Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What else is Iran hiding?
Ali Alfoneh and Reuel Marc Gerecht    
WASHINGTON POST   March 29, 2015
Ali Alfoneh and Reuel Marc Gerecht are senior fellows at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

We don’t know all that has transpired in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program being conducted in Switzerland, but we do know that the White House has shied away from a potentially paralyzing issue: the “possible military dimensions” — the PMDs — of the regime’s program. As Olli Heinonen, a former No. 2 at the International Atomic Energy Agency, has warned, outsiders really can have no idea where and how fast the mullahs could build a nuclear weapon unless they know what Iranian engineers have done in the past. Without “go anywhere, anytime” access for IAEA inspectors and a thorough accounting of Tehran’s weaponization research, we will be blind to the clerics’ nuclear capabilities.
And one of the most important issues — probable North Korean nuclear cooperation with the Islamic Republic — deserves special scrutiny. This disturbing partnership casts serious doubt on the Obama administration’s hope that President Hassan Rouhani and his team have any intention of limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The unfinished North Korean-designed reactor that was destroyed by Israeli planes on Sept. 6, 2007, at Deir al-Zour in Syria was in all likelihood an Iranian project, perhaps one meant to serve as a backup site for Iran’s own nuclear plants. We draw this conclusion because of the timing and the close connection between the two regimes: Deir al-Zour was started around the time Iran’s nuclear facilities were disclosed by an Iranian opposition group in 2002, and the relationship between Shiite-ruled Syria and Shiite Iran has been exceptionally tight since Bashar al-Assad came to power in 2000. We also know — because Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former Iranian president and majordomo of the political clergy, proudly tells us in his multivolume autobiography — that sensitive Iranian-North Korean military cooperation began in 1989. Rafsanjani’s commentary leaves little doubt that the Iranian-North Korean nexus revolved around two items: ballistic missiles and nuclear-weapons technology.
In his memoirs, the bulk of which is composed of journal entries, Rafsanjani openly discusses Iran’s arms and missile procurement from North Korea. However, from 1989 forward, his entries on Pyongyang become more opaque — a change, we believe, indicating emerging nuclear cooperation. By 1991, Rafsanjani discusses “special and sensitive issues” related to North Korea in entries that are notably different from his candid commentary on tactical ballistic missiles. Rafsanjani mentions summoning Majid Abbaspour, who was the president’s technical adviser on “chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear industries,” into the discussions. Rafsanjani expresses his interest in importing a “special commodity” from the North Koreans in return for oil shipments to Pyongyang. He insists that Iran gain unspecified “technical know-how.”

The Iranian-North Korean contacts intensify in 1992, the year that Rafsanjani, with Rouhani at his side, launches a policy of commercial engagement with the Europeans. On Jan. 30, Rafsanjani receives intelligence minister Ali Fallahian and Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the ministry’s director of foreign espionage, to discuss “procurement channels for sensitive commodities.” On Feb. 8, Rafsanjani writes, “The North Koreans want oil, but have nothing to give in return but the special commodity. We, too, are inclined to solve their problem.” Rafsanjani orders defense minister Akbar Torkan to organize a task force to analyze the risks and benefits of receiving the “special commodity.” This task force recommends that the president accept the “risk of procuring the commodities in question.” Rafsanjani adds that “I discussed [this] with the Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] in more general terms and it was decided to take action based on the [task force’s] review.”
It’s most unlikely that the “special commodity” and the technical know-how surrounding it have anything to do with ballistic missiles; Rafsanjani expresses anxiety that the “special commodity” could be intercepted by the United States, but doesn’t share this worry about missile procurement. In a March 9, 1992, journal entry, the cleric gloats about the U.S. Navy having tracked a North Korean ship bound for Syria but not two ships destined for Iran. Two days later, when the “special commodity” is unloaded, he writes: “The Americans were really embarrassed.”
Odds are high that even today the Central Intelligence Agency doesn’t know what Rafsanjani got from Pyongyang, but it is safe to surmise that the North Koreans weren’t clandestinely building a peaceful nuclear reactor at Deir al-Zour . CIA Director John Brennan has often asserted that U.S. intelligence doesn’t believe that the clerical regime is on the verge of making atomic weapons, and he further claimed that Langley could detect any Iranian decision to sneak toward the bomb. But Washington hasn’t guessed correctly once since World War II about the timing of nuclear weaponization by foreign powers (the A-bombs of close allies Britain and France don’t count). Odds are good that North Korea helped to jump-start Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. If so, how long did this nefarious partnership continue?
Rouhani was Rafsanjani’s alter ego. He’s undoubtedly the right man to answer all of the PMD questions that the IAEA keeps asking and the Obama administration keeps avoiding.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Iranian Journalist, Amir Hossein Motaghi, Defects, 
Says Obama Team Speaking for Iran 3-29-15
Amir Hossein Motaghi, managed Public Relations for  Iranian president's Hassan Rouhani's 2013 electoral campaign. He created  Rouhani's benign, smiling public persona and has remained a close media aide to Rouhani.

Motaghi said the Iranian" reporters" at the P5+1 negotiations are there to control the flow of news back to Iran. {“There are a number of people attending on the Iranian side at the negotiations who are said to be journalists reporting on the negotiations,” he told Irane Farda television. “But they are not journalists and their main job is to make sure that all the news fed back to Iran goes through their channels.}

Stating, “My conscience will not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner any more,”
he defected during the P5+1 nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, according to a British Telegraph report.

Motaghi's most disturbing observation  is that: The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.”


Saturday, March 28, 2015

“Given the upheaval in the Arab world, Obama needs to ask himself why he thinks a Palestinian state is viable right now."

Ben-Dror Yemini, writing in YNET, which is left of center and Netanyahu’s arch enemy, makes the case: President Obama is insisting on the creation of Palestine with a border separating it from Israel based on the ’67 lines plus swaps. “Given the upheaval in the Arab world, Obama needs to ask himself why he thinks a Palestinian state is viable right now."

 Ben-Dror Yemini 3-27-15.

Two days after the Israeli elections, Islamic State carried out suicide attacks at two mosques in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, murdering around 150 individuals. The day before, an Islamic State offshoot perpetrated a terror attack in Tunisia that killed 23 people, mostly tourists.

 During the same two-day period, seven people were murdered in an attack in Kathua, India, and 70 bodies were discovered in Damasak, Nigeria. Who heard? DURING THE COURSE OF FEBRUARY, 1,977 PEOPLE WERE MURDERED BY JIHADISTS AROUND THE GLOBE – ALL IN ACTS OF TERROR ONLY. And as I write these words, reports are coming in about massacres being carried out by Iraqi-Iranian forces in the city of Tikrit, Iraq.

This time, Shia Muslims are massacring Sunni Muslims, after Sunnis, led by Islamic State, massacred Shias in June 2014. The commander of the attacking forces is General Qassem Soleimani, a mega-terrorist and commander of the al-Quds brigade of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Soleimani oversees Hezbollah and Hamas, as part of the project to destroy Israel.

And there's more. Throughout the Muslim world, more and more countries have ceased to be countries. Syria fell apart a long time ago. Libya is already fragmented, with part of the country under the control of an Islamic front, and the city of Derna in the hands of Islamic State. Parts of Nigeria have been abandoned to Boko Haram, another Jihad offshoot.

The situation in Afghanistan and certain Pakistani provinces is similar. Somalia went to pieces years ago. In recent weeks, Yemen, too, has joined the list. Jihadists are in control of parts of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Lebanon, too, don't forget, suffers from outbreaks of violence. And besides, it is controlled by Hezbollah. In fact, four countries and/or parts of countries are already under Iranian patronage – Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. And the quiet in Jordan, too, is only virtual. Real elections would see the Muslim Brotherhood rise to power.


The Muslim world is undergoing a massive upheaval. The identity on the rise is Islamic, tribal and sectarian. Death and destruction have reached monumental proportions.

Muslims are murdering hundreds of thousands of Muslims. None of the bloody conflicts – between Shias and Sunnis, and between Sunnis and Sunnis – have anything to do with Israel or the Palestinians. Most of those perpetrating the killings don't even know where Israel is on the map.


The most peaceful place in the Middle East is the Israeli-controlled West Bank. Over the past six years, 122 Palestinians have been killed there. So when Obama talks about the chaos in the Middle East because of Israel, he appears to be living in a world of his own. Because of Israel? How does Obama come up with such an assessment of the situation?

