Friday, August 19, 2016
The Price of Powerlessness - Charles Krauthammer
Iran's intensely nationalistic revolutionary regime had never permitted foreign forces to operate from its soil. Until now. This week Russian bombers flew out of Iranian air bases to attack rebel positions in Syria. The reordering of the Middle East is proceeding apace. Where for 40 years the U.S.-Egypt alliance anchored the region, a Russia-Iran condominium is now dictating events.
That's what results from the nuclear deal with Iran. The nuclear deal was supposed to begin a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. Instead, it has solidified a strategic-military alliance between Moscow and Tehran.
Who Should Rule Syria? - Jonathan Spyer
Any real possibility of rebel victory in Syria ended with the entry of Russian forces last autumn, but the government's forces are also far from a decisive breakthrough. A victory for the Assad regime would be a disaster for the West.
Assad, an enthusiastic user of chemical weapons against his own people, is aligned with the most powerful anti-Western coalition in the Middle East - an alliance dominated by the Islamic Republic of Iran. If Assad won, the Iranian alliance would consolidate its domination of the entire land area between the Iraq-Iran border and the Mediterranean Sea - a major step towards regional hegemony for Iran.
At the same time, the Syrian rebellion today is dominated by Sunni Islamist forces. In the now extremely unlikely event of the Islamist rebels defeating the Assad regime and reuniting Syria under their rule, the country would become a Sunni Islamist dictatorship.
It is important to understand that "Syria" as a unitary state no longer exists. As a rebel commander told me in June: "Syria today is divided into four projects, none of which is strong enough to defeat all the others. These are the Assad regime, the rebellion, the Kurds and the Islamic State."
So the beginning of a coherent Syria policy requires understanding that the country has fragmented into enclaves, and is not going to be reunited in the near future.
The writer is Director of the Rubin Center (formerly the GLORIA Center), IDC Herzliya, Israel, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Egyptian judoka Islam el-Shehaby refused to shake hands or ceremoniously bow to his Israeli opponent Or Sasson and was reprimanded by the International Olympics Committee. But the media response to the story only touched the surface.
A search of Olympic snubs comes up with zero incidents apart from Arabs dissing Israelis. There are no cases of Israelis dissing Arabs, and none of Yemenis insulting the Saudis who are bombing their country. There are no protests against the Syrians, Iran or Russia, who are playing a key role in the Syrian bloodbath. Anti-Israeli racism is exactly what we see, not just at the Olympics, but in the Arab world's attitude toward Israel in general.
The racist attitude of Arabs toward Israel is the kind based on deep hatred that lumps all Israelis into one monstrous, violent people who don't deserve to live in our neighborhood and should go back to where they came from. Anti-Israeli racism goes beyond criticism of Israeli behavior. It gets down to the very personal level of refusing to have direct contact with Israelis or even be in their presence.
Arab anti-Israeli racism has far greater implications for Israel than an occasional Olympic snub. We can sign peace treaties and we can form strategic alliances, but those ties haven't penetrated below. Like the first black family with the courage to move into a white neighborhood, we can buy the property and make it our home. But we're not going to be a part of the neighborhood until our neighbors' attitudes change.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
A media campaign in Saudi Arabia is seeking to combat anti-Semitism in the kingdom, apparently in an effort to prepare public opinion for deepened relations with Israel.
Ehud Ya'ari, a senior analyst at Israel's Channel 2 TV, read out examples of recent articles by Saudi columnists demonstrating a shift in attitude towards the Jewish state and Jews in general.
(Times of Israel)
(Times of Israel)
Monday, August 15, 2016
|Regavim, a Zionist organization, exposes the"historic" Palestinian village of Sussiya as a fraud. It never existed.|
The Creation of A Fake "Historic" Palestinian Village - Josh Hasten
The “global Shabbat against demolitions” this past weekend gathered around 300 Jews from some five countries to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian village of Sussiya. They claimed that “As Jews, we say emphatically that forced displacement, dislocation and demolition do not represent our values.”
However, the fact is that these so-called “activists” are simply expressing anti-Israel bias by supporting thieves and squatters who have illegally settled on swaths of state land.
[T]he town of Susiya is a small, ancient and historical Jewish community in the Southern Hebron Hills. But the interest isn’t actually on Jewish Susiya, a thriving Jewish town today which archeological evidence indicates was originally a Jewish village established around 1,500 years ago. Instead the attention is being given to what some call “Arab Susiya,” an illegal encampment built on state land adjacent to the Jewish historical site.
