American planners are pondering whether Iran can be deterred from using nuclear weapons. This is the wrong question. They should instead examine how the United States will be deterred should Iran go nuclear.
Even under the current equation (the United States has nuclear weapons and Iran does not), Iran is the number one state sponsor of terrorists, supplies Hamas and Hezbollah with rockets and conventional weapons, and gives materiel, training and intelligence support to extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Iran is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of more American military personnel than any other country since the Vietnam War. Tehran does not lack the will to stand up to the United States even without nuclear weapons. It's chilling to consider how much more bold Iran will be with an atomic arsenal.
A nuclear Iran would not immediately launch a full-scale war. At the very least, Tehran would need time to enlarge its nuclear stockpile. But testing a nuclear weapon would give the Islamic Republic an instant insurance policy against regime change. They know that the United States would not respond to their new capability with vigor, so Iran will use nuclear leverage to pursue conflict at the lower ends of the conflict scale.
This is the most important lesson of Cold War-style nuclear deterrence: preventing warfare at the nuclear level encouraged conflict by other means. This was demonstrated by the explosion of unconventional wars from the 1950s to the 1980s.
The United States should be planning for the more probable contingency of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear program. When Israel says something is unacceptable, it means it, and Israel is not afraid to back up its statements with force.
I don't often let through the trash comments but for this one (which was linked by a leftist blog), I let them through. I realize that most of you read as I write and don't bother to go back, but if any of you feels like going back and seeing what the 'Palestinians' supporters (probably mostly Jews) really think of us and feel like leaving a piece of your minds....
In her weekly column in the weekend JPost, Caroline Glick suggests that former US ambassador to Israel Dore Gold ought to buy himself a flack jacket for his appearance at Brandeis University on Thursday.
Caroline quotes from an email that I saw this past week from one Jonathan Sussman, a member of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society - a group that pursued violence against the American government in the '60's and that sponsored Obama buddy Bill Ayers' appearance on Brandeis' campus. By the way, Ayers was a founder of SDS - he's far left in the 1970 wanted poster at the top of this post). Here's the email in full (except that I have deleted the email addresses and links and modified the expletive):
From: "Jonathan M. Sussman" To: sds Subject: Goldstone Forum Action Planning - Wed. @ 10! Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 15:32:19 -0400 (EDT)
As many of you know, Brandeis will be hosting a forum next Thursday, 11/5, to discuss the Goldstone Report, a report from the United Nations which determined that Israel used excessive force in its occupation of Gaza. Believe it or not, this was poorly received within the Zionist community. Thus Brandeis is hosting a forum between the report's author, international jurist Richard Goldstone, and former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dore Gold. Full details here: http://brandeis.edu/now/2009/october/goldstonegold.html.
Many of us are concerned that this forum is inherently slanted, as it contrasts 'nuetral' international opinion with a wildly pro-Zionist message, excluding voices from the Palestinian community. In light of this, activists across campus will be meeting this Wednesday, 10/28 @ 10 PM in the Village C Lounge to discuss a possible response. Possibilities include inviting Palestinian speakers to come participate, seeding the audience with people who can disrupt the Zionist narrative, protest, and direct action.
Please come and help us coordinate a response!
F**k the occupation, Jon
ETAILS ANNOUNCED FOR NOV. 5 CAMPUS FORUM ON CONTROVERSIAL U.N. GAZA REPORT Oct. 21, 2009
A Special Forum: The Challenge of the U.N. Gaza Report
[NOTE: MEDIA WISHING TO COVER THIS EVENT MUST REGISTER BY EMAILING email@example.com NO LATER THAN 5 P.M., TUESDAY NOV. 3
Featured speaker: Justice Richard Goldstone, head of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, and chairman of the Advisory Board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis, and Respondent: Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, will exchange views on the Gaza report’s findings and discuss its assertions that Israel and Palestinian fighters committed war crimes during three weeks of fighting in the Middle East last winter. The report said there is evidence of war crimes on both sides and that the Israelis made disproportionate use of force.
This will be the first time that Goldstone and a senior Israeli figure publicly discuss the report, which is the focus of international controversy. Israel and its supporters have charged the report is deeply flawed in mandate and content, and fails to take into account Israel’s security situation. The findings have been endorsed by the U.N. Human Rights Council and many leading Palestinians.
The forum is cosponsored by Brandeis’s International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life and the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies.
Free and open to the public; limited seating. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. The discussion will be streamed live on the Brandeis University Web site, and also will be available on the Web site for later viewing.
Click here to read the report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.
Click here to read the official Israeli response.
Click here to read the Ethics Center's “Ethical Inquiry” research on proportionality.
Caroline points out that although Sussman is 'small fry' ("A brief Web search indicates that Gold's would-be silencer divides his time fairly equally between publishing rambling, Communist verses to paramours and calling for the overthrow of the US government."), he is symptomatic of a much larger problem on US college campuses today.
The problem is that Sussman's planned "direct action" against Gold is not an isolated incident. On college campuses throughout the US, Israelis and supporters of Israel are regularly denied the right to speak by leftist activists claiming to act on behalf of Israel's "victims," or in the cause of "peace." In the name of the Palestinians or peace these radicals seek to coerce their fellow students into following their lead by demonizing and brutally silencing all voices of dissent.
This, by the way is true regardless of where the speaker fits on the pro-Israel spectrum. Earlier this month former prime minister Ehud Olmert - who during his tenure in office offered the Palestinians more than any of his predecessors - could barely get a word in edgewise above the clamor of students at the University of Chicago cursing him as a war criminal.
While many commentators claim that the situation on college campuses is unique, the fact is that the attempts of leftist activists on campuses to silence non-leftist dissenters regarding Israel and a host of other issues is simply an extreme version of what is increasingly becoming standard operating procedure for leftist activists throughout the US. Rather than participating in a battle of ideas with their ideological opponents on the Right, increasingly, leftist activists, groups and policy-makers seek to silence their opponents through slander, intimidation and misrepresentation of their own agenda.
Caroline looks at the J Street Jewish anti-Israel lobby as being symptomatic of the problem and argues that J Street is out of sync with the Jewish community.
Just how profoundly out of synch these positions are with the American Jewish community was made clear with last month's publication of the American Jewish Committee's 2009 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion.
According to the survey, a majority of US Jews oppose the Obama administration's call for the prohibition of Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Similarly, the vast majority of US Jews rejects the call for Israel to surrender parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians; believes the cause of the Palestinian conflict with Israel is the Arabs' desire to destroy Israel rather than the absence of a Palestinian state; and supports Israel's right to defend itself against Palestinian terror. A whopping 94 percent of American Jews believe the Palestinians should be required to accept Israel's right to exist as a precursor to any viable peace. Finally, a solid majority of American Jews supports either a US or an Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear installations.
