LATMA's tribal update featuing the non-political generalHere's the weekly LATMA tribal update featuring the non-political general and the man who forgot something.
Let's go to the videotape.
There was nothing "out of the ordinary" about Friday's annual Palestinian protest of Land Day, the Israeli Defense Forces [IDF] spokesman said, despite predictions that 2 million Palestinians and activists would swamp Israel's security forces. Many protests both in Israel and the territories were prevented or under attended, while international demonstrations drew few to the cause of "stopping the Judaization of Jerusalem."And after they spent all that money on it instead of sending salaries to 'starving' Gaza. BWAHAHAHAHAH!
The army was "satisfied" about its largely nonviolent reaction to the protests, as well as Palestinian-Israeli security cooperation in preventing the overwhelming spread of protests, said IDF Spokesman Yoav Mordechai. Only one violent protester was killed along the Gaza border, in comparison to 38 deaths that followed illegal infiltrations along the Syrian and Lebanese borders last year. The low turnout also thwarted attempts by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to draw more demonstrators to officially sponsored rallies.
The event was also a major failure internationally. Jordanian protesters were stopped before they reached the border, and four American members of the anti-Zionist Jewish group Neturei Karta were beaten and verbally abused by some local participants. Lebanese protesters spoke out violently against Israel but did not provoke major reactions at the border, while the ongoing Syrian government crackdown prevented any serious actions there.
1)Faith in the electorate
Though, this is not my usual area of commentary, this week President Obama made a very telling remark to outgoing President Medvedev of Russia.“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space...This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”Martin Peretz writes in Where's an Open Mic When We Really Need It? for the Wall Street Journal:But really the message, the important one, concerns us, here in America. It is that the American people can't be trusted if the president is honest with them about what he proposes. More bluntly, that the American people are not trusted by their own president. Otherwise the president would tell us the truth about his intentions. And here he is, admitting his distrust of his own people to a leader of a nasty foreign government that seeks to thwart our purposes in the Middle East and elsewhere. President Obama is in cahoots with the Russian regime against America's very body politic.The editors of the Washington Post criticize President Obama’s bad bet on Vladimir Putin:
Where is an open mic when we need one? It is ironic that this president, who is committed to the programmatic pacification of Russian anxiety about defensive nuclear policy, has wasted more than three years in trying to talk with the regime of the ayatollahs about its craving for an offensive atomic capability.
More likely than not, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are already embarked on a scientific campaign to match Tehran's not-all-that-hidden military accomplishments and ambitions. When these come close to maturing, President Obama's cares about Russian missile anxieties will mean less than nothing.Instead, Mr. Obama has invited Mr. Putin to meet in Washington shortly after his inauguration in May to discuss an agenda that Mr. Obama says will include a new agreement on reducing nuclear weapons. His lobbyists are pressing hard, meanwhile, for the repeal of a 1974 law limiting trade with Russia while resisting a congressional proposal, supported by many Democrats, that would tie the repeal to a new law punishing Russian human rights abusers.If there's a sign that the New York Times is hopelessly out of touch on almost every issue (not just the Middle East) editor Andrew Rosenthal's Reducing Nuclear Arms Is Not ‘Alarming.’ It’s Necessary is an excellent sign.
Last month Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Moscow’s obstruction of action by the U.N. Security Council on Syria was “just despicable.” Yet last week the Obama administration agreed to support what amounts to Russia’s plan for keeping the Assad regime in power, by dispatching a U.N. envoy to broker peace. Mr. Obama’s assurance to Mr. Medvedev, meanwhile, has raised a reasonable question: What “flexibility” will Mr. Obama be prepared to offer on missile defense, given that Mr. Putin surely will not be satisfied with anything short of scrapping the system or giving Russia a veto over its use?
Mr. Obama said Tuesday that “at a time of great challenges around the world, cooperation between the United States and Russia is absolutely critical to world peace and stability.” But that cooperation — and progress on Mr. Obama’s priority of more nuclear arms reductions — should not come at the expense of U.S. defense and security interests. Moreover, Mr. Obama would be foolish to center his policy on an autocrat whose people are clamoring for democratic change. Has nothing been learned from the Arab Spring?A couple of readers have compared President Obama’s live-microphone remark about flexibility after the election to the Etch A Sketch line from Mitt Romney’s political adviser, and wondered why I came down harder on the latter than the former.To Rosenthal (and I would assume to many of his fellow editors at the New York Times) a statement made about political expediency by an adviser to a candidate is worse than that a statement of contempt by the President to a rival head of state about the people who elected him (and he hopes will elect him again.) To quote Frasier Crane, "Tell me, what color is the sky in your world?"
There are, to my mind, vast differences between what Mr. Obama said and the suggestion by Mr. Romney’s adviser that Mr. Romney can simply shake the Etch A Sketch if he gets the nomination, erase all of the loony right-wing tunes he’s been singing all year and change his positions to more moderate ones.
Mr. Obama is not suggesting any change in position. He has been working for desperately needed reductions in nuclear arms for years. Russia is the only relevant country to talk to about that, and it is in Russia’s interest to reduce nuclear arms stockpiles, just as it is in the interest of the United States.
