The End of Mahmoud Abbas: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 29, 2016— Like it or not, the day is fast approaching when the Palestinian Authority we have known for the past 22 years will cease to exist.
Hamas: Vote for Us or Burn in Hell: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 12, 2016— It is election season in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Differences Between Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in the Middle East: Prof. Louis René Beres, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 31, 2016— To be sure, and in predictably short order, the easily captivating phrase, "cycle of violence," will be applied yet one more time to the Hamas-Israel conflict.
Israeli West Bank Policy, Whereto?: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Aug. 19, 2016— With Barack Obama's term as U.S. president coming to an end, and Mahmoud Abbas' tenure as Palestinian Authority leader winding down too, the Israeli government will soon have an opportunity to recalibrate its diplomatic policies. Israeli policy on the Palestinian issue has been awkwardly frozen for two decades.
On Topic Links
Deja Vu and the Coming Palestinian Elections: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Aug. 29, 2016
Terrorist Serving Multiple Life Sentences for Murder May be Next Palestinian President: Miriam Elman, Legal Insurrection, Aug. 24, 2016
Human Rights Watch: Palestinians Abuse Media, Activists: New York Times, Aug. 29, 2016
Globe Reporter Claims Hamas is a “Resistance” Movement & Implies Israel Wants War with Hamas: Mike Fegelman, Honest Reporting, Aug. 25, 2016
THE END OF MAHMOUD ABBAS
Caroline B. Glick
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 29, 2016
Like it or not, the day is fast approaching when the Palestinian Authority we have known for the past 22 years will cease to exist. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s US-trained Palestinian security forces have lost control over the Palestinians cities in Judea and Samaria. His EU- and US-funded bureaucracies are about to lose control over the local governments to Hamas. And his Fatah militias have turned against him.
Palestinian affairs experts Pinchas Inbari of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Khaled Abu Toameh of the Gatestone Institute have in recent weeks reported in detail about the insurrection of Fatah militias and tribal leaders against Abbas’s PA. In Nablus, Fatah terrorist cells are in open rebellion against PA security forces. Since August 18, Fatah cells have repeatedly engaged PA forces in lethal exchanges, and according to Inbari, the town is now in a state of “total anarchy.” In Hebron, tribal leaders, more or less dormant for the past 20 years, are regenerating a tribal alliance as a means of bypassing the PA, which no longer represents them. Their first major action to date was to send a delegation of tribal leaders to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan. Even in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas’s power, the PA is losing ground to EU-funded NGOs that seek to limit the PA’s economic control over the groups and their operations.
All of this fighting and maneuvering is taking place against the backdrop of the encroaching PA municipal elections, scheduled for October 8. Hamas is widely expected to win control over most of the local governments in Judea and Samaria. Hamas’s coming takeover of the municipalities is likely playing a role in decisions by Fatah terrorist cells to reject the authority of the PA. Many of those cells can be expected to transfer their allegiance to Hamas once the terrorist group wins the elections.
Given his Fatah party’s looming electoral defeat, more and more PA functionaries are wondering why Abbas doesn’t use the growing anarchy in Palestinian cities as a reason to cancel them. Abbas seems to have calculated that Israel will step in and, as it has repeatedly done over the past 20 years, cancel the elections for him. Media organs Abbas controls are full of conspiracy theories whose bottom line is that Israel is not canceling the elections Abbas declared because it is in cahoots with Hamas and other “collaborators” to undermine the PA.
Although Israel, of course, is in cahoots with no one, it is the case that the government has apparently finally lost its patience with Abbas and is looking past him. Repeated angry denunciations by government leaders of Abbas for his lead role in inciting violence against Israelis, leading the international movement to delegitimize Israel, refusing to negotiate anything with its leaders, and radicalizing Palestinian society, are finally being translated into policy. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s recent announcement that Israel is adopting a carrot-and stick approach not toward the PA but toward the Palestinians themselves, and will advance development projects in areas where terrorism levels are low and take a hard line against areas where terrorist cells are most active, has sent shock waves through Abbas’s palaces.
For 22 years, Israel has bowed to Palestinian and Western demands and agreed to speak only to PA functionaries and Palestinian civilians authorized by the PA to speak to Israelis. Liberman’s decision to base Israel’s actions on the ground on the behavior of the Palestinians themselves rather than act in accordance with PA directives, along with his decision to speak directly to Palestinian businessmen and others, marks the end of Israel’s acceptance of this practice.
Without a doubt, Israel’s willingness to let Abbas fall is in part a function of the wider Arab world’s increased indifference to, if not disgust with the Palestinians. As MEMRI has documented, the Arab media is registering growing impatience with PA spokespeople. Arab commentators have harshly criticized PA functionaries who continue to insist their conflict with Israel is the most pressing issue on the pan-Arab agenda. The disintegration of Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya and the rise of Iran as a mortal threat, along with Israel’s growing importance as an ally to Sunni Arab regimes have made the Palestinian cause look downright offensive to large swaths of the Arab world.
Part of Israel’s willingness to let Abbas fall also owes to its inevitability. Once Hamas wins the elections and takes control over the local governments, Abbas’s already weakened position will become unsustainable. As is already happening in towns and villages throughout the areas, Fatah cells will transfer their allegiance to Hamas. The areas will become Balkanized and radicalized still further. Confrontation between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Palestinians in Judea and Samaria is inevitable. Moreover, this process will likely be rapid. Just as Hamas’s complete takeover of Gaza from Fatah forces happened seemingly overnight in June 2007, so its seizure of control over Judea and Samaria will happen in the blink of an eye. Many Westerners, Israeli leftists and PA functionaries hope that some deus ex machina will fall from the sky at the last minute and cancel the elections. But even if that happens, the underlying reality in which Abbas is rapidly losing all semblance of control over events in Judea and Samaria will not be reversed. Abbas has incited the Palestinians to the point where they reject not only Israel, but Abbas and the PA…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
HAMAS: VOTE FOR US OR BURN IN HELL
Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute, Aug. 12, 2016
It is election season in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians are preparing to cast their votes in the local and municipal elections, scheduled to take place on October 8. The upcoming elections will be different from the last one, held in 2012 only in the West Bank, when Hamas boycotted the vote, allowing the rival Fatah faction to claim victory. This time Hamas has decided to join the political fray — a move that caught Fatah and its leaders, including Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, by surprise.
Hamas's decision to participate in the local and municipal elections has further aggravated tensions with Abbas's Fatah faction, which continues to suffer from deep internal divisions and rivalries. In the past few weeks, Hamas and Fatah have been accusing each other of cracking down on each other's supporters in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in a bid to affect the results of the election. According to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority security forces have in recent weeks arrested scores of the Islamist movement's supporters in the West Bank. Hamas claims that the crackdown intensified after its decision to participate in the election. Hamas also claims that some of its detained supporters have been tortured, prompting some of them to go on hunger strikes in Palestinian prisons.
Samira Halaykeh, a Hamas representative in the West Bank, said that the crackdown was an "extension" of the campaign of arrests that the PA has been waging against the Islamist movement for several years now. She predicted that the latest crackdown would actually serve as a boomerang, strengthening Hamas. "The Palestinian Authority and its security forces must guarantee security and safety for all Palestinians so that they can practice their legitimate right to run and vote in the election," she added. "The Palestinian Authority needs to avoid any form of intimidation and political and intellectual repression against the voters."
Another senior Hamas representative in the West Bank, Bassem Al-Za'areer, condemned the arrests of Hamas supporters by the Palestinian Authority as "politically-motivated." He too alleged that the crackdown was aimed at undermining Hamas's chances of winning the election. The crackdown, he added, reflects the "state of desperation and panic" of the PA following Hamas's decision to participate in the vote. The Palestinian Authority fears a "fair and decent competition," he explained.
The Palestinian Authority's crackdown on Hamas on the eve of the election has even riled some senior Fatah officials, such as Husam Khader of the Balata refugee camp near Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank. "Political arrests solidify the dictatorship of the ruling [Fatah] party," Khader charged. "The Palestinian Authority is searching for any excuse to call off the election because it fears democracy more than it fears Israel." According to Khader, Abbas decided to hold the local and municipal elections because his advisors convinced him that Hamas would boycott the vote. The top Fatah official predicted that internecine fighting in Fatah would play into the hands of Hamas in the upcoming election. This is precisely what happened in the 2006 parliamentary elections, when divisions within Fatah facilitated Hamas's victory.
Similarly, Fatah maintains that Hamas has been waging a campaign of intimidation and detention against Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip — also in order to disrupt the upcoming election and undermine Fatah's performance at the ballot boxes. In the past two weeks, several Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip were rounded up by Hamas security forces, which have also banned Fatah from carrying out public election campaigns or holding rallies. Last week, as part of this crackdown, a Hamas court sentenced a former Palestinian Authority "general" to seven years in prison for "collaboration" with the PA security forces in the West Bank. Another three Fatah activists were sentenced to five years for the same crime.
In an effort to quell tensions between Hamas and Fatah, the Palestinian Central Election Commission decided to ask the two parties to sign a "Code of Conduct" document that requires all candidates and parties to avoid smear campaigns, slander, and fomenting sectarian or racist strife. The document also requires all those participating in the election to refrain from "exploiting religious or sectarian or tribal sentiments" in their campaign and also to avoid any form of intimidation, such as declaring one another traitors, apostates and infidels. Although Fatah and Hamas have pledged to honor the terms of the "Code of Conduct," known in Arabic as mithak sharaf, the two sides, which are not famous for honoring agreements, seem resolved to resort to all available methods to persuade voters to vote for each one of them. For now, the two sides have taken to social media to present their electoral platforms and wage a smear campaign against each other.
Local elections are supposed to be about who can provide the people with the best municipal services and improve their living conditions. As such, one would expect candidates to run on a platform that promises new schools, roads, parks, sports centers and other municipal services. But in the case of the Palestinians, local and municipal elections seem to have assumed a new meaning and role. In fact, the upcoming election seems to be anything but a vote for a mayor or a member of a municipal or village council. Hamas, whose leaders seem to be enthusiastic and optimistic about the upcoming vote, has seized the opportunity to wage a massive election campaign on Facebook and Twitter to promote its extremist ideology through intimidation and by accusing its rivals of infidelity, blasphemy and profanity. Hamas's message to the Palestinian voters: Vote for us or else you will be considered infidels and you will end up in hell.
The first sign of Hamas's frightening platform emerged when one of its top muftis, Yunis Al-Astal, issued a fatwa (Islamic religious decree) banning Palestinians from voting for any other party other than Hamas. "Any person, male or female, who votes for a party other than Hamas will be considered an infidel and apostate and his or her repentance will not be accepted even if they fasted or prayed or performed the hajj [pilgrimage] to Mecca," the mufti ruled. The Hamas fatwa sparked a wave of anger from many Palestinians, who were quick to accuse the Islamist movement and its leaders of waging a campaign of intimidation and terror against voters. "This is the policy of the Muslim Brotherhood [of which Hamas is an offshoot]," commented Hisham Sawalhi, a Palestinian from the West Bank. "Those who support Muslim Brotherhood are believers, while those who oppose them are infidels."…
ISRAELI WEST BANK POLICY, WHERETO?
David M. Weinberg
Israel Hayom, Aug. 19, 2016
With Barack Obama's term as U.S. president coming to an end, and Mahmoud Abbas' tenure as Palestinian Authority leader winding down too, the Israeli government will soon have an opportunity to recalibrate its diplomatic policies. Israeli policy on the Palestinian issue has been awkwardly frozen for two decades. But in which direction should Israel go? Fortify or vitiate the Fatah-led dictatorship in Ramallah? Redeploy from parts of the West Bank, or reassert Israel's sovereign presence in major parts of Judea and Samaria through renewed building?
Hand the PA greater powers in Area C and allow the EU to build new Palestinian townlets all over the place; or intensify development of the Maaleh Adumim and Ariel settlement blocs, and grow Gush Etzion to half a million residents over the next decade — as Construction Minister Yoav Gallant suggested this week? Do withdrawals toward the coastal plain offer a saner and safer future for Israel; or is building a united and "greater" Jerusalem from Jericho to Jaffa the DNA that holds the key to the future of Israel and Zionism — as Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen has argued?
Muddle through, or attempt a radical paradigm shift? These questions have been debated in recent months in the seminar rooms and on the website of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies by a sterling set of minds, including General Hacohen, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (a senior fellow at the center, and a former national security advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman (a former deputy national security advisor), and professors Hillel Frisch (an Arabist), Efraim Inbar (a strategist) and Max Singer (a defense expert). The upshot of their debate: Apply Obama's first rule of governance. "Don't do stupid stuff." It is wiser for Israel to defer action than to take steps that threaten to make a bad situation worse.
Frisch mapped out five possible Israeli approaches: caretaker conflict management, creative friction, constructive chaos, unilateral withdrawal and unilateral annexation. The caretaker option is probably the most feasible, he feels; unilateral withdrawal is the least; and no option is ideal. In every case, Israel will have to maintain a significant military presence in Judea and Samaria. Frisch completely dismisses a sixth option: rapid establishment of a full-fledged Palestinian state. Neither he nor his colleagues view this as feasible or advisable in the foreseeable future.
Inbar says that "Israelis have gradually come to realize that at present the Palestinians are neither a partner for comprehensive peace nor capable of establishing a viable state, unfortunately. The Palestinian Authority has no intention of accepting a Jewish state within any borders, and the two sides remain far apart on most of the concrete issues to be resolved." "Israel's recent governments are left, willy-nilly, with a de facto conflict-management approach, without foreclosing any options. While there are costs to this wait-and-see approach, let's remember this was the approach favored by David Ben-Gurion. He believed in buying time to build a stronger state and in hanging on until opponents yield their radical goals or circumstances change for the better."
Amidror, too, dislikes the drive for unilateral Israeli initiatives. "A partial withdrawal would likely increase, rather than decrease, Palestinian terrorism, as Palestinians would be motivated to push harder for total Israeli withdrawal. On the other hand, Israeli annexation would inflame Palestinian passions and engender severe opposition to Israel abroad. "This is not the time to embark on useless experiments or risky unilateral initiatives, either in the hope of preparing the ground for an eventual Palestinian state or in the hope of thwarting it. When standing on the edge of a cliff, it is wiser to keep still than to step forward," Amidror concludes.
Lerman agrees, noting that many factors bind both Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog to their current position of support for the two-state rubric. This includes the sensitivities of neighbors who matter (Jordan, Egypt, etc.), the views of Diaspora Jewry and of Western diplomatic allies and defense establishment preferences for the status quo. But Lerman also warns that the false Palestinian narrative of one-sided victimhood is a major hindrance to all peace efforts. "Global actors that want to help achieve peace need to assist the Palestinians inmoving beyond wallowing in self-pity and rituals of bashing Israel," he says. "The concept of painful but practical compromises seems alien to the Palestinians, and the international community is not doing its part to help the Palestinians mature toward this realization."