I hope Caroline's right. And it's time for the rest of us to stop being terrorized by the likes of Sussman and J Street.
'Moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen told US Secretary of State Clinton and US Middle East envoy George Mitchell in Abu Dhabi on Saturday that the 'Palestinians' will not resume 'negotiations' with Israel unless Israel ceases all construction in 'east Jerusalem.' Clinton and Mitchell told Abu Mazen that no better offers from Israel are forthcoming.
Speaking at a press conference in Abu Dhabi after meeting United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is due to arrive here later Saturday evening and to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Abbas said that in its actions, Israel was "pouring oil into the bonfire [of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict], crossing red lines and preparing the ground for further acts of violence."
Abbas was presented by Clinton and by US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell with understandings reached between the US and Israel earlier. According to the Israeli offer, no more construction will be undertaken in the settlements apart from the completion of 3,000 housing units which are already in advanced stages of completion. Also, Jerusalem would not include east Jerusalem in the deal.
In the press conference, Abbas emphasized the issue of Jerusalem, saying the main issue in his talks with Clinton was the Jewish capital. "Jerusalem is in danger, and Arabs and Muslims must be aware of it," Abbas said. "Peace begins in Jerusalem, and without Jerusalem there will be no peace with the Israeli side," he added.
The Netanyahu administration, like previous governments, refuses to negotiate over Jerusalem and rejects the labeling of Jewish neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city as settlements.
Saeb Erekat, the top PA negotiator who was present in the Abbas-Clinton meeting, was quoted by Israel Radio as saying that "Clinton and Mitchell have clarified that at this point they cannot get more [generous offers] from Israel."
In case any of you missed it, this offer is more generous than the previous one: This offer would freeze Israeli building in Judea and Samaria for 'natural growth.' That freeze would be very unpopular in Israel and I question whether Netanyahu could even get his cabinet to approve it.
No matter. The 'Palestinians' have once again not missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. I'm sure Obama and Clinton are real happy now that they raised the issue of a total 'settlement freeze' in the first place.
JPost reported on Friday that the Waqf - the Muslim religious council that runs the Temple Mount - approves of Israel's arrested Islamic Movement Northern Front leader Sheikh Raed Sallah (pictured) and 'Palestinian Authority' Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Hatem Abdel Qader.
Heads of the Waqf Department have quietly expressed their satisfaction with the Israeli authorities' recent measures against Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and top Fatah operative Hatem Abdel Qader, a senior official with the Ministry for Internal Security said on Thursday.
The official praised the heads of the Waqf Department for their role in "calming the situation" and preventing a further deterioration.
Noting that the Waqf Department, which reports to the Jordanian Government, had refrained from joining the "wild campaign of incitement" against Israel in recent weeks, the official told The Jerusalem Post that the heads of the department were "very pleased" that Salah and Abdel Qader have been banned from entering the Temple Mount.
"The directors of the Waqf Department in Jerusalem did not like the fact that Sheikh Salah and Abdel Qader were meddling in the affairs of the Temple Mount," the official said. "Some of the people at the Waqf even advised us to take certain measures to keep the followers of the two men away from the holy site."
The official would not say whether the Waqf heads were acting on instructions from their superiors in the Jordanian Government.
However, he pointed out that the Jordanian authorities have also expressed dissatisfaction with the activities of Salah and Abdel Qader and their followers on the Temple Mount.
I am going to guess that many of you will recognize the tune - it was sung by Mordechai Ben David and Avraham Fried at the very first Ohel concert 12 years ago. But how many of you recognize the words? They come from the prayer between Shalom Aleichem and Eishet Chayil that many of you (who are Jewish) probably skip every Friday night. We actually say it (or I do while everyone else stands around :-) and therefore I recognized the words.
Who is missing from this story and what does it tell you about the state of the world in which we live?
France said it was still hopeful the original deal would be agreed but it is understood that neither Britain nor France and Germany will accept Iran's new terms.
They believe Iran is trying to use the deal merely as a starting point to draw other countries into another protracted round of talks. During that time they think the Iranians could continue to enrich uranium and conduct more research on the scientific know-how necessary to turn it into a nuclear weapon.
"It's like playing chess with a monkey," said one diplomat close to the talks. "You get them to checkmate, and then they swallow the king."
In Friday's Wall Street Journal, Yossi Klein HaLevi talks about what's on most Israelis' minds these days: The possibility of an Iranian nuclear bomb.
Opinion here has been divided about the ability of an Israeli strike to significantly delay Iran's nuclear program. But Israelis have dealt with their doubts by resurrecting a phrase from the country's early years: Ein breira, there's no choice. Besides, as one leading Israeli security official who has been involved in the Iranian issue for many years put it to me, "Technical problems have technical solutions." Israelis tend to trust their strategic planners to find those solutions.
Ironically, ein breira was the motto of those who argued in the late 1960's that Israel had to return to the 1949 armistice lines in the hope that we might then be left in peace by our neighbors. I can recall going to a Saturday night event at our synagogue in Massachusetts in the late 1960's where an activist for a group called Breira kept telling us "ein breira" and the entire shul membership kept screaming at him "aval yesh breira" (there is a choice). Now, the slogan has been turned on its head, and it's the right nearly the whole country that believes that there is no choice and that if no one else takes care of it, we must strike Iran regardless of the consequences. In fact, that's the main reason Binyamin Netanyahu got elected: People believed he has the... well... you know what... to strike Iran and Tzipi Livni does not.
Klein HaLevi goes on to ask whether the Obama administration's 'engagement' with Iran will "effectively end the possibility of a military strike"?
On the face of it, this is not May 1967. There is not the same sense of impending catastrophe that held the Israeli public in the weeks before the Six Day War. Israelis are preoccupied with the fate of Gilad Shalit (the kidnapped Israeli soldier held by Hamas), with the country's faltering relations with Turkey, with the U.N.'s denial of Israel's right to defend itself, and with an unprecedented rise in violent crime.
But the Iranian threat has seeped into daily life as a constant, if barely conscious anxiety. It emerges at unexpected moments, as black humor or an incongruous aside in casual conversation. "I think we're going to attack soon," a friend said to me over Sabbath dinner, as we talked about our children going off to the army and to India.
Now, with the possibility of a deal with Iran, Israelis realize that a military confrontation will almost certainly be deferred. Still, the threat remains.
And Jennifer Rubin sums up what the Obama administration is thinking:
All signs point to the argument of inevitability. You can see the wheels in motion. We talked. We tried. Now they have nuclear arms. The alternatives are horrible. We can live with this, manage the threat. After all, look what a productive relationship we’re establishing with the regime! That’s what you see and hear underlying each move by the Obama team. No regime change — the democratic protesters are the fly at the engagement picnic. No sanctions right now — we’re negotiating. No big deal about Qom — the public may be alarmed we let this slide by. Don’t hold to any deadlines — we might reach a point of confrontation.
