Tag: Queens University

GAZA WAR: HAMAS’ MISCALCULATION, FAJR-5’s, LOOMING IRANIAN BOMB, DICTATED ISRAEL’S “DISPROPORTIONATE DETERRENCE”

Ambassador Alan Baker

Is Peace Possible? Israel, Palestinians & the  UN

 

Monday, November 19, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

The Chevra  @  5237 Clanranald  |   $5 at the door

 

RSVP: 514-486-5544  |  cijr@isranet.org

 

 

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

Contents:

 

 

Only Disproportionate Deterrence Will Offset Hamas: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Nov 18, 2012 —In fact, a disproportionate response to aggression is fully consistent with international law in which the prime obligation of the state is to protect its civilians. Those seeking to deny us this basic right are maliciously hypocritical.

Hamas' Miscalculation: Barak Mendelsohn, Foreign Affairs, Nov. 18, 2012—In fact, two factors pushed Hamas to ramp up its bombing campaign: competition from Salafi groups and Hamas' belief that its strategic environment had improved in the wake of the Arab Spring.

 

With Longer Reach, Rockets Bolster Hamas Arsenal: Ethan Bronner, New York Times, November 17, 2012 — When Israel assassinated the top Hamas military commander in Gaza on Wednesday, setting off the current round of fierce fighting, it was aiming not just at a Palestinian leader but at a supply line of rockets from Iran that have for the first time given Hamas the ability to strike as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Western Media Elites Just Don’t Get the Middle East: Barry Rubin, Jewish Press, November 18th, 2012

"IDF Did More to Safeguard Civilians Than Any Army in History of Warfare": Col. Richard Kemp, UN Watch, October 16, 2009

Eleven Reasons Why This Is Not Cast Lead: Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz, Nov.18, 2012

Paz Azran, 12th grade student from Ashkelon speaking to 70 Ambassadors and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu About her experiences under bombardment: IraeliPM, YouTube Video, Nov 12, 2012

Dear North American Student: Rebecca, CIJR, Nov. 16, 2012 

 

 

 

ONLY DISPROPORTIONATE DETERRENCE WILL OFFSET HAMAS

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, Nov 18, 2012

 

The Jewish state was created to overcome powerlessness and provide a haven for Jews – not to have them cringing in shelters. There had previously been considerable criticism of the government for its failure to adequately respond to the ongoing toll inflicted on over a million Israeli citizens obliged to endure thousands of missiles launched against them at the whim of a loathsome neighboring terrorist state….

 

Hamas is no longer a terrorist faction. It is in every respect an independent state the majority of whose citizens enthusiastically support the terrorist initiatives and missile launches initiated by its evil leaders, who are committed to our annihilation.

 

The situation deteriorated with the rise to power in Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood, the creators of Hamas. Since then, the Egyptian authorities stood by as Hamas accumulated vast quantities of sophisticated missiles and other lethal weapons including guided anti-tank missiles and shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft weapons from Iran, Libya Sudan and other states.

 

That explains why, despite awareness that Operation Pillar of Defense may escalate into full-scale war, all sections of Israeli society fervently support the IDF operation. It is also gratifying that Jews throughout the world are actively demonstrating solidarity with Israel.

 

Hamas was emboldened to test our resolve, believing that Israel would be fearful of confronting the new Egyptian regime and also encouraged by the active support from the Turkish government and the recent visit to Gaza of the emir of Qatar, who contributed $400 million to their coffers.

 

Israel was indeed sensitive to these issues, as well as the effect of a military conflict diverting attention from Iran – especially now as it proceeds with its uranium enrichment. There was also concern at the civil war in Syria and the dramatic rise of Islamic extremism throughout the region. To top it off there were inhibitions because of the US presidential elections.

 

Nevertheless, Hamas miscalculated. By intensifying the bombardment of the South, it obliged the State of Israel to respond harshly or forfeit any modicum of deterrence. The initial outcome was good. The IDF had clearly learned from the lessons of previous wars: intelligence was impeccable; action was systematic and rational with, to date, minimal civilian casualties.

 

It must be stressed that the targeted killings of terrorist leaders are not acts of revenge or showmanship. They are logical military actions which can be rationally justified in moral terms.

The killing of Ahmad Jabari, regarded as the Palestinian counterpart of Osama bin Laden, is a prime example….

