engaged in public policy debates right until the end. A week ago, he published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal placing the blame for the collapse of Iraq squarely at the White House door. "Two men bear direct responsibility for the mayhem engulfing Iraq: Barack Obama and Nouri al-Maliki," he wrote. Ajami believed Obama had failed in his professed duty to provide global leadership: "Today, with his unwillingness to use U.S. military force to save Syrian children or even to pull Iraq back from the brink of civil war, the erstwhile leader of the Free World is choosing, yet again, to look the other way." (Breitbart, June 22, 2014)
Analysis of an Abduction: Return Our Brothers: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, June 19, 2013— On Thursday, June 12, the weekly edition of the IDF newspaper, Bamachane (literally, "in the boot camp") came out.
A Road Map For American Diplomacy in the Middle East: Eric R. Mandel, Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2014— The Obama administration’s attempt to resolve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict once again has failed.
The Peace Process Hoax: Charles Bybelezer, Jerusalem Post, June 16, 2014— There was never any doubt that the international community would recognize a Palestinian terror government.
Dangerous and False Palestinian “Unity”: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Besa Center, June 5, 2014— The new Palestinian “unity” government is not about the reestablishment of one Palestinian political entity that could develop into a functioning Palestinian state.
Abbas’s Role: Jerusalem Post, June 19, 2014
New Palestinian Intifada – Against Abbas: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Istitute, June 23, 2014
Europe's and U.S. Complicity in Kidnapping and Violence: Richard Kemp, Gatestone Istitute, June 20, 2014
Israel Facing Its Third Intifada: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, June 17, 2014
Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Arutz Sheva, June 19, 2014
On Thursday, June 12, the weekly edition of the IDF newspaper, Bamachane (literally, "in the boot camp") came out. On the lower part of the cover the following sentence appeared: "Take precautions. Danger of kidnapping. A large rise in the number of hitch hiking soldiers." That very night Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were abducted as they waited for a lift at the Gush Etzion junction. A week has passed since then and at the time of this writing, we have no knowledge about how the kidnapping occurred, who exactly did it, where the boys are and what the abductors want. The lack of information points to a well planned operation that left no traces. It also points to an experienced organization, leading to an accusing finger being pointed at Hamas, and specifically at the Izz-a-Din Al-Kassam Brigades.
The Israeli government announced publicly that Hamas had committed the kidnapping and launched a wave of arrests of Hamas leaders and activists in Judea and Samaria. I am of the opinion that the IDF has proof of Hamas involvement, but is keeping the details under wraps at present in order to keep the investigation secret. Moreover, the atmosphere Hamas has created also supports the supposition that it was the kidnapper. Speeches by Hamas leaders, especially Khaled Mashaal contained hints that the organization would repeat kidnappings of soldiers or civilians, as they had done with Gilad Shalit and others before him, keeping Israelis in anxious suspense, demanding exorbitant ransoms, holding tough negotiations, using emotional blackmail and demanding a massive prisoner release. The organization's success in freeing over one thousand prisoners for Shalit taught Hamas that this is a method that works. In addition, this method divides the Israeli public, causing controversy over whether or not to free prisoners with blood on their hands. This dispute spawns laws that address the issue of freeing terrorists, initiatives that deepen the ongoing controversy – another achievement for Hamas.
Over the last few years Israelis have come to believe that the geographic separation between Gaza and Judea-Samaria mirrors the political situation; that is, Hamas rules Gaza and Fatah rules Judea and Samaria. Even Israeli lawmakers believe this distinction, with the result that the IDF did not receive clear and unequivocal orders to fight the Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, so that until the kidnapping there were almost no activities aimed at the Hamas organizational network in the area. Coordinated activity with PA forces gave the impression that things were under control and that Israel does not have to worry about the organization or about its military wing. The reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas also played a part. Israel believed that Hamas would turn to the political arena, to governing, elections and perhaps to taking over the PA peacefully and abandoning the continuation of warfare against Israel. The relative quiet on the Gazan front over the last few months lowered Israel's anxiety level vis a vis Hamas military activities, certainly with regard to Judea and Samaria.
Proof of Hamas strength among the public was in evidence just last month in the student council elections at BIr Zeit University. The PLO garnered 23 of the 51 seats, Hamas 20, the Popular Front 7 and the Democratic Front 1. There were those in Israel who saw this as a worrying sign of Hamas' growing strength, while others saw it as a sign that Hamas is changing from a terror organization to a political entity. Israel did not realize that Hamas is doing what Hezbollah did in Lebanon: joining politics but continuing terror. After Hamas' electoral success, Hamas leader Hassan Youssef, appeared before the 20 elected Hamas delegates. His speech is on the web for everyone to hear his shouting and to read the following excerpts -with my comments in parentheses. "They say Hamas is finished, there is reconciliation. But I tell you so that all the students can hear, for all the world,to hear, for all the media to hear, we are the only ones, Gaza is the only one that has new weapons. Everyone knows that one day Gaza will be, at some point, under the guise of resistance, able to be the one that takes the enemy by surprise and executes an attack with the help of Allah. (Wild applause).
