WHILE HAMAS IS BOLSTERED BY “TAKING ISRAELI LIVES”— PUTIN IS EMBOLDENED BY A FECKLESS U.S. & DIVIDED E.U.

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

When Killing Jews Means ‘Restoring Dignity’: Evelyn Gordon, National Post, July 22, 2013— To truly understand the current fighting in Gaza, it’s important to listen to Jamal Zakout.

Putin’s Investigation Is a Fake, and It’s Time to Stop Playing His Game: National Review, July 22, 2014 — By the end of this week, America and Europe will have to make the most crucial and far-reaching decisions about the West’s relationship with Russia since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

EU Leaders Deeply Divided Over Russia: Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, July 21, 2013— European divisions over relations with Russia are being laid bare by the shooting down of a passenger plane over Ukraine.

Seeing Putin Plain: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2014 — In the fall of 2007 I participated in a debate in New York on the question of whether Russia was again becoming an enemy of the United States. I argued it was.

 

On Topic Links

 

Unseen Scars of War: Psychological Consequences of the Hamas Attacks on the Israeli Civilian Population: Irwin J. Mansdorf, JCPA, July 20, 2014

Russia's Anti-West Isolationism: Maxim Trudolyubov, New York Times, July 20, 2014

Arming the Enemy: Geoffrey Norman, Weekly Standard, July 22, 2014

Obama and Putin’s Savage World Order: Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage, July 21, 2013

                   

WHEN KILLING JEWS MEANS ‘RESTORING DIGNITY’                        

Evelyn Gordon                                                                                                                  National Post, July 22, 2014

 

To truly understand the current fighting in Gaza, it’s important to listen to Jamal Zakout. Zakout, a secular resident of Ramallah, is no fan of Hamas, as Amira Hass noted in a report in Haaretz last week: He has held various positions in the Palestinian Authority, including spokesman for former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, took part in the Geneva Initiative (a nongovernmental effort to draft an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement), and opposed the “militarization” of the second intifada. Nevertheless, Hass writes, the fighting is bolstering Hamas’s status even among Palestinians like him, because “when Hamas manages, despite everything, to continue launching missiles at Israel and disrupting normal life there, Zakout says this restores their feeling of human dignity.” This, in a nutshell, is why the Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains unsolvable, and why it produces spasms of violence with monotonous regularity: For too many Palestinians, including “moderates” like Zakout, “human dignity” derives from hurting Israelis — even knowing full well that the resultant Israeli counterstrikes will cause far greater harm to Palestinians.

 

This is something you would simply never hear an Israeli say, because Israelis see human dignity as stemming from saving life, not taking it. This doesn’t mean they oppose using military force in self-defence. Indeed, they overwhelmingly support the current operation: After absorbing 13,000 rockets from Gaza over the last nine years, they want the rockets stopped; they want children in the south to be able to grow up normally, instead having 45% suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder due to constant rocket fire, and they want people all over Israel to be able to lead their lives without disruption. But they would never say that dropping bombs on Gaza enhances their “human dignity”; they view war as an unpleasant necessity which they would much rather not have to engage in.

 

This difference in Palestinian and Israeli attitudes is epitomized by two technological developments that have become the darlings of their respective peoples: the Iron Dome anti-missile system and the M-75 rocket. The M-75 is a technological marvel — a homemade medium-range rocket capable of striking Tel Aviv, developed despite stringent Israeli import restrictions aimed at preventing Hamas from doing just that. It’s a purely offensive weapon with no defensive purpose, and Palestinians love it. An enterprising Gaza merchant even named a perfume after it two years ago, when it was first deployed, and Reuters reported that sales promptly soared.

 

Iron Dome is also a homegrown technological marvel. But it’s the M-75’s mirror image: a purely defensive weapon with no offensive purpose. And that’s precisely why Israelis love it: Its purpose is to save lives rather than take them. It’s not that Israel lacks homegrown, technologically marvelous offensive weapons. But while killing people who seek to kill you is sometimes necessary for self-defence, and most Israelis have no qualms about employing offensive weapons for that purpose, they would never love them. They view taking life as an unpleasant necessity that they would much rather be spared.