2) When peace is war by other means
Assaf Romirowsky critiques Peter Beinart:The American Jewish community is facing a crisis, one that has made the red lines of Jewish identity blurry and led to the "big tent" debate - in other words, the perceived Jewish need to accept everyone in the name of being open and pluralistic. Of course, such well meaning individuals who have made Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) a religion would not dare "occupy" another people, ergo, Israeli policies are bad.So has Barry Rubin:
Despite the above, the Zionist enterprise of 2012 is alive and well - not perfect but indeed thriving, as illustrated in Start Up Nation. The so-called crisis is only in the minds of Beinart, JStreet and its followers, who feel uncomfortable with the measures Israel has to take in order to ensure its survival. The failure among such "open minded" Jews to understand the damage they do to the historical Zionist narrative by adopting the Palestinian one will only prolong the "occupation," rather than end it.That is why the Israeli peacenik left collapsed and Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister. It wasn’t that Israel had moved to the right but that reality had done so.Nathan Guttman has written an apology for J-Street in the Forward. Guttman never writes that J-Street has become irrelevant but he reports:
Thus, the problem of American liberal Jews is not to save Israel from reactionary religious extremists and hardline rightists but to come to terms with the views of the majority of Israelis, the centrists and those left of center.
Along the lines of their thinking we would have to rewrite the Haggadah along these lines:
“For we have not merely projected our paranoiac thinking that just one alone has risen against us to destroy us, but we’ve been so overwhelmed with irrational fear that we think in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; even though they are just standing around doing nothing except occasional texting and discussing the big game on television last night. But fortunately the left-wing critics, blessed be They, verbally attack us, help our enemies, and launch boycotts against us which save us from our own stupidity.”The crowd gave only muted applause to comments touting the administration’s positions on the Middle East, Iran and the Palestinian issue. But the audience offered a lengthy standing ovation to Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett when she trumpeted the president’s health reform plan. Her mention of women’s rights to birth control brought the J Street delegates to their feet.At the J-Street convention the crowd was more interested in reproductive rights than they were in the Middle East!
3) Ain't no way to treat an ally
A number of sources have picked up on a campaign to undermine Israeli efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Earlier this month Omri Ceren observed White House Official: We’re Making Israel’s Decision to Attack Iran “Hard as Possible”:Most pro-Israel president evuh: “We’re trying to make the decision to attack as hard as possible for Israel,” said an administration official… he suggested that any Israeli strike on Iran before international oil and gas sanctions take effect this summer would undermine the tenuous unity the United States and its allies have built to oppose Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Privately, White House officials say the coalition would explode with the first Israeli airstrike.Ron Ben Yishai:To sum up, the American publications caused the following damage:
- Iran now has a decent picture of what Israel’s and America’s intelligence communities know about Tehran’s nuclear program and defense establishment, including its aerial defenses.
- The Iranians now know about the indications that would be perceived by Washington and Jerusalem as a “nuclear breakthrough”. Hence, Iran can do a better job of concealment.
- The reports make it more difficult to utilize certain operational options. These options, even if not considered thus far, could have been used by the US in the future, should Iran not thwart them via diplomatic and military means.Needless to say, this is not how one should be treating an ally, even if this is a relationship between a superpower and a satellite state. The targeted assassination campaign currently undertaken by the US government also sharply contradicts President Obama’s declaration at the AIPAC Conference, whereby he and the US recognize Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself by itself. One cannot utter these words and a moment later exposes Israel’s vulnerabilities and possible strike routes to its enemies.and Benny AvniIt’s also at odds with Obama’s belief, stated at AIPAC this month, that Israel has the “sovereign right” to “defend itself, by itself.”have shown how the administration (or elements within the administration) have been working against Israel through selective leaks.
The leaking campaign provides Iran with too many details about America’s capabilities — weakening Obama’s (or a future president’s) ability to fulfill his promise to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon by using “all options on the table.”
Palestinian protesters were clashing with Israeli forces at the Kalandiya checkpoint, throwing rocks, firebombs and burning tires. Security forces were using large amounts of tear gas, stun grenades, sound weapons and foul-smelling water to disperse the protesters.YNet adds:
A large number of protesters arrived at the checkpoint from Ramallah. At least one was injured on his arm by a rubber bullet and taken to the hospital.
Preparations took place along all of Israel’s fronts. The IDF announced that Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered West Bank crossings closed for a 24-hour period.
In Bethlehem, dozens of protesters were throwing stones at an IDF checkpoint after breaking through a line of Palestinian police.
Earlier, PA security forces had blocked the protesters from approaching the checkpoint. The protesters stopped in front of the Palestinian police and sat in the road, chanting: "To Jerusalem, we will march."
Israel Police deployed large numbers of police and border police forces in and around Moshav Avivim near the Lebanese border Friday morning, ahead of the expected demonstrations. Security forces set up checkpoints to prevent protesters from encroaching on the Lebanese border, where at least 10 people were killed in clashes that erupted during last years Nakba Day commemorations.
A chief superintendent in the police's Northern District said the preparations were designed with lessons learned from the deadly events last year. Police were prepared for crow control, armed with tear gas and riot gear.
Police said they were coordinating with the army, who was in turn coordinating with the United Nations in Lebanon.
Jordanian news sites have reported that some 8,000 people are gathering in order to take part in the massive march towards the Israeli border. There is increased security presence in the area.And for those of you wondering how you get all those great pictures at home, here are some brave photographers (several dozen?) hiding while they take pictures.
Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported that 120 buses will be transporting Lebanese participants and participants from Palestinian refugee camps to the Global March on Jerusalem.
French police arrested some 20 suspected terrorists in dawn raids Friday, a source privy to the operations said. Most of the raids were carried out in the city of Toulouse, and police sources reported finding some arms, including at least one Kalashnikov machinegun.I hope that the feeling that terrorism must be fought lasts longer than it did after 9/11. For many of those not directly affected by 9/11, I don't think it lasted much more than a week. If that happens, you can look for the next Islamic terror attack soon.
The raids were carried out by the French police's special counter-terrorism intelligence unit (DCRI) and elite police unit RAID – the same unit that carried out the 30 hour standoff with Merah on March 22, but an official police source stressed that there was no connection between Merah and the arrest of radical Islamic activists.