 

The global response from most Western countries, which followed President Obama’s lead condemning the rocket attacks and endorsing Israel’s right to self-defense, has until now been satisfactory, despite the usual calls for restraint and for Israel to act in a “proportionate” manner.

 

But these are early days. Initially, we are unlikely to face problems at the UN Security Council. However, the General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council, controlled by Islamic and other anti-Israeli coalitions, have consistently viewed Israel as the aggressor and never the victim. Neither of these bodies has even once condemned the Hamas missile attacks and there is little doubt that they and NGO bodies such as Amnesty International will blame Israel exclusively for reigniting the armed conflict.

 

In addition, while the IDF is taking extraordinary precautions to minimize civilian casualties, there will invariably, as in any military conflict, be mishaps – especially in Gaza where Hamas ruthlessly employ human shields by locating armaments and launching missiles in civilian residential areas….

 

Clearly, the IDF would prefer to limit the conflict to pinpointed aerial strikes. However, if Hamas continue raining rockets against Israeli civilians, Israel will be forced into a ground offensive in which greater casualties are inevitable.

 

The main challenge for the government is to devise an end strategy to achieve long-term deterrence as well as a strategy to be implemented instantly should Hamas become sufficiently re-emboldened to recommence missile launches. Israel has no desire to return to the era of the tit-for-tat war of attrition whereby we respond to missile launches by bombing rocket launching sites and empty buildings.

 

Although some of our allies are already urging us not to respond “disproportionately,” such a concept has absolutely no relevance to the threat facing Israel. While still seeking to minimize civilian casualties, we must create genuine deterrence in order to avoid future full-scale conflicts of ever increasing magnitude. In fact, a disproportionate response to aggression is fully consistent with international law in which the prime obligation of the state is to protect its civilians. Those seeking to deny us this basic right are maliciously hypocritical.

 

The issue of Israel continuing to provide Hamas-controlled Gaza with services is another bizarre anomaly. It is one thing to be sensitive to the humanitarian needs of civilian noncombatants, but to continue providing electricity and other utilities to a neighboring state raining missiles on us is utterly perverse. If the lights went out automatically every time a rocket was dispatched, the inconvenienced Gaza residents might even influence their leaders to hesitate before launching missiles.

 

An intensive government campaign must be implemented to counter the impact of successive years of the world having become conditioned to regarding Israel under missile attacks as normative. We must highlight the fact that such attacks against civilians are unequivocally war crimes….

 

We must recognize that in future conflicts, the terrorists will continue accumulating more effective and lethal weapons to employ against us. We must therefore endeavor to resist calls for a cease-fire until such time as Hamas, in conjunction with the Egyptians, undertake to cease their aggression.

There must be a clear understanding that any breach would result in harsh “disproportionate” Israeli responses including the targeted killings of those responsible for initiating attacks. In the absence of such an agreement an enforced cease-fire will be perceived as a major victory for Hamas and our citizens will simply return to the life of terror they endured since the first Kassams were launched a decade ago.

 

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HAMAS' MISCALCULATION

Barak Mendelsohn

Foreign Affairs, November 18, 2012

 

The escalation in the fighting last week between Israel and Hamas caught many observers by surprise. Operation Cast Lead, Israel's 2008 campaign against Hamas, had led to an uneasy calm between the warring sides. And last year's release of Gilad Shalit (the Israeli soldier who had been kidnapped by militants in 2006) in exchange for a thousand Palestinian prisoners had even given observers hope that Israel and Hamas had found a way to manage their conflict. But then, Hamas attacked an Israeli mobile patrol inside Israeli territory on November 10 and Israel retaliated by assassinating Ahmed Jabari, Hamas's military chief. This time, the violence that has followed has not faded quickly; indeed, the fight is still intensifying.

 

Given the destruction wrought by Israel and Hamas' last major conflict, Hamas' calculations in the lead-up to this round of fighting are especially puzzling. The typical explanation is that Hamas ramped up its rocket campaign earlier this year in an effort to break Israel's siege on the Gaza Strip. Under fire, Israel had to retaliate.

 

That answer, though, is unsatisfying. In many ways, the siege had already been broken…Israel's efforts to tightly control the area's borders, which started after Hamas won elections there in 2006, had gradually wound down. After the public relations disaster that followed Israel's 2010 mishandling of the Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla, the flow of goods over the Israeli border into Gaza increased substantially. Moreover, the tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, through which most of the goods coming into Gaza are smuggled, became so elaborate that they resembled official border crossings. In fact, the volume of trade that travels through the tunnels could be up to $700 million dollars a year.

