Tag: jordan


The Temple Mount Crisis — Far From Over, it’s Really Just Beginning: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, July 26, 2017— Although for a moment it seemed that the metal detector crisis had ended Monday night, with the removal of the electronic gates and cameras from the entrances to the Temple Mount…

Palestinians: Metal Detectors or Lie Detectors – Who Is Violating What?: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, July 27, 2017— The metal detectors that were supposed to prevent Muslims from smuggling weapons into the Temple Mount compound, and which were removed by the Israeli authorities this week, have a more accurate name: "lie detectors."

Caving in Cravenly to Terror, Acting Stupidly Towards Jordan: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, July 27, 2017— Israel's security cabinet decided to remove all the metal detectors and cameras at the Temple Mount entrances…

Victory Requires Patience: Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, July 19, 2017— The Knesset has launched an Israel Victory Caucus, co-chaired by Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer and Yesh Atid MK Yaakov Peri, following the establishment of a similar caucus in the U.S. Congress.


On Topic Links


Clashes Erupt at Temple Mount as Muslim Worshipers Return to Site: Dov Lieber, Times of Israel, July 27, 2017

Israel’s Embassy in Jordan May Stay Closed: Jewish Press, July 27, 2017

In Unprecedented Attack, Israel Hayom Pans ‘Helpless,’ ‘Feeble’ Netanyahu: Times of Israel, July 26, 2017

Beyond the Debate Over Metal Detectors (Video): Amb. Dore Gold, JCPA, July 27, 2017




FAR FROM OVER, IT’S REALLY JUST BEGINNING                                                                      

Avi Issacharoff

Times of Israel, July 26, 2017


Although for a moment it seemed that the metal detector crisis had ended Monday night, with the removal of the electronic gates and cameras from the entrances to the Temple Mount, we are evidently still in the midst of an impasse that may last for quite some time. Both sides, and especially the two leaderships, each for their own political reasons, appear to be exacerbating the situation, looking for confrontation rather than calm.


On the one side, there is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who, along with his Fatah movement, explicitly called Tuesday for an escalation of the struggle and for large-scale demonstrations against Israel on Friday. This seems to be an attempt to extricate the PA leader from the depths of irrelevance.


On the other is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who seemed to be profoundly impacted by the results of Tuesday’s Channel 2 survey, which indicated deep public dissatisfaction with his response to the Temple Mount crisis. Hours after the poll’s publication, he ordered the Defense Ministry not to evacuate some 120 settlers who illegally occupied a contested home in Hebron, in addition to instructing police to individually check every worshiper ascending to pray at the Temple Mount — a decision perceived by the Palestinian public as a declaration of war.


Both sides continue their gallop toward a deeper, bloodier confrontation, and there is no responsible adult in the room to stop the deterioration. Anyone who may have expected Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to intervene in the police’s war against the security establishment, or perhaps speak out against Netanyahu’s decisions of late, has quickly learned that a country long acclimated to operating without a foreign minister has also functioned for the past two weeks without a defense chief. The man simply does not exist.


The indications that the crisis is far from over are evident on several levels. First, Tuesday’s demonstrations by Muslim worshipers, which spiraled into violence outside the entrances to the Temple Mount, involved thousands of demonstrators refusing to enter the Al-Aqsa compound despite all of their demands being met. Asked what exactly they were protesting at that point, their responses were as absurd as something you might hear on a TV sitcom.


The problem here is that the statements made by demonstrators, Muslim religious leaders and the Palestinian leadership are not funny. And the person most responsible for setting the tone at this stage is the mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, who of all the Jordanian Waqf members is the furthest from being a representative of Amman. Hussein, who receives his salary from the Palestinian Authority, announced early Tuesday afternoon that Muslim prayer would continue to be held outside the Temple Mount. When asked why, he explained that only when the situation was restored to the way it was before July 14 would the worshipers return to the Haram al-Sharif.


The fact that there are no longer any metal detectors or security cameras did not prevent him and his followers from conjuring a list of new demands: “removing invisible cameras,” removing cameras overlooking the Temple Mount, removing barricades still lying around the Old City, the planting of trees on the Al-Aqsa compound, etc. It is as if “someone” is trying to invent demands in order to exacerbate the situation, and is unfortunately succeeding in doing so.


The second indication relates to Abbas. On Tuesday, the PA president gathered the leadership of the Jerusalem branch of Fatah’s militant Tanzim faction at his office in Ramallah. He understood that Israel had pulled the rug from underneath him when it removed the metal detectors and that he and his Fatah movement were accordingly in extreme political distress. If in the past Abbas was considered weak, now many in the Palestinian public consider him to be simply irrelevant. He was not part of the erupting crisis on the Temple Mount, nor was he involved in efforts to solve it. The Jordanians, according to a senior Palestinian source, did not even update the PA leadership regarding the arrangement it had reached with Israel to remove the metal detectors and cameras.


Consequently, it seems that the Palestinian leadership’s decision to escalate the struggle is intended to convey a message not only to Israel but also to Jordan: Anyone who tries to ignore us or erase our role with regard to the Temple Mount will receive an intifada in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. What we are therefore now seeing is a struggle for survival by Abbas and his Fatah movement. Abbas has given a green light to the Tanzim faction to organize demonstrations and rallies this Friday, but no one knows how they will end. This quite easily could lead to shooting battles with IDF soldiers, casualties, deaths and even a scenario, mentioned more than once in recent years, which includes all the ingredients necessary for an intifada. It certainly won’t end well…

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






Bassam Tawil

Gatestone Institute, July 27, 2017


The metal detectors that were supposed to prevent Muslims from smuggling weapons into the Temple Mount compound, and which were removed by the Israeli authorities this week, have a more accurate name: "lie detectors." They have exposed Palestinian lies and the real reason behind Palestinian anger. Israel apparently removed the metal detectors from the gates of the Temple Mount as part of a deal to end an unexpected crisis with Jordan over the killing of two Jordanian men by an Israeli embassy security officer in Amman. The security officer says he was acting in self-defense after being attacked by one of the Jordanians with a screwdriver.


The crisis erupted when the Jordanian authorities insisted on interrogating the officer — a request that was rejected by Israel because the officer enjoys diplomatic immunity. US intervention and a phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah helped end the crisis peacefully and quickly, and the officer and the rest of the Israeli embassy staff were permitted to leave Jordan and head back to Israel.


Shortly after the embassy staff returned to Israel, the Israeli authorities started removing the metal detectors that were installed at the entrances to the Temple Mount after terrorists murdered two Israeli police officers on July 14. The move sparked a wave of rumors and speculation, according to which the Jordanians allowed the embassy staff to return home in exchange for the removal of the metal detectors. Israel and Jordan have denied any link between the shooting incident in Amman and the removal of the metal detectors.


The crisis that erupted between Israel and Jordan over the killing of the two Jordanians was solved in less than 48 hours — much to the dismay of the Palestinians. The Palestinians were hoping to exploit the crisis to exacerbate tensions between Amman and Jerusalem. Their ultimate goal: to cause the Jordanians to scrap their peace treaty with Israel and return to the state of war with the "Zionist enemy." The Palestinians were also hoping to exploit the crisis to incite Jordanians against Israel and the Hashemite monarchy.


Fortunately, the Jordanian authorities did not fall into the Palestinian trap. They realized that it is in their own interest to resolve the crisis swiftly and peacefully. King Abdullah was wise enough not to allow the Palestinians to drag him into a confrontation with Israel.


Since the installation of the metal detectors at the Temple Mount, the Palestinians have been waging yet another campaign of fabrications and distortions against Israel. This Palestinian blood libel claims that Israel is seeking to "change the status quo" at the Temple Mount by introducing new security measures such as metal detectors and surveillance cameras at the gates to the holy site. Yet if anyone has violated the status quo it is the Palestinians themselves. Status Quo Violation Number One: For the past two years, the Palestinians have been trying to prevent Jews from touring the Temple Mount — a practice that has been allowed since 1967.


Status Quo Violation Number Two: The Palestinians and their supporters have long turned the Temple Mount into a battlefield for clashing with Israeli policemen and Jewish visitors. In an ongoing arrangement that ought to interest the international community, they pay Muslim men and women salaries to come to the compound and harass policemen and Jewish visitors by hurling insults at them and throwing stones and petrol bombs. These individuals belong to an outlawed group known as the Murabitun. This is a group of Muslim fanatics who receive money from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the Islamic Movement in Israel to do their utmost to stop Jews from entering the Temple Mount.


Status Quo Violation Number Three: Over the past two decades, the Waqf (Islamic Trust) that manages the affairs of the mosques on the Temple Mount, and other parties, have been carrying out illegal excavation and construction work at the site in a bid to create irreversible facts on the ground. The Waqf and the Palestinian Authority claim that the excavation work is aimed at refuting Jewish claims to the Temple Mount and showing the world that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to Jerusalem.


Status Quo Violation Number Four: The Palestinians and their supporters have been using the Temple Mount compound as a platform for spewing anti-Semitism and calls to murder Jews and all "infidels." This abuse of the holy site as a podium for spreading Palestinian poison is far from a new practice. Palestinians and other Muslims have been doing this at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other mosques around the world for decades. Take, for example, when the imam at Al-Aqsa Mosque predicted that the "White House would turn black, with the help of God." This prayer, attended by thousands of Muslim worshippers, came only a few weeks before the 9/11 terror attacks. Last week, another imam prayed to God that Israeli policemen guarding the Temple Mount would be widowed and orphaned. These are only a handful of the countless examples of how mosques are being used to indoctrinate the hearts and minds of Muslims with hate.


Status Quo Violation Number Five: The murder of two policemen on July 14 is the mother of all status quo violations. Until the murder, Muslims had resorted to less deadly weapons such as stones and petrol bombs to attack Jews and policemen. July 14 represents the first time that Muslims used firearms at the Temple Mount. While it is not unusual to see Muslims blowing up mosques and committing atrocities against fellow Muslims in many Arab and Islamic countries, the shooting attack at the Temple Mount was still unprecedented.


Smuggling weapons into the Temple Mount is a grave desecration of the holy site. Murdering two police officers, who were stationed there to safeguard the site and protect Muslim worshippers, takes the level of violation and desecration to new lows. It is worth noting that the two police officers were not murdered during a confrontation or a violent incident. One of them was shot in the back while he was standing at one of the entrances to the Temple Mount.


After the July 14 murder, Palestinians began waging daily protests by refusing to enter the Temple Mount through metal detectors installed by the Israeli authorities to prevent weapons smuggling for the safety of the Muslim worshippers themselves. Instead, Palestinians gather every evening at the entrances to the Temple Mount, where they complete their prayers with a volley of stones and petrol bombs lodged at police officers. Crucially, and contrary to Palestinian claims, there has been no Israeli decision to ban Muslims from entering the Temple Mount…

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





ACTING STUPIDLY TOWARDS JORDAN                                             

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

          Arutz Sheva, July 27, 2017


Israel's security cabinet decided to remove all the metal detectors and cameras at the Temple Mount entrances, and perhaps even the cameras at the Lion's Gate and the other gates that lead into the Old City of Jerusalem, placed there just a few days ago after the cold-blooded murder of two Druze Border Police officers by Israeli Arab terrorists. The decision was linked to Jordan's freeing the security guard in the Israeli Consulate there, although the guard has diplomatic immunity, having been sent by the Shabak chief on a mission to Jordan and engaging in negotiations with colleagues in the Hashemite Kingdom.


The Cabinet decision talks about developing "smart checks" for the astronomical cost of 100 million IS to take the place of the detectors and cameras. I am willing to bet – you name the amount – that nothing of significance will be developed in the near future and the talk of "smart checks" is meant to mislead the public, deluding the man in the street into thinking that Israel has found a way to be sovereign in the Old City and the Temple Mount. In addition, even if a miracle occurs and new technology is developed, there is zero chance that it will be put in place without riots. For Israel-hating Muslims, there is  no difference between metal detectors, cameras and any other technology, because putting anything there means Jewish Sovereignty, contradicting basic Islamic tenets mandating that Jews have to live as dhimmis under the protection of the ruler but subject to his whims, and that they must pay the humiliating Koranic jyzia head tax.


Without doubt, the Israeli government caved and retreated from its decision to operate security apparatus at the entrances to the Temple Mount. From today on, only Jews and tourists will be expected to undergo a humiliating search to be sure they are not carrying phylacteries or prayer books when they ascend the Mount. Muslims, who proved their terrorist proclivities on the 14th of July this year, will continue to enter the holy site without being searched or supervised and will be able to smuggle weapons on to  the Mount. Pressure was exerted on the Israeli government from every direction: Israeli Arabs, PA Arabs, Arab and Muslim countries, Europe and the USA.


Israel's capitulation when faced with these pressures is of grave significance. The first failure is the fact that Israel's government did not coordinate its steps with the US government, particularly Jason Greenblatt, Trump's special envoy to the Middle East. The government did not expect the crashing wave of Islamic opposition to the move and did not obtain American support for the security measures beforehand. After all, every American understands the necessity of these measures in light of the terrorist reality in which the enlightened world finds itself.


Muslim haters of Israel have received enormous encouragement from this affair. Their future demands will be much greater, in just the way one's appetite grows at the sight of food. Terror, it seems, does pay, and the state of Israel looks for easy, immediate and temporary solutions to problems instead of dealing forthrightly with challenges and emerging the victor over those who wish to harm us. The Jewish people will pay a high price for this questionable "achievement" of "defusing tensions on the ground," a result that is far from proven.


Removing the security apparatus proved that the Muslims have scored another victory over the Jews. Once again it has been made clear that Israel's government has melted down the steadfast sticking-to-our-guns mentality that characterized the Jewish people when the state was established in 1948 and during the wars that have since accompanied life on our ancestral lands. No declaration, no matter how bombastic, whether proclaimed by the president, prime minister, ministers, officials, IDF commanders or  police can hide the bitter and humiliating truth that terrorists forced the Israeli government  to cave in and retreat from its correct and completely justified – original – decision.


How will the government be able to look the families of the two Border Police officers in the eye?  What  will all those irresponsible ministers say to  the families hit by the terror that will unquestionably increase thanks to their weak and scandalous decision to remove the security apparatus guarding the capital of Israel? How will the Israeli Police deal with the wave of terror that this government's stupidity will bring about, without being provided with the means necessary to accomplish their mission? What nation with the will to live caves in to terror this way?..

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






Efraim Inbar       

                                                Israel Hayom, July 19, 2017


The Knesset has launched an Israel Victory Caucus, co-chaired by Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer and Yesh Atid MK Yaakov Peri, following the establishment of a similar caucus in the U.S. Congress. The caucus hopes to sensitize the Israeli public, as well as politicians in Israel and abroad, to the need to attain a decisive victory over the Palestinians. Professor Daniel Pipes, the scholar behind this project, argues convincingly that a peace settlement will only be possible after the Palestinians realize that the 100 years of struggle against Zionism has failed.


To date, the Palestinians (not only Hamas) still entertain hopes that the Zionist enterprise can be dismantled. Israel's victories on the battlefield against Arab armies, its success in containing terrorism and the prosperity of the Jewish state have not yet cemented a sense of defeat among the Palestinians. Therefore, the Palestinian Authority continues the campaign to delegitimize Israel. Elements in Palestinian society even believe that Jewish society will inevitably crumble under the pressure of terrorist attacks and internal tensions.


The view that Israel will eventually disappear, just like the Crusaders in the 12th century, is widespread. The Palestinians are encouraged by the indiscriminate financial and diplomatic support they get from abroad and are pleased with the enhanced regional influence of Iran, which pledges the destruction of Israel. The assumption that their desire for a state leads to concessions needed for a peace settlement with Israel remains to be proven. Taking into consideration the nature of the "peace partner," the protracted struggle is likely to continue unless a new pragmatic leadership emerges. Alas, such a leadership is not in the offing, leaving Israel no choice but to wage a limited war on the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.


Indeed, Israel is in a state of war, not in a peace process. This truth is not palatable to the international community that emphasizes diplomacy and wants to believe that the Palestinians are interested in peace. This predicament constrains Israel's military freedom of action in the pursuit of victory. Its ability to inflict pain on the Palestinians — which is what war is about — is limited. It is often accused of exercising excessive force by a liberal press that is inherently averse to any use of force.

Moreover, Israel is torn by a permanent dilemma. On the one hand, it tries to buy calm, and time, by providing economic means to sustain the weak Palestinian economy. Jerusalem understands that hungry neighbors attract international criticism of Israel and could turn into a security problem. On the other hand, it needs to punish the violent Palestinians to create deterrence, and to affect their behavior and aspirations. It is not easy to balance the first effort, basically a short-term consideration, with the attempt to deliver a costly defeat to the Palestinians that might bring an end to the conflict faster.


The Palestinian reluctance to adopt realistic foreign policy goals and Israel's hesitation to use its military superiority to exact a much higher cost from the Palestinians are the defining features of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…                                                                                                                                           

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




On Topic Links


Clashes Erupt at Temple Mount as Muslim Worshipers Return to Site: Dov Lieber, Times of Israel, July 27, 2017—Thousands of Muslim worshipers entered the Temple Mount on Thursday for the first time in nearly two weeks, many shouting in delight as they did so, and violent clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli security forces at the compound.

Israel’s Embassy in Jordan May Stay Closed: Jewish Press, July 27, 2017—While Israel wants Ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein and her staff to return as soon as possible to the Israeli embassy in Jordan, that probably won’t be happening.

In Unprecedented Attack, Israel Hayom Pans ‘Helpless,’ ‘Feeble’ Netanyahu: Times of Israel, July 26, 2017—After years of backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the free daily Israel Hayom castigated the premier’s “display of feebleness” and his “helpless” response to the Temple Mount crisis on its front page on Wednesday, in a large above-the-fold headline.

Beyond the Debate Over Metal Detectors (Video): Amb. Dore Gold, JCPA, July 27, 2017—It’s extremely important to remember where exactly the current crisis about metal detectors on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem came from – to recall it all started when guns were smuggled onto the Temple Mount and actually used against two Israeli policemen.  Officers Haiel Sitawe and Kamil Shnaan were killed as a result of these illegal firearms that were brought in to a holy site.









The Burden of the 1967 Victory: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Apr. 5, 2017 — In June 1967, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) waged war alone against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

What If: Fifty Years After the Six-Day War: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, June 5, 2017— Israel's military triumph over three enemy states in June 1967 is the most outstandingly successful war of all recorded history.

1967:  The International Media and the Six-Day War: Meron Medzini, Fathom, 2017— In the early 1960s, Israel had a permanent press core of 50 foreign correspondents and a number of bureaus were maintained by foreign outlets, such as the Washington Post, New York Times and Newsweek.

This Time, the Loser Writes History: Gabriel Glickman, Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2017— It is a general law that every war is fought twice—first on the battlefield, then in the historiographical arena—and so it has been with the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war (or the Six-Day War as it is commonly known).


On Topic Links


Six Days in June (Video): Youtube, May 24, 2017

‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display: William J. Broad & David E. Sanger, New York Times, June 3, 2017

The Lessons and Consequences of the Six-Day War: David Harris, Algemeiner, June 2, 2017

Honoring the Man Behind the War: Noa Amouyal, Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2017




Prof. Efraim Inbar

BESA, Apr. 5, 2017


In June 1967, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) waged war alone against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. It achieved a stunning victory in six days. The military skill demonstrated by the Israelis was remarkable – so much so that battles from the Six-Day War continue to be studied at war colleges around the world. Israel’s military achievement had another extremely important effect. It went a long way towards convincing the Arab world that Israel cannot be easily destroyed by military force; Israel is a fact the Arabs must learn to live with. Indeed, ten years later – after Egypt had lost another war to Israel, this one in 1973 – its president, Anwar Sadat, came to Jerusalem (November 1977) to offer peace.


The swift and decisive victory of 1967 became the standard to which the IDF aspired – and the kind of victory expected by Israeli society in future engagements. This is problematic, considering the ways Israel’s opponents have changed and the means they now deploy. The unrealistic anticipation that victories on the scale of 1967 should be the end result of any military engagement hampers clear thinking and impedes the adoption of appropriate strategy and tactics. Moreover, it encourages what is often an impossible hope for a quick end to conflict. In the absence of a clear-cut and speedy outcome, Israelis lose confidence in the political as well as the military leadership.


Israelis, many of whom have limited military experience, still long for decisive victories in the Gaza and South Lebanon arenas. The wars in which the IDF has participated so far in the twenty-first century, which appeared to end inconclusively, left many Israelis with a sense of unease. They miss the victory photographs of the 1967 war. Slogans of the Israeli right, such as “Let the IDF Win”, reflect this frustration. Similarly, the left claims that Judea and Samaria can be safely ceded to a Palestinian state because these territories can be reconquered, as they were in 1967, if they become a base for hostile actors. The calls for the destruction of Hamas also bear witness to a lack of understanding of the limits of military power.


But grand-scale conventional war, in which the IDF faces large armored formations and hundreds of air fighters as it did in 1967, is less likely today. The 1982 Lebanon War was the last to display such encounters. Since 1982, Israel has scarcely fought any state in a conventional war. To a significant extent, the statist dimension in the Arab-Israeli conflict has itself disappeared. Egypt and Jordan are at peace with Israel. Syria and Iraq are torn by domestic conflict and are hardly in a position to challenge Israel militarily. Many other Arab countries, such as the Gulf and Maghreb states, have reached a de facto peace with Israel, an orientation buttressed by the common Iranian threat.


For the past three decades, Israel has been challenged primarily by sub-state actors, such as Hamas (a Sunni militia) and Hezbollah (a Shiite militia). Such organizations have a different strategic calculus from that of states. Because of their religious-ideological zeal, they are more difficult to deter than states, and their learning curve is much slower. It took Egypt three military defeats (1948, 1956, and 1973) and a war of attrition (1968-70) within a span of 25 years to give up the goal of destroying Israel. In contrast, Hezbollah has been fighting Israel for a longer period and remains as devoted as ever to its goal of the elimination of the Jewish state. The heavy price inflicted upon Gaza since 2007 by the Israeli military has not changed the strategic calculus of the Hamas leadership, which still aspires to Israel’s demise.


Hamas and Hezbollah do not possess arsenals of tanks and air fighters, which would be easy targets for Israel. The decentralized structure of their military organizations does not present points of gravity that can be eliminated by swift and decisive action. Moreover, their use of civilian populations to shield missile launchers and military units – a war crime – makes IDF advances cumbersome and difficult due to slower troop movement in urban areas and the need to reduce collateral damage among civilians. Urbanization among Israel’s neighbors has greatly reduced the empty areas that could have been used for maneuvering and outflanking. The use of the subterranean by Israel’s foes, be it in Gaza or South Lebanon, is another new element that slows advances.


It is naïve to believe the IDF can or should win quickly and decisively every time it has to flex its muscles. Yitzhak Rabin warned several times during his long career against the expectation of a “once and for all” victory. The defeat of Israel’s new opponents requires a different strategy: attrition. Israel is engaged in a long war of attrition against religiously motivated enemies who believe both God and history are on their side. All the IDF can do is occasionally weaken their ability to harm Israel and create temporary deterrence. In Israeli parlance, this is called “mowing the grass” – an apt metaphor, as the problem always grows back. The patient, repetitive use of force is not glamorous, but it will eventually do the trick. Unfortunately, many Israelis do not understand the particular circumstances of the great 1967 victory. They have lost patience and do not realize that time is, in fact, on Israel’s side.  




