Caroline Glick brings us up to date on the citizen uprisings in Iran, the fear of a nuclear Iran in the Arab Gulf states and how Israel is girding for war.
Recently in Israel Category
It all boils down to bringing your kids up the right way.
The new Middle East axis of evil -- Iran/Turkey/Syria -- is ganging up on Israel. Having turned world opinion against Israel because it is being made to defend itself with physical force against would-be hostile invaders, the troika apparently believe the time to strike Israel has arrived. After several wars against Israel have resulted in ignominious defeat, these followers of Mohammed feel they are now ready to do what Mohammed says they should do -- kill all the Jews.
King Abdullah of Jordan predicts there will be war this summer. Summer begins this Monday.
NATO member Turkey going to war with Israel? The American people will stand with Israel, but who can count on Obama, who's been romancing his Muslim brethren since he entered the White House? Is he thinking how he can be a hero to his mentor for 20 years Rev. Jeremiah Wright if he sides with Turkey and Syria and, oh yes, Iran?
Obama is doing nothing about the greatest threat facing the Middle East and the United States -- Iran's nuclear weapons development. Iran already has the missiles. How soon will it have the nuclear warhead? Iran's Ahmadinejad has said Iran will wipe Israel off the map. Israel is right to consider Iran a threat to its very existence. One nuclear bomb could eliminate the country. The certaintly of a nuclear counterstrike might deter most, but fanatic Muslims seeking martyrdom aren't among them.
However, with Turkey alongside Iran, Syria ready to invade the Golan Heights and already supplying Hezbollah with long range missiles, and Hamas attacking from Gaza, perhaps no nuclear bomb is needed.
Israel can be isolated and alone if no word issues from the White House.
If the war breaks out, will Jordan and Egypt observe their peace agreements with Israel?
Remember, there is no concept of right and wrong in Islam. The model of Mohammed is the guide for every Muslim:
What would Mohammed do?
That's easy, since Mohammed did it: He signed a treaty, using the time of peace to build up his forces and when he was ready he broke the treaty and attacked.
So should Israel attack Iran's nuclear facilities now before its enemies get an equalizing nuclear capability and use its nuclear advantage to hold off Turkey and Syria (and Egypt and Jordan) if not Iran?
Caroline Glick urgently eyes the "approaching storm."
The threat to Israel from the followers of Mohammed is real. Iran, Syria and Turkey smell Jewish blood and they are seeking war. Turkey's prime minister Erdogan is demanding an Israeli apology and restitution, when it is Israel that should be demanding compensation from Turkey for encouraging the flotilla to invade Gaza by sea despite a blockade.
Iran has now announced it will be sending a terrorist flotilla to invade Gaza. So will Lebanon; although Hezbollah says it has nothing to do with the Lebanon flotilla, no one believes that. And Turkey's Erdogan says its navy may escort its second terrorist flotilla from Istanbul.
Though this Muslim squeeze on Israel with boats loaded with fanatics seeking to be martyrs should sicken the world, it won't.
Having succeeded in having their first Gaza flotilla aggression portrayed by the media as Muslim victimhood, the Islamists once again want confrontation in which Israelis must use force, preferably enough to create a few martyrs to be captured on camera.
The Israeli challenge is to tell the world what is really going on, what this Middle East axis of evil -- Iran, Syria and Turkey -- is up to. Their intent is to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews living there.
This is deadly serious stuff, but how does Israel break through the wall of anti-Semitic reporting that ttransmografies truth into lies?
Once again, Caroline Glick's colleagues try parody to describe the threat Israeli men, women and children face from Muslims determined to wipe them off the earth.
The perfidy of the Turks succeeded. Israel was condemned for defending itself against terrorists by the UN, the EU and all Muslim countries. Obama even supported a UN investigation, which will yield the usual anti-Israeli result. They could write the report before the "investigation."
How can you make the people of the world understand how the anit-Israeli forces in the world led by the media are feeding information upside down, inside out? Parody is one way and some Israelis, led by the brilliant Caroline Glick, quickly prepared the video below, which had been seen by more than three million people before YouTube took it down because of a bogus copyright violation protest, probably from a Muslim sympathizer. Have a few laughs as you appreciate the truth that's being conveyed.
Caroline Glick is brilliant again, as always.
America's exceptional ally
Sep. 11, 2009
Caroline Glick , THE JERUSALEM POST
There has been much talk in recent months about the prospect of Syria bolting the Iranian axis and becoming magically transformed into an ally of the West. Although Syria's President-for-life Bashar Assad's daily demonstrations of fealty to his murderous friends has exposed this talk as nothing more than fantasy, it continues to dominate the international discourse on Syria.
In the meantime, Syria's ongoing real transformation, from a more or less functioning state into an impoverished wasteland, has been ignored.
Today, the country faces the greatest economic catastrophe in its history. The crisis is causing massive malnutrition and displacement for hundreds of thousands of Syrians. These Syrians - some 250,000 mainly Kurdish farmers - have been forced off their farms over the past two years because their lands were reclaimed by the desert.
Today shantytowns have sprung up around major cities such as Damascus. They are filled with internally displaced refugees. Through a cataclysmic combination of irrational agricultural policies embraced by the Ba'athist Assad dynasty for the past 45 years that have eroded the soil, and massive digging of some 420,000 unauthorized wells that have dried out the groundwater aquifiers, Syria's regime has done everything in its power to dry up the country. The effects of these demented policies have been exacerbated in recent years by Turkey's diversion of Syria's main water source, the Euphrates River, through the construction of dams upstream, and by two years of unrelenting drought. Today, much of Syria's previously fertile farmland has become wasteland. Former farmers are now destitute day laborers with few prospects for economic recovery.
Imagine if in his country's moment of peril, instead of clinging to his alliance with Iran, Hizbullah, al-Qaida, and Hamas, Assad were to turn to Israel to help him out of this crisis?
Israel is a world leader in water desalination and recycling. The largest desalination plant in the world is located in Ashkelon. Israeli technology and engineers could help Syria rebuild its water supply.
Israel could also help Syria use whatever water it still has, or is able to produce through desalination and recycling more wisely through drip irrigation - which was invented in Israel. Israel today supplies 50 percent of the international market for drip irrigation. In places like Syria and southern Iraq that are now being dried out by the Turkish dams, irrigation is primitive - often involving nothing more than water trucks pumping water out of the Euphrates and driving it over to fields that are often less than a kilometer away.
Then there are Syria's dwindling oil reserves. No doubt, Israeli engineers and seismologists would be able to increase the efficiency and productivity of existing wells and so increase their output. It is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that Israeli scientists and engineers could even discover new, untapped oil reserves.
BUT, OF COURSE, Syria isn't interested in Israel's help. Syria wants to have its enemy and eat it too. As Assad has made clear repeatedly, what he wants is to receive the Golan Heights - and through it Israel's fresh water supply - for nothing. He wants Israel to surrender the Golan Heights, plus some Israeli land Syria illegally occupied from 1948 until1967, in exchange for a meaningless piece of paper.
In this demand, Assad is supported by none other than Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan, whose country is drying Syria out. It is Erdogan after all, who mediated talks aimed at convincing then-prime minister Ehud Olmert to give up the Golan Heights and it is Erdogan today who is encouraging the Obama administration to pressure Israel to surrender its water to Syria.
Beyond demanding that Israel give him the Golan Heights, Assad is happy associating with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hassan Nasrallah, Khaled Mashaal and various and sundry al-Qaida leaders who move freely through his territory. Hanging out with these murderers affords him the opportunity to feel like a real man - a master of the universe who can kill Israelis, Iraqis and Americans and terrorize the Lebanese into submission.
As for his problems at home, Assad imprisons any Syrian engineer with the temerity to point out that by exporting cotton Syria is effectively exporting water. Assad doesn't fear that his regime will collapse under the weight of five decades of Ba'athist economic imbecility. He is banking on the US and Europe saving him from the consequences of his own incompetence through economic handouts; by turning a blind eye to his continued economic exploitation of Lebanon; and perhaps by coercing Israel into surrendering the Golan Heights.
THE SAME, of course, can be said of the Palestinians. Actually, the case of the Palestinians is even more extraordinary. From 1967 through 1987 - when through their violent uprising they decided to cut their economy off from Israel's - Palestinian economic growth in Gaza, Judea and Samaria rose by double digits every year. Indeed, while linked to Israel's, the Palestinian economy was the fourth fastest growing economy in the world. But since 1994, when the PLO took over, although the Palestinians have become the largest per capita foreign aid recipients in recorded history, the Palestinian economy has contracted on a per capita basis.
The one sure-fire path to economic growth and prosperity is for the Palestinians to reintegrate their economy with Israel's. But to do this, they must first end their involvement in terrorism and open their economy to free market forces and the transparency and rule of law and protection for property rights that form the foundations of those forces. The very notion of doing so, however, is considered so radical that supposedly moderate, pro-peace and free market friendly Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad rejected the economic peace plan put forward by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu out of hand. After all, how can the Palestinians accept free market forces when it means that - horror of horrors - Jews might buy and sell land and other resources?
The Palestinians and the Syrians are not alone. From Egypt to Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and Indonesia, the Arab and Muslim world has preferred poverty and economic backwardness to the prosperity that would come from engaging Israel. They prefer their staunch rejection of Israel and hatred of Jews and the economic stagnation this involves to the prosperity and political freedom and stability that would come from an acceptance of Israel.
AS AMERICAN economic and technology guru George Gilder puts it in his new book The Israel Test, "The test of a culture is what it accomplishes in advancing the human cause - what it creates rather than what it claims."
Gilder's book is a unique and necessary contribution to the current international debate about the Middle East. Rather than concentrate solely on Arab claims from Israel as most writers do, Gilder turns his attention to what the nations of the region create. Specifically, he shows that only Israel creates wealth through creativity and innovation and that today Israel is contributing more to the human cause through its scientific, technological and financial advances than any other country in the world except the US.
The Israel Test describes in riveting detail both the massive contributions of mainly Diaspora Jews to the US victories in World War II and the Cold War and to the scientific revolutions of the 20th century that set the foundations for the computer age, and the massive contributions of Israeli Jews to the digital revolution that defines and shapes our economic realities today.
But before Gilder begins to describe these great Jewish contributions to the global economy and the general well-being of people around the world, he asserts that the future of the world will be determined by its treatment of Israel. As he puts it, "The central issue in international politics, dividing the world into two fractious armies, is the tiny state of Israel."
In his view, "Israel defines a line of demarcation," between those who pass and those who fail what he refers to as "the Israel test."
Gilder poses the test to his readers by asking them a few questions: "What is your attitude toward people who excel you in the creation of wealth or in other accomplishment? Do you aspire to their excellence, or do you seethe at it? Do you admire and celebrate exceptional achievement or do you impugn it and seek to tear it down?"
By his telling, the future of civilization will be determined by how the nations of the world - and particularly, how the American people - answer these questions.
Gilder's book is valuable on its own accord. I personally learned an enormous amount about Israel's pioneering role in the information economy. Beyond that, it provides a stunning rebuttal to the central arguments of the other major book that has been written about Israel and the Arabs in the US in recent years.
Steve Walt and John Mearshimer's The Israel Lobby has two central arguments. First, they argue that Israel has little value as an ally to the US. Second, they assert that given Israel's worthlessness to the US, the only reasonable explanation of why Americans overwhelmingly support Israel is that they have been manipulated by a conspiracy of Jewish organizations and Jewish-owned and controlled media and financial outlets. In their view, the nefarious Jewish-controlled forces have bamboozled the American people into believing that Israel is important to them and even a kindred nation to the US.
Gilder blows both arguments out of the water without even directly engaging them or noting Israel's singular contributions to US intelligence and military prowess. Instead, he demonstrates that Israel is an indispensable motor for the US economy, which in turn is the principal driver of US power globally. Much of Silicon Valley's economic prowess is founded on technologies made in Israel. Everything from the microchip to the cellphone has either been made in Israel or by Israelis in Silicon Valley.
It is Gilder's own admiration for Israel's exceptional achievements that puts paid Walt and Mearshimer's second argument. There is something distinctively American in his enthusiasm for Israel's innovative genius. From America's earliest beginnings, the American character has been imbued with an admiration for achievement. As a nation, Americans have always passed Gilder's Israel test.
Taken together with the other reasons for American support for Israel - particularly religious affinity for the people of the Bible - Gilder's book shows that the American and Israeli people are indeed natural friends and allies bound together by their exceptionalism that motivates them to strive for excellence and progress to the benefit of all mankind.
Today Americans commemorate the eighth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Those attacks were the greatest confrontation to date between American exceptionalism and Islamist nihilism. On this day, Gilder's book serves as a reminder of what makes the US and its exceptional ally Israel worth defending at all costs. The Israel Test also teaches us that so long as we keep faith with ourselves, we will not be alone in our fight against barbarism and hatred, and inevitably, we will emerge the victors in this bitter fight.
