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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

War games: Israel v. Iran v. Obama

Today was even crazier than yesterday....

Via email, Dan Friedman makes the same argument I've been making all along: Israel almost has to strike Iran before the US elections.
If you are an Israeli military planner planning a strike against Iran, Romney’s speech last night in Jerusalem – although reassuring – changed nothing. Looking at your calendar there are two dates circled in red: the date of America’s presidential election and the date of the presidential inauguration. The two and a half months in-between are simply labeled “no man’s land.” Locked away in your safe, or encrypted on your computer, is another document, “Iran’s nuclear timeline.”

Here’s your problem. The recommendation you’ve been asked to make can’t rely on predicting the future. The fate of Israel and the Jewish people is too important to be decided by speculation or a roll of the dice. The only factors that count are the bitter experiences of history – including the last three and one-half years of Barack Hussein Obama’s reign.

Still, you find it tempting to daydream “what if” based on the outcome of America’s election. If Obama wins, Pharaoh’s heart is not going to be softened. Israel can expect the man to double his efforts to back Israel into a corner and make it difficult-to-impossible for her to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat without help. After all, Obama would no longer need Jewish money.

If Romney wins on November 6th, there’s no telling what Obama might do while he runs the country in “no man’s land” unshackled with nothing to lose. Under those circumstances, the Ayatollahs will draw a similar conclusion and have every incentive to speed up the demons’ work freed of the bothersome ruse to keep it secret from the world. Moreover, if Israel chooses to hold off until Romney gets the keys to the Oval Office, and Romney wobbles for any reason, the “timeline” gets revised and now tells you by then it could be too late.

On the other hand, during the critical period before the election, which is where we are today, Obama is forced to bottle-up his bile. While he needs Jewish votes and gelt, his hands are tied until November 7th. By the process of elimination, that makes our military planner’s recommendation much clearer. The time to go is between now and then.
The only way we don't strike before November 7 is if our leadership is highly confident that (a) Romney will win, (b) Romney means what he says about backing whatever Israel does and (c) Iran is not going to attain nuclear capability between November 7 and January 20.

What could go wrong?

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Writer who profiled Asma al-Assad claims she was duped

Joan Juliet Buck was the author of the infamous profile of the Assad family that appeared in Vogue shortly before Bashar al-Assad started murdering his own people (the profile was flushed down the memory hole when the killing started). She claims she was duped.
I didn’t know I was going to meet a murderer.

There was no way of knowing that Assad, the meek ophthalmologist and computer-loving nerd, would kill more of his own people than his father had and torture tens of thousands more, many of them children.

In December 2010, there was no way of knowing that the Arab Spring was about to begin, and that it would take down the dictators of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.

There was no way of knowing, as I cheered the events in Tahrir Square, that I would be contaminated because I had written about the Assads. There was no way of knowing that this piece would cost me my livelihood and end the association I had had with Vogue since I was 23.

I met the devil and his wife, with full fashion-magazine access to their improbable fishbowl apartment where they lived out their daily lives on display to the eyes of thousands, like a Middle-Eastern version of The Truman Show. They showed off their fantasy lives for me.

Assad told me just who he was, but I didn’t use it; he repeated it a year later to Barbara Walters, but no one heard him.

The Assads’ PR firm, Brown Lloyd James, took care of my visa. In the offices, flat-screen televisions mounted on walls played only Al Jazeera—one of their clients, along with Gaddafi’s son Saif and the government of Qatar. Lloyd and James were absent, but Brown turned out to be Peter Brown, a bearded Englishman with a languorous voice who’d once managed the Beatles.

Asma al-Assad was about to sign an agreement with the Paris Louvre, about Syrian antiquities. We sat with Brown’s associate Mike Holtzman. I wanted to know about the ancient cities, Aleppo, Damascus. They brought in their intern, a 22-year-old named Sheherazade Ja’afari, the daughter of the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations. She and Holtzman would be in Damascus with me.


Asma unwittingly gave me a glimpse into the Assad way of thinking: “I told my kids yesterday there’s a journalist going to be writing about me,” she said, “and my eldest, Hafez, asked, ‘What’s she going to say?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And he asked, ‘How can you get her to write about you if you don’t know what she’s going to say?’?”


I was told there was no crime in Damascus. A few days later, on a pretext involving wooden spoons, I returned to the souk alone except for a driver I could not shake. I think I saw why there was no crime.

A mysterious metal box on wheels was parked outside the souk. It was about seven feet long, six feet high, with one barred window in the back. Its surface was dangerously unfinished, raw, full of metal splinters. It looked like a mobile prison. Later, I asked a local about the box. He said he’d never seen such a thing.


Back in my hotel room, I found the Ethernet cable ripped out of my laptop so violently that the plastic tab on the end had broken off.