Friday, March 27, 2015

 Who’s Doing What to Whom in the Middle East
These are the edited remakes of author: Rachel Levy ,a freelance journalist
In Africa:
Two terror organizations in Nigeria and Somalia, Boko Haram and Al Shaba'ab respectively, have both pledged allegiance to Daesh, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Both groups have slaughtered thousands and wounded more, committed numerous atrocities and are continuing to carry out murderous terror attacks to prove their mettle as "jihadists," or holy warriors for Islam.

The moderate Arab nation of Tunisia suffered its first public terrorist attack by ISIS this weekend in a massacre that left 20 dead and dozens of others wounded in the iconic Bardo museum in Tunis, including many foreign tourists. At least 3,000 Tunisians have flown to Syria to join the ISIS terror organization; it's no surprise those chickens are beginning to come home to roost in North Africa.

Tunisia which has enjoyed a healthy international tourism trade now faces severe damage to its tourist industry, which was just beginning to recover from the ravages of the Arab Spring. 

Libya, which borders Tunisia -- and where an American Ambassador and three U.S. diplomats were murdered in an Al Qaeda attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 -- has been entirely swallowed by Al Qaeda and allied terrorist groups. ISIS has also joined the party, spreading cells throughout the country as well. Earlier this month, ISIS made its “debut” appearance in the oil-rich nation with a public seaside beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian laborers taken captive by the terror organization.

In the Middle East:
Egypt is facing one of the toughest fights of its life in the Sinai Peninsula as it battles a budding invasion by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Iranian proxy groups. Homegrown terror cells and disgruntled Bedouin tribes are aiding and abetting this effort, having always looked for greener pastures and a better deal regardless of who's in power in Cairo.

Gaza has been controlled since 2007 by Iran's proxies who include Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and in a consultant position, Hezbollah. All maintain contentious but cooperative relationships with the Salafi, global jihad Army of Islam terror group which is linked to Al Qaeda. ISIS is also now represented in the region as well.

Jordan is facing an existential threat on its borders with Iraq and Syria due to ISIS having captured border crossings on both, and the presence of Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards along the border with Syria. So far, its only remaining friendly borders are with Israel, and with Egypt. In addition, the Palestinian citizens within Jordan are not as friendly to the Hashemite regime as one might believe; moreover, they are wont to align with the Muslim Brotherhood which also operates within the kingdom and which can be seen as a fifth column.

Lebanon has been swallowed by ISIS, Palestinian Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades linked to Fatah, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, all of whom vie for power in the nation. Hezbollah holds the lion's share of the political clout in the government since the terrorist group long ago expanded to include parliament members and actual ministers in the government cabinet as well.

Iraq was the first to fall to ISIS; its border crossings with Syria and Jordan were easy prey for the terror group. Iran easily persuaded the government that its was better off allowing its Islamic neighbor to "help" it fight off the Sunni threat than to place its trust in the American administration that had abandoned its ally when it was still to weak to fend off terrorist and tribal challenges to the power of the central government. So now Iran has now entered the picture there as well, to “assist” Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS, which Iran perceives as a threat to its own interests, for the time being at least.

It is likely that when the power struggle ends, one way or the other, Iran will be the force to divide the spoils and cut a deal with ISIS in order to ultimately divide up the region between the two emerging empires. However, Iran will ultimately be the one to rule because ISIS does not have the self-discipline, nor the structural underpinnings necessary to create and maintain an administration to rule an empire. This is quite separate and apart from Iran's booming weapons production industry, not to mention its galloping race to develop nuclear arms.

Syria was the little ticking time bomb that appeared to have set off this entire conflagration – but if one looks closely, it is clear that ISIS does not attack the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Nor does Assad bother much with the ISIS terrorists. Both have bigger fish to fry.

Assad is an Alawite -- a sect that is linked to Shia, hence his close ties with Shiite Iran and that nation's support of his struggle. Iran sent Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps units and Hezbollah guerrillas to fight alongside his troops. Russia also supplemented Assad for quite some time -- right up to the point that Assad began to lose and Russian citizens were endangered. Then Russian "consultants" were evacuated, funding slowed down to a crawl but weapons shipments continued to arrive.

ISIS meanwhile wants to expand its reach throughout the entire Middle East -- and that's just for starters. Its ultimate stated goal is simply to establish a worldwide caliphate -- an "Islamic State" -- and nothing less. Think 'Hitler' with a 21st century media team and you're headed in the right direction.

In any case, Syria is no longer really Syria; it is now divided up into cantons, each of which is governed separately by various emirs and such. Many report to ISIS already. Some report to Al Qaeda. Others still are loyal to the “moderate” Syrian National Council and its Free Syrian Army. A few are hanging on to Syria's government, or what's left of it – mostly around Damascus.

And now there's Yemen, bits of it left currently on the chopping block and most already nearly to the mop-up stage by Al Qaeda, ISIS and their Houthi opponents, soon probably to be allies as well. Of course, Al Qaeda had laid the groundwork for the takeover of the country to a great extent, having infiltrated and permeated the territory over the past several years. Al Qaeda promotes the image of being at odds with ISIS, although the latter began as a freak offshoot of the terror mothership, but it is more likely all a bluff. We will yet see the day the two will re-unite as one, or return as allies.

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia is starting to move its military forces towards the border with Yemen. The last time Saudi Arabia did that was in March 2011, when it "helped" its neighbor Bahrain fend off a surreptitious move by Iran to foment unrest in the Sunni-ruled country (which has a Shia majority) under cover of the Arab Spring.  It took one day for 1,000 Saudi troops and 500 troops from United Arab Emirates to clear protesters from around the iconic Pearl Roundabout in Manama, and then to destroy the statue on what became known locally as "Bloody Thursday."

The U.S. Embassy in Yemen has been closed due to the escalating attacks. Embassy staff and families of diplomats were evacuated from the country, just in time. The last group of 100 American special forces who were there to consult and help the Yemen military fight off the takeover in the first place were evacuated from the country last weekend due to the 'rising danger.'

Houthi rebels seized the airport and control of the entire city of Taiz as well as the surrounding province over the weekend as well – about 240 miles south of the Yemeni capital of Sana'a -- according to Taiz provincial government officials who spoke with international media.

As early as January, Yemen's president and his cabinet resigned after the Houthis surrounded the presidential palace, and in fact the entire capital city of Sana'a was captured by the Houthi rebels. Last week ISIS suicide terrorists arrived in Sana'a and bombed two mosques, killing 137 Yemenis and wounding hundreds more, making it clear that supremacy over the city is still up for grabs.

The United Nations Security Council met Sunday (March 22, 2015) to discuss Yemen's deteriorating situation, with its UN envoy to Yemen reporting the country is “at the edge of civil war.” Meanwhile, Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi remains in exile in the southern port city of Aden, maintaining that he is still the nation's leader. Last week, the Houthi war against Hadi pursued him all the way south to Aden, with an air strike aimed at the palace where he is housed. That day, Houthi rebels on the ground battled Hadi loyalists in Aden leaving 13 dead.

Finally, there is Turkey.

It's odd how few actually discuss what's happening in Turkey, a NATO member who has provided free passage to literally every single terrorist group that has requested safe passage through its country, even into Syria to reach the ISIS capital of Raqqa. If you travel through Istanbul airport on an average day, it becomes amazingly clear that whoever wishes to, can travel through Istanbul from Iran, Russia, or anywhere else.

Turkey is the ultimate Casablanca of today's Middle East.

Muslim Brotherhood officials are warmly greeted by their supporters there. Hamas has a new international headquarters in the country, Fatah and other Palestinian officials are always welcome, and ISIS operatives move across the border to bring imports (brides and other 'items') to Raqqa with no trouble at all. Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members – you name it, and you can make that meeting happen in Turkey, if you know the right buttons to push. Even United States officials are welcome.

Only a U.S. reject deported back home via Cairo to make a good showing to the Americans was turned back. Turkish authorities didn't bother with that performance when it came to ignoring three young Muslim school girls from the UK whose frantic parents begged the Ankara government to block them from crossing the border into ISIS Land.

One wonders how Turkey is able to square its relationship with NATO with all that going on.

But managing delicate, intricate relationships are a peerless skill practiced by Turks since ancient times. There are few who can match a Turkish diplomat in anything, let alone the multi-lateral negotiations involving events so complex that one would need a nuclear microscope just to see past the surface, let alone begin to address it.

Managing Obama's war against Israel
By Caroline B. Glick
Published March 27, 2015

On Wednesday, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it is shelving plans to build 1,500 apartments in the Har Homa neighborhood. Officials gave no explanation for its sudden move. But none was needed.