On Friday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the "trauma caused by the killing in Toulouse are somewhat comparable to the (trauma) caused by the September 11 attacks in the United States."
Speaking in a radio interview, the president said he did not wish to compare the two horrors, but noted that "the important thing to understand is that the trauma of Toulouse runs deep inside our country."
Last month, Reuters showed a number of Iranian girls training martial arts in a city near Tehran, claiming Iran was training more than 3,000 female ninjas to kill any possible foreign invaders. The distorted Reuters report was picked up by other British media outlets. Following the strong reaction of Iranian media to the report, Reuters made changes to parts of the report but refused to apologize for slander.Slander? But they seem proud of it and they're saying, wouldn't anyone else in the same position do the same thing!
Just as Arafat dismissed the generous offer he received from former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak during the failed Camp David summit in 2000, Abbas rejected Olmert's plan because it did not offer all of the Palestinian leader's demands. Perhaps one of the biggest problems is also what happened during Israel's negotiations with us in Egypt: Egypt got from Israel 100% of what it asked for; how, after that, can any Arab leader ever settle for anything less?Shalabi is correct. And if anything, the mistake has been compounded: Rabin and Clinton gave Jordan's King Hussein every last inch of former Jordanian land not located in Judea or Samaria as part of that treaty in 1994, plus extra water to boot (in case you're wondering why the 'Palestinians' complain so much about water, that's part of it too).
Labels: Boston Bruins
StandWithUs is urging schools, campuses, synagogues, community organizations, and individuals to celebrate Israel by designating March 30 as the day to buy up Israeli goods at local stores.This is the way to beat BDS.
The date was chosen because the anti-Israel boycott campaign has planned a global boycott of Israeli products for the same day (March 30). Protestors will stand outside stores, asking shoppers not to buy Israeli products.
"We need to show the boycotters that their efforts remain doomed. Let the boycotters know that when they call for boycotts of even one or two stores or products, they will face a much larger movement to buy Israeli goods," said StandWithUs co-founder and CEO Roz Rothstein. "We are telling people to go to their local stores, request the exact Israeli products being targeted, and buy them out. Let store managers know they should keep Israeli products well stocked on the shelves."
StandWithUs, in partnership with the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, successfully countered similar boycott days in 2010 and 2011. They mobilized Israel supporters in every store that the boycotters had targeted worldwide. Shoppers bypassed the protesters and bought out entire Israeli product lines. Delighted store owners said it was their best shopping days and promised to keep their shelves stocked with the targeted products.
March 30, 2012, is an opportune day to purchase Israeli products because the Jewish holiday of Passover is in April this year. Shoppers can choose presents from the wonderful array of Israeli-made items, from fine Israeli wines to the high-quality Ahava beauty products, Israeli-made jewelry, shoes, clothes, and food, including Sabra or Tribe hummus and Osem cookies.
"We must defeat the boycotters who advocate destructive, instead of constructive, measures, who undermine hopes for peaceful coexistence, and whose only goal is to cripple and damage Israel by hurting Israeli citizens," Rothstein emphasized. "We can only do this by joining together to be part of a BIG campaign like this."
Labels: Buy Israeli Goods day
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran Thursday, where he praised the long-standing cooperation between the two countries and their response "to the arrogance of the Western countries."What many Americans don't get is that President Obama also stands against 'western arrogance.' He just can't say so until after the elections.
Erdogan reiterated his stance that Iran has a right to a peaceful nuclear energy program at the meeting with Ahmadinejad. "The government and people of Turkey have, in a transparent manner, always supported [Iran's] nuclear energy stances and will seriously pursue the same policy in the future," the Iranian news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.
Erdogan held talks about Iran with US President Barack Obama on Sunday in South Korea, raising speculation Turkey was taking a message from Washington to Tehran - although a Turkish official dismissed that.
"There is no new message on the nuclear issue," the Turkish official said. "Turkey is not the messenger. That is just speculation. Our message is what we have said many times before."
Al-Shayeb was detained for interrogation following a complaint filed against him by PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki and the head of the diplomatic mission in Paris.Will anyone care? Will the New York Times even notice? Will 'Human Rights Watch'? Reporters without Borders? No, none of them will notice or care. Al-Shayeb's problem is that he was arrested by the 'Palestinian Authority' and not by Israel.
"Al-Shayeb has gone on hunger strike to protest against his arbitrary detention," a Palestinian journalist in Ramallah said. "We see the detention as an assault on freedom of expression in the Palestinian territories." Another journalist said that the detention of Al-Shayeb was aimed at sending a warning to all reporters who dare to criticize the PA government or report about cases of corruption.
"In the coming days we will launch a campaign to demand the release of Al-Shayeb," he told The Jerusalem Post. "His arrest is a flagrant violation of freedom of speech." Several Palestinian human rights groups have also joined calls for releasing Al-Shayeb, who faces charges of "slander and libel." The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms said that the "era of imprisoning journalists belongs to the past." The center said that there was no reason why the journalist should remain in detention despite the charges against him.
The group said that it was ironic that that on the same day that Al-Shayeb was taken into custody, the PA government in Ramallah announced an Award for Freedom of Media in 2012 and invited Palestinian journalists to submit their candidacy.
Several Palestinian bloggers have also condemned the detention of Al-Shayeb, urging the PA to release him immediately and unconditionally. Malki, meanwhile, defended the decision to detain the journalist and accused him of "committing a sin against the media." Malki told the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency that he did not understand why Palestinian journalists were angry over the detention of their colleague.
Accusing Al-Shayeb of publishing lies and fabrications, the PA foreign minister said that the journalist deserved to be punished. He also urged Palestinian journalists to distance themselves from Al-Shayeb.