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TERRORISM AND COUNTER-TERRORISM IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Prof. Louis René Beres
Arutz Sheva, Aug. 31, 2016
To be sure, and in predictably short order, the easily captivating phrase, "cycle of violence," will be applied yet one more time to the Hamas-Israel conflict. Irrespective of the pertinent phrase-maker's actual intent, the practical result of any such application will be more-or-less the same. The result, therefore, will be to further validate a corrosively simplistic equation between terrorism and counter-terrorism in the Middle East, promoting a contrived sense of equivalence in the region between criminality and law-enforcement.
Such a potentially injurious outcome should not go unchallenged. Rather, now that Hamas and Israel are once again engaged in terrorism and counter-terrorism respectively, it should finally be understood that there has never been any authentic "cycle of violence" between the two warring parties. What has been ongoing, although usually in undulating waves of violence and anti-violence, is the cyclically gratuitous targeting of Israeli noncombatant populations by utterly willful murderers, followed more-or-less promptly by indispensable but also measured Israeli efforts at self-defense. Alas, in some fashion, at least, it has been this way since May, 1948.
Ritually, Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), etc. – it actually makes little or no difference – describe their calculated explosions of violence against assorted Jewish innocents as a "resistance to occupation." But this disingenuous characterization has no discernible grounding in fact. After all, one must inquire, where exactly are the Israeli "occupiers" in Gaza? They are, of course, long gone. Moreover, since their plainly well-intentioned departure years ago – under then Prime Minister Arik Sharon's "disengagement" – Gaza has been entirely Judenrein, or "free of Jews."
What about the "West Bank," or what Israelis more correctly prefer to call Judea/Samaria? Here, as Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated as recently as August 22, 2016, the Palestinian Authority demands complete evacuation of Jewish communities as a sine qua non of any final status agreement. "What kind of demand is this?" asked Netanyahu understandably. "It is ethnic cleansing." One should also recall that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO, forerunner of PA) was originally formed in 1964, three years before there were any "Israel Occupied Territories." What, exaxtly, were the Palestinian fighters attempting to "liberate" at that time? It's not a hard question to answer.
Even now, in very late August 2016, by deliberately launching their rocket attacks upon Israeli soft targets from densely populated Gaza areas, Hamas still resorts to the illegal practice of human shields. Viscerally, and in ordinary speech, observers would call any such policy of hiding behind one's own women and children for safety "barbaric." In law, moreover, there is also a formal term for employing such exceptional tactics of barbarism. This term, not mutually exclusive with any pertinent behaviors of exceptional cowardice, is "perfidy." What is the relevant background to all this? PA/ Fatah is allegedly more moderate than Hamas. Nonetheless, supported by tens of millions in U.S. tax dollars, and trained in recent years in nearby Jordan by an American General, the UN "nonmember observer state" terror group states in its Internal Order Document (Article 17): “The armed popular revolution is the only inevitable way to the liberation of Palestine.” Article 19 also deserves a generally wider reading: “The struggle will not end," it says unambiguously, "until the elimination of the Zionist entity, and the liberation of Palestine.”…
Deja Vu and the Coming Palestinian Elections: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Aug. 29, 2016—Municipal elections are scheduled for October 8th in the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas has reversed its previous position and is now participating, and may win–not as Hamas, per se, but by putting forth “fellow traveler” candidates known to be close to Hamas. The elections will likely be close.
Terrorist Serving Multiple Life Sentences for Murder May be Next Palestinian President: Miriam Elman, Legal Insurrection, Aug. 24, 2016—Last Thursday, Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) reported that Arab-Israeli MK Yosef Jabarin traveled to Hadarim Prison to visit with top Palestinian terror mastermind Marwan Barghouti.
Human Rights Watch: Palestinians Abuse Media, Activists: New York Times, Aug. 29, 2016—Palestinian authorities are silencing dissent by cracking down on free speech and abusing local journalists and activists critical of their policies, a leading international human rights group said Tuesday.
Globe Reporter Claims Hamas is a “Resistance” Movement & Implies Israel Wants War with Hamas: Mike Fegelman, Honest Reporting, Aug. 25, 2016—Writing in the Globe and Mail on August 24, former Mideast bureau chief Patrick Martin penned a news article entitled “Israel’s new Gaza tactic is playing with fire” which was replete with anti-Israel bias and which saw this journalist’s opinion disguised as news.
Who Will Lead the United Nations?: John Bolton, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 7, 2016—Although few Americans are paying attention, the race to succeed Ban Ki-moon as United Nations secretary-general is well under way.
A New UN: Jerusalem Post, Aug. 21, 2016— The UN’s predisposition against Israel is well documented.
Give the UN Immunity for Terror?: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Aug. 29, 2016— Since ancient times, nations have granted immunity to diplomats from arrest or mistreatment.
Jewish Settlements are Legal : Yoram Ettinger, Israel Hayom, Aug. 18, 2016— The misperceptions, misrepresentations and ignorance over the legal status of Jewish settlements in the disputed area of Judea and Samaria reflect the general attitude toward the unique phenomenon of the reconstruction of the Jewish national home in Israel.
Don’t Send Canadian Troops to Dysfunctional UN Missions: Matt Gurney, National Post, Aug. 16, 2016— Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, is a serious guy.
UN Security Council to Convene Meeting on Israeli Settlement Building: Danielle Ziri, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 30, 2016
The Aid Workers Aiding Hamas: Hillel Neuer, UN Watch, Aug. 19, 2016
Why an African Mission Could be More Dangerous than Afghanistan: Matthew Fisher, National Post, Aug. 29, 2016
Who Will Lead the United Nations?: John Bolton, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 7, 2016
A NEW UN
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 21, 2016
The UN’s predisposition against Israel is well documented. A low point was undoubtedly a 1975 resolution pushed by the Soviet Union that equated Zionism with racism. The demise of the Soviet Union did not improve matters. Arab countries and other third world nations have consistently voted en bloc against the Jewish state.
For decades Israel has been the only member state consistently denied admission to a regional group, which is the organizational structure by which member states can participate in UN bodies and committees. Arab states refuse to allow Israeli membership in the Asian Regional Group, Israel’s natural geopolitical grouping. Though eventually accepted to the Western and Others Group in May 2000, Israel’s membership is limited and does not allow it to participate in the UN’s Geneva-based activities.
Israel is the only country in the world that is singled out to appear on the UN Human Rights Council’s permanent agenda. Countries that regularly commit horrific human rights abuses such as Sudan and Iran are mentioned by the HRC – if at all – as part of the general debate. Not only does the number of resolutions brought against Israel by the HRC outstrip resolutions brought against any single country, it exceeds the number brought against all other countries in the world – by a long shot. In 2015, for instance, the HRC brought 20 resolutions on purported human rights abuses against Israel and just three against all other countries – one against Iran, one against Syria and one against North Korea.
“Special rapporteurs” on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967” have outdone one another in their biased conduct. In 2008, John Dugard justified Palestinian terrorism as an “inevitable consequence” of Israel’s actions. Richard Falk compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi actions during the Holocaust. Justice Richard Goldstone, on behalf of the UN in 2009, leveled the claim that Israel intentionally targeted civilians, before he retracted it in an op-ed in 2011.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admitted to the UN’s bias during his visit to Israel in August 2013.
“Unfortunately, because of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict, Israel’s been weighed down by criticism and suffered from bias – and sometimes even discrimination,” Ban said in response to a question about discrimination against Israel at the UN. “It’s an unfortunate situation,” he said, adding that Israel should be treated in the same way as all the other 192 member states.
The time has come for a restart. Ban ends his second term as secretary-general on December 31. Custom dictates that the job rotates between regions and it is now the turn of Eastern Europe. Two Bulgarian women are the front-runners for the position and they have an opportunity, where Ban has failed, to take steps to end the UN’s anti-Israel bias.
There have been a few positive developments in recent years. In 2009 the UN adopted an Israel-initiated resolution that deals with agricultural technology for development. And in January 2015 the General Assembly held its first-ever special session on the rise of anti-Semitic violence worldwide. Signs of normalization of relations between the UN and Israel can be discerned from the increasing amount of goods and services UN institutions purchase from Israel. In 2015, the UN purchased $91.8 million in goods and services from Israel, double the amount two years earlier. A large proportion of the goods were medical, and IT and communications equipment, which seemed to point to the attractiveness of Israel’s advanced technologies.
The UN has a long history of bias against Israel, but change is possible. Once upon a time the UN was very different. It is thanks to General Assembly Resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine that the State of Israel came into being. The appointment of a new secretary-general and next month’s General Assembly meeting present an opportunity for a reevaluation of the UN’s treatment of Israel.
The next secretary-general should take steps to integrate Israel into the UN’s institutions; end the prejudiced approach of the Human Rights Council toward Israel’s purported human rights abuses; and take further steps to normalize relations between the UN and Israel. If he or she is successful, the UN of the 21st century will more closely resemble the UN that brought the State of Israel into existence nearly 70 years ago.
GIVE THE UN IMMUNITY FOR TERROR?
Jonathan S. Tobin
Commentary, Aug. 29, 2016
Since ancient times, nations have granted immunity to diplomats from arrest or mistreatment. Without such immunity, diplomacy is virtually impossible and breaches of this tradition—such as the 1979 assault on the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the hostage crisis that followed—are not only heinous crimes but also proof of the breakdown of the rule of law anywhere such conduct is tolerated. But this important principle has sometimes been expanded to shield diplomats from the consequences of ordinary illegal behavior. As any resident of New York City knows, diplomatic license plates are a license to park illegally and not pay the tickets they are assessed. But for the United Nations, the concept of immunity has now taken a completely new meaning: any employee of the world body, even those without any diplomatic status whatsoever, are entitled to aid terrorist groups with impunity.
That’s the position the UN is taking on the case of Waheed Borsh, a Palestinian engineer who works for the United Nations Development Program, an agency tasked with assisting building projects in poor countries. Borsh has worked for the UNDP since 2003, a group that has become even more important since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas that resulted in the destruction of many homes in Gaza. But rather than carry out the UN’s mandate to rebuild civilian infrastructure and homes, Borsh was discovered to have been transferred 300 tons of building materials to the Qassam Brigades—Hamas’s military arm—in order to build a naval jetty from which it conducts operations and smuggling. Borsh also used his influence to ensure that the rebuilding of homes of Hamas officials was a UNDP priority. This meant that thanks to Borsh, the UNDP was subsidizing a terrorist group’s activities.
The UN said it was “greatly concerned” by the allegations and has “zero tolerance” for wrongdoing–a stance belied by the way all of its agencies have allowed themselves to be co-opted by Hamas in Gaza. But it nevertheless asserted this past week in a letter that Borsh should be released from Israeli custody because he should be considered to have diplomatic immunity.
The technical legality of this assertion is dubious. If any local employee of the United Nations, let alone, one of an embassy or consulate anywhere, is considered to have the immunity tradition accords actual diplomats the entire concept is called into question. It’s bad enough when real diplomats commit crimes and then are allowed to return home, albeit in disgrace. More common is when diplomats involved in spying—an activity not wholly unrelated to the business of foreign policy. But while those with diplomatic passports must be accorded a fair amount of latitude for countries to feel free to exchange representatives, giving employees of UN agencies a free pass for blatantly illegal conduct is absurd. Even more outrageous is the notion that those who aid terrorist organizations should be treated with kid gloves.
This UN demand is especially egregious when one considers the record of both the UN and other philanthropic groups in Gaza. The same week that Borsh was arrested, an employee of the World Vision humanitarian group in Gaza was also apprehended for siphoning off for Hamas tens of millions of dollars donated from well-meaning foreigners that were intended to help Palestinian children. Another recent controversy has centered on Hamas infiltration of the Save the Children organization in Gaza. Meanwhile, the United Nations Relief Works Agency was found to have hired members of Hamas and allowed its facilities and schools to be used by the terrorists for storing weapons during the 2014 war.
But rather than take responsibility for this fiasco that occurred in their name, the UN thinks Borsh and every other Palestinian working for them in Gaza ought to be given impunity for misdirecting international aid to terrorists. Israel is right to ignore this request and to vigorously prosecute all those who abuse their UN jobs in this manner. The UN has been a cesspool of corruption and anti-Semitism for so long that to speak of salvaging its reputation is a fool’s errand. Yet this incident shows how little the world body actually cares for the welfare of ordinary Palestinians, who are being shortchanged of desperately needed assistance to bolster their Islamist rulers’ military infrastructure. By invoking diplomatic immunity, the UN is calling into disrepute a basic principle upon which the entire structure of its efforts rests.
JEWISH SETTLEMENTS ARE LEGAL
Israel Hayom, Aug. 18, 2016
The misperceptions, misrepresentations and ignorance over the legal status of Jewish settlements in the disputed area of Judea and Samaria reflect the general attitude toward the unique phenomenon of the reconstruction of the Jewish national home in Israel. "Fidelity to law is the essence of peace," opined Professor Eugene Rostow, a former dean of the Yale University Law School, undersecretary of state and a co-author of the Nov. 22, 1967, U.N. Security Council Resolution 242. Rostow resolved that under international law, "Jews have the same right to settle in the West Bank as they have in Haifa."
Rostow determined that according to Resolution 242, "Israel is required to withdraw 'from territories,' not 'the' territories, nor from 'all' the territories, but 'some' of the territories, which included the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Desert and the Golan Heights." Moreover, "resolutions calling for withdrawal from 'all' the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly. … Israel was not to be forced back to the 'fragile and vulnerable' [9- to 15-mile wide] lines … but to 'secure and recognized' boundaries, agreed to by the parties. … In making peace with Egypt in 1979, Israel withdrew from the entire Sinai … [which amounts to] more than 90% of the territories occupied in 1967."
Former International Court of Justice President Judge Stephen M. Schwebel stated: "[The 1967] Israeli conquest of territory was defensive rather than aggressive … [as] indicated by Egypt's prior closure of the Straits of Tiran, blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat, and the amassing of [Egyptian] troops in Sinai, coupled with its ejection of the U.N. Emergency Force … [and] Jordan's initiated hostilities against Israel. … The 1948 Arab invasion of the nascent State of Israel further demonstrated that Egypt's seizure of the Gaza Strip, and Jordan's seizure and subsequent annexation of the West Bank and the Old city of Jerusalem, were unlawful. … Between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967 ]according to Article 52 of the U.N. Charter[, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has better title in the territory of what was [British Mandate] Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem. … It follows that modifications of the 1949 armistice lines among those states within former Palestinian territory are lawful."