It's not 1967 - no one is digging graves and preparing body bags in anticipation of - God forbid - thousands of deaths. But I disagree with Klein HaLevi. While 'engagement' almost certainly means that the US will not attack Iran, and Israelis are very nervous about the prospect of going it alone, I cannot see Israel's decision makers living with Rubin's portrait of the Obama administration's thinking. As Rubin herself points out:
We can argue about just how naive the Obami are — or how compliant they think the American public may be when presented with the news that Iran has gone nuclear — but the Israelis don’t have the luxury of deluding themselves about the Obama administration’s game plan. It isn’t one designed to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat at all costs.
In an editorial in Friday's edition, Haaretz manages to take Prime Minister Netanyahu's insistence on direct negotiations with Syria without preconditions and turn it on its head, accusing Netanyahu of imposing conditions.
Netanyahu in theory accepted the proposal but in practice turned it down by insisting that the negotiations be direct and without preconditions (translation: without an Israeli commitment to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 lines and without reverting to the point when talks stopped under prime minister Ehud Olmert). So Netanyahu set preconditions under the guise of opposing the setting of preconditions.
Let me get this straight: One side (Israel) wants direct negotiations without preconditions and the other (Syria) won't even agree to indirect negotiations until Israel guarantees the final outcome. Who is setting preconditions?
One side (Israel) wants to negotiate with a clean slate and the other (Syria) won't come to the table unless it is guaranteed that the concessions made to it by a caretaker government with no legal (once elections are set, a government cannot enter into agreements of this sort) or moral right to negotiate. Who is setting preconditions?
It's downhill from there. In the next paragraph, Haaretz insists that UN Security Council Resolution 242 requires "full and secure peace in return for complete withdrawal," an interpretation that has been rejected by the American and British negotiators who wrote Resolution 242 (it requires the return of "territories" - and not of "the territories" - to show that Israel is not required to return all of the territory that it liberated in 1967.
Is there any enemy of Israel that does not merit enthusiastic support from Haaretz's editorial staff? If so, I have not found it yet.
The prosecution in the Stewart Nozette case is claiming that Nozette passed information to Israel. Of course, given that is apparently based on Nozette's say-so, I'm not sure how much credibility it has.
The prosecution claimed that Nozette told an undercover agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he had passed classified information to Israel in the past. The current charges against him do not relate to that activity.
Human Rights Watch founder Robert Bernstein answered questions for the Hebrew newspaper Maariv this week. Here are the questions and Bernstein's original answers in full in English (Hat Tip: Gerald S).
1- Why did you write this op-ed at the TN Times last week? what was the 'straw that broke the camel back' from your point of view?
ANSWER TO QUESTION 1 – Actually it has been brewing for a long time. I had been trying to do a long piece because many of my views about human rights in the Middle East are different from those being expressed by Human Rights Watch. The Goldstone Report made me feel I should get something out, so I wrote the NY Times op-ed piece.
2- What was your vision when you founded Human Right Watch and does the organization follow your vision in the recent years?
ANSWER TO QUESTION 2 – My vision, I should say our vision because it was supported by a wonderful board – was to go into closed societies and try and help people in those societies who wanted free speech. I was a book publisher so that was an especially important principle to me and it’s a key part of the Declaration of Human Rights. But, of course, other basic human rights are also vitally important. – freedom of religion, equal rights for women, to name just two. When governments of closed societies asked us what we were doing about our own country we would explain that the United States had many faults but because we were an open society we had many organizations and other ways to try and bring change. But after a while we decided we would do some work in the United States but try to not replicate what was being done by others.
I also believe there can be times to do some work in open societies but, now focus is on the Middle East. I think Israel is a country where most people believe in human rights. But at this time many Israelis, and I share their view, do not believe that HRW in the issues it chooses, its tone, and even its interpretations of law are not helping to bring Arabs and Israelis together.
I had a lot to learn when I began feeling uncomfortable with HRW positions on Israel-Palestine issues in 2005 and certainly still do have a lot to learn, but almost from the beginning HRW has cast me as pro-Israel. I think that is the easiest thing to do – say someone is pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian. I like to think I am pro-human rights. Now that I have stated publicly, very sadly incidentally, that I am in disagreement with HRW, this will play out and others can decide if my views make sense.
3- You told me the you are amazed by the reaction, from general people and mostly from people inside the HRW. Can you explain? (you said, 'they think they are God' - off the record)
ANSWER TO QUESTION 3 – I was amazed and encouraged by the reaction to my op-ed. Because so many of the positive comments have come, not from those considered hard liners but from people who think a lot about human rights, I have been particularly encouraged.
4- What do you think about the last Goldstone report? Is it part of the big problem you were talking about with me? and if so, why does he, and other human rights organizations, focus mostly on Israel?
ANSWER TO QUESTION 4 – I think the Goldstone Report is deeply flawed. I was surprised Judge Goldstone, who I know and admired, took the job. He had to head a commission created by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which I think any fair-minded person would say had to clean up itself before it dared to criticize anything.
When I read Judge Goldstone’s op-ed in the September 17 issue of the NY Times and he said “While Israel has begun investigating into alleged violations they are unlikely to be serious and objective” I felt he was just “judging” too much. [Unfortunately, he doesn't answer why Goldstone, HRW and other human rights organizations focus mostly on Israel. I think we all know the answer. I hope he does too. CiJ]
5- What do you think should be Israel respond to Goldstone report as well as to some of the HRW reports?
ANSWER TO QUESTION 5 – I can’t tell Israel what to do. I do not think any country would want to put up with a war of attrition, which can explode into real war any time. However I certainly don’t know the best way to stop it. I fault HRW for not taking a position on the war. The fact that Hamas-Hezbollah and Iran have declared it is their intention to try and wipe out Israel and all Jews seems to me, to be incitement to genocide, especially when it is backed by rocket attacks.
This may be the most damning criticism yet of Goldstone - especially given where it comes from. Bernstein has more moral standing than Goldstone will ever have.
The picture at the top is suspended Human Rights Watch 'investigator' Marc Garlasco in his Nazi sweatshirt. I am convinced that if Bernstein were in charge, Garlasco and his cohorts at Human Rights Watch's Middle East section would have been gone a long time ago.
An 'alternative' memorial for Yitzchak Rabin was held on Thursday. The memorial was sponsored by SOS - Israel, which is headed by Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe and Baruch Marzel. The memorial also paid tribute to the memory of more than 1000 victims of terrorism who died as a result of the Oslo 'peace process.'