Jeff Goldberg served in the IDF. Tony Judt tried a kibbutz. So tell me what experience Peter Beinart has of Israel? I see an unbroken trail from private school to Yale to Oxford to TNR. Did he join a Zionist youth movement in school? Volunteer on a kibbutz or army base? Do a semester abroad at an Israeli university? Commit first, opine later—that confers standing. As far as I can tell, Beinart has none.On Twitter, Noah Pollak proposes the following:
My pledge to @PeterBeinart: I'll boycott settler products for the same number of days you've spent in Israel over the course of your life.If you go to that last link, you can retweet Noah. My guess is that except for the Israeli-born among them, most Leftist Jews have never been to (or spent very little time in) Israel.
1) "Nearby" Ashdod
A recent New York Time news story, As Rockets Fly, New Conditions Shape Fight in Gaza, was illustrated with a picture of school girls taking cover from a rocket attack. The captions read, "In a fourth day of cross-border fighting, schoolgirls in Ashdod, Israel, took cover on Monday during a rocket attack launched from the nearby Gaza Strip."
The use of the word "nearby" is curious. According to Google Maps Ashdod is about twenty miles from Gaza. Gaza is not visible from Ashdod as it is from Sderot. To shoot a rocket from Gaza to Ashdod requires more fuel and technical skill. This is what the terror groups in Hamas controlled Gaza invest in, not creating a better and more productive society.
A "Letter from Israel" by Koby tells what it's like to live in Ashdod. (h/t tweet from Elder of Ziyon)My 3-year-old has trauma. She shakes in my hands every time a siren is heard. She hugs me and wouldn’t let go for long time. She asks me: ”Dad, why is the siren coming down at us?”. What do you say to your baby when she asks this? That Arabs Hate us and want us dead? How can I explain it to a baby?A nearby Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh experiences similar warnings as a student there, Jonah Keyak writes (h/t Israel Matzav, Daily Alert) :
No we do not teach our children hate. We teach them hope and love and respect.
Sirens blare in my head. Realizing this is not a drill, I jump out of bed and dash to the closest bomb shelter. Within seconds, the room fills with American, Canadian and Israeli students, all here in fear for their lives. Boom one, that was close…boom two, that was closer…wait for it…boom three. We wait to hear the booms because, ironically, that’s the most calming sound. That’s when we know that the bombs have landed and we are momentarily safe.
To get some perspective of the rocket threat to Israel, go the JCPA website, click on the "Israel and its neighbors" tab (on top) and then choose the "Gaza Strip" button (to the left).
If things have been a little quieter lately, it might have to with Israel's success in killing the responsible terrorists than the terrorists' good behavior. (h/t Daily Alert)On the one hand, the PIJ, which joined the attacks despite the fact that the targeted killing had not been directed at an operative of its own, launched most of the rockets with ranges greater than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles). Of the 20 terrorist operatives killed by IDF fire, 14 belonged to the PIJ (the other six belonged mainly to the PRC).2) Gulf U
On the other hand, the PIJ did not force Israel to pay a high price in lives for the targeted killing of two senior PRC terrorist organizations and the deaths in air strikes of its own operatives, despite the massive amounts of rocket fire directed against Israel, far greater than in previous rounds of escalation (About 240 rockets were fired at Israel, 170 either falling in Israeli territory or intercepted by the Iron Dome, which was successful in destroying long-range rockets.). In addition, public conduct on the home front contributed to the small number of civilian casualties. While a number of civilians were wounded and damage was done to property, in our assessment, the PIJ and PRC regarded the price exacted from Israel as far too low.
The New York Times recently featured a "Special Report," Elite Schools Find New Base in Emirates:The universities are also contributing to much-needed original research on the Middle East, which education experts say can be patchy and outdated. The N.Y.U. Abu Dhabi Institute is spending $35 million on research into Middle Eastern issues. Wharton Abu Dhabi, an office that opened in early 2010, is supervising 30 research projects funded by the CERT Foundation, the entrepreneurial arm of the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi.Hmmm. They're studying "Middle East issues" in Abu Dhabi. I wonder how academic that enterprise is! All in all the article reads more like a brochure for those looking to study in the Gulf, rather than a serious journalistic effort. After all, how could the New York Times have failed to note the arrest of Nasser bin Ghaith last year?
“Our goal is to create and disseminate knowledge in the region and the best way to do that was to set up an office in the Mideast,” said Pankaj Paul, regional manager for Wharton’s U.A.E. office, the business school’s sole presence outside the United States.The arrest of Nasser bin Ghaith, a lecturer at the Abu Dhabi branch of the University of Paris IV (Paris-Sorbonne) who has participated in the Doha Debates, a respected regional political forum, leaves observers asking what freedoms the academics working at new Western branch campuses in the emirates will enjoy. "Are professors only protected in the 90 minutes when they are giving seminars, and after that they are fair game?" asks Samer Muscati, a researcher on the United Arab Emirates for Human Rights Watch.If lecturers (and students) are not free to discuss issues and topic that the hosting government disapproves of, it necessarily limits the quality of the academics. In the mid-90's the New York Times applauded Yale University for rejecting a contribution from alumnus Lee Bass for a Western Civilization curriculum because Bass demanded a say in who could teach in the program. But, the same newspaper seemingly has no problem with this limit on academic freedom.
Clearly this is a business decision, that will hurt the quality of education at these institutions.