I sat in the hotel bar with the French ambassador and asked what was really going on in Syria. He took the battery out of my Syrian cell phone and then did the same with his. This must have set off an alert, because suddenly Sheherazade materialized in front of us.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Aren’t you sick?” I asked. “Go back to bed.”


The next day Sheherazade took me to Ma’loula, the village where they still speak Aramaic, the language of the Bible.

She said: “We don’t want you to talk to the French ambassador.” “You can’t talk to me that way,” I said.

When I opened my laptop at the Vienna airport on the way back to New York, an icon on the screen announced itself as the server for someone named Ali.

I arrived in New York on Dec. 21, 2010, and quarantined the compromised laptop.


I handed in the piece on Jan. 14, the day President Ben Ali fled Tunisia. “The Arab Spring is spreading,” I told Vogue on Jan. 21. “You might want to hold the piece.”

They didn’t think the Arab Spring was going anywhere, and the piece was needed for the March “Power Issue.”

I got an expert to clean Ali out of the laptop. “They weren’t very skilled, but they were thorough,” he said.


On Feb. 11, Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in Egypt. I cheered, inspired and touched by Tahrir Square. There were protests in Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, Bahrain, then, unbelievably, in Libya.

I asked Vogue’s managing editor if we could meet to discuss how to handle the Assad piece. A meeting was held, without me. I was asked not to speak to the press.

On Feb. 25, as Libyan protesters demanded an end to Gaddafi, my piece on Asma al-Assad went online at Vogue.com. They had excruciatingly titled it “A Rose in the Desert.”

I was attacked as soon as it went up. How dare I write about Asma al-Assad? By describing Syria’s first lady in Vogue, I had anointed her.

Syria stayed quiet until the middle of March, when a small incident set off the horrifying massacres that have now gone on for 17 months. In a town called Daraa at the end of February, 15 children broke the country’s silence. I don’t know if it was the euphoria of the Arab Spring or if they had been empowered by the Green Team from Massar.

The boys, ages 9 to 15, wrote, “The people want to topple the regime” on the walls of their school.

The police arrested them. When they had not been released after two weeks, their families staged a protest on March 15.

At a second protest, on March 18, Syrian forces fired on the crowd and killed four people.

The boys were released from prison. Their families saw that they had been tortured and took to the streets. On March 23, a grenade was hurled into a crowd of protesters in the Daraa mosque.

Assad’s forces began to kill Syrians every day. They fired on mourners at funerals, men gathered in mosques, women and children in the street.

They arrested more children. They tortured more children.

On April 29, a chubby 13-year-old boy named Hamza Ali al-Khateeb was arrested during a protest in Saida, near Daraa.

On May 24, Hamza’s mutilated body was returned to his parents. The report by Al Jazeera said: “The child had spent nearly a month in the custody of Syrian security, and when they finally returned the corpse, it bore the scars of brutal torture: lacerations, bruises and burns to his feet, elbows, face, and knees. Hamza’s eyes were swollen and black and there were identical bullet wounds where he had apparently been shot through both arms, the bullets tearing a hole in his sides and lodging in his belly. On Hamza’s chest was a deep, dark burn mark. His neck was broken and his penis cut off.”

Asma al-Assad had said that “Massar” meant destiny.

Bashar al-Assad blamed the uprising of the Syrian people on terrorists from both al Qaeda and the United States.

Through 2011, I wondered about Asma al-Assad, the woman who cared so much about the youth of Syria. How could she not know what was happening? How could she stand by and do nothing while the Syrian regime ate its young?

In May of 2011, Vogue took the piece off its website. I kept my word and did not speak to the press. At the end of the year my contract was not renewed.

I was now free to react to the Syrian carnage with the only medium I had: Twitter.
Read it all.

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The best drinking party in Jerusalem

I know someone who went last year, and the Jerusalem Wine Festival is definitely worth checking out. It costs NIS 80 to get in (so make sure you arrive early enough to enjoy it - that price is considered pretty steep in these parts) and you get a complimentary wine glass to take home.

Read the whole thing.


Another 'Palestinian' flytilla on the way?

It looks like there may be another 'Palestinian' flytilla on the way at the end of August. But they're flying to Amman and trying to cross the Allenby bridge. This is from a Google translation:
Since Israeli officials have said publicly last April (see video on this site) that we had been blocked because we wanted to go through the Tel Aviv airport to make us in the West Bank, while the passage would have been appropriate, according to them, to pass through Jordan and the Allenby Bridge, so we decided to take their word.

We wish to respond to the invitation of the governor and the mayor of Bethlehem, as well as that of the Palestinian organizations to come and meet with them this summer, a few days to share their lives and prepare them with the new school year, in a context where the education of Palestinian children is made more difficult by the colonization and occupation.
Women, men and children from several countries have already responded to this call and present have taken their airfare, via Amman. Do the same! Contact us at contact@bienvenuepalestine.com information if you do not find on this site.