 

Palestinians, to be fair, have no defensive weaponry to love; they don’t even have basic civil-defence measures such as shelters. But that, as Jonathan Tobin wrote in Commentary  last week, is because Hamas deliberately opted to invest all its efforts in offensive capabilities rather than measures to protect its own people. It prefers taking Israeli lives to saving Palestinian ones. And this preference has only bolstered Hamas’s popularity. This seeming anomaly is explained by Zakout’s insight: To many Palestinians, human dignity comes not from bettering their own lives, but from worsening Israelis’ lives. Or as a Hamas parliamentarian succinctly put it, “We desire Death, as you desire Life.” And as long as Palestinians derive their sense of human dignity from killing Israelis, peace will never be possible.

 

Contents

PUTIN’S INVESTIGATION IS A FAKE,

AND IT’S TIME TO STOP PLAYING HIS GAME                               

National Review, July 21, 2014

 

By the end of this week, America and Europe will have to make the most crucial and far-reaching decisions about the West’s relationship with Russia since the fall of the Berlin Wall. There can be no avoiding them, because any such avoidance would be a decision to drift further into appeasement, weakness, and an eventual conflict with Putin’s Russia on less favorable terms. The shooting down of a civilian Malaysian airliner by “pro-Russian separatists” in eastern Ukraine, with the loss of 298 lives, is both a catalyst and a turning point. Whether the turn is toward a more brutal war in Ukraine and a protracted cold war between Russia and the West or toward second thoughts by Moscow and a diplomatic de-escalation of the crisis, however, will depend on what the West now does.

 

That means the West must first decide on what not to do. It should not focus on holding an international/judicial inquiry into the shooting down of the airliner — as the Dutch, the Malaysians, and the families of the victims understandably want to do. The reason is simple and adequate: There won’t be a judicial inquiry unless the Russian government thinks it can fake evidence convincingly enough to cast doubt on the undoubted truth that it is responsible for what happened. The only inquiry therefore will be a “fixed” inquiry — and that is literally worse than useless. Russian and pro-Russian agents on the spot in eastern Ukraine are already removing evidence (including the black boxes), violating the corpses of the victims, and threatening legitimate observers. It is too late to rescue a real inquiry.

 

But no inquiry is necessary to discover the truth that is already known to the main players in slightly varying degrees. Russian government officials know exactly what happened all the way down to who actually fired the missile that destroyed the Malaysian airliner, whether they were serving Russian military intelligence officers, or recent Russian ex-military “volunteers,” or local neo-fascist “pro-Russian separatists,” or mercenaries from Chechnya, Central Asia, etc. Western intelligence officials know almost all of these things from satellite photographs, communications intercepts (thank you, NSA and “Five Eyes”), and their agents on the ground. Western publics and media know all of this in general but not always in particular — as do those Russians who access Western media through the Internet. The only people in the dark are those ordinary Russians who trust their own mass media, which provide them with thrillingly absurd anti-Russian conspiracies by the West.

 

The truth is as follows: The Russian state is responsible for shooting down a civilian airliner. All that is in doubt is its precise degree of responsibility. If the missile was fired by Russian officers or by others controlled by or in immediate contact with Russian military or intelligence, then Moscow’s responsibility is total. If the missile was given by Moscow to simpatico terrorists or mercenaries or volunteers, then its responsibility is only slightly less, while being also tainted by utter recklessness. This is the behavior of, at best, a low-level criminal state with an ethic of ruthlessness and a tradition of incompetence.    