Shai Gefen, one of the organizers, told Arutz Sheva: "Today we lit candles to the memory of the 1,000 people murdered following the Oslo accords, and one candle to the memory of Yitzchak Rabin of Blessed Memory. We will not agree to participate in the Rabin carnival that takes place every year at this date. The incitement against the Right does not stop.”
Baruch Marzel said at the ceremony: “We do not think that problems relating to public affairs can be solved with handguns, force and violence, or G-d forbid murder. One does not murder political rivals. We need to remember that Rabin did much for the State of Israel... He expelled more Arabs than Rabbi Kahane ever did -- from Lod, Ramle, the Negev and other places.”
Tiran Pollak, who lost two sisters in a terror attack, said: “Thousands of families lost their loved ones. Who is responsible for this blood? Their blood is also red, it is no different from anyone else's. People keep talking about the Rabin legacy. What legacy? We lost 1,000 souls following the Oslo accords.”
As I mentioned in a post on Thursday, the annual commemoration of the Rabin assassination is the most divisive event on the Israeli calendar. The videotape from America's 'post-partisan' President should fit right in.
Israel's foreign ministry has released a write-up of seven solar technologies that will reduce world dependency on fossil fuels. They come from an article from the Israel 21c web site. If any of you are into this kind of stuff, representing high tech companies and their investors is part of my day job (you know, the one I do when I'm not blogging).
The particularly lethal brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme is fast-growing, difficult to treat, and nearly always fatal; even with aggressive therapy, patients have a median survival time of less than two years. But scientists are pursuing new ways to attack this type of brain tumor, and one company may just be succeeding. NovoCure, a small startup founded in Israel in 2000, has developed a device that uses an electric field to disrupt the growth of cancer cells, and early results are promising. Out of ten patients who started using the device in combination with chemotherapy shortly after their initial diagnosis, seven are still alive more than four years later, and five of them show no signs of cancer progression.
NovoCure's device consists of insulated electrode pairs placed on a patient's body near the tumors, attached by leads to a three-kilogram battery that the patient carries everywhere. The electrodes emit low-intensity electric fields that rapidly alternate to create a current that has no effect on any tissue in the body except dividing cells. Just before a dividing cell splits in two, it briefly forms an hourglass shape before the two daughter cells pinch off, and this shape is particularly vulnerable to electricity. The current gets concentrated at the cell's narrow waist, and at the very moment of division, the cell membrane is destroyed, and the cells disintegrate.
That's the tumor Ted Kennedy had. And yes, I can help you invest in that kind of company too if you're interested.
The graphic at the top came from Novocure's web site. I don't know whether the device is really that big.
If you're boycotting Israel, you can't use any of these technologies.
Israel Behind the News' David Bedein is warning that J Street is being puppeteered by Israel's Oslo-dreaming President Shimon Peres in an effort to revive the failed 'peace process.'
In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Bedein said that he and his team are in the US capital to talk to members of congress and expose the lies that J-Street has been spreading lately. “This organization is a kind of umbrella group of all the leftist NGOs that decided they would like to breathe life into the Oslo process. The Peres Center for Peace is behind this whole network. The Peres Center for Peace moderated most of the discussions in the recent J-Street convention and their aim is to get as many congressmen as possible to support the continuation of the Oslo process.”
Bedein said that he is encountering congressmen who have a “thirst” for reliable information about Israel and that in meetings with them, he has been trying to refute various theories that J-Street is promulgating. “They keep trying to peddle the illusion that the Fatah is still a partner for peace,” he explained. “Their vision is of a continuation of the Oslo process and the establishment of a Palestinian state regardless of whether or not there is peace.”
“We are here in Washington to brief congressmen about the reality on the ground,” Bedein said. “We show them videos and books by the Palestinian Authority that prove that Fatah is not a moderate element but a militant one, that is constantly inciting against Israel.”
My only question about this is that I am not sure that even Shimon Peres is as far Left as J Street.
He might fit in with the leadership, but not with the one-stater rank and file.
'Settlers' get their water from within the green line
In a comment in Haaretz responding to the Amnesty report on Israel's water supply, Israel Harel exposes a couple of facts that even I didn't know.
Amnesty's accusations on the water issue are groundless. Most of the settlements get their water piped in by the Mekorot water company from inside the Green Line not, as the organization claims, from wells in Judea and Samaria that belong to the Palestinians. And the Palestinians do not "have to make do" with 70 liters a day ("or less") per capita. According to the Oslo 2 accords they signed, they are entitled to 23.6 million cubic meters a year - but in fact they pump, with Israeli consent, 70 million cubic meters. On top of this, the Israeli Civil Administration supplies, over and above the Oslo requirements, water to villages that really are suffering from a shortage. A key question the Israeli media has left unasked is why doesn't Israel prevent the wildcat pumping in violation of the Oslo agreement that is both draining and polluting (along with the sewage that seeps through) the mountain aquifer?
Amnesty and the rest of the pro-Palestinians do not ask where the millions of dollars that flowed to the Palestinian Authority for the construction of an efficient and economical water system have vanished, or where the money is that the World Bank and other aid agencies have provided for a sewage system that would protect the environment and prevent the seepage of wastewater into the aquifers.
Another Amnesty lie: On the Jewish side, the report says, agriculture is flourishing while the Palestinians' fields are dry. The truth is that Jewish agriculture only existed in the Gush Katif settlements in the Gaza Strip. Yields there reached world records and provided a handsome living for those who worked the soil, before the blade of the uprooting fell on them. Most Jews in Judea and Samaria - and this is actually one of the arguments used against them - work outside the settlements and return only at night. One reason for this is that apart from some orchards here and there that are irrigated by rainwater, there is no income-providing agriculture in Judea and Samaria in the classical sense because of the hilly terrain.
Iran responded to the P - 5+1 countries on Thursday by clenching its fist. According to Iranian media, it demanded to send its low enriched uranium abroad gradually rather than all at once, and it demanded the right to import higher enriched uranium simultaneously with the lower enriched uranium's departure. Those conditions have been labeled 'non-starters' for the West by the media.
Western powers were likely to rebuff Tehran's proposed amendments because their priority is to reduce the stockpile of Iranian LEU to ward off the danger that Iran might turn it into the highly-enriched uranium needed for an atom bomb.
Sending most of the LEU abroad would buy about a year for talks on halting enrichment in Iran in return for incentives to forge a long-term solution to the nuclear dispute.
The powers will see Iran's counter-offer involving nuclear fuel imports as problematic because U.N. sanctions ban trade in nuclear materials, including enriched uranium, with Tehran.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the downside of the agreement was that it granted international recognition to uranium enrichment by Iran.
He urged the international community to go further and demand a complete stop to enrichment on Iranian soil.