We call on governments to support the Palestinians' right to receive visitors, and the right to their respective nationals to freely visit Palestine.

Palestinians urge us, as participants in the mission Welcome to Palestine in August 2012, asking to pass unhindered through the Allenby Bridge, where it would be difficult for our leaders to invoke any "Israeli sovereignty."
The dates are August 24-31. What could go wrong?

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And you thought Joe Biden was gaffetastic....

And you thought it was Joe Biden who was gaffetastic....

In the Washington Post, Marc Thiessen lists five Obama gaffes that are being exploited by Mitt Romney in Israel and Poland. The two that relate to Israel are:

Obama's announcement that "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps," without any warning to Israel because Obama wanted to stick it to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Obama's open-mic conversation with with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in which he 'accidentally' told the world how much he loathes Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The other three gaffes deal with Poland (caving in to Russian demands to scrap missile defenses on the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland, telling Dmitry Medvedev to tell Vladimir Putin that he would have 'more flexibility' on missile defense after the 2012 elections, and the reference to 'Polish death camps' a few months ago). Mitt Romney has been showing a his administration would be different, without openly criticizing Obama. Thiessen explains:
In Poland, Romney is signaling that while Obama may have sacrificed Poland on the altar of his “reset” policy with Russia, as president, Romney will pursue a “reset” policy, not with Russia but with Poland and the United States’s other central European allies. It is a message that will resonate from Warsaw to Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — swing-states with large Polish-American populations.

In Israel, Romney signaled that the days of trash-talking and back-stabbing Israeli leaders will end if he becomes president. Obama’s gaffes at Israel’s expense have helped cement the impression that, as one former Palestinian official recently told The Post, Obama has shown “a complete lack of an emotion-based relationship with Israel.” Indeed, when Obama met with Jewish leaders at the White House recently and was told that was told he was not being “evenhanded,” he admitted: “You are absolutely right and we are going to fix that … the sense of evenhandedness has to be restored.” Romney’s unspoken message this week is that if Israel’s supporters back home want “evenhandedness,” the best way to get it is to replace Obama in the White House. It is a message that will resonate with Jewish voters (whose support for Obama has dropped 10 points since 2008) and pro-Israel evangelicals in the United States.

No doubt Romney’s foreign trip got off to a difficult start in London. But in the annals of gaffes, which is worse: One slip of the tongue suggesting London might not be ready for the Olympics or five major gaffes that have severely undermined this country’s relations with two of its most important allies?
And it's the last part that's really key. The White House has been trying to paint a picture of Romney as incompetent when it comes to foreign policy. That picture is untrue, but in any event, Obama is worse than incompetent: He's downright dangerous.

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What a difference a continent makes

Professor Jacobson rewrites an Obama speech and posits its delivery by Mitt Romney discussing 'Palestinians' instead of Pennsylvanians.

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania the Palestinian Territories, and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest Middle East, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Rabin administration, and the Bush Netanyahu administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrantIsraeli sentiment or anti-tradeJewish sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Read the whole thing. Heh.

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Bodies of massacred Jews found on Temple Mount?

The bodies of Jews who were massacred by the Romans during the destruction of the Second Temple some 1940 years ago may have been found on the Temple Mount.
According to daily newspaper Israel HaYom, [archaeological journalist Benny] Liss screened a video clearly showing thousands of human skeletons in what appears to be a mass grave.

Liss "told the amazed audience that the film had been shot in a spacious, underground cavern in the area of the Mercy Gate [Sha'ar Harachamim in Hebrew, a sealed gate in the wall of the Old City, opposite the Mount of Olives, ed.], near the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, but just outside it," the newspaper reported. Liss raised the possibility that the skeletons were the remains of 6,000 Jews, mostly women and children, killed on the Temple Mount when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple.

The massacre is described in the writings of Josephus Flavius, who defected from the Jewish to the Roman side and witnessed the destruction.

The movie shows Liss entering the cave, followed by a lighting technician and cameraman. The three first pass through a narrow passage and then enter the cave with the skeletal remains. As soon as Liss left the cave, Antiquities Authority (IAA) staff resealed the entrance to it, he said.

"The Romans stayed on the Temple Mount for a month after the destruction of the Temple until going on to conquer the upper city [today's Jewish Quarter],” says Liss. “They had to get rid of the thousands of decomposing bodies and the most obvious place to do this would have been the natural caves on the upper slope of the mount, around Mercy Gate."
Hmmm. By the way, because the IAA resealed the cave entrance, the official line is that 'no one can determine' whether the bodies are Jewish or Muslim.

