Thursday, July 31, 2014


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jewish War    Rabbi Manis Friedman ( date ?)

From….Sent by Ted Belman ,Publisher   { 7-29-14 }

In March of 2004, then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon justified recent attacks against Hamas by declaring that “the Jewish nation has a right to defend itself…” Honestly, it was painful to hear, not because the statement was a justification of violence, but rather because the leader of a democratic, multi-ethnic State of Israel presumed those military actions required any justification at all. Actually, Israel did not have the “right” to take those measures, it had the obligation.
One of the most critical purposes of a government is to protect its citizens. If a government would, for whatever reason, lose the ability or the will to protect the governed, it would effectively forfeit the right to govern and any expectation of loyalty from own citizens. If the government can’t promise protection, it can’t expect allegiance.
This is especially true of the Jewish State. Israel was founded with the express purpose of protecting the Jewish people after their near extinction in a brutal twentieth century. Whatever might be with politics, religion or economy, the real promise of Israel was that Jews would finally be safe – if that country’s own leadership falters on that promise, then what purpose does the State of Israel serve?
Failure to protect the populace, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere, has led to one conflict after another. Yet, the problem is not an external problem, it’s an internal problem brought about by some mysterious moral paralysis that has plagued us for generations. It’s not the enemy we’re having a hard time with here.
This moral paralysis does not just affect Israel, it’s rampant throughout the Western world. The West is having a problem fighting wars, and this is rooted in our value system. Our society places strong importance on the preciousness of life. We therefore have very strong reservations when it comes time to make war upon our enemies. Once those reservations inhibit the way we go to war, we’re no longer fighting – we’re playing games.
After enduring centuries of war, the Great Powers of Europe came together to bring a certain measure of humanity to war through the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions have doubtless spared the world unimaginable brutality and suffering since their implementation. However, our enemies today don’t abide by those treaties. We are fighting forces that have no intention of abiding by the Geneva Conventions or any other treaty, and therefore it’s senseless for the West to unilaterally hold standards that the enemy that does not. That’s why the US had such a difficult time closing the Iraq War.
The concept of the “moral war” is not a part of the Jewish value system. In fact, it’s far from a “moral” concept. Once you tell your enemy that you will not harm children, you have immediately dragged every child into the war zone. If you tell your enemy that you will not harm civilians, you can expect those civilians to become human shields. When you openly declare your restrictions, it’s only natural and logical that your enemy will use your restrictions against you. This is the reason that the Torah prohibits paying an exorbitant ransom for the freedom of captive Jews. Once you do that – even once – you have created and industry. Then no one is safe.
Jewish values promote a much different approach to the “moral war.” The Jewish war is one that is fought as quickly and decisively as possible. What happens to children who have lived their entire lives in a war zone? Can they go back to having a “normal” life? Certainly not – they don’t even know the meaning of peace! Fear and hatred becomes a permanent part of their personality and worldview. In such a conflict, the war has destroyed not only combatants, but an entire generation.
A Jewish war strives for the following: fight, win, and return home. And the troops can only come home when the conflict is decisively over. According to the Torah, anyone who doesn’t have the heart to go out to war must return home, lest he undermine the war effort. No soldier is forced to fight, but those who do must fight to win.
So what provokes the many wars against Israel? We do. We provoke them by announcing that we will fight like civilized Westerners and not a people surrounded by mortal enemies. We show them our weakness and are rewarded with aggression. In order for the Jewish nation to discourage war, we must fight like Jews
Peace is our most fervent wish. That no person, child or adult is injured in any way (on either side) is the singular goal.
But to realize that goal, there needs to be a strategy. And that strategy is to discourage our enemies from going to war.
Many people orate and lecture about peace, but will not do the hard and painful work necessary to create peace. And thus, almost 70 years later, we have volumes of writings on peace, hours upon hours of speeches on behalf of peace, and innumerable statement and intentions and treaties, road-maps, and pledges for peace. But no peace.

The real road to peace is paved not with noble intentions, but with action. If you really want peace, you won’t just demonstrate for it. You will  fight for it.

And when it comes, we will never have to fight again. Instead of peaceful demonstrations followed by war, we will have demonstrations of strength followed by true peace