The reason for the fuss is that following years of back-and-forth court hearings, with the High Court issuing an order calling to knock down the illegal structures on the site, the Civil Administration might finally carry out its duty. All that remains is the approval of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who was asked to issue a ruling around August 15 in response to a petition drafted by Regavim to implement the demolition.
Regavim has been monitoring the illegal building and expansion on state land taking place at Susiya over the past several years and per the organization’s mandate is insisting the Civil Administration uphold the law and remove the squatters from land that is not theirs. While Regavim stands nearly on its own defending Israel’s state land, around 50 other NGOs have come forward to defend the land thieves.
These anti-Israel NGOs both here and abroad are appealing to foreign entities including the US State Department to pressure Minister Liberman not to carry out the demolition of “Arab Susiya.” These groups claim that the encampment is an ancient historical Palestinian village. To put it bluntly, that is a complete fabrication.
Surveys of villages and populations conducted by the British Mandatory powers in 1945, which mention all of the villages in the area and even some of the inhabitants, prove there is no hint of the existence of an Arab village named Susiya. More recently aerial photos obtained by Regavim from 1999 show nothing resembling a village in that area. An identical photo from 2013 shows how squatters have infiltrated the locale.
Regavim research also shows that this clan of bandits is mainly from the Nawajah family who reside in the nearby town of Yatta. In 1986, using the ruse of being harmless shepherds in search of grazing land, members of the clan settled at the archeological site itself, but were evicted by the IDF. It was at that point that they moved to their current location. The Nawajah family has tried to take permanent control of the area ever since, in complete violation of the law.
So while the anti-Israel NGOs claim to be standing up against an “expulsion” of the Arabs in the area, this is simply a media stunt to paint Israel in a negative light. What this really would amount to – should the Defense Minister come out on the side of the courts, is an eviction of illegal squatters.
“But won’t the Arabs be left homeless,” if Israel were to destroy the structures? First, let’s remember that most of the trespassers are homeowners in Yatta. In other words, they can simply go home. But even so, out of humanitarian concerns and leniency, Israel agreed to allot an alternate area to the residents of the encampment, on state land adjacent to Yatta. The Arabs rejected this generous offer, proving it’s not about providing adequate housing and a future for their children, but all about illegal encroachment on Israeli lands in area C of Judea.
A similar strategy of Arabs illegally squatting and building on state land in area C is currently being implemented in other parts of Judea and Samaria by the Palestinian Authority with backing and funding from the European Union, to the tune of hundreds of millions of euros. The goal is to illegally create a unilateral de-facto Palestinian state in area C and avoid any future peace talks with Israel.
Regavim has been working tirelessly to expose this deception both at Susiya and in other areas. The NGOs involved are transparent in their anti-Israel agendas by siding with the illegal builders who continuously belittle law enforcement and refuse all offers of compromise, while cynically exploiting the legal process to further illegal activities. It is highly doubtful that the legal system of the United States, Europe or any other country would conduct itself with such a high level of tolerance and patience in a similar case.
So while some anti-Israel Jews are getting together to support the thieves, let’s hope our defense minster makes the right decision to halt the illegal activity at Susiya by taking down the illegal buildings, thus sending a message that in a democracy such as Israel, the established laws must be upheld.
The writer is the international director of Regavim, a legal advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring responsible, legal and accountable use of Israel’s national land.
Wednesday, August 03, 2016
The Fraying Palestinian Political Entity - Pinhas Inbari
The Palestinian Authority is failing to control extensive parts of the West Bank. Some districts are developing in different directions, thereby accelerating the process of the PA's disintegration.
In Hebron, the large clans of Mount Hebron have linked up with each other, reestablished the Tribal Council of Mount Hebron, and sent a delegation to Amman to express loyalty to the king of Jordan.
Nablus has gone into a tailspin of total anarchy, under the rule of gangs, with exchanges of gunfire in the heart of the city and attempts at political assassinations. Local Fatah strongman Ghassan Shak'a, who resigned as head of the Nablus municipality in August 2015, announced that he will run in the next municipal elections with his own list of candidates against the Fatah slate. On June 1, 2016, unknown persons in Nablus fired at his house. On July 24, bullets struck the home of Muhammad Jihad Dwekat just days after he announced his intention to run for Nablus mayor as an independent non-Fatah candidate.
In Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority, a dense network of Palestinian nongovernmental organizations (PNGOs) that relies on European aid is leading a growing opposition to the PA. Europe believes that the successor to Mahmoud Abbas will emerge from this network - from the local Palestinians that the Oslo agreements disinherited when the PLO leadership in Tunis was brought in to rule. However, the PLO is not prepared to agree to any power sharing with the PNGOs. It wants to take measures against them, but is encountering problems with Europe.
The PA's loss of control in the West Bank raises questions about its ability to run a state. The fragmented West Bank will be a weaker entity than the weak states that collapsed in the Arab Spring. When the Palestinian entity collapses, the vacuum will be filled by the negative forces that have become the nightmare of the world.The writer is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Tuesday, August 02, 2016
The Sleepwalkers - Jonathan Spyer
The terror attacks in Nice, Wurzburg and Normandy are the latest manifestations of what should now be seen as a still fairly low-level Islamist insurgency taking place in a number of west European countries. The fact that this insurgency has been allowed to kindle itself and slowly emerge before now bursting forth represents a profound failure of Western European political culture and of the continent’s elites.
This is not merely a matter of poor police or intelligence work. Rather, it is the culmination of a long process of enfeeblement. The Islamist insurgency is a disease attacking an already weakened body which lacks the means to defend itself.
A hollowing-out of European culture has taken place over recent years. The elites of the continent are united by a set of joint perceptions deriving from a shared experience of life. They are transnational, cosmopolitan, skeptical of passionately held belief, reflexively secular. Their shared experience of the world is of a safe place, in which a certain set of attitudes and connections enables life to be lived in a pleasant and free way.
Civilizational conflict, passionate religious ideological commitment, even fervently experienced patriotism do not feature very highly on the elite’s radar. Such sentiments are to be dismissed with a smile, or treated with bewildered fear and apprehension if they appear to be persistent and potent.
The problem with this elite is not that they are evil or decadent. It is that their worldview is inadequate to grasp the nature of the time in which they are living. They are an easy generation, made for prosperous times, for the cool management of systems, for times of plenty.
But the times of plenty have gone.
The Middle East is in the midst of a massive historic convulsion. Political Islam, in its many variations, has captured the minds of millions and is now leading to war and state fragmentation in the Middle East. And through the process whereby Mideastern refugees seek to quit the region and enter Europe, these ideas enter Europe, carried by some of the young men making their way behind the walls, like a plague bacillus.
The result is the current insurgency. It is erupting out of parts of the society untouched and undreamt of by the elite.
The response is denial. Ways are found to maintain that the insurgents are not in fact Islamists or jihadis at all.
Absurdly high levels of knowledge and religious commitment are required for the perpetrator to be considered an Islamist, as if such knowledge tests were ever demanded in ascertaining the affiliation of terrorists past.
Mohammed Lahouaiyej Bouhlel drives a truck into a crowd of passersby screaming “Allahu Akbar”? This is found to have nothing to do with Islam because of his poor record of mosque attendance. And so on. It would be comical if it were not so serious.
The current European intellectual and political elite is simply not equipped to understand what is taking place. It is utterly unprepared to understand the nature of sectarian holy war; such things are utterly outside of its experience. What is clearly unfolding before their eyes — a largely homegrown Islamist insurgency running on the fuel of ideas coming out of the Middle East — cannot be happening. So it isn’t. Their solution is to block their ears.
Does this mean that Western Europe is doomed and must resign itself to seeing its cities turned permanently into battlegrounds for Islamist insurgency? As things currently appear, the answer is “not necessarily.”
When faced with external threats and tests, cultures can do one of two things.
If they are played out and decadent and old, they can admit defeat. Yet if something of vitality remains, the culture will produce antibodies, alternative voices, and modes of resistance. History is replete with examples of both.
As of now, the growth of voices and political parties outside of the mainstream who are prepared to speak openly about the challenge attests to a residual will to survival in a number of European countries.
However, since the Islamist side is entrenched, well-financed, and full of wild desire for the fight, we should assume that the efforts at resistance will presage not an early return to order, but rather the prospect of further and increased civil strife in Western Europe in the period ahead.