The legal status of Judea and Samaria is embedded in the following authoritative, binding, internationally ratified treaties, which recognized that the area has been the cradle of Jewish history, culture, aspirations and religion:
1. The Nov. 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration, issued by Britain, called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." 2. The April 24, 1920 resolution, adopted by the post-World War I San Remo Peace Conference of the Allied Powers Supreme Council, incorporated the Balfour Declaration, entrusting both sides of the Jordan River to the Mandate for Palestine: "The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the [Balfour] declaration … in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." It was one of over 20 mandates (trusteeships) established following World War I, responsible for most boundaries in the Middle East.
3. The Mandate for Palestine, ratified on July 24, 1922, by the Council of the League of Nations, entrusted Britain to establish a Jewish state in the entire area west of the Jordan River, as demonstrated by Article 6: "[To] encourage … close settlement by Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands." The mandate is dedicated exclusively to Jewish national rights. 4. The Oct. 24, 1945 Article 80 of the U.N. Charter incorporated the Mandate for Palestine into the U.N. Charter. Accordingly, the U.N. or any other entity cannot transfer Jewish rights in Palestine, including immigration and settlement, to any other party.
The Nov. 29, 1947 U.N. General Assembly Partition Resolution 181 was a nonbinding recommendation — as are all General Assembly resolutions — superseded by the binding Mandate for Palestine. The 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbors delineated the pre-1967 cease-fire — non-ratified — boundaries.
According to Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, and the Mandate for Palestine, the 1967 war of self-defense returned Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria to its legal owner, the Jewish state. Legally and geo-strategically the rules of "belligerent occupation" do not apply to Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria since the area is not "foreign territory" and Jordan did not have a legitimate title over the area in 1967. Also, the rules of "belligerent occupation" do not apply in view of the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty…
DON’T SEND CANADIAN TROOPS TO DYSFUNCTIONAL UN MISSIONS
National Post, Aug. 16, 2016
Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, is a serious guy. A respected combat veteran of our war in Afghanistan, he has brought vast knowledge and credibility to his new job in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. One of the priorities for our Liberal government has been finding a peacekeeping mission that Canada can contribute forces to. To that end, the Minister has been travelling through some global hotspots of late, meeting with officials and allies and discussing ways that Canada may contribute. He says that he knows how many troops Canada could spare, on top of our existing domestic security needs and our recent agreement to lead one of the four NATO augmented battalion groups being established in Eastern Europe. The Minister told the CBC he needs only a decision from cabinet as to where those troops should go.
Peacekeeping can work. When the right factors align, a properly armed and equipped neutral third party can be a critical ingredient of transforming a ceasefire into a stable peace. Canada has done honourable service on these missions in the past, and there’s nothing wrong, in theory, with seeking to do so again. But unless Canada intends to lead a mission on its own, or in partnership with like-minded nations under their own rules of engagement, Canadians have to question if this is the best use of our military resources, or even worth pursing at all.
Too many of the UN’s recent peacekeeping forays have been absolute debacles. As flattering as it is to tell ourselves that they failed for lack of sufficient Canadian involvement, the truth is probably this: the UN is too dysfunctional to operate effective peacekeeping missions in the parts of the world most urgently in need of the help.
You may have read in recent days a report about a horrific incident in South Sudan. A purportedly secure compound in the capital of South Sudan, home to foreign aid workers, including Americans and other Westerners, was besieged by armed men in South Sudanese Army uniforms. The people inside the compound called for help, notifying a nearby — one mile away, according to the report — UN base that they were under attack. The message was received and logged. And nothing was done.
The troops besieging the compound forced their way inside eventually. They took the aid workers prisoner. At least one man, a local, was executed. The men were beaten and threatened, some apparently tortured. At least five women were gang raped, by as many as 15 soldiers. Americans were singled out for particular abuse. It was, in other words, an entirely typical atrocity of the type too often seen and heard of in failing states and war zones all the world over. It’s exactly the sort of reason the international community came up with the concept of peacekeeping and stabilization missions in the first place.
But this incident does more than illustrate the need for such missions. It also illustrates how, under the current UN structure, they’ve become impotent. There are 17,000 UN troops in South Sudan. The aid workers’ compound was minutes away from local UN military headquarters. The staff there knew there was an attack against civilians, including foreign aid workers, unfolding. They logged the incoming distress calls in their logs. But the local UN quick reaction force declined to deploy. Local troops, who were waiting around for the UN to lead the mission, also stood down. Individual battalions of troops assigned to the UN mission, including Ethiopian, Chinese and Nepalese soldiers, were then contacted. None bothered to come to the aid of a group of civilians under attack by an armed force practically in their backyard. Local troops eventually rescued the civilians, except for three Western women who were taken by the attackers. The UN was asked to send a rescue party to find them, and declined.
It is an absolutely astonishing story of failure … and yet not at all that astonishing. Time after time, we have heard reports of civilians under attack while UN forces nearby do absolutely nothing. Just a few weeks ago, the Associated Press reported that UN peacekeepers in South Sudan ignored the mass rape of women who had sought shelter at a UN compound. The AP reported that the peacekeepers declined to intervene when the women were attacked by local forces, and watched as women and girls were attacked. Indeed, we’ve heard too many stories of the UN forces themselves being the attacking force, raping their way through villages they’re there to protect.
And how did the UN respond to these incidents? After the rapes near its compound last month, a spokesperson said, “The mission takes very seriously allegations of peacekeepers not rendering aid to civilians in distress and the (local UN) command is looking into these allegations.” They must still be looking into it, because that sounds a lot like what they said after the incident at the aid workers’ compound. And no doubt it’ll be what they say next time, too. The UN is supposed to be an institution that makes the international community responsible for the safety of vulnerable populations. In reality, it does the opposite —it absolves countries of taking real action by offering up instead the comforting fiction of engagement and commitment. The locals, who turn to the UN for help and are ignored, understand this better than Canada’s government seems to.
And yet we are apparently determined to offer up hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Canadian troops. These troops will be sent thousands of miles from home, away from their families and at great expense, to take their place in a system that is so dysfunctional it cannot stop the rape of women and girls that unfolds literally on the doorstep of their barracks. Canada’s troops, fine and brave as they are, can only ever be as effective as the system they are assigned to serve in, and unless the UN is willing to completely overhaul its operations, so that atrocities such as this stop happening with such bleak regularity, there’s no point tainting our troops and our proud military with any affiliation with disgraces such as these. Unless the Liberals are willing to guarantee the public that any mission Canadian troops would serve on would include rules of engagement that not just authorize but require our troops to use whatever force necessary to stop attacks on civilians, the troops shouldn’t be sent. Absent that guarantee and major reforms, there’s no point.
Come to think of it, pushing for that kind of meaningful reform of the broken UN sounds like a fine idea. The world does need peacekeepers, but it needs better peacekeepers, and better leadership, than the UN is capable of providing. This is a place Canada could lead. Perhaps the Trudeau government and our highly capable Minister of National Defence should make a priority of fixing what’s broken, rather than taking part in the dysfunctional process in exchange for praise and a chance to reassure the world, once again, that Canada’s back.
UN Security Council to Convene Meeting on Israeli Settlement Building: Danielle Ziri, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 30, 2016—The UN Security Council will hold a meeting on October 14 to address Israeli settlement building. News of the upcoming meeting emerged after UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov appeared in front of the Security Council on Monday and slammed Israel for continuing to build settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
The Aid Workers Aiding Hamas: Hillel Neuer, UN Watch, Aug. 19, 2016—The arrest of Palestinian humanitarian officials in Gaza from two separate international organizations – charged with siphoning aid resources to support Hamas terrorism – along with allegations about at least two other entities raises troubling questions about the culture within the United Nations and non-governmental agencies that allowed such crimes to take place.
Why an African Mission Could be More Dangerous than Afghanistan: Matthew Fisher, National Post, Aug. 29, 2016—The Liberal government has been silent about where in Africa Canada’s soldiers and a cadre of diplomats, aid workers and police officers will be deployed. None of the potential United Nations missions are safe. All are complex. None come with an exit strategy.
As the Arab World Crumbles, New Alliances Emerge: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 25, 2016— Several looming challenges pose a clear and present danger to the Arab world's ability to continue as a viable culture and functioning political system.
Bibi the Strategist: Lazar Berman, Jewish Press, Aug. 21, 2016— In June, the Israeli journalist Amir Tibon wrote an article for Politico detailing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s long-standing and bitter fights with Israel’s defense leaders.
A Covenant of Shadows: Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom, Aug. 5, 2016— Many of the world's nations are looking on in surprise and admiration at the ever-strengthening ties between Israel and the more important Sunni Arab countries in the region…
Jew-Hatred at the World Social Forum: Bradley Martin, American Spectator, Aug. 25, 2016— The 2016 annual meeting of the World Social Forum took place in Montreal this month to strategize and coordinate campaigns in support of anti-globalization, anti-capitalism, and now anti-Semitism.
Can Israel and the Arab States Be Friends?: New York Times, Aug. 27, 2016
Why ‘Cash for Prisoners’ May End Up Being Least of U.S. Concerns Over Payment to Iran: Aaron David Miller, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 22, 2016
Israel's Strategic Imperative: Prof. Louis René Beres, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 7, 2016
Implications of US Disengagement from the Middle East: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, July 26, 2016
AS THE ARAB WORLD CRUMBLES, NEW ALLIANCES EMERGE
Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Arutz Sheva, Aug. 25, 2016
Several looming challenges pose a clear and present danger to the Arab world's ability to continue as a viable culture and functioning political system. At the head of the list are Iran, Islamic State, and the deterioration of the status of the state itself in countries where terror, motivated mainly by Islam and its dictates, is on the rise.
The Iranian challenge received a boost last year from the signing of Iran's Nuclear Agreement with the West and the billions of dollars accompanying it, part of which will be invested in pouring more boiling jet fuel on the epicenters of Middle Eastern bloodshed and tension – Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – in a way that poses a direct threat to certain key countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The agreement will also make it easier for Iran to export the revolution to other parts of the world, starting with Europe and America.
The Islamic State challenge continues to threaten Syria and Iraq directly, but its influence is increasing in other focal points such as Libya and the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan, too, has been the scene of activities meant to prepare the population for the day after the monarchy, when an Islamic State-type regime can come to power. Although Islamic State lost territory in its battles with the Iraqi and Syrian armies, it is far from losing its ongoing ability to spread terror and propaganda and its defeat is not at all a sure thing.
The modern Arab state – as an ideology and political entity – is facing several difficult questions. Many of its citizens ask why they are forced to live in states created, designed and planned by the West to promote its own interests. Why, they ask, must they live under dictatorships where a ruling elite runs an economically and morally corrupt government? Social media are the main platform for expressing these opinions and serve as the stage where large numbers of people take part in a public debate that puts their own countries in the dock.
There is a not insignificant number of people in the Arab world who have reached the conclusion that it is time to act against their own states by means of intimidation, threats, terrorist acts and murder. The main leader of this trend is the Muslim Brotherhood and the political Islamic organizations it spawned. These organizations make use of social media to organize, plan, get new volunteers, all the while sending their messages anonymously and without the constraints of government censorship.
A clear example of the deteriorating situation is the terror state that was established in Gaza nine years ago, in June 2007, when an Islamic terrorist organization – Hamas – took over an area that is home to over one million people and established an entity that is the political implementation of the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology. The Arab world is paralyzed and prevented from reacting because every word against Hamas is immediately interpreted as being pro-Israel and therefore totally unacceptable in Arab circles. The disastrous situation was actually strengthened when wealthy and important states such as Qatar and Turkey stood behind the Hamas state and aided it financially and politically, while Iran provided it with military support.
Meanwhile, the same phenomenon is developing in Lebanon, where the Hezbollah terrorist organization is taking over an entire country and turning it into a state run according to decisions made in Tehran. The most crucial decision that Iran made for Lebanon was throwing the country into the midst of the fierce civil war raging in Syria between Assad and his enemies. This challenging state of events has been ruling the Arab scene for years with no solution in sight. Iran not only is not disappearing, its influence is getting stronger by the day. Islamic State is also not disappearing, despite the West's declaration of war against it. The modern Arab state is not seen as a legitimate answer, causing the internal terror fueled by Islam to get more and more powerful.
In the past, the United States was a stabilizing factor that preserved the political systems in the region, but it has decided to step back and leave the area ripe prey for Iran, Sunni Jihadists, Turks and lately the Russians who have arrived to secure their own interests. Sadly, those who suffer most from this maelstrom of problems are peaceful citizens who once suffered under dictatorships and now suffer under Jihadist swords. They are fleeing en masse to Europe.
Israel can be accepted more easily while the Arab world is in this miserable situation because it does not pose a threat to any nations except the two terrorist mini states that have arisen in the Middle East: the Gazan Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah. Islamic State will also be a potential target for Israel from the second that its territory reaches any Israeli border, so that Israel has been transformed from being a problem to being a solution to problems.
The first Arab country to realize the Israel solution was Egypt, which shares Israel's concern about terror and Islamic State, especially since IS has established a branch in the Sinai. Al Sisi's Egypt, since 2013, works stubbornly and steadily, with minimum sensitivity, against Hamas. Egypt closed the Rafiah Pass almost hermetically, and has almost entirely eliminated the tunnel system into Egypt that the Gazans worked hard to dig. Those tunnels were not used only for weapons smuggling – an entire circus once arrived in Gaza that way! Rumors have it that Israel is helping Egypt in the shared struggle of both countries against Islamic State's "Sinai Province," an organization that was once called "Ansar Beit al Maqdis" and was affiliated with al Qaeda, and whose hands are smeared with the blood of hundreds of Egyptian civilians and soldiers.
It has reached the point where the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukri, refused to accuse Israel of engaging in terror when it battles Palestinian Arabs. In his opinion, "Israel's history forces it to grant an important place to security because Israeli society is faced with challenges that demand strict attention to security, control of the area and the sealing of any breaches in its protective shield." He might well say the exact same words regarding Egypt. Shoukri also noted that it is impossible to accuse Israel of terror since there is no accepted international definition for terror. This remark is actually a complaint aimed at all the Islamic countries which refuse to define terror in legal terms because doing so would by definition point to Islam as the factor motivating most terrorists today. The US government is not eager to identify the connection between Islam and terror either, so that his words seem to be pointed in that direction as well…
BIBI THE STRATEGIST
Commentary, Aug. 21, 2016
In June, the Israeli journalist Amir Tibon wrote an article for Politico detailing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s long-standing and bitter fights with Israel’s defense leaders. Former IDF chiefs of staff and spymasters described Netanyahu as messianic, driven by personal calculations, and incapable of protecting Israel’s interests. His former defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, said the prime minister’s conduct had caused him to lose faith in Netanyahu, and ex- Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin said he “represents six years of constant failures.” Bibi-bashing of this sort is neither new nor limited to Israel. Diskin’s remarks echoed the charges of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who wrote in his 2014 memoir, Duty, that under Netanyahu “Israel’s strategic situation is worsening, its own actions contributing to its isolation.” Gates claimed that the Jewish state was acting “strategically stupid” as it pursued tactical gains. “Time,” he concluded, “is not on Israel’s side.”