"And I am not saying this without giving it serious thought (repeats this) because (Hamas) resistance in Gaza has much, and Gaza today, all of Palestine, every centimeter of the land of historical Palestine [sic] in Gaza is within reach of rockets from Gaza, glory to Allah.(loud applause and cries)…oh brothers and sisters, let me say my last words: there is no way we will accept this reconciliation (with the PLO) at any price if it entails affecting the equation of our security fist (i.e. the joint security arrangements with Israel under which the PA neutralizes terror), we will under no circumstances allow that here on the West Bank (the audience applauds)…my brothers and sisters, you are strong, you are great,you are mighty, you are laying the foundation for the next stage. You will soon see, I swear to you by Allah, that just as I see you (before me), so will you see the coming victory, by Allah's Will, and on that day the (Muslim) believers will rejoice in the victory of Allah who supports (and brings victory) to whom he wishes to. May Allah bless you…" The fact that the head of a terror organization appeared in an academic institution and was authorized to speak from a speaker's podium covered with the Hamas flag did not give rise to any reaction from the lovers of "academic freedom" in Israel or the world, those who fight Israel, call her an "apartheid state" and call to boycott, sanction and divest from her.
Hassan Youssef made a strong point for connecting Hamas in Gaza with the movement's presence in Judea and Samaria , but Israel did not see it that way, because it was easier to see everything through the perspective of reconciliation – "it is not in Hamas' interests to engage in terror at this stage" said all those viewing Hamas with Israeli eyes, attempting to evaluate that movement's behavior using Israeli logic. Unfortunately, the situation was quite different out there as the PA security system did not expose the kidnappers' plans, or ignored them so as not to interfere with efforts for reconciliation. Under the "watchful eyes" of the Palestinian security apparatus, a massive Hamas infrastructure developed, one that carried out an almost perfect kidnapping, escape, concealment of the boys or their transport elsewhere. Almost perfect, because of the fact that one of the victims was able to call the police and whisper something that was not understood properly. A perfect kidnapping would have prevented the victims from connecting with any outside source.
Following the kidnapping, Israel decided to do what the PA did not: Israel imprisoned a good many of those freed in the Shalit deal once again, using plain logic: their release was conditional on the release of an Israeli, and abducting Israelis justifies returning them to prison. Israel also arrested Hamas parliamentary representatives, shut down "charity" organizations and means of communications belonging to Hamas. In brief, Israel is doing what she must do in order to prevent Judea and Samaria from becoming a Gaza-style state. Israel's actions are taking place in a relatively benign international climate, because the entire world is focused on Iraq, whose lands are rapidly being conquered by ISIS, and the organization poses a threat to the northern Iraqi oil industry. Iran is involved, the US is sending troops and the world is hoping that Iraq will survive as a united country. What is going on in Ukraine also takes center stage, more so since the rebels managed to down a Ukranian aircraft and kill close to 50 government troops. In Kenya, the Somalian "Shabbab Almujaddin" militia slaughtered masses of people, and the World Cup games in Brazil are much more interesting than the kidnapping of three Israelis and Israel's actions against Hamas in Judea and Samaria…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Eric R. Mandel
Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2014
The Obama administration’s attempt to resolve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict once again has failed. This should have surprised no one. The administration should take a break after the recent kidnappings, but don’t count on it. Israel remains the only nation in the Middle East susceptible to American pressure. The administration’s belief that Israel is the intransigent party, and that a breakthrough in this conflict will open up possibilities for engagement throughout the Middle East, will motivate it to try again soon. Failures created by America’s dysfunctional foreign policy in the region (where American influence is almost non-existent) will motivate the administration to return sooner than later to the Israelis and Palestinians.
So what went wrong this time? There is a litany of reasons why these particular negotiations failed. But among them is the fact that these negotiations followed the well-worn pattern of ignoring the fundamental reasons for the conflict. Some make excuses such as “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a weak leader,” but this is a symptom of the disease, not a cause. The important question to ask is: “Will this president and those that follow learn the lessons of the past, or will they repeat the same mistakes?” Entering negotiations that are doomed to failure gives the Palestinian people false hope, while the Israelis endure the inevitable subsequent terrorism. America, for its part, suffers another black eye in the international community, which undermines American foreign policy interests and influence throughout the world.