Saudi Visitor: 'Israeli Society Wants Peace' - Adam Rasgon
Abd al-Mujid al-Hakim, a member of the Saudi Arabian delegation that recently visited Israel, told BBC Arabic, "In Arab societies, the picture of Israeli society is that it embraces a culture of death, wants to spill blood, and does not believe in peace. That is not correct. The Israeli society that I encountered embraces a culture of peace, has accomplishments it wants to (protect), wants coexistence, and wants peace."
Hakim serves as director of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Policy in Jedda.
Friday, July 29, 2016
How a Muslim Became a Zionist - Nadiya Al-Noor
Like many Muslims, I started out being very anti-Israel. I saw Israel as evil. Everyone I knew hated Israel. It is by accident that I started to learn about Israel. I decided to gain access to the kosher kitchen at my university's Hillel because most kosher food is halal [food permitted for Muslims under Islamic law].
As time went on, I realized that most of what I had learned about Israel was anti-Semitic propaganda. Israel was a country just struggling to keep her people safe. It was not an evil oppressor. I learned that Israel had tried many times to make peace agreements. I learned how the Arab states banded together to try and destroy Israel in 1948. I learned how accommodating and welcoming Israel is to all peoples, including Muslims.
I learned that Jews really do need the State of Israel, and that it has been their land for over 3,000 years. Even the Koran speaks about how the Children of Israel would return to their eternal homeland from all corners of the world.
The writer is a graduate student at Binghamton University in New York.
(Times of Israel)
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
- Jonathan Spyer
The low-level Islamist insurgency taking place in a number of west European countries represents a profound failure of Western European political culture and of the continent's elites. The problem with these elites is not that they are evil or decadent. It is that their worldview is inadequate to grasp the nature of the time in which they are living.
Their response is denial. Ways are found to maintain that the insurgents are not in fact Islamists or jihadis at all. Mohammed Lahouaiyej Bouhlel drives a truck into a crowd of passersby screaming "Allahu Akbar." This is found to have nothing to do with Islam because of his poor record of mosque attendance. It would be comical if it were not so serious.
The writer is Director of the Rubin Center (formerly the GLORIA Center), IDC Herzliya, Israel, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Is Europe Helpless? - Bret Stephens
The best guide to how Europe can find its way to safety is the country it has spent the best part of the last 50 years lecturing and vilifying: Israel.
For now, it's the only country in the West that refuses to risk the safety of its citizens on someone else's notion of human rights or altar of peace.
Europeans will no doubt look to Israel for tactical tips in the battle against terrorism - crowd management techniques and so on - but what they really need to learn from the Jewish state is the moral lesson.
Namely, that identity can be a great preserver of liberty, and that free societies cannot survive through progressive accommodations to barbarians.
(Wall Street Journal)
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Sunday, July 17, 2016
|Still smiling after one year|
Can't Have It Both Ways in Iran - Reuel Marc Gerecht & Ray Takeyh
Last summer, as the administration unveiled its nuclear agreement with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry assured skeptics that the U.S. would sustain essential sanctions that punish Tehran for its aid to terrorists, regional aggression, and human rights abuses. But Washington can either accommodate or confront the clerical regime. It can't do both. And confrontation is made difficult, if not impossible, by the nuclear agreement...
In the year since the nuclear agreement was concluded, Tehran has continued its development of long-range ballistic missiles, a historic signpost of a state with atomic weapons ambitions.
The Gulf is simmering with Iranian intrigue. Tehran is busy fortifying Shia groups in Yemen and exploiting widespread anger against the Sunni princely class. Gulf Arab internal security services are probably not lying when they tell of increasing Iranian covert aid to violent radicals.
Accommodation with the Iranian regime isn't pretty. Morally and strategically, it diminishes, if not cripples, the U.S. in the Muslim world.
Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Why Fayyad Will Fail Again - Jonathan S. Tobin
Once there was a moderate Palestinian leader who pointed the way toward genuine peace with Israel as well as democracy and development for the Palestinians. His name was Salam Fayyad, an American-educated economist who was named prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in 2007.
But Fayyad's promise was unfulfilled. A man without a party, he was powerless to change a Palestinian political culture that revolved around death and hate. Both Fatah and its Hamas rivals despised him, and few Palestinians mourned when he resigned in 2013.Fayyad is back now with a new plan that would both ease a path to peace with Israel as well as end the logjam between Fatah and Hamas. It's no surprise that the same forces that worked to ensure he would fail as Palestinian PM don't like it. The reason is it's based on a truce with Israel that would end all terrorism.