 

To some extent, Hamas had a political interest in perpetuating the siege idea, which could be used to foment anger against Israel and drum up popular support. Further, it made sense for the movement to preserve some limitations on the movement of goods into Gaza, since the smuggling industry lined its coffers. Thus, although life in Gaza might not have been all that pleasant for Gazans, Hamas wanting to break the siege is not a compelling explanation for its renewed violence against Israel.

 

In fact, two factors pushed Hamas to ramp up its bombing campaign: competition from Salafi groups and Hamas' belief that its strategic environment had improved in the wake of the Arab Spring. Since Hamas was elected, it has found the Salafi groups in Gaza especially difficult rivals to manage….

 

Under pressure, Hamas repeatedly tried to quell the Salafi threat, and it did not shy from using brute force to do so. The clearest demonstration came in August 2009, when Hamas killed the leader of Jund Ansar Allah, a Salafi group that had openly challenged Hamas' authority, and a number of its members. But short of using extreme violence to suppress Salafism in Gaza, which would have been too costly for Hamas, Hamas could not eliminate the Salafi challenge. It watched with worry as new Salafi groups emerged and strengthened throughout the strip.

 

The pressure on Hamas only increased in the wake of the 2011 Arab uprisings. The Egyptian revolution and the subsequent chaos in the Sinai Peninsula were a backwind in the sails of Gaza's Salafis. The collapse of authoritarian regimes in North Africa unleashed a flood of weapons and fighters, which Salafis channeled into the Sinai Peninsula. With the Egyptian military unable to control the area, Gazan Salafis turned the peninsula into a staging ground for attacking Israel. They believed (correctly) that Israel, anxious not to kill its peace accord with Egypt, would not dare to respond directly….

 

The new regional order presented Hamas with a serious dilemma. As the ruler of Gaza, it could not sit on the sidelines while Israel targeted territory under its control. But it was unable to fully rein in the Salafis without proving once and for all that it was no longer a resistance movement. For Hamas, then, the only choice was to tolerate the attacks. It portrayed them at home as a way to preserve the struggle against Israel. Abroad, it refused to acknowledge any role in them at all to reduce the danger of a backlash. Over time, pressure from Hamas rank and file led the organization to take a more active role in each round of violence.

 

The flaw in Hamas' logic, though, was that it assumed that Israel would cooperate and not retaliate. Israel would not let Hamas shirk responsibility, though, and demanded that Hamas assert its authority over the radical factions. To reinforce the message, this year, Israel carried out a number of strikes on Hamas targets. Once it became a target itself, Hamas was even less able to show restraint. It eventually resumed carrying out its own strikes on Israel, a move that was cheered by the Hamas rank and file, who, without such attacks, might have defected to the more radical groups.

 

Another of Hamas' miscalculations was expecting Egypt to be supportive of its actions, which, when combined with Israel's fear of alienating the regime in Cairo, would allow Hamas to escalate the conflict without it spinning out of control. The hope was not off base….But, the group was wrong again. Hamas' closer ties with Egypt did not discourage Israel from fighting back.

 

Simply put, Hamas' strategic environment was not as favorable as it thought. When it tried to push Israel's boundaries, Israel pushed back. Now the group is in a bind. It needs a face-saving resolution to the fighting, one that would allow it to claim some achievement worth of the devastation inflicted this month on Gaza. Even after that, the group will still face the same old tension between its ideology of resistance and the responsibilities that come with governing. And all the while, its Salafi challengers will be lurking, challenging its commitment to the struggle against Israel. If Hamas wants to avoid future such escalations, it will need to crack down on these groups.

 

But that would come with a price — in popularity and legitimacy — that Hamas seems unwilling to pay. Hamas must also finally make the transition from resistance movement to normal political party. It will probably take a push from Cairo for that to happen. Hamas' alliance with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood offers the group some of the cover it needs to make the much-needed transition. And the Muslim Brotherhood is a good model for Hamas to follow, besides. Absent Hamas' political transformation, no cease-fire with Israel will hold for long. The next round of violence awaits, just over the horizon. 