3) VDH on antisemitism
This is the heart of Victor Davis Hanson's "The New Antisemitism" (h/t Instapundit)Does the world much care about the principle of occupation? Not really. Consider land that has been “occupied” in the fashion of the West Bank since World War II. Russia won’t give up the southern Kurile Islands it took from Japan. Tibet ceased to exist as a sovereign country—well before the 1967 Middle East War—when it was absorbed by Communist China. Turkish forces since their 1974 invasion have occupied large swaths of Cyprus. East Prussia ceased to exist in 1945, after 13 million German refugees were displaced from ancestral homelands that dated back 500 years.One more point worth citing:
The 112-mile green line that runs through downtown Nicosia to divide Cyprus makes Jerusalem look united in comparison. Over 500,000 Jews have been ethnically-cleansed from Arab capitals since 1947, in waves of pogroms that come every few decades. Why are they not considered refugees the way the Palestinians are?
The point is not that the world community should not focus on Israel’s disputes with its neighbors, but that it singles Israel out for its purported transgressions in a fashion that it does not for nearly identical disagreements elsewhere. Over 75 percent of recent United Nations resolutions target Israel, which has been cited for human rights violations far more than the Sudan, Congo, or Rwanda, where millions have perished in little-noticed genocides. Why is the international community so anti-Israel?On the flip side, since the 1960s, trillions of petrodollars have flowed into the Islamic Middle East, not just ensuring that Israel’s enemies now were armed, ascendant, and flanked by powerful Western friends, but through contributions, donations, and endowments also deeply embedded within Western thought and society itself. Universities suddenly sought endowed Middle East professorships and legions of full tuition-paying Middle East undergraduates. Had Israel the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia, then “occupied” Palestine might have resonated at the UN about as much as Ossetia, Kashmir, or the Western Sahara does today.
To sum up, the American publications caused the following damage:Waiting for someone on the Republican side of the aisle to expose this. Perhaps someone should send this to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen since we saw Wednesday night that she has more you-know-what's than any of her party's Presidential candidates.
Iran now has a decent picture of what Israel’s and America’s intelligence communities know about Tehran’s nuclear program and defense establishment, including its aerial defenses.
The Iranians now know about the indications that would be perceived by Washington and Jerusalem as a “nuclear breakthrough”. Hence, Iran can do a better job of concealment.
The reports make it more difficult to utilize certain operational options. These options, even if not considered thus far, could have been used by the US in the future, should Iran not thwart them via diplomatic and military means.
Needless to say, this is not how one should be treating an ally, even if this is a relationship between a superpower and a satellite state. The targeted assassination campaign currently undertaken by the US government also sharply contradicts President Obama’s declaration at the AIPAC Conference, whereby he and the US recognize Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself by itself. One cannot utter these words and a moment later exposes Israel’s vulnerabilities and possible strike routes to its enemies.
Indeed, there is a difference between legitimate persuasion efforts and practical steps to thwart Israeli plans and eliminate them.
For a total of seven years, I served as Yedioth Ahronoth’s reporter in Washington, so I know very well that with a few exceptions, the US Administration knows how to prevent leaks to the media if it so wishes. This is the case even when dealing with former officials, and most certainly when dealing with current government officials. What we are seeing here is not a trickle of information, but rather, a powerful current, a true flood that leaves no doubt as to the existence of an orchestrated media campaign with clear aims.
There is another interesting aspect to this story from an American point of view: In 2002, when President George W. Bush sought to embark on war in Iraq, US intelligence agencies provided him with all the “evidence” that Saddam Hussein is developing large quantities of nuclear and chemical weapons. Following the war, when no traces of such weapons were discovered in Iraq, a Congress inquiry found that US intelligence officials were so eager to satisfy their president that they cut corners and relied on unsubstantiated information.
Given American media reports in recent days, one must wonder whether history is repeating itself. Could it be that the US intelligence community is providing President Obama with what he needs for political reasons – that is, information meant to curb an Israeli or American strike on Iran?
“The point is to show the world that Israel is preventing people from visiting Palestine,” said Qumsiyeh who is a professor at Bethlehem University.What could go wrong?
“By entering Palestine through Ben-Gurion airport, hundreds of people over 48 hours will send a message that we want Israel to recognize the basic human right ... of those who want to visit us,” he said.
“We call on our elected representatives and our government to ensure that we shall be normally and properly treated on our arrival in Ben- Gurion airport, as are Israeli citizens when they come to our countries,” he said.
On Tuesday Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said that Israel was working with other governments and foreign airlines to identify activists and stop them from boarding planes.
But Qumsiyeh told The Jerusalem Post that after last summer’s event, judges in France and Germany told the airlines they could not collectively bar people from boarding planes.
“I think that this year they will be able to get on the planes,” he said. “The question is, what will Israel do when they land,” he said.
“I think that Israel should just let them in. They are not coming to protest. They are coming to see the situation for themselves and to experience what Palestinians experience,” he said.
The Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse complained to the local prosecutor about the harassing mail and phone calls, the French news agency AFP reported.Disgusting.
Prosecutor Michel Valet said Wednesday that he had ordered a police investigation into the incidents.
The school's e-mail system reportedly filled up with messages calling for the murder of Jews and linking the attack to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to AFP.
In 2009, the deputy chief of mission of the U.S. embassy in Baku, Donald Lu, sent a cable to the State Department's headquarters in Foggy Bottom titled "Azerbaijan's discreet symbiosis with Israel." The memo, later released by WikiLeaks, quotes Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev as describing his country's relationship with the Jewish state as an iceberg: "nine-tenths of it is below the surface."The article goes on to discuss Israel's huge arms deal with Azerbaijan - announced in February - and increased tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan, most of which are not related to Iran's nuclear weapons program and its threats to wipe out Israel.
[F]our senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran's northern border. To do what, exactly, is not clear. "The Israelis have bought an airfield," a senior administration official told me in early February, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan."