Obviously the construction of apartments for Jews in Jerusalem was blocked in the hopes of appeasing US President Barack Obama.

But is there any reason to believe he can be appeased? Today the White House is issuing condemnations of Israel faster than the UN.

To determine how to handle what is happening, we need to understand the nature of what is happening.

First we need to understand that the administration’s hostility has little to do with Israel’s actions.

As Max Boot explained Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, the administration’s animosity toward Israel is a function of Obama’s twin strategic aims, both evident since he entered office: realigning US policy in the Middle East toward Iran and away from its traditional allies Israel and the Sunni Arab states, and ending the US’s strategic alliance with Israel.

Over the past six years we have seen how Obama has consistently, but gradually, taken steps to advance these two goals. Toward Iran, he has demonstrated an unflappable determination to accommodate the terrorism supporting, nuclear proliferating, human rights repressing and empire building mullahs.

Beginning last November, as the deadline for nuclear talks between the US and its partners and Tehran approached, Obama’s attempts to accommodate Tehran escalated steeply.

Obama has thrown caution to the winds in a last-ditch effort to convince Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei to sign a deal with him. Last month the administration published a top secret report on Israel’s nuclear installations. Last week, Obama’s director of national intelligence James Clapper published an annual terrorism threat assessment that failed to mention either Iran or Hezbollah as threats.

And this week, the administration accused Israel of spying on its talks with Iran in order to tell members of Congress the details of the nuclear deal that Obama and his advisers have been trying to hide from them.

In the regional context, the administration has had nothing to say in the face of Iran’s takeover of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden this week. With its Houthi-proxy now in charge of the strategic waterway, and with its own control over the Straits of Hormuz, Iran is poised to exercise naval control over the two choke points of access to Arab oil.

The administration is assisting Iranian Shi’ite proxies in their battle to defeat Islamic State forces in the Iraqi city of Tikrit. It has said nothing about the Shi’ite massacres of Sunnis that come under their control.

Parallel to its endless patience for Tehran, the Obama administration has been treating Israel with bristling and ever-escalating hostility. This hostility has been manifested among other things through strategic leaks of highly classified information, implementing an arms embargo on weapons exports to Israel in time of war, ending a 40-year agreement to provide Israel with fuel in times of emergency, blaming Israel for the absence of peace, expressing tolerance and understanding for Palestinian terrorism, providing indirect support for Europe’s economic war against Israel, and providing indirect support for the BDS movement by constantly accusing Israel of ill intentions and dishonesty.

Then there is the UN. Since he first entered office, Obama has been threatening to withhold support for Israel at the UN. To date, the administration has vetoed one anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council and convinced the Palestinians not to submit another one for a vote.

In the months that preceded these actions, the administration exploited Israel’s vulnerability to extort massive concessions to the Palestinians.

Obama forced Benjamin Netanyahu to announce his support for Palestinian statehood in September 2009. He used the UN threat to coerce Netanyahu to agree to negotiations based on the 1949 armistice lines, to deny Jews their property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to release scores of terrorist murderers from prison.

Following the nationalist camp’s victory in last week’s election, Obama brought to a head the crisis in relations he instigated. He has done so for two reasons.

First, next week is the deadline for signing a nuclear agreement with Iran. Obama views Netanyahu as the prospective deal’s most articulate and effective opponent.

As Obama sees it, Netanyahu threatens his nuclear diplomacy with Iran because he has a unique ability to communicate his concerns about the deal to US lawmakers and the American people, and mobilize them to join him in opposing Obama’s actions. The letters sent by 47 senators to the Iranian regime explaining the constitutional limitations on presidential power to conclude treaties without Senate approval, like the letter to Obama from 367 House members expressing grave and urgent concerns about the substance of the deal he seeks to conclude, are evidence of Netanyahu’s success.

The second reason Obama has gone to war against Israel is because he views the results of last week’s election as an opportunity to market his anti-Israel and pro-Iranian positions to the American public.

If Netanyahu can convince Americans to oppose Obama on Iran, Obama believes that by accusing Netanyahu of destroying chances for peace and calling him a racist, Obama will be able to win sufficient public support for his anti-Israel policies to intimidate pro-Israel Democratic lawmakers into accepting his pro-Iranian policies.

To this end, Obama has announced that the threat that he will abandon Israel at the UN has now become a certainty. There is no peace process, Obama says, because Netanyahu had the temerity to point out that there is no way for Israel to risk the transformation of Judea and Samaria into a new terror base. As a consequence, he has all but made it official that he is abandoning the peace process and joining the anti-Israel bandwagon at the UN.

Given Obama’s decision to abandon support for a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians, modes of appeasement aimed at showing Israel’s good faith, such as Jewish building freezes, are no longer relevant. Scrapping plans to build apartments in Jewish neighborhoods like Har Homa will make no difference.

Obama has reached a point in his presidency where he is prepared to give full expression to his plan to end the US’s strategic alliance with Israel.

He thinks that doing so is both an end to itself and a means of succeeding in his bid to achieve a rapprochement with Iran.

Given this dismal reality, Israel needs to develop ways to minimize the damage Obama can cause.

Israel needs to oppose Obama’s policies while preserving its relations with its US supporters, including its Democratic supporters. Doing so will ensure that it is in a position to renew its alliance with the US immediately after Obama leaves office.

With regards to Iran, such a policy requires Israel to act with the US’s spurned Arab allies to check Iran’s expansionism and nuclear progress. It also requires Israel to galvanize strong opposition to Obama’s goal of replacing Israel with Iran as America’s chief ally in the Middle East and enabling it to develop nuclear weapons.

As for the Palestinians, Israel needs to view Obama’s abandonment of the peace process as an opportunity to improve our diplomatic position by resetting our relations with the Palestinians. Since 1993, Israel has been entrapped by the chimerical promise of a “two-state solution.”

By late 2000, the majority of Israelis had recognized that there is no way to achieve the two-state solution. There is no way to make peace with the PLO. But due to successive governments’ aversion to risking a crisis in relations with Washington, no one dared abandon the failed two-state strategy.

Now, with Obama himself declaring the peace process dead and replacing it with a policy of pure hostility toward Israel, Israel has nothing to gain from upholding a policy that blames it for the absence of peace.

No matter how loudly Netanyahu declares his allegiance to the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel’s heartland, Obama will keep castigating him and Israel as the destroyer of peace.

The prevailing, 23-year-old view among our leadership posits that if we abandon the two-state model, we will lose American support, particularly liberal American support. But the truth is more complicated.

Inspired by the White House and the Israeli Left, pro-Israel Democrats now have difficulty believing Netanyahu’s statements of support for the establishment of a Palestinians state. But those who truly uphold liberal values of human rights can be convinced of the rightness of Israel’s conviction that peace is currently impossible and as a consequence, the two-state model must be put on the back burner.

We can maintain support among Republicans and Democrats alike if we present an alternative policy that makes sense in the absence of an option for the two-state model.

Such a policy is the Israeli sovereignty model. If the government adopts a policy of applying Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria in whole – as I recommend in my book The Israeli Solution: A One- State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, or in part, in Area C, as Economy Minister Naftali Bennett recommends, our leaders will be able to defend their actions before the American people, including pro-Israel Democrats.

Israel must base its policy of sovereignty on two principles. First, this is a liberal policy that will ensure the civil rights of Palestinians and Israelis alike, and improve the Palestinians’ standard of living.

Second, such a policy is not necessarily a longterm or permanent “solution,” but it is a stable equilibrium for now.

Just as Israel’s decision to apply its laws to united Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in the past didn’t prevent it from conducting negotiations regarding the possible transfer of control over the areas to the Palestinians and Syrians, respectively, so an administrative decision to apply Israeli law to all or parts of Judea and Samaria will not block the path for negotiations with the Palestinians when regional and internal Palestinian conditions render them practicable.

The sovereignty policy is both liberal and strategically viable. If the government adopts it, the move will rebuild Israel’s credibility and preserve Israel’s standing on both sides of the aisle in Washington.

Never before has Israel had to deal with such an openly hostile US administration. Indeed, until 2009, the very notion that a day would come when an American president would prefer an alliance with Khamenei’s Iran to its traditional alliances with Israel and the Sunni Arab states was never even considered. But here we are.