 

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With Longer Reach, Rockets Bolster Hamas Arsenal

 

Ethan Bronner

New York Times, November 17, 2012

 

When Israel assassinated the top Hamas military commander in Gaza on Wednesday, setting off the current round of fierce fighting, it was aiming not just at a Palestinian leader but at a supply line of rockets from Iran that have for the first time given Hamas the ability to strike as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

 

The commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, had shifted Hamas’s low-grade militia into a disciplined force with sophisticated weapons like Fajr-5 rockets, which are named after the Persian word for dawn and have significantly increased the danger to Israel’s major cities. They have a range of about 45 miles and are fired by trained crews from underground launching pads.

 

Hamas had perhaps 100 of them until the Israeli attacks last week, which appear to have destroyed most of the stockpile. The rockets are assembled locally after being shipped from Iran to Sudan, trucked across the desert through Egypt, broken down into parts and moved through Sinai tunnels into Gaza, according to senior Israeli security officials.

 

The smuggling route involves salaried employees from Hamas along the way, Iranian technical experts traveling on forged passports and government approval in Sudan, Israeli officials said.

Mr. Jabari’s strategy has been so effective and alarming for Israel that it is preparing for a possible next stage in the four-day-old battle: a ground war in which its troops would seek to destroy remaining rocket launching bases and crews and munitions factories.

 

Under Mr. Jabari, Hamas also developed its own weapons industry in Gaza, building long-range rockets as well as drones that they hoped to fly over Israel just as Israeli drones roam the skies of Gaza…The current operation to eliminate the Hamas rocket launchers could serve to cripple the ability of Iran’s allies in Gaza from retaliating should Israel ever carry out its threat to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.

 

“Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad are building weapons with experts from Iran,” one top security official said Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity. “What we took care of …was their own production facility for U.A.V.’s,” he added, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. “This was all the work of Jabari, who was a very sophisticated and strategic thinker.”

 

A number of recent Israeli military attacks were aimed at cutting the supply chain into Gaza. In late October, a munitions factory in Sudan was hit from the air. Israel did not acknowledge carrying out the attack, but the winks and nods of officials here make clear that it did. Israel has carried out several other such attacks on Sudan, including on convoys, in the past few years.

 

In addition, Mossad agents killed a Hamas official in a Dubai hotel in early 2010 because he was thought to be crucial to the Hamas supply chain of weapons and rockets into Gaza.  One official here said that until Israel ended its military occupation of Gaza in 2005, there were only primitive weapons factories there. The Hamas rockets had a flight capacity of about a mile, they could not be aimed and they flew in a wild cylindrical pattern. Hamas then built better rockets that could fly up to 12 miles.

 

That changed little until 2007, when Hamas fighters pushed the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority out of Gaza into the West Bank and took over governing the coastal strip. “At that point, Jabari turned his neighborhood defense operation into a real army,” said a retired Israeli general whose portfolio included Gaza and who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He organized what was a militia into companies, battalions and brigades. He sent commanders to Syria and to Iran to be trained by the Revolutionary Guards. And then he built up this whole new branch to develop military technology focusing on long-range missiles.”…

 

In addition to the Fajr-5, Hamas has a few hundred of what are known as enhanced Grad rockets, which have a range of about 25 miles. The Grads are 122-millimeter rockets that have bigger warheads than the standard Grads, but their accuracy is relatively low. The Grads may also be coming from Iran but others are made in Gaza and imported from Libya. In addition, Hamas has hundreds of standard Grads that have a range of about 12 miles, as well as thousands of homemade mortars and Qassam rockets with a range of about six miles.

 

Israeli officials said the movement of the Fajr-5 rockets through Egypt could not go unnoticed there, given their size. Each is 20 feet long and weighs more than 2,000 pounds — the warhead alone weighs 375 pounds — and the trucks carrying them across Egyptian bridges and through roadblocks into Sinai would be hard to miss.

 

In the current conflict, Israel’s antirocket system, known as Iron Dome, has been more effective than expected, but still dozens of rockets have landed.  Whether the military operation against Gaza is a dress rehearsal for any future attack on either Iran or Lebanon — where Hezbollah has thousands of rockets pointed at Israel — is a matter under debate here. Some see it as clearing away any possible trouble from Gaza. Others say that makes little sense, given the difference of scale in the conflict in Gaza and any war against Iran or Hezbollah. Hamas’s arsenal is tiny compared with what Hezbollah in Lebanon is thought to have: thousands of rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv.

 

Yonatan Touval, an analyst with Prime Source, a private Tel Aviv risk-assessment company, said, “The Iron Dome system is ineffective in intercepting longer-range projectiles, such as those that would be launched from Lebanon toward the Tel Aviv area. To address this threat, Israel is currently developing the Magic Wand system, but it is not expected to become operational before 2015.”….