Messianism and stupidity are as bad a combination as one could find in a nation’s leader. What, then, might Diskin and Gates have made of the accord Netanyahu reached with Turkey right around the time the Politico piece appeared? Six years after Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and took to obsessively condemning the Jewish state, Netanyahu got Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to drop his key demands and agree to resume full diplomatic relations with Israel. That victory for Netanyahu’s statecraft is one example of many that highlight an enduring contradiction between his reputation for ineptitude and his record of achievement. And considering what Israel is up against, almost any foreign-policy success would be noteworthy.
Since Netanyahu regained the premiership in 2009, Israel has faced a multitude of challenges—from Turkey’s hostile turn, to Iran’s nuclear program, to Hamas’s cross-border tunnels, to rocket attacks on civilians, to a rash of terrorist knifings and automobile attacks. Any one of them would try the sharpest strategic thinkers. What’s more, Egypt and Syria both collapsed into turmoil during his time in office. The civil war in Syria turned Israel’s quietest border into an ungoverned zone filled by rival jihadist groups. The fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt meant that a Muslim Brotherhood government temporarily bordered the Gaza Strip and could give aid to its Palestinian faction, Hamas. And while Egypt’s current leader, Abdel-Fattah Al-Sissi has since fought Hamas aggressively, the Sinai Peninsula has become an ungoverned home to terrorists who pledge allegiance to ISIS.
Then there’s the United States. With the election of Barack Obama, America’s approach to the Middle East changed in drastic ways. Determined to build bridges to the Muslim world, Obama saw Israeli settlements as the central obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. Thus, he instituted a policy of maintaining “daylight” between Washington and Jerusalem in hopes of wearing down Israel’s supposed obstinacy on settlements. To make matters worse, Obama and his advisers evinced a strong animus against Netanyahu that only escalated as time progressed. Washington scaled back its influence at the same moment that Sunni–Shia, tribal, and ethnic battles began gutting Arab states. Iran capitalized on the resulting power vacuum to expand its reach in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and beyond. As for Iran’s nuclear program, Obama and the Islamic Republic entered into the P5+1 Joint Plan of Action. What’s become known simply as “the Iran deal” has both enriched and rehabilitated the regime while leaving its nuclear program largely intact and free from serious scrutiny.
How has Netanyahu handled this dizzying constellation of threats? Although far from perfect, he has shown himself to be a careful thinker, a leader whose reading of complex situations has allowed him to outmaneuver adversaries and protect Israel’s interests. The growing threat from Hamas and the dangers of a rising Iran have not abated. But in reviewing Netanyahu’s actions as prime minister, we emerge with a list of improbable foreign-policy accomplishments of which most world leaders would be proud…
Problems generated by the Syrian civil war have exploded outward in every direction. To name a few: Refugees have spilled over into Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Europe. Terrorist groups inside Syria, especially ISIS, pose a strategic threat to Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt. Additionally, ISIS continues to carry out major terrorist attacks in the heart of Europe. Yet Israel, on Syria’s western border, remains effectively out of the fray.
Although Syria was long an enemy of Israel, its collapse posed a major strategic challenge for Israeli leaders. Before Syria spiraled out of control, Israel had hoped for (and repeatedly tried to attain) a peace agreement with Damascus. With the Syrian state in chaos, this was no longer even a remote possibility. And with ISIS taking the lead in the fight against Assad, it was clear that Israel couldn’t support either side. In any event, Israel had to deal with more immediate threats emerging from the meltdown. Some of the terrorist groups fighting Assad—including the Al-Nusra Front and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade—had gained a foothold along Israel’s Golan Heights border with Syria. There were (and are) still more complicating factors. Mortar fire from the conflict occasionally strays into Israel. Druze residents of the Israeli Golan Heights maintain close ties to family members and other co-religionists on the Syrian side and have vowed to take action if jihadist groups threaten Syrian Druze. And Hezbollah and Iran have tried to take advantage of the chaos to open a new front against Israel in the Golan.
Through it all, Israel has stayed safe. Netanyahu has been quietly shaping the situation to protect his country’s interests. Israel has reached a stable—and officially unconfirmed—understanding with rebel groups on its border. These groups, including some jihadist factions, know they don’t have to protect their western flank from Israel. In return, they refrain from attacking Israel and keep others from doing so as well. In coordination with IDF forces on the border, rebel groups hand over wounded fighters and civilians to be treated in Israeli hospitals. Israel has also transferred aid to these groups, but it is unclear if this goes beyond food and medicine. There is likely intelligence sharing as well…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
A COVENANT OF SHADOWS
Israel Hayom, Aug. 5, 2016
Many of the world's nations are looking on in surprise and admiration at the ever-strengthening ties between Israel and the more important Sunni Arab countries in the region — the open relationship with Egypt and Jordan, with which Israel maintains official diplomatic relations, but also the informal relationships with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates.
This shift appears to be fueled by three main factors: First, these Sunni countries fear Iran's growing power over a Shiite bloc, which threatens the security as well as the unity of the Sunni states. There is an ancient religious conflict between the Sunni majority and the Shiite minority, but the minority enjoys the advantage of a singular leadership that is willing to do anything to change the status of the Shiites in the Middle East. This leadership, which sits in Tehran, is spearheading orchestrated and focused efforts to liberate the Shiites in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and defend the Shiites in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The objective is to create an uninterrupted distribution of Shiites from Tehran through Baghdad to Beirut.
Meanwhile, Iran is trying to undermine the Sunni dominance on the Arab side of the Gulf between the Saudi Peninsula and Iran: Saudi Arabia, with its Shiite minority, in the oil-rich region; Bahrain, which underwent a Shiite coup attempt; and Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is fighting with the Sunni majority against the Iranian-backed Houthi minority. The Sunni-Shiite conflict also has a nationalist aspect. It is impossible to ignore the fact that Iran is focusing its efforts exclusively on Arab countries. This nationalist struggle also manifests itself in inter-Shiite disputes, especially in Iraq, where the city of Najaf was once considered the most important Shiite city, but has since been replaced by the Iranian city of Qom…
The second factor fueling the Sunni countries' concerns is the threat of extreme Salafism led by the Islamic State group. The group's Arabic acronym, Daesh, stands for "the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria," but today, the organization is active in Sinai and in Libya as well, and it has active chapters in Africa and in Europe, as the recent wave of terrorist attacks may indicate. Therefore, the simple name "Islamic State" may be more apt.
The expansion of the group's activities poses a threat to the Sunni states, because they represent an enemy of the highest order. In Egypt, the threat is even more pronounced thanks to IS deployment in parts of Sinai and its collaboration with Hamas, the Palestinian chapter of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood — the mortal enemies of the current Egyptian leadership. In Jordan and in Saudi Arabia, Islamic State threatens the regime from within, because in both countries there is extensive sympathy for the group among various sectors in the population. Even if the coalition of nations currently working to combat IS manages to dramatically diminish the areas under its control in Iraq and Syria, the ideology propagated by the group will still pose a very palpable threat to the Sunni states. Moreover, the coalition is currently having trouble maintaining its momentum against IS, following a string of important victories.
The third factor stems from the general sense that the U.S. has abandoned its allies in their time of need, intending to scale back its involvement in the region. In Egypt, this feeling is founded on America's having abandoned deposed President Hosni Mubarak and having appeared to support the Muslim Brotherhood. In Saudi Arabia and in the Persian Gulf, the frustration stems from the fact that they view the landmark agreement between the West and Iran, spearheaded by the U.S., as an American capitulation. The countries in the region have been very disappointed with the U.S.'s conduct toward Mubarak on the one hand, and toward Syrian President Bashar Assad, who continues to massacre Sunnis uninhibited, on the other. They realize that not only is the U.S. no longer on their side in the fight against Iran, the U.S. expects them to make concessions to Iran. It is clear to the Sunni states, which once viewed the U.S. as a superpower whose mere existence was enough to stop any threat they faced, that things have profoundly changed. Even if the U.S. is still a superpower, it has lost the will to use its power in the Middle East. Furthermore, when it does exercise its power, like in leading the anti-IS coalition, action is taken sparingly and extremely cautiously. And now, the U.S. is compromising with its adversaries, as indicated by the weak American response to Russia's increasing involvement in Syria…
JEW-HATRED AT THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM
American Spectator, Aug. 25, 2016
The 2016 annual meeting of the World Social Forum took place in Montreal this month to strategize and coordinate campaigns in support of anti-globalization, anti-capitalism, and now anti-Semitism. Viewed as a progressive alternative to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, it began with an anti-Semitic cartoon depicting a stereotypical hook-nosed Orthodox Jew controlling the United States government as well as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by proxy. The cartoon, part of a now-canceled talk by Seyed Ali Mousavi, titled “Terrorizm [sic], Wahhabism [sic], Zionism,” was criticized by two Canadian members of Parliament, leading to removal of the Canadian government logo from the forum’s list of partners.
Although Mousavi’s talk was canceled, the WSF website lists at least a dozen other events intended to promote the wholesale boycott of Israel. They include a workshop comparing the calling-out of anti-Semitism to McCarthyism, headlined by Diane Ralph, a notorious conspiracy theorist who has blamed Israel and the U.S. for staging the September 11 terrorist attacks. WSF attendees also heard from Sabine Friesinger, a former student union president involved in the violent riot preventing current-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at Concordia University in 2002. Elderly Holocaust survivor Thomas Hecht was physically assaulted during that riot.
Another speaker at the conference was Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. In a 2014 speech at UCLA, Barghouti denied the existence of the Jewish people, claiming that Jews are not indigenous to Israel and have no right to self-determination or collective rights. Nonetheless, Barghouti rejected the notion that BDS is anti-Semitic. The anti-Jewish bigotry at the conference was not only shameless, but also deceitful. While Bargouti’s presentation promoted academic BDS against Israel, he himself is a student at Tel Aviv University, currently pursuing his Ph.D. after having completed his MA in philosophy at the Israeli institution. When asked about this blatant contradiction, Bargouti replied that his studies were a “personal matter.” Bargouti also claimed that BDS was opposed to violence, yet just a day earlier he spoke alongside Friesinger at a militant roundtable presented by the WSF that focused on international BDS coordination against Israel. Bargouti has previously voiced approval of Palestinian violence against Israel. Jamal Jomaa, of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, echoed Bargouti’s insistence that BDS is non-violent, and then went on to support the Palestinian right to commit violence against Israel…
Bradley Martin is a CIJR Student Intern
Can Israel and the Arab States Be Friends?: New York Times, Aug. 27, 2016—Israel and Saudi Arabia have no formal diplomatic relations. The Saudis do not even recognize Israel as a state. Still, there is evidence that ties between Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states and Israel are not only improving but, after developing in secret over many years, could evolve into a more explicit alliance as a result of their mutual distrust of Iran.
Why ‘Cash for Prisoners’ May End Up Being Least of U.S. Concerns Over Payment to Iran: Aaron David Miller, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 22, 2016—It’s not clear how much worse things will get for the Obama administration over its $400 million payment to Iran in January, but the cash-for-prisoners scandal may end up being the least of U.S. concerns in all this.
Israel's Strategic Imperative: Prof. Louis René Beres, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 7, 2016—In world politics, preserving equilibrium has a recognizably sacramental function. The reason is obvious. Without at least minimum public order, planetary relations would descend rapidly, and perhaps irremediably, into a profane disharmony. In any such global "state of nature," we may further extrapolate from Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, the life of individual nations could quickly become "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
Implications of US Disengagement from the Middle East: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, July 26, 2016—The United States is retreating from the Middle East. The adverse implications of this policy shift are manifold, including: the acceleration of Tehran’s drive to regional hegemony, the palpable risk of regional nuclear proliferation following the JCPOA, the spread of jihadist Islam, and Russia’s growing penetration of the region. Manifest US weakness is also bound to have ripple effects far beyond the Middle East, as global players question the value of partnership with an irresolute Washington.
On May 12th 2016, the Montreal community gathered to celebrate sixty-eighth birthday at yet another beautiful celebration at Phillips Square. Of course, CIJR was front and center to join in on the festivities and march from Phillips Square to Place du Canada to show our support for Israel. Thanks to everyone who came out to make this year's Yom Ha'atzamut celebrations a truly remarkable one!
Profs. Frederick and Lenore Krantz with Community Participants
Mr. Jack Kincler and Mrs. Dida Berku
Left to right: Prof. F. Krantz, Mr. R. Schachter, Mrs. E. Schachter
Community participants spreading the joy and celebration
Yom Ha'atzamut is a celebation for everybody!
Thanks for making Yom Ha'atmazut truly remarkable! See you next year!
We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.
PLEASE SEE THE CIJR CALENDAR OF IRAN NUCLEAR “DEAL” EVENTS AT THE END OF TODAY’S DAILY BRIEFING—ED.
Vital Points on the Iran Deal: Major Flaws and Positive Elements: Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser & Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Aug. 27, 2015 — In light of the centrality and vast importance of the debate around the July 14, 2015, agreement between Iran and the main world powers – “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA )1 – and with a view to analyzing in a straightforward manner the various aspects of this agreement, this analysis lists the major flaws of the agreement, as well as its positive elements.
Military Officers Come Out Strongly Against Nuclear Iran Deal: Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, Aug. 27, 2015— President Obama and fellow supporters of the Nuclear Iran Deal boasted that it must be the right deal because they were able to gather 36 military officers to endorse it.
If Iran’s Behavior Calls for Plan B: Shoshana Bryen, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 25, 2015 — In an interview on CNN, President Obama eschewed the notion of “Plan B” in case the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran failed to pass Congress. “I don’t plan to lose,” he said.
Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War: John Bosma, American Thinker, Aug. 23, 2015 — In an interview on CNN, President Obama eschewed the notion of “Plan B” in case the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran failed to pass Congress. “I don’t plan to lose,” he said.
Surviving the Obama Presidency and the Iranian Bomb: Noah Beck, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 27, 2015
Former Intel Chief: US, Israel Should Reach Parallel Iran Agreement: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 30, 2015
Israel Keeps Wary Eye on Iranian Missile Buildup: Barbara Opall-Rome, Israel Defense, Aug. 29, 2015
My Position on the Iran Deal: Charles E. Schumer, Aug. 6, 2015
VITAL POINTS ON THE IRAN DEAL:
MAJOR FLAWS AND POSITIVE ELEMENTS
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser & Amb. Alan Baker
JCPA, Aug. 27, 2015
In light of the centrality and vast importance of the debate around the July 14, 2015, agreement between Iran and the main world powers – “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA ) – and with a view to analyzing in a straightforward manner the various aspects of this agreement, this analysis lists the major flaws of the agreement, as well as its positive elements. It concludes with a discussion of some of the dilemmas inherent in the agreement and its implications.