'If this agreement is implemented, it will take them back a year, but there is a fly in the ointment. It means that they (the US, Russia and France) recognize that Iran is enriching uranium and that helps them (Iran) with their argument that they are enriching uranium for peaceful purposes,' Barak said.
'It is important to insist on an end to enrichment in Iran,' he told Israel Radio.
President Obama's chance to play hardball looks like it's coming real soon. Let's see if he even steps up to the plate.
Last Friday, I reported that opposition leader Tzipi Livni had sent a letter to J Street congratulating them on their first convention. Steve Clemons (presumably the same Steve Clemons who interviewed Khaled Meshaal this week) posted a pdf of the letter to Huffington Post, where he called it "a remarkable letter of affirmation to J Street, recognizing potential differences but affirming a shared strategic vision for the best interests of Israel."
1. Livni did not want to participate in the conference, and did not want to appear via video connection. The letter is a way of saying: I'm not boycotting the group, but I'm also quite far from supporting it.
2. The letter was crafted "carefully". And it does not say that Livni wishes the group "much success", it says (as Clemons, first to post the letter, could have seen) "I wish the the organizers and the participants much success in the upcoming conference". You might think that Livni's people are parsing hair with this fine-tuned message, but when the letter was crafted they deliberately chose to wish success for the "conference" not the "work" as Clemons claims.
7. All this doesn't mean that Livni's letter has no significance. It does. If Livni was Foreign Minister today, she would have asked Ambassador Michael Oren to attend the conference. She doesn't think Israel should boycott J Street, because she doesn't believe Israel should take sides in a debate that is a political Jewish American debate.
8. She also have hopes that by way of "engaging", she can have some impact on this group. There are signs that J Street - at least on the leadership level - had entered a period of some moderation (Jim Besser wrote: "There were also ripples of discontent at an unofficial Monday lunch for left-wing bloggers, who expressed both hope that J Street will become a potent force for peace and justice in the Middle East - and fear that it is already doing too much to moderate its positions to win favor with the pro-Israel establishment"). Livni seems to believe that communicating with the group creates the kind of relationships that will make it harder for J Street to disregard Israeli mainstream positions.
Rosner also makes several comments about Livni's relationship with AIPAC.
Livni is in a weak position because Prime Minister Netanyahu has totally silenced the opposition. She would love to be able to stake out a position with J Street, because it would show her to be a clear alternative to Netanyahu and the Likud. There are three problems with her doing that. First, she doesn't have the support within her own party to stake out positions that far to the left. Second, Labor, which is to her left (in theory), is in the government, and she's not willing or able to take positions to their left on significant issues - again because her own party will not allow it. Third and most important, the country has shifted so far to the right that J Street's position is far - really far - out of the mainstream. Livni cannot afford to put herself that far out of the mainstream.
I look at her letter as saying, "I support your right to your opinion, and I'd really love to support your opinion, but I can't right now."
Al-Qaeda-linked group takes responsibility for Katyusha attack; Suleiman blames Israel
An al-Qaeda linked group calling itself the Battalions of Ziad Jarrah has taken responsibility for Tuesday night's Katyusha rocket attack near Kiryat Shmona hours after a Lebanese newspaper published an interview with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman who blamed Israel for attacking itself. This is from Haaretz (the first link):
The claim from a group calling itself the Battalions of Ziad Jarrah came two days after a rocket was fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, causing no casualties. Lebanese troops subsequently found and dismantled four additional rockets in the village of Houla near the border with Israel.
The claim of responsibility, made on a Web site often used by Islamic militants, could not be independently verified.
The group is named after a Lebanese militant who was among the 19 suicide attackers that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. It has claimed responsibility for previous rocket-firings across the border into Israel.
The group said its fighters set up five rockets in Houla on Tuesday night but one launched prematurely, leading the militants to flee the area leaving four rockets behind. It was the fifth such attack against Israel from Lebanon this year. Israel responded with artillery fire, but there were no reports of casualties.
Earlier Thursday, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar had published an interview with Suleiman in which Suleiman claimed that an 'Israeli agent' had launched the rocket and that one may not rule out the possibility that Israel was behind the attack.
And this from a country with whom we have no real disputes (the territorial disputes between Israel and Lebanon have been manufactured by Hezbullah to justify their own existence - the UN certified that Israel's withdrawal in 2000 complied with UN Security Council Resolution 425, only to revoke that certification three years ago because Hezbullah insisted that Mount Dov was 'occupied Lebanese territory' and not 'occupied Syrian territory').
Anyone still wonder why there is no peace in this region?
The United States has spent $69 billion on foreign aid to Egypt since 1948. Since 2004, it has spent $180 million promoting democracy in Egypt. But Egypt is no more democratic than it ever was, and now a US government audit explains why: Egypt doesn't want a democracy.
More than $180 million in U.S. foreign aid to promote democracy in Egypt over the past four years has produced few measurable results, in part because the Egyptian government has stymied the effort, a newly released government audit says.
The "impact of (American-funded) democracy and governance programs was unnoticeable" in Egypt, said the report by the U.S. Agency for International Development's inspector general. USAID auditors based their conclusions on international indexes of press freedom, corruption, civil liberties and political rights.
In 2004, the George W. Bush administration nearly doubled annual funding for democracy promotion in Egypt, the audit shows, from $24 million to $45 million. The report says, however, that "a major contributing factor to the limited achievements for some of these programs (was) a lack of support from the Government of Egypt." For example, the audit says, the government canceled, without explanation, a training program on anti-corruption and political reform.
And after USAID spent $618,000 to train 2,100 poll watchers in 2007 local elections, most were denied access to the polling places.
The audit also cites missteps by USAID grant recipients fueled by poor agency management. One grantee, it says, got $1.2 million to provide civic training to 600 teachers and 30,000 students, but actually trained only 330 teachers and about 2,000 students, less than 8% of the target.
Another grantee received $950,000 to publish a children's book on civic education but could not verify that any schoolchildren actually received the book, the audit says.
But it's okay now. In the Age of Obama, democracy is no better than any other form of government, and therefore we won't act pompously by promoting it anymore.
Writing in the Washington Post, Robert Kagan expresses the fear that many of us have regarding President Obama and Iran: President Obama doesn't know how to play hardball.
So now the test results are in: Iran's intentions, it seems, are not good. Tehran apparently will not accept the deal but will propose an alternate plan, agreeing to ship smaller amounts of low-enriched uranium to Russia gradually over a year. Even if Iran carried out this plan as promised -- every month would be an adventure to see how much, if anything, Iran shipped -- the slow movement of small amounts of low-enriched uranium does not accomplish the original purpose, since Iran can quickly replace these amounts with new low-enriched uranium produced by its centrifuges. Iran's nuclear clock, which the Obama administration hoped to stop or at least slow, would continue ticking at close to its regular speed.
