Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Spitting Sunnis From Syria: The New Alignment & Shia Aggression

Why Russia and Iran Are Abetting Syrian Government - Harold Rhode 

The Syrian government, Russia, and Iran are trying the change the demographic makeup of Syria, aiming to depopulate Syria of Sunni Arabs.

All three see themselves in an existential battle against radical Sunnis and are now moving to repopulate formerly Sunni areas of Syria with Shiites - mostly from Iraq.

In Russia, where 98% of the Muslims are Sunni, the Russian government has undertaken a program - with some success - to entice Russian Sunnis to convert to Shiism. 
Dr. Harold Rhode served for 28 years as an advisor on the Islamic world in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense. 
 (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Israel Develops Important Medical Test

MeMed cofounders Eran Eden, left, and Kfir Oved.
Photo by Jonathan Bloom

New Diagnostic Test Distinguishes Bacterial from Viral Infections
- Abigail Klein Leichman 

ImmunoXpert, developed by Israeli startup MeMed, is now used by hospitals in the EU, Switzerland and Israel to determine rapidly whether an infection is bacterial or viral.

Because they are usually unable to determine the cause of an infection, many physicians prescribe antibiotics to be on the safe side.

Experts believe that up to 50% of antibiotic drug regimens are unnecessary or inappropriate. And antibiotic overuse is a major trigger for drug-resistant strains estimated to kill 50,000 people each year in Europe and the U.S.

ImmunoXpert interprets chemical signals from the body's own immune system to distinguish with over 90% accuracy between bacterial and viral infections.

Instead of trying to access and isolate the pathogen, ImmunoXpert's sophisticated biosensors and algorithms decode the immune system's distinct responses to bacterial and viral infections.

Monday, October 10, 2016

VideoBite: Empowering Muslim Moderates

A short poignant video about the controversial issue of the nature of Islam and how to empower moderates

Friday, September 30, 2016

Obama Lights MidEast on Fire

Obama's New Middle East - Caroline Glick

The new Syria is being born in the rubble of Aleppo.

The eastern side of the city, which has been under the control of US-supported rebel groups since 2012, is being bombed into the Stone Age by Russian and Syrian aircraft.

All avenues of escape have been blocked. A UN aid convoy was bombed in violation of a fantasy cease-fire. Medical facilities and personnel are being targeted by Russia and Syrian missiles and barrel bombs to make survival impossible.

It is hard to assess how long the siege of eastern Aleppo by Russia, its Iranian and Hezbollah partners and its Syrian regime puppet will last. But what is an all but foregone conclusion now is that eastern Aleppo will fall. And with its fall, the Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah-Assad axis will consolidate its control over all of western Syria.

Fighting a guerrilla war with the help of the Sunni population, the anti-regime militias were able to fight from and hide from within the civilian population. Consequently, they were all but impossible to defeat.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to join the fight, he and his generals soon recognized that this manner of fighting ensured perpetual war. So they changed tactics. The new strategy involves speeding up the depopulation and ethnic cleansing of rebel-held areas. The massive refugee flows from Syria over the past year are a testament to the success of the barbaric war plan. The idea is to defeat the rebel forces by destroying the sheltering civilian populations.

By adopting a strategy of total war, Putin has ensured that far from becoming the quagmire that President Barack Obama warned him Syria would become, the war in Syria has instead become a means to transform Russia into the dominant superpower in the Mediterranean, at the US’s expense.

In exchange for saving Assad’s neck and enabling Iran and Hezbollah to control Syria, Russia has received the capacity to successfully challenge US power.
Israel’s ability to permit the US access to its air bases is no longer assured. Russia has deployed air assets to Syria that have canceled Israel’s regional air superiority. Under these circumstances, in a hypothetical Russian-US confrontation, Israel may be unwilling to risk Russian retaliation for a decision to permit the US to use its air bases against Russia.

America’s loss of control over the eastern Mediterranean is a self-induced disaster.

For four years, as Putin stood on the sidelines and hedged his bets, Obama did nothing. As Iran and Hezbollah devoted massive financial and military assets to maintaining their puppet Assad in power, the Obama administration squandered chance after chance to bring down the regime and stem Iran’s regional imperial advance.

For his refusal to take action when such action could have easily been taken, Obama shares the responsibility for what Syria has become. This state of affairs is all the more infuriating because the hard truth is that it wouldn’t have been hard for the US to defeat the Iranian- Hezbollah axis. The fact that even without US help the anti-regime forces managed to hold on for four years shows how weak the challenge posed by Iran and Hezbollah actually was.

Russia only went into Syria when Putin was absolutely convinced that Obama would do nothing to stop him from dislodging America as the premier global power in the region.