If Fayyad had any sort of constituency, his proposal might encourage hope for progress toward peace. But his fan base is largely composed of Americans and Europeans. Israelis will continue to stand their ground and wait for the day when someone like Fayyad will speak for more than just himself.
Monday, July 11, 2016
|Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry [L] meets Netanyahu in Jerusalem|
Egyptian Foreign Minister Visits Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "Our two nations have been at peace since we concluded our historic peace treaty 37 years ago and the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan are the cornerstone of stability in the region, and are critical assets for our countries. They are also the cornerstones of a broader regional peace and a broader stability that we hope to achieve. To this end I welcome President el-Sisi's recent offer of Egyptian leadership in efforts to advance peace with the Palestinians and a broader peace in our region."
"Today I call again on the Palestinians to follow the greatest example of Egypt and Jorden and join us for direct negotiations."
Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry said: "My visit to Israel today...comes in the context of President el-Sisi's vision, which he elaborated on the 17th of May, for the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people, bringing this long conflict to an end. Such a monumental achievement will have a far reaching and dramatic and positive impact."
(Prime Minister's Office)
Egyptian Foreign Minister's Visit Marks a New Level of Cooperation
- Zvi Bar'el
The decision to send Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to Jerusalem shows a new level of ties closer to political normalization.
Egypt has concerns that require it to go public with Israel. The first part of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia is building on the Nile, is expected to be completed next year, and Egypt says it will reduce Egypt's water supply and lower its electricity output by 25-40%. Egypt believes, quite rightly, that Israel has leverage in Ethiopia, and can persuade Ethiopia to coordinate water-sharing with Cairo so Egypt's economy doesn't suffer.
Cairo is also very interested in the renewed ties between Turkey and Israel, which lets Turkey be a major supplier of consumer goods and construction materials to Gaza. Turkey's entrance puts Egypt in an uncomfortable position in which it, with Israel, continues to impose a formal closure on Gaza...
The widening of the Israeli-Egyptian map of political interests, with an economic bonus in the background in the realm of natural gas, is a key development.
Egyptian Minister's Visit: Encouraging Step - Zvi Mazel
The visit to Israel of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry is an encouraging, significant step. The visit is intended to show the world - and especially the Arab world - that Egypt is reclaiming its leading position in the Middle East. The country is now relatively stable: economic growth in 2015 was 4.2%, and similar numbers are expected for the current year.
Shoukry's visit also testifies to the resurgence of the pragmatic alliance comprised of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Jordan to fight Islamic terrorism and Iranian subversive attempts.
The writer served as Israel's Ambassador to Egypt, Sweden, and Romania.
Israeli Group Sues Facebook over Palestinian Violence
Israeli and American families of victims of Palestinian attacks filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Facebook, claiming the social network is providing a platform for militants to spread incitement and violence, their lawyers said.
Shurat Hadin, an Israeli legal advocacy group, filed the suit on behalf of the five families in New York federal court, alleging that Facebook is violating U.S. anti-terrorism laws by providing a service to militant groups that assists them in "recruiting, radicalizing, and instructing terrorists, raising funds, creating fear and carrying out attacks."
The lawsuit focuses on the Islamic militant group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip and which has fought three wars against Israel since the Palestinian group overran the coastal territory in 2007. Hamas, an armed group sworn to Israel's destruction, has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States.
"Facebook can't sit in its stone tower in Palo Alto while blood is being spilled here on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It has a social responsibility. It can't serve as a social network for Hamas," said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the Israeli lawyer who is representing the families.
The suit comes amid a 10-month outburst of Israeli-Palestinian violence that has seen scores of Palestinian attacks targeting Israeli civilians and troops.
Israel says the violence is being fueled by a Palestinian campaign of incitement on social media...
Facebook had no immediate comment on the lawsuit, saying it had not yet received a copy.
The case is among a handful to argue that U.S. anti-terrorism laws should take precedence over the provisions of the Communications Decency Act, which normally shield online companies for liability for what their users post.
It is not clear whether the lawsuit will succeed. The court may rule that freedom of expression precedes anti-terror laws. Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said the case "appears to be a more compelling complaint" than other similar suits filed in recent months.