 

What, however, should be done with this truth? Western governments have two options. They can reveal this information in graphic detail at the United Nations, as part of a strong Western response — including further economic sanctions and the supply of advanced Western arms to Ukraine — to Russia’s war against Ukraine. Or they can privately threaten to do all these things in tough diplomatic negotiations with Russia designed to get a reversal of Putin’s aggressive and illegal policies. Our view is that the second policy will be credible only if we first implement the first. A policy of threatening terrible things but doing mild ones will be seen by the Kremlin as something it can sit out and wait to evaporate. The West must show that it is determined to defeat Putin while being also willing to work with a post-imperial Russia. To judge from the statements of Western leaders over the weekend, that now seems a realistic prospect. The atmosphere surrounding the Ukrainian crisis has changed. Until yesterday, most people, including most Western governments, thought that Putin would win — at least in eastern Ukraine; now they are less sure of that, and keener to see him lose…

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

 

Contents

EU LEADERS DEEPLY DIVIDED OVER RUSSIA                                        

Soeren Kern                                                                                                           

Gatestone Institute, July 21, 2014

 

European divisions over relations with Russia are being laid bare by the shooting down of a passenger plane over Ukraine…But despite a growing body of evidence that MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine, the European Union's 28 member states have still been unable to agree on even a basic unified response to the attack.

 

Western European countries, including Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands—all of which enjoy strong trade relations with Russia—have long been reluctant to antagonize Moscow, based largely on economic and energy supply considerations. By contrast, eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states, all of which experienced decades of misery under Soviet military domination, favor a far more aggressive EU policy regarding the Kremlin, which they view as posing a potentially existential threat. Few Europeans have had the courage to follow the lead of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was the first Western leader directly to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over the MH17 disaster. Abbot has warned Putin that his attendance at the G20 summit in Brisbane in November will be contingent on how much co-operation Australia and other countries receive from Russia in securing an independent international investigation into the plane crash.

 

By contrast, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, evidently fearful of angering Putin, has been walking on eggshells. "If I bang my fist against the table now… then I reduce the chances of the Netherlands and all those who support us getting the facts on the table," he told a news conference in The Hague. Rutte has also played down expectations that the Netherlands would support tougher EU economic sanctions against Russia or the Ukrainian separatists. In an interview with the New York Times, one of the main opposition leaders in the Netherlands, Alexander Pechtold, said: "We are a small country, dependent on our exports, and unlike the United States, we cannot always react from our moral high grounds. Still, if it is proven that the Russians have their fingerprints on this horrible event, we cannot look in the other direction." Russia is the third-largest destination for Dutch exports outside Europe after the US and China. The Netherlands is also a key tax shelter for Russia's billionaires. Amid reports that some of the bodies were being looted or removed from the crash site, Rutte has stepped up his rhetoric. On his Twitter feed, he wrote: "Shocked by images of totally disrespectful behavior, downright disgusting. Absolutely urgent now is the rapid repatriation of victims."

 

Arguably the most befuddled European response to the downing of MH17 has come from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who seemed oblivious to the scale of the disaster when she told a group of 1,000 guests gathered in Berlin just hours after the attack to celebrate her 60th birthday: "We are living in happy times." According to those in attendance, Merkel's words "fell flat." After Merkel was criticized for downplaying the crime, Merkel begrudgingly acknowledged that, "it is especially Russia's responsibility for what is going on in Ukraine right now." She added that the EU's response so far has been more than "adequate." Merkel has urged Putin to use his influence with the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine to facilitate an international investigation into what German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called an "incident." Steinmeier later tweeted that the killing of hundreds of innocents as a "crime beyond any imagination." But he then employed rambling phraseology in an apparent effort not to be seen as pinning blame on Russia: "Those responsible would lose any right to claim their interests in the name of humanity."  Observers say Merkel, who was recently named "the most powerful woman in the world," is afraid of Putin, who provides Germany with more than one third of its gas imports.

 

Another key individual involved in shaping Europe's response to Russia is Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency. Renzi has been keen to avoid alienating Russia, Italy's biggest supplier of natural gas. Renzi is also energetically pushing for his foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, to replace Catherine Ashton as the EU's new foreign policy chief. Mogherini, who has almost no foreign policy experience, is unabashedly pro-Russian. Her candidacy is being opposed by Poland and the Baltic countries, which believe Mogherini would be too accommodating toward the Kremlin. For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."