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Video: US gymnast does floor exercise to Hava Nagila

Hava Nagila kind of grates on me - perhaps because of too many Jewish anti-Semites who, when I was a kid, would start singing it when they saw someone with a yarmulka walking down the street. But this is pretty neat.

US gymnast Aly Raisman (who is Jewish) advanced to the finals on Sunday after this floor exercise to the tune of Hava Nagila.

Let's go to the videotape.

More here.


CNN asks about Tisha b'Av

Mitt Romney's visit to the Western Wall on Tisha b'Av has raised some interest in the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. CNN interviewed Rabbi Yossi Lew on Sunday and asked him about the Western Wall and Tisha b'Av.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Zvi S).

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Overnight music video and some personal stuff

I guess this is inevitable. It's the first overnight music video after the three week mourning period, and of course I'm going to run a classic video of Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim (If I forget thee O Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten, may my tongue cleave to my cheek if I don't remember you, if I don't mention Jerusalem at the head of my moments of joy), which is about the theme of the last three weeks, and which is a part of every Jewish wedding.

Tonight is the first night of another very hectic three week wedding season. So far I one wedding I plan to attend this week (another one next week conflicts with a bigger event for me personally - see below). I also have a Bar Mitzva this week and a wedding right after the three-week period ends.

Thursday is the end of the 12th cycle of the Daf Yomi - the daily folio - in which the entire 2,711 page Babylonian Talmud is being finished. I will be finishing with my daily class, but I am holding off on the siyum (personal celebration) for a week because next Thursday is the yahrtzeit (anniversary of the death) of my mother of blessed memory.

And then there's next Monday, a week from tonight....

Next Monday is Mrs. Carl's and my 31st anniversary, God willing. The smartest decision I ever made in my life....

Next Monday is also the Bar Mitzva of our 18th anniversary present, a very special young man who is finishing the Six Orders of Mishna for his Bar Mitzva, God willing. He's son # 3, child # 6, he's a great kid and we're really proud of him and his amazing set of accomplishments (there's much more I won't go into). The reason I was gone for so many hours today (and I had posted several hours in advance before I left, so I was gone even longer than you realize) was that I had to take him shopping for Bar Mitzva accessories. So if I occasionally disappear during the next week or so, I hope you will understand.

And now, Im Eshkacheich. I'm sorry but I went totally blank on who sang this one.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Video: Searching for the capital of Israel

HonestReporting goes searching for the capital of Israel, and discovers that despite the insistence of the British media that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel, ever Tel Avivi knows that the capital of Israel is Jerusalem.

Let's go to the videotape.

Maybe they should have asked the White House or the State Department?

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Please pray for Mrs. Aussie Dave

Some of you may have seen this on Twitter, or on Dave's blog, Israellycool. The wife of Aussie Dave, the founder of Israellycool and of pro-Israel blogging from Israel, has been diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. Please pray for Erika bat Chava Eta.

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Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Monday, July 30.
1) Written on the subway walls

A few weeks ago posters depicting the purported loss of Palestinian territory to Israel were put up at Metro North stations in the New York area.
The signs appear in commercial space atop recycling bins at train station entrances and on train platforms at 50 Metro-North stations.
They were paid for by ex-Wall Street financier Henry Clifford, 84, who now resides in Essex, Conn. He said he financed month-long campaign with $25,000 of his own money.
"I am very critical of what Israel has done to the Palestinian people," said Hill, who chairs the 10-member Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine, which also has Jewish members. "I'm very critical of our government for supporting Israel and enabling it."
The problem is that the posters are deceptive. Yaakov Lozowick writes:
I suppose you may say I'm quibbling, and that in a territory which had a minority of Jews 150 years ago, there has emerged a state of foreigners which has thwarted the emergence of a state of the original population. This, of course, is true. The tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that both sides are right, and both have legitimate claims on the same tiny piece of land. Most of us think that the only way to resolve the conflict is for each side to reconcile itself to the loss of important parts of the territory so that the other side will have room for their national state. As to why this hasn't yet happened, you and I probably disagree. We may also not agree on the details of how the partition ought to be done. Yet those are legitimate issues which need to be resolved in negotiations.
The maps you've published, on the other hand, tell a different story: that Israel is purposefully pushing out the Palestinians so as to have the entire land for itself. This is not true, which explains why in order to make the claim the maps need to be so sloppy with the facts.
Finally, a note on projection. I never cease to be surprised by Americans, Canadians, Australians or New Zealanders who feel they have a moral right to condemn the Jews for migrating to another land and pushing aside the natives. Surely the Jewish case for moving to the land of their history is vastly better than the case of Europeans moving to continents they had no history in. Over time, however, I've begun to notice that such critics of the Jews assume, perhaps subconsciously, that the behavior of the Jews must by necessity follow the pattern of their own forebears: total dismissal of their common humanity with the natives they're pushing aside, followed by near-total dispossession. This, however, is a complex of the critics, and has very little to do with the Jews.
Elder of Ziyon points out that Clifford's response to Lozowick shows that he knows that his ads are dishonest. Stand with Us will be responding to the ads.