 Irwin Cotler   7-28-14

The latest Israeli-Hamas war, with its evocative images of human suffering, has engaged hearts and minds the world over, particularly in this digital age of social media and instant communication.
Indeed, the death of any innocent — Israeli or Palestinian — is a tragedy, and no one can fail to be moved by the human suffering and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
But, while Hamas has rejected cease-fires proposed by Egypt and the UN, including a humanitarian cease-fire, it has continued its relentless rocket assaults and tunnel invasions, the proximate triggers for this immediate conflict.
If we want to prevent further tragedies, it is important to go beyond the “fog of war” — to go behind the daily headlines that cloud understanding and the clichés (the “cycle of violence”) that corrupt it — and ask some fundamental questions about root causes and the basis for its resolution.
1. Are you aware that the Hamas charter and declarations call for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they may be?
2. Are you aware that the Hamas charter and declarations refer to Jews as “inherently evil,” as a “cancer” as responsible for all evils in the world and as defilers of Islam?
3. Are you aware that Hamas — not only during the present hostilities, but before them— has propagated a state-sanctioned culture of hate in the mosques, in the schools, in the broadcasting system, in the summer camps and training camps?
4. Do you agree that such statements promote hatred and contempt for Jews and constitute an obstacle to peace?
5. Do you agree that Israel, like any other state, has the right to live in peace and security, free from any threats or acts of force?
6. Are you aware that since Israel withdrew all its citizens, uprooted all its settlements, and completely disengaged from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has deliberately – and indiscriminately – launched over 11,000 rockets and missiles, terrorizing Israeli cities, towns and villages?
7. Are you aware that Hamas’ deliberate strategy of targeting Israeli civilians constitutes an armed attack under the UN Charter in violation of customary international law?
8. Do you agree that Israel— like any other state — has both the right and obligation to protect its citizens, and a right to self-defence against such armed attack as set forth in Article 51 of the UN Charter?
Indeed, in a recent joint statement, the European Union’s 28 foreign ministers called on Hamas to “immediately . . . renounce violence,” while recognizing Israel’s “legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks.”
9. Do you agree that, while Israel has the right to self-defense, its exercise must comport with the principles of international humanitarian law, including the principle of proportionality and the prohibition against the infliction of unnecessary suffering?
10. Do you agree that Palestinians in Gaza have the same right as Israelis to live in peace and security? Are you aware of the domestic repression by Hamas of Palestinians in Gaza, of the use and abuse of Palestinian civilians as human shields and that Hamas has converted the civilian infrastructure to an underground terrorist city?
11. Are you aware that Hamas is designated a terrorist entity by Canada, the United States and the European Union, and that UN Security Council resolutions require Palestinian governing authorities to deny safe havens to terrorists?
12. Are you aware that Hamas squandered the opportunity offered by Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005 to divert resources from state building to the building of a terrorist infrastructure at the expense of its own people?
13. Do you agree that the cease-fire must be durable and sustainable to protect the peace and security of both Israelis and Palestinians?
14. Do you agree that a comprehensive and enduring cease-fire should include: the recognition of Israel’s right to live in peace and security; the cessation of all acts of terror and violence against Israeli civilians; the demilitarization of Gaza; the dismantling of its weapons infrastructure and the disbanding of its terrorist militias; the establishment of an international protection and stabilization force to enforce the cease-fire and to protect against the rebuilding of any terrorist infrastructure; the deployment of a massive humanitarian undertaking to ensure assistance reaches those in need; the initiation of a comprehensive program for the reconstruction of Gaza and the rehabilitation of its citizens; and the freeing of Palestinian society from the cynical and oppressive culture of hate and incitement fueled by Hamas.
I close on a personal note. I write not only as a law professor and MP, but as one who has family in Israel and friends in Palestine, and who has lived and worked in the region and been engaged in the struggle for peace.
The overriding truth of these past 40 years for me has always been clear and remains the same. I will stand with those who support the right of peoples in the Middle East — Israelis and Palestinians alike — to live in peace and security, free from any threats or acts of force, a cornerstone of UN principle and Canadian foreign policy; and I will oppose all those, like Hamas and its patron Iran, who seek the destruction of any people or state in violation of the UN Charter and all civilized norms.
Irwin Cotler is former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Liberal Party of Canada’s Critic for Rights, Freedoms & International Justice. He has written extensively on the Middle East.

  POSTED BY Daniel Kaye, ARUTZ SHEVA 7  ·  7-25-14

Over the last few days, As Israeli troops entered Gaza to search for the Hamas tunnels and rocket launching sites, 32 Israeli soldiers have been killed. Many civilians in Gaza lost their lives too.

I am afraid Israel may be repeating a mistake it has made thrice before. 

On July 26, 2006, nine Israeli soldiers died and 27 others were injured as they were searching homes for Hezbollah fighters in the hardest day of fighting in southern Lebanon since the war began two weeks earlier. The Israeli press reported at the time that officers in the Israeli army brigades charged that the IDF employed insufficient force before the soldiers were deployed. Once civilians had been told to leave the town, the officers said, the army should have regarded Bint Jbail as a battlefield and destroyed from the air any home where Hezbollah guerrillas were suspected of hiding, instead of sending the soldiers into the line of fire.

Israel committed the same error in Jenin, in April 2002. As the suicide bombings created rivers of blood in Israel, the IDF finally entered Jenin, the stronghold of the terrorists. The hand-to-hand, door-to-door combat among dozens of houses booby-trapped by Palestinian fighters claimed the lives of 23 Israeli soldiers. Israel did not want to cause the civilian casualties that come with aerial bombardment, as has happened everywhere from Dresden, to Grozny, to Kabul, involving nations from Russia to Britain, to the United States. So it sacrificed its soldiers to save Arab lives. Notwithstanding this, civilians who chose not to leave were caught in the crossfire, and Israel was charged with perpetrating a massacre, and was investigated by the UN. 

Israel should not repeat the same mistake in July 2014, subjecting its children to death in order to please pacifists who will criticize the Jewish state regardless.

The main battle is presently taking place in the Gaza border neighborhoods — Shejaiya, Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun and others — where thousands of Israeli soldiers are searching, house to house, for the tunnel entrances. Hamas gunmen have sought to surprise the Israeli soldiers by rising out of the earth from these openings, and firing, and Israel is paying a heavy price. Soldiers have been killed in booby-trapped buildings. Many died when their armored personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank missile in Shejaiya. The losses are mounting. Israel ought to consider changing its strategy. After instructing civilians to leave these regions, Israel should reduce these sections of Gaza to rubble. When the civilian population will be convinced that Israel is serious, it will leave, despite Hamas warning them to stay and die (Obviously, those who choose to stay by volition are naturally responsible for the results). After a complete bombing of these locations, ensuring that the Hamas fighters are gone, Israeli troops will be able to enter and destroy the terror infrastructure of tunnels and rockets with less casualties.

This would not only spare the lives of Israelis, but also of Arab civilians in Gaza, who will not get caught in the crossfire with Hamas. 

Why should Jewish mothers be burying their children who are fighting like lions for their homeland, just because we are afraid of world-opinion to bomb Gaza from the air? Why are we sending our children to confront Hamas in face to face battles? We have made this error before and paid for it dearly.

What is more, this strategy will end the conflict quicker and will allow Israel to eliminate much of the Hamas terror infrastructure. If not, the present war will end with no decisive victory, and will only create a lull till Hamas decides to strike again, which will only cause the deaths of many more Gaza civilians. 

Those who will condemn Israel for reducing regions of Gaza into rubble are doing so regardless. Even as Jewish soldiers today die to save Palestinian lives, Israel is being accused of war crimes. Israel will be blamed no matter what it does. A statement made by the United Nations Human Rights Council on July 23 accused Israel of committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip and calling for an investigation into its operation there. Rather than investigate Hamas, which is firing rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians, and turning hospitals into military command centers, it puts the blame on Israel.

The critics of Israel care about Arab children in Gaza less than you care about turtles in New Zealand. Where was the outcry over the thousands of children murdered in Syria? Where is the outcry against Hamas who is directly responsible for the deaths of these poor children in Gaza by hiding among them and forcing Israel to strike at these vulnerable locations? 