Senior U.S. intelligence officials are increasingly concerned that Israel's military expansion into Azerbaijan complicates U.S. efforts to dampen Israeli-Iranian tensions, according to the sources. Military planners, I was told, must now plan not only for a war scenario that includes the Persian Gulf -- but one that could include the Caucasus. The burgeoning Israel-Azerbaijan relationship has also become a flashpoint in both countries' relationship with Turkey, a regional heavyweight that fears the economic and political fallout of a war with Iran. Turkey's most senior government officials have raised their concerns with their U.S. counterparts, as well as with the Azeris, the sources said.
The Israeli embassy in Washington, the Israel Defense Forces, and the Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, were all contacted for comment on this story but did not respond.
The Azeri embassy to the United States also did not respond to requests for information regarding Azerbaijan's security agreements with Israel. During a recent visit to Tehran, however, Azerbaijan's defense minister publicly ruled out the use of Azerbaijan for a strike on Iran. "The Republic of Azerbaijan, like always in the past, will never permit any country to take advantage of its land, or air, against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which we consider our brother and friend country," he said.
But even if his government makes good on that promise, it could still provide Israel with essential support. A U.S. military intelligence officer noted that Azeri defense minister did not explicitly bar Israeli bombers from landing in the country after a strike. Nor did he rule out the basing of Israeli search-and-rescue units in the country. Proffering such landing rights -- and mounting search and rescue operations closer to Iran -- would make an Israeli attack on Iran easier.
"We're watching what Iran does closely," one of the U.S. sources, an intelligence officer engaged in assessing the ramifications of a prospective Israeli attack confirmed. "But we're now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it."
"The problem is the F-15s," Gardiner said, "who would go in as fighters to protect the F-16 bombers and stay over the target." In the likely event that Iran scrambled its fighters to intercept the Israeli jets, he continued, the F-15s would be used to engage them. "Those F-15s would burn up fuel over the target, and would need to land."Is this plausible? Sure it is. I've run similar stories involving speculation about Azerbaijan and other countries (Georgia, India and Cyprus) being involved in an Israeli attack on Iran. And I've even reported that Israel stores planes in Azerbaijan (which doesn't quite fit with this story, but is close).
Could they land in Azerbaijan? "Well, it would have to be low profile, because of political sensitivities, so that means it would have to be outside of Baku and it would have to be highly developed." Azerbaijan has such a place: the Sitalcay airstrip, which is located just over 40 miles northwest of Baku and 340 miles from the Iranian border. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Sitalcay's two tarmacs and the adjacent facilities were used by a squadron of Soviet Sukhoi SU-25 jets -- perfect for Israeli fighters and bombers. "Well then," Gardiner said, after the site was described to him, "that would be the place."
The deepening Azeri-Israeli relationship has also escalated Israel's dispute with Turkey, which began when Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish ship destined for Gaza in May 2010, killing nine Turkish citizens. When Turkey demanded an apology, Israel not only refused, it abruptly canceled a $150 million contract to develop and manufacture drones with the Turkish military -- then entered negotiations with Azerbaijan to jointly manufacture 60 Israeli drones of varying types. The $1.6 billion arms agreement between Israel and Azerbaijan also left Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "sputtering in rage," according to a retired U.S. diplomat.But Israel's dispute with Turkey started way before that. It burst into the open at Davos in January 2009 when Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan stormed out of a panel discussion with Israeli President Shimon Peres, and it started a year before that. Why would Perry mislead about that?
This officer pointed to a July 2010 joint Israeli-Romanian exercise that tested Israeli air capabilities in mountainous areas -- like those the Israeli Air Force would face during a bombing mission against Iranian nuclear facilities that the Iranians have buried deep into mountainsides. U.S. military officers watched the exercises closely, not least because they objected to the large number of Israeli fighters operating from airbases of a NATO-member country, but also because 100 Israeli fighters overflew Greece as a part of a simulation of an attack on Iran. The Israelis eventually curtailed their Romanian military activities when the United States expressed discomfort with practicing the bombing of Iran from a NATO country, according to this senior military intelligence officer.The reasons that exercise was curtailed had nothing to do with the US - unless Perry is claiming that the US shot down an Israeli helicopter that crashed during the exercise.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio is about to endorse Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney -- just a week after his political mentor, Jeb Bush, threw in with the party's frontrunner. Update** he's on FOX's Hannity now and made it official.I am disappointed. Still, I admit that I would be a lot more comfortable voting for Romney with Rubio on the ticket (and no, Jeb Bush doesn't make me feel as warm as Rubio does). But Rubio is such a contrast with Romney too. He's so much more real and sincere....
Rubio's endorsement is another sign that Romney is viewed as the party's inevitable nominee and that the GOP establishment is growing more concerned with the protacted primary that has dragged down Romney's poll numbers.
"I don't have a problem with primaries," Rubio told Sean Hannity. "But I think we're at a stage now where at least two of the candidates have openly admitted that the only way they're going to be able to win the nomination is to have a floor fight in Tampa in August. I don't think there's anything good about that. There is no way that anyone can convince me that having a floor fight at the convention in Tampa in August is a recipe for victory in November. On the contrary. I think it's a recipe for disaster. So I just don't think that's a wise route to go."
Asked if he is endorsing Romney, Rubio said "I am going to endorse Mitt Romney.... He offers such a stark contrast to the president's record."
Rubio said he's convinced of two things: "No. 1, Mitt Romney will govern as a conservative. And No. 2 that he will be head and shoulders better than the guy who's in the White House right now."
House Foreign Affairs Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman
CONTACT: Brad Goehner and Andeliz Castillo, (202) 225-5021
Alex Cruz (South Florida press), (202) 225-8200
For IMMEDIATE Release – March 28, 2012
Ros-Lehtinen: ‘Where Does Administration Think Jerusalem Is? On Mars?’