Congresssional Republicans and Democrats are showing strong support for Israel with visits to Israel this month. In stark contrast, the Obama administration is signalling it can "live with" a nuclear Iran despite the threat it poses to Israel, Arab states in the region and the world oil supply.
Obama has stacked his foreign policy clique with Arabists and long-time haters of Israel --Middle East "realists," they call themselves. Israel, they say, is a burden, not an asset and it should be left to fend for itself.
Caroline Glick recognizes the reality of Obama's preference for Muslims and the folly of his appeasement policies towards Iran, Syria, Russia and North Korea. It is up to Israel to defend itself from the existential threat that a nuclear Iran presents. With predictions from all sides converging that Iran is less than a year away from a nuclear war head for its existing long range missiles, the time for real "realism" has arrived, the time for talk has passed. With the anti-Israel stance of the Obama White House, Israel must go it alone without U.S. aid, cooperation or "permission." The priority must be to protect the people of Israel.
What will be achieved by a successful Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities?
[A] successful Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear installations will demonstrate to real rather than fake realists that a strong Israel is indispensable to regional stability and international security.
By freeing itself, the region and the world from the threat of a nuclear armed Iran, Israel will strike a blow not only at Iran's ability to wipe it off the map, but at the threefold contentions of the false realists.
An Israeli strike would prevent a regional nuclear arms race by freeing Arab states of the need to develop their own nuclear arsenals and so prove that a strong Israel enhances regional stability.
An Israeli strike will rebuild Israel's eroded deterrent posture and put paid to the notion that Israel is no longer a military power to be reckoned with.
And the destruction of Iran's nuclear capacity will weaken its military posture throughout the region and so weaken its terror proxies from Iraq to Lebanon to Gaza to Afghanistan.
The long history of U.S. support for Israel begun by President Harry S Truman will not end with the Obama administration. Congressional and public support for Israel in America remains strong and will survive this Obama betrayal.
Read Caroline Glick's Column One: Israel and the 'realists'
How is that President Obama gets so many things wrong? In just the past few weeks, he brushes over the evil legacy of Islam, he attacks the legitmacy and rights of Israel, he finds the revolution in Iran an irritation and now he condemns the constitutionality of Supreme Court-authorized proceedings in Hondurus. He's not stupid, he is ignorant and ill-informed, but maybe he's just opposed to American values.
A 'coup' in Honduras? Nonsense.
Don't believe the myth. The arrest of President Zelaya represents the triumph of the rule of law.
By Octavio Sánchez Christian Science Monitor July 3, 2009
Sometimes, the whole world prefers a lie to the truth. The White House, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and much of the media have condemned the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya this past weekend as a coup d'état.
That is nonsense.
In fact, what happened here is nothing short of the triumph of the rule of law.
To understand recent events, you have to know a bit about Honduras's constitutional history. In 1982, my country adopted a new Constitution that enabled our orderly return to democracy after years of military rule. After more than a dozen previous constitutions, the current Constitution, at 27 years old, has endured the longest.
It has endured because it responds and adapts to changing political conditions: Of its original 379 articles, seven have been completely or partially repealed, 18 have been interpreted, and 121 have been reformed.
It also includes seven articles that cannot be repealed or amended because they address issues that are critical for us. Those unchangeable articles include the form of government; the extent of our borders; the number of years of the presidential term; two prohibitions - one with respect to reelection of presidents, the other concerning eligibility for the presidency; and one article that penalizes the abrogation of the Constitution.
During these 27 years, Honduras has dealt with its problems within the rule of law. Every successful democratic country has lived through similar periods of trial and error until they were able to forge legal frameworks that adapt to their reality. France crafted more than a dozen constitutions between 1789 and the adoption of the current one in 1958. The US Constitution has been amended 27 times since 1789. And the British - pragmatic as they are - in 900 years have made so many changes that they have never bothered to compile their Constitution into a single body of law.
Under our Constitution, what happened in Honduras this past Sunday? Soldiers arrested and sent out of the country a Honduran citizen who, the day before, through his own actions had stripped himself of the presidency.
These are the facts: On June 26, President Zelaya issued a decree ordering all government employees to take part in the "Public Opinion Poll to convene a National Constitutional Assembly." In doing so, Zelaya triggered a constitutional provision that automatically removed him from office.
Constitutional assemblies are convened to write new constitutions. When Zelaya published that decree to initiate an "opinion poll" about the possibility of convening a national assembly, he contravened the unchangeable articles of the Constitution that deal with the prohibition of reelecting a president and of extending his term. His actions showed intent.
Our Constitution takes such intent seriously. According to Article 239: "No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform [emphasis added], as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years."
Notice that the article speaks about intent and that it also says "immediately" - as in "instant," as in "no trial required," as in "no impeachment needed."
Continuismo - the tendency of heads of state to extend their rule indefinitely - has been the lifeblood of Latin America's authoritarian tradition. The Constitution's provision of instant sanction might sound draconian, but every Latin American democrat knows how much of a threat to our fragile democracies continuismo presents. In Latin America, chiefs of state have often been above the law. The instant sanction of the supreme law has successfully prevented the possibility of a new Honduran continuismo.
The Supreme Court and the attorney general ordered Zelaya's arrest for disobeying several court orders compelling him to obey the Constitution. He was detained and taken to Costa Rica. Why? Congress needed time to convene and remove him from office. With him inside the country that would have been impossible. This decision was taken by the 123 (of the 128) members of Congress present that day.
Don't believe the coup myth. The Honduran military acted entirely within the bounds of the Constitution. The military gained nothing but the respect of the nation by its actions.
I am extremely proud of my compatriots. Finally, we have decided to stand up and become a country of laws, not men. From now on, here in Honduras, no one will be above the law.
--Octavio Sánchez, a lawyer, is a former presidential adviser (2002-05) and minister of culture (2005-06) of the Republic of Honduras.
Caroline Glick charges that Oama is driven by a "radical, anti-American ideology" that puts him on the side of "anti-American dictators" against America's allies.
She documents her charge with example after example of how Obama's "policy has either already failed - as it has in North Korea - or is in the process of failing."
So if Obama's foreign policy has already failed or is in the process of failing throughout the world, why is he refusing to reassess it? Why, with blood running through the streets of Iran, is he still interested in appeasing the mullahs? Why, with Venezuela threatening to invade Honduras for Zelaya, is he siding with Zelaya against Honduran democrats? Why, with the Palestinians refusing to accept the Jewish people's right to self-determination, is he seeking to expel some 500,000 Jews from their homes in the interest of appeasing the Palestinians? Why, with North Korea threatening to attack the US with ballistic missiles, is he refusing to order the USS John McCain to interdict the suspected North Korean missile ship it has been trailing for the past two weeks?
Her disturbing answer is "He is immune to reality."
Obama may succeed for a time in evading public scrutiny for his foreign-policy failures because the public will be too concerned with his domestic failures to notice them. But in the end, his slavish devotion to his radical ideological agenda will ensure that his failures reach a critical mass.
And then they will sink him.
Read it all.
Our World: Ideologue-in-chief
Jun. 29, 2009
THE JERUSALEM POST
For a brief moment it seemed that US President Barack Obama was moved by the recent events in Iran. On Friday, he issued his harshest statement yet on the mullocracy's barbaric clampdown against its brave citizens who dared to demand freedom in the aftermath of June 12's stolen presidential elections.
Speaking of the protesters Obama said, "Their bravery in the face of brutality is a testament to their enduring pursuit of justice. The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous. In spite of the government's efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it and we condemn it."
While some noted the oddity of Obama's attribution of the protesters' struggle to the "pursuit of justice," rather than the pursuit of freedom - which is what they are actually fighting for - most Iran watchers in Washington and beyond were satisfied with his statement.
Alas, it was a false alarm. On Sunday Obama dispatched his surrogates - presidential adviser David Axelrod and UN Ambassador Susan Rice - to the morning talk shows to make clear that he has not allowed mere events to influence his policies.
Why is Obama so opposed to a free and democratic Israel? He has had Israel in mind as he picked the foreign policy advisors who surround him. There is not an Israeli champion among them.
Is it his early exposure to Islam in Indonesia? Is it his being drenched in left-wing Marxism (which was anti-Semitic) during his Occidental and Columbia years and in the Jew-hatred of Jeremiah Wright for 20 years?
He clearly entered the White House with an agenda to give power to the forces that were dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
He courted the Jews in the election for their money and votes, but that romance is over, at least on his side. The not-yet-disillusioned American Jews cling on. They apparently care more about his anti-capitalism, "progressive, abortions-all the time-everywhere" policies than they do Israel.
It's time to fight back.
Obama tells Jews where they can live
Joseph Farah asks why U.S. supports creation of a new 'anti-Semitic hate state'
Posted: May 29, 2009
1:00 am Eastern
Barack Obama is taking what he and his administration refer to as "a more balanced approach to Middle East policy."
Let me explain what that literally means in real terms.
It means the U.S. government is now using its clout with Israel to insist Jews, not Israelis, mind you, but Jews, be disallowed from living in East Jerusalem and the historically Jewish lands of Judea and Samaria, often referred to as the West Bank.
I want you to try to imagine the outrage, the horror, the outcry, the clamoring, the gnashing of teeth that would ensue if Arabs or Muslims were told they could no longer live in certain parts of Israel - let alone their own country.
Almost all if not all of the observers who have spoken out about Obama's anti-Israel shift have been conservatives or other Republicans. This time the cogent articulation of Obama's betrayal of Israel comes from an editor at the quite left-wing New Republic.
Kirchick's description of Obama as campaigner and Obama as president is all too accurate. All those nice things he had to say about Israel during the campaign have been pushed aside in President Obama's haste to win friends in Muslim high places. Obama has been aided in the implementation of his anti-Israel policy by the many anti-Israel and anti-Jewish aides he has appointed to State Department, UN and National Security posts. Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is not in the pro-Israel camp: He was by President Clinton's side forcing Israeli Prime Minister Barak to offer Yasser Arafat virtually off the West Bank to make a deal; fortunately for Israel, Arafat refused the offer.
Obama must have stayed with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright for 20 years because he agreed with the hate he was spouting -- anti-white, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel. Now that he's in office he has an opportunity to act on that animus. It's not only America which has been bad and deserves to be punished, it's Israel, too.
Kirchick details the damage Obama is doing to the American public's perception of Israel.
The percentage of American voters who call themselves supporters of Israel has plummeted from 69% last September to 49% this month, according to the Israel Project. Meanwhile, only 6% of Jewish Israelis consider Obama to be "pro-Israel," a Jerusalem Post poll found, pointing to a disturbing gulf between the two nations. There are even signs of rising anti-Semitism, as a survey by Columbia and Stanford professors found that 32% of Democrats blamed Jews for the financial crisis.
Obama is turning America against Israel, for what exactly? The false hopes of improved relations with Arab nations and a nuclear-equipped Iran. That is not what he promised in his campaign, and neither a fair practice or a fair trade.
It's all worth reading.
ISRAEL BETRAYED By JAMES KIRCHICK New York Post June 20, 2009 --
When Barack Obama was running for president, he vigorously reassured voters of his firm commitment to America's special relationship with Israel. Indeed, he worked to beef up his pro-Israel bona fides long before he even announced his intention to run. In a 2006 speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Obama recounted a helicopter tour over the Israeli border with the West Bank. "I could truly see how close everything is and why peace through security is the only way for Israel," he said. In that same speech, Obama called the Jewish State "our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy." During the primary and general election campaigns, Obama dispatched a stream of high-profile Jewish supporters to canvas Florida, and in a 2008 AIPAC speech, he went so far as to declare that Jerusalem must remain the "undivided" capital of Israel.
For all the qualms that anti-Obama "smears" would depress support in the Jewish community, Jews rewarded Obama with nearly 80% of their votes, more than they gave John Kerry.
Just six months into the new administration, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that those who harbored suspicions about Obama's approach to the Middle East had good reason to be worried. A confluence of factors -- including his administration's undue pressure on Israel, a conciliatory approach to authoritarian Muslim regimes, and the baseless linkage of the failed "peace process" to the curtailment of the Iranian nuclear program -- point to what could become "the greatest disagreement between the two countries in the history of their relationship," as Middle East expert Robert Satloff recently told Newsweek.
This dramatic shift in American policy began several months ago when the administration signaled that it would make the cessation of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank the centerpiece of its policy to revamp the region. And that approach, mostly hinted at through anonymous leaks, became as good as official when Obama delivered his vaunted address to the Muslim world in Cairo earlier this month. In that speech, Israel (and, specifically, its policy of settlement construction) was the only state to merit specific criticism from the president of the United States. Among all the degradations and injustices in the Middle East, from the abhorrent treatment of women in nations like Saudi Arabia, to Syrian-backed assassinations of pro-sovereignty politicians in Lebanon, to the arrest and imprisonment of gay men in Egypt, the leader of the free world singled out America's one, reliable democratic ally in the region for rebuke.