Conversely, those who appreciate Israel’s moral right to defend its people, crave that Israel finish the job swiftly. Let Israel not hesitate of doing what is best for security because of fear of world-opinion.

Let Israel not repeat the disaster of summer 1982. In June of that year, Israel entered Lebanon to eliminate Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, which had been terrorizing Israel's northern cities and towns. Just as the army stood on the verge of total victory, the military's hands were tied. The Israeli army waited futilely on the outskirts of Beirut instead of swiftly completing its objectives. Israel could have warned all civilians to leave the areas of fighting and then reduced the suitable regions in Beirut to rubble, finishing the war with fewer deaths on both sides. Instead, the casualties grew from day to day, the results were catastrophic for Israelis and for Arabs, and the PLO survived and thrived. 

The Palestinian Authority held popular elections across the West Bank and Gaza for the Palestinian legislature in 2006. Hamas won a majority. It has ruled in Gaza since. The people chose Hamas, knowing that its mission statement is the destruction of Israel.

Notwithstanding this, Israel rightfully wishes to protect the lives of civilians in Gaza. The best way to do so is by incessant aerial bombardment.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ambassador Ettinger Asses Kerry's Proposals

Obama Sides with Kerry, Who Sides with… (Could It Be Hamas?)

by Shmuel Rosner  Jewish Journal of Los Angeles web 7-28-14

Every experienced observer of Middle East affairs, Binyamin Netanyahu included, should have known that this was bound to happen. We often complain or worry that the enemies of Israel are patient while Israel doesn’t have the staying power – but that’s not true. Our enemies are indeed patient, but it is “the world” that doesn’t have the staying power, not even when it realizes that Israel has a point. With our enemy, Hamas, we can probably deal – with our friend, the US, we have recently been having some difficulties.
Yesterday, when President Obama called PM Netanyahu to press for a cease-fire, Israel could see that the clock is running out on its operation. What is Obama’s incentive? There is no easy answer to that. Of course, he wants people not to get killed, and that is a fine instinct, but I don’t remember Obama doing much about people being killed in other places, so this can’t be his ultimate motivation.
What’s Obama’s Incentive?
As I have written in the past, the Obama administration often seems to confuse goals with means and desires with policies. You can see it when Obama tells the Prime Minister – and this is from the White House’s press release – that “any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza”. What “lasting solution”, what “groups”? How do we get to “demilitarization”? Obama wants to score a point by stopping the fighting. As for future plans – you can see that he doesn’t have any. His plan for the future, just a short while ago, was to step back from all Israeli-Palestinian peace processing following his (and his Secretary of State’s) failure. So how do we get from there to a “lasting peace”, and what happens in the meantime?
But let’s stick with this logic: for Obama, the demilitarization of Gaza could only happen after an agreement on a lasting peace. Does this mean that he is going to step up to the peace process plate again? And how will he make it work this time? And does the President believe that as long a there’s no “lasting solution” Hamas is justified in having arms? And if it is, why call it a “terrorist group”? Did he even call it a terrorist group? Read his statement again: no, he didn’t. He said “terrorist groups” without specification.
And what about the other goals – other than the “lasting solution” - that were laid out in Obama’s statement:
“ensuring Israel’s security, protecting civilians, alleviating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, and enacting a sustainable ceasefire that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority”.
We can talk about them one at a time:
1. Ensuring Israel’s security: How? The President doesn’t say. What he does say is that he wouldn’t quite accept Israel’s way of ensuring its own security (namely, letting it see the operation through).
2. Protecting civilians. This one makes sense. An incentive that makes sense. But again, Obama seems to have a special sensitivity for human life in Gaza that he doesn’t have when it comes to other places such as Syria. And it is not quite clear why. It is also not clear why Obama wants to protect all these civilians from Israel but has never raised a finger to protect them from Hamas, a radical terror organization that runs their lives.
3. Alleviate humanitarian crisis: Again, this one is easy to understand. Of course, the question for Obama would be: is it more important to alleviate the crisis than win the battle against Hamas? I think his answer was given yesterday – and unfortunately it isn’t the answer Israel wanted to hear.
4. Enacting a sustainable cease fire: The President must be kidding. How can it be sustainable if Hamas feels that it can gain by initiating a fight? How can it be sustainable if Hamas keeps its rockets and tunnels?
5. Lead normal lives: Under whom? Under Hamas rule?  
6. Development and economic needs: Same question – do you see Hamas putting an effort in developing Gaza’s economy? Because what we’ve seen thus far is Hamas investing heavily in arming itself, and the result of this war will only make it want to reinvest in arming itself.
7. Strengthening the Palestinian Authority: So I guess that is the long term plan. The PA-controls-Gaza plan. The nice thing about President Obama is that he has nice dreams. The problematic thing about him is that one gets little sense from him of how he plans to get from A to B. Obama just strengthened Hamas, while saying he wants to strengthen the Palestinian Authority. 
I don’t think Obama has a plan. His only plan is to back John Kerry’s plan, which is really a plan devised by Turkey and Qatar. That Obama and Kerry keep calling it “the Egyptian plan” is an insult to Cairo – and I suspect it might be an intentional insult.
At this point I’d like to ask you to read my previous post: How to demilitarize Gaza in less than 1000 words. Then we can talk about John Kerry.
What Does Kerry want?
On Saturday evening, my editor at Maariv, the paper for which I write in Hebrew, called to ask for an article about Secretary of State John Kerry. The premise was clear: Kerry, yet again, failed to understand the Middle East and hence failed in his attempt to get to a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. And this was not just your ordinary mishap, it was a real blunder.
So much so, that the Israeli government – a government that was very careful not to be seen as the rejectionist party in this conflict – saw no alternative but to reject Kerry’s proposal.
So much so, that the Palestinian Authority, supposedly Kerry’s ally in its criticism of Israel’s “pin point” operation, was also furious with the Secretary.
So much so, that Israeli officials say that they sourly miss the mediocre State Department term of Hillary Clinton (her defense of the Gaza operation and schooling of Jon Stuart show how much more able she is than Kerry).