 

In France, President François Hollande is loath to antagonize Putin ahead of the delivery of two highly sophisticated Mistral-class amphibious assault warships in a contract worth €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion). The first warship is to be delivered in October, and the French navy is currently training Russian sailors how to use it at the port of Saint-Nazaire. After the Russian invasion of Crimea in March 2014, the United States and several EU states criticized the deal. But others, including Germany, have defended France's decision to go ahead with the sale. In the wake of the MH17 disaster, however, a senior European diplomat told the EU Observer that France risks "international ridicule" if it goes ahead with the deal. "Putin has pursued a policy of dividing the U.S. and the European Union, as well as the EU internally. This incident [the air disaster] is going to make it harder for him [Hollande] to do this." For now, France appears keen to keep talk of the air disaster separate from the arms deal. "The most important priority right now is to shed light on what happened in this catastrophe," a French government official said. "We should not turn away from this subject in order to discuss some hypothetical consequences, or to talk about subjects which are not really connected."

 

In a rebuke of Merkel and other European leaders for their reluctance to confront Russia, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Europe must now "respond robustly." In a blistering article published by the Sunday Times on July 20, Cameron called the attack on MH17 a "direct result of Russia destabilizing a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them."

Cameron added: "For too long, there has been a reluctance on the part of too many European countries to face up to the implications of what is happening in eastern Ukraine…. It is time to make our power, influence and resources count. Our economies are strong and growing in strength. And yet we sometimes behave as if we need Russia more than Russia needs us."

 

It remains to be seen whether the MH17 disaster will serve as a moment of moral and strategic clarity and cajole European leaders into confronting Russia's increasingly increasing bellicosity. More than 50% of the EU's total energy consumption in 2012 was imported from outside the EU, according to the most recent data compiled by Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency. A large percentage of that imported energy originates in Russia. In 2012, some 33.7% of the EU-28's imports of crude oil were from Russia, as were 32% of the bloc's imports of natural gas. The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas. The Nabucco pipeline, for example, was a plan to push gas from the Caspian Sea region into central Europe by bypassing Russia and Ukraine. The project was shelved in June 2013, after Moscow pressured southern European countries into supporting the rival South Stream pipeline, run by Gazprom, which is majority owned by the Russian government.

 

More recently, Israel decided to ship much of its natural gas to Egypt, further confounding efforts to lessen EU dependence on Russian sources. Energy analysts say the failures point to a lack of a common EU energy policy, which means that Russia is likely to remain Europe's chief natural gas supplier well beyond 2020. Even if the EU were to achieve complete energy independence, however, it would hardly change the crux of Europe's security problem, which is its over-reliance on diplomatic and economic "soft-power" at the expense of military "hard power." European elites, who take pride in viewing the EU as a "post-modern" superpower, have long argued that military hard power is illegitimate in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Europe, Russia (along with China and Iran) has not embraced the EU's fantastical soft-power worldview, in which "climate change" is now said to pose the greatest threat to European security. The EU's lack of a hard power deterrent has emboldened Putin to the point where he has been able to run roughshod in Crimea and Ukraine with impunity, and evidently there is not much Europe's soft power can do about it.

 

Contents

SEEING PUTIN PLAIN                                                                  

Bret Stephens                                                                                            

Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2014

 

In the fall of 2007 I participated in a debate in New York on the question of whether Russia was again becoming an enemy of the United States. I argued it was. "We worry about political trends within Russia," I said in my closing statement, "not just because we are friends of democracy, human rights, freedom, the rule of law, but also because the respect that governments have for their own people tend to correlate with their attitude and behavior vis-à-vis the outside world. We worry about Russian behavior toward countries like Ukraine, Estonia and Georgia because we fear that behavior is a harbinger for what's in store for Europe and the United States." If you think I'm claiming vindication here, you would be right. But it wasn't as if it took great political acumen to come to such conclusions.