He said the most interesting argument is that beyond saying Facebook served as a conduit for hate speech, it says the service played a role in specific attacks. "This case will be well worth watching," he said.
Thursday, July 07, 2016
The Great Arab Implosion and Its Consequences - Ofir Haivry
Another reality is emerging in the Middle East, redrawing the regional power balances - the rise of newly armed, self-governing nations and tribes.
They include a de-facto Kurdistan possessing the largest undefeated armed force between Jerusalem and Tehran; an Alawite-dominated western Syria; a consolidated Shiite southern Iraq; an increasingly autonomous Druzistan in southern Syria; a Yemen redivided into de-facto northern Shiite and southern Sunni countries; Libya's historical provinces of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania recreating their old division; with the possibility of the Sunni tribes of western Syria and eastern Iraq coalescing into a desert Sunnistan with or without IS.
Similar developments are clearly brewing in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Lebanon, and Jordan, as well as among the Berbers of Algeria and the Kurds of Turkey and Iran.
With artificial regimes and borders gone, people in the region seek protection and solidarity in the old identities that have survived the Arab reverie: their nation, their religion, their tribe.
These are the only building blocks upon which a new and stable system can be founded.
The writer is vice-president of the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem.
Wednesday, July 06, 2016
Israel Can Only Manage, Not End, the Threat - Efraim Inbar
[I]t is a mistake to believe that it is possible to root Hamas out of Gaza and destroy its capabilities once and for all. There is no one-shot solution to the Hamas military/terrorist challenge.
Despite assertions to the contrary by the Israeli right, the end of Hamas rule is not an easily attainable military objective. The roots of Hamas are deep in Palestinian society, particularly in Gaza. A recent poll indicates that if new presidential elections were to be held right now in the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas's candidate Ismail Haniyeh would do better than Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas simply cannot be eradicated by outsiders conquering Gaza and then politically reengineering Palestinian society. One cannot import a leadership of choice.
The calls from the Israeli left for a "political solution" are similarly unrealistic. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Salafist groups see Israel as a theological aberration. They might reluctantly accept temporary cease-fires, but they continue to categorically reject any diplomatic course of action intended to fully solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel must be realistic about what can be achieved by military means. Force should be applied not to attain impossible political goals, but [rather] in the service of a long-term strategy of attrition designed to debilitate enemy capabilities and exact a cost with the object of enhancing temporary deterrence. [O]ccasional large-scale operations have a temporary deterrent effect that creates periods of quiet along Israel's borders. Hamas needs to be punished for its aggression and reminded of the cost it must pay for continuing its violence against Israel. And on a practical level, a period of calm can be achieved by destroying capabilities that are both difficult and expensive to rebuild. Buying time is a legitimate military goal.
The greater goal is the establishment of a reality in which Israeli residents can go about their lives without the continuing threat of indiscriminate terror, and in which a significant blow has been struck to Hamas's terror infrastructure. So far, the Israeli government has wisely adopted these limited political and military goals, a strategy dubbed "mowing the grass."
This strategy has a positive effect both within and beyond the borders of the conflict. Other actors in the Middle East are watching, and they too need vivid reminders that aggression against Israel can be costly. In this tough neighborhood, inaction is perceived as weakness, harming deterrence and inviting aggression.
The question "When will this end?" is inherently flawed. There is, unfortunately, no end in sight. As long as the basic motivations of Hamas remain, the violent struggle will continue. But this does not mean that significant periods of quiet cannot be achieved by military action.
Israel will probably be engaged in a war of attrition against Hamas for a long time. Keeping the enemy off balance and reducing its capabilities will require Israeli military readiness and a willingness to use force intermittently, while maintaining a healthy and resilient Israeli home front despite the protracted conflict.
[Middle East Forum]
Monday, June 27, 2016
"Radical Islam" Is the Correct Label - Yehuda Bauer
President Obama has explained why he doesn't like using the term "radical Islam" when talking about terror attacks perpetrated by Muslims in various countries. His argument was well-reasoned, but I don't agree with it. His principal argument is that using the label "radical Islam" will be interpreted as an attack on Islam per se, and will help extremists brand the U.S. as the enemy of 1.3 billion Muslim believers.