So I wrote a lengthy article about Kerry for Maariv, and I tried not to be too nasty. I think I ended up writing the most generous assessment I’ve seen of his conduct of Middle East affairs. Not even the leftist columnists of Haaretz would defend Kerry’s preposterous proposal for a cease fire. And for good reason, as the proposal pretty much asks Israel to accept Hamas’ terms. What Kerry was thinking – if he was even thinking – is a mystery that Israelis and others have been grappling with over and after the weekend. The Americans now say that Kerry was treated unfairly by Israel. It is true that he was severely criticized. But this is what happens when a Secretary of State bungles a serious matter.
Five main explanations have emerged, and all of them have a similar deficiency: we can’t know for sure.
1. Kerry is just not very wise.
2. Kerry is vengeful to the point of being blind.
3. Kerry believes Hamas has the better case in this conflict.
4. Kerry finds it necessary to listen to Qatar-Turkey.
5. Kerry is in need of success to the point of being blind.
I can’t tell you which of these five is the correct answer. My choice was number five, which, as I said, I think is the most generous to Kerry. It goes as follows: Kerry is a Secretary of State with very little to show for. He is under heavy fire from all quarters. He has had little impact on world affairs, and most of his current legacy at State is made of gaffes. Kerry needs success; he needs it badly. A cease-fire is a success, or at least something that can be presented as a success. Surely, some critics might tag it as a failure, but Kerry could still argue that it is a success – a tangible agreement, an actual impact. Kerry made a difference. So I believed, and still believe, that this was Kerry’s main motivation when he decided to attempt to force on Israel a cease-fire that is truly a surrender.
But, again, the need-for-success explanation is just one of five, and the other four merit a hearing. Let’s try them:
Kerry is not very smart: Yes, that works too. You can find the traces of this suggestion in different past columns of various writers, like the onewritten by Jackson Diehl a couple of months ago in which he said that “it’s hard to think of a previous chief of Foggy Bottom who has so conspicuously detached himself from on-the-ground realities”. David Horovitz, in a blistering analysis of Kerry’s conduct last week, mentions the many Israeli officials that responded to Kerry’s proposal by calling him “amateurish, incompetent, incapable of understanding the material he is dealing with — in short, a blithering fool”. Haaretz’ Barak Ravid comes close to suggesting a similar reason (“serious doubts over his judgment”).
A fool is actually still a little better than the other options. He can be manipulated, he can be ignored. If Kerry is not up to the task, there is reason to hope that at some point the President might notice it. Not that President Obama is the person that Israel would choose had it the option of picking a mediator for a cease-fire (Israel’s choice has already been made – Egypt). But at least no Israeli official that I remember has ever claimed that the President is a fool (naïve – yes; hostile– yes; dangerous – yes; but never a fool).
Of course, Kerry can be incompetent, but this still doesn’t mean that the other reasons I mentioned aren’t valid.
He can be incompetent and also vengeful: clearly, the scars of his failed attempt at having a meaningful peace process haven’t yet healed, and Kerry puts most of the blame for his failure on Israel. So maybe – and this is a serious accusation – this was payback time for him. Maybe it was time for him to demonstrate to the government of Israel that sabotaging the peace process (that’s how he sees it) has a price. Of course, you’d have to believe that Kerry is a terrible person (or a fool) to want Israel to pay in essential security concessions to appease his appetite for some revenge.
And then there’s the third option – that Kerry actually finds Hamas more acceptable than Israel in this conflict. That he actually believes that by some logic Hamas is fighting a good war against Israel. One of the problems with Kerry is that one never knows. If Israeli officials regard him as “duplicitous and dangerous”, that’s the reason: they no longer believe he is telling Israel the truth and no longer believe that his gaffes are, well, just gaffes.
It is a reasonable suspicion, as Kerry has a history of questionable dithering: I still remember covering his White House race back in 2004, and the puzzlement over a comment he had made about Israel’s security barrier being a barrier to peace. Kerry later retracted his comments, and this is a habit for him. Just three months ago he had to clarify a comment about Israel becoming an “apartheid” state. And there were oh-so-many such incidents that one, well, never knows. Gaffes can be a sign that reason-number-one is what we are looking at. Or it can be a revelatory glimpse into Kerry’s true feelings.
The fourth option is somewhat similar to the third option, only in this case Kerry’s decision to back the proposal more beneficial to Hamas is not because of Hamas but rather because of the countries supporting Hamas – Qatar and Turkey. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas hinted at such an option, and other Palestinian speakers wereblunt in making that case: “Kerry was in fact trying to create an alternative framework to the Egyptian initiative and our understanding of it, in a way that placates the Qataris and the Turks”. The upside for Kerry in such an analysis is that it makes him look smarter and more calculated in his actions. The downside: it leaves him with few friends, and not necessarily the ones that will make him look good in the eyes of fellow Americans.
So you see: suspecting him of wanting an achievement too eagerly was indeed the most generous explanation. Or was it? It still makes him look shallow and desperate and dangerous too. That is, Kerry ended up not having his success with the cease-fire and is going to keep trying, a troubling thought. What is even more problematic is that he might do the same as he negotiates with Iran.

 DAVID HOROVITZ July 27, 2014

Astoundingly, the secretary’s intervention in the Hamas war empowers the Gaza terrorist government bent on destroying Israel

When The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff first reported the content of John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal on Friday afternoon, I wondered if something had gotten lost in translation. It seemed inconceivable that the American secretary of state would have drafted an initiative that, as a priority, did not require the dismantling of Hamas’s rocket arsenal and network of tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Yet the reported text did not address these issues at all, nor call for the demilitarization of Gaza.
It seemed inconceivable that the secretary’s initiative would specify the need to address Hamas’s demands for a lifting of the siege of Gaza, as though Hamas were a legitimate injured party acting in the interests of the people of Gaza — rather than the terror group that violently seized control of the Strip in 2007, diverted Gaza’s resources to its war effort against Israel, and could be relied upon to exploit any lifting of the “siege” in order to import yet more devastating weaponry with which to kill Israelis.