 

Vladimir Putin's first major act in power had been to lay waste to the city of Grozny in a manner reminiscent of Tamerlane. Next he went after his domestic opponents in show trials that recalled the methods of Andrey Vyshinsky. Soon he linked hands with Jacques Chirac of France and Gerhard Schröder of Germany to try to stop the Iraq war—which is to say, to keep Saddam Hussein in power. Then he supplied Iran with its first nuclear reactor. In 2005 Mr. Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century. In 2006 a mysterious pipeline explosion left Georgia without gas in the dead of winter, a tactic used against several of Russia's neighbors. Later that year came the murders of Anna Politkovskaya, a muckraking journalist, and Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian intelligence officer who had defected to Britain and was dispatched with a dose of polonium. A few months later Estonia, another free-world thorn in Russia's side, was subjected to a massive cyberattack.

 

This is only a partial list of the evidence available at the time of the debate. But it suggested a definite trend. The invasions of Georgia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine still lay in the future. So did the murder of Sergei Magnitsky, the prison sentences for Pussy Riot, the legal harassment of Alexei Navalny, the asylum granted to Ed Snowden, the cheating on the IMF Treaty. And now the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines…Flight 17 and the murder of its 298 passengers and crew, followed by the coverup. How do you "reset" that? You don't. You can't. But you can at least try to figure out where you went wrong at the start. Take Columbia University professor and Russia expert Robert Levgold, who took the opposite side in that 2007 debate. Russia, he argued, was not an enemy but "a challenge." The problem of Russian foreign policy wasn't so much its aggressive efforts to reconstitute the old Soviet sphere of influence, but rather its "ambiguity and shapelessness." U.S. policy should focus on "constructive and effective dialogue." In a Foreign Affairs article in 2009, Mr. Levgold went a step further: "Too many Americans," he cautioned, "mistakenly believe that Russia's leaders are incorrigibly antidemocratic and bent on bludgeoning Russia's neighbors, blackmailing Europeans, and causing trouble for the United States." It was important, he added, to change the tone. "If the style and substance of Obama's foreign policy change as much as he and his team have suggested they will, the context for U.S. policy toward Russia will improve no matter what happens on the specific issues that set the two countries at odds." By and large, the professor got exactly the policy he wanted. Yet the results were precisely the opposite of the ones he forecast.

 

U.S.-Russia relations were strained at the time of the debate. They are in shambles today. Mr. Obama's good will did not beget conciliation from Mr. Putin. It elicited contempt. A more cautious and less unilateral U.S. foreign policy did not turn Russia into a team player at the U.N. Security Council. It merely facilitated Russian obstructionism. Consistent attempts to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine, to offer Mr. Putin this or that off-ramp, did not induce better behavior. It signaled that the West lacked any will to stand in Russia's way. There was no White House outrage when Russian separatists were shooting down Ukrainian aircraft in recent weeks. On the contrary, Mr. Obama was trying to ring-fence events in the region as "a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing," as somebody once said.

 

Does it occur to anyone in the administration that U.S. efforts to play down events in eastern Ukraine contributed to the permissive environment in which Flight 17 was brought down? Political shortsightedness being almost incurable, Mr. Legvold has taken to the pages of the current issue of Foreign Affairs to urge "damage control" in relations with Russia and to avoid "misperceptions." But the main misperception has been his—and the administration's—view of today's Russia. Too bad Vladimir Putin sees this White House exactly for what it is.

On Topic

 

Unseen Scars of War: Psychological Consequences of the Hamas Attacks on the Israeli Civilian Population: Irwin J. Mansdorf, JCPA, July 20, 2014

Russia's Anti-West Isolationism: Maxim Trudolyubov, New York Times, July 20, 2014

Arming the Enemy: Geoffrey Norman, Weekly Standard, July 22, 2014

Obama and Putin’s Savage World Order: Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage, July 21, 2013

 

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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