In other public transportation news, the Volokh Conspiracy notes Federal Court Strikes Down N.Y. City Bus Policy That Bans “Demean[ing]” Speech About Religions, Racial Groups, Etc.
1. I sympathize with the arguments that the government, acting as service provider, should be able to exclude material that is likely to greatly alienate or offend some of its customers, while still making money from material that won’t have that effect. But the Court has indeed held that viewpoint-based restrictions, even on government property that isn’t a “traditional public forum,” are unconstitutional; and this also makes some sense, given just how much money and property the government owns (especially once one goes beyond just access to physical property, and gets to access to broadly available government benefit programs, such as charitable tax exemptions). Under this doctrine, I think a ban on “demean[ing]” speech about religions, races, and the like is unconstitutionally viewpoint-based, given that positive speech about various groups — or about tolerance, equality, and so on — is allowed.
2. I’m not sure that advertising space should be consider a “designated public forum,” in which strict scrutiny applies to all content-based restrictions, as opposed to a “limited public forum,” in which the government can impose content-based but viewpoint-neutral restrictions. This having been said, the district court points out that Second Circuit precedent (which is binding on federal district courts in New York) treats this very program as a designated public forum.
3. If the space is indeed a designated public forum, then I think even a ban on all disparaging speech would be content-based — when we say that speech is disparaging, we are making a statement about the content of its message, and its communicative impact. What’s more, I think such a ban would even be viewpoint-based, since it targets negative viewpoints about people or groups and not positive viewpoints. So while I think a ban on particular vulgarities would be content-based but viewpoint-neutral, so the government could ban them in a limited public forum, a ban on disparaging speech would be viewpoint-based. ... I therefore think that, both under the district court’s view that the ad program was a designated public forum, and under the view that the ad program was a limited public forum, even the broad ban on demeaning speech about anyone would be unconstitutional.
More at Legal Insurrection.

2) Who dunnit?

A few days ago I wrote about some speculation about last week's explosion in Damascus. I quoted an article that cited Mordechai Kedar expressing concern that it was a Jihadist group that was responsible for the attack. Kedar has a critic, who tweeted that the video was made in advance of the event. (h/t Challah Hu Akbar)

Foreign Policy magazine interviewed former Israeli chief of military intelligence, Amos Yadlin and asked him about the explosion (h/t Martin Kramer).
FP: What is the significance, apart of the psychological effect, of the assassination of top Syrian security officials last week? Did it really damage the regime's operational capabilities?
AY: The assassinations were substantial. Four senior officials were killed. This had a psychological effect, but also a serious operational one. Still, history proves regimes can survive even after stronger strategic setbacks.
Like Yadlin's other answers this is short and to the point. If Yadlin thought that someone other than the rebels were responsible, I'd guess that he'd have mentioned it.

Apparently Gen Qasim Suleimani has been spotted in Iran and was not killed in the Damascus blast. (h/t Challah Hu Akbar)

Assad's troops have started an assault on Aleppo, as the New York Times reports in Syrian Helicopter Fire on Aleppo as Defection Reported:
Military experts have long speculated that President Assad’s army, which has been scrambling to crush rebel resistance in urban areas like Homs, Hama and more recently central and southern neighborhoods of Damascus during the uprising, lacked the military resources to take on an armed rebellion in all major cities at once. That seemed to explain the delay in Aleppo, where anticipation of an attack has been building for days.
But Ms. Nuland also indicated that the United States was not reconsidering its stance against military intervention, saying, “We do not think pouring more fuel onto the fire is going to save lives.” And she drew a sharp distinction between Aleppo and the Libyan city of Benghazi, where fears of a slaughter by government troops led to a NATO bombing campaign that proved decisive in toppling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi last year.
“The kind of groundswell call for external support that we’ve seen elsewhere is not there,” Ms. Nuland said.
William Tucker believes that the outcome if Aleppo will say something about the balance of power between Assad's troops and the rebels. (h/t Aaron Mannes)
The ground assault by Assad’s forces is imminent, but it should tell us a great deal about the capabilities of both the loyalists and the opposition military forces. Additionally, it will reveal some of the tactics the opposition may employ in other major cities. Keep in mind that opposition forces may withdraw from Aleppo, but that shouldn’t be construed as a defeat for the rebel movements. Rather, it would be a sign that the opposition is continuing to engage regime forces only in battles that can be won. With the Assad regime on the back foot time is favoring the opposition. Each successful strike increases the doubt of the regime loyalists about the viability of the current government and may induce them to defect. For now, the opposition seems content to set the time and place of each engagement with the regime. Aleppo may be a turning point, but it is also likely that the opposition is simply distracting the regime while preparing an assault elsewhere.
3) The bigger schlep

The electoral battle for the pro-Israel vote continues. This week's Mishpacha magazine had an item about the extensive voter registration drive in Israel by Republicans. (The article notes that Obama won about 25 percent of the Israeli American vote in 2008, so this likely has less to do with increasing the percentage of voters, but the number of voters.)