Obama's strategic worldview assumes that once the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, other problems in the Middle East will be easier to fix, if not solve themselves. "We understand that Israel's preoccupation with Iran as an existential threat," National Security Advisor Jim Jones told George Stephanopoulos last month. "We agree with that. And by the same token, there are a lot of things that you can do to diminish that existential threat by working hard towards achieving a two-state solution."
By establishing this connection, the fate of the entire region thus hinges upon the resolution of a problem that hasn't had a solution for over six decades. This is an awfully convenient view for those who enjoy the status quo, which is why so many Arab despots cling to it, and it's discouraging to see the Obama administration joining them.
"Linkage" is faulty for two reasons. The first is intrinsic to the peace process itself, as it is going nowhere. And it will continue to go nowhere for at least as long as Hamas -- a terrorist organization constitutionally committed to the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews -- rules the Gaza Strip, which it has controlled since violently seizing power in the summer of 2007. But it's not just Hamas that remains hesitant to work with Israel. To see the continued intransigence of the Palestinians, witness their bizarre reactions to Benjamin Netanyahu's momentous speech last week, in which the Israeli Prime Minister, for the first time in his career, announced his support for the two-state solution so obsessively demanded by the international community. The Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt denounced Netanyahu's pledge as "nothing but a hoax." The PLO Executive Committee Secretary called Netanyahu a "liar and a crook" who is "looking for ploys to disrupt the peace endeavor." A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that, "The speech has destroyed all peace initiatives and [chances for] a solution." And these are the so-called "moderates."
The second reason why "linkage" is a faulty premise, and why the Obama administration is so foolish to pursue it, is that the problems of the Middle East are not inspired by the lack of a Palestinian state. The biggest crisis in the Middle East right now is Iran's mad quest for nuclear weapons. Nothing even comes close. Even the Arab states -- whose citizens, we are told, cannot rest due to Palestinian statelessness -- are letting the world know that their foremost concern is a revolutionary Islamic theocracy with nuclear weapons (As the dramatic and inspiring street protests in Tehran over the past week have amply demonstrated, what really rouses the Muslim "street" is the venality and cruelty of the region's authoritarian governments, not far-off Zionists reluctant to give Palestinians a state).
These regimes know that Iran, thus armed, will be able to act with far greater impunity that it already does, causing more trouble for coalition forces in Iraq, ordering its proxy armies of Hamas and Hezbollah to ramp up attacks on Israel and stir chaos in Lebanon, and support radical elements throughout the region. It would also set off a regional arms race, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt as the next likely proliferators. Yet the Obama administration does not seem to realize that stopping an Iranian nuclear bomb ought take precedence over the stalled "peace process."
In his otherwise admirable remarks about the significance of the Holocaust and the hatefulness of its denial in his Cairo speech, Obama did further damage by paying obeisance to the Arabs' false narrative about Israeli's creation. In neglecting to affirm the Jews' historic claim on the land of Israel, Obama confirmed the Arab belief that they are paying for the crimes of mid-twentieth century Europe. However awful the misfortune that befell them, Obama's narrative -- in the minds of his audience -- portrays the Jews, however awful their misfortune, as occupiers, not indigenous neighbors.
The Cairo speech provided Obama with an opportunity to call on the Muslim world to acknowledge that Jews are as much a part of the Middle East and its history as are Persians and Arabs, Sunnis and Shia, Druz and Christians. He failed in that task.
Unfortunately, the President seems to be paying no domestic political price for turning on Israel. Given the historic support that the American public has shown for the Jewish State, this is in and of itself a disturbing sign. But when an American administration's rhetoric and diplomacy render Israel the obstinate actor and portray its supposed recalcitrance as the main obstacle to peace, public opinion will follow.
The percentage of American voters who call themselves supporters of Israel has plummeted from 69% last September to 49% this month, according to the Israel Project. Meanwhile, only 6% of Jewish Israelis consider Obama to be "pro-Israel," a Jerusalem Post poll found, pointing to a disturbing gulf between the two nations. There are even signs of rising anti-Semitism, as a survey by Columbia and Stanford professors found that 32% of Democrats blamed Jews for the financial crisis.
Obama is turning America against Israel, for what exactly? The false hopes of improved relations with Arab nations and a nuclear-equipped Iran. That is not what he promised in his campaign, and neither a fair practice or a fair trade.
--James Kirchick is an assistant editor of The New Republic and a Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow.
Will Palestinians EVER be ready to have a sovereign state next to Israel? Is there something in their nature or nurture that makes it impossible? There are many examples why this seems to be the reality.
Generations of Islamic Palestinians as well as other Muslims have been taught from birth to hate Jews and to kill them if they have the opportunity.
Today Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank by radio and television demonize Jews and Israel. In Palestinian schools, beginning in kintergarten, children are taught to aspire to kill Jews (any Jews, including children) as a suicide "martyr" as their highest goal in life.
When Gaza was handed over to the Palestinian Authority there was a great opportunity to show the world Palestinians could establish a functioning society. They had a chance to start building an economy that would employ Palestinians. Instead, they immediately demonstrated how incapable they were of living side-by-side with Israel and how little they cared for building a self-sustaining community.
Gaza immediately became a launching pad for rockets targeting nearby Israeli villages.
As for their desire to build an economically self-sustaining community? The first few hours of Gazan independence showed there was none. Rather than accept the magnanimous multimillion dollar gift of American Jews that could have employed thousands of Palestinians in a profitable business, they chose to destroy it, so strong was their hatred of "the Jews."
As the Obama administration seems intent on playing out its fantasy about Palestinians being ready to be in charge of a state living peacefully alongside Israel, this reminder is timely.
The writer is a Holocaust concentration camp survivor.
Schadenfreude: An Interesting German Word that Fits the Writer's Feelings for the Palestinians (and Some Well-Meaning Jews)
by Si Frumkin, (Los Angeles) Jewish Observer, October 3-5, 2005
I am not a great fan of German achievement. I believe that a Lexus or a Cadillac is better than a BMW or Mercedes.
But I do acknowledge that Germans have a way with words. They created words that other languages simply do not have. Schadenfreude [schah-den-froy-day] is such a word.
In case you are not familiar with it, it takes seven English words to define it: "malicious satisfaction in the misfortunes of others." The dictionary also explains it with a quote from The New York Times about historian Peter Gay--who felt Schadenfreude as a Jewish child in Nazi-era Berlin, watching the Germans lose coveted gold medals in the 1936 Olympics; he said that it "can be one of the great joys of life."
All this is a prelude to inform you that I felt--and greatly enjoyed Schadenfreude recently.
A friend had recently come back from a trip to Russia.
He told us that he saw beautiful flowers at an expensive flower shop in Moscow and asked where these out-of-season flowers had come from. "Holland," he was told. "Most of our flowers come from Holland, but the Dutch buy a lot of them from Israel and resell them throughout Europe. We are lucky to get them. They are so beautiful."
Another friend spent a week in the French countryside where he enjoyed a wonderful tasty fruit, apparently some kind of a cross of a peach and a plum. He asked what it was and was told that it was imported from Israel, the only place where it was cultivated.
I am sure that at least some of the flowers, fruit and vegetables that cater to European sophisticates came from the more than 3000 Gaza greenhouses. They were all built on barren empty land by the Jews who, until a few years ago, employed over 12,000 Palestinians there. Since the start of the last Intifada and several terror attacks by the more demented employees, the number of Arabs working the greenhouses was drastically reduced, and they were replaced by Thais, Africans and Filipinos.
During the months of preparation for the Israeli withdrawal, there were many questions on what should be done with the green-houses. They were state-of-art agricultural marvels with their own sophisticated temperature and humidity control systems. They turned out millions of dollars worth of produce yearly and they were a source of employment for thousands of people in an area, where close to 40% were unemployed.
Should these marvelous structures be destroyed or moved or just abandoned? Then a wonderful and heartwarming solution was found. A small group of wealthy American Jews decided to buy the greenhouses from Israel and donate them to the Palestinian Authority. One of the donors was former World Bank president James Wolfensohn who put up $500,000 of his own money. All in all, $14 million was collected, the deal was done and an appreciative Palestinian spokesmen announced that the greenhouses would become the cornerstone of the future Palestinian economy.
So where is the Schadenfreude, you say? Happy ending for all, right? Palestinians get the greenhouses, Israelis get $14 million and the small group of admirable Jews in America get the warm feeling of having made the world a more tolerant and loving place where Arabs appreciate Jewish kindness and are less eager to murder Jews, right?
Well, no, not really!
Have you heard the old story about a scorpion that asked a fox to carry him across a river?
The fox refused: "You are a scorpion and you might sting me," he said. The scorpion scoffed. "Don't be ridiculous. Why would I sting you? We would both drown if I did that," he said.
The fox thought this made sense and told him to climb on his back. Halfway across the river the scorpion stung the fox. "Why did you do that? Now we'll both drown," cried the drowning fox.
"I know, my friend, but it is in my nature to sting" said the scorpion before dying.
And so it is in the nature of the Palestinian mentality: Just an hour or so after the Jews left Gaza, thousands of Palestinians swarmed into the empty settlements.
The Palestinian police stood and watched the mob demolish the abandoned synagogues and set them on fire. They also watched with interest as part of the crowd turned on the greenhouses, breaking windows, taking plates of glass, wiring, computer and electronic parts, irrigation pipes and timers.
It didn't take long and after a few hours or so the greenhouses that it had taken years to build were just so much junk.
And so I have Schadenfreude. The Palestinians will not export flowers to Holland or fruit to France. The greenhouses will not be rebuilt.
The Palestinian economy, such as it is, will continue to be mired in corruption, hatred and violence.
They will suffer--Schadenfreude--but still, they'll never admit that it was their own fault.
And I also have Schadenfreude towards the naive rich Jews who thought that the Arab reaction to their gift would be based on logic and not on inbred hatred. You silly people, didn't you learn yet that this is the Middle East where scorpions sting even if this means their own destruction? You lost $14 million and, you know, I am glad you did.
I only hope that Israel cashed the $14 million check before it was too late
President Obama has become the self-proclaimed apologist for Islam and is "either unable or unwilling to come to terms with the nature of the radical Islamic threat to America and the West." HIs Cairo speech was a collection of missstatements and half-truths that exaggerated if not falsified Islamic claims for academic progress and tolerance.
His actions with respect to Islamic terrorists are even more alarming: Bringing terrorists captured on the battlefield to New York for a court trial? Reading Miranda rights to Taliban mauraders rounded up in the Afghan mountains? Expressing a willingness to release Guantanomo detainees in the United States? Stacking his administration with Arabists and selling out Israel?
What is the extent of the danger in all this for Americans?
The Bush administration was justifiably taken to task for refusing to recognize or do anything about the nefarious role played by state sponsors of extremism such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the spread of radical Islam. President Obama has already gone beyond that, with a policy of pandering and appeasement. History teaches us that tolerating the intolerant and appeasing the unappeasable results in more conflict and bloodshed.
Read all of what Alex Alexiev has to say.
June 11, 2009, 4:00 a.m.
Obama's Fantasy Islam
Obama has seemingly chosen to act as an apologist for Islamism.
By Alex Alexiev of the Hudson Institute
With the media's rhapsodic paeans to President Obama's "historic" Cairo speech now receding into the background, this may be an opportune moment to take a sober look at America's policies vis-à-vis the Muslim world and, no less important, at where Islam itself may be heading.
It is now clear that the president is either unable or unwilling to come to terms with the nature of the radical Islamic threat to America and the West. To him, the problem is a few violent extremists, a "small but potent minority of Muslims," which leaves one wondering how a small minority got to be quite so potent. In any case, the West is dealing not with a few militants, or even with terrorism as such, but with a murderous, totalitarian doctrine couched in Islamic terms that has already become the dominant idiom in much of the Muslim world and its diaspora communities. Whether it is called "radical Islam," "Islamism," "Salafism," or "Islamofascism," it aims at nothing short of the conquest of the world for Islam, by violent means if need be. And not just any kind of Islam, but the most reactionary and intolerant interpretation of the Muslim faith.
It is an ideology that elevates violent jihad as a religious obligation for all Muslims, openly discriminates against non-Muslims and women, banishes democracy and secularism, and ordains the murder of apostates and homosexuals. This doctrine is preached today in tens of thousands of Salafi, Wahhabi, and Deobandi mosques and madrassas, and promoted by countless Islamist organizations, from the Muslim Brotherhood networks in America to the Taliban and its fellow jihadists in Pakistan. Extremism and terrorism are the results of this malignant phenomenon. The Taliban and al-Qaeda did not bring Pakistan to the edge of the precipice on their own; rather, 30 years of state-sponsored Islamization of Pakistani society made Islamism the threat it is.