Obama chose to stand on the sidelines in Syria because he wanted to make friends with Iran. Obama began his secret courtship of the mullahs even before he officially took office eight years ago.
So Obama let Syria burn. He let Iran and Hezbollah transform the country into their colony. And he let Putin transform the Mediterranean into a Russian lake. Obama enabled the ethnic cleansing of Syria’s Sunni majority, and in turn facilitated the refugee crisis that is changing the face not only of the Middle East but of Europe as well.

It is ironic that the new Middle East is coming into focus as Shimon Peres, the failed visionary of a fantasy- based new Middle East, is being laid to rest. But to survive in the real new Middle East, Israel must bury Peres’s belief that peace is built by appeasing enemies along with him. The world in which we live has a place for dreamers.

But dreams, unhinged from reality, lead to Aleppo, not to peace.

[Jerusalem Post via Jewish World Review]

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Arab States Turn Against Palestinian Leadership

- Khaled Abu Toameh 

PA President Mahmoud Abbas is facing a new challenge from several Arab countries that have come together to demand that he reform his ruling Fatah faction and pave the way for the emergence of a new Palestinian leadership.
According to reports in Arab media, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE are seeking to end the state of political anarchy in the territories controlled by the PA and Hamas.
Abbas and Fatah leaders in Ramallah are convinced that the "Arab Quartet" is planning to pave the way for promoting "normalization" between the Arab world and Israel.
These countries have concluded that as long as Abbas and the current PA leadership are around, it would be very difficult to initiate any "normalization" with Israel.
Veteran Palestinian official Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), a former PA prime minister and one of the architects of the Oslo Accord, come out in favor of the "Arab Quartet" plan, which basically envisions ousting Abbas from power. 
(Gatestone Institute)

Saudi paper calls for Abbas to accept invitation to address Knesset

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should accept Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's invitation and address Israel's Knesset, a Saudi newspaper argued in it's editorial.

The English-language Saudi Gazette said that Netanyahu's invitation, issued during his speech to the UN General Assembly last week, was reminiscent of former prime minister Menachem Begin's invitation to former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, which eventually led to the 1978 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

"For all its shortcomings, Camp David demonstrated that negotiations with Israel were possible and that progress could be made through sustained efforts at communication and cooperation," the Gazette argued.

The editorial came amid signs that the Saudi media is softening its reporting on Israel, a development that has been linked to under the table contacts between the two countries.
[Jerusalem Post]

Monday, September 19, 2016

Victory: A Much Needed Dirty Word

The last real victory was in 1967's Six Day War

Israeli Victory Is the Only Way to Bring Peace - Gregg Roman

In order for there to be peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israel must win and the Palestinians must lose.

For most of human history, military victory ended wars. The Pax Romana, a period of 200 years of relative peace within the Roman Empire, began only when Augustus defeated Marc Antony in the Battle of Actium. When the North ravaged the South in the American Civil War, it caused the seemingly intractable conflict that claimed three quarters of a million lives over four years to fade away. The South, knowing it was defeated, never made trouble again. German and Japanese ill-will toward Western democracies in World War II rapidly dissipated, thanks to the bitter pill of defeat; friendship soon followed.

Today's conventional wisdom holds that conflicts are best resolved through negotiation and compromise. But let's look at the facts. After 40 years of negotiations to reunite Cyprus, the island remains divided, and 60 years of standoff over the Korean peninsula have achieved little. In Syria, the killing continues unabated despite five years of talks to reconcile Sunnis and Alawites. And at the same time, years of diplomatic efforts to roll back Iran's nuclear program ended with the West's capitulation to Tehran's demands.

The negotiations fallacy is especially evident in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The crux of the conflict is simple: Israel wants to survive; the Palestinian leadership wants to destroy it. Some Palestinian leaders make no secret of this.

American policy has long been to prevent Israel from achieving a decisive military victory over its adversaries. In 1956, President Eisenhower forced Israel to abandon its territorial gains from the Suez Crisis. Similarly, following the 1967 Six Day War, the U.S. helped engineer a U.N. resolution calling on Israel to return unspecified "territories occupied" in the war. The Reagan administration stopped Israel from obliterating Yasser Arafat's PLO forces in Lebanon in 1982, and, most recently, the Obama administration pressured Israel to limit its objectives in its 2014 war with Hamas. These concessions, which are often unilateral and irreversible, include settlement freezes, prisoner releases and forfeiture of territory.

Such policies deliver pernicious results; American "restraint" of Israel encourages its enemies to take risks. Much like government bailouts encourage banks to make high-risk, high-payoff investments by removing the consequences of failure, Israel's adversaries need not fret over irrevocable loss because they know the international community will admonish Israel for any gains it achieves.