Daniel Pipes

Washington Times, June 5, 2017


Israel's military triumph over three enemy states in June 1967 is the most outstandingly successful war of all recorded history. The Six-Day War was also deeply consequential for the Middle East, establishing the permanence of the Jewish state, dealing a death-blow to pan-Arab nationalism, and (ironically) worsening Israel's place in the world because of its occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem. Focusing on this last point: how did a spectacular battlefield victory translate into problems that still torment Israel today? Because it stuck Israelis in an unwanted role they cannot escape.


First, Israeli leftists and foreign do-gooders wrongly blame Israel's government for not making sufficient efforts to leave the West Bank, as though greater efforts could have found a true peace partner. In this, critics ignore rejectionism, the attitude of refusing to accept anything Zionist that has dominated Palestinian politics for the past century. Its founding figure, Amin al-Husseini, collaborated with Hitler and even had a key role in formulating the Final Solution; recent manifestations include the "anti-normalization" and the boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) movements. Rejectionism renders Israeli concessions useless, even counterproductive, because Palestinians respond to them with more hostility and violence.


Second, Israel faces a conundrum of geography and demography in the West Bank. While its strategists want to control the highlands, its nationalists want to build towns, and its religious want to possess Jewish holy sites, Israel's continued ultimate rule over a West Bank population of 1.7 million mostly hostile Arabic-speaking, Muslim Palestinians takes an immense toll both domestically and internationally. Various schemes to keep the land and defang an enemy people – by integrating them, buying them off, dividing them, pushing them out, or finding another ruler for them – have all come to naught.


Third, the Israelis in 1967 took three unilateral steps in Jerusalem that created future time bombs: vastly expanding the city's borders, annexing it, and offering Israeli citizenship to the city's new Arab residents. In combination, these led to a long-term demographic and housing competition that Palestinians are winning, jeopardizing the Jewish nature of the Jews' historic capital. Worse, 300,000 Arabs could at any time choose to take Israeli citizenship. These problems raise the question: Had Israeli leaders in 1967 foreseen the current problems, what might they have done differently in the West Bank and Jerusalem? They could have:


Made the battle against rejectionism their highest priority through unremitting censorship of every aspect of life in the West Bank and Jerusalem, severe punishments for incitement, and an intense effort to imbue a more positive attitude toward Israel; Invited back in the Jordanian authorities, rulers of the West Bank since 1949, to run that area's (but not Jerusalem's) internal affairs, leaving the Israel Defense Forces with only the burden to protect borders and Jewish populations; Extended the borders of Jerusalem only to the Old City and to uninhabited areas; Thought through the full ramifications of building Jewish towns on the West Bank.


And today, what can Israelis do? The Jerusalem issue is relatively easy, as most Arab residents have not yet taken out Israeli citizenship, so Israel's government can still stop this process by reducing the size of Jerusalem's 1967 borders and terminating the offer of Israeli citizenship to all the city residents. Though it may lead to unrest, cracking down on illegal housing sites is imperative.


The West Bank is tougher. So long as Palestinian rejectionism prevails, Israel is stuck with overseeing an intensely hostile population that it dare not release ultimate control of. This situation generates a vicious, impassioned debate among Israelis (recall the Rabin assassination) and harms the country's international standing (think of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334). But returning to 1949's "Auschwitz lines" and abandoning 400,000 Israeli residents of the West Bank to the Palestinians' tender mercies is obviously not a solution.


Instead, Israel needs to confront and undermine Palestinian rejectionism, which means convincing Palestinians that Israel is a permanent state, that the dream to eliminate it is futile, and that they are sacrificing for naught. Israel can achieve these goals by making victory its goal, by showing Palestinians that continued rejectionism brings them only repression and failure. The U.S. government can help by green lighting the path to an Israel victory. Only through victory can the astonishing triumph of those six days in 1967 be translated into the lasting solution of Palestinians accepting the permanence of the Jewish state.







Meron Medzini

Fathom, 2017


In the early 1960s, Israel had a permanent press core of 50 foreign correspondents and a number of bureaus were maintained by foreign outlets, such as the Washington Post, New York Times and Newsweek. Many of these bureaus had Israeli assistants, and they were also aided by the Government Press Office (GPO) which translated material. Each member of the foreign correspondents had a cubby hole in the GPO offices and we saw them virtually every day.


The only major events in Israel covered by the international press in the years before 1967 were the 1961 Eichmann trial and execution, and the visit of the Pope in January 1964. In the mid-1960s Israel was suffering from a major economic recession with unemployment at 10 per cent, and morale so low that people joked that the last person to leave the airport should please turn out the lights. The ruling party Mapai was taking a beating in opinion polls, especially from a new breakaway part called Rafi, which was headed by Shimon Peres and Moshe Dayan. In general, though, Israel simply did not feature in the international news.


Early in 1967, there was little sense that something was about to erupt. In April, the IDF intelligence branch assessed that the earliest war was possible was in 1970-71. Clifton Daniels, who was one of the editors of the New York Times and who came to Israel to cover the 1967 Independence Day celebrations on 15 May, didn’t think there was any reason to extend his stay and returned to America.


The ceasefire following the 1956 Sinai campaign had three components to help maintain quiet – the demilitarisation of the Sinai Peninsula, the installation of a UN emergency force (UNEF), and the guarantee that the Straits of Tiran would remain open.


The first component of this agreement was undermined during Independence Day 1967 when word reached the Chief of Staff Yitzchak Rabin and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that Egyptian troops were moving into the Sinai with armour and artillery in broad daylight. This was followed by the UNEF withdrawal on 18 May. I accompanied a group of foreign correspondents to Kilometre 95, the Erez crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip to witness the Indian General, Indar Jit Rikhye search for a senior Israeli official in order to announce that his UN for ces were leaving. The Israeli commander at the gate – an unkempt, unshaven sergeant on reserve duty – was somewhat confused as to how to respond to the smart salute given to him by the departing Indian general.


Driven by the threats against Israel and the fiery slogans emanating from the Arab world, increasing numbers of foreign correspondents began to arrive. Two well-known journalists, Patrick O’Donoven and Jimmy Cameron, from the Sunday Times and the Observer asked us what Israel planned to do, but we didn’t know. The cabinet sat in virtually non-stop sessions but its response was indecisive.


Giving the foreign press a clear picture was challenging. No government officials were willing to speak to the foreign press. Prime Minister and Defence Minister Levi Eshkol refused to give interviews, as did Mapai Secretary General Golda Meir, former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and leader of the opposition Menachem Begin. Foreign Minister Abba Eban was willing to speak on background as was the Head of Military Intelligence, Aharon Yariv, who knew many foreign correspondents from his time as the IDF military attaché in Washington. On 23 May, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced the re-imposition of the blockade on the Straits of Tiran, which the Prime Minister’s Chief of Bureau told me caused Eshkol to say “kinderlach, (children), this is war”. More foreign correspondents arrived, including top journalists such as Flora Lewis from the New York Times, Robert Toth from the LA Times, Arthur Vesey from the Chicago Tribune, Al Friendly from the Washington Post.


Censorship regulations were relaxed and the GPO gave foreign correspondents access to areas where reservists were concentrated and to the many volunteers, young and old, who had replaced reservists in hospitals, schools and kindergartens. Essentially, our goal was to show that Israel was not finished. Many correspondents personally knew reservists and were thus able to report on the daily routine of many families. Some even interviewed reservists at their bases. Many wrote about individual personal stories of average Israelis, many of whom were Holocaust survivors or veterans of the War of Independence and the Sinai Campaign. The overall picture was of a state under siege whose citizens feared for the fate of their families and country in light of the treachery of the world and the weakness of their leaders. Others wrote about how no human being in his right mind could fail to support the Israelis; that 22 years after the Holocaust, the [great] powers were once again impotent. One journalist, however, told me that he had ‘come for the wake’.


What the military censor did not allow to be shared were the preparations for mass temporary graves for tens of thousands of victims in Tel Aviv parks. The censor also banned reports that the Chief of Staff had experienced a breakdown and was incapacitated for two days. Rabin, who was receiving no guidance from the political echelon, had visited Ben Gurion – who criticised him for going to war without the support of a superpower and told him he would be responsible for the destruction of the ‘third temple’ – and Golda Meir – who had asked him what he was waiting for and wanted the IDF to strike as soon as possible.


The journalists realised that the IDF’s mobilisation could not continue indefinitely without the economy collapsing. Others, who were primarily fed by the government’s political rivals Rafi, reported on the clamour for the creation of a government of national unity, which eventually led to the appointment of Dayan as defence minister. Yet, with the public worried and the government hesitant, the military was confident and was busy perfecting its operation to destroy the enemy’s airfields and air forces. Haim Bar-Lev, the Deputy Chief of Staff, coined a phrase that Israel was ‘going to screw them hard, fast and elegantly’.


On the weekend before the war began, the newly appointed Defence Minister Dayan ordered leave for many reservists and the beaches were full of people. He also organised a press conference in Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv, which was the first briefing to foreign press since the crisis began. His aim, according to his memoirs, was to trick the Egyptians and give the impression that things were quiet, and that despite the new unity government being formed, Israel was still searching for a political resolution. Foreign correspondents thus reported that Israel was not about to go to war. Both Randolph Churchill – who Dayan had personally briefed – and his son Winston, actually returned to England, only to come back four days later angry at Dayan for making them miss the start of the war…

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




Gabriel Glickman

Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2017


It is a general law that every war is fought twice—first on the battlefield, then in the historiographical arena—and so it has been with the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war (or the Six-Day War as it is commonly known). No sooner had the dust settled on the battlefield than the Arabs and their Western partisans began rewriting the conflict's narrative with aggressors turned into hapless victims and defenders turned into aggressors. Jerusalem's weeks-long attempt to prevent the outbreak of hostilities in the face of a rapidly tightening Arab noose is completely ignored or dismissed as a disingenuous ploy; by contrast, the extensive Arab war preparations with the explicit aim of destroying the Jewish state is whitewashed as a demonstrative show of force to deter an imminent Israeli attack on Syria. It has even been suggested that Jerusalem lured the Arab states into war in order to expand its territory at their expense. So successful has this historiographical rewriting been that, fifty years after the war, these "alternative facts" have effectively become the received dogma, echoed by some of the most widely used college textbooks about the Middle East.


The first step to absolving the Arab leaders of culpability for the conflict—especially Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who set in motion the course of events that led to war—was to present them as victims of their fully understandable, if highly unfortunate, overreaction to a Soviet warning of an imminent Israeli attack on Syria. Taking at face value Nasser's postwar denial of any intention to attack Israel, educated Westerners—intellectuals, Middle East experts, and journalists—excused his dogged drive to war as an inescapable grandstanding aimed at shoring up his position in the face of relentless criticism by the conservative Arab states and the more militant elements within his administration.


"President Nasser had to take spectacular action in order to avert defeat in the struggle for leadership of the Arabs," argued American historian Ernest Dawn shortly after the war. "If Egypt had not acted, the 'conservatives' would have wasted no time in pointing to the hero's feet of clay." This claim was amplified by Charles Yost, U.S. president Lyndon Johnson's special envoy to the Middle East at the time of the crisis, as well as a string of early popular books on the war. Nasser had no intention of taking on Israel, they argued. The massive deployment of Egyptian troops in Sinai, in flagrant violation of the peninsula's demilitarization since the 1956 war; the expulsion of the U.N. observers deployed on the Egyptian side of the border with Israel; the closure of the Tiran Strait to Israeli navigation; and the rapid formation of an all-Arab war coalition for what he pledged would be the final battle for Israel's destruction were just posturing moves geared to deterring an Israeli attack on Syria and enhancing Nasser's pan-Arab prestige. Unfortunately, goes the narrative, Jerusalem overreacted to these measures, if not exploited them to its self-serving ends, by attacking its peaceable Arab neighbors.


While this thesis clearly does not hold water—Nasser realized within less than a day that no Israeli attack on Syria was in the offing yet continued his reckless escalation—it has quickly become a common historiographical axiom regarding the war's origin. Thus, as ideologically divergent commentators as British journalist David Hirst and American military commentator Trevor Dupuy agreed on this view in the late 1970s. According to Dupuy, "it is very clear in retrospect that President Nasser did not in fact have any intention of precipitating war against Israel at that time." Hirst took this argument a step further: "Not only did Nasser lack the means to take on Israel, he did not have the intention either." This assertion was reiterated almost verbatim in the coming decades by countless Middle East observers. Thus, for example, we have British journalist Patrick Seale claiming that "Nasser's strategy was to attempt to frighten Israel into prudence, while making it clear that he would not attack first," and Princeton professor L. Carl Brown arguing that "Nasser surely had not intended to seek a showdown with Israel in 1967."…

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






On Topic Links


Six Days in June (Video): Youtube, May 24, 2017—A fascinating documentary by Ilan Ziv about the Israeli-arab Six days war in 1967.

‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display: William J. Broad & David E. Sanger, New York Times, June 3, 2017—On the eve of the Arab-Israeli war, 50 years ago this week, Israeli officials raced to assemble an atomic device and developed a plan to detonate it atop a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula as a warning to Egyptian and other Arab forces, according to an interview with a key organizer of the effort that will be published Monday.

The Lessons and Consequences of the Six-Day War: David Harris, Algemeiner, June 2, 2017—When you mention history, it can trigger a roll of the eyes. Add the Middle East to the equation, and folks might start running for the hills, unwilling to get caught up in the seemingly bottomless pit of details and disputes.

Honoring the Man Behind the War: Noa Amouyal, Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2017—Knowing the ins and outs of a historic battle requires far more than analyzing the tactical plans and circumstances surrounding the event. A deep, intimate account of the major players are really required to properly understand the event in question.













The Jewish Return Into History: Reflections in the Age of Auschwitz and a New Jerusalem: Emil L. Fackenheim, Schocken Books, 1978. Page 108— In May 1967, the worldwide Jewish community had a moment of truth that revealed clearly, if only momentarily, what has remained otherwise obscure and ambiguous, or even wholly concealed.

The Six-Day War: An Inevitable Conflict: Prof. Efraim Karsh, BESA, May 19, 2017 — The standard narrative regarding the Six-Day War runs as follows…

Recalling the Menace of May 1967: Michael Freund, Breaking Israel News, May 21, 2017— As the nation prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, it is perhaps only natural that our focus is primarily on the miraculous outcome of the June 1967 Six Day War.

Preparing For War: Jerusalem, 1967: Abraham Rabinovich, Jewish Press, May 19, 2017 — As tensions mounted in late May, 1967, Jerusalem was pervaded by a feeling that if war came it would be a bloody block-by-block battle in which no quarter would be given.


On Topic Links


Israel Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem (Videos): JCPA, 2017

Survival of a Nation: The Battle for Jerusalem (Video): Jewish Learning International, May 16, 2017

Washington Post Slams Israel. Demand Fairness, Accountability: Honest Reporting, June, 2017

The Farhoud Remembered: Dr. Edy Cohen, BESA, June 2, 2017






Emil L. Fackenheim

Schocken Books, 1978. Page 108


In May 1967, the worldwide Jewish community had a moment of truth that revealed clearly, if only momentarily, what has remained otherwise obscure and ambiguous, or even wholly concealed. Jewish students dropped their studies and rushed to Israel. Elderly gentlemen of modest means mortgaged their homes. Tactful Jewish spokesmen abandoned their tact and screamed, at the risk of alienating Christian friends. Faced with the fact that the state of Israel was in mortal danger, the worldwide Jewish community became, for a moment, wholly united in its defense. More precisely, time-honored division—between Orthodox and liberal, Zionist and non-Zionist, religious and secularist—lost for a time their significance, to be replaced by a new division between Jews willing to stand up and be counted, and Jews who (whatever their reasons, excuses, or ideologies) stood aside.


What caused this unexpected and unprecedented response to an unexpected and unprecedented situation? Not “nationalism”; among those standing up to be counted were non-Zionists and even anti-Zionists. Not “religious sentiment”; the response transcended all religious-secularist distinctions. Not “humanism”; not a few Jewish humanists stood aside when Jewish—rather than Arab or Vietnamese—children were in danger. The true cause cannot be in doubt. For a whole generation Jews had lived with the Nazi Holocaust, racked by grief and true or imagined guilt. For a whole generation they had not known how to live with the fact that Jews had been singled out for murder by one part of the world and that the other part had done little to stop it. When in May 1967 the same words issued for Cairo and Damascus that had once issued from Berlin, Jews were divided not into Orthodox and liberal, religious and secularist, Zionist and non-Zionist, but into those who fled (and were revealed as having fled all along) with a resolve that there must be no second Holocaust.                                                            




Prof. Efraim Karsh

BESA, May 19, 2017


The standard narrative regarding the Six-Day War runs as follows: Had Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser not fallen for a false Soviet warning of Israeli troop concentrations along the Syrian border and deployed his forces in the Sinai Peninsula, the slippery slope to war would have been averted altogether. Had Israel not misconstrued Egyptian grandstanding for a mortal threat to its national security, if not its very survival, it would have foregone the preemptive strike that started the war. In short, it was a largely accidental and unnecessary war born of mutual miscalculations and misunderstandings.


This view could not be further from the truth. If wars are much like road accidents, as the British historian A.J.P. Taylor famously quipped, having a general cause and particular causes at the same time, then the June 1967 war was anything but accidental. Its specific timing resulted of course from the convergence of a number of particular causes at a particular juncture. But its general cause—the total Arab rejection of Jewish statehood, starkly demonstrated by the concerted attempt to destroy the state of Israel at birth and the unwavering determination to rectify this “unfinished business”—made another all-out Arab-Israeli war a foregone conclusion.


No sooner had the doctrine of pan-Arabism, postulating the existence of “a single nation bound by the common ties of language, religion and history…. behind the facade of a multiplicity of sovereign states” come to dominate inter-Arab politics at the end of World War I than anti-Zionism became its most effective rallying cry: not from concern for the wellbeing of the Palestinian Arabs but from the desire to fend off a supposed foreign encroachment on the perceived pan-Arab patrimony. As Abdel Rahman Azzam, secretary-general of the Arab League, told Zionist officials in September 1947: “For me, you may be a fact, but for [the Arab masses], you are not a fact at all—you are a temporary phenomenon. Centuries ago, the Crusaders established themselves in our midst against our will, and in 200 years, we ejected them. This was because we never made the mistake of accepting them as a fact.”


On rare occasions, this outright rejectionism was manifested in quiet attempts to persuade the Zionist leaders to forego their quest for statehood and acquiesce in subject status within a regional pan-Arab empire. Nuri Said, a long-time Iraqi prime minister, made this suggestion at a 1936 meeting with Chaim Weizmann while Transjordan’s King Abdullah of the Hashemite family secretly extended an offer to Golda Meir (in November 1947 and May 1948) to incorporate Palestine’s Jewish community into the “Greater Syrian” empire he was striving to create at the time. For most of the time, however, the Arabs’ primary instrument for opposing Jewish national aspirations was violence, and what determined their politics and diplomacy was the relative success or failure of that instrument in any given period. As early as April 1920, pan-Arab nationalists sought to rally support for incorporating Palestine into the short-lived Syrian kingdom headed by Abdullah’s brother, Faisal, by carrying out a pogrom in Jerusalem in which five Jews were murdered and 211 wounded. The following year, Arab riots claimed a far higher toll: some 90 dead and hundreds wounded. In the summer of 1929, another wave of violence resulted in the death of 133 Jews and the wounding of hundreds more.


For quite some time, this violent approach seemed to work. It was especially effective in influencing the British, who had been appointed the mandatory power in Palestine by the League of Nations. Though their explicit purpose was to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, the British authorities repeatedly gave in to Arab violence aimed at averting that purpose and to the demands that followed upon it. In two White Papers, issued in 1922 and 1930 respectively, London severely compromised the prospective Jewish national home by imposing harsh restrictions on immigration and land sales to Jews.


In July 1937, Arab violence reaped its greatest reward when a British commission of inquiry, headed by Lord Peel, recommended repudiating the terms of the mandate altogether in favor of partitioning Palestine into two states: a large Arab state, united with Transjordan, that would occupy some 90 percent of the mandate territory, and a Jewish state in what was left. This was followed in May 1939 by another White Paper that imposed even more draconian restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases, closing the door to Palestine for Jews desperate to flee Nazi Europe and threatening the survival of the Jewish national project. Agitating for more, the Arabs dismissed both plans as insufficient.


They did the same in November 1947 when, in the face of the imminent expiration of the British mandate, the U.N. General Assembly voted to partition Palestine. Rejecting this solution, the Arab nations resolved instead to destroy the state of Israel at birth and gain the whole for themselves. This time, however, Arab violence backfired spectacularly. In the 1948-49 war, not only did Israel confirm its sovereign independence and assert control over somewhat wider territories than those assigned to it by the U.N. partition resolution, but the Palestinian Arab community was profoundly shattered with about half of its population fleeing to other parts of Palestine and to neighboring Arab states.


For the next two decades, inter-Arab politics would be driven by the determination to undo the consequences of the 1948 defeat, duly dubbed “al-Nakba,” the catastrophe, and to bring about Israel’s demise. Only now, it was Cairo rather than the two Hashemite kings that spearheaded the pan-Arab campaign following Nasser’s rise to power in 1954 and his embarkation on an aggressive pan-Arab policy.


The Egyptian president had nothing but contempt for most members of the “Arab Nation” he sought to unify: “Iraqis are savage, the Lebanese venal and morally degenerate, the Saudis dirty, the Yemenis hopelessly backward and stupid, and the Syrians irresponsible, unreliable and treacherous,” he told one of his confidants. Neither did he have a genuine interest in the Palestinian problem—pan-Arabism’s most celebrated cause: “The Palestinians are useful to the Arab states as they are,” he told a Western journalist in 1956. “We will always see that they do not become too powerful. Can you imagine yet another nation on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean!” Yet having recognized the immense value of this cause for his grandiose ambitions, he endorsed it with a vengeance, especially after the early 1960s when his pan-Arab dreams were in tatters as Syria acrimoniously seceded from its bilateral union with Egypt (1958-61) and the Egyptian army bogged down in an unwinnable civil war in Yemen. “Arab unity or the unity of the Arab action or the unity of the Arab goal is our way to the restoration of Palestine and the restoration of the rights of the people of Palestine,” Nasser argued. “Our path to Palestine will not be covered with a red carpet or with yellow sand. Our path to Palestine will be covered with blood.”


By way of transforming this militant rhetoric into concrete plans, in January 1964, the Egyptian president convened the first all-Arab summit in Cairo to discuss ways and means to confront the “Israeli threat.” A prominent item on the agenda was the adoption of a joint strategy to prevent Israel from using the Jordan River waters to irrigate the barren Negev desert in the south of the country. A no less important decision was to “lay the proper foundations for organizing the Palestinian people and enabling it to fulfill its role in the liberation of its homeland and its self-determination.” Four months later, a gathering of 422 Palestinian activists in East Jerusalem, then under Jordanian rule, established the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and approved its two founding documents: the organization’s basic constitution and the Palestinian National Covenant…

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






Michael Freund

Breaking Israel News, May 21, 2017


As the nation prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, it is perhaps only natural that our focus is primarily on the miraculous outcome of the June 1967 Six Day War. After 1,900 years of yearning, the Jewish people were at last reunited with the heart of our ancestral homeland, when Divine providence granted Israel a resounding victory over our adversaries.