Flaws of the agreement: The agreement is set to enable Iran safely, legally, and without economic hardships or changes in its rogue policies, to overcome the main obstacles on its way to possessing a nuclear weapons arsenal and becoming a regional hegemonic power. The agreement will legally provide Iran with the capability to shorten the time required to produce such an arsenal within the next 10-15 years (including the production of fissile material, weaponization, acquiring delivery systems, and improved military capabilities to protect the military nuclear program), so that it would be practically impossible to stop it. This is in exchange for a questionable and barely verifiable Iranian commitment to avoid producing arms and some limited restrictions on its nuclear program for 10-15 years.
Reliance on Iran’s open reaffirmation in the agreement that it will not seek, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons is untrustworthy and even naïve, given Iran’s past record of concealing its nuclear activities, its periodic declarations of hostility vis-à-vis the U.S. and Israel, and its regime’s messianic aspirations.
The agreement fails to empower the international community with the means to prevent Iran’s crossing the line that keeps it from producing a nuclear weapon even during the 10-15 years in which there are restrictions on its enrichment. Iran could accomplish it via various paths: First, through a “break out” policy, since, unlike the main argument of the U.S. Administration that Iran will need a year to acquire enough fissile material for its first nuclear explosive device, in fact it is going to need only about six months to acquire the necessary amount. Second, Iran can adopt a “sneak out” policy since its nuclear activities outside the declared sites are not going to be effectively monitored, if at all, and since there is no real monitoring of its cooperation with other rogue countries such as North Korea.
In short, the agreement unilaterally and unconditionally grants Iran everything it has been seeking without any viable quid-pro-quo from Iran to the international community. Inasmuch as the agreement paves the way for Iran to produce an arsenal of nuclear weapons through the enrichment of uranium before the 10-15 year period, after the period, and certainly later through the production and processing of plutonium, the agreement is clearly a danger to the world order and to the future of the Middle East, as well as to U.S. interests and to the security of Israel…
In order to obtain a nuclear arsenal, Iran has to acquire sufficient quantities of fissile material (uranium enriched to around 90 percent or processed plutonium), gain the ability to turn this material into a weapon (“weaponization”), and produce delivery systems, with an emphasis on long-range missiles. In addition, it has to be able to protect its nuclear facilities from attack so that it may safely cross the sensitive period in which it is trying to produce a nuclear arsenal but it has not yet completed a nuclear bomb (the “threshold”).
The deal solves all of Iran’s problems, if it is ready to wait 10-15 years, by shortening the threshold that separates it from a nuclear arsenal to practically no time. It does not effectively prevent Iran from breaching the agreement and achieving its goal even earlier, if it decides that the conditions justify it…
Three paths are open for Iran to secure the enriched uranium for a nuclear weapons arsenal: break out, sneak out, or wait out patiently until the sunset of the restrictions on its (military) nuclear program in 10 or 15 years which are included in the agreement. It has to be emphasized that Iran does not have any civilian justification for its vast nuclear program, a fact affirmed by the United States and the European Union. Therefore, the entire logic of the agreement is baseless and stands in striking contradiction to the November 24, 2013, Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), which states that the enrichment capabilities will be in line with Iran’s civilian needs.
Break out – Rather than blocking Iran’s ability to enrich uranium to a weapons-grade level to produce nuclear weapons, the agreement enables Iran, if/when it decides to breach the agreement and dismiss the inspectors, to do so within a six-month period and not in a year as the U.S. Administration repeatedly and falsely claims. By activating the 13,000 centrifuges and related equipment that are going to be uninstalled, rather than destroyed or sent out of Iran (the agreement requires Iran merely to store the equipment under IAEA monitoring), Iran will need only six months to produce enough fissile material for the first nuclear explosive device.
Moreover, the agreement imposes only very minor limitations on the continued development of highly sophisticated and advanced centrifuges and basically allows Iran to proceed with them. Part of these centrifuges may be installed in the deep underground facility in Fordow. Despite President Obama’s declaration that there is no justification for Iran’s Fordow military enrichment facility – the sole purpose of which is to create weapons-grade uranium – the agreement makes no requirement that Iran dismantle that military facility…
MILITARY OFFICERS COME OUT STRONGLY
AGAINST NUCLEAR IRAN DEAL
Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Jewish Press, Aug. 27, 2015
President Obama and fellow supporters of the Nuclear Iran Deal boasted that it must be the right deal because they were able to gather 36 military officers to endorse it. Well, a group of five volunteers in less than a week were able to gather more than 190 retired officers to sign on to a letter in opposition to the deal.
Those officers include 22 Admirals and 4 star generals, 46 vice admirals and lieutenant generals, 96 Rear admirals and Major Generals and 24 brigadier generals.
The letter they signed unequivocally states that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed by the United States and its partners in the P5+1, rather than “‘cut[ting] off every pathway’ for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons,” instead actually “provides Iran with a legitimate path to doing that simply by abiding by the deal.” The letter, the full text of which appears below, was delivered on Wednesday, Aug. 26, to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid…
The letter to the members of Congress, as delivered, reads as follows: Dear Representatives Boehner and Pelosi and Senators McConnell and Reid:
As you know, on July 14, 2015, the United States and five other nations announced that a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has been reached with Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. In our judgment as former senior military officers, the agreement will not have that effect. Removing sanctions on Iran and releasing billions of dollars to its regime over the next ten years is inimical to the security of Israel and the Middle East. There is no credibility within JCPOA’s inspection process or the ability to snap back sanctions once lifted, should Iran violate the agreement. In this and other respects, the JCPOA would threaten the national security and vital interests of the United States and, therefore, should be disapproved by the Congress.
The agreement as constructed does not “cut off every pathway” for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. To the contrary, it actually provides Iran with a legitimate path to doing that simply by abiding by the deal. JCPOA allows all the infrastructure the Iranians need for a nuclear bomb to be preserved and enhanced.Notably, Iran is allowed to: continue to enrich uranium; develop and test advanced centrifuges; and continue work on its Arak heavy-water plutonium reactor. Collectively, these concessions afford the Iranians, at worst, a ready breakout option and, at best, an incipient nuclear weapons capability a decade from now.
The agreement is unverifiable. Under the terms of the JCPOA and a secret side deal (to which the United States is not privy), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be responsible for inspections under such severe limitations as to prevent them from reliably detecting Iranian cheating. For example, if Iran and the inspectors are unable to reach an accommodation with respect to a given site, the result could be at least a 24-day delay in IAEA access.The agreement also requires inspectors to inform Iran in writing as to the basis for its concerns about an undeclared site, thus further delaying access. Most importantly, these inspections do not allow access to Iranian military facilities, the most likely location of their nuclear weapons development efforts. In the JCPOA process, there is substantial risk of U.S. intelligence being compromised, since the IAEA often relies on our sensitive data with respect to suspicious and/or prohibited activity.
While failing to assure prevention of Iran’s nuclear weapons development capabilities, the agreement provides by some estimates $150 billion dollars or more to Iran in the form of sanctions relief. As military officers, we find it unconscionable that such a windfall could be given to a regime that even the Obama administration has acknowledged will use a portion of such funds to continue to support terrorism in Israel, throughout the Middle East and globally, whether directly or through proxies. These actions will be made all the more deadly since the JCPOA will lift international embargoes on Iran’s access to advanced conventional weapons and ballistic missile technology.
In summary, this agreement will enable Iran to become far more dangerous, render the Mideast still more unstable and introduce new threats to American interests as well as our allies. In our professional opinion, far from being an alternative to war, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action makes it likely that the war the Iranian regime has waged against us since 1979 will continue, with far higher risks to our national security interests. Accordingly, we urge the Congress to reject this defective accord…
IF IRAN’S BEHAVIOR CALLS FOR PLAN B
Breaking Israel News, Aug. 25, 2015
In an interview on CNN, President Obama eschewed the notion of “Plan B” in case the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran failed to pass Congress. “I don’t plan to lose,” he said. No one “plans” to lose, and Mr. Obama may be headed to a win over Congress, meaning the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will become operational. However, it’s far from apparent that the White House has a Plan B thought out for either the vote or for the day after, an essential tool for ensuring the safety and security of the United States and its interests abroad.
What if the Iranians cheat or there is at least mounting evidence of malfeasance? What if President Hassan Rouhani is overthrown and his successor is even more anti-American? Well, what if? What if the next crisis isn’t even in the Persian Gulf? Regardless of the fate of the Iran agreement, America needs Plan B to reverse the most egregious effects of military decline, restore America’s global capabilities, and assure both allies and adversaries that the United States has not gone on permanent hiatus. Sequestration, Congress‘ option for restraining spending, was enacted in 2011. As Congress prepares the 2016 defense spending bill, the services have spent five years deferring training and maintenance, and watching troop levels decline. Long-term planning in the absence of a long-term spending plan has become almost impossible.
In a recent hearing, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff, said it would take “eight to 10 years to return the Air Force to full readiness.” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said it would be 2018 before the delayed maintenance on ships is complete, and an additional two years is needed to perform all deferred maintenance on aircraft. During that time and beyond, said Republican Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio, “We can lose, people will die, and people will be injured,” as a result of decreased readiness.
It isn’t just money. “Our requirements have been more unexpected, our enemies more unpredictable, and our ability to handle multiple simultaneous situations more uncertain,” said Army Secretary John McHugh.
An informal poll of priorities among experts in the services — most of whom preferred to remain anonymous — elicited the following:
For one retired Marine major general, it was funding the soon-to-be-selected new Amphibious Combat Vehicle. “We are at least a decade behind in ground vehicle modernization in general, and a new ACV in particular. Another priority should be new amphibious shipping. The joint USN-USMC power-projection requirement is for at least 38 amphibious ships; we have 29.”
For the Navy, a civilian analyst responded, “Congress should raise the number of carriers that the Navy is legally required to have from 11 to 12 and pay for Ohio-class replacement submarines over, above, separately and independently of the Navy’s [already insufficient] shipbuilding budget.” A retired Coast Guard admiral wanted accelerated ship replacement, specifically offshore patrol cutters and Polar-class icebreakers. “Funding has been limited so far resulting in loss of capability as old ships break and significant reduction in being able to take advantage of production efficiencies and savings.”
One Army answer focused on Iran: Special Forces “to go one-on-one against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps worldwide,” cybercapabilities to “make sure Iran needs to worry about our ability to completely turn off the grid in Iran,” and advanced upper-tier missile defense, “to ensure that if Iran develops a ballistic nuclear capability, it doesn’t get beyond Iranian territory before being shot down.”
Not everyone was service-specific. While noting problems with flying hours, aircraft maintenance and pilot retention, a retired Air Force general pointed to a comment by a Marine as the chief challenge for all the services. “The fundamental job of the military, ‘kill bad people and break things,’ has become critically hampered by ‘rules of engagement’ [and policies] whose guiding logic is political outcome, not successful combat.” A stronger American approach to NATO, including more forward-deployed troops would help the Baltic States and Poland, both increasingly unnerved by Russian cyber-attacks and adventurism in Ukraine. The United States should also revisit installation of the missile defense radars in Poland and the Czech Republic that were approved in the George W. Bush administration but canceled by President Obama.
In the Pacific, Australia has been increasing its defense budget in light of Chinese expansion in the South China Sea. The U.S. has allies and friends in the Pacific and should be leading an effort to better define boundaries and resource rights — with China, if China wants to be cooperative; without it, if necessary. With these priorities and others, it is time for the United States to embark on a serious program to find, fund and execute Plan B to defend America, its allies and its interests.
THINKING ABOUT THE UNTHINKABLE:
AN ISRAEL-IRAN NUCLEAR WAR
American Thinker, Aug. 23, 2015
The signing of a Munich-class agreement with Iran that hands it more than it ever hoped to pull off represents a shocking, craven American capitulation to an apocalyptic crazy state: a North Korea with oil. Nothing in Western history remotely approaches it, not even Neville Chamberlain's storied appeasement of another antisemitic negotiating partner.
But it also augurs the possibility of a nuclear war coming far sooner than one could have imagined under conventional wisdom worst-case scenarios. Following the US's betrayal of Israel and its de facto detente with Iran, we cannot expect Israel to copy longstanding US doctrines of no-first-nuclear-use and preferences for conventional-weapons-only war plans. After all, both were premised (especially after the USSR's 1991 collapse) on decades of US nuclear and conventional supremacy. If there ever were an unassailable case for a small, frighteningly vulnerable nation to pre-emptively use nuclear weapons to shock, economically paralyze, and decapitate am enemy sworn to its destruction, Israel has arrived at that circumstance.
Why? Because Israel has no choice, given the radical new alignment against it that now includes the US, given reported Obama threats in 2014 to shoot down Israeli attack planes, his disclosure of Israel's nuclear secrets and its Central Asian strike-force recovery bases, and above all his agreement to help Iran protect its enrichment facilities from terrorists and cyberwarfare – i.e., from the very special-operations and cyber forces that Israel would use in desperate attempts to halt Iran's bomb. Thus Israel is being forced, more rapidly and irreversibly than we appreciate, into a bet-the-nation decision where it has only one forceful, game-changing choice — early nuclear pre-emption – to wrest back control of its survival and to dictate the aftermath of such a survival strike.
Would this involve many nuclear weapons? No – probably fewer than 10-15, although their yields must be sufficiently large to maximize ground shock. Would it produce Iranian civilian casualties? Yes but not as many as one might suppose, as it would avoid cities. Most casualties would be radiological, like Chernobyl, rather than thermal and blast casualties. Would it spur a larger catalytic nuclear war? No. Would it subsequently impel Russia, China and new proliferators to normalize nuclear weapons in their own war planning? Or would the massive global panic over the first nuclear use in anger in 70 years, one that would draw saturation media coverage, panic their publics into urgent demands for ballistic missile self-defense systems? Probably the latter.
The Iranian elite's ideology and controlling political psychology is inherently preferential towards nukes and direct population targeting as a way to implement Shi'ite messianism and end-times extremism. Iran is a newly nuclear apocalyptic Shi'ite regime that ranks as the most blatantly genocidal government since the Khmer Rouge's Sorbonne-educated leaders took over Cambodia in April, 1975. Senior Iranian officials have periodically tied nuclear war to the return of the Twelfth Imam or Mahdi, which Iran's previous president anticipated within several years. This reflects not just the triumphalist enthusiasm of a new arriviste nuclear power that just won more at the table than it dared to dream. It also reflects a self-amplifying, autarchic end-days theology that is immune to both reality testing and to Western liberal/progressive tenets about prim and proper nuclear behavior.
Admittedly, Iranian leaders have lately resorted to envisioning Israel's collapse in more restrained terms through Palestinian demographic takeover of the Israeli state and asymmetric warfare. Still there remains a lurid history of Iranian officials urging the elimination of Israel and its people, of allocating their nukes to Israeli territory to maximize Jewish fatalities, of Iranian officials leading crowds in chants of “Death to Israel!” Iran's government also released a video game allowing players to target various kinds of Iranian ballistic missiles against Israeli cities – this as part of intensive propaganda drumming up hatred of Jews. A more recent video game envisions a massive Iranian ground army marching to liberate Jerusalem. In all, Iran's official stoking of genocidal Jew hatred is far beyond what Hitler’s government dared to advocate before the 1939 outbreak of World War 2.