Moreover, restraining Israel legitimizes and nourishes Palestinian rejectionism, defined as the refusal to acknowledge Israeli sovereignty and right of Jews to live in their ancestral homeland. Because it knows there will be no consequences for its sophisticated propaganda war, the Palestinian Authority can continue to demonize Israel. "To become a normal people, one whose parents do not encourage their children to become suicide terrorists, Palestinian Arabs need to undergo the crucible of defeat," writes Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes.

America's handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict is preventing the kind of metamorphosis in Palestinian thinking about Israel that peace requires. It's time for Washington to allow Israel to demolish the Palestinian dream of a one-state solution, free of Jews. As Ronald Reagan said regarding the US fight against communism, the only way to "win is if they lose."

This doesn't mean the U.S. should support a winner-take-all settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But we must dispense with the fallacy that Israel is only a concession or two away from an American-brokered diplomatic breakthrough. As Gen. Douglas MacArthur said famously, "there is no substitute for victory."
[The Hill/Middle East Forum]


Defending ourselves to death - Caroline Glick

No one doubts that the government wants to defend Israel’s citizens. But despite their good intentions, our leaders are failing us. Our political, military, police and bureaucratic leaders are failing us because our foes – at home and abroad – have come to believe that we aren’t willing to do what is necessary to defeat them.

Our leaders are failing us because they refuse to act on the sure knowledge that an over-reliance on defensive measures does not deter aggression. It invites aggression.

[Jerusalem Post]

Israel Positive: VideoBite

Jerusalem U's “Forever” – a new video about Jewish pride from African-American poet ChloĆ© Valdary; a leading new voice in the pro-Israel movement, a Tikvah fellow under Pulitzer Prize-winner Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal, and one of Algemeiner’s top 100 people positively affecting Jewish life today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Unsettling: Obsessed with Israel

At UN, Only Israel Is an "Occupying Power" - Eugene Kontorovich & Penny Grunseid

The UN uses an entirely different rhetoric and set of legal concepts when dealing with Israel compared with situations of occupation or settlements world-wide. Israel is referred to as the "Occupying Power" 530 times in General Assembly resolutions.

Yet in seven major instances of past or present prolonged military occupation - Indonesia in East Timor, Turkey in northern Cyprus, Russia in areas of Georgia, Morocco in Western Sahara, Vietnam in Cambodia, Armenia in areas of Azerbaijan, and Russia in Ukraine's Crimea - the UN has not called any of these countries an "Occupying Power." Not even once.

General Assembly resolutions employ the term "grave" to describe Israel's actions 513 times, as opposed to 14 total for all the other conflicts. Verbs such as "condemn" and "deplore" are sprinkled into Israel-related resolutions tens more times than they are in resolutions about other conflicts. 
Mr. Kontorovich, a professor at Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law, heads the international law department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, where Ms. Grunseid is a researcher. 
(Wall Street Journal)

Unsettled: Global Study of Settlements in Occupied Territories 
- Eugene Kontorovich

Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which prohibits what is colloquially known as settlements in occupied territory, is ubiquitously invoked in relation to the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Golan Heights.

Yet there are numerous countries that have engaged and continue to engage in settlement policies that would constitute clear violations of Art. 49(6). These non-Israeli settlement efforts have often been on a large scale, and have involved far-reaching demographic and economic consequences for the occupied population.
(Northwestern University Law School)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Muslim Zionists Come Out of the Closet

Mohammad Zoabi, 17 year old Muslim Zionist

A Growing Trend: Brave Muslim Zionists Risking It All - Noah Beck

Muslims and Arabs who openly identify as Zionists are growing in number – powered by the freer flow of information and ideas made possible by social media and the search for answers in the wake of the Arab Spring and Islamist terror.

Muhammad Zoabi entered the spotlight as a proud Arab, Muslim Zionist in the summer of 2014. Just 17 at the time, Zoabi began to advocate for Israel in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. He posted a video demanding that Hamas release three Israeli teens who had been kidnapped a few weeks before Operation Protective Edge. Death threats soon forced Zoabi into hiding, and he found shelter with Kay Wilson, who had survived a brutal 2010 terrorist stabbing attack.

Zoabi became so popular that he reached his maximum friend limit (5,000) on Facebook, where there is even a page calling for him to be prime minister of Israel. Zoabi’s Zionism is hardly surprising, given his upbringing. His mother, Sarah Zoabi, revealed her Israeli patriotism on national television. She introduced herself on the popular Israeli show “Master Chef” as an “Arab, Muslim, Israeli, proud Zionist” from the northern city of Nazareth. “I believe in the right of the Jewish people to have their own country, which is the state of Israel, the Holy Land.... I want to say to all the Arabs of Israel to wake up,” she continued. “We live in paradise. Compared to other countries, to Arab countries – we live in paradise.”

Another young Muslim Zionist is Mahdi Satri, a 17-year old, Israeli Arab, whose Gazan father helped the Shin Bet (Israel’s domestic security services) and received political asylum to live in an Arab village near Acre. When neighbors learned that his father had helped Israel’s security services, his family became a target.