For the first time since the Roman legions under Titus set Jerusalem aflame, holy places such as the Temple Mount, Shiloh and Hebron were once again under full Jewish sovereignty and control. It was a victory for the ages, a turning point in history that reshaped Jewish destiny, as the dreams of our ancestors were transformed into reality, and Jews could once again live and play, worship and work, in the hills of Judea, the vineyards of Samaria and the stone-paved alleyways of Jerusalem.


But amid the festivities, it is no less important to recall the events of May 1967, when the menace of destruction hung heavily over the nation as our neighbors vowed to finish off the youthful Jewish state. Particularly now, when the Palestinians and their supporters have succeeded in poisoning historical truth with fantasy and falsehood, a glimpse back at what took place prior to the war will serve to undercut the false narrative now being put forth by our foes.


For starters, bear in mind that in May 1967, there was no Israeli “occupation,” no Jewish “settlements” and no “Judaization” of Jerusalem. Nonetheless, there was plenty of Arab animosity, as the airwaves filled with chilling threats to throw the Jews into the sea. On May 8, 1967, Syria’s information minister, Mahmoud Zuabi, openly declared that his country would soon wage “more severe battles until Palestine is liberated and the Zionist presence is ended.” Eight days later, on May 16, Cairo radio chimed in, announcing that, “The existence of Israel has continued too long… We welcome the battle we have long awaited. The peak hour has come. The battle has come in which we shall destroy Israel.” In case anyone had failed to understand their message, the following day Cairo radio was even more blunt: “All Egypt is now prepared to plunge into total war which will put an end to Israel.”


Amid these threats, Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser took concrete steps to prepare for genocide against the Jewish state, doubling the number of Egyptian troops in Sinai and deploying hundreds of tanks near Israel’s southern border. Nasser then demanded that the 3,400-man United Nations Emergency Force, which had been deployed in Gaza and the Sinai for a decade to prevent conflict, be immediately withdrawn. Less than a week later, on May 22, the UN did just that, cowardly abandoning its posts, thereby setting the stage for an Egyptian invasion. Egypt’s Voice of the Arabs radio broadcast gleefully celebrated the UN’s retreat, announcing that, “There is no life, no peace nor hope for the gangs of Zionism to remain in the occupied land. As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel… The sole method we shall apply against Israel is a total war which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.”


With the departure of the UN, Nasser proceeded to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, an act that 10 years previously, in 1957, US president Dwight D. Eisenhower had said would be considered an act of war. On May 25, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia moved troops to Israel’s borders, encircling the Jewish state like vultures preparing to swoop down on their prey. Six days later, Iraqi president Abdel-Rahman Aref minced no words in explaining why his country was sending soldiers to the area, asserting that, “The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the map.”


Meanwhile, the PLO, which was founded in 1964, was also gearing up for war. Asked in an interview what would happen to Israel’s Jews in case of war, PLO founder Ahmed Shukairy glibly stated on June 1 that, “Those who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that none of them will survive.” Four days later, war broke out and the rest is history.


Or is it? Despite the circumstances, which clearly demonstrate that Israel was engaged in an existential war of self-defense in the Six Day War, much of the international community today falsely portrays the Jewish state’s acquisition of territory in 1967 as an act of aggression or “occupation.” Worse yet, they play along with the Palestinian fairy tale that the Arab-Israeli conflict is all about Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, when in fact, as the events of May 1967 show, the real underlying cause is the refusal of the Arabs to accept a permanent Jewish presence in the region.


So as we rejoice in remembering Israel’s glorious victory five decades ago, let us redouble our efforts to remind the world of the simple truth that many do not wish to see. The prelude to the 1967 war is a critical part of the story, one that lends some much-needed clarity and context to the events that would follow. Simply put, the Jewish state owes no one an apology for facing down its foes and taking the territory which those very same enemies used as a platform from which to seek our destruction. Israel’s presence in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is historically just, morally fitting, biblically mandated and militarily necessary to ensure our survival. And we shall remain in these areas until the end of time, whether the world likes it or not.




Abraham Rabinovich

Jewish Press, May 19, 2017


As tensions mounted in late May, 1967, Jerusalem was pervaded by a feeling that if war came it would be a bloody block-by-block battle in which no quarter would be given. Unspoken but widely envisioned was the image of the Warsaw Ghetto; buildings turned to rubble from which the battle would continue. The municipality began to bulldoze a hillside near Mount Herzl to prepare gravesites. The slope chosen was out of sight of the Jordanian lines to prevent a repetition of 1948 when, at funerals of people killed by shelling, the mourners themselves came under fire.


Some officials expected 2,000 dead in Jerusalem. These were the optimists who assumed the Jordanians would not attempt aerial bombardment because of the proximity of Arab neighborhoods. The pessimists, those who believed the Arabs would bomb anyway, estimated 6,000 dead and several times that number in wounded in Jerusalem alone. Events had taken on a momentum of their own beyond either side’s calculation. In the Arab world, rhetoric was whipping passions into white heat. “If you want war,” declared Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in a public challenge, “we are ready for you.”


Israel did not want war. The likely price even for victory was grim. Six thousand Israelis, one in every 100, had died in the victorious War of Independence, a conflict that had seen little air action. When Israel had next gone to war, in the 1956 Sinai campaign, it had been on only one front and in collusion with two powers, England and France. Even so, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion had insisted that France station air squadrons in Israel to protect its cities from air strikes.


Now, in 1967, Israel stood alone against what was beginning to look like a broad Arab coalition with three times as many tanks and warplanes as Israel. Moshe Dayan, on the eve of being named defense minister, estimated that there could be tens of thousands dead. “An entire generation of paratroopers and tank crews will be lost,” he told the general heading Israel’s Southern Command, “but you will win.” Despite this dire casualty estimate, the general, Yeshayahu Gavish, found solace in the remarks because Dayan at least predicted victory. Not all national leaders were sure of that. Even IDF chief of staff Yitzhak Rabin was pushed to the edge of nervous collapse by the responsibility that had fallen on him.


In search of reassurance, Rabin called on Ben-Gurion, now retired, for an informal chat. It turned out to be the most traumatic meeting of Rabin’s life. Ben-Gurion was as decisive as Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was hesitant, but his decisiveness lay in warning against going to war without the support of a foreign power. Otherwise, it would be an adventure that risked national disaster, he said, and the responsibility would be Rabin’s. The chief of staff had made a grave mistake, said Ben-Gurion, in ordering mobilization and thereby accelerating the war momentum. Rabin was shaken by Ben-Gurion’s remarks. His air force commanders were promising dramatic results if Israel struck the first blow. The army commanders likewise expressed confidence in victory. Rabin was not sure the government would permit a first strike, but even if it did he could not be certain that the generals’ predictions would prove realistic when put to the test.


Against this uncertainty, Ben-Gurion’s powerful “thou shalt not” was a warning Rabin could not shrug off. Ben-Gurion had proved prophetic in the past. If he was correct now, Rabin could be leading the nation to another Holocaust. On May 22, Egypt announced the Straits of Tiran would be closed to Israeli shipping from the following day. The closure was a clear casus belli. To let it pass without a military response would be a devastating sign of weakness. Eshkol told a ministerial meeting the following day that Washington had asked Israel not to attempt to send a ship through the straits while the U.S. attempted to resolve the matter by diplomatic means. In the mood of indecision that prevailed, the American request offered a welcome respite.


Rabin was subdued during the meeting with the ministers. He chain-smoked and his face was taut. In the evening, he asked General Ezer Weizman, head of operations on the general staff, to come to his home. Speaking candidly of the strain he was under, Rabin asked Weizman whether he believed that he, Rabin, should resign. Weizman, a former air force commander, persuaded Rabin that he needed only a brief rest. Mrs. Rabin, concerned at her husband’s distress, called the IDF’s chief medical officer who diagnosed “acute anxiety.” The doctor sedated him and Rabin slept until the next afternoon. Word was put out that Rabin had been temporarily incapacitated by nicotine poisoning. When he returned to his headquarters, he was calm and knew what had to be done. There was no way out but war.


With moblization, the largest source of manpower remaining in Jerusalem were yeshiva students exempt from the draft. Of the 2,000 volunteers who turned out each day for trench-digging in areas without shelters, 500 were yeshiva students. On the Sabbath after the closing by Egypt of the Tiran Straits passageway to Eilat, the civil defense commander in the Katamon quarter was amazed to see a group of yeshiva students being marched to a digging site by two bearded rabbis. The prohibition against working on the Sabbath is one of the strictest injunctions of Judaism, but the rabbinate had declared the crisis one of pikuach nefesh (life or death) in which vital work is not only permissible on the Sabbath but mandatory. The two rabbis took off their jackets and joined the students in the trenches with shovels…                                            

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



CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!




On Topic Links


Israel Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem (Videos): JCPA, 2017

Survival of a Nation: The Battle for Jerusalem (Video): Jewish Learning International, May 16, 2017—Israel’s 1967 battles to rescue Jerusalem from Jordanian assault, and the ensuing reunification of Jerusalem.

Washington Post Slams Israel. Demand Fairness, Accountability: Honest Reporting, June, 2017—The Washington Post published a series on the anniversary of the Six Day War, with a special emphasis on "the occupation" and security checkpoints.

The Farhoud Remembered: Dr. Edy Cohen, BESA, June 2, 2017—On the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, June 1-2, 1941 (5701 on the Hebrew calendar), the Muslim residents of Baghdad carried out a savage pogrom against their Jewish compatriots. In this pogrom, known by its Arabic name al-Farhoud, about 200 Jews were murdered and thousands wounded. Jewish property was plundered and many homes set ablaze.
















In Shadow of Mosul fight, Iran Establishes Nineveh Foothold: Susannah George and Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Washington Post, May 29, 2017— While Iraq’s conventional military has been slowly clearing the Islamic State group from inside Mosul’s complex urban terrain…

U.S. Sees a Vital Iraqi Toll Road, but Iran Sees a Threat: Tim Arango, New York Times, May 27, 2017 — The highway from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan, cuts through the insurgent badlands of the western Iraqi desert, and these days any truck driver risks confrontation with roving bands of gunmen.

Jordan Intensifies Anti-Israel Rhetoric Despite Security Challenges: Noah Beck, IPT News, June 1, 2017 — Jordan, a country that has had a formal peace treaty with Israel since 1994, has seen an uptick in anti-Israel hostility.

Is Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood Still the Loyal Opposition?: Nur Köprülü, Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2017— The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, the key Islamist movement in the country, has had a long-standing symbiotic relationship with the monarchy and, until recently, was not considered a threat to the survival of the Hashemite Kingdom.


On Topic Links


Death Toll Rises After ISIS Attack in Baghdad: New York Post, May 30, 2017

Ex-Islamic State Fighters Face Justice in Mosul: Marta Bellingreri, Al-Monitor, May 31, 2017

Iraq's Christians Demand Reconstruction of Religious Sites: Wassim Bassem, Al-Monitor, May 21, 2017

Can ISIS Survive the Caliphate's Collapse?: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Middle East Forum, May 16, 2017




Susannah George and Qassim Abdul-Zahra

Washington Post, May 29, 2017


While Iraq’s conventional military has been slowly clearing the Islamic State group from inside Mosul’s complex urban terrain, Iraq’s Iran-backed Shiite paramilitary forces have been working their way through less glamorous territory: vast deserts west and south of the city that run along and across Iraq’s border with Syria. The territory, dotted with small villages and dusty roads, is home to key supply lines into neighboring Syria and connecting Iraq’s north to the capital Baghdad. Control of the Iraqi-Syrian border would be a key strategic prize for the mostly Shiite paramilitary forces and their backer Iran, who also supports the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.


One division of the Iraqi government-sanctioned paramilitary group known as the Popular Mobilization Forces first reached Iraq’s border with Syria on Monday after securing a string of small villages west of Mosul and south of Sinjar, according to Ahmed al-Asadi, the group’s spokesman. “This will be the first step to the liberation of the entire border,” he said.


The PMF began Monday’s operation by pushing IS militants out of the center of the town of Baaj, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Syrian border. Once the town was retaken a unit was dispatched to secure the village of Um Jrais along the border. “This victory will also be an important incentive for the Syrian Arab Army to secure the entire border from the Syrian side,” al-Asadi said, referring the Assad’s government forces. As the PMF secure more of the border region, they plan to “erect a dirt barricade and dig a trench,” said Sheikh Sami al-Masoudi, a paramilitary group leader. Iraq’s border with Syria has long been a haven for smugglers and insurgent activity.


The Nineveh foothold would give the paramilitary forces considerable leverage politically and militarily in Iraq after the fight against IS is concluded, according to Maria Fantappie, the senior Iraq researcher for the International Crisis Group, a non-governmental research firm. “The Iranians have been prioritizing something that the U.S. has overlooked: control over strategic roads, rather than control of the Sunni communities,” Fantappie said explaining that the U.S.-led coalition’s fight against IS has largely focused on retaking cities while the PMF have instead focused on transit and supply lines.


Control of roads and borders also allows the paramilitary forces to divide Iraq’s Sunni community geographically and politically, Fantappie said. “They have been trying to bisect Iraq and prevent a unified Sunni block from emerging,” she said. More than 150 kilometers (93 miles) away from the PMF’s border advance, Iraqi military and police forces are slowly closing in on the last pockets of IS control in Mosul’s Old City. Iraqi commanders say the grueling fight that is now in its eighth month is in the final stage, an operation that the United Nations warns will likely put the more than 100,000 civilians still trapped by IS inside Mosul at severe risk.


In Syria, Assad’s forces and their allies have also been on the offensive, moving toward the Iraqi and Jordanian border, but are still far from reaching it. U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, IS militants and Syrian rebels are also fighting for territory in an increasingly messy battle space. On May 18, a U.S. airstrike hit pro-Syrian government forces that the U.S.-led coalition said posed a threat to American troops and allied rebels operating near the border with Jordan. The attack was the first such close confrontation between America troops and fighters backing Assad.


The Islamic State group traces its roots to the insurgency that grew in Iraq after the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein, but the group rose to power under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria following the 2011 uprising against Assad. In early 2014, IS began driving Iraqi government forces out of the country’s western Anbar province and that summer overran Mosul and large swaths of Iraq’s north. At the height of the group’s power IS controlled nearly a third of Iraq, but with aid, training and weapons from Iran and then the U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi forces have retaken more than half of the land the extremists once held.


After securing the Iraqi side of the border with Syria, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces are ready to move inside Syrian territories to assist Assad, said Hashim al-Mousawi, a leader with the powerful al-Nujaba militia that falls under the PMF umbrella. Before the PMF was sanctioned by the Iraqi government al-Nujaba fighters openly fought inside Syria, helping prop up the Assad regime during the early days of the uprising against his government. But, now al-Mousawi said crossing into Syria to fight would require the approval of the Iraqi government in Baghdad.





Tim Arango

New York Times, May 27, 2017


The highway from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan, cuts through the insurgent badlands of the western Iraqi desert, and these days any truck driver risks confrontation with roving bands of gunmen. In the future, though, the United States envisions the road as something like the New Jersey Turnpike, with service stations, rest areas, cafes and tollbooths. As part of an American effort to promote economic development in Iraq and secure influence in the country after the fight against the Islamic State subsides, the American government has helped broker a deal between Iraq and Olive Group, a private security company, to establish and secure the country’s first toll highway.


This being Iraq, though, the project has quickly been caught up in geopolitics, sectarianism and tensions between the United States and Iran, which seems determined to sabotage the highway project as an unacceptable projection of American influence right on its doorstep. Already, Iraqi militia leaders linked to Iran, whose statements are seen as reflective of the views of Tehran, have pledged to resume attacks against American forces if the Trump administration decides to leave troops behind to train the Iraqi military and mount counterterrorism missions, as appears likely. And the militia leaders have specifically singled out the highway project for criticism.


At the center of the tensions is Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has promoted the highway deal and positioned himself closer to the United States at a time when Iran’s influence has become more prominent in Iraq. A prominent Shiite leader and former lawmaker here, Izzat Shahbander, has become a leading voice of opposition to the highway project. Asserting that the Iranian-backed militias here are more powerful than the Iraqi Army, Mr. Shahbander said he believed Iran could ultimately seek to remove Mr. Abadi from power should the project be finalized.


For American diplomats in Iraq, the deal is seen as serving two purposes. One would be promoting economic development in Anbar Province, a vast Sunni-dominated area whose citizens have felt marginalized by the Shiite-led central government and where Iran’s militias currently operate. Another would be pushing back on the influence of Shiite Iran, whose growing power in Iraq has alarmed important Sunni allies of the United States like Saudi Arabia and Turkey.


Mr. Abadi has awarded the development project to Olive Group, although the final details are still being worked out. The project would include repairing bridges in western Anbar Province; refurbishing the road, known as Highway 1; and building service stations, rest areas and roadside cafes. It would also include mobile security by private contractors for convoys traveling the highway. In a recent speech, Mr. Abadi denounced the “mafias” that operate on the road, a reference to militias and insurgent groups that currently terrorize drivers and extract bribes for safe passage. “This is an investment. It’s about rehabilitating the road,” Mr. Abadi said. “Neither the central government nor the local government will pay anything. We will get profits instead.”


The deal would last for 25 years and is known as a concession agreement, meaning the Iraqi government would put no cash upfront. The multimillion-dollar investment by Olive Group, in theory, would be recouped by tolls, a cut of which would also go to the Iraqi government. And there is talk of eventually setting up three other toll highways in Iraq that would also be managed by American companies: from the Saudi Arabia border, through Karbala to Baghdad; from the port city of Basra to Baghdad; and from the Syrian border to Baghdad.


Filtered through the prism of Iraq’s many media outlets that are linked to militias supported by Iran, the highway deal has become seen here as a conspiracy by the United States and Israel to occupy the country. One report claimed that the American security company involved in the highway “belongs to the Zionist Mossad.” A statement from one powerful militia invoked the Sykes-Picot accord, the World War I-era deal by colonial powers to divide the Middle East, as it called the highway a plot by the United States to divide Iraq.


Playing on painful memories and fears of Iraqis, news outlets have also run false reports that Blackwater — the private security firm that acted with impunity in the early days of the American occupation and gunned down innocent Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007 — had taken on the project. “The politics of this country are challenging,” said Christian Ronnow, executive vice president of Constellis, the parent company of Olive Group, a private security firm that has worked for years in Iraq. Mr. Ronnow added, “We hope the Iraqi people and the Jordanian people will see this for what it is — an economic lifeline.”


In prosperous and safe times, the highway from Baghdad to Amman was an important conduit of commerce — with close to 1,500 trucks moving back and forth each day, accounting for about $1 billion in trade per month, Mr. Ronnow said. In dangerous times, as these recent years have been, the official border crossing with Jordan has been closed, even though truckers have continued to use the road, taking their lives into their own hands.


While the major cities in western Anbar Province, like Ramadi and Falluja, have been freed from the Islamic State, the surrounding deserts to the west on the way to Jordan and Syria remain dangerous and ungoverned spaces, where Islamic State militants are still able to move freely. The project is expected to bring thousands of jobs in construction and security to beleaguered Anbar, and tribal leaders have lined up to support it. “We are very happy with this project,” said Sheikh Ahmed Taha Alwan, an important tribal leader in Anbar. “There is big hope that this project will benefit the province in two important ways, security and economically.”







Noah Beck

IPT News, June 1, 2017


Jordan, a country that has had a formal peace treaty with Israel since 1994, has seen an uptick in anti-Israel hostility. Last month, Jordan condemned the killing of a Jordanian-Palestinian attacker who was filmed stabbing an Israeli policeman multiple times before he was shot, calling it "a heinous crime." In September, Israeli police killed a Jordanian tourist who attacked with a knife. Jordan described this act of self-defense as a premeditated and "barbaric act of the army of the Israeli occupation." Israeli analysts disagree whether Jordan's rhetoric is a cause for concern.


Since the second Palestinian Intifada broke out in 2000, Jordan's public statements often contradict private behavior, said Elad Ben-Dror, a Bar-Ilan University Middle Eastern Studies senior lecturer. Publicly, "the Jordanian parliament and press are fierce in their denunciation of Israel… Beneath the surface, however, there is a strong link and security cooperation between the two countries, especially with regard to the war on terrorism."


Jordanian demographics drive the public vitriol, said Tel Aviv University Contemporary Middle Eastern History Chair Eyal Zisser. Palestinians comprise half the Jordanian population, "and because the population is conservative and very much Islamic, the regime lets the public…express anti-Israeli sentiments as a way to vent and reduce…pressure on the regime." So "cheap shots" like condemning the shooting of a terrorist in the act of trying to kill are "aimed at showing the Palestinians in Jordan [that] the Hashemites have not abandoned them," said Oded Eran, a senior research fellow at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies. "The King expects the Israeli government" to ignore such statements. And for the most part, Jerusalem does.


But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently took exception. "It is outrageous to hear the Jordanian government's speaker support the terror attack which occurred today in Jerusalem's Old City," a statement released by Netanyahu's office said. "It's time Jordan stopped playing both sides of the game. Just like Israel condemns terror attacks in Jordan, Jordan must condemn terror attacks in Israel. Terror is terror."


Moreover, some anti-Israel hostility by Jordan goes beyond mere statements. In March, Jordan released Ahmed Daqamseh, a former soldier who murdered seven Israeli schoolgirls as they visited his country. His tribe gave him a hero's welcome and he called for Israel's destruction on Al-Jazeera TV. Many lawmakers and politicians had reportedly lobbied to set him free, and doing so may have been a populist move. Jordan also hosts "Al-Quds," the official TV station of Hamas, the Gaza-based terror group committed to Israel's destruction.


Some experts think Israel should stop turning the other cheek. "Israel is assisting Jordan economically, providing it with fresh water and [helping] in many other areas. It is entitled and even obligated to insist that Jordan moderate its criticism and certainly that it not support anti-Israeli terrorism," Ben-Dror said. Israel should "slowly alter the rules of the game" by insisting that Jordan's monarch condemn Palestinian violence, said Bar-Ilan political scientist Hillel Frisch. "Israel has to make him sweat a little but not, of course, at the expense of his throne."


"I'm glad that Netanyahu rebuked him over the attempted murder of the policeman," Frisch said. "I'd like to see more rebukes in the future, especially regarding the Waqf guards' role in incitement on Har Habayit." Under the terms of Israel's peace treaty with Jordan, the Jordanian-run Waqf Islamic religious trust administers the Temple Mount, but has been leading efforts to deny and erase any Jewish connection to the site. Last July, three members of the Islamic Waqf attacked a group of archeologists at the site. The harassment continued in January, when Islamic guards tried to remove an Israeli tour guide for calling the area the "Temple Mount," insisting that he use the Islamic term "Haram al-Sharif."


While King Abdullah might have an unspoken understanding with his "Arab Street" that requires regular condemnations of Israel, the sustainability of such an arrangement remains a concern. The same Islamist forces to which he panders could eventually hobble his policy objectives, or worse. Last October, a grassroots campaign was launched by Jordanian activists to turn off the lights to protest Jordan's gas deal with Israel. The "lights-out action came on the heels of a protest march [recently] in downtown Amman that attracted an estimated 2,500 demonstrators, making it one of the largest protests in Jordan in recent years," the Jerusalem Post reported. The protests reportedly included chants against both the gas deal and Jordan's peace with Israel.


Reflecting popular opposition, the lower house of Jordan's Parliament overwhelmingly opposed the 2014 gas deal. The opposition includes leading Jordanian trade unions, Islamists, and secularists.