Our current situation is unpleasant. But it isn’t the end of the world. We aren’t helpless. If we act wisely, we can stem Iran’s nuclear and regional advance. If we act boldly, we can preserve our alliance with the US while adopting a policy toward the Palestinians that for the first time in decades will advance our interests and our liberal values on the world stage.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Did Israel Weaken Hamas?
The 2014 Gaza War
by Efraim Inbar
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2015

In July 2014, three Israeli teenagers were found shot to death in the West Bank, shortly after their abduction by Hamas terrorists. These murders, and the ensuing rocket attacks on Israeli population centers, have reinforced Israeli awareness of the inability to affect the motivation of non-state actors such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah to fight the Jewish state.

Following the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and a continuous barrage of Hamas rockets on Israeli towns and villages, the government of Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8, 2014, mostly in the form of air strikes on Hamas targets. On July 17, a limited ground incursion commenced to locate and destroy tunnels into Israel, coming to a close on August 5. Having either rejected or violated numerous ceasefires, on August 26, Hamas finally accepted an Egyptian ceasefire proposal (originally made on July 15). The operation lasted fifty days and was longer than all previous rounds of violence in Gaza.
What were the operation's strategic rationale and goals? How has it affected Israel's international standing, its negotiations with the Palestinians, and regional deterrent posture? Above all, who actually won the war?
The Strategic Rationale
By the twenty-first century, Israel's leaders had reached the conclusion that the country was involved in an intractable conflict with part of the Arab world, particularly with non-state organizations driven by religious extremism. Most Israelis
are keenly aware of their inability to affect the motivation of the non-state actors such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah to fight the Jewish state; they understand full well the impracticality of attempting to defeat extreme ideologies by force of arms. The non-state organizations are a persevering and uncompromising enemy, bent on destroying the Jewish state, and there is nothing Jerusalem can do to lessen this motivation. Thus, Israeli leaders refrain from using military strength to strive for "victory" or for an end to the conflict. Jerusalem does not expect peace or integration with its neighbors. It merely wants to be left alone.
The patient approach of "mowing the grass" is a mirror image of the Arabs' persevering "resistance" strategy.
Although Israelis understand that there is no simple way to deter highly motivated organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), nevertheless, use force to degrade their enemies' military capabilities and thus diminish the damage they can inflict. In Israel's military parlance, this is "mowing the grass" of its enemies' abilities, without any pretensions to solving the conflict.[1] Moreover, Jerusalem is trying to gain a modicum of deterrence in order to extend the quiet between rounds of violence. Periods of calm are important for Israel; its very existence portrays a victory to extremist, non-state enemies and constantly reminds them that their destruction plans are unattainable. Extending the periods of calm along the borders will lessen the cost of this protracted conflict for Israel. Ironically, the patient, attritional approach of Israeli military action is a mirror image of the Arabs' persevering "resistance" (muqawama) strategy. Israel's large-scale operations in Gaza of December 2008-January 2009 (Cast Lead) and November 2012 (Pillar of Defense) were conducted with this strategic rationale.
The Operation's Objectives
During the summer of 2014, Hamas found itself in a difficult position, primarily due to the fall of President Muhammad Morsi in Egypt in July 2013 and his replacement by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, elected president in May 2014. Viewing Hamas as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and hence an arch enemy, the new regime joined Israel in cutting its supply routes to Gaza.[2] As a result, Hamas chose to rock the boat by attacking Israel in the hope of breaking Gaza's isolation. Specifically, it demanded reconstruction of the Rafah airport, construction of a seaport, and unrestricted traffic between Gaza and the West Bank.
Jerusalem reacted with Operation Protective Edge to force Hamas to stop the rocket and missile attacks and to thwart its political goals in accordance with a strategy of attrition and limited political objectives: "gaining quiet on Israel's border with Gaza" and "quiet will be met with quiet."[3] The government did not speak in terms of toppling Hamas or returning Gaza to Israel's control, despite some proponents within the cabinet of this course of action. These voices became more prominent as Hamas refused to cease its bombardment. Yet, while the IDF is perfectly capable of these alternatives, toppling Hamas and reoccupying Gaza could easily incur a prohibitive human cost. In addition, it was not likely that Jerusalem would garner support from the international community, especially the United States, for a lengthy operation of this kind. Nevertheless, if Hamas renews its fire against Israel, there may be no other recourse but to recapture the entire Gaza Strip so as to destroy its military potential and to gain a long period of calm.
The government of Israel desired a weakened Hamas to rule over Gaza.
Hamas is deeply entrenched in Palestinian society and draws considerable support from the Palestinian public. Surveys conducted among Palestinians prior to Operation Protective Edge showed 35 percent support in both the West Bank and Gaza with even greater support in the Strip alone. Hamas's civilian arm provides many services for the Gaza population, and Gazans feel gratitude toward the organization. Noteworthy as well, Hamas won both the 2005 municipal elections and the 2006 parliamentary elections. All this indicates widespread support for Hamas on the Palestinian street. Moreover, the military arm's violent struggle against Israel is highly popular, despite its heavy cost for the Gaza population. In December 2014, an overwhelming majority of 77 percent supported rocket and missile attacks on Israel if the siege and blockade was not ended.[4] Public opinion surveys conducted in the wake of the operation showed support for Hamas among the Palestinians at a higher level than ever.[5] Unfortunately, many Palestinians are not encouraged to strive for peace but rather to sacrifice their lives and become martyrs in a holy war against the Jewish state.
Despite Hamas's uncompromising nature, the Israeli government desired a weakened regime to rule over Gaza. The separation of Gaza from the West Bank serves Israeli interests by weakening the national Palestinian movement, which remains a bitter enemy of Israel into the foreseeable future. Mahmoud Abbas' September 2014 address to the U.N. General Assembly is clear proof of that.[6] Even as the Palestinian Authority (PA) asks the United Nations to recognize Palestinian independence, it continues to teach hatred for Israel and to make demands that jeopardize its own existence.
Criticism of the operation's aims was also voiced by the Israeli Left and the international community. Some called for the ending of Hamas rule and the return of Gaza to the PA with IDF assistance. This could seemingly revive the two-state solution paradigm. But it is unclear whether Abbas is willing or capable of taking control of Gaza even if the IDF cleared the way. Indeed, apart from the nominal so-called unity government of June 2014, the PA has shown no interest in such a scenario. Neither the PA nor the government of Israel appears to want any part in running Gaza.
The proposal to hand Gaza to the PA also demonstrates forgetfulness of the failed Israeli attempts to determine the leadership of its Arab neighbors, such as the 1982 Lebanon war and the "village associations" with the West Bank Palestinians. Influencing political dynamics in the surrounding Arab states is simply beyond Jerusalem's abilities. Even the powerful United States has repeatedly failed to do this. Moreover, favoring particular candidates for power in an Arab entity will always have a boomerang effect since Israel's support erodes their legitimacy. Pragmatic cooperation with Israel is not the way to popularity in the Arab world.
The International Arena
Garnering international support for an operation against Hamas in Gaza was high on the Israeli list of priorities. The conduct of the Israeli government reflected this priority with its forbearing attitude and willingness to accept all proposed ceasefires. Political coordination with Egypt also served this aim, especially vis-à-vis the Arab states.
The majority of the international community supported Israel's right to self-defense. Part of the international credit was thanks to Jerusalem's readiness to accept every ceasefire and partly due to the somewhat reserved U.S. support. Despite international criticism of the supposed use of disproportionate force, generated by images of destruction from Gaza, Israel was able to operate militarily for fifty days. This is a considerable feat.
The regional political alignment was also convenient for Israel. There was conspicuous restraint among conservative Arab states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Persian Gulf monarchies (excluding Qatar), all of which were keen to see Hamas hit hard. It was also clear that these states shared common strategic interests with Israel as was the case during the 2008-09 fighting in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead). Like Israel, these states also consider Iran a major threat, especially its nuclear aspirations. The phenomenon of the so-called Islamic State, the extremist Islamist organization that has conquered parts of Syria and Iraq and proclaimed a caliphate, has brought the moderate states even closer together. The strategic partnership between Israel and these Arab states is a bright point among the regional shambles left by the Arab uprisings.
Washington failed to grasp the seminal significance of Egypt in the Gaza equation.
Israel considered Egypt's involvement of paramount importance in arranging a settlement that would bring the Gaza campaign to an end and in goading Hamas into a ceasefire that basically ignored most of the terrorist organization's demands. This insistence strengthened the ties between Israel and Egypt—the most important Arab state.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration did not appear to have a real grasp of the Middle East reality. Before the war, Washington had expressed support for the Hamas-PA national unity government. This lent additional legitimacy to Hamas, strengthening the widespread impression that the Obama administration favored the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas's parent organization) and further alienating key Arab states, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia. These two and the smaller Persian Gulf states were already suspicious of U.S. policy following years of unsuccessful negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, the misplaced U.S. trust in Turkey's Islamist regime, and the inexplicable support for Egypt's short-lived Muslim Brotherhood regime. As such, Washington's approach toward Hamas became yet another component in the Obama administration's failed Middle East policy.[7]
The strains between Washington and Cairo following the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood were in stark contrast to the close cooperation between Israel and Egypt regarding Hamas.[8] Washington failed to grasp the seminal significance of Egypt in the Gaza equation and, for a time, ignored its proposed ceasefire and endeavored to promote the mediation initiative of Qatar and Turkey, both Hamas supporters. The U.S. administration believed that these two states could influence Hamas, neglecting the fact that Cairo had historically been a rival of Ankara in regional affairs and had a particularly tense relationship with Turkey's controlling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP).
During the Gaza war, disagreements arose between Jerusalem and Washington, underscoring the complexity of the bilateral relationship during the Obama administration. U.S. officials expressed concern about the effects of Israel's use of force while the Israelis resisted the U.S. intention to make Turkey and Qatar sponsors of a ceasefire. Highlighting the strains, a Wall Street Journal story about delays in transferring helicopter Hellfire missiles[9] referred to a scheduled delivery of missiles that Israel merely wished to expedite. With the delay, Washington signaled its disapproval of Israeli actions, but the operational implications were marginal. It is also important to note that the delayed arms shipment consisted of arms other than the Hellfire missiles. Unfortunately, the negative publicity surrounding the strains in U.S.-Israeli relations has had a detrimental effect on Israel's international reputation and, particularly, on its regional status.
Still, the U.S. unwillingness to transfer ammunition during the fighting sent a shock wave through the Israeli defense establishment. In the wake of this incident, the defense establishment is reconsidering joint U.S.-Israeli projects in which weapons are manufactured in the United States with U.S. aid funding. It is expected that in the future, Israel will increase its local production of sensitive arms to prevent a repeat of the summer's events. Another consequence of the delays is Israeli reexamination of its domestically manufactured ammunition supplies.[10]
Nevertheless, defense relations of the closest kind continue between Israel and the United States. Washington swiftly approved further funding for another Iron Dome missile defense battery and even opened its war reserve stockpile in Israel to assist the IDF with its ammunition shortage. And yet, publicity surrounding the strain harmed Israel and motivated Hamas to persist in its rejection of a ceasefire. Some friction with Washington on the Palestinian issue is inevitable due to differences over its importance and how it should be managed. In the Israeli view, Washington tends to exaggerate both the regional implications of Palestinian-Israeli peace and the chances for its achievement.[11]
It is noteworthy that great powers such as China, India, and Russia showed understanding toward Israel's situation while many other states were relieved to see the fighting draw to a close so that they could continue their "business as usual" with Israel. Despite exaggerated fears of international isolation among certain circles in Israel following the fighting in Gaza, Jerusalem's international status has remained strong, and its economic ties with the world are unaffected by the conflict with the Palestinians.[12]
Discontent with Israel's actions in Gaza was voiced by the usual suspects: human rights organizations, U.N. institutions, and some third world countries. Several West European countries hosted anti-Israel marches, and anti-Semitic sentiments surfaced in an unprecedented manner.[13] A number of Latin American states, including Brazil, recalled their ambassadors.[14] The U.N. Human Rights Council's decision to appoint a commission of inquiry on war crimes will likely lead to a "Goldstone II" report, which could inflict political damage on Israel.
War coverage by the international media was biased in favor of the Palestinians. Media reports on the alleged disproportionate use of force are the result of Hamas's manipulation and demonstrate a poor understanding of what happens during war. It should be noted, however, that both the BBC and The New York Times ran articles that questioned the data supplied by Hamas on the number and identity of their fatalities.[15] Among the slightly more than 2,000 fatalities, half were identified by Israel as Hamas operatives, which amounted to a ratio of one to one collateral damage—much better than the U.S. record in Iraq or Afghanistan.