The deliberate American silence over Iran's genocidal intentionality sends an unmistakable signal to Israel that the US no longer recognizes a primordial, civilizational moral obligation to protect it from the most explicit threats imaginable. It is truly on its own, with the US in an all-but-overt alliance with its worst enemy. The shock to Israel's leaders of this abrupt American lurch into tacitly accepting this Iranian intentionality cannot be understated. Iran is violating the core tenets of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, a US initiative after the Tokyo and Nuremberg war-crimes trials to codify genocide as a crime against humanity. Now the US is silent…
Surviving the Obama Presidency and the Iranian Bomb: Noah Beck, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 27, 2015—When, in 2012, I authored a cautionary tale about the dangers of a nuclear Iran, I never imagined a U.S. president who would, just a few years later, actively try to strengthen Iran’s geopolitical and financial position while providing international legitimacy to the Iranian nuclear program. But sometimes truth is scarier than fiction.
Former Intel Chief: US, Israel Should Reach Parallel Iran Agreement: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 30, 2015 —The US and Israel should enter into a bilateral, parallel agreement in response to the highly problematic Iran nuclear agreement, former Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin said over the weekend.
Israel Keeps Wary Eye on Iranian Missile Buildup: Barbara Opall-Rome, Israel Defense, Aug. 29, 2015— Israel is keeping a “very sharp eye” on Iran’s modernized ballistic missile arsenal and will be “ready to respond” should the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) attempt to export the new Fateh 313 to Lebanon- or Syria-based proxies, a defense official says.
My Position on the Iran Deal: Charles E. Schumer, Aug. 6, 2015 —Every several years or so a legislator is called upon to cast a momentous vote in which the stakes are high and both sides of the issue are vociferous in their views.
CALENDAR OF “DEAL” EVENTS:
Monday, August 31, 5:30-7:30 PM – Florida
South Florida: Stop Iran Rally
Rally at the office of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, serving Florida's 23rd District.
Where: 19200 W. Country Club Drive, Aventura FL 33180
Tuesday, September 1, 5:30 PM – New York City
Press conference and rally against nuclear Iran
Where: Outside Senator's Schumer's and Gillibrand's office 780 Third Avenue, NYC (at 49th street)
Tuesday, September 8, 12:30 PM Washington, D.C.
Iran Deal Press Conference, featuring Members of Congress, Americans effected by Iranian terrorism, and luminaries to speak out against the Iranian Nuclear Deal.
Where: Washington DC: "West Grassy Area," facing the ellipse, in front of the Capitol building.
Wednesday, September 9, Washington, D.C.
Tea Party Patriots, Center for Security Policy, Zionist Organization of America To Host DC Rally
Where: West Lawn of the Capitol, Washington, D.C.
Keynote speakers: Sen. Ted Cruz , Donald Trump
Wednesday, September 9, 8:00 PM – New Jersey
Where: Congregation B'nai Tikvah, 1001 Finnegan Lane, North Brunswick Township, NJ
Should Netanyahu Suspend Israel’s Confrontation With Obama?: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Aug. 25, 2015 — In examining Iran’s attitudes toward the Arab world in light of the Iranian nuclear deal, it is important to remember that Iranian interests in the Arab world have a long history beyond the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Poof Goes the Big Enchilada: David M. Weinberg, Israely Hayom, Aug. 28, 2015— Egypt's President Abdel Fatah Sisi has once again proven that he and his country will not tolerate any threats from Hamas or other Palestinians.
Palestinians Flock to Islamic State: Khaled Abu Toameh, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 25, 2015 — This year marks the tenth anniversary of an Egyptian-Israeli economic partnership that has quietly pumped billions into Cairo’s vulnerable economy.
‘No End of Secrets’: Dry Polish Rivers Recede, Revealing Downed Soviet Fighter Plane and Jewish Tombstones: Monika Scislowska and Vanessa Gera, National Post, Aug. 25, 2015 — Good evening. It is my pleasure to speak to you on this evening that represents the end of one chapter in our lives, and the start of another.
More Than Seven Decades Later, Monaco Apologizes for Deporting Jews: Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, Aug. 27, 2015
These 1,200 German Jews Survived Hell And Were Saved By The Philippines: Israel Video Network, Aug. 24, 2015
From Kaifeng to the Kotel: Chinese Jews in Jerusalem: New York Times, Aug. 26, 2015
Iran Deal Could Reboot America's Big Enchilada Policy in the Mideast: Andrew J. Bacevich, Los Angeles Times, Aug. 6, 2015
SHOULD NETANYAHU SUSPEND ISRAEL’S
CONFRONTATION WITH OBAMA?
Candidly Speaking, Aug. 25, 2015
The US-Israeli tensions that have escalated over the Iranian issue during the past month have led to waves of criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet in reality, Netanyahu has proven to be an impressive statesman. His address to the joint meeting of Congress, though initially harshly condemned, was far from being a disaster and served to establish the parameters of the debate. His widely disseminated statements articulating the case against the Iranian deal resonated widely among the American public and he is due much of the credit for persuading the majority of Americans to oppose the disastrous capitulation to Iran.
It is surely absurd to suggest that out of deference to a delusional American president, Israel’s prime minister should tread softly when his country faces an existential threat as the US empowers our most dangerous Islamic terrorist neighbor to become a threshold nuclear state. All the more so when some of its leaders are undeterred by mutual assured destruction and are even now reiterating their determination to wipe the “cancer” Israel off the face of the earth.
The reality is that the US administration is entering into a pact with a terrorist state that is explicitly committed to the destruction of Israel. Moreover, the US will be releasing over $150 billion into its coffers, which the Iranians openly boast will be employed to bolster terrorist activities by its surrogates against Israel. For Netanyahu not to oppose such a policy, irrespective of the outcome, would have been unconscionable and a dereliction of his responsibility as head of the Jewish state.
As further horrific details emerge of the ineptitude and immorality of the US administration in its negotiations with Iran, some of Obama’s former Democratic supporters have begun to publicly question his rationality. That the US agreed to cede responsibility to the duplicitous Iranians to selfcheck compliance in lieu of an independent body is mind-boggling. This highlights the delusional nature of the administration and exposes Obama’s duplicity when he assured the world that compliance would be rigorously monitored. It exemplifies the farce of this utterly sordid “deal” capitulating to genocidal Islamic terrorists.
Obama’s betrayal was further compounded when it was recently disclosed that he had already secretly offered concessions (which were rebuffed) to the satanic, genocidal then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That was long before the “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani, who this week accused Israelis of killing and raping women and children, assumed office. Clearly, Obama’s long-term strategy from the outset was to create a realignment in the Middle East through a US engagement with the most dangerous Islamic rogue state and thus abandon Israel, the only genuinely democratic ally in the region.
Obama’s commitment to ongoing military cooperation and repeated assurances that he “has Israel’s back” cannot be relied upon following his failure to provide political support for Israel during the 2014 Gaza war. In that war, he repeatedly condemned Israel for lack of proportionality, applied moral equivalence to Israel and Hamas and even withheld arms shipments to Israel. This follows a clear pattern in which Obama has consistently ignored Palestinian incitement and terrorism, reneged on the Bush endorsement of Israel’s retention of the major settlement blocs and defensible borders, and has threatened to abrogate the US veto at the United Nations, enabling the Security Council to apply sanctions against Israel. It was also despicable to see a US president repeatedly humiliate and denigrate the Israeli prime minister while simultaneously groveling and capitulating to the Iranian ayatollahs.
The extent of Obama’s frenzied efforts to appease the ayatollahs despite their repeated calls for death to America was exemplified in his hysterical personal attacks and intimidation of those urging Congress to reject the deal. He was especially vicious in relation to Jewish opponents, whom he went so far as to accuse of warmongering, providing legitimacy to the hoary allegations of dual loyalties, extended in the past by traditional anti-Semites.
Senator Chuck Schumer, one of the few Democratic legislators courageous enough to oppose Obama, was accused of dual loyalties and subjected to unprecedented anti-Semitic venom. Obama’s hysteria even stunned some of his own Democratic supporters, who urged him to restrain himself and avoid using “anti-Jewish incitement” to promote his position.
This was also a turning point for the Jewish leadership. It is regrettable that until last month, the vast majority of normally robust American Jewish organizations, fearing a confrontation with Obama, remained silent – with the exception of the Zionist Organization of America and a number of small groups. Had they spoken up a year ago, they would be in a much stronger position today…
POOF GOES THE BIG ENCHILADA
David M. Weinberg
Israel Hayom, Aug. 28, 2015
Just in case there was any doubt as to what U.S. President Barack Obama is up to, Professor Andrew Bacevich of Boston University has laid it out for us in a series of recent articles. Obama's nuclear deal with Iran is meant to reboot and redirect the entire vector of American Middle East policy: to retreat from Pax Americana and allow Iran to take its rightful place as a major regional power.
For decades, two tenets have informed U.S. policy in the Middle East. The first is that U.S. interests there are best served by the position of unquestioned American pre-eminence. The second is that military might holds the key to maintaining that dominant position. (In this context, Israel has been an important U.S. regional ally). This approach is what Bacevich calls the "Big Enchilada" — the America-as-top-dog approach that Obama is seeking to overturn.
Obama rejects this notion, since he essentially views America's preponderance in world affairs as arrogant and sinful. He feels that American "bullying" has brought about disastrous results. Most telling was Obama's infamous lament in 2010 about America as "a dominant military superpower, whether we like it or not." In other words, he really doesn't like it at all. No statement could be more revealing of Obama's disgust for American global leadership.
In the context of the current deal with Iran, Obama has been equally clear as to how he expects this play out. If successfully implemented, the agreement that slows Iran's nuclear program will also end Iran's isolation. This will allow Tehran, over time, to become a "legitimate" and "extremely successful regional power" and a "powerhouse in the region." These are Obama's own words. All this leads, of course, to American retreat — blessed retreat from Obama's perspective — from the projection of power in the region. Replacing America will be a revanchist, greatly emboldened, anti-Semitic and genocidal (toward Israel), Islamic Republic of Iran. Poof goes the Big Enchilada.
Obama has been mostly dismissive of Iran's "bad behavior," as he flippantly calls it. He says that he "hopes to have conversations" with Iranian leadership that might lead someday to their "abiding by international norms and rules"; that he "hopes and believes" that Iranian "moderates" will leverage their country's reintegration into the global economy as an opportunity to drive kinder, gentler and less revolutionary foreign policies.
Whether Obama himself believes such nonsense is moot. The rub is that Obama doesn't view American behavior in the region over past decades as any more moral or legitimate than Iran's behavior. Consequently, the main thing for him is the humbling and retreat of America. What happens after that? Well, that will be some other president's problem, and Israel can lump it.
It is against the backdrop of such unfounded expectations and dangerous strategic vision that Prime Minister Netanyahu is leading the fight against the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, otherwise known as the nuclear agreement.
Netanyahu understands that the nuclear agreement isn't just about Iran's nuclear program. It's about American detente with Iran and a perilous rejigging of America's global strategic posture. As such, Netanyahu's main goal is to prevent American retreat from the region, to thwart any intensification of American rapprochement with Iran and to avert the inevitable corollary of this: the further downgrading of U.S.-Israel ties. To do so, the Iran deal must be kept strategically disputed and politically fragile. Even if (or when) Obama steamrolls over Congress, the deal must remain controversial and questionable. It needs to become politically toxic.
American and European companies must know that investing in Iran is still a risky business. Iran must know that it is under extraordinary scrutiny, and that American opponents of the deal will jump at every opportunity to scuttle it if red lines are crossed. Space must be cleared for the rescinding or cancellation of the accord in the face of Iranian "bad behavior." Obama's successor should be under pressure to vigorously oppose Iranian hegemony in the region and to act more forthrightly than Obama to block Tehran's nuclear program.
In fact, a climate must be created that will encourage the next U.S. administration to backtrack from the deal, to reassert and reinvigorate America's traditional foreign policy approach, and to revitalize the U.S.-Israel relationship.
This explains why Netanyahu has rebuffed all attempts by dozens of well-meaning mediators to scale down his opposition to the deal and cut a compensatory deal with Obama. Aside from the fact that Obama never rewards his "friends" and has little to offer Israel of meaningful counterweight to this terrible deal, Netanyahu understands that far more is at stake. It's the big enchilada…
PALESTINIANS FLOCK TO ISLAMIC STATE
Khaled Abu Toameh
Hardly a week passes without another report of a Palestinian killed while fighting for the Islamic State terror group. The reports have raised deep concern among many Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A recent report estimated that some 100 Palestinians have already joined Islamic State. Other reports claim that the number is much higher. According to the report, most of the Palestinians who joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are from the Gaza Strip. Another 1000 Palestinian men are believed to be preparing to join Islamic State, but have been unable to fulfill their dream for various reasons, the report revealed.
It is no surprise that most of the Palestinians who have joined the Islamic State are from the Gaza Strip, which has been under the control of Hamas since 2007. In the past year, various reports have suggested that Islamic State and its supporters have managed to infiltrate the Gaza Strip, where they pose a major threat to Hamas’s rule over the area, home to some 1.6 million Palestinians. Earlier this year, Islamic State supporters organized their first public appearance on the streets of Gaza City, where they called for an Islamic army to destroy Israel and the “enemies of Islam.”
Earlier this week, the Islamic State informed the Yehia family from the West Bank city of Jenin that their son, Said, had been killed while fighting for the terror group near Aleppo in Syria. The family was told that Said had joined the Islamic State seven months ago. Said’s family members said he told them he was travelling to Europe to look for work. Later, however, they learned that he had headed to Syria to fight for the Islamic State. The two strangers who arrived at the family’s home even provided Said’s parents and brothers with a photograph of Said’s dead body.
In recent months, at least four Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were also reportedly killed while fighting for the Islamic State. One of them, Abed al-Elah Kishta, 29, of the southern town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, was killed while fighting for the Islamic State in eastern Libya. Weeks before he was killed, Kishta contacted his family to inform them that he had joined the group.
The second Palestinian from the Gaza Strip was identified as Musa Hijazi, 23. His father, Hassan, said that his son was killed while fighting for the Islamic State in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. The Islamic State later mourned Hijazi as one of its martyrs, referring to him by his nickname Abu Mu’men al-Maqdisi.
A third Palestinian was identified as Wadi Washah, 21, from the Jebalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Washah’s family said they were shocked to hear about his death while fighting for the Islamic State in Syria. The family said their son had previously joined Palestinian Islamic Jihad before escaping the Gaza Strip through a smuggling tunnel along the border with Egypt. Wadi’s father said that his son had travelled to Syria on instructions from Islamic State-affiliated salafi-jihadi leaders in Gaza. According to the father, Wadi had told him that he had managed to kill dozens of Iranians in Syria.