In my humble opinion, the truth is the diametric opposite. When an act of terror that's perpetrated for ideological reasons is termed simply "terror," but it's clear to everyone that it was perpetrated by a Muslim due to an extremist religious ideology, it paints all Muslims as the guilty parties. But if you say it was perpetrated by people who identify with radical Islam, you're effectively saying there's also a different kind of Islam, one that isn't radical in its ideas and actions and doesn't send murderers out to commit mass terror attacks.
Using the term "radical Islam" actually allows nonradical or antiradical Muslims - and they are the majority - to come out against such murderous acts both ideologically and practically. And in fact many do so.
The writer is professor emeritus of history and Holocaust studies at Hebrew University.
Friday, June 17, 2016
|Tareq Abbas, son of Mahmoud Abbas|
|Yasser Abbas, son of Mahmoud Abbas. |
Yasser was named after...well you know that already
Abbas' Sons Must Be Excellent Busienssmen - Clayton Swisher
Tareq Abbas, the son of the Palestinian Authority president, is said to own villas in Amman, Jordan, and a rooftop pad in Beirut, Lebanon. And according to official British Land Registry records from 2012, Tareq registered a $1.5 million luxury flat in Merchant Square East, a high-end London development. Tareq's flat has stayed largely unoccupied since he bought it, which seems to indicate that he does not need the rental income.
The president's eldest son, Yasser, made his fortune from the monopoly sale of U.S.-made cigarettes in the PA.
Their financial blessings are merely the result of being "Grade A businessmen," Yasser once remarked.
Palestinians Safer than Muslims Anywhere in MidEast - Sean Durns
Bassem Eid, a veteran Palestinian Arab human rights activist,noted that the PA has received "billions in aid" from the international community, including the U.S., but the authority has "failed to create jobs for Palestinians." He called corruption among the Palestinian leadership "big and wide." "If you ask Palestinians who Abbas represents, they would say himself, 'his wife and two sons.'"
Eid added that if a Palestinian state were to come into being, the current state of Palestinian politics in Gaza and the West Bank would suggest that such a state would be repressive and undemocratic. Eid pointed out that "as a Muslim, as an Arab," he is safer in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than anywhere else in the Middle East.
|Ramallah house of Palestinian businessman Mohamed Abdel-Hadi|
Anarchy Returns to the West Bank - Khaled Abu Toameh
A quick chat with young Palestinians, including Fatah members, in any refugee camp in the West Bank will reveal that the PA seems as much the enemy as Israel. They speak of the PA as a corrupt and incompetent body that is managed by "mafia leaders." Many activists believe it is only a matter of time before Palestinians launch an intifada against the PA.
Hassan Abu Ayyash, a Fatah activist from the Al-Amari camp near Ramallah, said the PA leadership is "getting hundreds of millions of dollars from the international community and distributing them among themselves and their sons. Look at all the big buildings and fancy restaurants and bars in Ramallah. Where do they get all the money to purchase expensive cars?"
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Wolf Dens, Not Lone Wolves - Joseph Ax
A Reuters review of the 90 Islamic State court cases brought by the Department of Justice since 2014 found that 3/4 of those charged were not isolated individuals but rather part of a group of 2-10 co-conspirators who met in person to discuss their plans.
Even the isolated individuals were almost always in contact with other sympathizers, whether via text message, email or networking websites. Fewer than 10 cases involved someone acting entirely alone.
Islamic State: Inspiring Attacks Abroad - Greg Miller
In its early expansion phase, the Islamic State called on Muslims across the world to join its ranks in Syria, to take part in the historic restoration of the caliphate. Now, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said in a recording issued May 21, don't bother coming to Syria because "the smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would do if you were with us." Those inside the caliphate's borders "wish we were in your place to punish the crusaders day and night."
The devastation in Orlando represents a danger that many U.S. counterterrorism officials warn will be harder to contain than the Islamic State's aspirations for an extremist haven in the Middle East. CIA Director John Brennan told al-Arabiya just days before the shooting in Orlando, "Countries around the world are having to be concerned about the potential for individuals or groups of individuals to act on their own, without the direct contact with organized terrorists or groups." The shooting in Orlando is the deadliest example to date of the terrorism model Brennan described.
Counterterrorism experts believe that the Islamic State may only be in the early stages of demonstrating its ability to incite a kind of violence that doesn't require penetrating the post-9/11 defenses of the U.S.