While President Bush was also remiss in explaining to Americans that we're in a deadly conflict with a violent Islamist doctrine that has deep and spreading roots among a quarter of the human population -- rather than with terrorism, which is simply its symptom -- Obama has seemingly chosen to act as an apologist for this ideology. There is no other credible reason for a man with an army of experts, researchers, and fact-checkers at his disposal to utter so many half-truths and outright falsehoods about what Islam is and what it is not. These include his touting ostensible Islamic contributions to music (an art form prohibited among the devout) and printing (regarded by the mullahs as the devil's invention, and not available to Muslims until three centuries after Gutenberg), and his preposterous promotion of Saudi King Abdullah, ruler of the most religiously intolerant country on earth, as a champion of "interfaith dialogue."
More telling still are Obama's historically inaccurate portrayals of Muslims as being at "the forefront of innovation and education," and his blaming colonialism and the Cold War for their falling behind. In fact, Muslims have not been at the forefront of anything since ijtihad (reason) was declared un-Islamic ten centuries ago and replaced by blind obedience to reactionary sharia dogma, which, in turn, ushered in a cultural and intellectual stagnation that is yet to be overcome. Indeed, the greatest Muslim minds over the centuries, from Averoes and Avicenna to Noble Prize physicist Abdus Salam, have invariably been persecuted and declared apostates by the guardians of Islamic orthodoxy. While colonialism is a favorite Islamist whipping boy for all real or imagined ills visited upon the Muslims, it was the result, not the cause, of the inexorable decline of Islam as a world power and civilization that culminated in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. Nor should it be forgotten that throughout most of its history, Islam has been a premier imperialist and colonialist power itself.
Perhaps the greatest failure of the president's vaunted new approach to Islam is his reluctance to examine the profoundly oppressive and despotic nature of governance in most Arab and Muslim countries as one of the root causes of radical Islam. Worn-out clichés that Islam is "an important part of promoting peace" do little to explain to either Westerners or Muslims the nature of the conflict and how it affects their well-being. It is, of course, a well-known fact that radical Islam would have never reached critical mass without massive financial support and political sponsorship from states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, and Sudan. What's less well-known is that many Muslim regimes that are considered moderate, or even American allies, have also aided and abetted Islamic extremism.
Egypt, the recipient of billions of U.S. aid dollars, is a case in point. Faced with a virulent Islamist threat from the Muslim Brotherhood, Cairo's dictatorial rulers, from Sadat to Mubarak, sought to appease the Islamists by allowing them to play an ever-greater role in society. First Sadat promoted sharia as one of the sources of law and later proclaimed it the sole source of Egyptian legislation, providing the Islamists with a powerful weapon against their secular opponents. Mubarak then appointed the mullahs of Al-Azhar as the sole arbiters of what books should be published in or imported into Egypt. Predictably, anything that does not meet their medieval criteria is being censored, while books that discuss how many angels could be recruited for a war against Israel (120 million) are encouraged.
This is the same organization that, in President Obama's words, "paved the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment." The inevitable result of such policies is evident in the mufti of Egypt's open support for Hezbollah and Hamas, and in his Taliban-like fatwa that sculpture and sculptors are against Islam.
The inescapable reality is that the policies that have served the venal and corrupt Arab regimes well (by keeping their oppressed populations poor, uneducated, and ignorant) have served the violent religious obscurantism of the Islamists even better. Consider that not a single Western government had the courage to criticize the Organization of the Islamic Conference in 1990 when all 45 of its members voted for the "Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam," which, de facto and de jure, denied most internationally recognized human rights to Muslims by making all rights and freedoms in Muslim countries subject to sharia as their "sole source." To discuss our relations with the Muslim world in the abstract, as the Obama administration is now doing, without even mentioning the vast gulf separating most Muslim regimes from the rest of the world when it comes to the most basic aspects of modern civilization is disingenuous as well as futile.
The Bush administration was justifiably taken to task for refusing to recognize or do anything about the nefarious role played by state sponsors of extremism such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the spread of radical Islam. President Obama has already gone beyond that, with a policy of pandering and appeasement. History teaches us that tolerating the intolerant and appeasing the unappeasable results in more conflict and bloodshed.
-- Alex Alexiev is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.
Melanie Phillips is the author of the shocking story of Britain's indifference to and in some ways aid of the rise of radical Islam. "Londonistan" is must reading.
Phillips here does a careful review of the Obama Cairo speech and its carefully crafted anti-Semitic, pro-Muslim messages are revealed.
Obama in Cairo
Melanie PhillipsThursday, 4th June 2009
First, the good bits in Obama's speech in Cairo.
He told the Palestinians unequivocally that violence was wrong.
He said that there was an unbreakable bond between America and Israel.
He told the Arab states firmly:The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.
He condemned the persecution of non-Muslims in the Islamic world and urged equal rights for Muslim women.
He referred to Iran's role since 1979 in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians.
Now the bad bits - and they were really bad.
He revealed gross ignorance of the Jews' unique claim to the land of Israel. He said that America's unbreakable bond with Israel was based uponthe recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust...
The Jews' aspiration for their homeland does not derive from the Holocaust, nor their overall tragic history. It derives from Judaism itself, which is composed of the inseparable elements of the religion, the people and the land. Their unique claim upon the land rests upon the fact that the Jews are the only people for whom Israel was ever their nation, which it was for hundreds of years - centuries before the Arabs and Muslims came on the scene. As for antisemitism, he made no mention of the alliance between the Palestinians and the Nazis during the 1930s, and the fact that Nazi-style Jew-hatred continues to pour out of the Arab and Muslim world to this day.
Worse, Obama appeared to draw a subliminal equivalence between the Holocaust extermination camps and the Palestinian 'refugee' camps:Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed - more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.
On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.
And with this awful and revealing linkage, he duly segued seamlessly into the distorted Arab and Muslim narrative of Israel's history. It is not undeniable that the Palestinians 'have suffered in pursuit of a homeland' because it is untrue. The Palestinians have been offered a homeland repeatedly - in 1936, 1947, 2000 and last year. They have repeatedly turned it down. The Arabs could have created it between 1948 and 1967, when the West Bank and Gaza were occupied by Jordan and Egypt. They chose not to do so. They could have created it after 1967, when Israel offered the land to them in return for peace with Israel. They refused the offer. The Palestinians have suffered because they have tried for six decades to destroy the Jews' homeland.For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation.
The 'pain of dislocation' was caused by the fact that six decades ago they went to war against the newly recreated Israel to destroy it, and were subsequently deliberately kept in 'refugee' camps by the Arab world. What other aggressors in the world are described as suffering 'the pain of dislocation' caused by their own aggression -- which has continued for sixty years without remission and shows no sign of ending?Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.
There is one reason for that and one reason alone - the Palestinians have ensured that Israel has never lived in peace or security, because they have continued to attack it and murder its citizens. And Gaza? Doesn't Obama realise the Israelis no longer occupy Gaza? It is run by Hamas, which shows its commitment to the peace and security of its inhabitants by throwing them off the tops of tall buildings.So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.
And what about the intolerable situation of Israel, forced to live in a state of siege for sixty years because of the unending aggression of the Palestinians and the wider Arab and Muslim world? The Palestinians could have lived in peace and prosperity alongside Israel at any time since 1948. If they were to end their attempt to destroy Israel and accept instead the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state -- that crucial qualification Obama omitted to mention -- they could do so tomorrow. The only reason their position is intolerable is because they themselves have made it so. What other aggressors in the world have their situation described as 'intolerable'?Palestinians must abandon violence.
Good. But then:Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed.
'Resistance'? 'Resistance' is a term of moral approval. 'Resistance' describes a fight against injustice. But the Palestinians have been engaged in an attempt to wipe out Israel. Obama sees this as 'resistance' - even though he says violence is wrong. And then this:For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia.
So Obama has equated genocidal terrorism by the Palestinians with the civil rights movement in America and the true resistance against apartheid in South Africa. Thus the moral bankruptcy of the moral relativist.
Next, he repeated that the settlements (all of them? just new ones?) undermined peace and so had to stop. But they don't undermine peace. It is Arab rejectionism that prevents peace in the Middle East, and the settlements are a palpable excuse. Yet Obama delivered no ultimatum of any kind to Iran, the real threat to peace in the region and the world; indeed, he repeated that Iranshould have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,
an alarming indication that he might view as acceptable a formulation which might enable Iran to continue to make nuclear weapons under some kind of verbal and political camouflage.
For his egregious sanitising of Islam and its history, and his absurd claims about its contribution to western civilisation, read Robert Spencer here. But in this regard, one of Obama's references in particular made me catch my breath. It was this:The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.
This is boilerplate misrepresentation by Islamists and their apologists. The fact is that it is Judaism which teaches this as a cardinal precept. The Talmud states:Whoever destroys a single soul, he is guilty as though he had destroyed a complete world; and whoever preserves a single soul, it is as though he had preserved a whole world.
The Koran appropriated this precept - but altered it to mean something very different. Thus (verses 5:32-5:35):That was why we laid it down for the Israelites that whoever killed a human being, except as punishment for murder or other villainy in the land, shall be regarded as having killed all mankind; and that whoever saved a human life shall be regarded as having saved all mankind. Our apostles brought them veritable proofs: yet many among them, even after that, did prodigious evil in the land. Those that make war against God and His apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be slain or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land. (My emphasis)
In other words, this turns a Talmudic precept affirming the value of preserving human life into a prescription for violence and murder against Jews and 'unbelievers'. Yet Obama passed it off as evidence of the pacific nature of Islam.
So in conclusion, yes, there was some positive stuff in this speech - but it was outweighed by the United States President's shocking historical misrepresentations, gross ignorance, disgusting moral equivalence between aggressors and their victims, and disturbing sanitising of Islamist supremacism.
In short, deeply troubling.
Obama seeks to overturn years of American agreement that Israel has a right to exist and grow as any country does. This was most recently confirmed by a letter from President Bush in 2004 and a resolution of Congress.
Now, suddenly in a recent visit by Secretary of State Clinton and echoed by Obama at Cairo yesterday Israel is not to be permitted any growth of existing towns ringing Jerusalem in the West Bank to accommodate the birth of children.
Incredilby, Obama's imperial dictation to Israel comes in the midst of a speech in which he emphasized that the U.S. can dictate to no nation. Nonetheless, it is an order that cannot and will not stand.
June 5, 2009
The Settlements Myth
By Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post
WASHINGTON -- Obama the Humble declares there will be no more "dictating" to other countries. We should "forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions," he told the G-20 summit. In Middle East negotiations, he told al-Arabiya, America will henceforth "start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating."
An admirable sentiment. It applies to everyone -- Iran, Russia, Cuba, Syria, even Venezuela. Except Israel. Israel is ordered to freeze all settlement activity. As Secretary of State Clinton imperiously explained the diktat: "a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions."
What's the issue? No "natural growth" means strangling to death the thriving towns close to the 1949 armistice line, many of them suburbs of Jerusalem, that every negotiation over the past decade has envisioned Israel retaining. It means no increase in population. Which means no babies. Or if you have babies, no housing for them -- not even within the existing town boundaries. Which means for every child born, someone has to move out. No community can survive like that. The obvious objective is to undermine and destroy these towns -- even before negotiations.
To what end? Over the last decade, the U.S. government has understood that any final peace treaty would involve Israel retaining some of the close-in settlements -- and compensating the Palestinians accordingly with land from within Israel itself.
That was envisioned in the Clinton plan in the Camp David negotiations in 2000, and again at Taba in 2001. After all, why turn towns to rubble when, instead, Arabs and Jews can stay in their homes if the 1949 armistice line is shifted slightly into the Palestinian side to capture the major close-in Jewish settlements, and then shifted into Israeli territory to capture Israeli land to give to the Palestinians?
This idea is not only logical, not only accepted by both Democratic and Republican administrations for the last decade, but was agreed to in writing in the letters of understanding exchanged between Israel and the United States in 2004 -- and subsequently overwhelmingly endorsed by a concurrent resolution of Congress.
Yet the Obama State Department has repeatedly refused to endorse these agreements or even say it will honor them. This from a president who piously insists that all parties to the conflict honor previous obligations.
The entire "natural growth" issue is a concoction. It's farcical to suggest that the peace process is moribund because a teacher in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem is making an addition to her house to accommodate new grandchildren -- when Gaza is run by Hamas terrorists dedicated to permanent war with Israel and when Mahmoud Abbas, having turned down every one of Ehud Olmert's peace offers, brazenly declares that he is in a waiting mode -- waiting for Hamas to become moderate and for Israel to cave -- before he'll do anything to advance peace.
In his much-heralded "Muslim world" address in Cairo Thursday, Obama declared that the Palestinian people's "situation" is "intolerable." Indeed it is, the result of 60 years of Palestinian leadership that gave its people corruption, tyranny, religious intolerance and forced militarization; leadership that for three generations -- Haj Amin al-Husseini in 1947, Yasser Arafat in 2000, Abbas in December 2008 -- rejected every offer of independence and dignity, choosing destitution and despair rather than accept any settlement not accompanied by the extinction of Israel.