The fourth Palestinian was identified as Ahmed Badwan, 26, nicknamed Abu Tarek al-Ghazawi, of the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Sources close to the family said that Badwan had left the Gaza Strip through a smuggling tunnel run by Hamas, and had first joined the Islamic State in Syria, before moving to the group’s branch in Iraq. He was killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on an Islamic State base in Iraq, the sources said.
Although the number of Palestinians who have joined the Islamic State remains relatively low, it is evident that the terror group has become extremely popular among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Four public opinion polls published a few weeks ago showed that at least a million Palestinians support the Islamic State.
The polls found that 24% of the Palestinians hold positive views about the Islamic State. Given that there are 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and another 2.7 million in the West Bank, this means that there are more than one million Palestinians who support Islamic State.
Commenting on the results of the polls, Christian activist Sam Butrous noted that the widespread support for the Islamic State among Palestinians is a sign of increased extremism and a denial of Christians’ rights in the Holy Land. “Apparently, 20% of the Palestinians have no problem with expelling their Christian brothers and destroying their churches and turning them into mosques,” he wrote. “This is what the Islamic State terror group is already doing in areas under its control.”
Christians are not the only ones who should be worried about the Islamic State’s growing influence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinians’ two governments, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA), also have good reason to be worried. In recent weeks, Islamic State spokesmen have issued threats against both the PA and Hamas, accusing them of “collaboration” with the “Zionist entity.”
But the PA and Hamas can only blame themselves for the surge of Palestinians joining the Islamic State. The two governments allow anti-Western incitement in their mosques and media outlets. Their leaders regularly glorify and endorse Palestinians who carry out terror attacks against Israelis, thus encouraging other Palestinians to follow suit. And if these Palestinians are unable to carry out attacks against Israel from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, they travel to Syria and Iraq to join the jihad against Israel’s allies, namely the U.S. and other Western countries.
Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip cannot evade responsibility for inspiring dozens of Palestinians to join the Islamic State. The fiery rhetoric of these leaders, in addition to the ongoing incitement against Israel and the West, is further radicalizing Palestinians and driving them into the Islamic State’s open arms.
‘NO END OF SECRETS’: DRY POLISH RIVERS RECEDE, REVEALING DOWNED SOVIET FIGHTER PLANE AND JEWISH TOMBSTONES
Monika Scislowska &Vanessa Gera
National Post, Aug. 25, 2015
As river levels in Poland fall to record lows amid a prolonged drought, Jewish tombstones and a Soviet fighter plane with the remains of its pilots have been found in the riverbank, evidence of Poland’s tortured 20th-century history. Those discoveries follow the findings of stone fragments from the early 20th-century Poniatowski Bridge across the Vistula River in Warsaw, which the Germans blew up in 1944 as they crushed the Warsaw Uprising. The bridge was rebuilt after the war.
“The Vistula River is hiding no end of secrets. They are everywhere,” said Jonny Daniels, the head of Jewish foundation “From the Depths,” who waded Tuesday into a shallow area of the Vistula, picking up fragments of stones with Hebrew lettering. Officials knew that archaeological remnants remained hidden under wild and murky waters of the Vistula River and its tributaries, but it was impossible to carry out searches for them until now. The Vistula, which flows 1,047 kilometres from the Beskidy Mountains to the Baltic Sea, is now at its lowest level since measurements started in the late 18th century.
On Sunday, explorers found the remnant of the Soviet fighter bomber in the Bzura River, a Vistula tributary, near the village of Kamion in central Poland. The pieces have been moved to a museum in nearby Wyszogrod for examination, with more recovery work planned for Saturday. The head of the museum, Zdzislaw Leszczynski, told The Associated Press that parts of Soviet uniforms, a parachute, a sheepskin coat collar, parts of boots, a pilot’s TT pistol and radio equipment were found, along with a lot of heavy ammunition. The inscriptions on the control panel and the radio equipment are in Cyrillic.
It’s all part of the devastating war that played out across Poland from 1939-45: a German invasion from the west, a Soviet invasion from the east, the murder of Jews across occupied Poland and fighting between the Soviets and Germans after Adolf Hitler turned on former ally Josef Stalin. Leszczynski said, according to witnesses, the plane was hit while flying low in January 1945 and crashed through the thick ice into the river. At the time, the German army was retreating toward Berlin before the Red Army’s advance. “Until now, the water level did not allow for the search and there was no one willing to enter this swamp,” he said.
Russian Embassy spokeswoman Valeria Perzhinskaya said she considers the discovery important and believes the crew could be identified by the numbers on the wreckage and properly buried. About 600,000 Soviet troops were killed fighting the German army on Polish territory. The Jewish tombstones found in Warsaw are believed to come from the Brodno cemetery in the Polish capital’s Praga district. Once the resting place for 300,000 Jews, only 3,000 tombstones remain there today. The rest were removed during and after the war, used as building materials and to reinforce the Vistula’s banks.
Two weeks ago, a man walking along the river in Warsaw came across fragments of the tombstones with Hebrew lettering. On Tuesday, he took Daniels there. In the meantime, some had already been removed, although a few fragments were still lying on the riverbed. Now Daniels hopes to take students there to do a more thorough search and return anything he can find to the cemetery. “Jewish history is buried in the Vistula,” he said.
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
More Than Seven Decades Later, Monaco Apologizes for Deporting Jews: Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, Aug. 27, 2015—Monaco committed the "irreparable" injustice of deporting Jews to Nazi camps during World War II, Prince Albert II said Thursday in belated apology for the action 73 years ago that sent scores of residents and refugees to their deaths.
From Kaifeng to the Kotel: Chinese Jews in Jerusalem: New York Times, Aug. 26, 2015—On a brisk winter day seven months ago, three young men from Jerusalem named Moshe Li, Gideon Fan and Yonatan Xue showed up at the military induction center in Tel Hashomer to formally enlist in the IDF.
Iran Deal Could Reboot America's Big Enchilada Policy in the Mideast: Andrew J. Bacevich, Los Angeles Times, Aug. 6, 2015 —At American University on Wednesday, President Obama defended his Iran nuclear agreement and depicted the issue at hand as a choice between "diplomacy or some form of war." To walk away from the deal was inevitably to plunge into armed conflict.
Iran’s Old-New Role in the Region: Rami Aziz, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2015 — In examining Iran’s attitudes toward the Arab world in light of the Iranian nuclear deal, it is important to remember that Iranian interests in the Arab world have a long history beyond the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Egypt and the Hamas "Cockroaches": Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 26, 2015— Egypt's President Abdel Fatah Sisi has once again proven that he and his country will not tolerate any threats from Hamas or other Palestinians.
Trading Peace in Egypt and Israel: Oren Kessler, Foreign Affairs, Aug. 23, 2015 — This year marks the tenth anniversary of an Egyptian-Israeli economic partnership that has quietly pumped billions into Cairo’s vulnerable economy.
Israel: An Unexpected Surprise: Haisam Hassanein, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 16, 2015 — Good evening. It is my pleasure to speak to you on this evening that represents the end of one chapter in our lives, and the start of another.
Islamic State Branch Says Caliphate’s ‘Soldiers’ Bombed Cairo Courthouse, National Security Building: Thomas Joscelyn, Long War Journal, Aug. 20, 2015
Russia, Egypt Set to Sign Deal For Nuclear Plant, Jordan as Leaders Visit Moscow: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2015
Egypt Turns to Russia to Combat Terrorism: New York Times, Aug. 26, 2015
Egyptians and Their Leaders are Warming to Jews, Israel: Jerusalem Post, Aug. 6, 2015
IRAN’S OLD-NEW ROLE IN THE REGION
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2015
In examining Iran’s attitudes toward the Arab world in light of the Iranian nuclear deal, it is important to remember that Iranian interests in the Arab world have a long history beyond the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
From Persia to the Islamic Iran, the country has consistently demonstrated its desire for the land and wealth of the Arab states and the rest of the region. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s views are only the most recent expression of this desire.
In his July Id al-Fitr speech, Khamenei stated that, “Whether or not the draft text of the nuclear agreement is ratified, Iran will not relinquish its support for the government of Syria, the oppressed people of Yemen and Bahrain, or the loyal fighters of Lebanon and Palestine.” Khamenei’s words underscore longstanding Iranian policy, with Iran’s effective occupation of the three Emirati Islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, along with Iran’s indirect meddling through proxy forces such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine.
Nor have Iranian actions suggested a policy different from that outlined by the ayatollah. Iran has proven particularly obtrusive in Bahrain, where according to Sky News Arabia, Bahrain Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa recently accused Tehran of opening terrorist training camps, sheltering wanted individuals and smuggling explosives, weapons and ammunition into the country.
Moreover, it is clear that at least some Iranian officials are presenting Iranian expansionism in the context of ancient Persian territorial goals. Rouhani’s advisor and former intelligence minister Ali Younis, in a forum titled “The Iranian Identity” held in Tehran this March, stated that, “Today, Iran has once again become an empire as it has been throughout history. This empire’s capital is Baghdad, the center of our civilization, culture and identity today as it was in the past.” These remarks are a clear reference to an attempted restoration of the pre-Islamic Sassanian Empire, which occupied Iraq and took the city of al-Mada’in (Csestephon) as its capital.
Younis continued in this vein, stating that “the entire Middle Eastern region is Iranian… we will defend all of the region’s people because we consider them part of Iran. We will stand against Islamic extremists who label others as infidels as well as the neo-Ottomans, the Wahhabis, the West and the Zionists.” All of these examples confirm the aspirations of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take on a new role in the region through which it can achieve its undying dreams of past glory. And these sentiments have created noticeable effect on Arab states’ understanding of and responses to current Iran-centric issues such as the nuclear deal.
For many in the Arab world and greater international community, the ayatollah’s statements suggest little interest in neighborly cooperation and a state policy incompatible with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s outward presentations of Iran’s goals. Gulf Cooperation Council General Secretary Abdullatif al-Zayani and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry have responded by denouncing Khamenei’s remarks, describing them as contradictory and damaging to the establishment of good relations. Non-Arab states have also expressed concern, with US Secretary of State John Kerry describing Khamenei’s words as “disturbing” to Al Arabiya.
Many facets of Arab media have recognized Iran’s expansionist tendencies and the Iran nuclear deal’s potential boost of them. Writing in the Egyptian government newspaper al-Ahram, former Egyptian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States Nabil Fahmy has written several articles presenting different aspects of this issue. In the articles, Fahmy calls on the Arab states to safeguard their own interests and end their reliance on the West – represented by the United States. Fahmy’s article alludes to the growing lack of confidence between the countries of the region – particularly the Gulf countries – and the United States, previously considered their first line of defense against Iranian aggressions.
It is unfortunate that the Iranian state has not followed a policy of neighborliness supported by many Arab states and even Iranian politicians like President Rouhani, since Iran and Arab states’ close proximity in the region can produce nuanced economic and territorial relationships. Iranian and Arab heads of state have exchanged a variety of visits in the past decade. Economic considerations also demonstrate the complicated ties between Iran and Arab states. Despite Iran’s occupation of the Emirati islands, the Emirates tops the list of Arab trade with Iran by exchanging $17 billion in trade in 2014. Prior to the most recent batch of sanctions, imposed on Iran in 2011, the Emirates’ trade with Tehran was even higher, reaching a record $23b.
Both Kuwait and Bahrain also engage in trade and economic cooperation with Tehran, although the volume of trade is somewhat less significant than that of the Emirates. During the Morsi presidency, Egypt also engaged in trade with Iran, although this quickly ceased after his overthrow, and Sisi’s decision to not invite President Rouhani to the opining of the extended Suez canal demonstrates the poor quality of relations…
EGYPT AND THE HAMAS "COCKROACHES"
Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute, Aug. 26, 2015
Egypt's President Abdel Fatah Sisi has once again proven that he and his country will not tolerate any threats from Hamas or other Palestinians. The crisis that erupted between Sisi's regime and Hamas after the removal from power of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi two years ago, reached it peak in the past few days with the kidnapping of four Hamas operatives in Sinai.
The four men were snatched from a bus shortly after crossing from the Gaza Strip into Egyptian territory on August 19. Reports said that unidentified gunmen stopped the bus and kidnapped the four Hamas men, who are wanted by Egypt for their involvement in terrorism. Although initial reports suggested that the kidnappers belonged to a salafi-jihadi group based in Sinai, some Hamas officials have accused Egyptian security forces of being behind the abduction. The Hamas officials even issued veiled threats against Sisi and the Egyptian authorities, and said that they held them fully responsible for the safety of the Hamas men.
A statement issued by Hamas warned the Egyptian authorities against harming the four men. "These men were the victims of deception and their only fault is that they are from the Gaza Strip," the statement said. "This incident shows that the criminals are not afraid to target our people." Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzouk said that his movement holds the Egyptian authorities fully responsible for any harm caused to the abductees. He said that the kidnapping raises many questions and its circumstances remain unclear.
Hamas claims that salafi-jihadi groups in Sinai have informed its representatives that they did not kidnap the four men. According to Hamas officials, the abduction took place near the border with the Gaza Strip — an area where the Egyptian army maintains a large presence. Sources in the Gaza Strip, however, have confirmed that the four men belong to Hamas's armed wing, Ezaddin al-Qassam. The sources said that the men were apparently on their way to Iran for military training. The sources pointed out that the four had received permission from the Egyptian authorities to leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing. The visas, however, are supposedly for civilians, not for Hamas operatives.
Hamas's threats against Egypt have, meanwhile, enraged the Egyptian authorities as well as some top journalists in Cairo. Egyptian authorities responded by refusing to give permission to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and some leaders of his movement to travel to Qatar and Lebanon through the Rafah border crossing. The Hamas leaders were hoping to hold talks with some of their colleagues in those two countries about the possibility of reaching a long-term truce with Israel.
The Egyptians' refusal to allow the Hamas leaders to leave the Gaza Strip has further strained relations between the two sides. Hamas representatives in the Gaza Strip were quoted as accusing the Egyptian authorities of "conspiring" against the movement and all Palestinians. In Cairo, Egyptian security officials denied any link to the kidnapping of the four Hamas men. However, the denials have fallen on deaf ears and no one in Hamas seems to believe the Egyptian authorities. Even worse, Hamas representatives continued over the past few days to issue warnings and threats against Egypt.
As in the past, each time tensions rise between Hamas and Egypt, the Egyptians unleash some of their senior journalists against the Islamist movement. Since President Morsi's removal from power, the Egyptians have displayed zero tolerance when it comes to Hamas. They are particularly fed up with reports about Hamas's increased involvement in their internal affairs and links to terror groups in Sinai.