By indulging public opinion with anti-Israel rhetoric, Abdullah risks encouraging and popularizing the type of movement that could eventually topple him. Jordanian Islamists recently murdered a prominent Christian writer who faced legal charges for sharing a "blasphemous" anti-ISIS cartoon that outraged Muslim groups. Honor killings are increasing in Jordan. Last November, Jordan's highest religious authority slammed as "false and insignificant" an Israeli bill to ban the Muslim call to prayer via loudspeakers during sleeping hours throughout Israel. The Israeli bill would apply to the sound systems of all houses of worship, not only mosques, and countries like India and Egypt have enacted similar limitations…

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






Nur Köprülü

Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2017


The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, the key Islamist movement in the country, has had a long-standing symbiotic relationship with the monarchy and, until recently, was not considered a threat to the survival of the Hashemite Kingdom. But the rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the growth of militant Islamist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) have alarmed the monarchy and led to a drastic shift in the nature of its relations with the Brotherhood from coexistence to persecution. Will the Jordanian regime be able to contain the Islamists and, in turn, will the Brotherhood choose to challenge the throne rather than to acquiesce in its continued suppression?


Probably the foremost Islamist movement in the Middle East, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 in Egypt. From there, it spread to other parts of the region including Jordan (1946) where it was incorporated into the kingdom's social and political fabric with some of its members even serving in cabinet. The group reciprocated by refraining from challenging the regime as had its founding organization in Egypt. Bilateral relations warmed substantially during King Hussein's long reign (1952-99) when the Brotherhood often functioned as a bulwark against anti-Hashemite forces. This was particularly evident during the heyday of pan-Arabism when Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser—who politically opposed the Egyptian Brotherhood—repeatedly sought to subvert the Hashemite monarchy.


The Muslim Brotherhood provided support to the Jordanian monarchy during the 1970 Black September uprising when the regime's existence was threatened by Palestinian guerrillas like these seen here near Amman. The Brotherhood also provided support to the monarchy during the 1970 Black September events when the regime's existence was threatened by the Palestinian guerrillas encamped on its territory. And although political parties were banned between 1957 and 1992, the Brotherhood was able to function and attract new recruits since it was registered under the law of charitable clubs and associations. With the legalization of political parties in 1992, the organization established its political wing, the Islamic Action Front (IAF).


This close relationship between the Brotherhood and the monarchy prevented secular and leftist parties from challenging the kingdom's policies. The lack of any other previously organized mass party and the weakness of the secular ideological platforms helped the IAF function as the key ideological and political actor in Jordanian politics. This position was reinforced by the Brotherhood's strategic bond with the monarchy, which contributed to its reputation as a moderate, nonviolent group, distinct from its Islamist counterparts throughout the Middle East. In the words of German scholar Gudrun Krämer, Jordan “provides one of the few cases of an Arab government and Islamic movement pursuing a non-confrontational political strategy over an extended period. Traditionally, the Muslim Brotherhood has played not so much the role of opposition, but of virtual ally and, at times, of client to the king.”


This symbiotic relationship prevailed into the 2000s regardless of occasional frictions emanating from domestic and regional vicissitudes. The 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty, for example, triggered a heated debate between the "hawks" opting to confront the regime over the issue and "doves" urging conciliation yet failed to fracture the Brotherhood's overall relationship with the monarchy.[3] Likewise, the organization remained aloof vis-à-vis the post-9/11 measures taken by King Abdullah II—who had succeeded his father two years earlier—against the kingdom's militant Salafist movement urging the overthrew of the "infidel" monarchy. Unlike the Salafists, the Jordanian Brotherhood and its political arm, the IAF, have never had an overtly militant wing despite its organic link with and support for Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood branch…

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




On Topic Links


Death Toll Rises After ISIS Attack in Baghdad: New York Post, May 30, 2017—A massive bombing by the Islamic State group outside a popular ice cream parlor in central Baghdad and a rush hour car bomb in another downtown area killed at least 31 people on Tuesday, Iraqi officials said.

Ex-Islamic State Fighters Face Justice in Mosul: Marta Bellingreri, Al-Monitor, May 31, 2017—In the Assyrian-Christian city of Hamdaniya, which its inhabitants call Qaraqosh, 30 kilometers (19 miles) southeast of Mosul, a big house belonging to a Muslim family temporarily hosts a terrorism court as part of the Iraqi Criminal Court, where provincial trials are held.

Iraq's Christians Demand Reconstruction of Religious Sites: Wassim Bassem, Al-Monitor, May 21, 2017—A new era has started in the northern Ninevah Plains, known for its ethnic and religious diversity, following the expulsion of the Islamic State (IS). IS took over the area in June 2014 and forced the Christians living there — estimated at more than 100,000 — to abandon their farms and towns and head to the neighboring Kurdistan Region and other areas in the country, or to leave Iraq altogether.

Can ISIS Survive the Caliphate's Collapse?: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Middle East Forum, May 16, 2017—The Arabic word baqiya ("remaining") is one of the most common adjectives associated with the Islamic State (aka ISIS), dating back to its earliest incarnation that claimed to be a state: namely, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).













The Race for the Ruins: Jonathan Spyer, Breaking Israel News, May 29, 2017— Events taking place in a remote stretch of south east Syrian desert in recent days reveal the current direction of US Middle East strategy.

Iran’s Foreign Legion in Syria: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, May 28, 2017— Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria and especially since the advent of the Islamic State (ISIS) and its franchises in the Arab Middle East and Africa…

Jordan's Syrian Adventure: Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom, May 14, 2017 — In 1970, Syrian forces invaded Jordan to assist the Palestine Liberation Organization in its fight against King Hussein, the father of King Abdullah, and bring down the Hashemite Kingdom.

Syria, a Modern Day Holocaust?: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2017 — In a press conference Monday, the US accused the Syrian regime of using a crematorium to dispose of bodies to cover up extensive mass murders by the government.


On Topic Links


Israeli Minister Calls for Assassination of Syria's Assad: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2017

Assad’s Survival Is in Israel’s Best Interest: Dr. Edy Cohen, BESA, May 25, 2017

Can ISIS Survive the Caliphate's Collapse?: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Middle East Forum, May 16, 2017

Assad's Hollow Crown: A Journey through Regime-Held Syria: Jonathan Spyer, The Jerusalem Report, May 9, 2017





Jonathan Spyer

Breaking Israel News, May 29, 2017


Events taking place in a remote stretch of south east Syrian desert in recent days reveal the current direction of US Middle East strategy. An observable ratcheting up of US and allied air and special forces activity in eastern Syria is currently under way. This in turn appears to derive from a new, hard-nosed understanding of the nature of the strategic game in the large, strife-ridden area covering what was once Syria and Iraq.


On Thursday, May 18th, US aircraft launched strikes on a column of Assad regime vehicles including tanks and earth-movers, 18 miles from the town of al-Tanf, on the Syrian-Iraqi border. The strikes took place after the vehicles entered an agreed deconfliction zone around the town.  US and British special forces are currently training ‘vetted partner forces’, ie Syrian Sunni Arab rebels in the town.


This was the second occasion in recent weeks that US aircraft have directly engaged against Assad’s forces.  On the first occasion, the target was the al-Shayrat airbase.  That raid took place on April 6.  It was a clear retaliation for the regime’s use of sarin gas at Khan Sheikhoun on April 4.  The Shayrat raid was generally interpreted as a belated attempt to enforce the American ‘red line’ against further regime use of chemical weapons. As such, it was not widely seen as indicating a more general change of policy.


The attack on the column near al-Tanf, by contrast, was not preceded by any unusual regime activity, apart from the approach of the column itself, and its too close vicinity to western forces.  On Monday, the pro-opposition website Syria Direct quoted an un-named US military spokesman as saying that ‘if pro-regime forces move further south or east from their current positions, this will be considered a threat.’ The website also reported that regime forces are preparing to move toward the Badia area, a stretch of desert to the north east of al-Tanf.


What is the significance of this butting of heads? The battle against the territorial holdings of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is reaching its final phase.  The re-conquest of Mosul is almost done.  The assault on Raqqa city, the capital city of the Caliphate is about to begin.  It is set to be a hard and bloody fight.  But its eventual outcome is not in question.  Islamic State as an entity controlling ground will be destroyed. At which point the movement will revert back to its former status as a clandestine terror network.  As the eclipse of the Caliphate draws near, the race is opening up to inherit its former domains.


The competitors in this contest are Iran and its various allies and proxies, and forces associated with the west and the Sunni Arab states. The Iranians and their allies want to penetrate IS territory from west to east – with the Iraqi Shia militias pushing westwards from Tel Afar and Assad regime forces and pro-Assad militias (including Hizballah) probing east. The regime forces nosing around in al Tanf are in the process of seeking to seize border areas with both Jordan and Iraq.  The US is determined to prevent that.  The town of Deir al-Zour and the surrounding oil rich areas will form an important part of the prize.


Pro-western forces, meanwhile are pushing north from Jordan and south from the Kurdish-controlled area north of the IS enclave.  The forces engaged on this side are the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the Kurdish YPG, and the Maghawir a-Thawra (Commandos of the Revolution, formerly the New Syrian Army) rebels, supported by the US, UK and Jordan, from the south. The outcome of this contest is of strategic significance, despite the remote and arid nature of much of the territory concerned.  The Iranians want to create a contiguous line of territory controlled by themselves and their allies stretching from Iraq into Syria, and thence to the Mediterranean Sea and the border with Israel.


Islamic State has formed a buffer against the achievement of this goal.  But Islamic State, in the usual manner of Sunni Salafi organizations when they control territory, declined to be satisfied with the stewardship of a small domain.  Instead, the Sunni jihadis elected to declare war on the west, using the territory as a base to hold and execute captured western prisoners, to prepare attacks against western civilian targets, to administer a regional network of franchise groups, and to attempt genocide against a non-Muslim population, the Yezidis.  As a result, the west, unsurprisingly, made it a goal to destroy the Islamic State. The question now is who will inherit.  The Americans, it appears, have understood that to stand a chance of re-establishing influence and standing in the region, and beginning the process of turning back the Iranian advance, it is necessary to have skin in the game, ie to develop reliable proxies and have them control ground, in this pivotal area.


Only thus can a contiguous line of Iranian control from the Iraq-Iran border to the Mediterranean and Israel be prevented.  Only thus will the US be able to prevent an eventual outcome in Syria and in Iraq entirely favorable to the Iranians.  Hence the development by the US Department of Defense of the relationships with the YPG and elements among the Jordan-supported Sunni Arab rebels in the south.


It is worth also noting that the outcome in eastern Syria is not of primary interest to the Russians. Russia wants to preserve the regime in existence and to keep its naval investments in Latakia Province. Neither of these interests is threatened by events further east.  Controlling the east is an Iranian and Assad regime goal only.


The outcome of this emergent contest will be of deep interest also to Israeli strategic planners.  While some recent analysis has suggested that Israel favors or should favor allowing IS to continue in existence as a quasi-state, it is obvious that this is no longer an option.  Syria as a state has largely ceased to exist.  The question now, as it is parceled out into zones of influence, is who will gain and who will lose. Alongside the military jockeying on the ground, the diplomatic processes in Astana and Geneva will sputter on. Their eventual outcome, though, will depend on the balance of forces on the ground.  Iran wants its contiguous line not least in order to move weaponry and fighters both in preparation for and no less importantly in the course of a future war with Israel.  Preventing this is an Israeli national security interest par excellence.


This emergent US strategy has not yet been officially confirmed.  Indeed, Defense Secretary James Mattis was quoted by Agence France Presse after the al-Tanf strike as denying that the raid heralded any ‘increased role’ for the US in the Syrian war. The pattern on the ground suggests otherwise.  The United States Administration has defined the Iranians and the Sunni jihadis of IS as its main adversaries in the region.   Eastern Syria is an area where the defeat of the latter by pro-western forces will constitute also a setback also for the former.  This is a game which is now afoot.  Much depends on its outcome.




Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah

JCPA, May 28, 2017


Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria and especially since the advent of the Islamic State (ISIS) and its franchises in the Arab Middle East and Africa, world attention has been focused on the foreign volunteers who flocked by the thousands to boost the ranks of the jihadist militias, mainly the ranks of the Islamic State and Al-Qaida. The attacks perpetrated in Europe, the United States, and throughout the world, by terrorists who were trained and inspired by the jihadist organizations, emphasizes the need to understand the phenomena to combat it better. Many analysts concentrated on the hordes of jihadi volunteers from more than 80 nations and warned about the dangers of those fighters returning home to become sleeper operatives.


By contrast, while there is considerable media coverage about the foreign jihadists and while the Western coalition tries to contain the flow of new recruits to ISIS, under the radar and almost unnoticed, Iran managed to deploy in Syria its own fighters and proxy armies to fight for the Assad regime’s survival in Syria. While the jihadist organizations recruited their volunteers from the Sunni Muslim world, Iran turned to the Shiite populations to supply the needed manpower for Iran’s Syrian front.


Reluctant to get involved directly in the civil war, the Iranians chose to send a limited operational force to Syria, mainly advisers from the Revolutionary Guards and other elite units. The assessment is that there are about 1,500-3,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers present in Syria and serving mainly as advisers responsible for logistics, intelligence gathering, and training. As a result, regional Shiite forces answer directly to Tehran’s orders since they were created by Iran and made to serve first and foremost Iranian policy in the region. According to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer, the Guard has formed and trained 42 brigades and 138 battalions, all sent to defend the Assad regime!


At least five national entities were to provide the manpower to serve the Iranian agenda in Syria: Hizbullah – the Lebanese, Shiite, Iranian-backed military organization; Afghan “Fatimiyoun and Khadem el-‘Aqila Brigades“; Pakistani “Zainebiyoun Brigade”; Yemeni Houthis “Liwa Al-Saada“; Iraqi Shiite militias, of which “Al-Nujaba Movement” has a special significance for Israel. All military units receive their orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Their salaries, equipment, and training are totally under Iranian supervision and control. They are coordinated by the Quds Division of the Revolutionary Guards, commanded by Qasem Soleimani, even though each division enjoys a relatively high degree of autonomy.


Hizbullah’s presence in Syria was first publicized in the battle of Al-Qusayr (Homs Directorate) in 2013 and is at the center of public debate in Lebanon. While Hizbullah has been criticized because of its participation in the battle against Sunni rebel movements, no political force in Lebanon has dared to challenge its autonomy and force. Hizbullah’s militia answers to the command of the Lebanese army. Hizbullah has been parading U.S. equipment (M-113 armored personnel carriers) provided by the United States to the Lebanese Army while claiming that these were Israeli armored vehicles seized during the 2006 Second Lebanese war.


The “Fatimiyoun Brigade” (Liwa’ Al-Fatimiyoun): The Brigade (3,500 fighters) was founded in 2013 by the Revolutionary Guard and was recruited from Afghani refugees residing in Iran. Hizbullah in Lebanon utilized this same source of manpower, becoming a so-to-speak “Hizbullah of Afghanistan.” Both Iran and Hizbullah took advantage of the economic and political plight of the Afghan refugees seeking asylum in Iran, enrolling them in the military units meant to fight alongside Assad’s forces in Syria. The Afghans, originating mostly from southern Afghanistan, an area adjacent to the Pakistani-Iranian borders, spent large amounts of money to finance their illegal entry to Iran. They travel from the Afghan province to Pakistani Baluchistan bordering the Pakistani frontier, their first stop before arriving in Iran. Iran represents not only a political safe haven for those Afghans fleeing the war in their country but presents an opportunity to acquire economic benefit. An average Afghan receives a monthly salary of $80 in Afghanistan, while he could be paid almost four-fold in Iran ($320). According to some sources, the Afghans repatriate almost $500 million dollars annually to their mother country from their Iranian “employer.”


However, being an illegal Afghan resident in Iran is not without disadvantages. The Afghans are mistreated and can be jailed for no apparent reason for periods of time sometimes extending to a few months. Still 500 to 600 illegal Afghans enter Iran per month. While hundreds are confined at the end of their journey in refugee camps in Iran, the luckiest will obtain a work permit; others will get involved in drug trafficking or try to find a way to filter themselves to Europe. Hundreds of them are routinely caught at the borders and deported back to Afghanistan.


When Iran looked at the dire situation of the Assad regime and tried to find ways to assist Assad without getting involved with Iranian “boots on the ground,” the alternative offered by the Afghans was ideal. They were Shiites, of Farsi-speaking ethnicity (the Hazara). With $350-500 for monthly pay and with a permanent residency permit granted to the Afghan refugee after his return from Syria, the Iranian regime succeeded in recruiting the necessary manpower needed to bolster the Syrian regime. Moreover, unlike an Iranian fighter, as an illegal migrant with an unknown identity, an Afghan killed in action would not be a burden to the Iranian treasury. Most importantly, Iran could easily deny its involvement and its intervention. Were it not for the scores of Afghans killed in battle and others taken prisoners by the rebels, Iran would not have had to accept any responsibility concerning the Afghani presence. When Iran finally decided to relate to the Afghans, Iran stated that they died while protecting the Shiite shrines in Syria…

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







Prof. Eyal Zisser

Israel Hayom, May 14, 2017


In 1970, Syrian forces invaded Jordan to assist the Palestine Liberation Organization in its fight against King Hussein, the father of King Abdullah, and bring down the Hashemite Kingdom. At the request of the U.S., Israel stepped up to help Jordan. The IDF was put on alert and the Syrians received a stern message from Jerusalem via Washington that if the Syrian forces continued to advance into Jordan, Israel would intervene in the ensuing battles. The aggressive message was effective, and the Syrians had other good reasons to stop before it was too late. The Syrian forces retreated back into Syria, and Jordan and the U.S. were in Israel's debt.


Almost 50 years have passed, and now it's Jordan that, according to reports in the Arab media, is about to deploy forces to Syria. The Jordanians want to establish a security buffer zone along their border with Syria that will keep the Islamic State at bay, but will also serve as a barrier in case Iranian or Hezbollah operatives try to gain a foothold in southern Syria.


All these events are taking place against the backdrop of the ongoing Syrian civil war. It hasn't come to any surprising halt, and anyone who erroneously thought a few months ago that the capture of Aleppo, the country's second-biggest city, by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and his allies meant that victory was already in the hands of Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Iranians, is now finding out that Damascus and Moscow were too quick to celebrate. The Russians lack the forces, whether Syrian or Iranian, to be able to put down the rebellion and deploy across the entire country to maintain peace and quiet. The rebels continue to fight, and are even landing blows to the Syrian army.


So the Russians are promoting the establishment of protected areas, which in effect mean that Syria is divided into areas of influence for the various players. The Turks will keep the area in northern Syria they currently control; the Americans and the Kurds will keep their hold in the eastern part of the country (if they can drive out the Islamic State), and even the Jordanians will be given their own area in the south of Syria. The Russians, on the other hand, will go unsatiated and will have to give up about three-quarters of Syrian territory, but by doing so will ensure that Assad remains in power in western Syria, the populated and important part of the country.


Like Israel, Jordan is faced with a difficult challenge. The Islamic State is digging in along its northern border. The group has an active affiliate in the area of the Yarmouk Basin (the Khalid Ibn al-Walid Army), and its fighters are also present to the east, along hundreds of kilometers of the Jordanian-Syrian border. Two years ago, Islamic State even tried to breach Jabal al-Druze in southwest Syria, but was repelled. The organization is responsible for a long list of terrorist attacks along the border and what's worse, its terrorist activity is penetrating the kingdom. Islamic State operatives have already carried out a number of painful attacks within Jordan. But if in the past the obvious conclusion was that Assad was preferable to the Islamic State, the choice today is between the Islamic State and Iran's Revolutionary Guards, and the Jordanians don't want either. So Jordan is being forced to consider intervening in Syria with the help of the Bedouin tribes on the Syrian side of the border, and possibly even some Druze who are afraid of what will befall them.


Israel, on the other hand, cannot allow itself to intervene in the Syrian civil war directly, and it's also clear that the good will it is acquiring on the other side of the border by providing medical and humanitarian aid is not enough. For now, Jerusalem is pinning its hopes on Moscow preventing an Iranian presence on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, but the Russians have their own interests in Syria, and has been proven repeatedly in the past. This might be the time to look into other creative solutions. Once, Israel was concerned about the development of a hostile eastern front that would stretch from Rosh Hanikra to Aqaba. Today, Israel shares a peaceful eastern border with Jordan, but it wouldn't hurt if the Jordan buffer zone were to extend north to the Golan.                                                                        




Seth J. Frantzman

Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2017


In a press conference Monday, the US accused the Syrian regime of using a crematorium to dispose of bodies to cover up extensive mass murders by the government. The United States is upping its rhetoric to encourage Russia to exercise influence over Damascus and stop the abuses. It is a clear message to Syrian President Bashar Assad and Moscow on the eve of President Donald Trump’s Middle East trip. The stark black-and-white photos of the alleged crematorium also echo images from the Holocaust.


In the short briefing, acting assistant Secretary of State Stuart Jones outlined how the Syrian conflict had left more than 400,000 dead. Basing his claims on reports of international and local NGOs as well as intelligence assessments, Jones provided a laundry list of regime abuses that he said underscored the depth of support from Russia and Iran. “The regime has abducted between 65,000 and 117,000 [people] between 2011 and 2015,” the statement said. In addition, up to 50 prisoners a day at Saydnaya prison were executed. Many were buried in mass graves, but the US says a building modified after 2013 may be a crematorium. Jones, who was present at the recent deescalation talks in Astana, stressed that Russia must “bear responsibility to ensure regime compliance” with stopping attacks on civilians.


Tough language, but why now? Jonathan Spyer, director of the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, said this is not the first time evidence has emerged of Assad’s role in widespread mass murder of prisoners and detainees. An Amnesty International report titled “Human Slaughterhouse,” published in February, included interviews with prisoners who said up to 100 people were hung a week. “What we are hearing that is new is the claim that the regime built a crematorium to do away with corpses. They have released overhead photographs and one needs to take a look and experts would need to assess the veracity; all we can do is think of the feasibility of it. You have a large number of corpses and need to get rid of them, one [method] is burning or mass burials. It’s not in anyway beyond the realm of possibility.”


Burning people would remove the evidence of war crimes at a prison only 45 minutes from Damascus. Mohammed Ruzgar, a Syrian journalist, said he has heard rumors that the regime was burning bodies from many sources, but could not verify it. “It’s to remove evidence,” he said. At the beginning of the conflict, the regime often detained Syrians, and tortured and killed them. Ruzgar said that in the old days, the bodies would be returned to families, “but later we did not hear about families receiving dead bodies.” Even mass graves would eventually be found, he said. “The US is [bringing up this issue] to use as leverage against Russia.”


Spyer agrees that what we are seeing is a change in tone from the US. “This is not the first instance, this is a tougher tone, and put that together with Tomahawk missiles [launched against Syria on April 7], a sense of some kind of shift. Does that presage a major policy shift by US administration? It is hard to imagine how that can happen,” he said. Spyer argues that the deepening Russian role in the last years means the US cannot go to war with the regime without going to war with Russia. He forecasts a toughening of the US tone and increasing diplomatic pressure. “It’s an insane regime and good that the administration is telling people about it.”…

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




On Topic Links


Israeli Minister Calls for Assassination of Syria's Assad: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2017—Housing Minister Yoav Galant on Tuesday condemned the genocide taking place in Syria, adding that “it is time to eliminate” President Bashar Assad, following US accusations that the regime is using a crematorium to hide atrocities being committed outside Damascus.