In the 16 years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders -- Fatah and Hamas alike -- built no schools, no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals, no institutions that would relieve their people's suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank accounts.
Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he uttered not a word of that. Instead, among all the bromides and lofty sentiments, he issued but one concrete declaration of new American policy: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," thus reinforcing the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the fault of Israel and the settlements.
Blaming Israel and picking a fight over "natural growth" may curry favor with the Muslim "street." But it will only induce the Arab states to do like Abbas: sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on a platter. Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but self-defeating.
As President Obama flies to Cairo to deliver a speech to the world's Muslims, the Director of Jihad Watch Robert Spencer suggests it is time to end the fantasies and speak clearly and honestly to all Muslims. Their goal of Islamic supremacism and world conquest must be put aside and they should take their place as equals with non-Muslims of the world.
Sadly, Obama may well fan the flames of hatred and division and convince Muslims at last they have have a friend against the Jews.
The speech is at 6:10 a.m. Thursday, June 4th, Eastern Daylight Time.
June 2, 2009
The Speech Obama Should [Have Given] Give in Cairo
By Robert Spencer
in the American Thinker
As Barack Obama prepares to give his long-anticipated major address to the Islamic world from Cairo, as a public service I here offer the speech he should give:
I have said that in this speech I would offer my personal commitment to engagement with the Islamic world, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. Establishing peace between the forces of the global jihad and America and her ally Israel is something that I would very much love to do. The first thing I must acknowledge, however, is that much as I would love to see this peace dawning over the world, it is not within my power to achieve this.
That may surprise many of you. You have grown accustomed to thinking that the tensions between Muslims and the United States - tensions that boiled over on September 11, 2001 and on the occasions of many other acts of jihad terrorism as well - are entirely the fault of the United States. Americans have been told that we are hated because of our support for Israel, and because of our attempts to bring freedom and stability to the overwhelmingly Muslim people of Iraq and Afghanistan. We are hated because we have spent American treasure to try to secure a better life for Muslims the world over, spending billions of dollars in aid for Egypt, Pakistan, and other Muslim countries.
I must speak honestly with you. It puzzles and pains Americans to see ourselves vilified and hated for trying to help others. Now, unlike the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Islamic entities, we seek no apologies, no restitution. We do not ask for a word of thanks for our numerous attempts to help Muslim societies become safe, prosperous places to live for all their citizens. We do not ask for your approval. But at this point we are going to cease efforts to build bridges of understanding with the Islamic world that have turned out to be fruitless, and even self-defeating.
We have showered billions on Pakistan to enable the Pakistani government to fight the Islamic jihadists, only to see a great deal of that money being funneled to those same jihadists, who are now stronger than ever.
We have tried to establish democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to see non-Muslim minorities treated worse than ever, such that they have been streaming out of Iraq in unprecedented numbers, while the few that remain in Afghanistan are subject to increasingly violent persecution.
We have brokered peace treaty after peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians - from Camp David to Oslo to the Road Map for Peace - only to see the Palestinian side again and again trample upon its commitments to recognize and respect Israel's basic right to exist.
I have offered you America's outstretched hand. In doing so I have followed a path blazed by my predecessors. But that gesture of conciliation has never been reciprocated. And so now, even as my good will is still extended to you, I must act more realistically.
Pakistan and other Muslim countries will not receive another penny of American aid unless and until they demonstrate - in a transparent and inspectable fashion - that they are working against, not abetting, the forces of the global jihad. This will include instituting comprehensive nationwide programs to teach against the jihad doctrine of Islamic supremacism, teaching that Muslims and non-Muslims must live together as equal citizens on an indefinite basis, without any attempts by Muslims to subjugate non-Muslims as inferiors under the rule of Islamic law.
I trust you will understand that we cannot continue to fund the cutting of our own throat.
Afghanistan and Iraq must immediately guarantee the equality of rights of women and non-Muslims, or American arms will no longer devote themselves to keeping regimes in power that do not guarantee those rights.
I will call upon Israel to make no further territorial concessions. The withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 demonstrated only that such concessions whet, rather than sate, the appetites of Islamic jihadists for more concessions. The assumption that territorial concessions will bring peace ignores not only recent history, but also the stated goal of the jihadist movements arrayed against Israel: the destruction of the Jewish state.
That state is an American ally - a more reliable one than any Islamic state has ever been. And we will do whatever is necessary to preserve and defend that ally.
Our hand is outstretched, but we are not unrealistic about the nature of the world. The animus between us is as much, if not more, the result of the doctrines of jihad and Islamic supremacism as it is a result of American policy. I am telling you today that we understand this, and will be acting accordingly. Ultimately a policy based on realism will be much better for both of us than policies based on the fantasies and half-truths that have hitherto prevailed.
Thank you, and may God bless you.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad.
Jerusalem, O Jerusalem. The eternal home of the Jews, which shall be defended at all costs.
The Ingeborg Rennert Foundation's Guardian of Zion Award has been awarded since 1997 to Elie Wiesel, Herman Wouk, A.M. Rosenthal, Sir Martin Gilbert, Charles Krauthammer, Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, and others. ReceIving the Award is a distinct honor; it is fitting for Ms. Caroline Glick to be in such illustrious and brilliant company.
Caroline Glick, a citizen of the United States and an adopted citizen of Israel, is the most perceptive and articulate analyst of Middle Eastern affairs anywhere in the world. She writes regularly for the Jerusalem Post, dividing her time between Israel and Washington, DC, where she is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy.
Caroline gave the following extraordinary address on her acceptance of the Ingeborg Rennert Foundation's 2009 Guardian of Zion Award in Jerusalem. Listen to the audio or read the text below. Better yet, listen to Caroline and read the text as she speaks.
Good evening. Members of Knesset, President Moshe Kaveh of Bar Ilan, Professor Benzion Netanyahu, former Guardian of Zion award winners Prof. Elie Wiesel and Arthur Cohn, and honored guests, thank you all for coming here today.
I would also like to thank some very important people who made a special trip to join me here this evening. Thank you to my parents, Sharon and Gerald Glick who came here from Chicago. Thank you to Frank Gaffney, the President of the Center for Security Policy in Washington and my dear colleague, and his wife Marisol for flying in from Washington to be here.
Thank you to Professor Avi Bell from Bar Ilan University Law School, my friend and intellectual sounding board for delaying your flight to New York where you'll be presenting a paper at a law conference tomorrow, to be here with me tonight.
Thank you to Prof. Joshua Schwartz from the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar Ilan and your staff for organizing this event.
And finally and most importantly, thank you Mr. and Mrs. Ira and Inga Rennert. Thank you for bringing my parents and the Gaffneys to Jerusalem for this event. Thank you for your extraordinary support for my work. And thank you for being such amazing Jews who give of yourselves everyday for Israel, for Jerusalem and for the Jewish people throughout the world. I am privileged to know you and we are blessed as a people to have you among our leading lights.
I take enormous satisfaction from receiving this award. For nearly as long as I can remember, the image of the watchman on the gates of Jerusalem has been the singular image of Jewish strength for me. It is has always been to the Jewish watchmen, ever vigilant, to whom we have owed our lives, and our survival as a people.
Today these watchmen preserve our freedom in our land. For fifty generations in exile, it was the memory of those Jewish Centurions, manning the barricades that inspired us to keep faith with our traditions, our God, our law, and our land.
I believe that it is an honor beyond measure that Bar Ilan University and the Rennert Center would deem it proper to cast me among the ranks of our greatest defenders and champions. I know I do not deserve this distinction. I certainly do not believe that I have earned it. But I do know that since childhood I have strived to emulate the image of the watchman - or watchwoman -- on the walls of Zion. And I pledge that I will continue throughout my life to strive to earn the distinction you bestow on me tonight.
THE WATCHMAN at the gates is a powerful image. But of course the defense of Jerusalem cannot begin at the gates. And guarding Jerusalem is not simply a matter of physical strength. It requires spiritual commitment and wisdom as well. Indeed, defenders of Zion require a greater mix of physical and spiritual strength than any defenders of any spot on earth.
Both our recent and ancient history as a people is one continuous testament to this truth.
And it is this aspect of Jerusalem - the eternal and temporal front line of the Jewish people - that I wish to discuss with you tonight.
If you drove to Jerusalem this evening from Tel Aviv, as the coastal plain suddenly ended 25 kilometers from the city at Shaar Haguy or Bab el Wahd, you reached the starting point of the siege of Jerusalem from 1947. It was from this gauntlet that the British-commanded Jordan Legion sought - with the help of the Arabs of Jerusalem and surrounding villages - to cut the Jews of the city off from the rest of the country and so to conquer the nascent Jewish state.
As you began ascending through the hills to Jerusalem you could see the remnants of some of the most fearsome and bloody battles of the war. They came in the form of the reverentially preserved hulks of armored personnel carriers used by Haganah and Palmach units sent in front of the Jordanian snipers in a continuous attempt to bring reinforcements and food to the besieged Jews of Jerusalem.
As the hills -- covered on both sides by JNF forests -- rose to meet you, you passed the Latrun fortress on your right. It was the British decision to transfer control over Latrun - with its command over the road below - to the Jordan Legion, that all but guaranteed the fall of Jerusalem by preventing reinforcements from aiding its undermanned defenders.
Wave after wave of Jewish soldiers threw themselves against the guns of the Jordan Legion in a desperate attempt to break its chokehold on Jerusalem.
If you came to this hotel from the center of town, you may have gone by Davidka Square. There you would have passed by one of the primitive mortars used by the Harel Brigade in the battle for Jerusalem.
The Davidka was grossly ineffective as a killing machine. But between its thunderous noise and the rumor mill, it proved an effective tool of psychological warfare against the enemy. Even more than in traditional conflicts, the psychological aspect of the War of Independence played a pivotal role in determining its outcome.
The Jews, who just three years before had been incinerated in European crematoria were an object of wonder no less than hatred for our enemies. Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, for many Arabs there was a sense that supernatural powers were at work as the new Jewish state rose from the ruins of Jerusalem.
For their part, schooled in the martial traditions of Joshua and Gideon, the Jews of 1948 blended seamlessly the psychological and the metaphysical with armor and steel.
The Davidka monument is just as much a reminder of what this uniquely Jewish military doctrine can achieve as the unwalled city of Jericho.
If you came this way from the Old City, you most likely walked through the Jewish Quarter. It was to the 1,700 Jews who lived there in 1948 and their 150 defenders that the eyes of the citizens of nascent Jewish state were turned. The future security of the country was dependent on their ability to withstand the Arab siege. They had to be assisted and they had to hold their ground if the war was to end in a resounding victory for the Jews.
Tragically, the spiritual strength that sustained us 61 years ago was not matched by sufficient physical strength to hold the city.
As Jerusalem commander Dov Yosef instructed the starving and desperate Jews within the walls about the nutritional benefits of various leaves that they could eat in the absence of food, and as wave after wave of Jewish fighters fell to their deaths on the roads ringing the city -- at Latrun, the Castel, Har Adar and Gush Etzion - in their bid to relieve the Jerusalemites -- the British-commanded Jordanians delighted in our suffering. Arab snipers picked off any Jew within range.
In the end, the Jews of the Old City held out for 6 months. Last week marked the 61st anniversary of the fall of Jerusalem on May 27, 1948. Of the Jewish Quarter's 150 defenders, only 43 survived until the Hurva synagogue was destroyed by the Jordan Legion. It was the destruction of the venerable old synagogue that finally forced the hands of the rabbis within the walls. After the Hurva was destroyed, the rabbis began negotiating the surrender of the Old City to the Arabs.
If you walked to the King David Hotel today from the Old City, and exited through the Jaffa Gate, you certainly took note of the gentrified neighborhood of Mamila. Today, as you walk through the new upscale shopping plaza, it is hard to believe, that from May 27, 1948 through June 7, 1967 Mamila was Israel's frontline. It was Sderot and Kiryat Shemona of its time.
The Jews of the neighborhood lived in constant fear of Jordanian snipers who took pot shots from the walls of the conquered city at the Jews down below. The buildings you passed were once surrounded by sandbags. The Jews who lived inside them would run, not walk across the street. Any hesitation could spell their death.
But then, on the third day of the Six Day War, their long nightmare ended. After 19 years, the IDF succeeded in liberating the capital city. Paratroopers from kibbutzim danced with yeshiva buchers as they stood in awe before the remnant of the Second Temple. In June 1967, the proper balance between our spiritual and physical defenses had finally been struck.
After 2000 years, we were again a free people.
EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO, on May 27, 1991, the 43rd anniversary of the fall of Jerusalem, and the 24th anniversary of its liberation, tens of thousands of Jews from Ethiopia were airlifted to the Jewish state. As then prime minister Yitzhak Shamir said, the Ethiopian aliyah marked the first time in history where Africans were liberated from slavery by being taken out of Africa.