With Gov. Romney's trip to Israel this weekend coverage of the two candidates' views on Israel have received extensive coverage.

The Washington Post started with Mitt Romney likely to get a warm welcome in Israel:
“People here feel that [Obama] has not had the level of warmth toward Israel that most presidents have had,” said Abe Katsman, a Jerusalem attorney who serves as counsel to Republicans Abroad Israel.
The complaints of Romney backers here center on positions that have put Washington at odds with Netanyahu: an insistence early in Obama’s term on a freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; a statement that a peace agreement with the Palestinians should be based on Israel’s 1967 boundaries, with “mutually agreed” land swaps; and an approach to Iran that is seen as not tough enough, engaging in protracted diplomacy while warning Israel against a unilateral military strike.
“This idea of putting daylight between the U.S. government and Israel — who does that to an ally?” Katsman said. “And why make the disagreement public?”
A followup article Romney visits Jerusalem’s Western Wall on Jewish holiday has similar, if less specific sentiments. ("Holy Day" would probably have been a better description of Tisha B'Av than "holiday.")
“The whole point of this trip is Romney has to be here,” said Carl Sherer, a U.S. citizen who has been living in Israel for two decades. “He’s got to be here for us, and Obama just hasn’t been here for us the last three years.”
Israel Shonek, 22, an American studying in Israel, said Romney’s visit on the Tisha B’av fasting holiday was “very poignant.”
“It’s a very special thing,” Shonek said. “It sends a statement that Obama hasn’t sent to the Jewish people. They haven’t felt this kind of warmth from Obama.”
Of course, there was also a business aspect to the Israeli trip for Romney who held a fundraiser in Jerusalem this morning. Last night, Romney met with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The New York Times reported Romney Backs Israeli Stance on Threat of Nuclear Iran:
The scene was more like a campaign rally than a solemn place of prayer. Women stood on chairs to peer over the fence that divides them from the men, many of whom clapped and waved as the candidate and his entourage snaked through; people actually praying were pushed to the back as security officers cordoned off a space for the candidate.
Shepherding Mr. Romney at the wall was J. Philip Rosen, a Manhattan lawyer who owns a home in Jerusalem and helped organize a $50,000-per-couple fund-raiser scheduled for Monday morning. Mr. Rosen said Sunday he expected up to 80 people for the breakfast, up from his estimate on Friday of 20 to 30, because of the influx of Americans.
Among those who flew here for the event were the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has vowed to spend $100 million this political season to defeat Mr. Obama and wore a pin that said “Romney” in Hebrew letters; Cheryl Halpern, a New Jersey Republican and advocate for Israel; Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets; John Miller, chief executive of the National Beef Packing Company; John Rakolta, a Detroit real estate developer who led the finance committee for Mr. Romney’s 2008 presidential bid; L. E. Simmons, the owner of a private-equity firm in Texas with ties to the oil industry; Paul Singer, founder of a $20 billion hedge fund; and Eric Tanenblatt, a Romney fund-raiser in Atlanta who had never visited Israel. Scott Romney, the governor’s brother, and Spencer Zwick, his national finance chairman, also were on hand.
In a guest appearance in The Lede blog, Arab spring reporter, David Kirkpatrick critiqued Gov. Romney's Israel Hayom interview:
Mr. Romney discussed the Arab Spring revolts as a problem rather than progress. He asserted against some evidence that the Obama administration had abandoned an agenda of pushing for democratic reform pursued by George W. Bush, and he characterized even the most moderate and Western-friendly Islamists – those in the political parties leading legislatures in Tunisia and Morocco – as political opponents. The last runs counter to the Obama administration’s strategy, endorsed by some Republicans in Congress, of building alliances with moderate Islamists where possible.
In other words Kirkpatrick's critique consists of arguing that Romney views the Arab spring differently from the way he does. Kirkpatrick views "moderate" Islamists - such as the Muslim Brotherhood - are pragmatic politicians who need to be embraced by the West. Call it the Lord Hylton view, if you will.