Assad’s Survival Is in Israel’s Best Interest: Dr. Edy Cohen, BESA, May 25, 2017—Unlike his immediate predecessor, US president Donald Trump did not stand idly by in the wake of a Syrian toxic chemical attack, but launched fifty-nine cruise missiles at the airport from which President Bashar Assad had carried out the strike.

Can ISIS Survive the Caliphate's Collapse?: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Middle East Forum, May 16, 2017—The Arabic word baqiya ("remaining") is one of the most common adjectives associated with the Islamic State (aka ISIS), dating back to its earliest incarnation that claimed to be a state: namely, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).

Assad's Hollow Crown: A Journey through Regime-Held Syria: Jonathan Spyer, The Jerusalem Report, May 9, 2017—The mortar shells came early in the morning. At about 5. At regular intervals. Solemn and sinister. They were a reminder of how close it all was.










Rebooting US Foreign Policy in the Middle East: Zvi Mazel, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 2, 2017— The Obama years were a curious blend of isolationism and limited interventions.

Arab Upheaval and Trump: Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom, Apr. 4, 2017— The Arab pilgrimage to the White House is now officially underway, following Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's meeting with U.S. President's Donald Trump in Washington on Monday.

The Coming Middle East Crisis After ISIS is Gone: Ralph Peters, New York Post, Mar. 12, 2017 — The Islamic State caliphate is dying a well-deserved death.

Israel, Escalation, and a Nuclear War in the Middle East: Louis René Beres, Israel Defense, Mar. 14, 2017 — Left to themselves, neither suitably deterred nor adequately disarmed, enemies of Israel could one day bring the Jewish State face-to-face with the measureless torments of Dante's Inferno, "Into the eternal darkness, into fire, into ice."


On Topic Links


American Re-Engagement in the Middle East 3.0: Eric R. Mandel, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 14, 2017

Will Obama’s Foreign Policy Wizards Save Trump?: Lee Smith, Tablet, Mar. 15, 2017

How Middle East Terrorism Affects India (Video): Daniel Pipes, India Foundation, Mar. 15, 2017

Know Thine Enemy: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 16, 2017



REBOOTING US FOREIGN POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST                                                       

Zvi Mazel                                                                                         

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 2, 2017


The Obama years were a curious blend of isolationism and limited interventions.  American troops were not pulled out of Afghanistan and there was a relentless fight against terrorist organizations in the Middle East by way of drones and bombing raids. Small groups of elite forces were dispatched to Syria and Libya for intelligence gathering and advisory purposes only. What was missing was a global strategy which could have stopped the Middle East descent into chaos. The vacuum thus created gave free rein to Iran’s both open and stealthy penetration efforts; it also brought back Russia.


Moscow has now almost regained the positions held by the Soviet Union in Syria and Egypt and is strengthening its hold on Libya. A similar lack of decisive American resolve allowed China to adopt increasingly aggressive tactics in South China Sea and enabled Russia’s annexation of Crimea and division of Ukraine. The question is whether the Trump administration is willing and able to embark on a policy of active intervention, especially in the Middle East, to defuse threats and bring a measure of stability. It might be too late, however, to dislodge well-entrenched intruders that timely measures would have kept out.


America has a long history of vacillating between isolationism and aggressive foreign policy, and yet its intervention was decisive in ensuring the triumph of democratic regimes in two world wars, as well as in the lengthy Cold War. This was not Obama’s way. He mostly shunned active intervention, often at the price of losing the American power of dissuasion. Yet during his presidency, the Middle East went through one of its most violent periods since the end of World War I and the emergence of new states following the Sykes-Picot Agreement. A revival of radical Sunni Islam rivaled Iran’s efforts to export its Shi’ite revolution and led to gradual destabilization, a process escalated by the Arab Spring in 2011.


What started as the spontaneous demand for freedom and democracy ended in the strengthening of Islamic extremism, bringing about the demise of Arab nation states that had formed the backbone of the region. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and, to a lesser measure, Lebanon are no longer functioning. America was strangely absent while its allies in the region were bearing the brunt of the devastating process, leading to its inability to act as an effective deterrent on the world stage and the very real risk of a rogue state or organization making use of weapons of mass destruction, such as the chemical weapons used in Syria.


Obama refused to help the Green Movement, which took to the streets throughout Iran in 2009 to protest massive fraud in the presidential election. He did nothing while the regime gained back control of the nation using extreme brutality, ultimately defeating the people, tightening its grip on the country and putting an end to any hope of change. Although Iran is busy promoting its Shi’ite revolution and threatening the stability of Sunni regimes while calling for the destruction of Israel, Obama entered into a nuclear agreement with Tehran that will not prevent the country from creating weapons after the terms of the accord expire, and it does not address the ongoing development of missiles that could be equipped with nuclear warheads.


In Egypt, Obama abandoned Mubarak, his longtime strategic ally, and called on him to resign, transferring his support to the Muslim Brotherhood, although he knew, or should have known, that they were bent on setting up an Islamic dictatorship – a goal they achieved with disastrous results that the present regime is still fighting to correct. He encouraged Europe to get rid of Muammar Gaddafi, promising to “lead from behind” and supplying weapons and ammunitions for bombing raids – and then left Europe to deal with the shambles: a civil war in Libya and a stream of refugees from Africa, as well as Russian penetration that could threaten southern Europe.


He refrained from giving his support to the Syrian uprising in 2011, though arming the moderate Sunni insurgents before Jihadi groups moved in might have toppled Assad, cutting off Iran from its Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon. Indeed, he let Assad get away with breaching a succession of so-called “redlines” – including the use of chemical weapons.


The premature withdrawal of American troops from Iraq made it possible for ISIS to establish itself while the Iraqi army crumbled. Setting up a coalition of Western and Arab countries to fight the terrorist organization by means of sending planes to bomb its forces was taking the easy way out, to avoid putting boots on the ground. It was obvious from the very beginning that it was imperative to destroy ISIS while it was still too weak to resist, and the fighting today in Mosul and Raqqa, and the toll on the civilian populations, clearly display the price to be paid by not acting in time…

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






Prof. Eyal Zisser                                                              

Israel Hayom, Apr. 4, 2017


The Arab pilgrimage to the White House is now officially underway, following Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's meeting with U.S. President's Donald Trump in Washington on Monday. Jordan's King Abdullah will then arrive in Washington on Wednesday, followed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later this month. One would be hard-pressed to overestimate the value in these meetings. After all, el-Sissi avoided visiting the White House during Barack Obama's presidency, or more precisely, Obama did not invite him to visit. No wonder, then, that Egypt rejoiced Monday in light of what has been described by Cairo as "Trump's sun shining anew on Egypt-U.S. relations after many years of darkness."


Thus Washington returns to playing a central role in the Middle East, as befits a world power with a significant military presence in the region that provides billions of dollar in assistance to many Arab states. This also serves to insert order and proportion to the Middle East map, which Russia has relied on Iran to help reshape. After all, Russia cannot truly compete with the U.S. for the hearts and minds of the Arab states. It does not have Washington's economic resources, nor its military power or presence. And besides, Moscow carries substantial Iranian baggage.


The Arab leaders visiting Trump this week do so immediately after attending the Arab League summit in Jordan. Following years of paralysis, the result of the Arab Spring and the collapse of a number of Arab states that ensued, the summit's greatest accomplishment was the fact that it even took place to begin with. But just because Arab leaders attended the summit does not mean they have taken a unified approach, let alone reached anything resembling a genuine agreement on the matters at hand. The Arab states disagree on the question of Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and find it difficult to formulate a unified line on Iran. As a result, conference participants preferred to pay lip service to the only subject on which they are in agreement — the Palestinian issue.


But while Abdullah spoke pompously of the Palestinian question as the central and in fact sole issue for the Arabs, he did so after making the interesting choice of hosting the talks not in the Jordanian capital of Amman, but at an isolated tourist spot on the shores of the Dead Sea. This was, of course, on account of the threat of an attack by the Islamic State group. As everyone knows, this is the central threat the Hashemite kingdom faces, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


On the eve of el-Sissi's meeting with Trump, extensive media reports indicated that the Arab leaders had decided to work together to press Trump to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, on the basis of the Arab framework for peace. But it is doubtful there is any credence to the reports. For further proof, one need only reference the official statements from the government in Cairo, which reiterated that el-Sissi was in Washington to discuss Egyptian interest, such as the war on terror, Egypt's struggling economy and Iran.


Faced with all these challenges, Israel's importance as a loyal and valued strategic partner with whom Egypt already maintains close cooperation is obvious. Both Egypt and Jordan are interested in ensuring, and even promoting and deepening, their strategic cooperation with Israel. The U.S. has an important role in establishing regional cooperation, along the lines of the strategic alliance that is slowly forming in the region over the common threats that Israel and the Arab states face. Such an alliance could help advance talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as long as they are not taken hostage by the whims of the Palestinians…                                                                                                                                                      

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



THE COMING MIDDLE EAST CRISIS AFTER ISIS IS GONE                                                                                      

Ralph Peters                                                                                                                                                                       

New York Post, Mar. 12, 2017


The Islamic State caliphate is dying a well-deserved death. This spring, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in what used to be Syria will fall. Across the summer, remaining outposts will be purged of the Islamist movement’s remnants. Isolated terror attacks will continue, but the physical caliphate will be erased. And after ISIS itself, the biggest loser will be the United States.


Defeating ISIS is a worthy goal, but the rivalries of blood and faith that will poison the post-caliphate landscape are emerging. Turks alternately confront and accommodate Russia. Our most-effective combat partners, the Kurds, infuriate Turkey and worry local Arabs. Arab factions fight among themselves (as do the Kurds on occasion). Alphabet-soup minorities suffer and flee. Russians kill and watch. Iranians kill and wait. Their client, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, has amassed a tally of war crimes that makes his survival “unthinkable.” Yet he’s likely to retain power.


With ISIS defeated, we won’t be needed. We’ll be shown the door — except, of course, for aid money. Uneasy coalitions will collapse. Iran — a k a Persia — will have a client state on the Mediterranean for the first time since the Classical Age. Turkey’s Islamist strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, dreams madly of a renewed Ottoman empire (which no Arab desires). And Vladimir Putin is set to reap a huge return on a minimal investment.


Fifty million Kurds, longing for independence and freedom, will be embattled on multiple fronts — and, perhaps, deserted by the United States to serve Foggy Bottom fantasies of preserving obsolete states (Iraq and Syria) that have outlived their old and unjust purposes. Meanwhile, our military serves our enemies by applying our power against ISIS without a practical vision for the day the caliphate falls. In the Levant and Mesopotamia, history’s the quarrelsome neighbor forever banging on the door. The Arab-populated expanse was ruled, brutally and incompetently, by the Turkish Ottomans for centuries. When that empire collapsed after World War I, control fell to British and French schemers. The British sought security for the Suez Canal, their lifeline to India. And they wanted that strategic commodity, oil.


The French wanted to keep up with the British. So the two powers split the Middle East, drawing artificial borders that ignored local demographics and old hatreds. The Brits carved out Iraq and Jordan for their puppets and acquired the Palestine Mandate (where Israel would be reborn, a rare instance of justice). The French got control of Lebanon and Syria. The Kurds were cheated, the Armenian genocide ignored and the Shia overlooked, while lesser minorities didn’t even register.


The result was the emergence of phony states that crammed together peoples and confessions that hated each other while dividing groups (such as the Kurds) who yearned for unity, freedom and independence. And when the European empires faded, only dictators could hold the unnatural states together. By committing ourselves to the maintenance of those deadly, dysfunctional borders, the United States leapt flat-footed into the quicksand. In 2003, in Iraq, we had the chance to begin dismantling those phony states in favor of justice and common sense, but inertia and short-term fears defined our diplomacy. We didn’t liberate Iraq — we perpetuated it. Now, 14 wretched years later, we continue to pretend that, magically, Iraq can achieve political health and that Syria should be preserved with a new head of state.


We have taken the side of dead empires and injustice. What should we do? Discard our preconceptions for a start. Why shouldn’t dysfunctional borders change? In fact, they’re changing themselves. How many American lives is it worth to serve the vision of dead Europeans and grisly Arab dictators? We need not act to change those borders, but we shouldn’t stand in the way.


The destruction of the ISIS caliphate won’t end terrorism, but the Islamists will suffer a powerful practical and psychological blow. The terrorists eventually will adapt, but their appeal will be weakened: Angry young men want to join a winning team, not a bunch of losers. Still, the rise of ISIS was unnecessary. Enchanted by the neocons, the George W. Bush administration made Iraq far harder than it had to be simply by not planning for the worst. Then President Barack Obama threw away our hard-won progress in Iraq and, tragically, cowered and prevaricated while the all-but-doomed Assad regime recovered its balance in Syria.


Now we face a new Iranian empire, an expansionist Russia, a treacherous Turkey, an Iraq lost to Iran and the prospect of years to come of ethnic cleansing, massacre and violent uprisings on which terrorists will again piggyback. Can the Trump administration design and execute a Middle East strategy that actually works to our benefit and makes sense? If so, it would be the first since the Truman presidency.






 Louis René Beres

Israel Defense, Mar. 14, 2017


Left to themselves, neither suitably deterred nor adequately disarmed, enemies of Israel could one day bring the Jewish State face-to-face with the measureless torments of Dante's Inferno, "Into the eternal darkness, into fire, into ice." It is essential, therefore, that Israel's strategic planners and political leadership now accelerate their basic obligation to strengthen the country's nuclear security posture, and to take all necessary steps to ensure that any conceivable failure of nuclear deterrence could not ignite a nuclear war. Significantly, any such failure would not necessarily be the result of some conspicuous "bolt-from-the-blue" enemy nuclear attack, but could also represent the unanticipated outcome of aggressive crisis escalations.


Now is the time for a detailed and precise enumeration of relevant scenarios. Accordingly, among the most plausible paths to nuclear warfighting in the Middle East are: (1) enemy nuclear first-strikes against Israel (not a present possibility, unless one were to include non-Arab Pakistan as an authentic enemy); (2) enemy non-nuclear WMD first-strikes against Israel that would elicit an Israeli nuclear reprisal, either promptly, or as an inadvertent consequence of escalation processes; (3) Israeli nuclear preemptions against pertinent hard targets in selected enemy states with manifestly recognizable nuclear assets (also not a present possibility, unless Pakistan were included as an enemy state); (4) Israeli non-nuclear preemptions against relevant hard targets in enemy states with operational nuclear assets that elicit enemy nuclear reprisals, either promptly, or incrementally via escalation (again, excluding Pakistan, not a present possibility); and (5) Israeli non-nuclear preemptions against military targets in enemy states without nuclear assets, that would elicit substantial enemy biological warfare reprisals, and, reciprocally, Israeli nuclear counter-retaliations.


Still, other more-or-less plausible paths to nuclear warfighting in the Middle East include accidental, unintentional, inadvertent, or unauthorized nuclear attacks involving Israel and certain identifiable regional foes. The very last scenario offered here – "unauthorized" enemy nuclear attacks – should bring to Israeli analytic consideration an always-possible Jihadist coup d'état in Islamic Pakistan.


Jerusalem must also bear in mind the potentially dire and starkly unpredictable prospect of a major escalation arising from any specific instance of WMD terrorism against Israel. In this connection, Israeli strategists will not only need to consider their terrorist adversaries as singular or isolated actors, but also as prospective members of possible "hybrid" combinations, ones fashioned with other sub-state terror organizations, and/or with certain likeminded states.


Already, Israel has had to deal with a distinctly unique form of nuclear terrorism in the form of enemy attacks upon its Dimona nuclear reactor. While never given any genuine public attention – most obviously, perhaps, because both attacks were actual operational failures – the significant fact remains that Dimona came under enemy missile or rocket fire in 1991, from Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and again in 2014, from Hamas. It is not at all unreasonable to expect that in the future, a more determined and capable adversary could produce some calculable breach of nuclear reactor containment, and thereby initiate a perilous spiral of potentially lethal escalation.


As long as Israel remains determined to survive at all costs, its leaders must be prepared to identify and catalog all those specific circumstances wherein the country could become enmeshed in an actual nuclear exchange, or in nuclear warfighting. These fearful circumstances will obtain as long as (a) pertinent enemy first-strikes against Israel do not destroy Israel's second-strike nuclear capability; (b) enemy retaliations for an Israeli conventional preemption do not destroy Israel's nuclear counter-retaliatory capability; (c) Israeli preemptive strikes involving nuclear weapons do not destroy enemy second-strike nuclear capabilities (not a present concern); and (d) Israeli retaliations for enemy conventional first-strikes do not destroy enemy nuclear counter-retaliatory capabilities (also, not a plausible concern at present).


From the plainly vital standpoint of Israel's nuclear security requirements, this all means that Jerusalem must now prepare to do absolutely whatever is needed to ensure the likelihood of (a) and (b) above, and also the corollary unlikelihood of (c) and (d). Among other things, Israel needs its presumptive nuclear weapons to preempt enemy nuclear attacks. This does not mean that Israeli preemptions of such obviously intolerable attacks would necessarily be nuclear themselves – more than likely, they would be entirely non-nuclear – but only that they could conceivably be nuclear. Moreover, both Israeli nuclear and non-nuclear preemptions of unconventional enemy attacks could, at least in principle (and also in the future) produce some form or other of nuclear weapons exchange.


The actual outcome here would depend, in large part, upon the effectiveness and breadth of Israeli targeting, the surviving number of enemy nuclear weapons, and the demonstrated willingness of enemy leaders to risk an Israeli nuclear counter-retaliation. Arguably, especially in reference to a still-nuclearizing Iran, the actual likelihood of some nuclear exchange would be greatest wherever Israel's relevant foe were allowed to continue its overt or covert nuclear weapons development without suffering any preemptive military interference. Still, over time, and the July 2015 Vienna Pact on Iran notwithstanding, a truly nuclear Iran is perhaps already a fait accompli. Israel, therefore, will need to figure on how best to live with a nuclear Iran.


Leaving tactical details aside, this suggests prudent Israeli preparations for long-term nuclear deterrence, buttressed by increasingly advanced forms of cyber-warfare and ballistic missile defense. Always, for Israel, recognizable preparations for strategic dissuasion must be augmented by similarly observable preparations for denial.


For Israel, the sole military alternative at this point, an eleventh-hour defensive first strike against Iranian nuclear assets, would almost certainly carry unacceptable risks, both physical and political. Moreover, at this late operational date, it would prove exceedingly difficult for Jerusalem to make the necessarily supportive jurisprudential argument that its utterly massive preemption was a proper expression of "anticipatory self-defense." All things considered, Israel will have to forego any last-minute preemption against Iran, and rely, however reluctantly, upon some still-promising forms of protracted deterrence and mutual coexistence. In the final analysis, Israel's most significant risks of a nuclear exchange or nuclear war will arise from certain predictable kinds of crisis escalation. These are "locked-in" competitions wherein Israel's core national obligation to avoid recklessness could be rapidly and irremediably overtaken by the presumed imperatives of "winning" through "escalation dominance."




On Topic Links


American Re-Engagement in the Middle East 3.0: Eric R. Mandel, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 14, 2017—Do US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson believe that the “Middle East is and will remain a region of strategic importance to the United States,” as Richard Fontaine and Michael Singh wrote in The National Interest?

Will Obama’s Foreign Policy Wizards Save Trump?: Lee Smith, Tablet, Mar. 15, 2017—After excoriating Barack Obama’s foreign policy, including his realignment in the Middle East, Trump has yet to nominate any officials below the cabinet level at the State Department or the Pentagon, which means there is no one to formulate Trump’s own foreign policy, never mind implement it.

How Middle East Terrorism Affects India (Video): Daniel Pipes, India Foundation, Mar. 15, 2017—Establishes some of the ways in which violence coming out of the Middle East (or West Asia) has a negative impact on India. The talk is 11 minutes long.

Know Thine Enemy: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 16, 2017—There are iron rules of warfare. One of the most basic rules is that you have to know your enemy. If you do not know your enemy, or worse, if you refuse to act on your knowledge of him, you will lose your war against him. This basic truth appears to have eluded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.






















Merkel Government Still in Denial: Vijeta Uniyal, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 20, 2016 — Monday's terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market killed at least 12 people and injured 50 others.

Jordan’s Image as a Stable Oasis Takes a Hit After Karak Attack: Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 20, 2016 — Jordan’s King Abdullah visited King Hussein Medical Center in Amman on Sunday to check on the condition of security forces and civilians injured in the attack in southern Jordan that killed seven officers…

Turkey Gripped by Terror as Russian Ambassador Killed in Ankara: Barın Kayaoğlu, Al-Monitor, Dec. 19, 2016 — A suicide bomber struck a bus full of Turkish army conscripts on leave in the central Anatolian town of Kayseri on Dec. 17, killing 13 and wounding more than 50.

Resurgent Terror in Egypt: Yoni Ben Menachem, JCPA, Dec. 18, 2016— The suicide bombing at the Coptic church in central Cairo on December 11, 2016


On Topic Links


Turkey, Russia and an Assassination: The Swirling Crises, Explained: Max Fisher, New York Times, Dec. 19, 2016 

Egypt’s Deadliest Church Attack: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 13, 2016

The Fall of Aleppo Is a Huge Gift to ISIS : Michael Weiss & Hassan Hassan, Daily Beast, Dec. 18, 2016

Hezbollah vs. ISIS. vs. Israel: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 12, 2016




Vijeta Uniyal

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 20, 2016


Monday's terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market killed at least 12 people and injured 50 others. Islamic State took responsibility for the truck-ramming attack, as recommend by the al-Qaeda magazine, Inspire, and similar to the July 14 attack in the French city of Nice, and countless car-rammings in Israel. Now Europeans feel what Israelis live with every day.


Earlier this year, Germany was hit by a series of ISIS-inspired attacks and failed terror plots. Despite that almost all the perpetrators were recent Syrian or Afghan migrants, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in the middle of a re-election bid, has stuck to her claim that there is "no connection" between terror attacks in the country and uncontrolled mass migration from Arab and Muslim lands.


Ahead of an election year, Merkel and her coalition partners also want to avoid another mass sexual attack — in Cologne. Adding insult to injury, the Mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, is planning to put on a big show this coming New Year's Eve in the city's main square. After an elaborate year-long cover up, the city will be lighting up the crime scene as part of a multi-media show. "The City of Cologne has announced plans for a spectacular multi-media show in the area immediately surrounding the famous Gothic cathedral, close to the main train station," state-run broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.


"Cologne will send good images to the world," says the city's mayor. The taxpayer-funded spectacle has been named "Time Drifts Cologne." The "light artist" running the show, Philipp Geist, considers last year's crime scene "a fantastic place for an art installation." Of an estimated two thousand exclusively Muslim men who raped, assaulted and robbed more than 1200 women, almost all the attackers have managed to walk free. Ralf Jäger, Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, admitted recently that "most of the cases will remain unsolved."


An estimated 1,800 police officers will be on duty in Cologne on New Year's Eve, compared to just 140 last year. Barricades have been erected in the city center to check the flow of the crowd. The city's historic cathedral and adjoining area have been placed under a crush barrier. Police will man observation posts and fly helicopters to monitor the crowd, and deploy mounted police and six armoured vehicles for riot-control. "No expense will be spared," assured the mayor. In an important election year, the government wants to defend the city to the last taxpayer dime.