 

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Paz Azran, 12th Grade Student from Ashkelon Speaking to 70 Ambassadors and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu About Her Experiences Under BombardmentIsraeliPM, YouTube Video, Nov 12, 2012

 

Dear North American Student: Rebecca, CIJR, Nov. 16, 2012 — A letter from a Canadian, Jewish, Israel young woman who is currently studying in Israel having made aliyah  and after having served in the IDF. A unique perspective from a wise, younger person who is able to understand the comparison between a person living in Israel, versus a person living in any Western city.

 

Western Media Elites Just Don’t Get the Middle East: Barry Rubin, Jewish Press, November 18th, 2012—The elite currently in power in the Western mass media is never going to comprehend the Middle East. There is a problem with bias, for sure, but the big problem is the impenetrable ignorance of the very people who are entrusted with explaining the region to others. They insist on imposing their own misconceptions on the situation while ignoring the evidence.

 

"IDF Did More to Safeguard Civilians Than Any Army in History of Warfare": Col. Richard Kemp, UN Watch, October 16, 2009Statement to UN Human Rights Council, 12th Special Session — Debate on Goldstone Report— The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties.

 

Eleven Reasons Why This Is Not Cast Lead: Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz, Nov.18, 2012— This isn't a second Operation Cast Lead, though. There are a number of significant differences in the circumstances and execution of the latest offensive which are affecting the way events are unfolding and will influence the eventual outcome.

 

 

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OREN: GAZA CRISIS SIMILAR TO MAY, 1967 (OR 1948) – POLLARD’S 28TH YEAR OF PRISON; QUEEN’S U. HONOURS JIMMY CARTER

Ambassador Alan Baker

Is Peace Possible? Israel, Palestinians & the  UN

 

Monday, November 19, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

The Chevra  @  5237 Clanranald  |   $5 at the door

 

RSVP: 514-486-5544  |  cijr@isranet.org

 

 

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

Contents:

 

Israel’s Right Of Return Fire: Globe Editorial, The Globe and Mail, Nov. 15 2012— Israel is right to be responding swiftly and forcefully to bombardment from Gaza. For months, the leaders of Hamas have been building up a more powerful arsenal with which to assault their neighbours.

 

 

An Open Letter To President Obama: Esther Pollard, Jerusalem Post, November 15, 2012 —I write with some urgency to draw to your attention the request for clemency which my husband, Jonathan Pollard, filed more than two years ago during your first term in office.In the interim, Jonathan’s health has continued to deteriorate while calls for his release by senior American officials continue to mount.

 

Michael Oren: It’s May 1967—Or May 1948: Bari Weiss, Tablet Magazine, Nov. 15, 2012—“In the best of circumstances, it’s May 1967. And the worst, May 1948. Rarely in our history have we ever faced such a broad spectrum of monumental threats.”

 

Queen’s U. Faces Backlash Over Plan To Honour Jimmy Carter: Sarah Boesveld, National Post, Nov 15, 2012 —Queen’s University is facing a backlash from Jewish alumni over its decision to award former U.S. president Jimmy Carter — a strong critic of Israel — an honorary degree next week.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Iran's Agenda in the Gaza Offensive: Stratfor Gobal Intelligence, November 16, 2012

Montreal’s Debt to the Jews: Joe King

Hamas Military Leader Jabari Got What He Deserved: Jonathan Kay, National Post, Nov 14, 2012

Paul Ehrlich: A Petrified Pundit: Barbara Kay, National Post, Nov 14, 2012
 

 

 

ISRAEL’S RIGHT OF RETURN FIRE

 

Globe Editorial

The Globe and Mail, Nov. 15 2012,

 

Israel is right to be responding swiftly and forcefully to bombardment from Gaza. For months, the leaders of Hamas have been building up a more powerful arsenal with which to assault their neighbours. For years, factions in Gaza had sent rockets into Israel that for the most part did no great harm – a nuisance that was occasionally dangerous to Israeli civilians, but rarely inficted serious injury.

 

Recently, however, Hamas has gained more confidence and has become more ambitious in its purchasing of missiles. As an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, it feels encouraged by that movement’s increasing ascendancy in Egypt and other countries of the region. By sending many more, and more lethal, rockets into Israel, it cannot do any good for the inhabitants of Gaza whom they rule, or for other Palestinians. Their attacks are merely vindictive and narcissistic, but they are a serious threat to the people of Israel.