The entire country celebrated the arrival of these Jews, who had maintained their allegiance to Zion for thousands of years often in complete isolation from the rest of the people of Israel.
The next day, May 28, 1991, I stepped off an El Al plane at Ben Gurion Airport, and before reaching the passport check, I walked up the stairs of the old terminal building to the Ministry of Absorption's offices and officially made aliyah. A friend picked me and my massive immigrant suitcases up and a few hours later, I began my new life in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem that greeted me 18 years ago was almost entirely free from fear. It was hard for me to imagine that the city had ever been endangered as I rode the buses, walked along the streets, sat in cafes, hiked in the forests, shopped in supermarkets and clothing stores.
As I moved without fear through Arab neighborhoods, and traversed the old and new city, it rarely occurred to me that I was walking on contested ground. The Palestinian uprising, which had begun in 1988 and had instigated a period of self-segregation and renewed hostility towards Israel among the city's Arab residents, had been defeated in the wake of the Gulf War.
But unbeknownst to me and to my fellow Jerusalemites, all of this was set to change just two years later. When, as part of the implementation of the Oslo peace process with the PLO, the government of Israel allowed for an Arab armed force to be deployed on the outskirts of the city, fear returned to Jerusalem.
Within just a few weeks of the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, Jerusalem again became the front line of the country as terrorists from Ramallah, Hebron, Beit Lehem and beyond converged on Jerusalem to terrorize its people in shooting attacks and suicide bombings. What the people of Sderot experience today was first suffered by residents of Gilo.
I moved away from Jerusalem at the end of 1991, after I joined the army. I returned to the city in 2002. By that time, the sense of safety I had felt here during my first months in the country had been obliterated. Every day brought a new atrocity or attempted atrocity. My own street became the scene of carnage as a bus was bombed just a half a block from my front door. My neighbors' mangled bodies were strewn before me as I ran out of my home with some vague notion that I could help someone.
While there was no hunger among the city's residents in 2002 as there had been during the siege in 1948, the chronic, continuous sense that at any moment you could be killed filled the air with similar dread and foreboding.
It was only after the government finally unleashed the Israel Defense Force in Judea and Samaria that a semblance of normality returned again to the city. It was only after Operation Defensive Shield returned our soldiers to the streets of Ramallah, Beit Lehem, Shehem, Jenin, Kalkilya and Hebron, and vastly curtailed the powers of the Palestinian armed forces, that we could feel safe going out to dinner and riding the bus again.
DURING THE YEARS THAT Jerusalem came under physical threat, it also became politically threatened. Israel's acquiescence to the PLO's military presence on the outskirts of the city began a process of unraveling Israel's own claim to the city. As Yassir Arafat ordered his forces to march on Jerusalem, and denied that the Jewish people have any rights to the city, successive Israeli governments found themselves on the diplomatic defensive.
Just as our leaders allowed Jerusalem's physical wellbeing to be threatened, so they enabled its political unity to come under assault. Rather than insist that the world recognize our sovereign rights to our capital, at best, our leaders spoke of the strategic importance of Jerusalem to our physical security.
The element of metaphysical power embodied by the tactically worthless Davidka was absent from discussions of how Israel needed Tzur Bahar and Jabel Mukaber to defend Armon HaNatziv or how our control over Shoefat and Beit Hanina is necessary to defend Ramot, Neve Yaakov and Pisgat Zeev.
Happily today Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat have abandoned this defensive posture and are waging strident campaigns against all who demand that we again surrender our eternal capital.
But for much of the past 15 years, the full expanse of Jewish history and identity was narrowed to a discussion of isolated neighborhoods, as if they were what this is all about.
Jerusalem's importance is far greater than the sum total of its neighborhoods. In ignoring this basic truth, our leaders did more to imperil the city's neighborhoods than legions of our enemies could hope to accomplish.
Even more devastating than what we said to the world is what we said to ourselves. For much of the past 15 years, our national leaders scornfully and contemptuously worked to limit our expectations and accused us of being greedy for assuming we had a right to our capital.
When did King David live in Abu Dis, they sneered. Why were we needlessly upsetting the Arabs by moving back to Ir David, they hissed. The underlying message was clear. We were provoking our enemies by asserting our rights, which we were told, were unimportant.
In general, since 1994, to greater and lesser degrees, our leaders abandoned Jerusalem as our metaphysical frontline and reduced the rationale of our control over our eternal capital to a security argument.
This argument is fine for as far is it goes. We explained - correctly - that without Israeli control over Jerusalem, the entire country would be under threat. And this is true. Indeed it has always been true.
Among other reasons, King David chose Jerusalem as his capital city because of its strategic importance. Were foreign forces to take control over Jerusalem and surrounding areas today, everything from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv to Beersheva to Tiberias would be placed under threat.
As Shaar Haguy in 1948 and Beit Jalla in 2000 showed, with foreign forces on the outskirts of the city, Jerusalem is cut off from the rest of the country. To secure the city is to secure the country. And to abandon the city - whether by surrendering control of the road to Tel Aviv or by relinquishing Judea and Samaria -- is to imperil the country.
Specifically, placing foreign forces in Jerusalem or on its doorstep would mean importing Gaza into the heart of the country.
Jerusalemites would find ourselves living in bomb shelters like our brothers and sisters in Sderot. Tel Aviv would find itself, like Ofakim, within range of enemy rockets. Terrorists with simple portable weapons could sit on the hills of Jerusalem and shoot down civilian jetliners landing at Ben Gurion airport. In wartime, terrorists with primitive artillery could shut down the country's vital traffic arteries, preventing reservists from reaching the fronts to defend the state.
Although inarguably accurate, Israel's security arguments for its sovereignty over Jerusalem have fallen on deaf ears. Neither the Americans - who demand that we cease asserting our sovereignty over eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem, not to mention Judea and Samaria -- nor the Arabs consider Jerusalem primarily a military issue.
The Americans prefer to ignore the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of the city's frontline status as they push for an Israeli retreat to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines. For them, the issue of Jerusalem is no more than a petty real estate squabble.
But our enemies know better. For them the question of who controls Jerusalem is rightly recognized as the core issue - as the issue upon which Israel rises or falls as a state and as a people. Earlier this month, this point was made clearly by one of Israel's sworn enemies.
In a television interview on May 7, the PLO's Ambassador to Lebanon Abbas Zaki explained that from the PLO to the Iranian mullahs, Jerusalem is seen as the metaphysical key to Israel's wellbeing. As he put it,
"With the [implementation of the] two-state solution, [involving an Israeli relinquishment of Jerusalem], in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made - just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward."
As a wayward Jew once said, "The truth will set you free."
We owe the likes of Zaki -- and the Iranians who call their most prestigious terrorist unit the Jerusalem Brigade - a big thank you for reminding us of who we are and what we need to survive. For even as our leaders tried to forget what we as a people have always known, our history - both ancient and modern - is testament to the truth of Zaki's statement.
WE MARK THE END of Jewish control over the Land of Israel as having occurred not with the Roman invasion in 63 BCE, nor from the defeat of Bar Kochba's rebellion 182 years later in 135. We mark the hurban, the destruction of our sovereignty as having occurred with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
And why is this the case? It is because people do not fight for strategically significant hilltops. They fight for ideas like freedom. They fight for symbols, for abstractions like flags. They fight for their beliefs. They fight for their way of life.
They do not fight for strategic advantage.
We Jews know this better than any other people. We were the first people to self-consciously define ourselves at Mt. Sinai as a nation committed to an abstract principle of an invisible God, an abstract code of law, and an abstract, yet-to-be-seen promised land.
Josef Trumpeldor is not remembered as a great hero for having said, "It is good to die for strategically significant hilltops," - although that is what he died defending.
Trumpeldor is remembered as a great hero for declaring, "It is good to die for our country."
Even further back, we remember that the only reason the Kingdom of Judea did not suffer the same fate as the Kingdom of Israel in the end of the 8th century BCE is because as the ten tribes of Israel were expelled into oblivion, King Hezkiyahu saved Jerusalem from the Assyrians.
Due to his failed attempt to purge Judea of Assyrian influence, Hezkiyahu lost Lachish and Gat and dozens of other cities and villages and was forced to fall back on Jerusalem. There, against all odds, Hezkiyahu kept Jerusalem free. He breached the Assyrian siege by digging his famous water tunnel under the city.
Assyrian King Sennacherib, who destroyed the Kingdom of Israel and deported the ten tribes, went home empty-handed. His conquest of all the other cities and villages meant little without Jerusalem. By saving Jerusalem, Hezkiyahu saved Jewish independence and through it, he saved the Jewish people.
As Isaiah had promised in Chapter 37, verses 32-35:
לב כִּי מִירוּשָׁלִַם תֵּצֵא שְׁאֵרִית, וּפְלֵיטָה מֵהַר צִיּוֹן; קִנְאַת יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, תַּעֲשֶׂה-זֹּאת. לג לָכֵן, כֹּה-אָמַר יְהוָה אֶל-מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר, לֹא יָבוֹא אֶל-הָעִיר הַזֹּאת, וְלֹא-יוֹרֶה שָׁם חֵץ; וְלֹא-יְקַדְּמֶנָּה מָגֵן, וְלֹא-יִשְׁפֹּךְ עָלֶיהָ סֹלְלָה. לד בַּדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר-בָּא, בָּהּ יָשׁוּב; וְאֶל-הָעִיר הַזֹּאת לֹא יָבוֹא, נְאֻם-יְהוָה. לה וְגַנּוֹתִי עַל-הָעִיר הַזֹּאת, לְהוֹשִׁיעָהּ--לְמַעֲנִי, וּלְמַעַן דָּוִד עַבְדִּי.
"From Jerusalem and Mt. Zion the people will be renewed. And so God said to the King of Assyria, you will not enter this city, you will not shoot your arrows upon it, you will not breach its defenses, your cannons will not reach it. You will go back the way you came. You will not enter this city, God decreed. I defended this city to save it for me and for David my servant."
Our history as a people - both ancient and modern - has always been tied to Jerusalem. On Hanukah we remember the Maccabean revolt in a very telling way. The Maccabees began their revolt against the Greeks in 167 BCE. The fighting lasted for 23 years until Jonathan was crowned king.
But we remember the revolt for an event that occurred two years into the fighting. We celebrate the revolt not because it established the Maccabean dynasty. We celebrate it because in 165, Judah Maccabi liberated the Temple and so reinstated our sovereignty as a nation and our hope for national renewal. Again - from Jerusalem and Mt. Zion, the people were renewed.
Just as Zaki, Arafat, Nasrallah, and Ahmadinejad remind us every day, from the outset of our nationhood here in Israel four thousand years ago, throughout the centuries of our dispersion and to this day, our fate as a nation - both physically and spiritually - has always been tied directly to our control, or lack of control over Jerusalem. Jerusalem has always been our front line both physically and spiritually.
Rabbi Akiva knew, as he gazed at the destroyed Temple from Mt. Scopus that one day our control over the city would be restored and so our national wellbeing would be renewed. This is why he laughed as he watched foxes entering and exiting the Holiest of Holies.
Perhaps if he had known then that it would take nearly 2,000 years for that to happen, he would have joined his colleagues in their tears instead of shocking them with his laughter and gaiety.
But still, today we know that Rabbi Akiva was right. Our return to Jerusalem did presage our national rebirth with the renewal of our sovereignty in 1948 and 1967.
The modern Zionist movement, which officially began with Hovevei Tzion in 1882, came after the Jewish repopulation of Jerusalem. By 1850, Jews again comprised the majority of the city's population. And it was our strong presence here that emboldened the early Zionists to believe that a mass return to Zion was finally possible. It was because we had returned again to Jerusalem that our hope and so our strength were finally renewed after 2000 years of stateless wandering and persecution.
LET US RETURN for a moment to 1967. There were many glorious events that occurred during those six days in June. I said before that it was only in 1967 that we wrought the proper balance between physical and spiritual strength. I would like to consider that statement at somewhat greater length.
In June 1967, Israel was transformed from a threatened, vulnerable Jewish statelet into a mighty state to be reckoned with. But who celebrated -- then or since -- the conquest of Gaza and Kalkilyah? Who remembers the great battles in the Sinai or even the Golan Heights?
The images of that war that have entered our collective consciousness - never to leave - are the images of our paratroopers on the Temple Mount, of Mota Gur crying "Har Habayit b'Yadeinu!" "the Temple Mount is in our hands!," of our young soldiers praying at the Western Wall.
The convergence of Jerusalem as our frontline of physical security and spiritual security was palpable in those days.
IN HONOR of Yom Yerushalayim this month, a documentary was aired on Israel Television about the signals battalion in the Paratroopers Brigade. The battalion played a major role in the fighting - first taking over the Rockefeller Museum, then the Temple Mount, then the Kotel, then the walls of the city.