Israel and the US are meant to be allies; the US is meant to be committed to the protection of Israel in this most ruthless of neighborhoods; together, the US and Israel are meant to be trying to marginalize the murderous Islamic extremism that threatens the free world. Yet here was the top US diplomat appearing to accommodate a vicious terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction, with a formula that would leave Hamas better equipped to achieve that goal.
The appalled response to the Kerry proposal by the members of the security cabinet on Friday night, however, made plain nothing had gotten lost in translation at all. The secretary’s proposal managed to unite Israel’s disparate group of key political leaders — from Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman on the right, through Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni on the center-left — in a unanimous response of horrified rejection and leaked castigation.
The Netanyahu government has had no shortage of run-ins with Kerry in the mere 18 months he has held office. The prime minister publicly pleaded with him in November not to sign the interim deal with Iran on its rogue nuclear program, and there has been constant friction between the two governments over thwarting Iran’s bid for the bomb. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in January ridiculed Kerry’s security proposals for a West Bank withdrawal, calling the secretary “messianic” and obsessive” in his quest for an accord with the Palestinians that simply wasn’t there. The collapse of the talks in March-April was accompanied by allegations from Jerusalem that Kerry had botched the process, telling Israel one thing and the Palestinian Authority another, including misrepresenting Israel’s position on Palestinian prisoner releases.
But none of those episodes, though deeply troubling and relating to issues central to Israel’s well-being, provoked the kind of outraged disbelief at Kerry’s performance that has been emanating from the Israeli leadership in the past 48 hours. Leaked comments from unnamed senior government sources to Army Radio, Channel 2 and other Hebrew outlets have described the secretary as amateurish, incompetent, incapable of understanding the material he is dealing with — in short, a blithering fool.
But actually, it’s worse than that. What emerges from Kerry’s self-initiated ceasefire mission — Israel had already accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal; and nobody asked him to come out on a trip he prefaced with sneering remarks about Israel’s attempted “pinpoint” strikes on Hamas terror targets — is that Jerusalem now regards him as duplicitous and dangerous.
Contrary to his public claim at his press conference in Cairo that his ceasefire proposal was “built on” the Egyptian initiative, it manifestly is nothing of the kind. As indicated by the unconfirmed text reported by Issacharoff, by other subsequent reports of its content, and by the cabinet’s outraged rejection, it is a proposal that, to quote an unnamed official cited by Channel 2, “tunneled under the Egyptian initiative,” a document, to quote from another of those leaked comments, that reads like it was drawn up for or even by Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal.
And Kerry didn’t let up after unleashing his dreadful proposal. Following Friday’s fiasco, he jetted off to Paris and, quite extraordinarily, convened further consultations dominated by countries that overtly wish to do Israel harm. He met with his counterparts from Turkey, whose Hamas-backing leadership has lately accused Israel of attempting genocide in Gaza and compared Netanyahu to Hitler, and with Qatar, Hamas’s funder in chief, directly accused by president Shimon Peres last week of financing Hamas’s rockets and tunnels. Staggeringly, he did not bring Israel, Egypt, or the PA to his Paris sessions.
There were further leaks from the cabinet at the weekend to the effect that Netanyahu and his colleagues did not formally announce their unanimous rejection of Kerry’s ceasefire proposal in order to avoid provoking a public diplomatic confrontation with Israel’s most important ally. Instead, word of the rejection was allowed to find its way out. That seems rather quaint given what is clearly a major crisis in Israel-US ties at a time when Israel finds itself in the midst of a complex and costly war.
When Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, got involved in the effort to broker terms for ending Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, it was self-evident, first, that a ceasefire was at hand, and, second, that the diplomatic work was being coordinated effectively with Jerusalem to ensure that Israel’s vital interests were being served. It is a testament to Kerry’s incompetence (or worse), and to the collapse of faith between him and Israel, that, when he headed ignominiously home on Saturday, neither of those assumptions held sway.


The Long War Against Hamas
Israel’s Gaza dilemma  ELLIOTT ABRAMS 8-4-14

The Gaza war of 2014 will end in a cease-fire, just as the previous rounds between Israel and Hamas and the 2006 battle with Hezbollah ended. But the war will be won or lost less in the streets and tunnels of Gaza this summer than when the fighting is over. Israel must not only damage Hamas on those battlegrounds, but seal its own gains in the terms of the cease-fire, and ensure that the aftermath of the war weakens Hamas’s hold on Gaza and its role in Palestinian politics.
This summer, Israel had no choice but to attack Hamas once the terrorist group decided to unleash rocket and missile fire at Israel’s cities, a point that not only the United States but even our fickle European allies understood. The discovery—new to us in the West even if partially understood by Israeli intelligence agencies—of a vast attack tunnel system designed to enable Hamas to kidnap Israelis and to wreak havoc in Israeli communities near the Gaza border also justified the Israeli assault and meant that a ground attack was necessary.
When the combat ends, it will not immediately be clear who gained what. In 2006 most Israelis saw the Lebanon war as a failure. Hezbollah lost men and assets but remained (and remains now) in charge in much of Lebanon and possessing both a powerful terrorist force and serious conventional capabilities. But now, after eight years of calm along that border and after Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah admitted that he would never have started the 2006 war had he known how fierce would be the Israeli response, what Israel achieved seems more like a victory.