Even before it can face any real onslaught, however, Merkel's fortification is showing some serious cracks. Just days ahead of the News Year's Eve, the police union in the eastern German state of Thuringia has issued an open letter describing the crumbling law-and-order situation amid the rising migrant crime. "[You] are abandoning us completely helpless to a superior force," says the desperate note addressed to the Interior Minister of Thuringia. The union claims that politicians have been repeatedly briefed on the deteriorating conditions under which police have been working. "But what changes? Nothing. One instead gets a sense of uninterest."


Unwilling to acknowledge the breakdown of law and order in face of the rising migrant crime wave, the German media and politicians are going after the messenger. Their latest target is the head of German Police Union, Rainer Wendt. Wendt's crime, after a series of rape crimes this December, was to speak the obvious truth. "The criminals are using open borders," he said. Ralf Stegner, deputy leader of Social Democratic Party (SPD) and a fervent supporter of Merkel's "Refugees Welcome" policy, denounced Wendt's statement as "politically disgusting and stupid as one can get." …


The Merkel government can turn the center of Cologne into an impenetrable fortress for a day or two, but the threat is not going away. The problem lies in the Ruhr region that encircles Cologne. "Have foreign clans turned Ruhr region into a No-Go-Area?" asks the leading German newspaper, Die Welt, just days ahead of News Year's Eve. Meanwhile, representatives of Arab community were reported telling the police in Ruhr, "The police will not win a war with us because we are too many."


Chancellor Merkel, Germany's ruling elites and the media can continue putting a happy face on uncontrolled mass-migration from Arab and Muslim lands, or suppress news reporting on rising migrant crime, as much as they want, but they cannot wish away the country's deteriorating law-and-order situation. As the desperate plea of the police union shows, the Merkel government has decided to ignore the plight of law enforcement, at least for now. It should be evident to even a casual observer that her government still does not care about the victims of its own failed "refugee" policy: Germany appears to be heading toward another rough year.                                                               





A HIT AFTER KARAK ATTACK                                                                             

Ben Lynfield                                                                             

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 20, 2016


Jordan’s King Abdullah visited King Hussein Medical Center in Amman on Sunday to check on the condition of security forces and civilians injured in the attack in southern Jordan that killed seven officers, two Jordanian civilians and one tourist from Canada. Another casualty of the attack, the bloodiest and most audacious in recent years, is Jordan’s self-image as an oasis of stability amid the turmoil swirling around it, notably the civil wars and devastation in Iraq and Syria.


The attack, in addition to its human toll, is threatening at many levels. It reached its bloody conclusion at Karak castle, a popular tourist site that became the venue for an hours-long standoff between Jordanian security forces and the gunmen. This is a powerful symbolic blow to Jordan, and the fallout for the kingdom’s already faltering tourism industry will be substantial.


Another cause for concern is the geographical scope of the attack. It started when gunmen opened fire on police in Qatraneh, nearly thirty kilometers north of Karak. Gunmen then drove to Karak and went on a shooting spree aimed at officers patrolling the town before holing up in the castle. This means that not only were the security forces unable to detect plans for the attack, they were unable to prevent it from spreading. “There is a lapse in the field security here,” said Daoud Kuttab, a columnist for the Jordan Times. “But the public is extremely supportive of the regime and that shows how isolated are the individuals who carry out these acts.”


Still, it must be cause for concern for authorities that the attack took place in an area of Jordan that has traditionally been a bastion of support for the Hashemite monarchy. “If this was an Islamic State attack, it shows that there are holes in the intelligence system since they managed to penetrate the stronghold of the regime,” said Oded Eran, former ambassador to Jordan and a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies.


A not insignificant number – estimates range from hundreds to 2,000 – of Jordanians have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamic State and other radical Sunni groups, and a spate of attacks over the last nine months indicates that there is a spillover of radicalism into Jordan as well as homegrown extremism. Last month, three US military trainers were shot dead at a southern Jordanian base. According to Reuters, they were shot when their car failed to stop at the base’s gate by a Jordanian soldier in an incident in which Washington did not rule out political motives.


On June 21, an ISIS attack killed seven Jordanian soldiers at a Syrian-Jordanian border checkpoint. Two weeks earlier, an attack on a Jordanian intelligence post in Baqa refugee camp killed five members of the security forces. In March, seven members of a jihadist cell in the northern town of Irbid were killed in a clash that left one soldier dead.


Still, the violence, while worrying, is not seen by Israeli analysts interviewed by The Jerusalem Post as threatening the monarchy. “There is nothing in these attacks to suggest that the fundamental stability of the regime is in danger or that there is a serious deterioration of the legitimacy of the regime in the eyes of the population,” said Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, a specialist on Arab politics at Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Center. “The monarchy at this point is sufficiently rooted in the society as a symbol of Jordanian identity and has made sure to cultivate the loyalties of key sectors of society. There are often rumblings in those sectors but fundamentally the key sectors that make up the elite – civilian and military – view the monarchy as a bulwark against radicalism and chaos that they see breaking out all around them,” he added.


Eran put it this way: “The regime is stable because when you are in Jordan, when you watch television and see the atrocities in Aleppo you think twice, three times, four times before you want to get into that situation. The population is close to the destruction in Iraq and Syria and doesn’t want to rock the boat.” Moreover, there is no organized opposition beyond parliament, which the regime monitors, Eran said. “There isn’t any leader or any contender with charisma to attract support. The regime doesn’t face any movement that captures the imagination of people.”


Eran contrasts the situation in Jordan with that of Egypt, where Islamic State has a territorial foothold in Sinai. “There is nothing like that in Jordan, there is no danger to the regime. Even if tomorrow morning something happens to the monarch, there will be change but there will be no power or any force that takes over from the current regime.”


Still, King Abdullah is on the hot seat with no easy solutions for important issues. Youth unemployment is soaring at about 30% and poverty is widespread. The 630,000 registered Syrian refugees and a similar number of unregistered ones strain the economy and take jobs from Jordanian citizens. The government prides itself on having been able to hold parliamentary elections in September but turnout was low and the legislature lacks legitimacy and power. Sunday’s attack adds to the sense that the former oasis is increasingly becoming a deeply troubled country.


Within this setting, Israel should maintain the close security cooperation with Jordan and help Amman grapple with its Syrian refugees, says Maddy-Weitzman. “We should be extending humanitarian aid, assistance without a footprint, to help with the refugees, whatever Jordan thinks would be helpful, be it medical supplies [or] vital humanitarian aid.” At the same time, Maddy- Weitzman advocates “being extremely sensitive to Jordanian concerns on Jerusalem, the holy sites and the peace process and taking a more proactive approach on the Palestinian issue.”






Barın Kayaoğlu

Al-Monitor, Dec. 19, 2016


A suicide bomber struck a bus full of Turkish army conscripts on leave in the central Anatolian town of Kayseri on Dec. 17, killing 13 and wounding more than 50. The attack, allegedly perpetrated by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), comes in the wake of the dual suicide bombings on Dec. 10 that targeted riot police outside a soccer game in Istanbul. TAK claimed responsibility for the Istanbul attack that killed 36 officers and eight civilians.


While these tragic events have worsened tensions in Turkey, many observers emphasized the symbolic value of attacking unarmed troops from the 1st Commando Brigade. Some media outlets referred to the brigade, also known as “Kayseri Hava Indirme” (Kayseri Airborne), as “the PKK’s nightmare” for its role in fighting the militant Kurdish group. Kayseri Airborne’s sister unit, the Hakkari Mountain and Commando Brigade on the Iraqi border, also serves as a vanguard in the front lines of the Turkish state’s decadeslong struggle against the PKK.


Meanwhile, many Turkish media outlets underscored that the Kayseri attacker had received “military training” and snuck into Turkey from the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which the Turks accuse of aiding the PKK. The English edition of the Sabah newspaper, which is close to the Turkish government, specifically emphasized how the bomber had received training at camps run by the PYD. Today’s front page of pro-government Yeni Akit ran the sensational headline “The swamp in Qandil should be drained,” referring to the PKK’s various bases in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan.


Turkish news outlets, however, overlooked a critical aspect of the story. Groups such as the PYD, PKK and TAK often emphasize the retaliatory nature of attacks like the ones in Istanbul and Kayseri. As several Al-Monitor writers have pointed out in recent months (including Kadri Gursel, who is currently in pretrial detention for his journalistic work), militant Kurdish groups often attack “softer” targets in western Turkey instead of directly confronting security forces. The PKK and TAK legitimize their attacks against civilians or security forces in western Turkey as a way to avenge the Turkish government’s heavy-handed operations in the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeast. In turn, the government’s vengeful responses after PKK and TAK strikes worsen the vicious cycle of violence in Turkey.


In other news, as this article went to publication, reports came in that Andrei Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, had been shot and killed by a Turkish police officer at an art opening in the Turkish capital Ankara. Observers as diverse as Iranian-American scholar Trita Parsi, neoconservative pundit Bill Kristol and Al-Monitor’s own Laura Rozen compared the episode to the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914, an event that triggered World War I. The attacks in Istanbul, Kayseri and now Ankara prove that without a Christmas (or New Year) miracle, 2017 is poised to be even more unpleasant than 2016 for Turks. At the moment, Turkey looks helpless.





RESURGENT TERROR IN EGYPT                                                                           

Yoni Ben Menachem                                                     

JCPA, Dec. 18, 2016


The suicide bombing at the Coptic church in central Cairo on December 11, 2016, which killed 25 and wounded 50, and the terror attack a few days earlier on the road to the Giza pyramids that killed six police officers, reflect two fateful developments: the Muslim Brotherhood’s recovery from the blows inflicted by the Sisi government, and the slackening of the government’s security efforts and possibly its fatigue from fighting terror.


There is growing public criticism of the security failures that allowed these attacks. Egyptian authorities have already announced that they are considering new plans for augmenting the military and security laws that pertain to the war on terror. The public has reacted to the attacks with fury. Even the newspaper, Al-Ahram, which is the government’s official mouthpiece, has published articles on the security failures and the need for enhanced measures such as installing cameras in crowded places and using sniffer dogs. A December 13, 2016, article in Al-Ahram by writer Masoud al-Hanawi called on the Egyptian government to learn from Israel and Turkey about how to wage all-out war on terror and strike it with an iron fist.


The Muslim Brotherhood appears to be recuperating from the assassination a few months ago of Muhammad Kamal, who headed its military wing, by Egyptian security forces in a raid on the Cairo apartment, where he was hiding.


On December 13, 2016, the Islamic State issued an official announcement that it was behind the bombing of the Coptic Church. Egyptian security officials, however, believe the attack was a joint operation of the Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood. Although the Muslim Brotherhood office in London issued a statement condemning the attack, the Egyptian authorities claim the condemnation was made out of fear of Western countries’ reactions.


Some of the Facebook pages of Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled to Qatar expressed elation over the attack. Earlier, an organization known as Hassam released a statement pinning the blame for the attack on police officers who, it said, had set an ambush on the road to the pyramids in Giza. According to Egyptian security officials, this organization is part of the Muslim Brotherhood. In recent months, its members have perpetrated a string of terror attacks against the police and against a judge in one of the trials of the previous president, Mohamed Morsi. They also tried to assassinate Dr. Ali Gomaa, the former mufti of Egypt.


This is not the first time radical Muslims have struck at the delicate social fabric between Egyptian Muslims and Christians of the Coptic community, which forms about 10 percent of the population.  In January 2011, a car-bomb attack on the Al-Qiddissin Coptic Church in Alexandria killed 21. The newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on December 13, 2011, that since Sisi became president, there have been 130 attacks on Coptic churches and property in Egypt. These appear to be radical Muslims’ acts of vengeance for the Coptic Church’s support for Sisi’s government, which has outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood members accuse the Coptic Christians of abetting the overthrow of former President Morsi’s government.


Official statements by the Egyptian Interior Ministry and reports in the Egyptian media indicate that the attack on the Coptic church was carried out by a cell whose creation was initiated by Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Qatar, which gives political refuge to the movement’s operatives, and by Muhammad Kamal’s successor as head of the military wing, with help from the Islamic State branch in northern Sinai. Egyptian security officials’ investigation indicates that Kamal’s successor is 32-year-old Mohab Mostafa el-Sayed Kassem, whose codename in the Muslim Brotherhood is “the Doctor.” It was the Doctor who recruited Mahmoud Shafiq, who carried out the attack on the Coptic Church with a suicide vest, and the other members of the cell.


The Doctor has been able to evade the Egyptian security. However, it appears from the interrogation of four members of the cell who were quickly captured that he went to Qatar a few months ago. There he seems to have met with some of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled from Egypt, the most prominent among them is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It was in Doha that the attack was planned – as retribution for the Copts’ support for Sisi’s government and also in an effort to damage Christmas tourism in Egypt. The Doctor returned to Cairo via the Sinai Peninsula, where he received military training from Ansar Beit al-Makdis, the Islamic State branch. He then recruited the other members of the cell including the suicide bomber.


President Sisi’s government now faces a new challenge of waging a war on terror. The Muslim Brotherhood, having failed to organize mass anti-government demonstrations on November 11, 2016, against the backdrop of the country’s difficult economic situation, appears more determined than ever to overthrow Sisi and destabilize the country by resuming terror attacks. Recently a Cairo court annulled the death sentence that had been meted out to Morsi.  This was seen as Sisi’s signal to the Muslim Brotherhood that he was prepared for reconciliation. The movement, however, hastened to issue a statement a few days later that it rejected any possibility of mending fences with Sisi’s government.


During the funeral of those killed in the attack on the Coptic Church, Sisi called on the government and parliament to make changes in legislation that would enable a tougher struggle against terror. He denied that there had been a security failure. Members of parliament, however, are already calling for electromagnetic gates to be installed at the entrances to the country’s churches. The government emphasizes the fact that the terror endangers both Muslims and Christians. The parliament, for its part, is already considering changes in the constitution that would enable the military’s legal system to try civilians suspected of involvement in terror. President Sisi’s challenge is to stop the new radical-Islamic wave of terror while it is still only beginning.




On Topic Links


Turkey, Russia and an Assassination: The Swirling Crises, Explained: Max Fisher, New York Times, Dec. 19, 2016  —Turkey and Russia, whose up-and-down relationship has helped shape the Syrian war and its related crises, shared a new trauma on Monday after an off-duty Turkish police officer assassinated Russia’s ambassador.

Egypt’s Deadliest Church Attack: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 13, 2016 —The worst attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in recent years occurred yesterday, Sunday, December 11, 2016. St. Peter Cathedral in Cairo, packed with worshippers celebrating Sunday mass, was bombed; at least 27 churchgoers, mostly women and children, were killed and 65 severely wounded. As many of the wounded are in critical condition, the death toll is expected to rise.

The Fall of Aleppo Is a Huge Gift to ISIS : Michael Weiss & Hassan Hassan, Daily Beast, Dec. 18, 2016—Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the “Caliph Ibrahim” of the so-called Islamic State, had an excellent week last week. The fall of Aleppo to a consortium of Iranian-built militias backed by Russian airpower and special forces constitutes not only a loud victory for Damascus but also a quieter one for ISIS, or the Islamic State, which mounted a surprise attack that retook the ancient city of Palmyra.

Hezbollah vs. ISIS. vs. Israel: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 12, 2016 —Two incidents in recent weeks showcase the complexity of the challenges facing Israel on its northern front. In the first, an air strike killed four members of the Islamic State-affiliated Khalid Ibn al-Walid Army after a patrol of the Golani reconnaissance unit in the southern Golan Heights was targeted by the organization. Israeli aircraft then targeted a facility used by the group in the Wadi Sirhan area.







Israel Faces Gas Export Challenge: Yakir Gillis, Forbes, Sept. 28, 2016— Israel has been looking to develop its huge offshore gas resources after a period of regulatory uncertainty, but the challenges surrounding the construction and security of export pipelines may put off all but the most forward-looking investors.

Israel Inks Historic Gas Deal with Jordan at Perilous Time: Ari Lieberman, Frontpage, Sept. 28, 2016 — Israel this week signed a historic agreement with Jordan to supply the energy-starved kingdom with natural gas from its Leviathan gas field.

IDF Battles to Keep its Finest From Defecting to Private Sector: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Oct. 27, 2016 — The Israeli army is fighting a battle it knows it can only partially win: to preserve the best of its talent within its ranks, even as the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook entice them with salaries as much as five times what the army can offer.

Spies in Space: The Story of Israel's Ofek Satellite Program: Barbara Opall-Rome, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 25, 2016— If you’re looking for a story that captures Israeli innovation, cunning and can-do chutzpa, think spy satellites. Look to Ofek, the Hebrew word for horizon.


On Topic Links


World’s Largest Desalination Plant Turns Mediterranean into Drinking Water (Video): Breaking Israel News, Oct. 26, 2016

Israel Should Avoid Turkey, Include Cyprus in Gas Export Projects: Ariel Ben Solomon, BESA, Oct. 7, 2016

Israel's Plan to Supply the Arab World With Energy Is Under Threat in Jordan: Natanel Abramov, Newsweek, Oct. 11, 2016

Israel-China Ties Bloom with Free Trade Talks Imminent: Iacopo Luzi, Times of Israel, Sept. 29, 2016





Yakir Gillis                                                          

Forbes, Sept. 28, 2016        


Israel has been looking to develop its huge offshore gas resources after a period of regulatory uncertainty, but the challenges surrounding the construction and security of export pipelines may put off all but the most forward-looking investors. Israel has one of the biggest gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean basin, the Leviathan field, which could in time turn it into a major regional energy player. However, getting the gas out of the ground has been dogged with problems. Chief among them was an antitrust ruling stemming from concerns that the two main exploration companies, Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek, stood to monopolise the country’s natural resource sector.


The subject was addressed in protracted production agreement negotiations between the government and the investors. The process was held up by persistent claims that the latter were being offered too generous a deal. Eventually approved by the Supreme Court in May, the so-called “Gas Framework” offers exploration companies a friendly regulatory and tax environment, exempting them from royalties until they achieve a 150% return on their investment.


Early this month, the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources held an event in London aimed at encouraging international oil and gas companies to submit bids for several new exploration blocks off Israel’s coast. The Minister, Yuval Steinitz, alongside the ministry’s Director General and its Chief Scientist, gave a presentation underlining both the high likelihood of a major natural gas discovery and the attractive production terms offered by the government. It was the second leg of a roadshow that has also taken in Houston and Singapore. But while there is no doubting the commercial potential of the 24 blocks up for auction, Israeli officials may find them a tough sell.


One of the main reasons is the slump in the price of natural gas, which many believe will be long term because of excess supply. There is intense competition between exporters over a limited number of major consumer markets. Since sale to Israeli consumers alone would not be sufficient to offset the costs of production, the commercial success of companies exploring Israel’s offshore reserves will rely on their ability to export to other countries in the Middle East and beyond.


This would require close cooperation between four major actors— Israel, Turkey, Egypt and Cyprus— to create a regional export network. The centrepiece of a plan being discussed in diplomatic and business circles throughout the region is an underwater pipeline running from Israel through Cyprus to Turkey. Turkey is one of the fastest growing energy markets in the world and, more importantly, a gateway to Europe, which has been heavily reliant on gas from Russia. An existing pipeline would connect Israeli offshore sites to Egypt, which is developing substantial LNG infrastructure, and could offer a shipping gateway for LNG exports. This pipeline runs through the volatile Sinai Peninsula and previously transported gas from Egypt to Israel. At that time, its reliability was questioned because of repeated sabotage by terrorists.


The diplomatic challenges involved in getting these countries to cooperate on a gas export project of this scale are formidable. Turkey has only just restored diplomatic relations with Israel after years of heightened tension, and still does not officially recognise the Cypriot government. Relations between Turkey and Egypt have also been strained ever since the July 2013 coup, which ousted former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi, who was supported by Ankara. While Egypt and Israel have been on relatively good terms under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s administration, open cooperation with Israel would leave him facing accusations of ‘selling out’ the Palestinians. All of which undermines the business rationale for launching a major exploration operation in the eastern Mediterranean basin.


But while geopolitical conditions might be difficult, they have never been more favourable than now. The Israeli government is keen to promote regional stability, particularly to make the point that it can be achieved without major concessions to the Palestinians. Turkey’s adoption of a more pragmatic foreign policy and a desire to diversify its energy resources could see it building bridges with regional foes, which was certainly a factor in its rapprochement with Israel. As part of the reconciliation agreement between the two countries in June, Turkey committed to entering negotiations with Israel over the purchase of Israeli gas. The US, meanwhile, would be keen on cooperation between its Middle East allies on pipeline projects, and to see Turkey and Europe shift away from buying Russian gas. Indeed, many observers regard gas exploitation in the eastern Mediterranean as a possible driver of stability and cooperation in the region.


It is hard to predict whether many potential investors will look beyond the present geopolitical obstacles to the proposed pipeline projects, which is why the Israeli government is offering such a favourable regulatory and taxation framework. That should prove to be attractive, but only to those with a significant risk appetite. For exploration companies who believe that countries in the region could in time pull together to export gas to the Middle East and beyond, it might be a gamble worth taking.          




ISRAEL INKS HISTORIC GAS DEAL WITH JORDAN AT PERILOUS TIME                                                        

Ari Lieberman                                                                                                      

Frontpage, Sept. 28, 2016


Israel this week signed a historic agreement with Jordan to supply the energy-starved kingdom with natural gas from its Leviathan gas field. The deal is worth a reported $10 billion and has instantly transformed the Jewish state into an energy exporter. In addition to the obvious pecuniary benefits to the Israeli economy, the agreement promotes regional stability by creating an energy and economic interdependence.


Israel is now looking to sign energy deals with two other regional players of import, Greece and Cyprus. Israel’s energy minister plans on traveling to Athens on Wednesday to cement agreements. The Israeli plan centers on laying a network of pipes so that natural gas can be shipped to these nations as well as other European countries. Currently, much of Europe relies on Russian gas and an alternative source would be welcome. Even Turkey, which recently exchanged ambassadors with Israel after a long hiatus, has expressed interest in cooperating with Israel in the energy sector.


Israel currently operates and lays claim to four gas fields off its coast. Two small ones are located off the shores of Ashkelon while the two larger ones – called Tamar and Leviathan – are located in the north, approximately 90 miles west of Haifa. Leviathan should be fully operational within a few years while the other fields are already supplying Israel with natural gas. Israel derives approximately 60 percent of its electricity needs through natural gas. Energy officials estimate that since the gas began flowing just over a decade ago, Israel has saved approximately 35.5 billion shekels which translates to $9.6 billion.


The welcome news however, comes with cost. Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah, which in turn receives its marching orders from Iran, has laid claim to Israel’s energy finds. Lebanon’s maritime and territorial claims are wholly without merit and it is a virtual certainty that they were made at the behest of either Hezbollah or Iran or both. While Lebanon’s navy is negligible and poses no threat to Israel and its off-shore gas platforms, Hezbollah does pose a more significant threat. Hezbollah possesses a number of Chinese C-802 radar guided anti-ship missiles. A missile of this type damaged an Israeli corvette, the INS Hanit, during the 2006 Lebanon War (the ship was repaired and returned to service 3 weeks later) and sunk a civilian Egyptian ship cruising some 37 miles from shore.