 

The Egyptian government, which relies on American money, is unlikely to give any practical help to Hamas, but these events put it in a difficult and amibguous position.

 

Israel has so far wisely refrained from a ground offensive – let alone to a reoccupation – though it has moved troops toward its border with the Gaza Strip, and has called up reservists, quite properly to provide for contingencies. The Israeli Defence Force appears to be well informed on the locations of Hamas’s armaments, and can do most of what it needs to do by way of aerial bombardment….

 

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MICHAEL OREN: IT’S MAY 1967—OR MAY 1948

Bari Weiss

Tablet Magazine, November 15, 2012

 

Michael Oren has served as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. for the past three years. But his real trade isn’t diplomacy, it’s the past: Before Oren took on arguably the toughest job in Washington, he wrote books about Mideast history. So when I spoke to the ambassador yesterday afternoon [Nov. 14] about Operation Pillar of Defense, I asked him what historical moment he’d compare this one to: “In the best of circumstances, it’s May 1967. And the worst, May 1948. Rarely in our history have we ever faced such a broad spectrum of monumental threats.”

 

There’s the Iranian regime bidding for nuclear weapons, a Muslim Brotherhood government running Egypt, Hamas ruling Gaza, Hezbollah controlling southern Lebanon, and the civil war raging in Syria that spilled into Israel earlier this week. Jordan, a reliable Israeli ally since the mid-1990s, has become even more critical since Hosni Mubarak was ousted in Egypt. But many suspect it’s only a matter of time before the Arab upheaval fells King Abdullah II—especially given current protests.

 

That would be a worst-case scenario for Israel. “Jordan is what keeps Iran out of our backyard,” said Oren. “Our defense border is the Jordanian-Iraqi border”—that is, not the Jordanian-Israeli one.

 

It’s difficult not to see this operation— pinpointing and targeting Hamas leaders, while taking out underground missile sites—as intended for an audience beyond the Strip, namely the one watching in Tehran. (The Iranians have undertaken major air drills in the past few days, and revealed new missile systems.) But Oren insists the Islamic Republic has nothing to do with this operation: “This is not about sending a message to Iran. This is a message about defending a million of our citizens,” he said. “It would be the equivalent of 40 million Americans in bomb shelters.”

 

And yet Iran was the subject we kept coming back to. “I think that the key to it all is Iran,” Oren said. “Gaza’s basically an outpost of Iran. Lebanon is an outpost of Iran. Assad is a lackey of Iran.” Indeed, one key lesson Oren draws from Israel’s previous territorial withdrawals is that Iran’s proxies tend to fill the vacuum left behind. “Wherever we have withdrawn, the Iranians have filled it. In Lebanon, in Gaza.”

 

Since Israel pulled out of southern Lebanon (2000) and Gaza (2005), the IDF has played an ongoing game of whack-a-mole with Hezbollah and Hamas. Oren argued that this tactic has been more successful than some have claimed. “After the Lebanon war [of 2006] we were very tough on ourselves, with the whole Winograd Commission. But I think we were too tough on ourselves. In fact, we deterred Hezbollah” in that war.

 

Four years since Operation Cast Lead, deterrence is once again the name of the game for the IDF in Gaza: “Hamas may have to just be reminded again, and reminded in large scale, that we will not allow our citizens to be shot at with impunity,” Oren said. “It will go on for as long as Hamas continues to escalate.” Israel said Wednesday that it is prepared to expand this campaign into a ground operation.

 

“We have nothing to be ashamed about, nothing to apologize for. This is our right,” said Oren. “Ahmed Jabari killed dozens and dozens of Israelis.”

 

And what would victory look like? “Victory looks like security restored to the inhabitants of the south,” said Oren. Longer term, the goal is a change in mindset. “The Palestinian people have to internalize that as long as they choose leadership like Hamas, that will bring them no closer to statehood, no closer to economic and social development, and no closer to peace.”

 

With weeks until Israelis go to the polls, some see a clear connection between the election and this operation. Oren dismissed the question: “This is not about the elections. We didn’t want war,” he said. “This government has exhibited superhuman restraint: 2,500 rockets since 2009. Last month, 800 rockets. In the last week, 300 rockets. What government in the world wouldn’t have responded with war a long time ago?”