“I regularly get threats. I get threats from people in my village and they say they will put two bullets in my head If I’m not gonna stop. I also get threats from Gaza, and from Ramallah, and from my mother’s family.”

A day earlier, Satri published critiques of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, blaming each for Israel’s 2014 war with Gaza and defending Israel’s use of force to protect “all the Israeli citizens: Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheist, Gays, Lesbians.” He proudly notes that “Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East.”

He also attracted international attention last month with a social experiment in which he blindfolded himself and held a sign identifying himself as an Arab and inviting Tel-Avivians to embrace him. His heartwarming video (with nearly half a million views) reveals Israeli tolerance and was shared by the pro-Israel group StandWithUs.

Satri even paid his respects to the parents of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, who was stabbed to death in her bedroom by a Palestinian terrorist (Israeli TV news covered Satri’s remarkable visit). “When they murdered her, they also took a piece of my heart, of me.” He brought a yarmulke and an Israeli flag to his condolence visit.

Ahmed Meligy, who identifies himself as a proud Egyptian and Muslim, is another passionate advocate for Israel. Meligy has endured death threats and police arrest for his activism, which includes blogging for the Jerusalem Post, and supporting democracy in Egypt and warmer ties with Israel.

Qanta Ahmed, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants to the UK, is a devout Muslim who has also warned about the risk of allowing Islamists to use Islamic blasphemy laws in order to monopolize the marketplace of ideas: “Americans and anti-Islamist Muslims everywhere must ensure that...freedom of...speech prevails, if religious freedoms and liberal democracies are to be preserved.” An accomplished physician who practiced medicine in one of Islam’s most conservative societies, she published “In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom.” Ahmed, who is now based in the U.S., has also eloquently supported Israel in her writing and decried the double standards applied to Israeli victims of terror.

Mosab Hassan Yousef is a Palestinian Arab Zionist who worked undercover for the Shin Bet, from 1997 to 2007. "I worked for them against Hamas movement ... against evil ... I did what was right to save a human life – Palestinians and Israelis.”

Yousef’s information is credited with preventing dozens of suicide attacks and assassinations of Israelis, and with exposing numerous Hamas cells. It also helped Israel to hunt down many terrorists, including Yousef’s own father, Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef.

Yousef’s story eventually became the subject of a best-selling book, The Son of Hamas, and a documentary film, “The Green Prince.”

“Israel is light, Israel is philosophy, Israel is values and ethics,” he said during a 2015 speech before AIPAC. “And I cannot imagine the world without Israel.”

The failure of the “Arab Spring” may help to explain the growing trend of Muslims and Arabs supporting Israel. As the hope of democratic reform faded and states crumbled into violent chaos and/or merciless crackdowns on protests, some willing to look past anti-Israel propaganda might admire the only example of a Middle East democracy that tolerates dissent, has a burgeoning economy, upholds the rule of law and human rights, and protects minorities.

Moreover, the singularly brutal approach of ISIS towards religious minorities, or even Sunni Muslims who dare to disagree with ISIS, does much – by way of extreme contrast – to highlight Israeli society’s tolerance.

And, perhaps as part of the broader trend of Arabs embracing their Israeli identity, Lucy Aharish, the first Muslim Arab presenter for one of Israel’s top TV news channels, proudly defines herself as an Israeli: “Today, when people ask me ‘What are you?’ I say that I’m an Israeli. I’m not ashamed of my Israeliness. Then I’m a woman, and then I’m an Arab Muslim. That’s the order: Israeli, woman, Arab Muslim.”

A growing demographic of Zionist Muslims may eventually serve as the bridge to peace between Israel and the wider Islamic world. But as long as Islamist movements persist, such courageous individuals will likely face serious threats.
[Front Page Magazine]


(Times of Israel)
This week during the Muslim holiday of Id al-Adha, I visited two malls in Jerusalem where I saw hundreds of Muslim families out shopping for the holiday. No one harassed them, no one even noticed.
Israeli Muslims easily enter Jewish malls without fear and travel to vacation spots all over Israel without trepidation.
They are Israeli citizens and feel comfortable here. They share the workplace with Jews and are part and parcel of the landscape and of civil society.
Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish is the founding director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI). 

New York Times: Hating Israel Before It Was Born

The New York Times at 120 - Jerold Auerbach

One hundred and twenty years ago, on August 18, 1896, the precociously ambitious 28-year-old publisher of the Chattanooga Times, Adolph S. Ochs, purchased the financially flailing New York Times. Rejecting the sensationalist “yellow journalism” of its competitors, Ochs preferred a “clean, dignified and trustworthy” newspaper that would, in the enduring front-page motto that he introduced two months later, provide “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

Six months previously, a Jewish lawyer-turned-journalist named Theodor Herzl had published a pamphlet entitled Der Judenstaat, propelling Zionism to world attention. In its first mention of Herzl  the Times identified him as “originator of the Zionist scheme.” With the approaching Zionist conference in Basel in August 1897, it paid closer attention to “The Jewish State Idea,” warily wondering “is it feasible”?