Tehran is obviously probing to see whether President Obama can play hardball or whether he can be played. If Obama has any hope of getting anywhere with the mullahs, he needs to show them he means business, now, and immediately begin imposing new sanctions.
And what about Russia, that other great object of the "new era of engagement"? Administration officials claim to have won Moscow's agreement to join in sanctions should Iran refuse to make a deal, and Obama paid in advance for cooperation by acquiescing to Moscow's demand to cancel planned missile-defense deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic.
The Kremlin said Wednesday that sanctions against Iran are highly unlikely in the near future, the latest signal that Russia is not yet ready to raise the heat on Tehran to allay Western fears over its nuclear program.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has warned Western powers that they will gain nothing by trying to intimidate Tehran, and Russian officials have refused to publicly back the United States in threatening tougher sanctions against Iran.
"Sanctions in relation to Iran are hardly possible in the near future," the Interfax news agency quoted the Kremlin's top foreign policy aide, Sergei Prikhodko, as telling Russian reporters in Moscow.
The problem is that Obama has no plan B. His only policy is 'engagement.'
Many of us worry that, for Obama, engagement is an end in itself, not a means to an end. We worry that every time Iran rejects one proposal, the president will simply resume negotiations on another proposal and that this will continue right up until the day Iran finally tests its first nuclear weapon, at which point the president will simply begin negotiations again to try to persuade Iran to put its nuclear genie back in the bottle.
Yes, that's exactly what we worry about. The problem is that while Obama has no plan B for dealing with Iran, the rest of the world won't acknowledge what the plan B is when Obama doesn't deal with Iran. Here's Kagan on sanctions:
That is the best card in Obama's hand right now. It's time for him to play it -- or admit that poker is not his game.
Fortunately, there is a plan B for Obama's failure to deal with Iran. Here it is:
Of course, you can't see it, but that plane has a blue Star of David on its tail.
Obama sending video to Rabin memorial rally, Netanyahu not invited
In a bid to influence Israeli public opinion, President Obama will send a videotaped message to be played at the annual Yitzchak Rabin memorial rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night. Israel's sitting Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has not been invited to attend. This is from Haaretz (the first link above).
The message will relate to the murdered prime minister's legacy and the need to advance the peace process. It was prepared in response to a request from Rabin's daughter, Dalia Rabin.
This is another step in Obama's attempt to speak directly to the Israeli public in light of the very low level of support he has among the Israeli public. Several polls over the past few months show the American president has won the support of only 6 percent to 10 percent of the Israeli public, with people saying Obama does not support Israel.
Obama's advisers are worried about his lack of popularity and the expressed feeling that he is hostile to Israel. They believe this seriously harms his ability to advance the peace process with the Palestinians. Obama's advisers see this as the reason why Israelis view his diplomatic initiatives on both Iran and the Palestinians so negatively.
The main memorial ceremony will be the Rabin Square one Saturday night, on the site of the murder. Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Tzipi Livni are expected to participate, as well as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and numerous other politicians. A large number of artists will perform at the event, including Aviv Gefen, Ahinoam Nini, Miri Aloni, Rona Keinan and Miri Mesika.
But not Binyamin Netanyahu, who is still blamed by many on the Left for the assassination, because he spoke at a rally at which pictures of Rabin in an SS uniform were handed out. It came out much later that the pictures were prepared by an operative for Israel's General Security Service (Shabak), which was under Rabin's direct command. But the Left, likes to forget that.
Someone ought to let President Obama know that the Rabin memorial rally is the most divisive event on this country's calendar and that his video will be preaching to the choir. Rabin's legacy is such that for the most part, only the Left bothers to show up.
Today, the 11th day of the Jewish month of Cheshvan is observed annually as the anniversary of the death of Yitzchak Rabin (even though he actually died on the 12th).
One of the features of the observance is the teaching of something called Moreshet Rabin (Rabin's legacy) in the schools. During most of the years after Rabin's death, the Education Ministry was under the Left's control, and Rabin's legacy was re-done into the 'peace process.' Unfortunately, with the Right in power, things haven't changed much.
The foreign ministry has a special briefing page on its web site for Rabin's death each year and somehow this speech - which was his last major policy address to the Knesset before he died - keeps getting left out (Hat Tip: IMRA). Here are some highlights with a few comments interspersed.
Members of Knesset,
The agreement before you is the continuation of the implementation of the agreements which were signed between the Government of Israel and the Palestinians. The first agreement which was brought to you was the Declaration of Principles, which was signed in Washington on 13 September 1993.
The second agreement which was presented to you is called the Cairo Agreement, which was signed in Cairo on 4 May 1994. Both of these agreements were ratified by the Knesset.
Both of the previous agreements, and the third which was submitted today, separately and together, give expression to the policy of the current Government, and to its path of promoting peace in the Middle East. As is known, when we formed the Government, over three years ago, we said that we would aspire to reach a permanent solution to the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict. And today, this Government brings, in addition to the signing of the peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan -- which would not have been achieved without the agreement with the Palestinians -- a significant breakthrough in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and an attempt to put an end to decades of terrorism and blood.
Members of Knesset,
We are striving for a permanent solution to the unending bloody conflict between us and the Palestinians and the Arab states.
In the framework of the permanent solution, we aspire to reach, first and foremost, the State of Israel as a Jewish state, at least 80% of whose citizens will be, and are, Jews.
At the same time, we also promise that the non-Jewish citizens of Israel -- Muslim, Christian, Druze and others -- will enjoy full personal, religious and civil rights, like those of any Israeli citizen. Judaism and racism are diametrically opposed.
We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. [Note that Rabin did not envision a 'Palestinian state.' What he envisioned was something more along the lines of the autonomy plan that was approved by Menachem Begin as part of the Camp David accords with Egypt. CiJ] The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.
And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:
A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev -- as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, [Maaleh Adumim and Givat Zev both remain outside the city limits of Jerusalem. CiJ] while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.
B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term. [The Jordan Valley is to the east, and the edge of the Jordan Valley is the Jordan River, which is the Jordanian border. Obviously, Rabin had no intention of letting the 'Palestinians' govern that either. CiJ]
C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the "Green Line," prior to the Six Day War.
D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.
Note that the 'settlement blocs' are in addition to what we refer to as the 'settlement blocs' today - Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim, the Modiin area (which actually straddles the 'green line') and Ariel. It is clear that what Rabin envisioned was, for example, a 'settlement bloc' that would include places like Beit El, Ofra and Shilo, which are fairly close together and are now outside the 'security fence.'