On the other hand, one positive outcome of the war was the idea of "demilitarization in exchange for reconstruction," accepted by such international actors as the United States, the European Union, and even the U.N. The main motive for introducing demilitarization is to pave the way for the return of Gaza to the PA and, perhaps, the internationalization of the conflict that will give the Europeans a say in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. Yet, Hamas will balk at any attempt to force it to part with its weapons. Historically, full demilitarization was always applied to the defeated side. But while Hamas has been considerably weakened by Israel, it was by no means defeated. Thus, the demand for Hamas's peaceful disarmament is unrealistic. Nevertheless, the international agreement on the demilitarization of Gaza—a key element in the 1990s Oslo accords—erodes Hamas's legitimacy to use force against Israel. Moreover, this idea legitimizes efforts by Israel to monitor supplies entering Gaza and to use force for defense purposes.
Several suggestions are being raised for the involvement of international actors and U.N. forces in advancing demilitarization, but Israel has had a dismal experience with such experiments. All the international peacekeeping mechanisms and forces in the Arab-Israeli arena have invariably proven ineffective. For example, there is the failure since 2006 of the U.N. force in South Lebanon (UNIFIL) to prevent rockets from reaching Hezbollah. In Gaza, after only one year at the Rafah crossing, European observers took to their heels at the first sign of danger. U.N. units in the Golan Heights (UNDOF) have now also retreated when faced with hostile activity. The international force in Sinai, which monitors the demilitarization clauses of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, has no mandate to fight Islamist terrorists in the peninsula. This force became largely superfluous when Israel agreed to the upgrading of Egyptian forces in Sinai to enhance counterterrorist capabilities. Israel simply cannot count on others to ensure its safety.
Israeli Deterrence
The government of Israel demonstrated caution in avoiding the use of massive force, which is commendable in a democracy that cares for the wellbeing of its citizens and soldiers. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was correct in predicting that such restraint would gain Israel international legitimacy as well as contribute to domestic national consensus. However, it remains to be seen whether such conduct eroded Israeli deterrence by delivering a message of weakness and hesitancy as the readiness to fight, determination, and uncompromising courage are the building stones of deterrence.
Restrictions placed on the IDF for fear of international reaction may be read as weakness and impair deterrence.
The image of Israel merely reacting to Hamas's moves, waiting each time until the last minute to see whether the terror group would oblige and extend the ceasefire, is not conducive to Israeli deterrence. Likewise, Hamas's lengthy refusal to accept a ceasefire shows that the 2014 Gaza operation did not exact a sufficiently painful cost to expedite an agreement. Nor does Hamas's claim that it withstood the Israeli military might for fifty days serve Israeli deterrence. Indeed, the fighting was much longer than the IDF had anticipated.[16] Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman, who served as southern command chief in the Gaza war, said earlier in 2011, "We will do everything to shorten the duration of the campaign and will conduct a fast, lethal ground maneuver."[17]
It is important to remember that deterrence depends on military might but also on the willingness to employ force. Restrictions placed on the IDF for fear of international public reaction, such as avoidance of extensive targeting of multi-story buildings and mosques that served as Hamas strategic facilities and launching pads, may be read as weakness and impair deterrence. Perhaps escalation should have begun earlier in the war. On the other hand, Israel's ability to target the heads of Hamas's military branch, the severe level of destruction in parts of Gaza, and the IDF's capacity to collect real-time intelligence and attack swiftly, may contribute to deterrence. But leaving Hamas in control of Gaza conflicts with the aim of creating long-term deterrence. In light of all this, the contribution of the 2014 offensive to Israeli deterrence is inconclusive and will have to be examined over time.
The War's Effect on Negotiations
There is no sign of Hamas moderating its position toward Israel. Hamas's positions, and even that of the Palestine Liberation Organization, do not show any inclination to make a historical compromise with Jerusalem. The government of Israel still stands behind its statement that the Palestinian unity government is not a worthy partner for peace talks. Thus, the war did not directly affect the slim chances for advancing negotiations.
This realization has not permeated sufficiently into the Israeli political leadership since part of the political echelon is still caught up with the concept of a "two-state solution." Another part of society pays lip service to this formula despite understanding that it is impractical so long as the Palestinians reject Israel's right to exist; nevertheless, this group thinks that it is worth pursuing in order to manage the conflict rationally. Only the political extremes from Right and Left prefer other formulae and are ready to declare the "two-state solution" defunct. Yet, it is possible that the Gaza operation will constitute a stage in a long educational process by the Palestinians that Israel's existence is a fact and cannot be eradicated and that a high cost will be exacted for engaging the country in a protracted, violent conflict.
By contrast, the international community still cleaves rather obsessively to the "two-state solution" as panacea. The Pavlovian response to war is that increased efforts are necessary to solve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. And yet, the difficulties in moving the "peace process" forward and crises in other places around the world may divert attention from this conflict and leave Israelis and Palestinians to continue spilling each other's blood. The Gaza war certainly clarifies that the two societies have reserves of energy and have not yet tired of fighting. At the end of the day, ethno-religious conflicts of the sort Israel is involved in usually are concluded once the societies involved reach a point of fatigue. That has not yet occurred.
The Domestic Arena
Operation Protective Edge was perceived by Israelis as both necessary and justifiable. The sense that there is no choice is an important condition in preserving national fortitude in an intractable, protracted conflict. The unprecedented efforts by the IDF to maintain its "purity of arms" or morality in warfare code also neutralized to a great extent criticism of the Israeli use of force from abroad and in extreme circles in Israel.