Urges Administration to Enforce U.S. Law, Move Embassy to Jerusalem
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today called on the Administration to publically recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. During today’s Department of State press briefing, the Department’s spokesperson refused to answer whether Jerusalem is located in Israel and whether it is the capital of Israel. The questions were related to a press release issued Monday by the Department that noted ongoing travel by a Department official to “Algeria, Qatar, Jordan, Jerusalem, and Israel,” implying that Jerusalem and Israel are two distinct entities. State later issued a release noting the official’s travel to “Algiers, Doha, Amman, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv.” Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“For more than three years, the Obama Administration has followed in the flawed footsteps of its predecessors by refusing to fully implement U.S. law and move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
“Now, the Administration has gone even further. A mistake on a press release is understandable, but today the Administration doubled down on its determination to treat Jerusalem as separate from Israel. Where does the Administration think Jerusalem is? On Mars?
“Legitimizing the myth that Jerusalem isn’t part of Israel undermines our ally Israel’s sovereign right to designate its own capital, and lends credibility to efforts by Palestinian leaders and extremists who continue to deny the connection of the Jewish people to their historic capital, Jerusalem.
“The Administration needs to face reality, recognize publicly that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, and fully enforce U.S. law by moving our embassy to Jerusalem.”
Q: Yesterday there was a bit of a kerfuffle over an announcement that was made by the department about the travel of your boss. Is it the State Department's position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel?I'm embedding the video of the briefing below. The questioning starts at 20:48 and goes until 22:40. They come back to it later at 43:45. The questioner in each case is Matthew Lee of the AP. There's also a good exchange with Lee about the P-5+1 negotiations in the 24:45 area.
MS. NULAND: Well, you know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed. The first media note was issued in error, without appropriate clearances. We reissued the note to make clear that undersecretary, acting undersecretary for -- our -- Kathy Stevens will be travelling to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it's a permanent-status issue. It's got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties.
Q: Is it the view of the -- of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, notwithstanding the question about the embassy -- the location of the U.S. embassy?
MS. NULAND: We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem.
Q: Does that -- does that mean that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?
MS. NULAND: Jerusalem is a permanent-status issue. It's got to be resolved through negotiations.
Q: That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Is that correct or not?
MS. NULAND: I have just spoken to this issue --
MS. NULAND: -- and I have nothing further to say on it.
Q: You've spoken to the issue --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
Q: -- but (haven't answered ?) the question. And I think there's a lot of people out there who are interested in hearing a real answer and not saying -- and not trying to duck and say that this has got to be resolved by negotiations between the two sides.
MS. NULAND: That is our --
Q: What is the capital of Israel?
MS. NULAND: Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is that it has to be solved through negotiations. That's all I have to say on this issue.
Q: What is the capital of Israel according --
MS. NULAND: Our embassy, as you know, is located in Tel Aviv.
Q: So does that mean you regard Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel?
MS. NULAND: The issue on Jerusalem has to be settled through negotiations.
Q: I just want to go back to -- I want to clarify something, perhaps give you an "out" on your Jerusalem answer. Is it your -- is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final-status issue, or do you think -- or is it just East Jerusalem?
MS. NULAND: Matt, I don't have anything further to what I've said 17 times on that subject. OK?
Q: All right. So hold on. So I just want to make sure. You're saying that all of Jerusalem, not just East Jerusalem, is a final-status issue.
MS. NULAND: Matt, I don't have anything further on Jerusalem to what I've already said.
To a large extent, the new winds in the Republican electorate on the wider anti-terror issues have not touched candidates’ stances on policy toward Israel, and Republican candidates continue to criticize Obama as not supportive enough. Most of the Republican candidates have vied with each other for the position of most outspoken supporter of Israel.Read the whole thing.
Still, for Israel, the new attitudes among Republicans portend a shift. For the past decade, Israel’s outreach efforts in the United States have relied on forging a connection in the campaign against terrorism. Israel’s leaders have become accustomed to declare, in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu in his address before Congress in 2011, “We stand together to fight terrorism.” With at least part of the US electorate that connection worked, as terrorism was at the forefront of public concerns and how to approach the terrorism issue was at the forefront of the public debate. Especially in the years after 9/11, much of the US public supported a hawkish response to radical Islam; in that context, Israel was right to sell itself as a logical
partner in that fight.
With the changing public mood in the US, however, the anti-terrorism mantras may have become jaded and worn. Even among Republicans, the “war on terror” has faded as a call to arms. If trends in US public opinion continue, Israel will need to change its message to US politicians and to the American public. Fortunately, Republican voters who once mentally linked support for Israel with the anti-terrorism issue seem to have found a new (or additional) basis for their pro-Israel views, perhaps through evangelical religious beliefs. Still, Israel’s leaders must not be complacent.
In the short term, Iran may remain the focus, but the life span of that issue depends on the degree of success in putting an end to the nuclear effort. Success, whether resulting from a military operation or diplomacy and sanctions, would be the emblem of US-Israeli cooperation. Anything less might mar relations for years to come, especially given the US public’s unease about Middle Eastern wars.
Israel needs a new message to the American public. In recent years, much outreach has focused on minorities and liberals, as the partisan gap in support for Israel has widened. These efforts should continue. But Israel’s leaders risk a fundamental surprise if they take conservatives’ support for granted. The 2012 campaign might be bringing the first, subtle stirrings of new foreign policy currents among conservatives. For Israel, the lesson is that its message must adjust to suit the new mood and not be hitched too tightly to the anti-terrorist mast.
I refuse to be afraid, for that is the terrorists’ goal. I’ll be safe, that’s all I can do. But I cannot deny that every time that siren goes off, my heart drops. This happens not only with the air-raid siren, but also with any remotely similar sound, when a sort of phantom siren goes off. Whether it’s a whistle, or a car driving by, we all jump, anticipating the siren.Read the whole thing.