The PLO, those in it subject to the authority of its chairman, Arafat, has stopped the terror against us, as they committed themselves in the Declaration of Principles. And yet, other terrorist organizations, continue to attack us, because it is their political aim to murder Israelis, because they are Israelis, through acts of terror, in order to cause the cessation of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Because this is their aim, we have no intention of shirking from the efforts toward peace, even if the acts of terrorism continue to harm us. We, on our side, will make every effort against the terrorists.
Well, he was dead wrong about the PLO (and rumor had it that he suspected it, and that had he lived, he would have ended the entire 'peace process' because of the PLO's terror).
I want to emphasize a number of subjects:
As a Jewish nation, we must, first and foremost, pay attention to the holy places, to our religion, tradition, and culture. We were strict about this in the Interim Agreement.
Here are several examples:
A. In the Cave of the Patriarchs, the current arrangement for security and the Jewish and Muslim prayers will continue as is. We agreed that we would examine the overall arrangements in Hebron after three months. We do not intend to change anything at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. [I don't recall what the 'current arrangement' was in 1995, but I can tell you that today, the largest hall - the Yitzchak Hall - is closed to Jewish worshippers most days of the year. CiJ]
B. At Rachel's Tomb, the principle was determined that worshippers and visitors would not encounter Palestinian police, neither on their approach to the Tomb nor during their prayers. The main road to Rachel's Tomb from the Gilo area up to the tomb itself [which is about 500 meters long. Gilo is in Jerusalem. CiJ], will be the responsibility of the IDF. Guarding Rachel's Tomb compound will be the responsibility of the IDF (or the Border Police), including three guard-posts outside the compound, which overlook the parking lot. Moreover, security for the area will be provided by joint Israeli- Palestinian patrols activities, in order to preserve the peace and security of those coming to Rachel's Tomb. [I don't know how many of you noticed the structure in the video Thursday morning, but until about 2000 or 2001, all those long hallways you saw did not exist, and the entrance to the tomb from the street was where you saw people going under a sign in Hebrew that said "Kever Rachel" (which means "Rachel's tomb). All the other structures were put up when the 'Palestinians' starting firing on the tomb in 2000. CiJ]
C. We have found a solution to the matter of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus. As is known, the students of the yeshiva and their teachers at Joseph's Tomb are there only during the day, and do not remain there at night. The current agreement will enable students to travel daily to the Tomb. The inside of the Tomb will be guarded by armed Israelis. The area will be guarded by the Palestinian Police according to the currently existing format and according to the procedures for movement and prayer at the "Shalom al-Yisrael" synagogue in Jericho. These arrangements have been in place in Jericho for a year and five months. There was one incident. A single Jew was prevented from praying. [The 'Palestinians' destroyed both of those sites in 2000. An IDF soldier bled to death in Joseph's Tomb because the government refused to allow the IDF to retake the tomb to save the soldier's life. Today, there is very limited access to those sites in coordination with the IDF, and neither site is as it once was. CiJ]
As for the other Jewish holy places -- most of them are located in Area B, which is under the overall security control of the IDF.
And as for the archaeological sites, we found a solution by mutual agreement, that no changes whatsoever will be made at any archaeological site, without the agreement of both sides.
I must emphasize that we have not committed ourselves, and I repeat, we have not committed ourselves to the scope of the redeployment at each stage. Most importantly, it was defined in the agreement that the restrictions on the completion of the redeployment are issues that will be discussed during the negotiations on the permanent settlement, as is stated in the Agreement itself, and I qoute: "During the further redeployment phases to be completed within 18 months from the date of the inauguration of the Council, powers and responsibilities relating to territory will be transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction that will cover West Bank and Gaza Strip territory, except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations." [In other words, Israel made NO commitments regarding permanent borders. CiJ]
[Quoting from the agreement] 2. "Nothing in this Agreement shall prejudice or preempt the outcome of the negotiations on the permanent status to be conducted pursuant to the DOP. Neither Party shall be deemed, by virtue of having entered into this Agreement, to have renounced or waived any of its existing rights, claims. or positions."
"Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent solution negotiations."
I want to remind you: we committed ourselves, that is, we came to an agreement, and committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.
Of course, we have never gone beyond the interim agreement. This was the last agreement signed with the 'Palestinians.'
Members of Knesset,
We are aware of the fact that the Palestinian Authority has not -- up until now -- honored its commitment to change the Palestinian Covenant, and that all of the promises on this matter have not been kept. I would like to bring it to the attention of the members of the house that I view these changes as a supreme test of the Palestinian Authority's willingness and ability, and the changes required will be an important and serious touchstone vis-a-vis the continued implementation of the agreement as a whole.
The relevant article speaks about this:
"The PLO undertakes that, within two months of the date of the inauguration of the Council, the Palestinian National Council will convene and formally approve the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant, as undertaken in the letters signed by the Chairman of the PLO and addressed to the Prime Minister of Israel, dated September 9, 1993 and May 4, 1994."
The PLO was supposed to amend its covenant to recognize Israel's 'right to exist.' Of course, it still has not done that fourteen years later.
After Rabin's speech, the interim agreement passed the Knesset 61-59, with the two deciding votes being provided by two defectors from the right wing Tzomet party(Alex Goldfarb and Gonen Segev), who were paid off with government ministries.
The Left teaches that Rabin's legacy is the 'peace process.' But this speech shows that Rabin's conception of the 'peace process' was nothing like the Left's conception. What Rabin envisioned was far less than what Ehud Barak offered at Camp David in 2000 and at Taba in 2001, and far, far less than what Ehud Olmert offered to Abu Mazen in September 2008. Would Rabin have 'come around' to what the 'Palestinians' have demanded? Let's say that's highly questionable.
The Left doesn't mourn Yitzchak Rabin. They use his death as an excuse to mourn the 'peace process' and the 'Palestinian state' to which they thought it would lead that would allow us - in their conception - to live like all the other nations. They put words into Rabin's mouth to give the illusion that he thought as they think. But the Left's entire concept is a delusion. And so too, unfortunately, is peace.
I'm sure you've all seen those tags on websites that show how often words have been used. The words that are used the most are the largest and the words that are used the least are the smallest. They're called Wordle.
Justice Richard Richard Goldstone insists that his 'balanced' report condemned both Israel and Hamas equally for 'war crimes' committed during Operation Cast Lead. Elder of Ziyon decided to check out that claim. So he plugged Goldstone's conclusions and recommendations into Wordle, and produced a graphic of the 250 words that occur most frequently in that section of the Goldstone Report.
I won't spoil it for you by reproducing the graphic - you can find it here. But here's your challenge:
This is the kind of reader many bloggers dream about.
One of the readers of Arms Control Wonk took time out from a trip to Syria to go close enough to photograph the site of the al-Kibar nuclear reactor that was destroyed by Israel in September 2007. I'm going to post one of the photographs (partly because it will tick the Syrians off to see it on an Israeli blog) and then suggest that you read the whole thing (Hat Tip: Barry Rubin).