The C-802 can be defeated through electronic counter measures (ECM) and point defense systems like the Barak-8 anti-missile, anti-aircraft system and the Phalanx. In the case of the Hanit, its captain had turned off the ship’s ECM systems because he did not believe that Hezbollah had such missiles. Of greater concern is the Russian Yakhont missile which is considered more accurate and less susceptible to ECM than the C-802. Israel considers these missiles game-changers because they significantly enhance Hezbollah’s anti-ship capabilities. They also quite naturally pose a threat to Israel’s offshore gas platforms and related infrastructure. In the past few years, Israel has launched several successful attacks on Syria aimed at interdicting the flow of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah but it is believed that notwithstanding these efforts, Hezbollah has taken possession of a limited number of Yakhont missiles.


In addition to the missile threat, Israel must also prepare for other contingencies such as suicide speed boats and remotely piloted drones packed with explosives. Israel can also not discount the possibility that Hezbollah may attempt to seize an offshore platform with shock troops. While Hezbollah is fully engaged in Syria and the threat level remains relatively low for the moment, Israel is not resting on its laurels. It is significantly enhancing the Navy’s tactical and strategic capabilities.


The Israeli Navy had once been considered the orphan child of the armed forces. Priority went to the ground and air forces with the Navy getting the leftover hand-me-downs. That perception changed during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 when the Navy was the only branch of the armed forces not taken by surprise during the initial Arab onslaught. Its fleet of Israeli and French designed missile boats decimated the entire Syrian navy and severely mauled the Egyptian navy while keeping the shipping lanes free for maritime traffic. The Navy’s role in securing Israel’s defense has come to prominence ever since.


In the next war with Hezbollah, the Navy will be tasked with neutralizing the Hezbollah menace and securing the eastern Mediterranean. Israel’s naval capabilities are indeed formidable. Its large fleet of Sa’ar 4.5 missile boats and Sa’ar 5 corvettes pack powerful punches and are equipped with Harpoon and Gabriel anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, an array of cannon, point defense missile systems and state-of-the-art ECM. The Sa’ar 5 is also equipped with a helipad and hangar to accommodate the Atalef helicopter. Complementing the corvettes and missile boats are some 45 patrol and fast attack craft, some of which are equipped with missiles and the highly regarded Typhoon stabilized cannon system. Rounding out the surface fleet will be a pair of F124 Sachsen-class frigates from Germany and the Sa’ar 72, an 800 ton vessel currently under construction by Israel Shipyards.


The Navy has also taken possession of its fifth submarine, the INS Rahav. The craft can deliver Israeli designed nuclear tipped missiles called the Popeye Turbo and can remain submerged for significantly longer periods than conventional submarines. It will be tasked with carrying out covert operations and remains a powerful deterrent against those who seek to harm Israel.  Israel’s naval commandos are continuously training for scenarios in which they’re called upon to retake gas rigs seized by terrorists. The complex operation would be made more difficult by the fact that the terrorists could conceivably seize hostages and a firefight on the rig could set off an explosion or fire due to the presence of highly flammable materials.


The challenges involved in protecting Israel’s gas rigs and related infrastructure are daunting but it appears that Israel is more than ready for the task and the Navy will serve as the nation’s tip of the spear.                                                            





DEFECTING TO PRIVATE SECTOR                                                  

Shoshanna Solomon                                                                         

Times of Israel, Oct. 27, 2016


The Israeli army is fighting a battle it knows it can only partially win: to preserve the best of its talent within its ranks, even as the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook entice them with salaries as much as five times what the army can offer. With Israel’s startup scene flourishing and multinationals setting up research and development centers, a shortage of engineers is heating up the competition for skilled personnel, with companies offering fatter and fatter salaries to recruit talent.


A reliable pool of skills — and one that has been fueling the so called “startup nation,” has traditionally come from the army. The IDF recruits 18-year-old women and men for a compulsory two-to-three-year service imposed on most citizens and allocates them to combat or other units, including intelligence and tech units. After intensive training, these soldiers are put in highly sensitive, secret and responsible jobs, developing and using cutting edge technologies. After their service, many stay on to become career soldiers while others venture out into civilian life and are either snapped up by high-tech corporations or set up their own start-up.


“The army has a very real problem” because the salaries it offers cannot compete with those offered by the private sector, said Giora Eiland, a retired major general of the IDF and a former head of the Israeli National Security Council. A son of a friend, he related, who recently graduated from the elite 8200 technology intelligence unit received a number of offers to work for private companies for around NIS 30,000 a month (around $7,800), which was four times the salary the army was offering him to stay on. “If you love your job, salary won’t make much of a difference,” Eiland said. “But if the salary they offer is 100 percent higher or, as in this case, 300 percent higher, then for sure you will leave. There is no dilemma whatsoever.”


Demand for army graduates has been fueled by the surge in startups operating in Israel and multinationals that have set up R&D centers in the country — all of which are scouting for talent. The intensity of their need has been compounded by the shortage of skilled engineers the nation is facing. The number of active high tech companies operating in Israel has jumped from 3,781 in 2006 to 7,400 in mid-2016, according to figures compiled by Tel Aviv-based IVC Research Center, which tracks the industry. In addition, companies from Google to Apple, Deutsche Telecom to Bosch have all set up research and development centers in Israel, with 278 multinational companies operating a total of 327 R&D centers around the country today, compared with about 250 such centers three years ago, IVC data shows.


Meanwhile, Israel’s high-tech industry will suffer a shortfall of more than 10,000 engineers and programmers in the coming decade if the government doesn’t take immediate action to prepare students to enter these fields, the Ministry of Economy and Industry’s chief scientist Avi Hasson warned in a report in June. So there is more demand for these skilled workers than supply, leading to a salary rise of around 10 percent in the past five years with workers changing jobs on average every 20 months, according to data compiled by Workey, which has developed a job search engine for Israeli startups. Starting monthly salaries in high-tech for soldiers who have completed their army service are around NIS 20,000, Workey data shows.


Data released by the IDF shows that a career officer with the rank of lieutenant in a technological position can earn roughly NIS 5,800-9,100 per month, pre-tax, while a captain could earn roughly NIS 8,600-11,200 per month. Salaries are determined by several factors including training, educational background, location and risk level. IDF data also shows that in the years 2011-2015, the number of outstanding officers leaving the army rose from under 17 percent in 2011 to a peak of almost 27% in 2014 before dipping to just over 25% in 2015 . The army defines outstanding officers as those who served as officers for at least two years and rank in the top third of officers in their unit, following a peer evaluation over a period of two years or who have shown outstanding abilities.


So the army decided to fight back. Not with salaries, an area it knows it cannot compete in, but by emphasizing the contribution these soldiers make to the country, by giving them more interesting jobs and greater responsibility at a younger age, and by putting in place a set of perks, scholarships and bonuses that will make them feel more valued. “We saw a trend in which it was very difficult to maintain our soldiers in service and we checked the reasons why,” said Maj. Meirav Stoler, a spokesperson of the Human Resources Branch in the IDF. Those who stay in the army, she said, based on a survey the army conducted among 21- to 29-year-olds, stay not for the salary, but for the challenge their role offered and because the soldiers found it important to contribute to the state.


“We know that the army cannot compete on matching terms with the civilian world,” said Stoler. “But we do not work based on material considerations only. The army needs to provide its soldiers with much more than material things and salaries.” The army’s new plan — which it has been implementing in the past few months — is to make sure that the soldiers who choose to remain “feel they can do more, get more and be more influential,” Stoler said. “Our push to keep the best in the service allows us to give each of them more important and senior jobs, and we see that this is indeed helping people to stay.”…                                   

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




SPIES IN SPACE: THE STORY OF ISRAEL'S                                                                            

OFEK SATELLITE PROGRAM                                                                               

Barbara Opall-Rome                                                                                            

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 25, 2016


If you’re looking for a story that captures Israeli innovation, cunning and can-do chutzpa, think spy satellites. Look to Ofek, the Hebrew word for horizon. It’s all there in Israel’s military satellite program, the newest of which – Ofek 11 – is struggling to stabilize itself in space after its launch earlier last week.


Inserted successfully into orbit by the country’s homemade Shavit launcher, the newest and most advanced satellite is likely to soldier on in space, but with limited lifespan and ability to perform its high-resolution spy duties. White-knuckled technicians and program managers toiling around the clock at Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) ground control station near Ben-Gurion Airport are still hoping for a favorable ending to the latest chapter still unfolding. But like the chapters that have gone before, Ofek 11 represents the highs and lows of a story driven by strategic need and enhanced by its share of diplomatic intrigue. Conceived in secret, it’s a story of battling the laws of physics; and struggling on a shoestring budget to build rockets strong enough to loft satellites small enough into retrograde orbit against Earth’s eastward spin.


It’s also a story of fortitude. How the euphoria of reaching space in 1988 was followed by bitter back-to-back failures that saw two satellites swallowed by the sea. And how the heroes of our story finagled their way back from the brink with the 1995 launch of Ofek-3, Israel’s first operational imaging satellite whose progeny continue to fuel the regional power status of the Jewish state. “Small countries can be great only if they dream big,” said former president Shimon Peres. “With Ofek, we penetrated space and skepticism.”


Interviewed before the stroke that befell the pioneer of Israel’s aerospace and defense industry, Peres said Israel’s small size makes it uniquely positioned as a “center of excellence” for advanced research and development. “Our advantage is creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who push the boundaries of what was deemed impossible.” But with all due respect to Israel’s senior statesman, this is where our tale takes a cautionary turn. Because the flip side of this story is one of untapped potential and failure to leverage billions of dollars invested in military space to assure commercial competitiveness on the global market.


The US Futron Corp. consistently ranks Israel eighth in an annual competitiveness survey based on myriad criteria, including government investment, national space policy, the ability to attract financing and annual sales. In its latest Space Competitive Index (SCI), we have dropped to number nine. “Israel continues to be a leader in space technology, but has limited commercial sales,” Futron reported in its first SCI survey from 2008. The same holds true today. “Although Israeli technology is high quality and generally cost-competitive, Israeli manufacturers have less global scale than their counterparts,” Futron senior analyst Jonathan Beland told the Jerusalem Post Magazine.


But let’s go back. Our story begins in the late 1970s. US President Jimmy Carter was proving relentless in prodding Israel and Egypt toward peace. In the run-up to Camp David, the era of Israeli Air Force reconnaissance flights over Sinai was about to end. Plan Treasure was a top-secret forum where US and Israeli officials hashed out compensation to come from the 1978 accord. Among Israel’s requests: access to imagery from US spy satellites. “The Americans didn’t even answer us; they ignored the request,” recalls David Ivry, a retired major general who commanded the Israel Air Force at the time. That’s when the indigenous Israeli satellite program started to gain traction. Ivry said. “We knew after the treaty was signed, we would be obliged not to violate Egyptian sovereignty by overflying their airspace as we used to do,” he added…

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





On Topic Links



Israel Should Avoid Turkey, Include Cyprus in Gas Export Projects: Ariel Ben Solomon, BESA, Oct. 7, 2016 —As Israel begins closing deals for its natural gas, it should avoid linking itself to any expensive long-term pipeline deal with Turkey at the expense of allies Cyprus, Greece, or even Egypt. Notwithstanding the recent easing of tensions between the two countries, Israel cannot trust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist regime as a linchpin in its natural gas export strategy.

Israel's Plan to Supply the Arab World With Energy Is Under Threat in Jordan: Natanel Abramov, Newsweek, Oct. 11, 2016—Public protests and civil society campaigns have been gathering pace in Jordan in opposition to the $10 billion deal recently signed by the state-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and suppliers of Israeli gas, serving as a timely reminder of the limits of overt cooperation, economic or otherwise, between Israel and neighboring Arab states.

Israel-China Ties Bloom with Free Trade Talks Imminent: Iacopo Luzi, Times of Israel, Sept. 29, 2016—Israel and China relations are reaching new heights as investors and entrepreneurs throng conferences in China and Tel Aviv and the two countries gear up for talks on establishing a free trade zone.

India, the UN vote, the Temple Mount and Ayodhya: Souptik Mukherjee, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 25, 2016— Hindu-Jewish ties date back over 2,500 years. It is believed that Jews arrived in India after the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 587 BCE. Jewish waves of migration to India took place after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.






Putin’s Syria Victory: Wall Street Journal, Feb. 12, 2016 — President Obama has spent five years insisting that there is no military solution to the Syrian civil war. To judge by the “cessation of hostilities” announced Friday in Munich, Vladimir Putin is about to prove him wrong.

Forget ‘Ending the Wars’ — Let’s Win Them Instead: Jackson Diehl, New York Post, Feb. 10, 2016— ‘The tide of war is receding,” President Obama tirelessly insisted four years ago as he campaigned for re-election.

State of the Union Highlights Jordan’s Rift with Obama: Aaron Magid, Al-Monitor, Jan. 13, 2016— Despite the harsh divide among Republican presidential candidates on foreign policy, the importance of Jordan has been a unifying theme.

Israeli Ascendancy, American Decline: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Feb. 12, 2016 — I spent half my week in briefings from top political and military leaders about Israel's regional strategic situation.


On Topic Links


Obama's Foreign Policy Rebuked – by His Own Intel Chiefs: William Tate, American Thinker, Feb. 13, 2016

America Makes a U-Turn in the Middle East: Tony Badran, Tablet, Feb. 4, 2016

Why Obama Will Get Away With Closing Gitmo: Eli Lake & Josh Rogin, New York Post, Jan. 16, 2016

U.S. and Allies Weigh Military Action Against ISIS in Libya: Eric Schmitt & Helene Cooper, New York Times, Jan. 22 2015



                                       Wall Street Journal, Feb. 12, 2016


President Obama has spent five years insisting that there is no military solution to the Syrian civil war. To judge by the “cessation of hostilities” announced Friday in Munich, Vladimir Putin is about to prove him wrong.


In theory the cease-fire that Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will bring a partial end to the fighting in a week and allow expanded humanitarian aid into the country. This is supposed to be followed by a resumption of peace talks, which collapsed this month as Bashar Assad’s regime backed by Russian warplanes pressed an offensive against moderate Syrian rebels.


In practice, however, this looks like another Russian victory. Russian planes have intensified their bombing of Aleppo, forcing thousands of civilians to flee to the Turkish border through the only corridor that remains beyond Mr. Assad’s control. Mr. Lavrov says the week delay is needed to sort out the “modalities” of the cease-fire, but the real reason is to give the regime time to complete Aleppo’s encirclement.


The cease-fire explicitly excludes attacks on Islamic State (ISIS) and the al Qaeda-backed Nusra Front. This would make sense if the Kremlin weren’t falsely claiming that its targets are “terrorists” even as it neglects to attack ISIS. Expect the charade to go on until Mr. Putin achieves his military and strategic goals.


The fall of Aleppo and other rebel enclaves in western Syria will allow Mr. Assad to consolidate his grip on the most fertile and populated part of the country. Next month’s negotiations can then “freeze” the conflict in place, a tactic Russia used to its advantage after its invasion of Georgia in 2008 and last year’s Minsk agreement over eastern Ukraine. ISIS can be dealt with later, while Mr. Assad can count on U.S. air strikes to degrade ISIS’s capabilities as he deals with his more immediate enemies.


This isn’t the Russian “quagmire” Mr. Obama predicted last year when Moscow stepped into Syria. Mr. Putin has consolidated his strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean with a tough but limited military intervention and minimal casualties. He has strengthened ties to Tehran. He has shown the Muslim world that he’s the power to be reckoned with, which is why Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have backed away from their opposition to Mr. Putin’s gambit.


The Russian has also gained diplomatic leverage that he’ll use to gain further concessions from the U.S. and Europe. This will likely start, but not end, with sanctions relief as Europe and the U.S. gradually acquiesce to his Ukrainian annexations. Mr. Obama will gladly make this trade since the “cease-fire” will ease what had been growing media criticism in the U.S. of his Syrian abdications.


The next U.S. President will inherit the wreckage. This includes the betrayal of the Free Syrian Army and the example it sets for other potential U.S. allies; the non-defeat of ISIS; the loss of credibility with traditional allies in Jerusalem, Riyadh and Cairo; Russia’s renewed influence in the region; the improbable victory of a murderous dictator who Mr. Obama once insisted had to “step aside”; and the consolidation of an Iranian crescent from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut.


Add to that the killing of more than 250,000 Syrians and the greatest refugee crisis since the end of World War II, and this is some record. Mr. Obama might call it success, but George Orwell would have used a different term.            





Jackson Diehl                        

                                                  New York Post, Feb. 10, 2016


‘The tide of war is receding,” President Obama tirelessly insisted four years ago as he campaigned for re-election. Even then, the slogan seemed untethered from reality. Not only was fighting in Afghanistan intensifying, with no end in sight, but Syria, Iraq and Libya were all sliding toward civil war.


That Obama stayed with the phrase reflected not just his electoral strategy but an enduring feature of his foreign policy. Having arrived in office with a handful of ideologically driven goals, the president has stubbornly stuck to them regardless of contradictory facts on the ground.


“Ending the wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan was foremost among those objectives. Obama forced the pace of US troop withdrawals from Iraq in order to finish in time for his 2012 campaign, and until a few months ago, he appeared implacably committed to completing an Afghanistan withdrawal before leaving office.


One of the most important questions of Obama’s remaining months consequently is whether — and to what extent — he can let go of his wished-for legacy. Can he accept that it is a vital US interest not just to preserve a US military presence in Afghanistan and the Middle East, but to step it up to confront growing threats from the Islamic State, the Taliban and al Qaeda? Can he acknowledge that the “tide of war” is not receding, but — like it or not — swelling?


Three big decisions are on his plate. In October, the president scrapped his plan to reduce the 9,800-strong US force in Afghanistan to an embassy-based contingent of maybe 1,000 by next January, and last month he gave US commanders permission to attack Islamic State targets as well as al Qaeda.


However, he hasn’t yet altered his target of reducing US forces to 5,500 by the end of the year. Nor has he responded to proposals to provide regular combat air support to Afghan forces against the Taliban to stop what have been steady and cumulatively alarming gains by the insurgents. As both the incoming and outgoing US commanders have publicly hinted, Obama will soon be asked, at a minimum, to stop the troop drawdown to prevent an Afghan military collapse.


In Iraq, Obama has allowed the US troop level to creep back up to 3,700 since 2013, counting special forces deployed in Syria. But as The New York Times recently reported, Pentagon officials believe many hundreds more will need to be dispatched in the coming months if Iraqi and Kurdish forces are to have a chance to retake Mosul, the largest terrorist-controlled city. That includes trainers, but also commandos and other front-line personnel — in other words, combat forces. There, too, Obama has not yet made a decision.


Last, but perhaps not least, Obama faces a choice in Libya, where his national-security team believes action is urgently needed to head off an Islamic State entity taking root there. “It’s fair to say we’re looking to take decisive military action,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said last month, reflecting the Pentagon’s view. But not Obama’s: “That’s not in his horizon at the moment,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said at a conference on Libya last week.


How will Obama manage these three decisions? Seven years of evidence suggests he’ll water down his commanders’ proposals and approve only incremental steps. The problem — especially for Obama’s successor — is that decisive action cannot easily be postponed for another year.


That’s particularly true in Afghanistan, as was underlined in a conversation I had last week with Saad Mohseni, the operator of the country’s most popular private television channel, Tolo TV. Tolo suffered a devastating blow last month when a Taliban suicide bomber slammed into a company bus in Kabul, killing seven and injuring 25.


But this assault on one of the country’s greatest achievements since 2001 — free media — was just part of a grim landscape sketched by Mohseni: a government paralyzed by infighting, a stalled economy and a poorly led and demoralized army that is barely preventing a Taliban takeover of several major provinces.


Mohseni’s recommendations echo the generals: Deploy US airpower against the Taliban and call off the troop drawdown. But he’d also like to see Obama appoint a special envoy to help break the political deadlock in Kabul, which is impeding steps to renew provincial governments and the Afghan army. “The United States has huge leverage,” he said. “You can still turn the situation around.” The question is whether a president who dreamed of ending the wars can be persuaded to do it.






Aaron Magid                         

                                                Al-Monitor, Jan. 13, 2016


Despite the harsh divide among Republican presidential candidates on foreign policy, the importance of Jordan has been a unifying theme. Donald Trump praised King Abdullah on Twitter and Ohio Gov. John Kasich wished in a presidential debate that Jordan’s king “would reign for a thousand years.” In stark contrast to the Republicans, President Barack Obama downplayed or did not mention Amman’s most critical national priorities — the Islamic State [IS], Palestine and the war in Syria — during his Jan. 12 State of the Union address.


Addressing members of Congress that evening, Obama emphasized, “As we focus on destroying [IS], over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.” The American leader’s assertion that such dire warnings about IS are misguided directly contradict one of Abdullah’s main talking points when traveling overseas.


Over and over — whether at the United Nations General Assembly podium, during an interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose or even in Kosovo — the Jordanian monarch has declared that the battle against IS is “a third world war, and I believe we must respond with equal intensity.”


After IS kidnapped Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh and burned him alive in a cage in February of last year, the Jordanian air force launched a series of strikes against IS targets in Syria and Iraq. Jordan claimed to have killed 7,000 fighters in the days following Kaseasbeh’s execution.


Obama’s minimizing of the IS campaign speaks to a fundamental divergence with Abdullah and has led many leading thinkers in Amman to question America’s determination and willingness to, in the president’s own words, “degrade and ultimately destroy [IS]." If the world’s strongest and most advanced military cannot defeat a far inferior and less organized group, what are Obama’s true intentions?


In addition to IS, the State of the Union illustrated a major policy rift with Amman regarding the Palestinian peace process. Obama did not once bother to mention Palestine or Israel in the speech setting up his administration’s goals for the upcoming year. Here again, Jordanian leaders take an opposite approach to this sensitive issue. House Speaker Atif Tarawneh said in October, “Jordan, under the leadership of King Abdullah II, has placed the Palestinian issue on top of its priorities.” Amman raises the urgent need to create a Palestinian state in almost every meeting abroad.


The Hashemite Kingdom’s difference with the Obama administration is not solely focused on this speech, but rather encompasses a larger policy divide. Since Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace efforts stalled in 2014, the United States has not led an ongoing effort to end the Palestinian conflict. White House Middle East coordinator Rob Malley told reporters in November that reaching a negotiated solution between the parties during Obama’s remaining term “is not in the cards.” In contrast to Amman’s wishes, the Obama administration no longer prioritizes tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a region filled with violence.


Even before the speech, it was difficult to ignore the missing element in Abdullah’s Washington itinerary Jan. 12. After traveling thousands of miles, the king initially could not secure a meeting with Obama because of "scheduling conflicts." However, the two did meet briefly Jan. 13 at Andrews Air Force Base before both departed on separate trips. A longtime and dependable US ally despite the Middle East’s turmoil arrives in the US capital, but Obama could not carve out more than about five minutes for the king.


In addition to the battle against IS, nearly five years of fighting in Syria have dramatically impacted next-door Jordan. Jordan has absorbed over 630,000 Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations (one diplomat estimates that Syrians represent about 20% of Jordan’s population), and Abdullah has repeatedly called for decisive action to end the conflict. Yet, in Obama’s brief mentioning of the bloody crisis that has killed some 250,000 people, the US president appeared satisfied with US policy. Obama cites Syria as an example of the “smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power” by partnering with local forces — despite the fact that the conflict’s violence has only been spreading.


It is no wonder that in recent months, Abdullah has met multiple times with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a US rival, during trips to Moscow to discuss developments in the Middle East. The United States provides Jordan with significant financial aid, but mere monetary assistance is no longer sufficient in tackling the region’s spiraling crises. With Putin demonstrating decisive action in his military intervention alongside Damascus while daylight grows between Abdullah and Obama over IS, Palestine and Syria, the king may question whether the United States is truly a reliable Jordanian ally during such uncertain times.