In Romney Captures Jerusalem, Barry Rubin highlighted a number of key lines made by Romney in his Jerusalem speech.
Of tremendous importance was Romney’s hint that the weakness of the Obama administration has encouraged extremists to become more aggressive and Iran to be bolder. He never said this directly but mentioned “the ayatollahs in Tehran testing our moral defenses” to see if the West would abandon Israel. Perhaps the speech’s most important line was this one:
“We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel, voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism.”
This is a critique of Obama’s argument that he would persuade the Arabs to end the conflict by distancing the United States from Israel.
Earlier Rubin had noted:
Not allergic to Israel’s center-right. Romney quoted former Prime Minister Menahem Begin twice and referred to “my friend, Bibi Netanyahu.” Obama wouldn’t have cited either man and is known to loathe Netanyahu. Romney and Netanyahu have known each other for years. The Begin quotes were significant: that Israel will never again let its independence be destroyed (a reference perhaps to Israel’s need not to be completely subservient to America’s current president) and that if people say they want to destroy you then believe them (an explicit reference to Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons).
Four and a half years ago, in Cleveland candidate Obama said:
"I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt a unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel".
First of all that line betrayed an ignorance of Israeli politics. Worse, given that it was foreseeable that a future President Obama might well find himself having to deal with a Likud government, it was unbelievably shortsighted for him to say publicly that he would be opposed to such a government.

This past week, Charles Krauthammer wrote in Why he's going where he's going:
And then there is Israel, the most egregious example of Obama’s disregard for traditional allies. Obama came into office explicitly intent on creating “daylight” between himself and Israel, believing that by tilting toward the Arabs, they would be more accommodating.
The opposite happened. (Surprise!) When Obama insisted on a building freeze in Jerusalem that no U.S. government had ever demanded and no Israeli government would ever accept, the Palestinian Authority saw clear to become utterly recalcitrant. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas openly told The Post that he would just sit on his hands and wait for America to deliver Israel.
Result? Abbas refused to negotiate. Worse, he tried to undermine the fundamental principle of U.S. Middle East diplomacy — a negotiated two-state solution — by seeking unilateral U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood, without talks or bilateral agreements.
The Abbas statement Krauthammer quoted,was from Jackson Diehl interview that foretold Abbas's refusal to negotiate for the bulk of Obama's term. No doubt that the "pro-Likud" statement emboldened Abbas.

Israel Matzav and JoshuaPundit note an article by Eli Lake, Key Pro-Israel Obama Ally Splits (more at memeorandum)
“Ambassador Ross was obviously the No. 1 pro-Israel surrogate for the Obama campaign in 2008,” said Josh Block, a former press aide for the Clinton administration and former top spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “The fact that after three years of working on Mideast policy side-by-side with the president, Ambassador Ross has decided to sit out this campaign, unlike other former top officials now at nonpartisan think tanks, will certainly be understood as a message of its own, intentionally or unintentionally.”
Ross himself said, “I can give substantive advice to the administration, the president’s campaign, or any campaign that would ask for it. And, of course, when I speak I can talk about my views on policy and I have been supportive of the president’s policy on leading foreign-policy issues.”
That’s a departure from Ross’s hands-on work with the Obama administration over the past four years.
Just to keep in mind the reasons Ross cited to support Obama:
Consider what has happened to Israel's strategic position during the course of the Bush administration. In 2001, Iran was not a nuclear power, but it is today. It could not enrich uranium then but it does so now and has already stockpiled several-hundred kilos of low-enriched uranium -- about half of what it would need for its first nuclear bomb. The Bush policy on Iran has failed, and unless the next president can change Iranian behavior, Israel will face an existential threat. It already faces a dramatically different threat from what it faced seven years ago from both Hezbollah and Hamas.
Hezbollah now has a veto power over any decision the Lebanese government can make and possesses 40,000 rockets -- and those rockets are not only three times as many as it had only two years ago but are more accurate and have longer range than the ones that hit Israel in the summer of 2006. Hamas has taken over Gaza, creating a miniterror state there and today has over 2,000 rockets.
Israel cannot afford four more years of seeing the threats grow against it. It cannot afford four more years of U.S. policies that are tough rhetorically but soft practically. It cannot afford four more years of America being on the sidelines diplomatically.
The cynic in me thinks that George W. Bush was the first president not to employ Ross in some capacity in twenty years and that Ross was looking for a position in the Obama administration. Even so, can Ross say that he's seen anything in the Obama administration has been anything more than "tough rhetorically but soft practically?" My guess is that Ross didn't feel he could sell the Obama administration a second time.