And if any of you want to send me pictures of your summer vacation that you think I might be interested in posting, please feel free to send them to IsraelMatzav@gmail.com.
I'm sure you'll all be shocked, just shocked, to hear who initiated the Goldstone Commission. In an interview with Al-Jazeera (English), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) spills the beans.
Al Jazeera: The UN's Goldstone report has been in the headlines in the past few weeks - not without controversy - and has brought to light the conduct of the Israelis and Hamas during the war on Gaza earlier in the year. Does the OIC see this as a step forward in recognising what transpired during that war and in bringing the plight of the Palestinians to the fore on an international scale?
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu: Let me first start by completing the story of the history of the Goldstone report. What I would like to put on record is that the OIC was the initiator of this process.
On January 3, during the attacks on Gaza, we convened the executive committee of the OIC on a ministerial level. It was decided that the OIC group in Geneva should ask the Human Rights Council to convene and consider the possibility of sending a fact-finding mission to Gaza.
The OIC was instrumental in getting through this resolution and thanks to the good offices of Ms Pilay, the UN high commissioner, that she formed this fact-finding mission headed by Judge Goldstone.
On October 8, I visited Geneva and had a meeting with OIC ambassadors and the high commissioner. We revived the process again and the Goldstone report has been approved by the rights council.
Now as for the prospects of the Goldstone report, I think the first thing to mention here is that the acceptance and approval of the report by the UN's human rights council is itself testimony of the world's public opinion about what happened in Gaza.
This report has certain operative paragraphs which aim to determine who is responsible for the massacres and destruction - illegally and in flagrant violation of humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war.
I think now the OIC and the international community should work hand-in-hand to implement the proposals made in the Goldstone report.
This certainly explains the one-sided and biased mandate of the Goldstone Commission, which Goldstone himself is now trying to disavow.
But the key figure in this article has nothing to do with Israel: The OIC is the second largest intergovernmental body after the UN. So long as internationalists (like Barack Obama) try to govern the world on the basis of 'one country, one vote,' there will always be an automatic majority against Israel and Jews everywhere.
Dan Senor and Saul Singer have written a new book: Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online interviewed Senor about the book. Here are some highlights.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What’s so special about Israel?
DAN SENOR: Israel represents the highest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the world today: the most start-ups per capita; the highest percentage of GDP invested in civilian R&D; more companies on NASDAQ than all of Europe, Korea, Japan, India, and China combined; and the biggest destination for global venture capital per capita. Israel raises 2.5 times as much global venture capital as the U.S., 30 times more than Europe, 80 times more than India, and 350 times more than China — and these numbers are from 2008, when the world was in the midst of an economic meltdown. Israel all but escaped the crisis that ripped through economies everywhere else.
LOPEZ: What’s the secret of its success?
DAN SENOR: Our book dives into many interacting factors, but one of the most important is the training and battlefield experience that most Israelis receive in the military. The military is where many Israelis learn to lead and manage people, improvise, become mission-oriented, work in teams, and contribute to their country. They tend to come out of their years of service (three for men, two for women) more mature and directed than their peers in other countries. They learn “the value of five minutes,” as one general told us. They even learn something more uniquely Israeli: to speak up — regardless of ranks and hierarchy — if they think things can be done better.
LOPEZ: Where has Israel fallen behind?
DAN SENOR: The non-tech portion of the economy is overconcentrated, overregulated, and overtaxed, and has consequently performed at a mediocre level. If the conditions that have allowed the high-tech sector to flourish were applied to the rest of the economy, Israel could grow even faster. If Israel also were to address the low labor-force-participation rates in certain demographics, we agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel could become one of the top ten largest economies in the world.
LOPEZ: Has this been an ethical success story?
DAN SENOR: We believe that the free-market system is progressively eliminating the extreme poverty that was the lot of the world throughout history. This process is largely driven by improvements in productivity, which are in part a result of advancements in technology, especially by small, scrappy start-ups. Also, Israel has specialized in life-enhancing and life-saving technologies like medical devices, water conservation, desalination, and irrigation, not to mention the information technology that is making the world smaller. The great thing about innovation is that, unlike physical resources, ideas can be shared and duplicated by all without taking from anyone else.
I'm probably not the best one to discuss this story, because I never served in the army (I was 34 years old when we immigrated to Israel and the major Russian immigration started a year or two before we came, so they didn't want me) and I never got the army culture down pat as a result. In a lot of ways, I still prefer the American way of doing business. With Israelis, everything is face-to-face meetings and despite what he says about speaking up, in my experience, most Israelis are conformists. Tell me where they grew up and how they dress and I can tell you an awful lot about them.
But it's difficult to argue with the success. Maybe I need a review copy of the book.
Following up on Tuesday night's firing of a Katyusha rocket into Israel, a UNIFIL spokesman told the Jerusalem Post that UNIFIL has not encountered any efforts by Hezbullah to re-arm. But the IDF says that's because UNIFIL does not go into the Lebanese villages, and that Hezbullah in fact maintains an armory in every village.
Speaking by phone from southern Lebanon, UNIFIL's Deputy Spokesman, Andreas Tenenti, told the Post that the peacekeepers have not encountered any attempts by Hizbullah to rearm itself in violation of Resolution 1701.
"From what we've seen during our patrols, we have not witnessed any rearmament," Tenenti said. "We have a large presence in the south of the country, [but] we are not in every place at every time," he added.
Lebanese army forces discovered on Wednesday morning four rockets mounted on launch pads in the Lebanese village of Houlo - from where a Katyusha rocket was fired at the Upper Galilee region of northern Israel on Tuesday evening.
The rockets, which were reportedly ready for launch, were neutralized by Lebanese troops.
The calm is, however, deceptive, Israel believes. Recent explosions of weapons caches in Lebanese villages offered more than enough proof of Hizbullah's rearmament efforts, the army source said.
"There are facts on the ground which speak for themselves," he added. Earlier this month, the IDF released surveillance video taken from a drone of a building in the town of Tirplesi following an enormous explosion of what the army says was an illegal Hizbullah arms cache.
Various long objects covered by a fabric can be seen being removed from the building, loaded onto a truck, and driven away. The objects were medium-range rockets that can strike deep into northern Israel, security sources said.
"What can be more clear than that?" the source asked.
The problem is that UNIFIL's mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 does not allow them to enter Lebanese villages unless the Lebanese Armed Forces ask them to enter. The Lebanese Armed Forces are dominated by Hezbullah sympathizers and of course, never ask UNIFIL to enter the villages.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-two years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 10 to 30 years and seven grandchildren. Our eldest daughter and eldest son are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com