In the documentary, the heroes who liberated Jerusalem were brought together forty years later to celebrate its renewal and to recall their fight. They told a stunning story.
After the city was liberated, they situated themselves in the abandoned Jordanian police station just inside the Jaffa Gate. The same station now houses the Israel police. In one of the rooms, they found a large quantity of musical instruments. Apparently, the Jordanian police band was stationed at the site and stored its instruments there.
The men took one of the drums and climbed up the walls of the Old City overlooking Mamila. There the Jews had been huddled beneath the streets in their bomb shelters for several weeks.
As they ascended the walls, the paratroopers began pounding the drum. It must have been a terrifically strange noise since they all claimed to have had no idea how to play the drums.
As the men told it, and as a woman who had been hiding in the shelters with her family recalled, the civilians became perplexed at the new sound that replaced the familiar staccato pop of gun bursts and cannon fire. Slowly, they began emerging from the shelters to find out what was happening.
There above them, they saw the flag of Israel flying. They saw Jewish watchmen on the walls, beating the drums of victory in a half-mad boom, boom, boom.
And at the site of the Guardians of Jerusalem above them, the Jews of Mamila began to dance as in times of old. They danced and danced, and walked to the walls, first tentatively, and then with a massive convulsion of joy and relief, of hope and ecstasy as for the first time in 2000 years the city was secured. The Jews were free of fear as we returned to the Temple Mount, to Mt. Zion, to Jerusalem from whence our strength was renewed.
Our enemies are right in choosing their targets. They are right because they know who we are. We are the children of Jerusalem, of Zion. Our physical and spiritual survival is dependent on our willingness to dedicate our lives in every generation to guarding both the physical and spiritual walls of this city. It is only by guarding Zion, that we guard its people.
I am humbled and honored beyond words to have been chosen from among so many of my fellow Jews for this singular honor of being named a Guardian of Zion. For me, more than anything, what this means, is that people I respect for their defense of our people accept me as a loyal daughter of this eternal city.
It is all I have ever wished to be.
It is all I wish for my children to become.
And with God's help, it is something I will be blessed to remain all the days of my life.
Thank you. God bless the people of Israel and our eternal capital city.
Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School is as far left as a rational Democrat (there are some) can be, but on national security he usually is sensible.
On matters related to Israel, he is (as are we) an outspoken champion of the astonishingly successful society Jews have built in the economic and intellectual wasteland that has been much of the Middle East for centuries. Despite more than 60 years of hate, isolation, wars and terror directed at Israel by neighboring Muslim states, Israel has become a world leader in education, innovation, the rule of law and, necessarily, defense.
The unwavering support provided to Israel by the United States that began with Democratic president Harry S Truman is now in jeopardy. President Obama, with his breathtaking ignorance of history and his imperial narcissism, apparently believes on every complex issue his soaring rhetoric and vast but uninformed intelligence can produce a solution that no one but he can achieve. His views of Islam today, derived from his childhood years in Indonesia, are either romantic, naive or worse, reflective of the hatred of Jews and America learned at the Jakata mosques he attended. He is demonstrating daily how dangerous he is to America and the world with his unconstrained ego, ignorance, naivete and attachment to Islam.
Evidence of his indifference to the fate of Israel was apparent during the presidential campaign. MIddle East political analyst Caroline Glick warned America Jews frequently that Obama was no friend of Israel . Yet American Jews overwhelmingly voted for him, including Alan Dershowitz.
What Caroline Glick saw so clearly then, Dershowitz sees now. Finally, he is speaking out on the wrong-headed approach Obama is taking on Iran and Israel, egged on by the many anti-Semites he has appointed to high positions in his administration. To Obama, the supreme achievement will be to bring Islamic Iran and America together and, if the destruction of Israel is the price to be paid, it is of no concern to him.
So Dershowitz is speaking out. Will other American Jews do the same? Will formerly stalwart Democratic defenders of Israel in Congress protest what Obama is doing? So far,the answer to both questions is "NO." Perhaps American Jews silently hope Obama will on his own change his mind. Democrats in Congress fear to cross their still popular president and with a choice on Israel's very existence to make they go along with Obama, fearing their political exile.
The emperor stands naked and erstwhile Democratic Israeli supporters stand mute as the genocidal risk to Israel abetted by their president grows.
Israel must and will stand firm to protect its citizens. It is madness that Obama's senselessness leaves Israel alone to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran from terrorizing the world. But, with Obama unhinged from any sense of responsibility for the people of Israel and his ignorance or indifference to the danger Iran presents to America, it appears the Israelis' fate depends solely on them.
Dershowitz: Obama Has Iran Linkage Backwards
by Hillel Fendel
May 31, 2009
(IsraelNN.com) Prominent Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz - who endorsed Barack Obama for U.S. President last year, partially because of his support for Israel - now says Obama's policies are dangerous for Israel. His opinions appear in a recent Jerusalem Post blog as well as in an article for the New York Post.
In his blog published last week, Dershowitz wrote that while Obama feels a "two-state solution" paves the way towards dealing with Iran, the opposite is actually true, and that strong American action towards Iran is a prerequisite for Israel to make major concessions to the Palestinian Authority.
"President Obama sees 'a linkage' between Israel ending the settlements and the United States trying to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons," Dershowitz wrote. "Following the Oval Office meeting [with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ed.], he insisted that peace between Israel and the Palestinians 'strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with a potential Iranian threat.' With due respect to the man who I supported for President, he has it exactly backwards. If there is to be any linkage - and I do not believe there should be - it goes the other way: it will be much easier for Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank if Iran does not have a nuclear umbrella under which it can continue to encourage Hamas and Hizbullah to fire rockets at Israeli civilians."
Shortly before last year's U.S. presidential election, Dershowitz expressed his support for Obama, writing, "I think that on the important issues relating to Israel, both Senator McCain and Senator Obama score very high. During the debates each candidate has gone out of his and her way to emphasize strong support for Israel as an American ally and a bastion of democracy in a dangerous neighborhood."
Far Easier to Make Peace Without Nuclear Threat
Earlier this month, Dershowitz wrote an article in the New York Post entitled, "Why the Obama Administration Has the Iran Problem Backwards." Dershowitz wrote, "It will be far easier for Israel to make peace with the Palestinians if it did not have to worry about the threat of a nuclear attack or a dirty bomb. It will also be easier for Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank if Iran were not arming and inciting Hamas, Hizbullah and other enemies of Israel to terrorize Israel with rockets and suicide bombers."
Dershowitz concluded that article, "Making peace with the Palestinians will be extremely complicated... It may or may not succeed in the end, depending on whether the Palestinians will continue to want their own state less than they want to see the end of the Jewish State. Israel should not be held hostage to the Iranian nuclear threat by the difficulty of making peace with the Palestinians... There are other ways of encouraging Israel to make peace with the Palestinians. Nuclear blackmail is not one of them."
'Iran Must be Defanged'
"In order for Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank, Iran must be defanged. No Israeli prime minister can repeat the mistake that Ariel Sharon made when - in good faith - he unilaterally evacuated the Gaza Strip. Instead of land for peace, what the Israelis got was land for rocket launchings, which continue to this day... The difference is that an unoccupied West Bank would put Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ben Gurion Airport well within range of rockets supplied by Iran to Hamas and other terrorist groups.
"That is why the Middle East peace process has become so intractable. President Obama seems unwilling to guarantee Israel that Iran will not be permitted to develop nuclear weapons...
"So the ball is very much in Barack Obama's court; unless he can provide Israel a guarantee that they will never face a nuclear Iran, all that Israel will be able to do is end some illegal settlements, avoid any expansion of existing settlements and generally take some cosmetic steps..."
How can Prime Mnister Netanyahu prevent Obama from destroying Israel and keeping Iran front and center as the most dangerous threat to peace in the Middle East? By rolling out his own peace plan. The Middle East's most brilliant political analyst Caroline Glick explains.
May. 21, 2009
Caroline Glick , THE JERUSALEM POST
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday was a baptism of fire for the new premier. What emerged from the meeting is that Obama's priorities regarding Iran, Israel and the Arab world are diametrically opposed to Israel's priorities.
During his ad hoc press conference with Netanyahu, Obama made clear that he will not lift a finger to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And acting as Obama's surrogate, for the past two weeks CIA Director Leon Panetta has made clear that Obama expects Israel to also sit on its thumbs as Iran develops the means to destroy it.
Obama showed his hand on Iran in three ways. First, he set a nonbinding timetable of seven months for his policy of appeasement and engagement of the ayatollahs to work. That policy, he explained, will only be implemented after next month's Iranian presidential elections. And those direct US-Iranian talks must be given at least six months to show results before they can be assessed as successful or failed.
But Israel's Military Intelligence has assessed that six months may be too long to wait. By the end of the year, Iran's nuclear program may be unstoppable. And Iran's successful test of its solid fuel Sejil-2 missile with a 2,000 kilometer range on Wednesday merely served to show the urgency of the situation. Obviously the mullahs are not waiting for Obama to convince them of the error of their ways.
Beyond the fact that Obama's nonbinding timeline is too long, there is his "or else." Obama made clear that in the event that in December or January he concludes that the Iranians are not negotiating in good faith, the most radical step he will be willing to take will be to consider escalating international sanctions against Teheran. In the meantime, at his urging, Congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the House International Affairs Committee, has set aside a bill requiring sanctions against oil companies that export refined fuel into Iran.
Finally there was Obama's contention that the best way for the US to convince Iran to give up its nuclear program is by convincing Israel to give away more land to the Palestinians. As Obama put it, "To the extent that we can make peace with the Palestinians, between the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I actually think it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with a potential Iranian threat." This statement encapsulates the basic lack of seriousness and fundamental mendacity of Obama's approach to "dealing with a potential Iranian threat."
Iran has made clear that it wants Israel destroyed. The mullahs don't care how big Israel is. Their missiles are pointing at Tel Aviv, not Beit El. As for the international community, the Russians and Chinese have not been assisting Iran's nuclear and missile programs for the past 15 years because there is no Palestinian state. They have been assisting Iran because they think a strong Iran weakens the US. And they are right.
The Arab states, for their part, are already openly siding with Israel against Iran. The establishment of a Palestinian state will not make their support for action to prevent Iran from acquiring the means to dominate the region any more profound.
On the face of it, Obama's obsessive push for a Palestinian state makes little sense. The Palestinians are hopelessly divided. It is not simply that Hamas rules the Gaza Strip and Fatah controls Judea and Samaria. Fatah itself is riven by division. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's appointment of the new PA government under Salaam Fayad was overwhelmingly rejected by Fatah leaders. Quite simply, there is no coherent Palestinian leadership that is either willing or capable of reaching an accord with Israel.
As for the prospects for peace itself, given that there is little distinction between the anti-Semitic bilge broadcast daily in Gaza by Hamas-controlled media, and the anti-Semitic bilge broadcast daily in Judea and Samaria by the Fatah/Abbas/Fayad-controlled media, those prospects aren't looking particularly attractive. That across-the-board anti-Semitic incitement has engendered the current situation where Hamas and Fatah members and supporters are firmly united in their desire to see Israel destroyed. This was made clear on Thursday morning when a Fatah policeman in Kalkilya used his US-provided rifle to open fire on IDF soldiers engaged in a counterterror operation in the city.
Given that the establishment of a Palestinian state will have no impact on Iran's nuclear program, and in light of the fact that under the present circumstances any Palestinian state will be at war with Israel, and assuming that Obama is not completely ignorant of the situation on the ground, there is only one reasonable explanation for his urgent desire to force Israel to support the creation of a Palestinian state and to work for its establishment by expelling hundreds of thousands of Israelis from their homes. Quite simply, it is a way to divert attention away from Obama's acquiescence to Iran's nuclear aspirations.
BY MAKING the achievement of the unachievable goal of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians through the establishment of a Palestinian terror state the centerpiece of his Middle East agenda, Obama is able to cast Israel as the region's villain. This aim is reflected in the administration's intensifying pressure on Israel to destroy Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
In portraying Jews who live in mobile homes on barren hilltops in Judea and Samaria - rather than Iranian mullahs who test ballistic missile while enriching uranium and inciting genocide - as the greatest obstacle to peace, the Obama administration not only seeks to deflect attention away from its refusal to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is also setting Israel up as the fall guy who it will blame after Iran emerges as a nuclear power.
Obama's intention to unveil his Middle East peace plan in the course of his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo on June 4, like his decision to opt out of visiting Israel in favor of visiting a Nazi death camp, make it clear that he does not perceive Israel as a vital ally, or even as a partner in the peace process he wishes to initiate. Israeli officials were not consulted about his plan. Then, too, from the emerging contours of his plan, it is clear that he will be offering something that no Israeli government can accept.