The achievements of the Iron Dome system contributed significantly to the ability of the home front to function almost normally—except for the Gaza-border residents, who were also exposed to mortar fire for which no appropriate defensive response was found. Moreover, for these residents, the failure to address Hamas's tunnels effectively severely detracted from their sense of security and trust in the government. It could be that preparing differently for the tunnel challenge might have entirely prevented the need for a ground campaign or at least would have required a less complicated operation.
Despite sweeping support in Israel for the military action against Hamas, the results left Israelis troubled. It is no small matter to accept that the conflict cannot be resolved and that another round of fighting is just around the corner. Nevertheless, surveys show that Israelis have internalized this reality and, during the war, displayed extraordinary fortitude and solidarity. Turning the protracted conflict into a tolerable routine constitutes a major challenge for Israeli society.
The domestic, political impact of the Gaza war will depend on the duration of the calm attained in its aftermath.
The domestic, political impact of the Gaza war will depend predominantly on the duration of the period of calm attained in its aftermath. The longer it lasts, the better it will be for Israel. If deterrence does not work and Hamas decides to challenge the government by firing into Israel, it may very well be that Jerusalem may be forced to "mow the grass" once again and all the more forcefully. This option is likely to gain much support from the Israeli public.
As long as the Palestinians do not transform their goals, the conflict will not be resolved, only managed. Israel will continue to live by the sword and to "mow the grass" as needed. In Operation Protective Edge, Jerusalem set out once again to destroy Hamas's military capabilities with the understanding that it is engaged in an intractable, protracted conflict requiring a strategy of attrition.
Ultimately, this objective was achieved. One third of Hamas's rocket and missile stockpile and most of its rocket-manufacturing infrastructure were destroyed. Most of its thirty-two attack tunnels were likely destroyed,[18] and about 1,000 Hamas combatants, including some high-level leaders, were killed.[19] It could be that more targeted killings and an earlier relaxing of the restraints on airpower could have expedited the acceptance of the ceasefire by Hamas and thus avoided much of the destruction in the Strip.
A major achievement by Hamas was the closure of the Ben-Gurion airport for a short time (due to a human error by Iron Dome operators). Moreover, the civilian population within the range of mortars and near the attack tunnels was shaken, and its resilience was questioned as some residents left the region.
Nevertheless, it is clear that Hamas lost this campaign. The unlimited ceasefire, as demanded by Israel and Egypt, constitutes a precondition to future negotiations and was formulated without the involvement of Qatar and Turkey. All the crossings into the Gaza Strip will continue to be under Israeli and Egyptian control, which will constrain Hamas's ability to rearm. Egypt even forced Hamas to agree to a PA presence at the Rafah crossing. All of Hamas's "victory speeches" cannot change the fact that, ultimately, it succumbed unconditionally to Egyptian-Israeli pressure.[20]
Any evaluation of Protective Edge must consider the cost for Israel. The Iron Dome system neutralized practically all rockets and missiles fired at Israeli population centers. The majority of the country suffered only marginally although the alarm sirens did have a negative psychological effect. The public's display of self-discipline reduced loss of life, but, nevertheless, there were seventy-two fatalities (including more than sixty soldiers) and hundreds of wounded. Limited damage was incurred, mostly to property in the Gaza envelope. The direct and indirect costs of the war, amounting to several billion dollars, are tolerable for the strong Israeli economy.
Israel's public diplomacy must adopt the concept of demilitarization and prepare a plan for promoting the idea. The goal is to make it as difficult as possible for Hamas (without toppling the organization) to acquire weaponry. Israeli diplomats must also contemplate how to check the onslaught against Israel in the field of international law.
Following the Gaza war, the IDF must rethink its operational mode. There are many areas of operation to be commended, such as technological superiority and fighting spirit among soldiers and commanders on the ground. Investigation of all these issues is underway in all corners of the Middle East, not just in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The 2012 Pillar of Defense and 2009 Cast Lead operations in Gaza, as well as the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, were launched to regain deterrence. All of them restored calm, marked by a continuing low level of attacks, but also engendered legal and political attacks in the international arena. So far, the 2014 military operation has achieved the same results, but no one can predict for how long the calm will last.
Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and a Shilman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

[1] Efraim Inbar and Eitan Shamir, "Mowing the Grass: Israel's Strategy for Protracted Intractable Conflict," Journal of Strategic Studies, Feb. 2014, pp. 65-90
[2] Yoni Ben-Menachem, "Egyptian President al-Sisi vs. Hamas," Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dec. 17, 2014.
[3] The Jerusalem Post, July 8, 2014.
[4] Palestinian Public Opinion Poll, no. 54, Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, Ramallah, Dec. 3-6, 2014.
[5] Special Gaza War Poll, Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, Ramallah, Aug. 26-30, 2014
[6] Mahmoud Abbas, speech to United Nations General Assembly, Palestine News and Information Agency, Ramallah, Sept. 26, 2014.
[7] Eytan Gilboa, "The United States and the Arab Spring," in Efraim Inbar, ed., The Arab Spring, Democracy and Security: Domestic and International Ramifications (London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 51-74.
[8] Daniel C. Kurtzer, "Can the Egyptian-American Relationship Be 'Reinvented?'" The American Interest, Apr. 8, 2014.
[9] The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 14, 2014.
[10] Author interview with senior Israeli official, Tel Aviv, Sept. 7, 2014.
[11] Jonathan Rynhold, The Arab-Israeli Conflict in American Political Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), chaps. 2-3; Dan Kurtzer and Scott Lasensky, Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 2008).
[12] Eugene Kontorovich, "Isolation and the Elections," Israel Hayom (Tel Aviv), Dec. 11, 2014; The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 18, 2014, Jan. 7, 2015.
[13] See, for example, The Telegraph (London), July 26, 2014.
[14] Haaretz (Tel Aviv), July 29, 2014.
[15] See, for example, The New York Times, Aug. 5, 2014.
[16] Moshe Yaalon, lecture, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Ramat Gan, Sept. 29, 2014.
[17] Israel Defense (Kfar Saba), Sept. 18, 2014.
[18] "Operation 'Protective Edge': A Detailed Summary of Events," International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Herzliya, July 12, 2014;The Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2014.
[20] Ehud Yaari, "Hamas Searches for a New Strategy," Policy Notes, no. 19, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Oct. 2014; Yoni Ben-Menachem, "Internal Hamas Debate about Rethinking Policies," Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Nov. 30, 2014.