David M. Weinberg

                                Israel Hayom, Feb. 12, 2016


I spent half my week in briefings from top political and military leaders about Israel's regional strategic situation. The other half of my week was devoted to analyzing America's Mideast policy and the tracking of the U.S. presidential primaries. The first half of my week filled me with confidence; the second half with despondency.


It is a time of strategic ascendancy for Israel. Alas, it is a time of self-inflicted strategic decline for America. Israel is growing in regional influence; America is shrinking. The implications are far-reaching. Israel's enhanced pre-eminence is a function of Arab state meltdown, Iran's drive for regional hegemony, and the resultant search for new defense and political alliances. Israel's importance also builds-out from its technological prowess and economic perspicacity.


Consequently, Egypt, the Gulf states, Russia, China, India and non-European democracies are pounding the pavement to Israel's doorstep to make common strategic cause — some more openly than others, but defiantly so. We share intelligence and know-how, plan diplomatic strategy and trade in quality goods. We form a bulwark against radical and subversive forces.

All the countries involved in these ascending relationships know that Israel is stable, credible and consistent in building and fulfilling its alliance responsibilities. It is a loyal partner. It understands the necessity of military power in statecraft, and it knows how to utilize it when necessary.


Alas, that is no longer the case with America, after seven years of President Barack Obama. The U.S. has telegraphed its fatigue and is begging to retreat from global leadership. The Obama administration has abdicated regional predominance to Vladimir Putin's Russia and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's Iran, while devoting only lip service to the fight against jihadi Islam. It has brow-beaten its friends and bowed before its adversaries. It has abandoned its erstwhile friends and squandered its prestige.

The administration has also fed the American people and the global community the following series of falsehoods that are transparently illusory: Al-Qaida has been defeated, the Islamic State group has been overwhelmed, Iran has been contained and Russia has been reset or tamed.


Worst of all, the Obama administration seems to have set the stage for the collapse into insanity that characterizes the 2016 U.S. presidential primaries. Only an American public so starved for pathways out of the muck into which Obama has dragged the country, in both domestic and foreign affairs, could be tempted into supporting demagogues like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.


Only a voter desperate for renewed American "greatness" (Trump) and/or American "magic" (Sanders), and seeking a supernatural wand that will break the cowardly spell that Obama has cast over America — could reach for the asinine extremes.


With their volatile temperaments, these outlier candidates promise only confusion. One day they talk about deep retrenchment from American global commitments — the next about more aggressiveness in global affairs. A swashbuckling foreign policy one day — a flaccid, uncaring foreign policy the next. Mega-capitalism one day — super-socialism the next.

America appears to be a forlorn country that is scraping the bottom of the barrel to find a radical antidote to Obama — a failed messiah if there ever was one. In the process, it risks becoming a laughingstock, not just an indisposed and confused superpower.


Everywhere in the world, people are asking: Is Trump or Sanders really the wisest commander-in-chief that Americans can conjure up? How much longer can this scary campaign continue before all the bolts start coming loose on the USS America? Have Americans fallen off their rocker? Needless to say, any extended fall of America from strategic acuity and sensible policymaking has seismic implications for Israel.


It's true, as described above, that today Israel enjoys new diplomatic maneuverability and strategic depth that does not run through Washington. But so much of Israel's armament, political cover and moral support are still dependent on the United States. No less than Americans, Israelis cannot afford further American political folly. Eight years of Obamanian arrogance and waywardness was enough. Please, America, get a grip and elect yourself a levelheaded leader!



On Topic


Obama's Foreign Policy Rebuked – by His Own Intel Chiefs: William Tate, American Thinker, Feb. 13, 2016 —Barack Obama's foreign policy – and by extension Hillary Clinton's – received a stinging rebuke this week…from Obama's own intelligence chiefs.

America Makes a U-Turn in the Middle East: Tony Badran, Tablet, Feb. 4, 2016—The administration of President Barack Obama seldom missed an opportunity to insist that the alternative to the Iran nuclear deal was a war with Iran, a prospect that has now presumably been kicked further down the road. Middle Easterners are not so lucky: They get to fight their wars with Iran right now.

Why Obama Will Get Away With Closing Gitmo: Eli Lake & Josh Rogin, New York Post, Jan. 16, 2016—President Obama is determined to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and if he decides to do so without Congress, there may be little his opponents can do to stop him. Since his State of the Union Address Tuesday, the administration has sped up the effort significantly. Ten prisoners were transferred this week. Ninety-three prisoners remain, 34 of whom have been cleared for release.

U.S. and Allies Weigh Military Action Against ISIS in Libya: Eric Schmitt & Helene Cooper, New York Times, Jan. 22 2015—Worried about a growing threat from the Islamic State in Libya, the United States and its allies are increasing reconnaissance flights and intelligence collecting there and preparing for possible airstrikes and commando raids, senior American policy makers, commanders and intelligence officials said this week.










The Facebook Intifada: Micah Lakin Avni, New York Times, Nov. 3, 2015 — Three weeks ago, my father was riding on a public bus in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood when terrorists from East Jerusalem shot him in the head and stabbed him multiple times.

The Hidden Hand Behind the Palestinian Terror Wave: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, Oct. 25, 2015— The wave of Palestinian terror against Israel, which the Palestinian leadership calls an “intifada” (a violent uprising that includes an armed struggle), is winning open support from all the representative organizations and institutions of the Palestinian people…

Jordan’s Delicate But Pivotal Role on the Temple Mount: Barry Shaw, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 28, 2015— When all strands of Palestinian political society came together in a deadly incitement based on religion radiating out from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem it left many dead on both sides of the religious divide…

Why Oslo Failed: Confronting “Peace Now”:  Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Oct. 29, 2015 — Notwithstanding the latest “Peace Now” demonstrations in Tel-Aviv, Oslo Agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority remain destined to fail.


On Topic Links


Sara Zoabi Speaks at Israeli Knesset: Youtube, Oct. 14, 2015

Toronto-Born Jewish Terror Victim Dies After Year in Coma Following Meat Cleaver Attack at Jerusalem Synagogue: Michael Bell, Tom Najem & Neil Quilliam, Globe & Mail,  Oct. 20, 2015

In Tense Eastern Jerusalem, Arabs and Jews Hunker Down: Ben Sales, Times of Israel, Nov. 2, 2015

Palestinian Incitement to Violence and Terror: Nothing New, But Still Dangerous: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Nov. 17, 2015




Micah Lakin Avni

                     New York Times, Nov. 3, 2015


Three weeks ago, my father was riding on a public bus in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood when terrorists from East Jerusalem shot him in the head and stabbed him multiple times. Afterward, as he lay unconscious in the intensive care unit of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, fighting for his life, one question was on my mind: What inspired the two young Palestinian men to savagely attack my father and a busload of passengers?


My father, Richard Lakin, dedicated his life to the cause of Israeli-Arab reconciliation. Ever since moving to Israel from Connecticut in the 1980s, he spent his career teaching English to Israeli and Arab children. Inspired by his experience marching with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, he became a founding member of Israel Loves Iran, a social media initiative designed to bring the citizens of these two nations closer together. When news of his tragedy broke, many of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish residents of Jerusalem who knew my father and admired his work rushed to his bedside to pay their respects and say a prayer for his recovery. Even Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, stopped by on his recent visit to Israel.


Watching the well-wishers congregating in the intensive care unit, however, I realized that the world leaders who were having the most impact on the situation in the Middle East right now weren’t Mr. Ban or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jack Dorsey of Twitter and other young entrepreneurs who shape the social media platforms most of us use every day.


It may sound strange to talk of Twitter and Facebook as relevant players in the war against terror, but as the recent wave of violence in Israel has proved, that is increasingly the case. The young men who boarded the bus that day intent on murdering my 76-year-old father did not make their decision in a vacuum. One was a regular on Facebook, where he had already posted a “will for any martyr.” Very likely, they made use of one of the thousands of posts, manuals and instructional videos circulating in Palestinian society these last few weeks, like the image, shared by thousands on Facebook, showing an anatomical chart of the human body with advice on where to stab for maximal damage.


Sickeningly, my father, too, became a viral hit on Palestinian social media: Hours after he was shot and stabbed, a video re-enactment of the attack was posted online celebrating the gruesome incident, and calling on more young Palestinians to go out and murder Jews. Such images, YouTube videos and comments have become a regular feature on social media after every attack.


My father raised me to cherish and protect free speech, but the very liberty that free speech was designed to protect is at stake when it is used to spread venom and incite violence. Just as it is universally recognized that shouting fire in a crowded theater is dangerous and should be prohibited, so, too, must we now recognize that rampant online incitement is a danger that must be reckoned with immediately, before more innocent people end up as victims.


The companies who’ve turned social media platforms into very big business argue, and rightly so, that monitoring each post is nearly impossible, that permitting users the freedom of expression is essential, that there are already steps in place to combat hate speech. All that is true. But something new is happening today, and what Facebook, Twitter and the others must realize is that the question of incitement on social media isn’t just a logistical or financial question but, first and foremost, a moral one.


This wave of terrorism is different from anything we’ve seen, involving not terrorists recruited by shadowy organizations but ordinary young men and women inspired by hateful and bloody messages they see online to take matters and blades into their own hands. Just as many of us now argue that we should hold gun manufacturers responsible for the devastation brought about by their products, we should demand the same of social media platforms, now being used as sources of inspiration and instruction for murderers.


One immediate solution is to remove blatant incitement without waiting for formal complaints — it’s one thing to express a political opinion, even one that supports violent measures, and another to publish a how-to chart designed to train and recruit future terrorists. To that end, an Israeli non-profit took legal action against Facebook earlier this week, demanding that the company do more to monitor and remove unacceptable content. My family joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs. Still, I believe that any truly successful effort to curb the culture of hate on social media must come from the companies themselves.


Companies can become more active in combating hate. The popular social networking site Reddit, for example, not only banned specific types of unacceptable content — such as a group encouraging rape — but it also engaged specific user groups in dialogue, a simple act of civility that succeeded in curbing the worst rhetoric. Companies can and must work harder — using all the tools at their disposal — to create an online culture that does not tolerate violence and hate.


Sadly, for my father, it’s too late: Two weeks after the attack, he succumbed to his wounds. When they heard the news of his passing, many of his friends — Christians, Muslims, Jews — posted his favorite photo on their social media channels. It shows an Arab and an Israeli boy, their arms around each other, while the text around them spells simply “coexist.”





Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi

JCPA, Oct. 25, 2015


The wave of Palestinian terror against Israel, which the Palestinian leadership calls an “intifada” (a violent uprising that includes an armed struggle), is winning open support from all the representative organizations and institutions of the Palestinian people, including the PLO, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, the Hamas authorities who control Gaza, and organizations representing the Palestinian diaspora. The green light for the intifada was given by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 30, in which he lauded Palestinian terror and threatened political chaos – that is, a descent into an all-out intifada-type conflict.


By unleashing Palestinian terror Abbas hopes to bring about greater international intervention in the conflict, and, thereby, to give greater heft to UN General Assembly Resolution 67/19 of December 4, 2012, which recognizes “Palestine” as a nonmember observer state of the UN within the borders of June 4, 1967, including east Jerusalem. Thus the Palestinian terror is meant to leverage international pressure on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank without negotiations or conditions. The Palestinian struggle against Israel will then continue from the new borders under improved circumstances.


The Hamas leadership, too, sees the UN resolution as a historic opportunity for it, particularly the provision that recognizes “the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in accordance with a decision by the Palestine National Council, [as] entrusted with the powers and responsibilities of the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine….” Hamas, which in the past was a bitter foe of the PLO, has made it a supreme goal to take over the organization. It thereby seeks to gain the status of sole representative of the Palestinian people and the right to international recognition of that status with the entire attendant political, legal, economic, and other ramifications.


Hence, in the reconciliation agreements between the PA/Fatah and Hamas, the Hamas leadership demanded the formation of a temporary PLO leadership that would include Hamas and Islamic Jihad – that is, partnership in the temporary Palestinian government – and the holding of new elections for the PLO institutions, first and foremost the Palestinian National Council.


Despite his declared support for a national reconciliation, Abbas is in no hurry to incorporate Hamas in the PLO institutions and is making this conditional on gaining real control of Gaza, currently under the effective control of Hamas. In Hamas’ view, Abbas and the present Palestinian leadership are an obstacle to gaining a foothold in the PLO institutions and the PLO Executive Committee, which constitutes the “temporary” Palestinian government. The Hamas leadership understands that Abbas is trying, by means of the intifada, to upgrade the international recognition of the Palestinian state and of his status as “president” of all the Palestinian people, including Gaza, and to do so without enabling Hamas’s incorporation in the institutions of the state-in-the-making that are recognized by the international community.


Hamas has branded the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah as “traitors,” collaborators with Israel in the “grave crime” of security cooperation, to be punished by execution for “severe treason” against the Palestinian people. The Hamas leaders deny the legitimacy of the PA’s rule and call for its overthrow by the masses. In recent years the Hamas leadership has been trying to spark an intifada in the West Bank that will lead to the PA’s collapse – whether through a revolt by the Palestinian population or a wide-scale Israeli military operation against the PA military forces that are responsible for the terror.


The Hamas leadership is also appropriating the current terror wave by dubbing it the “Al-Quds Intifada,” while putting cardinal emphasis on opening a front against Israel both in the West Bank and within Israel itself by calling on Israeli Arabs to take an active part in the struggle. Gaza serves as a base for setting the terror wave in motion. Apart, though, from a few attacks (the firing of a few rockets, some sniper fire, and breaches of the border fence), the Hamas leadership is refraining as in the past from responding to the “assault on the Palestinians” with massive rocket fire from Gaza at Israeli communities.


Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri made clear (in the Hamas daily Felesteen, October 14, 2005) that Hamas wants to sustain what it has called “the popular nature of the Al-Quds Intifada” while keeping it focused on the West Bank and Jerusalem, along with attacks within Israel. Abu Zuhri also underlined the harnessing of legal tools and of the human rights organizations to the terror organizations’ struggle against Israel, and particularly, as he called it, against “extrajudicial executions” of Palestinians (in other words, those killed during attempts to murder Israeli civilians and soldiers with knives, vehicles, and so on)…


The Hamas leadership, then, does not want to open an immediate military front against Israel in Gaza, but rather to focus the terror activity on the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Israel itself. The overriding goal is to undermine the PA’s rule…

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





JORDAN’S DELICATE BUT PIVOTAL ROLE ON THE TEMPLE MOUNT                                                                

Barry Shaw

Arutz Sheva, Oct. 28, 2015


When all strands of Palestinian political society came together in a deadly incitement based on religion radiating out from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem it left many dead on both sides of the religious divide – Jewish Israelis who were the prime target of Islam-motivated Palestinians.


Although the Islamic Movement and Hamas (are) two of the leading Palestinian instigators of the violence, it was the statements of a presumed secular Mahmoud Abbas that inflamed the Palestinian street. He, like Yasser Arafat before him, presumed to speak for the Muslim world when he exhorted his people in a televised address to his people on September 16, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.”


He was referring to his incitement to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount plateau which is the most holy place in Judaism.  About them he said, “The Al-Aqsa Mosque is ours. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is ours as well. They have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet; we won’t allow them to do that.” This statement was not only inflammatory; it was disdainful not only to Jews and Christians but also to King Abdullah, the Hashemite leader of the Kingdom of Jordan. It was also terribly presumptuous as Palestinian Arabs have no religious right to govern any holy site in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in particular.


The accepted status quo rests on Israel’s agreement in 1967 to allow the Jordanian appointed Waqf to govern the Islamic holy site on the Temple Mount, known in the Muslim world as “Haram al-Sharif.” The explosion of the Arab war of 1948 against the nascent state of Israel left part of Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria, colloquially called “the West Bank,” under Jordanian occupation.


Jordan formally annexed the land they conquered in a war of aggression on April 24, 1950. This was widely considered illegal, including by the Arab League. On July 27, 1953, King Hussein declared the parts of Jerusalem under Jordanian control to be “the alternative capital of the Hashemite Kingdom” and would form “an integral and inseparable part” of Jordan. There was no consideration during the Jordanian occupation of any of this territory to be a state of Palestine. No claims for “Palestine” were lodged between 1948 and 1967 while it remained under Hashemite control, despite later narratives of “Palestinian Arabs” being kept in refugee status within Jordan itself.


Those Arabs remaining in the "West Bank" and east Jerusalem were granted Jordanian citizenship without complaint. Its residents were allowed to vote in the Jordanian parliamentary elections and their representatives continued to sit in the Jordanian parliament as late as 1988 even though Jordan lost all of the territory it held in Jerusalem and the "West Bank" following a failed aggressive war it launched against Israel in 1967.


Following the Jordanian victory over Israel in 1948, as part of the Armistice Agreement signed on April 3, 1949. Jordan obligated to allow “free access to the holy site and cultural institutions and cemeteries on the Mount of Olives.”  However, Jews were barred from entering into the Old City and visiting the Jewish holy places. Synagogues within the Old City were systematically destroyed. Gravestones in the Jewish Mount of Olives cemetery were desecrated and taken to be used as paving stones. The Wailing Wall, a part of the destroyed Jewish Temple, was used as a urinal.


When Arab nations prepared once again to attack Israel in June 1967 in what became known as the “Six Dar War” the Arab armies suffered crippling losses of weaponry and equipment. Arab losses in the conflict were disastrous. Egypt’s casualties numbered more than 11,000, with 6,000 for Jordan and 1,000 for Syria, compared with only 700 for Israel. Nobody at that time criticized Israel for a “disproportionate use of force” as they have constantly chosen to do in later events when Israel has been forced to defend itself from aggressive violence and terrorism, including during recent knifing and stoning attacks in which Palestinians have sustained a greater loss of life than Israelis.


In 1967, Israel warned Jordan to stay out of the fighting. Ignoring this request, Jordan began pounding the western parts of Jerusalem with artillery fire. Israel launched a counter-offensive which drove Jordanian troops out of Jerusalem and much of the "West Bank." Israel offered the Jordanians a ceasefire. This was refused. The muezzin loudspeakers on the Dome of the Rock mosque bellowed “Take up your weapons and take back your country taken by the Jews.”


Perhaps the most iconic and historic moment of this war was when Israeli soldiers broke through the Lion Gate leading into the Old City of Jerusalem and fought their way through the narrow alleyways to the most central site in Judaism. There the IDF Chief of Staff, Mordechai “Motta” Gur, radioed the message “The Temple Mount is in our hands!” A tremor went through the soul of every Jew. Following two millennia during which Jews prayed to be reunited with Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple, Israel had liberated Judaism’s most revered shrine.


The guardianship of these Islamic shrines has, historically, been allocated into the hands of Jordan.

Moshe Dayan was Israel’s Minister of Defense and, as he proceeded across the Temple Mount plateau he saw an Israeli flag atop the Dome of the Rock and he ordered it taken down. After he placed a private prayer note in the cracks of the Western Wall he turned and declared, “We’ve reunited the city, the capital of Israel, never to part it again. To our Arab neighbors, Israel extends the hand of peace and to all peoples of all faiths; we guarantee full freedom of worship. We’ve not come to conquer the holy places of others but to live with others in harmony.”…

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




WHY OSLO FAILED: CONFRONTING “PEACE NOW”                                                                            

Louis Rene Beres

Breaking Israel News, Oct. 29, 2015


Notwithstanding the latest “Peace Now” demonstrations in Tel-Aviv, Oslo Agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority remain destined to fail. This is not because of any Israeli “right-wing government intransigence,” but on account of an immutably corrupted Palestinian doctrine.


From Oslo’s beginnings, in 1993, the Arab side sought only to embrace the U.S.-brokered pact as a promising means of improving its own relative power position. Even then, in unhidden sentiments that have become still more explicit during the so-called “Third Intifada,” the Palestinians had been seeking only a One-State Solution. Never, even for a moment, did a single Palestinian faction display any authentic interest in living “side-by-side” with any Jewish State. Never did any such faction actually favor a “Two-State Solution.” Never.


There are, of course, other elements of Palestinian misrepresentation and contrivance, that have cumulatively doomed the “peace process.” Most obvious is the ongoing and plainly-undiminished Palestinian commitment to incitement and terror, and, as an inevitable corollary, the continuing Palestinian insistence on a “right of return.” On its face, this alleged “right” remains a not-so-coded message for accelerating Israel’s incremental destruction. Prima facie, this seemingly-benign and “just” expectation clearly represents complete rejection of Israel’s physical continuance as a sovereign state. For any “peace process,” even ones currently favored by Israel’s “Peace Now,” this particular sort of rejection is not merely problematic. It is, rather, replacement-centered, or openly annihilatory.


There is yet another important reason to explain incessant Palestinian noncompliance with Oslo. This most widely overlooked explanation centers on the uniform and persistent Palestinian Authority violations of international criminal law, here, the “peremptory” obligation to extradite wanted terrorists to Israel. This incontrovertible obligation stems from both: 1) the actual language of the codifying agreement; and 2) the always-binding principles of underlying international law. Such jurisprudential principles do not depend for their implementation upon any specific treaties or pacts.  Sometimes, they are even binding perpetually, as “jus cogens” norms, to introduce specific legal terminology of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.


From Oslo’s beginnings, on September 13, 1993, the Palestinian Authority, inter alia, absolutely refused to honor its expressly core obligation to extradite Arab terrorists to Israel. Significantly, even if the Oslo Agreements had not themselves contained unambiguous provisions for terrorist extradition, the PA would still have been bound to “extradite or prosecute” terrorist murderers, according to the more general, customary, and pre-existing rules of international criminal law. Ultimately, the basic and universally-binding requirement to extradite major criminals (Hostes humani generis, or “Common enemies of humankind”) lies most enduringly in “Natural Law.”…


In turn, this “higher law” exists at the normative center of all civilized national and international legal systems, most prominently, in the jurisprudential foundations of Israel, and the United States of America. his general legal obligation to extradite is more than merely anecdotal. It has a proper name. It is specifically referenced, in law, as aut dedere, aut judicare;  “extradite or prosecute.”…

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



On Topic


Sara Zoabi Speaks at Israeli Knesset: Youtube, Oct. 14, 2015 —Sara Zoabi in the Knesset yesterday speaking about Muslim Zionism. English translation provided by Calgary United with Israel (CUWI).

Toronto-Born Jewish Terror Victim Dies After Year in Coma Following Meat Cleaver Attack at Jerusalem Synagogue: Michael Bell, Tom Najem & Neil Quilliam, Globe & Mail,  Oct. 20, 2015—Nearly one year ago, doctors placed Toronto-born Howie (Chaim) Rothman, an Israeli-Canadian brutally wounded in a terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in a drug-induced coma, so devastating was the swelling of his brain.

In Tense Eastern Jerusalem, Arabs and Jews Hunker Down: Ben Sales, Times of Israel, Nov. 2, 2015 —To get to the Jewish compound in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, residents arrange in advance for an armored van to pick them up at a spot adjacent to the walls of the Old City.

Palestinian Incitement to Violence and Terror: Nothing New, But Still Dangerous: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Nov. 17, 2015—The bitter, civil violence and terror over the past weeks, concentrated in Hebron and in Jerusalem, revolving around the issue of the Al Aqsa mosque, and enveloping Arabs both in Israel and in the disputed territories, are being attributed by various commentators to a series of causes and reasons.