Welcome to Israel's Reality - David French
America is slowly moving into Israel's security reality - the dilemma where external power projection leads to domestic discord and international condemnation, while a purely defensive strategy allows terrorists to recruit, re-arm, and inspire a new wave of jihadists. Israel's answer is a permanent defensive struggle punctuated by periodic bursts of offensive activity - all of which help keep life in Israel livable and peaceful for the vast majority of its citizens, but at great cost.
Americans hate the notion that there are no good answers to jihad. Something has to work. But reality is showing us what a permanent struggle looks like.
Here's the bottom line - in the absence of an effective offense, our defensive challenge will grow more difficult. But because there is no way to [fully] eradicate jihadist theology from Islam, defense will always be necessary.
Welcome to the permanent war. Israel's been here for a while.
Lessons of Orlando - Thomas L. Friedman
[W]e're just waiting around for the next Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino or Orlando.
And the only thing that can stop them is from the inside: a meaningful mass movement by Muslim governments, clergymen and citizens to delegitimize this behavior.
(New York Times)
For the official ISIS video celebrating the Orlando attack, click HERE
The Media's Apologetic Coverage of Islamic Terror - Tarek Fatah
The question is this: Should we fear Islamophobia or Islamofascism?
In the meantime, a jihadist newspaper in Pakistan carried this as its front-page headline: "Afghan youth roasts 50 Americans."
[The Toronto Sun]
Orlando Shooting Shows How ISIS Calls the Shots - Robert Pape
ISIS is creating a new role for itself as the producer of terror who attracts the right cast, provides a rough draft of the script, and ensures publicity after the fact.
That Omar Mateen was able to gather the necessary tactical knowledge to carry out this complicated act of terror shows that inspired attacks can now be as deadly as directed ones, and that the online reach of ISIS is a true game changer. ISIS has found a way to bring the fight to us.
The writer is director of the University of Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism.
Monday, June 13, 2016
Jihad in Orlando - Editorial
A young American Muslim pledging allegiance to Islamic State is now responsible for the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Can we finally drop the illusion that the jihadist fires that burn in the Middle East don't pose an urgent and deadly threat to the American homeland? The killer was heard shouting "allahu Akbar" (God is great) as he fired away.
[T]he only real solution is to destroy Islamic State in its havens abroad so young Muslims around the world won't see it as the vanguard of the future.(Wall Street Journal)
How Many Bodies Will it Take? - Phyllis Chesler, PhD
How many bodies will it take for Americans, especially the intelligentsia, including the feminists, including gay people, including our elected officials, before they understand that we: (the West, America, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents) have a very real enemy? It is radical Islam or Islamism, and it is not going away anytime soon.
Clearly, more than 3,000 bodies on 9/11 were not enough. Clearly, the many millions of Muslims murdered by Muslim Jihadists have not been enough. Will the murder of 49 gay Americans finally be “enough?” Somehow I doubt it but I certainly hope so.
How many deaths before we become effective in identifying potential Jihadists? Within our borders? Arriving as refugees and immigrants? How many deaths before we are willing to use the word “Muslim terrorist” without fearing we will be demonized for doing so?
The gay websites are more focused on general “hate” against gays and gun control than they are focused on the nature and the danger of radical Islam. The gay communities have been willing to march against Israel—but never against Jihad?
Long ago, Natan Sharansky asked me if I thought I could “turn the feminists, the leftists, the gays around.” I told him that I doubted it, but that I would try. Will these 49 dead and 53 wounded start that “turning?” We shall see.
Orlando Shooter Scouted Disney World in Search for Targets
- Pervaiz Shallwani
Omar Mateen had visited Walt Disney World while he was searching for targets, two officials said.
(Wall Street Journal)
DHS Report: Don't Offend Muslims - Douglas Ernst
A report by the Homeland Security Advisory Council released days before the Islamic terror attack in Orlando, Florida, stressed the importance of combating extremism by avoiding terms that might offend Muslims.
A HSAC subcommittee first created by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson in 2015 published its report on June 9.
Some instructions found in the report include:
- Officials should not use the word “jihad.”
- Officials should not use the word “sharia.”
- Officials should not use the word “takfir,” which is done when one Muslim accuses another of apostasy.
- Officials are instructed to “reject religiously-charged terminology and problematic positioning by using plain meaning American English.”
For the official ISIS video celebrating the Orlando attack, click HERE