One reason Israelis did not feel that they had won a victory in 2006 was the announcement of excessive war aims by Israel’s then prime minister, Ehud Olmert. Olmert said repeatedly that Israel would not stop fighting until the underlying situation in Lebanon changed: What he called a “very effective and robust military international force” had to be introduced and Lebanon’s army had to deploy throughout southern Lebanon. The United States also said there could be no return to the status quo ante, but we soon gave up on any goal larger than stopping the fighting. The gap between Israel’s stated objectives and its actual achievements was clear, doomed Olmert politically, and converted what might have been seen as a considerable achievement into what for a long time was viewed as a defeat.
Israel’s government has so far avoided those mistakes in this Gaza war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that his goals are to gain “an extended period of calm and security” for the citizens of Israel and “to inflict serious damage” on Hamas. Severely damaging Hamas’s missile stocks, killing Hamas fighters, and destroying its system of attack tunnels will clearly achieve the latter goal, and the former—extended calm—cannot be judged except with the passage of time. Netanyahu and his top advisers, including defense minister (and former IDF chief of staff) Moshe Yaalon and current IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, have avoided saying they will destroy Hamas and eliminate the terrorist threat permanently. Those limited aims have been challenged by those who urge rooting out Hamas entirely through a longer ground war and then reoccupying and ruling Gaza, and Israel’s unexpected combat death toll will inevitably persuade some that the whole war isn’t worth the sacrifice unless a permanent change in the situation in Gaza is achieved. But Israel’s government has not adopted these broader goals.
Hamas has stated its own war aims (perhaps a strategic error, but unavoidable when starting a war), and they are far more extensive than Israel’s. Hamas rejected Egypt’s early proposal for a “mere” cease-fire because it did not include the gains Hamas seeks in exchange for all the suffering it has caused the people of Gaza. Hamas has a long list, including freeing all the Hamas terrorists released from prison in exchange for Gilad Shalit but arrested again recently; opening the border crossings to Egypt and Israel; allowing a seaport and airport; expanding the offshore fishing zone; and easing conditions for permits to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
At bottom what Hamas wants is an end to the squeeze that was making it increasingly unpopular in Gaza and even threatening its rule there. While Israel has not over the last few years changed its conduct toward Gaza and Hamas, Egypt has. Cairo’s military rulers see the Muslim Brotherhood at home and Hamas (a part of the Brotherhood) in Gaza as its enemies, and they have closed off the Gaza-Sinai border and shut the smuggling tunnels that provided Hamas with much of its revenue and Gazans with much of their economy. Hamas could not meet its own huge payroll in Gaza—43,000 people—nor could it give any hope that economic conditions would improve. Meanwhile, Hamas’s oppressive rule alienated more and more Gazans. That’s why Hamas took the risk in June of agreeing to join a technocratic or nonparty government under the Palestinian Authority, had the “ministers” in its government in Gaza resign their posts, and appeared ready for some role in Gaza for the PA (something it had prevented since its coup in Gaza in 2007). That ploy failed when the PA refused to take on the huge burden of all those additional salaries, and there was no change in the economic situation in Gaza. Hamas then turned to war as a way to shake things up.

How has the war gone for Hamas? There’s an unavoidable urge to make judgments now, but the real answer depends on what happens after the cease-fire. In choosing war Hamas imposed enormous hardship on a Gazan population that never voted for the 2007 coup, was already tired of Hamas rule, and may emerge with deeper resentment against the group. It’s clear that Hamas lost many of its top fighters; physical assets such as arsenals, headquarters buildings, and training areas; most of the rockets it took years to accumulate; and most or all of the tunnels it took years to dig. If Israel can apply the technological genius that produced “Iron Dome” to the tunnels, perhaps Hamas’s tunnels will prove to be a trick that can only be used once. Are there seismic sensors, or electromagnetic or thermal technology, that can be developed or applied to find new attack tunnels fast? Israel’s various missile defense systems have largely defeated the threat from the air; if cutting-edge technology can blunt the threat from under the ground, Hamas will have sacrificed its tunnel system without ever getting the major attacks inside Israel for which it was planned.
On the other hand, Hamas proved that its rockets can reach half of Israel and managed (with the help of the American FAA) to block air traffic at Ben Gurion Airport as well as to kill several dozen Israeli soldiers. The balance between costs and benefits cannot be drawn today because it depends on where Hamas stands one or two years from now. Is its hold on Gaza stronger or weaker? Is it able to rebuild the attack tunnels and accumulate another 10,000 rockets? Can it plausibly tell Gazans that the hard sacrifices Hamas imposed in wartime led to a profound improvement in their economic situation? Put another way, before the war Hamas was growing stronger militarily but increasingly weak politically. When the war ends it will have been weakened militarily—but only time will tell whether the outcome strengthens or weakens the organization politically and whether it can rebuild its military capacities.
Several Arab governments as well as many Israelis are now asking whether some change in the situation in Gaza could improve the humanitarian situation while weakening Hamas, making another round of conflict less likely or at least more distant.
Yuval Diskin, a former head of Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, has outlined the kind of deal he and many Israelis would like to see. In exchange for removal of all longer-range rockets, the end of manufacturing weapons in Gaza, and the closing of all the tunnels (all of this under international supervision), the blockade of Gaza would be lifted. The border crossings would be open 24/7, Gaza could have a seaport and an expanded fishing zone in the Mediterranean, and there would be a big foreign aid program to rebuild the place. The Palestinian Authority would rule Gaza, with a coalition government in place and pledged to the old “Quartet Principles”: recognition of Israel, respect for all previous agreements with Israel, and the abandonment of violence. A less extensive proposal along the same lines came from Israel’s former national security adviser Gen. Giora Eiland, who also called for opening the passages and a seaport in exchange for disarmament: Hamas turns over its missiles, the tunnels are all destroyed, and there are zero attacks on Israel. Former IDF chief of staff and defense minister Shaul Mofaz has proposed demilitarizing Gaza, using what he calls a Syria-style process to remove all rockets, in return for a $50 billion rehabilitation and aid project. The basic idea has been endorsed by Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, and Labor party leader Isaac Herzog.