In Europe and the United States, the Times concluded, “There are many Jews who oppose the founding of this State on the ground that it could only be a small, weak State, existing by sufferance.” It was also “urged” – although the Times did not identify those doing the urging – “that Israel’s mission is no longer political, but purely and simply religious, and that the establishment of the State would do incalculable harm, and could do no good.” Indeed, it would inevitably raise the lurking menace of dual loyalty that has haunted the Times ever since.

Once the delegates in Basel endorsed the idea of Jewish statehood “with great enthusiasm,” the Times became even warier. Identifying Herzl as “the so-called ‘New Moses,’” it reprinted a sharply critical article from the American Israelite, the newspaper of Reform Judaism, excoriating him and his followers as “romantic Zealots” lacking “the least intention to benefit Judaism.” The establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, it firmly declared (and wishfully hoped), was “an impossibility.” The author of that diatribe was Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, who guided Reform Judaism’s embrace of the United States as the American Zion.

Sulzberger succeeded Ochs as publisher in 1935, just in time for the Times to ignore the worsening plight of European Jews confronting the looming threat of Nazi Germany. Fearful lest the Times be identified as a “Jewish” newspaper, he insisted that the targeting of Jews for extermination be ignored and reports of Nazi genocide buried on its inside pages.

Discomfort with Zionism, conspicuous among its Jewish reporters and columnists, has framed Times coverage of Israel ever since. Jerusalem bureau chiefs Thomas Friedman and Jodi Rudoren embedded criticism of Israel in their reporting, while Anthony Lewis and Roger Cohen (among others) became cheerleaders against the Jewish state from Washington. In editorials and op-eds the Times transformed Palestinians into the new Jews, whose struggle for statehood, unlike the aspirations of Zionists before 1948, it has avidly embraced.

Times journalists unknowingly followed in the ideological footsteps of Joseph M. Levy, its first Jewish Jerusalem-based correspondent. After the Arab riots in 1929 he consorted with Rabbi Magnes, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and renegade British civil servant H. St-John Philby (who would convert to Islam and father the notorious double agent Kim) to use the Times as their forum to thwart Zionist efforts.

In Exodus 6:3 God identifies the human lifetime as one 120 years. The New York Times of Adolph Ochs and his Sulzberger descendants has reached that biblical benchmark. But if ”what’s past is prologue” (as Shakespeare suggested), “All the News That’s Fit to Print” will continue to reflect their abiding discomfort with the thriving Jewish state in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.
Jerold S. Auerbach is completing a book "The New York Times, Zionism and Israel 1896-2016."
[The Algemeiner]

Europe Arising From Slumber?

Germany Warns of Threat from 520 "Potential Attackers"    

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, in an interview with Bild newspaper, has warned that the country is home to at least 520 Islamic militants who could be capable of carrying out assaults on their own or as members of "hit teams."
He said another 360 "relevant" people were known to police because of their close proximity to the potential attackers.
"The terror threat now stems from foreign hit teams as well as fanatical lone wolves in Germany," de Maiziere said.

"The hit teams are secretly smuggled into Europe and prepare their actions without being noticed, as we saw with the attacks in Paris and Brussels."

France's Premier Warns of New Attacks, 15,000 People on Police Radar 

Paris was put on high alert last week when French officials said they dismantled a "terrorist cell" that planned to attack a railway station under the direction of Islamic State.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, "This week at least two attacks were foiled....There will be new attacks, there will be innocent victims...this is also my role to tell this truth to the French people."
Valls said there were 15,000 people on the radar of police and intelligent services who were in the process of being radicalized.

ISIS Plotting to Massacre Christians in Belgian Shopping Mall

- Julian Robinson 

ISIS fanatics are hatching a plot to butcher Christians in a shopping center using chainsaws, according to the teenage son of a radical Imam in the eastern Belgian city of Verviers, who was arrested after a video emerged of him calling in Arabic for the murder of Christians.
In a police interview, he is said to have revealed that the terror group is recruiting extremists to carry out such a massacre. He said that jihadists who went to Syria were trying to convince those who stayed at home to perpetrate terror attacks.
Verviers has been described as one of the centers of Belgian radical Islam together with the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek. 
[Daily Mail-UK]

Friday, September 09, 2016

CartoonBite: The Iranian Navy

Sometimes, a cartoon tells the whole story

To Crush, Or Not To Crush

Should ISIS be wiped out? - David M. Weinberg

[A] controversial article published by the respected director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Prof. Efraim Inbar argued that the West should not seek the destruction of the Islamic State (IS, ISIS or Daesh), only its weakening.