According to media reports, Obama's plan will require Israel to withdraw its citizens and its military to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines. It will provide for the free immigration of millions of Israel-hating Arabs to the Palestinian state. And it seeks to represent all of this as in accord with Israel's interests by claiming that after Israel renders itself indefensible, all 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (including Iran) will "normalize" their relations with Israel. In short, Obama is using his peace plan to castigate the Netanyahu government as the chief destabilizing force in the region.
During his meeting with Obama, Netanyahu succeeded in evading the policy traps Obama set for him. Netanyahu reserved Israel's right to act independently against Iran and he conceded nothing substantive on the Palestinian issue.
While itself no small achievement, Netanyahu's successful deflection of Obama's provocations is not a sustainable strategy. Already on Tuesday the administration began coercing Israel to toe its line on Iran and the Palestinians by engaging it in joint "working groups."
Then, too, the government's destruction of an outpost community in Judea on Thursday was perceived as Israeli buckling to US pressure. And it doubtlessly raised expectations for further expulsions in the near future.
SO WHAT must Netanyahu do? What would a strategy to contain the Obama administration's pressure and maintain international attention on Iran look like?
Under the present circumstances, the Netanyahu government's best bet is to introduce its own peace plan to mitigate the impact of Obama's plan. To blunt the impact of Obama's speech in Cairo, Netanyahu should present his peace plan before June 4.
Such a plan should contain three stages. First, in light of the Arab world's apparent willingness to engage with Israel, Netanyahu should call for the opening of direct talks between Israel and the Arab League, or between Israel and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, regarding the immediate normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab-Islamic world. Both Obama and Jordan's King Abdullah claim that such normalization is in the offing. Israel should insist that it begin without delay.
This, of course, is necessary for peace to emerge with the Palestinians. As we saw at Camp David in 2000, the only way that Palestinian leaders will feel comfortable making peace with Israel is if the Arab world first demonstrates its acceptance of the Jewish state as a permanent feature on the Middle East's landscape. Claims that such an Israeli demand is a mere tactic to buy time can be easily brushed off. Given Jordanian and American claims that the Arab world is willing to accept Israel, once negotiations begin, this stage could be completed in a matter of months.
The second stage of the Israeli peace plan would involve Israel and the Arab world agreeing and beginning to implement a joint program for combating terrorism. This program would involve destroying terror networks, cutting off funding for terror networks and agreeing to arrest terrorists and extradite them to The Hague or the US for trial. It should be abundantly clear to all governments in the region that there can be no long-term regional peace or stability as long as terrorists bent on destroying Israel and overthrowing moderate Arab regimes are allowed to operate. So making the implementation of such a join program a precondition for further progress shouldn't pose an obstacle to peace. Indeed, there is no reason for it to even be perceived as particularly controversial.
The final stage of the Israeli peace plan should be the negotiation of a final-status accord with the Palestinians. Only after the Arab world has accepted Israel, and only after it has agreed to join Israel in achieving the common goal of a terror-free Middle East, can there be any chance that the Palestinians will feel comfortable and free to peacefully coexist with Israel. And Israel, of course, will feel much more confident about living at peace with the Palestinians after the Arab world demonstrates its good faith and friendship to the Jewish state and its people.
Were Netanyahu to offer this plan in the next two weeks, he would be able to elude Obama's trap on June 4 by proposing to discuss both plans with the Arab League. In so doing, he would be able to continue to make the case that Iran is the gravest danger to the region without being demonized as a destabilizing force and an enemy of peace.
Whether Netanyahu advances such a peace plan or not, what became obvious this week is that his greatest challenges in office will be to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons while preventing the Obama administration from blaming Israel for the absence of peace.
Not only is Obama betraying Israel, he is betraying the interests of the United States and endangering the lives of our citizens with his foolishly naive -- or diabolically conspiratorial --policy towards Iran.
Our World: Iran's global reach
May. 18, 2009
Caroline Glick , THE JERUSALEM POST
US President Barack Obama underestimates the threat Iran poses to global security. Were this not the case, he would not have sent CIA Director Leon Panetta to Israel ahead of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to the White House.
Panetta was reportedly dispatched here to read the government the riot act. Israel, he reportedly told his interlocutors, must not attack Iran without first receiving permission from Washington. Moreover, Israel should keep its mouth shut about attacking Iran. As far as Washington is concerned, Iran's latest threats to destroy Israel were nothing more than payback for statements by Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials regarding Israel's refusal to countenance a nuclear armed Iran.
Over the past several weeks, we have learned that the administration has made its peace with Iran's nuclear aspirations. Senior administration officials acknowledge as much in off-record briefings. It is true, they say, that Iran may exploit its future talks with the US to run down the clock before they test a nuclear weapon. But, they add, if that happens, the US will simply have to live with a nuclear-armed mullocracy.
The administration's nonchalance about the threat of a nuclear armed Iran explains why the White House is so up in arms about the prospect of Israel acting independently to prevent Iran from building a nuclear arsenal. As far as the administration is concerned, the only reason Iran would threaten US interests is if Israel provokes it. As far as the administration is concerned, if Israel could just leave Iran's nuclear installations alone, Iran would behave itself. But if Israel preemptively takes out Iran's nuclear capabilities, and Iran in turn attacks Israeli and US targets in the region, the Obama administration will hold Israel - not Iran - responsible for whatever losses the US incurs. That was apparently the message Panetta wanted to transmit to Jerusalem during his recent visit.
WHILE LARGELY supported by the US media, the administration's view of the Iranian threat is not without its domestic critics. Opponents of the administration's policy of engagement and appeasement have pointed out that a nuclear armed Iran will surely destabilize the Middle East and, as a consequence, will harm US national security interests. And this is true enough.
Whether by spurring a regional nuclear arms race; destabilizing with the intent of overthrowing Western-aligned regimes in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Morocco; enabling its terror proxies in Hizbullah and Hamas to operate under its nuclear umbrella; or attacking Israel with nuclear weapons, it is clear that the emergence of Iran as a nuclear power will cause tragedy, grief, chronic war and instability throughout the region. And - as the administration's critics make clear - such a state of affairs would be antithetical to US national interests.
While correct, these warnings miss the mark. Yes, it is true that a nuclear-armed Iran would destabilize the Middle East. But the Obama White House doesn't seem to care about that. What interests the White House apparently, is minimizing Teheran's animosity towards Washington. If it can convince the mullocracy that Washington is not a threat, then - the thinking goes - perhaps, the buck will stop at the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf.
This bit of wishful thinking is wrong both theoretically and practically. It fails to take into account Iran's stated intentions and the consequences of its likely behavior for the Middle East, and it ignores the fact that Iran's intentions and actions for the past two decades have not been limited to the Middle East.
For upwards of 20 years, and at a break-neck pace since 1999, Iran has built up a long strategic arm in America's backyard from which it is fully capable of attacking the US directly with the able and enthusiastic assistance of a network of proxies and allies.
IRAN POSES a direct threat to US national security through its alliances and military, intelligence and terrorist presence in South and Central America. Today Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Iran's Hizbullah terror cells, and other Iranian agencies operate in open collaboration with anti-US governments throughout the Western Hemisphere. The South American linchpin of this new and growing Iranian-centered alliance system is Hugo Chavez's regime in Venezuela.
Through Chavez's good offices, Iran has developed a strategic presence in Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia and warm ties with Cuba. It is exerting growing influence in El Salvador, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and among FARC terrorists in Colombia. And it has highly developed and already proven human smuggling routes to the US in Mexico. It is through this alliance structure with anti-American regimes in Latin America and with sub-national Islamic and narco-terrorist networks in failing states that Iran already constitutes a grave threat to US national security. And it is through this rapidly expanding alliance system that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an acute danger to US national security.
So far, the Obama administration has dealt with the threat posed by Iran's strategic alliance with Venezuela and Chavez's string of allied regimes in the same fashion as it has contended with Iran itself: It has blamed the situation on the Bush administration. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it last week, the Bush administration's policy of "isolating leaders who have led the opposition to US policies in Central and Latin America has failed and marginalized Washington's interests."
CLINTON'S STATEMENT makes clear the basic and disturbing consistency of the administration's failure to understand that there are regimes that are inherently hostile to the US and will remain irreconcilably hostile to the US regardless of what it does or who sits in the White House. Just as the administration cannot get its arms around the fact that the Iranian regime can only justify its existence by maintaining its hostility towards America, so it cannot countenance the fact that Chavez is only able to justify his existence through his hatred for Uncle Sam. It has no way of explaining for instance the fact that Iran and Venezuela responded to Obama's attempts last month to extend an open hand to both countries by signing a memorandum upgrading their military alliance.
Were the administration able to understand the basic fact that some countries simply cannot abide by America, it would realize that the Iranian-Venezuelan military alliance itself is cause for a systematic reassessment of the rationale behind the US's Western Hemispheric strategy. As Italy's La Stampa reported last December, every week a Venezuelan airliner takes off from Teheran. It travels on to Syria's Damascus airport before continuing on to Caracas. These flights have no commercial value, and the passenger manifest is kept secret. But as La Stampa reported and as both US officials and Venezuelan dissidents have testified, these flights are used to transfer prohibited military equipment, including missile parts from Teheran to Syria. Iranian, Syrian, Lebanese-Hizbullah and Palestinian terror personnel then board the plane to its final destination in Caracas. Iranian Revolutionary Guards are sent to Venezuela to among other things train Venezuela's security services in methods for repressing internal dissent.
Venezuela's military alliance with Iran places Iranian military personnel and Hizbullah operatives at every level of Venezuela's military, intelligence and law enforcement establishment. For example, as the Washington-based Center for Security Policy's Western Hemispheric Security Project documented in a recent report, Hizbullah agents control Venezuela's passport agency.
In 2003, Chavez appointed Tarek el-Aissami, a known Hizbullah member to head the country's passport agency. Last year Aissami was promoted to serve as Minister of Interior and Justice. Then too, last June, the US Department of Treasury designated Ghazi Nasr al Din, a Venezuelan diplomat who served as the deputy ambassador in Damascus and Beirut, as a Hizbullah agent.
Hizbullah has a large and active presence in Venezuela. It operates openly throughout the country through both Lebanese cells and through native Venezuelan operatives who have converted to Islam. In 2006, a Hizbullah cell comprised of local converts staged an attempted bombing against the US embassy in Caracas.
Hizbullah has developed a formidable economic presence in Latin America. Although it has run a web of businesses in the region for decades, since 2005 the economic importance of these businesses has been eclipsed by the terror group's involvement in worldwide cocaine distribution facilitated through its close ties with Chavez and FARC. According to the US military's Southern Command, Hizbullah in Latin America earns between $300-500 million per year. This dwarfs the $200 million a year it receives from Iran.
Through Mexico, Hizbullah members and other terror operatives are able to enter the US relatively easily. In 2002 for instance the US arrested a Hizbullah operative in Mexico who admitted that he had facilitated the infiltration of several hundred Hizbullah operatives into the US.
THEN THERE is Nicaragua under the leadership of Chavez's buddy Sandinista chief Daniel Ortega. Since he assumed Nicaragua's presidency in 2007, Ortega has facilitated a massive expansion of Iran's presence in Central America. With more than a hundred accredited diplomats, Iran's embassy in Managua - a massive compound surrounded by four-meter-high concrete walls lined with razor wire - is one of the largest diplomatic compounds in the world.
Even more disturbing than Iran's enormous diplomatic presence in Nicaragua are its massive maritime activities and plans. In 2007 Iran and Venezuela announced that they were investing $350 million to build a deep water port at Nicaragua's Monkey Point along the Caribbean Sea. Iran also announced its plans to upgrade Nicaragua's Pacific Port of Corinto. Finally, Teheran announced it would build a dry canal connecting the two ports. Such a building scheme would enable Iran to evade the Panama Canal; to build its own military infrastructure within the ports themselves; and to freely camouflage missile ships as civilian maritime traffic and use them to launch short and medium-range missiles against the US. Moreover, with its massive army of Hizbullah operatives on standby, Iran could launch attacks through its proxies - as it did in its 1992 and 1994 attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires - and so deny it had anything to do with the attacks.
None of this should suggest that anyone expects the US to attack Iran's nuclear installations. The administration's policies clearly rule out any such contingency. As for Israel, regardless of what the US does, it should be clear that Jerusalem will not stand by idly and allow existential threats to emerge and grow.
What people - and particularly Americans - could have expected is that the administration would take seriously the threat that Iran poses to the US in the Western Hemisphere. Depressingly however, the administration's apparent decision to abdicate America's position and responsibilities as the sole global superpower has led it to also abdicate its position and responsibilities as the most powerful nation in the Western Hemisphere. Indeed, what the administration's refusal to acknowledge the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran - rich with proxies and allies at America's doorstep - poses to America demonstrates is that in its haste to blame its predecessor for the fact that the US has real enemies, the administration is abdicating its responsibility to defend America itself.