It is smart for Israel to make or support such offers, as it is for the United States: We should be sensitive to the suffering in Gaza and seek ways to help. Immiserating the people of Gaza is not an Israeli or American objective, and we should be open to all sensible ways of ameliorating the awful situation in which they live. We should draw up or applaud generous plans and leave it to Hamas to reject them or make them impossible by refusing to disarm. But those Israeli proposals will not, of course, work, nor will any proposals that require disarming Hamas as a precondition for aid to Gaza. Consider them instead a “teachable moment”: These proposals are useful to demonstrate that Hamas is blocking progress.
In 2005, when Israel pulled out of Gaza, the United States negotiated an “Agreement on Movement and Access” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Its purpose was “to promote peaceful economic development and improve the humanitarian situation on the ground.” “The passages [in and out of Gaza] will operate continuously,” it said, “construction of a seaport can commence,” and there would be scheduled bus and truck convoys between Gaza and the West Bank so people and goods could move back and forth easily. There were elaborate details about inspections, customs duties, equipment, and the like. But the agreement was never implemented—and that was at a point when the Palestinian Authority ruled Gaza and PA-Israel relations and contacts were in reasonable shape, right after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. How likely is it that a similar, or even more generous, plan can really be implemented now?
The problem with all these wonderful proposals is that Hamas is not an NGO; it is a terrorist group. It exists to fight Israel and destroy it—unless one wishes to say that it exists to fight and kill the Jews more generally, which is the basic message of the Hamas charter. So it will not agree to disarm, and it will not stop trying to import and build weapons. How can this war end in a way that ameliorates conditions in Gaza, but without giving Hamas a political victory? Is it possible to imagine a plan that brings economic recovery for Gaza without political recovery for Hamas?
There are two elements here, the narrower one of the Gaza passages and the broader one of Palestinian politics and Israeli-Palestinian relations. On Gaza, there is no downside to negotiating, agreeing on, and then attempting to implement the various plans. Implementing them sensibly means tight Israeli and Egyptian border mechanisms to prevent Hamas from taking advantage of more open borders. It means that individuals seeking to move in and out of Gaza must identify themselves, so that terrorists can be stopped and arrested. It means careful inspection of cargo so that weapons can be stopped. Israel and Egypt should continue to insist that Hamas is to blame for problems and delays because it refuses to abandon the armed struggle—which it will. This is a point Israel, Egypt, and the United States should be making repeatedly. We now know for sure, to take a good example, that Israel was right to restrict the amount of cement going into Gaza, because Hamas used the cement to build attack tunnels. Any Gaza border system has not only to ensure that what is called cement is actually cement, but must also identify the end user inside Gaza and ensure that 100 percent of the cement is used for a proper purpose. Detailed arrangements cannot be negotiated as part of a cease-fire but only after it, and then they will have to be implemented. This means that Hamas may claim victory because its war will have “broken the siege on Gaza,” but Gazans will quickly find out that those claims are greatly exaggerated. 
Meanwhile the only Palestinian entity that can have a role in all these activities aimed at “opening Gaza” is the PA. As in the 2005 access plan, PA officials will have to monitor the passages along with Israelis and Egyptians. The current crisis presents an opportunity to reinsert the PA into Gaza, which necessarily undermines Hamas rule and ought to be an American and Israeli goal. Here we get to the broader issue of Israeli-Palestinian relations, so badly mishandled by the United States under the Obama administration. If John Kerry will abandon his grandiose plans for a comprehensive peace, he can actually do something useful over the next two years: make it his goal to weaken Hamas in Gaza and return the PA to a governing role there. Kerry can tell himself that this actually fits within his overall objective of a peace agreement, because Hamas rule in Gaza is seen as one of the major stumbling blocks. No peace agreement is possible in the foreseeable future, but Kerry can be told that he is clearing away obstacles. In truth, one effect of this war is to persuade Israelis that giving up military control of the West Bank is unthinkable, because it would lead to barrages of missiles that would make Ben Gurion Airport unusable and make Jerusalem uninhabitable. So Kerry may as well switch his sights to a different and more realistic objective than an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.
Since the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations this year, Kerry and the United States have actually had no discernible policy at all. The Gaza war should be a reminder that there is a critical struggle under way among Palestinians, between Hamas and other Islamist terrorist groups on one side, and the largely secular PA and the Fatah party on the other. (And in the background, our friends in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are backing the PA, while Qatar and Turkey are backing Hamas.) In the 2006 elections, Hamas beat Fatah 44 to 41 percent. No elections are in sight today, but that contest continues. Depriving Hamas of its base in Gaza or at least weakening its hold there is an important goal, especially with PA president and Fatah/PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas now 79 years old and a succession fight looming. Fatah remains the heart of the PLO and the PA—and remains a thoroughly corrupt and divided organization. There are no Mandelas or Havels waiting in the wings. But Fatah, and the PA and PLO, are not part of the Muslim Brotherhood, not committed to terrorism, not Islamist in orientation, and have engaged in negotiations and agreements with Israel for 20 years. They are not able to turn Palestine into Singapore or Switzerland, but they will not turn it into Somalia or Syria either.
One possible future for Palestinians is the Gaza model—to come increasingly under the domination of Hamas and other Islamist terrorist groups, which would then move into roles in the PA and PLO, making negotiations with Israel impossible not only on a peace agreement but even on day to day accommodations. That is a future of increasing conflict and of terrorism as official Palestinian policy. The end of the Gaza war presents an opportunity to weaken those forces, and that should be the American and Israeli goal now. We should put aside comprehensive peace plans and other dreams for a perfect future. 
Right now the government of Egypt and that of Israel are aligned against Hamas and the Brotherhood, and tacitly most Arab governments are as well. We should be flexible about economic plans for Gaza and for the West Bank, and even flexible about Palestinian political coalitions, so long as they work toward weakening and defeating Islamist forces in Palestinian life. Cornered and desperate, Hamas took a chance in starting the war this summer. It has been eight years since Hamas won that election and seven since it seized Gaza. Our goal now should be to make 2014 the turning point, and make this war one from which Hamas never recovers. Hamas will claim victory this summer, but whether it actually gains from its murderous decisions or is permanently damaged by them will not be settled the day combat ends. That’s when the IDF’s current battle stops, but it’s when the longer struggle against Hamas—Israel’s and hopefully ours as well—begins again.
Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Friday, July 25, 2014