A weak but functioning ISIS, Inbar argued, would actually be useful. (He termed ISIS a “useful idiot” organization).

Inbar feels that the continued existence of ISIS can undermine the appeal of the caliphate among radical Muslims, keep bad actors focused on one another rather than on Western targets, and hamper Iran’s quest for regional hegemony.

Inbar argued, admittedly counter-intuitively, that a weakened but lingering ISIS would help undermine Tehran’s ambitious plan for domination of the Middle East, while a complete defeat of ISIS would only enhance Iranian hegemony, buttress Russia’s role in the region and prolong Syrian President Bashar Assad’s tyranny.

Inbar: “A dysfunctional and embattled ISIS is more conducive to the disillusionment of Muslim adherents of a caliphate in our times than an ISIS destroyed by a mighty America-led coalition. The latter scenario perfectly fits the narrative of continuous and perfidious efforts on the part of the West to destroy Islam, which feeds radical Muslim hatred for everything the West stands for.”

The West yearns for stability, and holds out a naive hope that military defeat of ISIS will be instrumental in reaching that goal, wrote Inbar. “But stability is not a value in and of itself. It is desirable only if it serves our interests.

And the continuing existence of ISIS serves Western strategic purposes.”

The reactions to Inbar’s article came fast. Inbar’s colleague, Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman (a senior research associate at the center and a former deputy director of Israel’s National Security Council), published a counter-article on the center’s website declaring that the continued existence of ISIS fortifies, rather than enervates, Iran’s quest for hegemony.

“The destruction of IS should be the first stage in a campaign designed ultimately to isolate and contain Iran,” he wrote.

Lerman admitted that Inbar’s hard-knuckled, realist point of view reflects the anguish felt by many in Israel and across the region as they watch the US administration and others get their priorities wrong, by defining Iran as an asset and potential ally in the war against the so-called caliphate.

“Even so, a strategy that leaves ISIS bruised but alive would pose serious dangers. The norm that terror cannot be tolerated is a precious one... and the coordinated Western campaign against ISIS is a development Israelis and others should welcome, not disparage. Moreover, the total defeat of ISIS on the battlefield likely would lead to the collapse of the ideas for which ISIS stands. Furthermore, the continued existence of ISIS and its horrors is a gift to Ayatollah Khamenei. He uses it to lure Turkey, blame the Saudis, and justify the ravages inflicted on Sunnis in Iraq and Syria by Iran’s proxies.”

Lerman similarly rejected President Barack Obama’s raw, realist attempt to portray Iran and ISIS as balancing rivals.

The Western and Sunni “camp of stability,” he says, must craft a strategy that sees all Islamists – Iran, ISIS and the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) – as enemies.

“Together, these partners should outline a phased campaign that begins with the destruction of ISIS, moves on to the marginalization of the [Muslim] Brotherhood, and ultimately isolates the Iranian regime and takes back the gains it made in the name of fighting ISIS.”

Inbar was similarly challenged by another colleague, Prof. Steven David of Johns Hopkins University (a member of the International Academic Advisory Board of the Begin-Sadat Center).

“Defeating ISIS and the horror it perpetuates requires nothing less than the elimination of its caliphate. Through control of territory, ISIS is able to inspire and train recruits, to direct terrorist attacks, and to demonstrate the West’s inability to eradicate a pressing threat,” Prof. David wrote.

“In the heart of the Middle East, ISIS thumbs its nose at the world, killing hundreds of innocents while destabilizing a critical region. What does this say about the West’s ability to protect its own? With each terrorist outrage and triumphant claim of responsibility from ISIS, the West’s credibility shrinks. If a collection of the world’s most powerful states cannot eliminate an ongoing threat to its interests perpetuated by maybe 30,000 fanatics armed with little more than pickup trucks, the ability of the West to ensure the security of its own countries – to say nothing of creating a liberal world order – is called into question.”
[Jerusalem Post]


IS Losses on Battlefield Won't End Threat - Deb Riechmann

Despite the Islamic State's loss of territory, Islamic extremists will continue to pose serious national security problems for the U.S. and Europe in coming years, the directors of the FBI and CIA said.

"The threat that I think will dominate the next five years for the FBI will be the impact of the crushing of the caliphate, which will happen," FBI Director James Comey said. "Through the fingers of that crush are going to come hundreds of hardened killers, who are not going to die on the battlefield. They are going to flow out."