Monday, March 23, 2015

American Jews are disappointed with Israel’s election? Tough luck

This happens every time the Israeli electorate decides to elect a government that is right of center.
It happens every time an Israeli Prime Minister does something that does not bode well with the political affiliations of American Jews.
When Ariel Sharon was elected in 2002, The Guardian reported that “Sharon divides world’s Jews”. When PM Ehud Olmert visited President Bush in the White House in 2006, the Jewish Forward editorialized that “for American Jews, this was one visit by an Israeli prime minister that drove home the distance between the two great Jewish communities, not their closeness”.
Today, the electoral victory of Binyamin Netanyahu is igniting headlines and editorials with the same tone. Jews dislike the fact that he was elected, and they dislike his statements and actions. Once again, talk of “distance” is the talk of the Jewish town.
It is all a waste of precious time, and contributes nothing to having a fruitful dialogue between Jews.
American Jews and Israeli Jews are indeed different in many things, political affiliation and beliefs included. Both communities will be better off if they understand that, and accept that.
It was condescending and foolish for Israeli Jews to be disappointed with the decision of American Jews to vote for Barack Obama - twice!
It is no less condescending and foolish for American Jews to be disappointed with the decision of Israeli Jews to vote for Binyamin Netanyahu – four times!
Take a look at some comments from and on the current state of bewilderment of American Jewry:
Thomas Friedman: “The biggest losers in all of this, besides all the Israelis who did not vote for Netanyahu, are American Jews and non-Jews who support Israel.”
Prof. Sam Heilman: “The results will only further the alienation of the majority of American Jewry from Israeli politics and values”.
Daniel Gordis: “That is going to make Israel an ever more complex cause for many American Jews”.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs: “the gap between Jews in the United States and Israel was ‘potentially widening’ and that it needed to be addressed with openness and transparency”.
Dana Milbank: “Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions on the eve of this week’s Israeli elections were so monstrous”.
You can find dozens of such responses from rabbis, activists, pundits, and just Jews. These are troubling responses, many of them hysterical in tone (Milbank), some vindictive (Beinart), quite a few rely on partial or unreliable information, some reflect the frustration of Israel’s leftists, the clear losers of the last round of elections. J Street – an organization that can only thrive if American Jews are frustrated with Israel – is having a conference this week, so we should expect many more such comments in the coming days.
The government is not yet formed, so there is reason to suspect that with every further move towards its formation another wave of sorrow will hit American shores (be warned: a Haredi Minister of Religious Affairs is coming. Be warned: a right winger is going to be Minister of Diaspora Affairs).
Many of the critics have been focusing on two miserable statements made by Netanyahu as they express their anger. As I already wrote more than once, I agree that both statements, the one about a Palestinian State and the one about the Arab Israelis, were unnecessary.
But I also wrote that these statements serve as an excuse – and are not the reason – for the Obama administration’s decision to reexamine its relations with Israel’s government. And the same is true for many, if not most, of the hordes of Jewish American critics.
American friends and critics, at least be sincere about this: You are not angry with two unfortunate statements – you are angry because Netanyahu managed to squeeze yet another electoral victory. You were angry with him before the election. You wanted him gone. And Israelis didn’t really care.
Some American Jews wrongly believe that they are helping the Israeli leftist camp by airing frustration and threatening to cut their ties to Israel; and some Israeli leftists rely on the support of American Jews without understanding that such support does not improve their political prospects within Israel. A couple of months ago I wrote an article in the New York Times about these faulty beliefs. It was headlined Who Killed the Israeli Left:
For many years, the “international community” was Israel’s left most significant ally. When Israelis were losing faith in the so-called peace process, a shrinking left found consolation in the continued support of liberal Europeans and Americans (Jewish Americans included).
And the less the left was able to convince fellow Israelis to adhere to its remedies, to free Palestinian prisoners or freeze settlements, the more it tended to find consolation in international support and to invite international intervention and pressure on Israel’s government.
And the more the left invited foreign pressure on Israel, the less legitimate its actions became in the eyes of non-leftist Israelis.
If American Jews want to have an impact and want to convince Israelis to do this or that, they can’t do it by demonstrating alienation. If Israeli leftists want to convince fellow Israelis to do this or that, they can’t do it by relying on Jews that demonstrate alienation.
Rob Eshman wrote last week about American Jews and Israel’s election. His main point, one that other writers did not bother to talk much about, was worthy: If American Jews were stunned, it is because they do not really know Israel (by the same token – many Israelis who live in a bubble were stunned by the outcome of these elections). They are mostly familiar with "Israeli artists and entrepreneurs and models and writers and actors – many if not most of whom are in the minority who voted for the losing teams".
Eshman's conclusion was an implicit threat of “distancing”:
Bibi tacked hard right to win the Israeli election. If he keeps sailing in that direction, he’ll leave American Jewry on a distant shore, waving goodbye.
I find this conclusion curious because Eshman rightly explained in the same article that:
The fact that Netanyahu garnered 29 mandates against his opponent’s 24 was as shocking to the majority of American Jews as the fact that  Jewish Americans voted overwhelmingly – twice – for Barack Obama is to most Israelis.
These two sentences do not contradict one another. But Eshman would have to admit that a third sentence, one that was not included in his article, also does not contradict them:
American Jews tacked hard left and helped Obama win the American election. If they keep sailing in that direction, they will leave Israeli Jewry on a distant shore, waving goodbye.
In other words: why blame Israel and its decisions for the phenomenon of “distancing” when it is no less the fault of American Jewry? Why presuppose that it is the Israeli voters that need to change their outlook to win favor with American Jews - and not conclude that it is American Jews that need to change their outlook to win favor with Israeli Jews?
The threat of “distancing from Israel” is based on two faulty pillars:
A. That politics is a main driver of connection and disconnection to Israel.
B. That Israel needs American Jews more than they need Israel.
If you accept these assumptions, you’d say that it is the Israeli voters that need to make sure that American Jews don’t view them with bewilderment (and even contempt). If you accept these assumptions, you’d say that Israel needs to change – not American Jewry.
I don’t accept these assumptions – because they are unproven and untrue.
Unproven – because, as we’ve seen in many studies in recent years, the political divide is not the main driver that determines the connection of Jews to Israel. Of course, this might change, but thus far it has not.
Untrue - because American Jews need the connection to Israel no less than Israel needs this connection.
So where does all this leave us? We have four options to consider:
A. Israel changes. But Israelis don’t seem to want that, as the latest elections clearly proved. Their reading of Israel’s reality is just different from that of American Jews.
B. American Jews change. But I don’t think this is likely to happen. They seem pretty confident that their outlook on the realities of the world is superior to that of others.
C. No one changes, and the communities risk drifting apart.
D. No one changes and the communities agree that they disagree on some things – such as the question if it is reasonable to establish a Palestinian State at this point in time – and find common language and common goals in other things.
If options A and B are unrealistic, and option C is bad for everybody – Israel and American Jewry – then only one option is available: Option D.
The stunning turnaround victory of Prime Minister Netanyahu made people highly elated or highly disappointed, it made them gloat and it made them mourn. It is normal for people – in Israel and in the US – to react in such a way to a stunning turnaround in the first days after an election. 
It is obvious that the disappointment is real, that the outrage is real. But when the dust settles, one would hope that everybody calms down. Netanyahu is not the devil (or a Dybbuk). Israelis are not that weird for electing him. Israel’s policies are not going to be much different tomorrow from what they are today – so there is no reason to raise the level of alarm above its pre-election level.
True, Israelis were not convinced that their problems will be solved if only Israel does what American Jews believe it should do. And that could be disappointing for Jewish Americans who love Israel and want it to change for the better. But deciding to quit the Jewish partnership and say goodbye is not really an option. Israel has no substitute for American Jews, and American Jews have no substitute for Israel.
Surely, to feel that you are stuck with someone with whom you so vehemently disagree can be a cause for frustration. Yet we are stuck together. Tough luck.

Phillip M Goldstein · Top CommenterWhy do people keep saying American Jews were disappointed by the election. The only ones upset where the whacked out self hating anti Semitic left wing Jews. who do not speak for all of us. In fact they are not even halachically Jewish. So what they say is of no significance other than using a Jewish name and embarrassing themselves and the rest of us. If they hate Israel in the Likud so much maybe they should shut there mouths. As my grandfather taught us con la boca cerada no entra mosquas which means with your mouth shut flies can not get in.

Howard Rutman · Top Commenter · Works at Self-EmployedPhillip You hit the nail on the head.. You are right on Cow towing to that Jew hater Obama. Why kiss his antisemetic ass. 
Here is an important speech on the Senate floor by senator Rubio. I wish every Jew could here this.. 
Very worth listening to. 

Andrew Silow-Carroll · Top Commenter · Teaneck, New JerseyRosner quotes Daniel Gordis: “That is going to make Israel an ever more complex cause for many American Jews”. I think Gordis was merely being descriptive. It's not just that American Jews are feeling "distant" from Israel, but the argument for Israel becomes harder to make outside of the hard right and evangelical circles already predisposed to support her. In terms of getting bipartisan support for Israel, it is important to its advocates that it appear as a country in line with core American values on both sides of the aisle. American Jews don't have to convince Israeli politicians that we are their allies. But Israelis need to cultivate support among American conservatives and liberals. So while it may be a two-way street, the destinations are a lot different.