I can hear the bombs dropping all around us. Although they aren’t close enough for our siren to go off, we can hear the screaming sirens from the cities around us. After making sure the sound is not ours, we go outside to watch and see if Iron Dome will catch the rockets this time. If we’re lucky, we might see some fireworks.
But for now, helpless, all I can do is sit here in the bomb shelter and wait for the piercing siren to stop. We wait to hear the booms because, ironically, that’s the most calming sound. That’s when we know that the bombs have landed and we are momentarily safe.
Feeling the shock wave from a nearby bomb, it boggles my mind how crazy this situation is. America would never allow this to happen at its borders. Imagine if Mexico were bombing San Diego! Momentarily, I hope to wake up, thinking this is just a bad dream.
But I still would rather not be in any other place. Israel is home, and I will not allow anyone to take that from me. Netanyahu, do something! President Obama, help us!
The area I’m living in is now quiet. There have been at least nine rockets shot into Israel since the most recent attempt at a cease-fire a few hours ago. Cities like Sderot are still suffering the trauma of being showered by rockets. I have been told that in Sderot, the Israeli city on the Gaza border that has endured daily rocket attacks for more than 10 years, 86 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds wet their beds and 93 percent of 7- to 11-year-olds don’t play outside.
We should not be expected to live like this. If this is peace, I do not want to know what war is.
So where was the Obama administration? Its UN Geneva Ambassador Eileen Donahoe ducked out, and a political counselor and a first secretary were sent in to cast and explain America’s vote against the slew of new anti-Israel resolutions.And by the way, I don't know whether the mission's itinerary (which is going to cost the US about $60,000) was set before or after Israel announced that it would not cooperate, but one cannot help but wonder how the mission could 'investigate' what's going on in Judea and Samaria solely by going to Geneva, Cairo and Lebanon.
Team Obama decided to use this moment to criticize Israel – “we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity” – and to reinforce the Council’s bona fides by depicting Americans as a member of a like-minded club. “As members of the Human Rights Council, we all share a responsibility to promote and protect human rights.”
Everyone listening understood the code language. President Obama cares more about propping up the credibility of the Council than he does about protecting Israel from UN-driven harm.
In case anyone missed it, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked at a Friday briefing: “the council keeps doing these things that you say are unwise and biased and one-sided. Why are you a member?” Her response: “the Human Rights Council…generally provides a good moral bellwether.”
Billions of real human rights victims the world over would beg to disagree, as would the Jewish minority now learning the back of the bus is an acceptable value to an American president.
To be clear, Nuland was not speaking out of turn. US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told a Congressional sub-committee on March 20: “Let me start by underscoring the importance of the United Nations to…upholding the universal values we hold dear.” She then argued for a reversal of Congressional restrictions on funding UNESCO despite the organization circumventing a negotiated solution and embracing Palestine the state.
The fact that this is the view of Romney's adviser has to make you wonder why all the pro-Israel American Jewish policy wonks have been going after every Republican candidate other than Romney with such intensity. It's fine to support Romney or any other Republican over Obama. Certainly, Romney would be better for the US and the US economy than Obama.Caroline has got it right, and yet that this is Hayden's view is also surprising.
But the fact is that while Romney is more pro-American than Obama is and would be friendlier to Israel and the US's other allies than Obama has been, he isn't that great on the issues that these Jewish pundits care about. He certainly isn't as strong as the other candidates including Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and before them Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. He's okay. He's better than Obama. But he isn't the best the Republican field has offered. Certainly it makes sense to support him. But it makes no sense to go to to the mattresses for him against every other Republican contender.
But whether the Jennifer Rubins of the American Jewish punditocracy take note of the problem or not is secondary to whether Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu notices it.
The message that Hayden just transmitted to Netanyahu is very clear and it is crucial that Netanyahu hears it.
Hayden's oped is as clear a warning to Israel as Obama's statement to Medvedev about being more anti-American after he gets reelected. What Hayden just told us is that as far as Iran's nuclear weapons program is concerned, it doesn't matter who is in the White House in January 2013.
On CNN on Sunday, former CIA director Michael Hayden sounded an awful lot like he was advocating the exercise of a military option against Iran's nuclear program.Has Hayden changed his mind? Is there a fix in? Why are Santorum and Gingrich getting such short shrift from many - if not most - Republican supporters of Israel? And why is Gingrich staying in the race if all he can hope to accomplish is to prevent Santorum from slugging it out with Romney?My personal view is that Iran left to its own devices will get itself to that step right below a nuclear weapon," said Hayden, "and frankly that will be as destabilizing as their actually having a weapon.”
The former CIA director stated that an attack on Iran had not originally been a serious option, but in light of Iran's intensified pursuit of nuclear materials, the military option "may not be the worst of all possible outcomes.”
The GMJ's international component may prove to be its Achilles' heel. The Obama administration still has time to warn Israel's neighbors that it will not tolerate a breach of the border. Similarly, Washington can warn other countries to block the exit of activists who are bound for the march.This sounds like an article that should have been written several weeks ago. We're now about 48 hours from the march, and I have seen no indication that President Obama is going to say a word to stop this from happening. That's not to say that anything he can say would necessarily help. But if he's going to try to intervene, he has shown no signs of it, and time is running short.
Obama might even reach out to his old pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who sits on the GMJ advisory board.
The need for early intervention is compelling. The region is already on tilt, thanks to multiple Arab protest movements, and ongoing tensions over the Iranian nuclear program. The last thing we need now is a new conflict in the Palestinian territories.
A new uprising would be all the more dangerous if outsiders, with no ties to the land they'd be dragging to war, sparked it. They would pay no price for violence, and create untold unrest in a region that already has its fair share.