He predicted that many will head into Western Europe and try to duplicate recent attacks in Paris and Brussels to maintain IS' credibility in the militant world. Others will try to bring the fight to the U.S.
(AP-ABC News)

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Islamism Disintegrating: VideoBite

 This four minute video, by Daniel Pipes, PhD, succinctly lays out the case that Islamism has peaked and is declining

Thursday, September 01, 2016

US Screws Its Kurdish Allies

The flag of Kurdistan along with the US flag

Kurdish Sense Betrayal by Washington - Sudarsan Raghavan and Liz Sly 

The Pentagon's decision to arm a mostly Syrian Kurdish force has paid big dividends in northern Syria, where the Islamic State has been on the run in recent months. Then Turkish tanks and warplanes entered Syria last week and began targeting the Kurds, their long-standing enemy.

But what happened next blindsided Kurdish leaders: Their American allies sided with the Turks - and ordered the Kurdish forces to hand over hard-won territory.

"Unfortunately, as Kurdish allies fighting against terrorism and making a lot of victories, we expected more from the United States," said Idriss Naasan, a former official in the Kurds' self-proclaimed government in Syria.
(Washington Post)

An Israeli Perspective on the Syrian Kurds - Alex Fishman

Israel's strategy in Syria is based on the assumption that if the country breaks into autonomous minorities, this would stop the Iranian/Shi'ite takeover and eventually thwart the main threat to Israel: an Iranian hold on the Golan Heights.

But the Americans are now selling out the Syrian Kurds to the Turks.

The Turks and Russians reached an understanding according to which the Turks will accept that Assad remains in power for an interim period and in return, the Russians will allow them to fly through Syrian airspace, bomb and destroy the Kurdish autonomous contiguity in Syria, and create a buffer zone that would keep both ISIS and the Kurds away from the Turkish border. 
(Ynet News)

The Decay of the Syrian Regime - Tobias Schneider

Over the past three years, despite foreign military aid and support, the Assad regime has continued to atrophy at an ever-increasing pace. If these trends continue, the Syrian president will soon find himself little more than a symbolic common denominator around which a loose coalition of thieves and fiefdoms can rally. The great majority of forces in Syria today fight an increasingly localized war for the protection of their particular communities. For example, Latakia is being protected not by Assad's largely imaginary "4th Corps" of the Syrian Arab Army, but by Mohamed Jaber and his Desert Hawks.

Syria's president has become not only perfectly expendable as guarantor of the state, but ought to be considered the last remaining obstacle to a peace process based on local ceasefires. The Syrian state is gone for good. At this point, a quick decapitation might be preferable to a drawn-out implosion.
(War on the Rocks)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hamas Rising

The End of Mahmoud Abbas - Caroline Glick

Like it or not, the day is fast approaching when the Palestinian Authority we have known for the past 22 years will cease to exist.

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s US-trained Palestinian security forces have lost control over the Palestinians cities in Judea and Samaria. His EU- and US-funded bureaucracies are about to lose control over the local governments to Hamas. And his Fatah militias have turned against him.

In Nablus, Fatah terrorist cells are in open rebellion against PA security forces. Since August 18, Fatah cells have repeatedly engaged PA forces in lethal exchanges, and according to Inbari, the town is now in a state of “total anarchy.”

In Hebron, tribal leaders, more or less dormant for the past 20 years, are regenerating a tribal alliance as a means of bypassing the PA, which no longer represents them. Their first major action to date was to send a delegation of tribal leaders to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan.

All of this fighting and maneuvering is taking place against the backdrop of the encroaching PA municipal elections, scheduled for October 8.

Hamas is widely expected to win control over most of the local governments in Judea and Samaria. Hamas’s coming takeover of the municipalities is likely playing a role in decisions by Fatah terrorist cells to reject the authority of the PA. Many of those cells can be expected to transfer their allegiance to Hamas once the terrorist group wins the elections.

Given his Fatah party’s looming electoral defeat, more and more PA functionaries are wondering why Abbas doesn’t use the growing anarchy in Palestinian cities as a reason to cancel them. Abbas seems to have calculated that Israel will step in and, as it has repeatedly done over the past 20 years, cancel the elections for him.

Media organs Abbas controls are full of conspiracy theories whose bottom line is that Israel is not canceling the elections Abbas declared because it is in cahoots with Hamas and other “collaborators” to undermine the PA.

Although Israel, of course, is in cahoots with no one, it is the case that the government has apparently finally lost its patience with Abbas and is looking past him.

Repeated angry denunciations by government leaders of Abbas for his lead role in inciting violence against Israelis, leading the international movement to delegitimize Israel, refusing to negotiate anything with its leaders, and radicalizing Palestinian society, are finally being translated into policy.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s recent announcement that Israel is adopting a carrot-andstick approach not toward the PA but toward the Palestinians themselves, and will advance development projects in areas where terrorism levels are low and take a hard line against areas where terrorist cells are most active, has sent shock waves through Abbas’s palaces.