During the last war between Israel and Hamas, several Egyptian journalists and public figures openly expressed hope that the Israelis would destroy the movement for once and for all. Other journalists in Cairo, who are openly affiliated with the Sisi regime, have even urged their government to launch attacks against Hamas bases in the Gaza Strip.
This week, and in wake of the renewed tensions between Hamas and Egypt, Egyptian journalists resumed their rhetorical attacks against the movement. The question that most of these journalists asked was: What are Hamas members doing on Egyptian soil in the first place? The journalists accused Hamas of exploiting Egypt's humanitarian gestures to smuggle its men out of the Gaza Strip.
One of these journalists, Dina Ramez, who is known as a staunch supporter of President Sisi, launched a scathing attack on Hamas, calling its members and leaders "cockroaches." Referring to the Hamas threats against Egypt, Ramez said: "Has anyone ever heard of cockroaches or ants that could threaten lions? These cockroaches belong to Hamas, which is threatening Egypt following the abduction of four of its men. I want to ask the Hamas cockroaches a simple question: What were your four men doing in Sinai? Haven't you denied in the past the presence of any Hamas men in Sinai? So where did these men pop up from? I dare you to approach the border with Egypt. We have confidence in our army and our response will be painful. It will be a strong and deterring response against any cockroach that dares to come close to our border or threaten Egypt."
Regardless of the identity of the kidnappers, the incident shows that Sisi and the Egyptian authorities continue to view Hamas as a threat to Egypt's national security. The incident also proves that Hamas does not hesitate to take advantage of Cairo's humanitarian gestures to smuggle its men out of the Gaza Strip. Obviously, the four Hamas men were not on their way to receive medical treatment or pursue their studies in Egypt or any other country.
That they are members of Ezaddin al-Qassam speaks for itself. Instead of dispatching its fighters to Iran and Turkey, Hamas should have allowed medical patients and university students to leave the Gaza Strip. But Hamas does not care about the well-being of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Rather, it cares about sending its men to Iran and Turkey to receive military and security training. This practice by Hamas is something that the Egyptian authorities have come to understand, which is why they are refusing to reopen the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. The question now is whether the international community will understand Hamas's true intentions and plans — namely to prepare for another war against Israel.
TRADING PEACE IN EGYPT AND ISRAEL
Foreign Affairs, Aug. 23, 2015
This year marks the tenth anniversary of an Egyptian-Israeli economic partnership that has quietly pumped billions into Cairo’s vulnerable economy. The free-trade framework known as Qualifying Industrial Zones, or QIZs, is one of the few points of economic normalization to have grown out of Israel’s 1979 peace agreement with Egypt and subsequent deal with Jordan. Given the flagging Arab economies and regional instability, the success of QIZs has implications far beyond the bottom line.
Essentially, QIZs are industrial parks through which participating countries—specifically Egypt and Jordan—can export goods under the flag of the U.S.-Israeli free-trade agreement. Egypt is now home to 15 QIZs and Jordan to 13, which together account for some $1 billion in exports a year. QIZs differ from other free-trade zones in that they are not the purview of a single country. Rather, they are jointly operated by Israel and either Egypt or Jordan, with oversight from Washington. Moreover, their products all have a single destination: the United States.
QIZs are the brainchild of Omar Salah, a Jordanian businessman—who, like 70 percent of his countrymen, is of Palestinian descent—seeking to capitalize on the optimism that followed the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords and the following year’s Israeli-Jordanian peace deal. He was particularly keen to find a way to take advantage of a free-trade agreement that the United States had signed with Israel eight years prior.
Rebuffed by Jordanian officials as “naive,” Salah traveled to Washington to lobby the State Department, White House, and U.S. trade representative, whose interest finally piqued that of Salah’s own government in Amman. The QIZ agreement was signed into law by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1996, and stipulated that at least 35 percent of the product content of QIZ exports to the United States must come from Jordan, Israel, or the Palestinian territories, whereas the rest could come from anywhere in the world (but would be funneled through the QIZs). At least 11.7 percent of the material (later reduced to 8 percent) had to be Israeli. Everybody won: Jordan now had duty-free trade with the world’s largest consumer market and Israel had achieved the first economic agreement with any of its neighbors, one with labor costs 40–70 percent lower than its own.
Inspired by that example, Egypt followed suit in late 2004 with its own QIZ deal with Washington, which went into force in early 2005. In the decade since, Cairo has tripled textile exports to the United States, and Egyptian QIZs now supply fabrics to American brands such as Gap and Levi Strauss. All told, the QIZs house nearly 700 companies, export nearly $1 billion in goods to the United States (according to State Department figures), and provide a livelihood for nearly 300,000 people. Roughly half of Egyptian exports to the U.S. now come from QIZs.
Egyptian cotton is famously high quality, and textiles are a pillar of the country’s export economy. Still, that economy remains hobbled by a soaring population, low foreign-exchange liquidity, rising inflation, and a growing terrorist menace that has curbed tourism. In response, Egypt has doubled down on the QIZ program. In February, Cairo announced plans to double its QIZ textile exports within three years—something it seems serious about doing—and in May it proclaimed that more industrial areas and product sectors were in the works.
As for Jordan, the kingdom has less than one-tenth Egypt’s population, and its economy is correspondingly smaller. Like its more sizable neighbor, however, the kingdom faces daunting economic challenges, including scarce natural resources, six percent inflation, and the burden of housing, feeding, and employing some 600,000 Syrian refugees. For Jordan too, the QIZ has been a blessing. In the decade after the program’s founding in 1997, the kingdom’s exports to the United States spiked from $15 million to $1.2 billion. This success led to the Jordanian-U.S. free-trade agreement of 2000, Washington’s first with an Arab state. That agreement has partially overshadowed Jordan’s QIZ program, but it still rests largely on the infrastructure created by it. Today, Jordanian QIZs outfit brands from Walmart to Calvin Klein to Victoria’s Secret. They employ 43,000 people, most of them women.
To be sure, the QIZs achievement is not unqualified. Critics note, accurately, that a significant portion of the zones’ investment comes not from local investors but from other Arab states and Asia. Much of the revenue, they say, accrues to a few big firms. In Jordan, a majority of the QIZ workforce is foreign, and labor-rights groups have highlighted potential abuses.
The loudest criticism of all comes from the overwhelming majority of Egyptians and Jordanians who still oppose normalizing ties with Israel. For years after the Egyptian-Israeli QIZ agreement, for instance, the Egyptians balked at joining their neighbors in joint trade roadshows in the United States. Oddly enough, it was in 2013, during the short-lived presidency of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Mohammed Morsi, that the cash-strapped Egyptians finally asked their Israeli counterparts to hit the road together. That joint marketing strategy has continued, and earlier this year, North America’s largest textile trade show held a gala dinner in Las Vegas to mark ten years of the Egyptian-Israeli QIZ. Bilateral cooperation now extends beyond the QIZs: Israel recently signed preliminary deals to sell natural gas to Jordan and Egypt.
These are small steps. Yet in the era of ISIS, civil war in Syria, and turmoil over the Iranian nuclear program, it is encouraging to witness some Middle Eastern entrepreneurs promoting a daring idea: that decades-long enmities can fade, and that doing business with old foes may even pay off.
ISRAEL: AN UNEXPECTED SURPRISE
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 16, 2015
Good evening. It is my pleasure to speak to you on this evening that represents the end of one chapter in our lives, and the start of another. I’d like to invite you all to take a moment to reflect about the beginning of your adventure in Israel. Do you remember receiving your acceptance letter? You were probably excited to come to Israel. Then, you started telling people you were coming to Israel, and maybe you started to get a little nervous. Everybody is in this room has had a friend or a family member who warned him not to come to Israel.
There’s war there! Aren’t you afraid of being blown up? Do they even have water there? Do Jews speak English? If you think you heard a million reasons why not to come to Israel, I heard a million and a half. Growing up in Egypt, my entire country had opinions about Israel, and none of them were positive. All we knew was that we had fought bloody wars, and they were not like us. My exposure to Israel was through music and television. On the radio, there were anthems about the destruction Israel had caused. In the movies, Israelis were spies and thieves, and in spite of the fact that our countries struck a famous peace accord in 1979, the Israelis, I was told, were our worst enemies.
A recent Egyptian action film called Cousins, a box-office hit, told the story of an Israeli spy who married an Egyptian woman and had a family with her, only to kidnap her and her children to Israel. When I told my mom I was coming to study in Israel, she was understandably terrified that I would get a girlfriend. I arrived to Israel knowing only what I had learned in the movies and in the media. So, at the airport, when the security official asked why I decided to come here, I half-joked, “I always heard the Jews are bad people, and I came to see this for myself.”
I expected to find that people here were unfriendly, and especially unhappy to meet Egyptians. I was pleasantly surprised to find just the opposite. I was invited everywhere, from Shabbat dinner, to Ramadan Iftar meals, to plays and even to political gatherings. And the diversity I found here was as surprising as the warmth of the people. On my very first day here at the university, I saw men in kippot and women in headscarfs and hijabs. I saw soldiers walking peacefully among crowds of lively students. I learned there were people of every kind on campus, and that the university had a space for all of them – Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druse, Beduin and even international students. I discovered that the diversity of the Tel Aviv University campus was reflected in Tel Aviv too.
How fascinating is it to be in a country where you can to go a beach and see a Muslim woman, a gay couple kissing, and a Hassid sharing the same small space? Where else can you find a Christian Arab whose apartment is decorated in posters of Mao and Lenin? Where else can you see a Beduin IDF soldier reading the Koran on the train during Ramadan? Where else can you see Ashkenazi and Mizrachi Jews arguing about whether or not Ashkenazi families had kidnapped Yemenite babies in the 1950s? To be sure, my experience here has been defined by the unexpected…
Islamic State Branch Says Caliphate’s ‘Soldiers’ Bombed Cairo Courthouse, National Security Building: Thomas Joscelyn, Long War Journal, Aug. 20, 2015—The Islamic State’s branch in Egypt has claimed responsibility for a bombing near two government buildings in Cairo earlier today.
Russia, Egypt Set to Sign Deal For Nuclear Plant, Jordan as Leaders Visit Moscow: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2015 —Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi were set to sign a deal for the construction of a nuclear power plant at a meeting on Wednesday in Moscow, a source close to the negotiations said, according to a report by Russia’s state news agency, Sputnik International.
Egypt Turns to Russia to Combat Terrorism: New York Times, Aug. 26, 2015—Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Wednesday called for a coalition to combat terrorism in the Middle East.
Egyptians and Their Leaders are Warming to Jews, Israel: Jerusalem Post, Aug. 6, 2015 —It’s been a particularly challenging summer for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. Within one week in late June and early July, his attorney general was assassinated in the upscale Cairo suburb of Heliopolis and an Islamic State affiliate launched a two-day siege in the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid.
When Hamas fires its last rocket and Israel drops its last bomb, the extent of Gaza’s devastation will become clear. An early estimate is that some $5 billion will be necessary to rebuild residences and infrastructure destroyed in the recent conflict. The first step is to take United Nations Relief and Works Agency out of the equation.
UNRWA, the U.N.’s 65-year-old, internationally funded welfare organization for Palestinians, should be commended for providing much needed shelter and aid to displaced Gazans during the crisis. But given several revelations during the current conflict between Hamas and Israel, UNRWA should have no role in any negotiated arrangement regarding Gaza’s reconstruction.
On three occasions rockets were found in UNRWA schools, closed for the summer, and at least once they were returned to Hamas. On another occasion, the UNRWA accused Israel of targeting civilians sheltering in a school when in fact those deaths were caused by a Hamas rocket that fell short. And on another occasion it accused Israel of targeting a shelter and civilians when in reality terrorists outside the facility were hit and civilian bodies possibly planted at the scene.
UNRWA has condemned the rockets found in its schools, but it has not condemned Hamas’ firing rockets from in and around its facilities, or any other locations such as residential areas, hospital parking lots, and hotels. All these have now been documented, often reluctantly, by journalists who have left Gaza, who have also made it clear that they were subject to Hamas surveillance, harassment and intimidation. Instead, UNRWA and its spokesman Chris Gunness have tweeted accusations, voiced hollow defenses, and cried on television.
UNRWA’s many responsibilities should be transferred to the Palestinian Authority, as a means of strengthening the PA practically, politically, and in the eyes of Gaza’s residents. UNRWA employees should be made PA employees and international funds redirected to support its programs. This would be one of the timeliest means of rebuilding the PA in a region where it has been weakest, Gaza, and a way to begin the long overdue process of dismantling UNRWA.
This recommendation has its flaws. The PA is monumentally corrupt while UNRWA is not (although recent revelations regarding diversions of building supplies provided by the U.N. and overseen by UNRWA to Hamas have begun to change that image). There must be the expectation that Western funds and supplies will go missing, only to end up in the bank accounts and businesses of PA leaders and their families. But if at long last international donors become serious about cracking down on PA corruption, and Gazans demanded accountability from their government, there is at least the chance for good governance to emerge.
As it is, UNRWA is effectively a branch of Hamas. The overwhelming majority of its employees in Gaza belong to the Hamas-linked trade union. An unknown number of employees are actual Hamas fighters (or at least know UNRWA employees with keys to the schools so that rockets can be stored in classrooms over the summer). The curriculum taught in UNRWA schools is shaped by Hamas, which earlier this year rejected textbooks that failed to tout “armed resistance” as too “peaceful.” Gaza cannot be rebuilt at western expense only to return to this perverse status quo.
Dismantling UNRWA requires the approval of the United Nations General Assembly, making it unlikely. But if donor countries were to reprogram their funds, first by demanding that the PA take over UNRWA’s employees and responsibilities, the effect would be the same. In 2010, Canada shifted its contributions away from UNRWA, sending a strong message about the organization. And in Gaza allegiances are based in the first place on who pays the bills. Better this be the PA with Western help than Hamas with Qatari help. Adding UNRWA’s 13,000 employees in Gaza to the PA’s roster would be a boost.
Clear and forthright diplomatic pressure, led by the U.S., will be required to get European donors in line. For decades, these donors have been content to pay UNRWA’s increasing bills for its ever-expanding mandates. The Gaza reconstruction mission, however, will be so vast that it will further tax overstretched donors. Even U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has stated, "We will build again but this must be the last time—to rebuild.” There is thus a unique opportunity, perhaps the last, to help Palestinians stand on their own.
UNRWA has already issued an “emergency appeal” for Gaza, as it does regularly whether there is a mundane budgetary shortfall or a conflict-induced crisis. It has also launched one of its regular PR campaigns, both internationally and in Washington, where it maintains an office specifically to lobby the U.S. government. But the pleadings of its small number of international employees, like Gunness, cannot disguise the fact that it has been a completely Palestinian organization for decades. Why not take the next step and make it a real Palestinian organization?
That will require defunding UNRWA—and only then can the Palestinian Authority create a viable state that includes Gaza.