BEN CASPIT 7-25-14

Apparently, there is no way to avoid the creation of a commission of inquiry once Operation Protective Edge is over. The commission will have to discuss what Israeli cabinet ministers are describing as a “resounding security failure.” Why didn’t Israel mark the threat posed by the Hamas tunnels as a strategic threat, as is now so obvious? Why didn’t it devote thought, effort, budgets and attention to this threat, just as it did to the rocket threat, which received an appropriate response in the form of the Iron Dome air-defense system?
The commission of inquiry will have to investigate three distinct tiers of questioning: Did the security forces have intelligence about the tunnels? If so, was it relayed to the political leadership? And if it was relayed, why didn’t the political leadership act accordingly? It should be remembered that had Hamas not rejected the Egyptian cease-fire initiative, Israel would not have discovered the scope of this threat, and Hamas would have continued digging and expanding its tunnel network, right until the moment it was deployed.
One senior Cabinet member I spoke with this week described that possibility to me: “Imagine," he said, “that we are in the middle of a conflict with Hezbollah up north. Our top-notch infantry brigades are up there, in the north, when suddenly Hamas deploys its network of dozens of tunnels all at once. Some 2,000 Hamas commandos suddenly burst out of them and embark on a killing spree, slaughtering thousands of people in the cities and towns across Israel’s south, from Sderot through Ashkelon, Netivot and Ofakim, maybe even all the way to Beersheba. Who would stop them? The police? The air force? It would take weeks to clean up the mess, and at the end of the entire process, we would find death and destruction across southern Israel. I know,” the minister continued, “that it sounds like a figment of the imagination, but based on what we are discovering these days, the scenario is far more realistic than it is imaginary. In this region, the reality easily exceeds anything we can imagine.”
What originally led to Israel’s ground assault in Gaza was the tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa from which 13 Hamas commandos emerged. They were seen coming out of the tunnel by scouts in an Israel Defense Forces observation post. Video of the ensuing battle, which took place that same morning, aired on all of Israel’s TV networks. The commandos can be seen coming out of the tunnel dressed in IDF uniforms, with all of the standard equipment, with body armor, camouflaged helmets and toques (knit caps) and an enormous amount of weapons. They crawled across the ground together, performing together rolls and rescue maneuvers, until, apparently, they suddenly heard the motor of one of the IDF’s unmanned aircraft or the ignition of a tank that was turned on in the sector by accident, and they raced and pushed themselves back into the tunnel. An IDF aircraft fired a few rockets, but not all of the commandos were hit.
The film footage shocked Israel. Suddenly, everybody realized how permeable Israel’s border wall along the Gaza Strip really is, how much we had been living for the past few years beside a barrel of gunpowder on the edge of a volcano. Even ministers Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, who did not support a ground incursion until that morning, withdrew their opposition, clearing the way for the operation to begin. At first, it was said that it would take three days to clean out the tunnels and destroy them. Now they are already talking about three weeks. This is not some effort to win time. It is an effort to win lives. Israel believed before that Hamas had three strategic tunnels. The current estimate is that there are 30, and perhaps a lot more.
As this piece is being written, an end to the ground operation in Gaza seems to lie far in the future. Efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to bring about an end to the fighting are not bearing any results. Hamas is not interested in a cease-fire. It is interested in prolonging the fighting, which is costing hundreds of residents of the Gaza Strip their lives, because the organization is well aware that this is the only way to break through the international blockade. It is the only way for Hamas to get past the dead end that it has reached as a result of its behavior over the past few years.
So they continue to fight. What helps them along is the realization that Israel will restrain itself and not dare “go all the way.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be a big talker, but he is somewhat less of a doer. He will not have the courage to sacrifice the necessary lives (about 200 soldiers according to one estimate) to conquer Gaza. He is worried about complications, he recoils from international pressure and he has difficulty making decisions. That is why what we have now is a paradoxical situation verging on the absurd: Israel is desperate for a cease-fire, and Hamas is thumbing its nose at it. The entire international community (except for Egypt) is desperate for a cease-fire, and Hamas is thumbing its nose up at it. The strongest, best equipped and most powerful army in the Middle East is completely submerged in Gaza, fighting a hopeless war against a guerilla army that is carefully concealed and camouflaged, well-trained and unwavering. But the outcome remains unresolved because Israel’s political leadership is afraid of any complications, afraid of casualties and afraid of international public opinion.
I write this as a journalist who is identified more with the Israeli left. Throughout my journalistic career, I supported, and continue to support, all of the peace plans, from Oslo to the Geneva agreement. In order to resolve this conflict, I am prepared to give up the occupied territories (with territorial swaps), East Jerusalem (although, like all Israelis, regardless of who they are, I will not agree to the return of the refugees to Israel), everything. I WOULD DO ALL THAT ON THE CONDITION THAT THERE IS SOMEONE WITH WHOM THAT PEACE AGREEMENT COULD BE SIGNED.

IT seems to me that we are at the stage that the world is wising up to Hamas. Given the international community’s support for Israel, which was not taken for granted, it seems to me that the world has already internalized that this was a war between good and evil, between a culture of life and a cult of death. Hamas is the Islamic State, IS. Hamas is Jabhat al-Nusra. Hamas is Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. They are all products of the same school: the oppression of women, the expulsion of Christians, a war of annihilation against the Jews. Some of the aforementioned groups even slaughter Shiite Muslims, solely because they are not Sunnis. This is not some figment of the imagination. It is not a delusion. These are firm facts that any child can find on YouTube.
The facts are that even after the current conflict began, Israel agreed to a cease-fire and Hamas refused. It is piling up the people of Gaza as a defensive shield for the means of destruction that it is acquiring wholesale — and then complaining that Israel is killing civilians. On Wednesday, July 23, three young Israeli paratroopers were killed when they entered a booby-trapped house in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. The US Army would have flattened the house from the air. The Russian army would have flattened the entire town from the air. Let’s not even talk about what the Syrian army would have done, because that’s something of a sensitive issue these days. In contrast, the IDF informs civilians that it is coming by way of text messages and phone calls and even by firing warning shots. Hamas responds by firing rockets at a field hospital that Israel set up in Gaza, where Palestinian civilians were being treated.
No, I am not saying that Israel made no mistakes or that it has been free of errors. Not everybody in Israel wants peace. The behavior of Netanyahu, particularly in his dealings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate, has been strongly criticized here by me and in many other places, too. He has been criticized severely, and he will continue to be criticized. BUT IN THIS WAR WE MUST NOT GET CONFUSED. THIS IS A WAR BETWEEN THE SONS OF LIGHT AND THE SONS OF DARKNESS. 

Ben Caspit is a columnist for Al-Monitor's Israel Pulse. He is also a senior columnist and political analyst for Israeli newspapers, and has a daily radio show and regular TV shows on politics and Israel.