For 22 years, Israel has bowed to Palestinian and Western demands and agreed to speak only to PA functionaries and Palestinian civilians authorized by the PA to speak to Israelis. Liberman’s decision to base Israel’s actions on the ground on the behavior of the Palestinians themselves rather than act in accordance with PA directives, along with his decision to speak directly to Palestinian businessmen and others, marks the end of Israel’s acceptance of this practice.

Confrontation between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Palestinians in Judea and Samaria is inevitable.

Moreover, this process will likely be rapid. Just as Hamas’s complete takeover of Gaza from Fatah forces happened seemingly overnight in June 2007, so its seizure of control over Judea and Samaria will happen in the blink of an eye.

Many Westerners, Israeli leftists and PA functionaries hope that some deus ex machina will fall from the sky at the last minute and cancel the elections.

But even if that happens, the underlying reality in which Abbas is rapidly losing all semblance of control over events in Judea and Samaria will not be reversed. Abbas has incited the Palestinians to the point where they reject not only Israel, but Abbas and the PA.

Now that Abbas’s reign is ending, the West is losing their man in Ramallah. Abbas’s Hamas successors will not be beholden to Western donors, although to their discredit, the Europeans in all likelihood will shower them with cash and side with them against Israel.

16 years after the failed Camp David summit, the fiction of the two-state solution is about to be shattered once and for all. The only relevant question today, is what does Israel intend to do next?

[Jerusalem Post]

Egypt and Jordan Fear Hamas Victory - Yoni Ben Menachem

After talks in Cairo, King Abdullah of Jordan and Egyptian President el-Sisi issued a joint statement on the Palestinian problem. The statement reflects the Egyptian-Jordanian order of priorities: first reconciliation within Fatah and only afterward reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

The statement called on Abbas to mend fences with his bitter rival Dahlan so that Fatah can run in the elections in a unified form and prevent a Hamas victory. 
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Video: Anarchy in the West Bank - Yoni Ben Menachem

On the run-up to October Palestinian local elections, the Palestinian Authority has arrested 100 suspects and in Nablus confiscated a million shekels' worth of weapons, including rockets.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Video: PA Losing Control - Pinhas Inbari 
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman says Palestinian President Abbas' "reign of corruption" is the main obstacle to improving the Palestinian economy in the West Bank. The defense minister views Abbas as a bitter enemy of Israel and says that Abbas' policies have eliminated any possibility of advancing the peace process.

"We've met dozens of economists and businessmen from the Palestinian Authority, and when you ask what's most important for the Palestinian economy, they all reply that the most important thing is to get rid of Abu Mazen [Abbas]," Lieberman said recently. "He has imposed a reign of corruption that encompasses everything. He has people in every economic sector - in real estate, the fuel market, the communications market. Abbas' people take a tithe from every deal, and aside from the people in the inner circle, the PA leadership doesn't allow anyone there to develop economically. That's why it's so important for him to go. As long as Abbas is there, nothing will happen."

Lieberman said he didn't think Israel should actively work to end Abbas' rule, but at the same time, it shouldn't blame itself for the situation in the West Bank. "Not everything depends on us," he said. "As long as the PA's corrupt and ineffective management continues, the economic situation there won't improve." 

In the upcoming Palestinian local elections on Oct. 8, the Fatah movement has maintained a surprising degree of unity. Even the close associates of Mohammad Dahlan - considered Mahmoud Abbas' main rival - have refrained from running on competing lists and are cooperating with Fatah.

In Gaza, Fatah appears to be mounting a close challenge. Unlike in the West Bank, Gazans will be able to choose between two lists explicitly identified with either Fatah or Hamas. Fatah may well be the better organized faction, at least in the large cities. 
(Times of Israel)

The Palestinian high court in Ramallah in the West Bank on Thursday postponed Palestinian municipal elections set for Oct. 8 following disputes between Fatah and Hamas over candidate lists.
Earlier on Thursday, a court in Gaza invalidated five electoral lists belonging to Fatah.
(Times of Israel)

The Fragile State of the Palestinian Authority
- Jonathan Schanzer and Grant Rumley

A Palestinian court postponed municipal elections scheduled for Oct. 8 because the two largest political factions, Fatah and Hamas, couldn't agree on terms. Palestinian opinion polls show a majority of voters want President Mahmoud Abbas, 81, to resign. Armed gangs regularly skirmish with Palestinian Authority forces, while Abbas' rivals, such as exiled Palestinian leader Mohammad Dahlan, continue to foment opposition.

Ramallah has so far managed to avoid the Arab Spring and its aftershocks, but under the one-man rule of Abbas, the Palestinian Authority is becoming brittle. More pressing than an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is the need to reconcile and stabilize Palestinian politics. 
Jonathan Schanzer is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Grant Rumley is a research fellow.
(Wall Street Journal)