 

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AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA

Esther Pollard

Jerusalem Post, November 15, 2012

 

Dear President Obama, Congratulations upon your election to a second term as president of the mightiest nation in the world, the United States of America. May your second term in office be a blessing to America, to its allies and to the world.

 

I write with some urgency to draw to your attention the request for clemency which my husband, Jonathan Pollard, filed more than two years ago during your first term in office.

 

In the interim, Jonathan’s health has continued to deteriorate while calls for his release by senior American officials continue to mount. I write in the sincere hope of urging you to respond favorably and speedily to Jonathan’s petition and to all of the official appeals for his immediate release.

 

Traditionally, some time next week, shortly before November 22, you will be pardoning this year’s American National Thanksgiving turkey, thereby sparing its life.

 

As the president of the United States, your granting clemency to a lowly barnyard bird demonstrates to the world the great respect that the American people have for the values of justice, compassion and mercy. It is in this light that I write to bring to your personal awareness once again, the urgent plight of my husband, Jonathan Pollard.

 

On November 21, 2012 – the day before Thanksgiving – Jonathan begins his 28th year of a life sentence with no end in sight. I urge and implore you, Mr. President, to include Jonathan in the list of holiday clemencies that are expected to be announced by the White House shortly, enabling those who are set free to get home in time for the holidays.

 

Mr. President, G-d has seen fit to elevate you for yet another term to the position of the head of the most powerful nation in the world, the president of the United States of America, and to invest in you powers of clemency second only to His own.

 

Clearly these gifts were bestowed upon you as a man worthy and capable of fulfilling the biblical injunction which describes what G-d requires of man, namely: “to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your G-d.” (Micha 6:8) Over the past two years, since Jonathan submitted his clemency petition to you on October 15, 2010, there has been a burgeoning public awareness of the injustice of his sentence. Many senior American officials as well as high-ranking legal officials and elected representatives have appealed to you, both publicly and privately, to release Jonathan.

 

In their words, his release is a matter of simple justice because “his sentence is grossly disproportionate.” And it is appropriate on humanitarian grounds because his health is failing after more than a quarter of a century of affliction in American prisons.

 

Those who know the case best have been very clear in their publicly stated opinions and in their letters to you, indicating that keeping Jonathan in prison any longer is a travesty of justice. These include, among many others: former secretary of state George Shultz, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former White House legal counsel Bernard Nussbaum, former attorney-general Michael Mukasey, former deputy attorney-general Phillip Heymann, former assistant secretary of defense Lawrence Korb and former CIA director James Woolsey.

 

As well, in a historic display of bipartisanship, a group of 18 prominent former United States senators wrote to you, Mr. President, and asked that you commute Jonathan’s sentence to time served. A number of the signatories served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, including senators Dennis DeConcini (D-Arizona), Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming), the late Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), Birch Bayh (D-Indiana), Connie Mack (R-Florida) and David Durenberger (RMinnesota)….

 

Another bipartisan congressional appeal to you, jointly sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith and Eliot Engel, is being circulated and has already acquired dozens of signatures in support of my husband’s release.

 

Internationally, Jonathan’s release is supported by a number of prominent organizations and individuals, including the European Parliament, the European Jewish Congress and the African Redeemed Church of Christ, which has more than 14,000 branches in 110 countries and has more than five million members in Africa alone.

 

My husband, Jonathan Pollard, has now served more than six to eight times the usual sentence for the offense he committed. After enduring 27 years of the harshest afflictions in prison, including seven years in solitary confinement, it is time to release him, now, while he is still alive – before it is too late….

Mr. President, if a lowly turkey is deserving of your compassion and merits the dispensation of justice by your own hand, how much more so does a man who has more than paid the price for the offense he committed and is now, after 27 years in prison, in danger of losing his life.

 

We are taught, “From Heaven did the Almighty look down upon the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to liberate those who are doomed to die.” (Psalms 102:20-21) While those who hold the reins of power are urged: “Let the groaning of the prisoner come before you; According to the greatness of your power, set free those who are condemned to die.” (Psalms 79:11) Mr. President, I implore you, set my husband free by commuting his sentence to the 27 years he has already served, and send him home to me in the Holy City of Jerusalem for the Holiday of Light which fast approaches – and G-d will surely bless!

 

Respectfully, Esther Pollard, Mrs. Jonathan Pollard.