With this in mind and acknowledging that American pressure on Israel will return sooner rather than later, here is a checklist for the next American president to consider with regard to initiating another round of negotiations: • Understand the Arab and Muslim World. The Arab and much of the Muslim world think and negotiate in profoundly different ways than the West. This is not meant to be condescending, but is merely a statement of fact. Whether it is ignorance of the Iranian concept of taddiyah, whereby deceiving your enemy in negotiations is religiously sanctioned, or the assumption that Arabs will follow economic interests over tribal allegiances, lack of understanding of the Arab and Muslim world will lead to failure.
• Brush up on history. Remember that most of the Arab World was artificially created less than 100 years ago. Treating the borders of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia as sacrosanct will not only thwart a resolution of Middle East conflicts, but also will make almost impossible territorial resolutions with these countries and with the Kurds.
• Don’t equate elections with democracy. Unless the rule of law, tolerance, pluralism, freedom of speech and freedom of the press precede an election, you must remain skeptical about the results of elections in the Middle East.
• Remember the issues run deep. Realize that even if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, it will actually make a relatively small impact on the Arab and Muslim worlds. Sunnis and Shi’ites will still fight for regional hegemony, and Iran will still want a nuclear weapon in pursuit of that goal. The chaos and slaughter in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq will not diminish, while the Saudis will still be just as misogynistic and intolerant as ever.
• Understand that border adjustments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are a final-status issue. They are not the essence of the conflict. Until one stops treating the conflict as simply a land dispute, there is almost no chance of resolution. At a deeper level, conflict resolution must address whether the Palestinian Arabs can overcome the concept of Dar al-Islam, the Islamic belief that no land once controlled by Muslims can revert to infidel hands, i.e. Jews, Hindus or Christians…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jerusalem Post, June 16, 2014
There was never any doubt that the international community would recognize a Palestinian terror government. After all, the charter of the PLO – the controlling faction of the Palestinian Authority – explicitly calls for Israel’s destruction, as does the constitution of PA “President” Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, which itself was founded as a “resistance” group. By corollary, Abbas refuses to recognize the Jewish state’s right to exist in any borders, presupposing that it has none. But this never prevented the international community, including the United States, from embracing the Palestinian leadership as a “partner for peace” to the tune of billions of dollars annually, a fair portion of which already is allocated to paying the salaries of Hamas bureaucrats in Gaza, not to mention jailed Palestinian murderers.
The real question is why Jerusalem expected differently, leaving it unprepared for an eminently predictable scenario. The Israeli government has been operating on a faulty premise since 1993, when it signed the Oslo Accords with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat, effectively importing his terror infrastructure from faraway Tunis to the Jewish people’s biblical heartland, on the very outskirts of Israel’s major population centers. The peace process was always a hoax, masking – poorly – the perpetual Palestinian refusal to accept the verdict of 1947/48; both of the United Nations and the ensuing war. While this Palestinian revanchism has become increasingly explicit with time, it should have been perceived as the writing on the wall for those who prefer to confront rather than escape reality. The Palestinian national movement – beginning with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the former grand mufti of Jerusalem, Nazi collaborator and Palestinian “godfather” – was founded, and has since been predicated on the total rejection of Jewish sovereignty. It is the raison d’etre of Abbas, as it is for Hamas. This accounts for Abbas’ repeated assertions that there are no conceptual differences between his Fatah party and the designated terror group. For over two decades, then, Israel has been pursuing a fiction – the phony two-state “solution” – which has become a concept “too big to fail.” The international community has invested too much time, effort and “prestige” into the peace process to ever discard it. Meanwhile, the Israeli Left, whose policies have been thoroughly discredited at the ballot box repeatedly but which nevertheless maintains a stranglehold on various influential institutions, including the media, continues to provide cover for the professional peace processors’ fantasies, because in the absence of the process, the Left’s entire political platform would evaporate instantaneously.
But Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has, for his part, no excuse to continue the charade. Israel’s prime minister failed his constituency miserably when he accepted the legitimacy of Palestinian statehood in 2009, after vowing not to in his election campaign. The move could perhaps have been justified as a way to curry favor with Washington in order to tackle a more pressing existential matter: Iran’s atomic program. But as it has become increasingly clear that Obama’s embrace of yet another terror regime will, nonetheless, eventually allow Tehran to go nuclear, Netanyahu’s continued support for the two-state lie (especially when considering his supposed ideological predilections) has become indefensible. Netanyahu has been duped countless times by Obama, an unreliable ally who has courted some of Israel’s worst enemies (the latest reports suggest the White House conducted secret back-channel negotiations with Hamas for six months before signing off on its inclusion in the Palestinian government). Nevertheless, Netanyahu repeatedly has folded in the face of pressure by making inexcusable “bold sacrifices” for a peace nobody on the other side wants. Even the recent release of dozens of murderers in exchange for nothing garnered Israel no “points” with anyone…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
[The author is a correspondent for i24 News, and CIJR’s former publications editor—Ed.]