Ltc Howard · Top Commenter · MIlirary Officer at Add High SchoolI urge you to review a lot of president Obama's personal history. Start with the farewell dinner to Rashid Khalidi http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/10/nation/na-obamamideast10 the tapes, which were audio, feature the toast repeatedly both in English and Arabic “death to Israel”. Whether the president heard them or whether he participated or not cannot be determined from the tapes unless they're subjected to sophisticated forensic evaluation… However, the accounts of the toast come from multiple sources, have never been denied, and have never been refuted by Pres. Obama and/or by his aides. During the 1st several years of the Obama administration Rashid Khalidi was the most frequent visitor to the White House.
Further look at the start of his career. Valerie Jarrett plays a key role. She hired Michelle Obama to the Chicago Housing Authority which she headed. She hired Michelle Obama as a vice president of the University of Chicago hospitals at $300,000 a year , when Jarrett headed the Board of Directors. She organized the 1st fundraising events for his run at state legislature. She is currently president Obama's chief political adviser and confidant within the White House. She has held back channel negotiations/communications with the Iranian ruling group for years. 
Merrill Anthony "Tony" McPeak , a retired Air Force Chief of Staff was vice-chairman of Pres. Obama's 1st campaign for president.McPeak, is noted for his anti-Israel views. 
Another advisor, Robert Malley, was in the employ of the Palestinians. He was forced to withdraw as a public advisor from Obama's campaign. The Obama staff when he was hired swore to the Jewish community (who had opposed his appointment) that Malley would not be allowed near the Israeli-Palestinian issue. In the last several days he has been promoted and given command position at the White House on that very issue. 
Research Zbigniew Brzezinski. He has been a longtime advisor of Pres. Obama. Their relation begin at Columbia in 1981. He advocated shooting down IDF aircraft if the IDF attempted to attack Iran.
Read the candid statements made by Ali Abunimah concerning the confidences they shared relating to Obama's opinions relating to Israel. Obama's remarks to him are very similar to the remarks directed to Putin that that an open mike revealed: I can't talk freely now… but when I have fewer constraints you know how I feel and how I will act.

Avi Goldstein · Top Commenter · Yeshiva UniversityAmerican Jews, who do don't face our challenges in Israel have NO right to ask us to endanger ourselves and support their insane liberal views. If they don't like our election results, that's just too bad. They are Jews in name only, having converted to liberalism a long time ago.

Marshall Fuss · Top Commenter · Los Angeles, CaliforniaMr. Rosner's opinion piece is a skillful attempt to reduce a profound moral, ethical, legal and strategic disagreement to an American temper tantrum. But it is so much more than that.

Steve Sebaoun ·
Follow · Top Commenter · Classified Information at ADSyou mean the same Americans Jews who didn't lift a finger during the Holocaust??

Jack Rabens · Niles North High SchoolI, for one, am an American Jew extremely happy with the election results, and know many other who feel the same.

Charles Richman ·  Top Commenter · University of Virginia
In the March 2015 elections Israeli citizens clearly recalled 2005 when Israel withdrew its military from Gaza and closed all 19 Jewish Gush Katif settlements. Israel relinquishing Gush Katif was an act of appeasement that ensured the terrorist organization, Hamas, would be elected to lead the people of Gaza. It was a costly decision based a fantasy that withdrawal would reduce the burden on the IDF forces in the region and an assumed saving of funds. It had an opposite effect, and led to the election of a viscous group of terror merchants, Hamas, that bombarded Israel with thousands of missiles, the loss of far too many lives, and an added financial burden on the economy of Israel. Let me emphasize: The Hamas Charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews worldwide; Hamas fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortars into Israel from 2007 thru 2014; Hamas has consistently violated cease fire and humanitarian agreements; Hamas used human shields (Hamas Combat Manual) causing death far too many civilians; Israel and Egypt placed a blockade into Gaza after thousands rockets were fired from Gaza and more than 35 terror tunnels were discovered where Hamas murderers were stocking and using weapons and explosives to kill Israeli civilians. Israel did not close roads into Gaza that provided humanitarian aid, food, and water, to ensure that the people of Gaza had electricity; and Hamas used civilian residences, schools, Mosques, and at least three UN facilities to launch rockets into Israel. Note that Al-Aqsa TV Hamas Television Network on, 1 August 2014 announced, "You received the death you wanted, we are not like the children of Israel, who strive to stay alive, we yearn for death and Martyrdom”. 
Israelis elected Benyamin Netanyahu to the Prime Minister leadership position for the fourth time because the citizens of Israel chose security and reality.The reality of the need to protect Israeli citizens and the reality that tragedies like what occurred in Ma’alot, Kiryat Shmona, the Fogels in Itamar, etc., and the security of the De-Fence, the security of an extremely well-equipped, well-trained, dedicated IDF, IAF, INF, Mossad, Yamas, Shin Bet, etc. over appeasement and the fantasy that you can make peace with a cobra. This is also why PM Netanyahu sent the clear message to Congress and the citizens of the United States regarding the necessity of ensuring that Iran does not have the capability of constructing nuclear warheads that they have threatened to use against Israel and the United States and to distribute to their terrorist allies.
Am Yisroel Chai,
Charles L. Richman, PhD

In the March 2015 elections Israeli citizens clearly recalled 2005 when Israel withdrew its military from Gaza and closed all 19 Jewish Gush Katif settlements. Israel relinquishing Gush Katif was an act of appeasement that ensured the terrorist organization, Hamas, would be elected to lead the people of Gaza. It was a costly decision based a fantasy that withdrawal would reduce the burden on the IDF forces in the region and an assumed saving of funds. It had an opposite effect, and led to the election of a viscous group of terror merchants, Hamas, that bombarded Israel with thousands of missiles, the loss of far too many lives, and an added financial burden on the economy of Israel. Let me emphasize: The Hamas Charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews worldwide; Hamas fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortars into Israel from 2007 thru 2014; Hamas has consistently violated cease fire and humanitarian agreements; Hamas used human shields (Hamas Combat Manual) causing death far too many civilians; Israel and Egypt placed a blockade into Gaza after thousands rockets were fired from Gaza and more than 35 terror tunnels were discovered where Hamas murderers were stocking and using weapons and explosives to kill Israeli civilians. Israel did not close roads into Gaza that provided humanitarian aid, food, and water, to ensure that the people of Gaza had electricity; and Hamas used civilian residences, schools, Mosques, and at least three UN facilities to launch rockets into Israel. Note that Al-Aqsa TV Hamas Television Network on, 1 August 2014 announced, "You received the death you wanted, we are not like the children of Israel, who strive to stay alive, we yearn for death and Martyrdom”. 
Israelis elected Benyamin Netanyahu to the Prime Minister leadership position for the fourth time because the citizens of Israel chose security and reality.The reality of the need to protect Israeli citizens and the reality that tragedies like what occurred in Ma’alot, Kiryat Shmona, the Fogels in Itamar, etc., and the security of the De-Fence, the security of an extremely well-equipped, well-trained, dedicated IDF, IAF, INF, Mossad, Yamas, Shin Bet, etc. over appeasement and the fantasy that you can make peace with a cobra. This is also why PM Netanyahu sent the clear message to Congress and the citizens of the United States regarding the necessity of ensuring that Iran does not have the capability of constructing nuclear warheads that they have threatened to use against Israel and the United States and to distribute to their terrorist allies.
Am Yisroel Chai,
Charles L. Richman, PhD

Howard Rutman · Top Commenter · Works at Self-EmployedEvery Jew needs to hear Senator Rubios address on the senate floor
"Obama's Historic Lack of Knowledge and Mistakes made Visa Vi Israel" 

Stuart J. WeissI was elated and relieved. And yet, it is up to the Israeli people, and not me on the US right or US Obama lovers on the left who get to choose Israel's leaders.
The people of Israel have spoken. Embrace it . . . Or at least get over it. They'll be safer than they'd ever be under Obama's chosen.

Morton Friedman · Top Commenter · George Washington UniversityI too was disappointed, I was hoping that Bibi would receive 50 mandates, and not require any coalition.
As for a two-state solution, Sharon tried that. Gaza was a beginning, and he even made it Judenrein, forcibly using the IDF. Gaza was left with a thriving infrastructure, and an economy that was growing. The arabs destroyed that infrastructure, and sibce Judenrein was not 'adequate', they even made it Christianrein and promulgated internecine violence between arabs. Gaza is a de facto 'Palestinian' state, it cannot even have peaceful relations with a neighboring Islamic state by its own choice.
If there is any doubt. I am NOT an Israeli, but its health and security is essential to jews everywhere in the world. Wish I could say the same for the jews living in the USA.