 

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QUEEN’S U. FACES BACKLASH OVER
PLAN TO HONOUR JIMMY CARTER

Sarah Boesveld

National Post, Nov 15, 2012

 

Queen’s University is facing a backlash from Jewish alumni over its decision to award former U.S. president Jimmy Carter — a strong critic of Israel — an honourary degree next week.

 

Shimon Fogel, chief executive of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said his organization has received about 50 “angry and frustrated inquiries” over the past month from graduates of the respected Canadian university, worried their school will be tarnished by Mr. Carter’s view of Israel as an apartheid state and his controversial relationships in the Arab world.

 

“It’s just a huge lightning rod for distress and disappointment,” Mr. Fogel said. “He simply doesn’t meet the test of somebody that is seeking to offer a constructive contribution towards advancing peace. And it’s in that context that we’d express real disappointment that a leading institution like Queen’s would further legitimize or validate him by conferring on him this kind of award.”

 

The 88-year-old former president and his wife are expected to attend Queen’s convocation in Kingston next Wednesday to accept the degrees honouring “their philanthropic and advocacy work in areas such as housing and mental health,” according to a statement from Queen’s principal Daniel Woolf on the university’s website. It will be Mr. Carter’s first honourary degree from a Canadian university.

 

“They are wonderful examples of the same qualities that characterize the Queen’s spirit, and I’m sure their presence at convocation will be a memorable experience for everyone,” Mr. Woolf said.

 

And while the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who served as president from 1977 to 1981, has indeed been a champion of human rights through his not-for-profit Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity, Jewish North Americans have bristled at his positions on Israel.

 

In his 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Mr. Carter characterizes Israel as an apartheid state. He has also repeatedly said Israel has no interest in a two-state solution, Mr. Fogel said, and his comments and interventions supporting “Israel’s detractors” attempt to “isolate and delegitimize Israel” as the region’s only democracy.

 

“When it comes from somebody in the Arab world, it’s not met with any surprise,” Mr. Fogel said. “When it comes from and is articulated by somebody who is the leader of, in effect, the lead country in the democratic world, it has an entirely different impact.”

 

Lars Hagberg for PostMedia News Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., is honouring Jimmy Carter's philanthropic and advocacy work in such areas as housing and mental health, according to a statement from Queen’s principal Daniel Woolf on the university’s website. While he’s sure Queen’s fully intended to honour Mr. Carter for his human rights work alone, Mr. Fogel said the school “failed to do their due diligence that would have flagged [his views on Israel] as problematic.”

 

Michael Shafron, who graduated from Queen’s with an MBA in 1987, said he had a “freakout moment” when he received an alumni email bearing the news. The Atlanta, Ga., resident wrote a letter to Queen’s chancellor David Dodge “The area of his life that I find so egregious, the portion that I find so detestable, are his blatant anti-Israel/anti-Semitic positions he has staked out since leaving the presidency,” Mr. Shafron wrote.

 

He then forwarded the letter to Mr. Woolf, who responded, in part, by saying: “While I regret that the committee’s decision displeases you, it is a broad-based committee whose work we value and whose choices we support.” Mr. Woolf said the university will continue to give honourary degrees to people of many different political and ideological stripes and base its decision on the significant work that the recipient has done for the good of others.

 

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Montreal’s Debt to the Jews (pdf): Joe King — The extraordinary debt of Montreal to its Jewish community has never been widely acknowledged but has been recognized by some of Canada’s most important personalities.

 

 

Hamas Military Leader Jabari Got What He Deserved: Jonathan Kay, National Post, Nov 14, 2012 —The 52-year-old Jabari was a symbol of the nihilistic Jew-hatred that comprises Hamas’ foreign policy (and which is encoded in its founding 1988 covenant, where “the fight with the warmongering Jews” is a prominent theme).

 

Paul Ehrlich: A petrified pundit: Barbara Kay, National Post, Nov 14, 2012 ­—Professor Ehrlich favours the dual stylistic approach of apocalypticism and cheap personal attack. Imagine a kind of grizzled, male version of Ann Coulter, but on the left – with the same ominously merry twinkle in the eye, but minus the wit.

 

Iran's Agenda in the Gaza Offensive: Stratfor Gobal Intelligence, November 16, 2012

To begin to make sense of the escalating conflict in Gaza, we need to go back to the night of Oct. 23 in Khartoum. Around 11 p.m. that night, the Yarmouk weapons facility in the Sudanese capital was attacked, presumably by the Israeli air force.

 

 

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