Prof. Efraim Inbar
Besa Center, June 5, 2014
The new Palestinian “unity” government is not about the reestablishment of one Palestinian political entity that could develop into a functioning Palestinian state. Already in the early 2000s, the Palestinian Authority (PA) degenerated into a failed state as it lost monopoly over the use of power in the territory under its jurisdiction with the advent of several competing militias. Indeed, in June 2007 Hamas orchestrated a military coup that put the Gaza Strip under the control of this terrorist organization. Despite the current “unity” discourse, the Palestinians remain as divided as before. The only true test for “unity” of a political entity is monopoly over the use of force. As long as the military branch of Hamas remains independent, there is no unity; just evidence of the “Somalization” of Palestinian politics. Islamic Jihad also remains fiercely independent in Gaza, as well as other Jihadist organizations. In fact, under the current accord, instead of the PA regaining lost Gaza, Hamas is gaining better access to the West Bank.
Unfortunately, what is happening in the Palestinian territories is part of a larger phenomenon characteristic of much of the Arab world before and after the so-called “Arab Spring.” Lebanon, Somalia Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and even Egypt are plagued by a plethora of militias eroding the exclusive control of the central authorities. It is not clear to what extent are Palestinians able to move beyond this general Arab political malaise. In fact, it is hard to believe that Hamas will give up control over the Gaza Strip. The de facto statehood which Hamas enjoys is good business, as it allows for the extraction of taxes and fees. In addition, it serves the extremist Hamas ideology that demands building Islamist political structures and keeping alive the military and theological struggle against the unacceptable Jewish state. Hamas has made it clear that it has not mellowed one bit on this issue. It also hopes to get a better foothold in the West Bank to fortify its role in Palestinian society. Hamas seeks to emulate the road taken by Hizballah in gaining political hegemony in Lebanon while maintaining a military force independent of the central government.
The reaction of the US and the EU to the new government –business as usual – is counterproductive and morally wrong. This approach helps the Palestinians evade facing their fundamental dilemma in state building: that there is no chance to attain statehood without achieving a monopoly over use of force. Thus the current Western stance, which allows for the continuation of a fragmented Palestinian polity, makes the establishment of a real, stable Palestinian state more unlikely than ever. Continuous economic support for a failing Palestinian order preserves its dysfunctional characteristics and does not encourage the Palestinians to make the needed difficult choices. Moreover, recent Western reactions to Palestinian “unity” are destructive for peace-making. Acceptance of a growing role for Hamas is inimical to Israeli-Palestinian peaceful co-existence. Radical Hamas is totally opposed to such a scenario and is unlikely to give up violence against Israel. After all, the Islamists are encouraged by the trends in the Arab world – whereby political Islam seems to be gaining greater power than ever before, and where the US seems to be in constant retreat.
It is not the first time the Europeans and the Americans adopt misguided policies towards the Middle East, displaying naiveté, misunderstanding of Middle East realities, and moral failure. If the West is serious about the two-state paradigm and opposing Islamist terrorism, it must insist that Mahmoud Abbas reject cooperation with terrorist entities such as Hamas. Such cooperation can bring only additional disasters on Palestinian society. Hamas is hardly a democratic or a modernizing force as we have seen from its short rule over Gaza. A growing Hamas input in Palestinian society means growing deficits in human rights, and in economic and educational performance. It will also increase the hatred to Jews and will fuel additional violence that is likely to trigger a tough Israeli response. This is not what the Palestinians need if they are interested in liberty, prosperity and peace.
From an Israeli point of view, the mass demonstrations in favor of “unity” and the very few Palestinian voices opposing the deal with Hamas are depressing. The Palestinian “unity” deal reinforces the negative image Israelis have of their close neighbors: that Palestinian society is addicted to violence, where the shaheed (martyr) who attempts to kill as many Jews as possible – is the role model. Palestinian society, under the spell of a nationalist and Islamic ethos, is simply unable to bring itself to a historic compromise with the Zionist movement that would end the conflict. Unfortunately, Palestinian rejectionism has won the day whenever a concrete partition plan was on the agenda. The ascendance of Hamas in Palestinian politics through this false “unity” government, further undermines the search for peace.
Abbas’s Role: Jerusalem Post, June 19, 2014 —Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has denounced the abduction of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah. He should be commended for doing so.
New Palestinian Intifada – Against Abbas: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Istitute, June 23, 2014 —What happened in the center of Ramallah on the morning of June 22 could signal the beginning of an uprising, or intifada, against the Palestinian Authority [PA].
Europe's and U.S. Complicity in Kidnapping and Violence: Richard Kemp, Gatestone Istitute, June 20, 2014—The world has undergone gut-churning revulsion this week at the videos of rows of kneeling young Iraqi men callously gunned down by Al Qaida terrorists in Mosul.
Israel Facing Its Third Intifada: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, June 17, 2014—I believe the Palestinian Authority unity government has launched a third intifada.
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