Mondoweiss's headline: Dennis Ross's neutrality shows lobby is with Romney. (I won't link but you can look it up if you wish.) Unfortunately, that doesn't sound a whole lot different from what was reported by the Washington Post early in Ross's tenure, Dennis Ross Faces Big Task on Iran Policy, Including Overcoming Pro-Israel Label.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Romney splits from Obama on Jerusalem and Iran

Noah Pollak sums up the results of Mitt Romney's trip to Israel. While the Obama administration forecast that Romney's trip would be short on substance, that's not true at all. Noah points out that Romney has clearly differentiated himself from Obama on two major foreign policy questions - Jerusalem and Iran - which portend much deeper differences.
Romney went out of his way more than once to refer to Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in contrast to President Obama. Although in 2008 Obama called Jerusalem the “eternal and undivided capital” of Israel, he has backtracked—so thoroughly that State Department and White House spokesmen have been recently caught in painfully awkward exchanges with reporters trying to extract whether Obama recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The controversy has real substance, and Romney’s position has implications far beyond the status of Jerusalem: It is a pledge to stop subordinating American policy and conforming America's treatment of her allies to the desires of the “international community.” No more "engagement" for engagement's sake, which under Obama, like Jimmy Carter before him, is often bad news for Israel.


On Iran, Obama has been waging a campaign of deterrence against Israeli military action by warning that has administration would withhold support in its aftermath.


During his trip, Romney said the opposite. His foreign policy advisor, Dan Senor, told reporters: “If Israel has to take action on its own in order to stop Iran from developing that capability the governor would respect that decision.” In his Jerusalem speech, Romney said, "In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded. We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with you."

The implication seems clear: While Obama has been undermining the credibility of sanctions and diplomacy by attacking the prospect of military action, a Romney administration would put the Iranian regime on notice that it is not only vulnerable to attack, but that America would stand with its ally should it decide to strike.
Read the whole thing. I was very impressed with what Romney said and did here. I hope he picks the right candidate to run on the ticket with him.

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'Palestinians' seethe over Romney fundraiser comments

At a Jerusalem fundraiser on Monday, Republican candidate Mitt Romney told his Jewish donors exactly what he thinks of the 'Palestinians' (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who ate breakfast at the luxurious King David Hotel.

Romney said some economic histories have theorized that "culture makes all the difference."

"And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the "hand of providence." He said similar disparity exists between neighboring countries, like Mexico and the United States.
The 'Palestinians' are seething in response.
"It is a racist statement and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," Erekat added. "He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."
A few points. First, Romney understated the disparity. Israel's GDP is $31,000 and the 'Palestinians' GDP is $1,500 per person.

Second, assuming that 'Palestinian' GDP is in fact restrained by Israel (an assertion I will challenge below), for an indication of what the 'Palestinian' GDP might be without that restraint, one only has to look at other countries in the region. Jordan's is $5,900. Egypt's is $6,324, Syria's is $5,262 and Lebanon's is $15,600, all far below Israel's $30,975. It seems far more likely that an unrestrained 'Palestinian' economy would be closer to any of those other countries than to Israel.

Finally, with all the seething about Israeli restraints on the 'Palestinian' economy (backed up by the politically motivated World Bank), there are many restraints on the 'Palestinian' economy that are self-imposed. These include the highly centralized nature of the 'Palestinian' economy, the amount spent on several competing 'security services,' and the culture that values 'martyrdom' over economic achievement and education.

So no, Romney's assertion was not unreasonable and it wasn't 'racist.'

But you all knew that.

The explanation for where I was in the last several hours will be in the overnight music video, which resumes tonight.

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US Jewish Federations dropping 'Zionism' from major global planning document

Writing at the Jewish Press, Lori Lowenthal Marcus reports that the Jewish Federations of North America have removed the word 'Zionism' from a global planning document.
The JFNA's Global Planning Table is the mechanism by which JFNA and Federation leadership come together to determine the allocation of dollars for new Federation initiatives outside of the United States. The Report issued by this collaborative is considered a building block of the allocations decision making process, and it was the call to include Zionism in the recent report that was rejected. The Global Planning Table page of the JFNA website does not include either the term Zionism or Israel.

Richard Wexler, former chair of the Chicago Federation and national chairman of the United Jewish Appeal in the late '90's, revealed yesterday, July 26, that JFNA's leaders have rejected the inclusion of the term "Zionism" in their Global Planning Table Work Group Report because the term "is too controversial."

In 2008 Wexler stepped down from his position as chairman of the United Israel Appeal, a subsidiary of what later became the JFNA. He also was one of the architects of the merger of United Jewish Communities, the umbrella group for the local Federations. Even while in a leadership position, however, Wexler was critical of the management culture, writing in his blog "UJ Thee and Me" that "criticism is not merely ignored, it is not tolerated."

Some fear the JFNA move will be seen as a watered-down acceptance of the notion that Zionism is to blame for the problems in the Middle East, or at the very least an effort to hold at arms length the idea that Jews are entitled to a national homeland.
After the article was printed (and despite repeated attempts to contact them before it was printed), the Federation issued the following statement:
After this story was published, JFNA officials issued a statement sent to Federation executives and others, by Kathy Manning, Chair, and Jerry Silverman, President/CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America:
On July 27, 2012, Lori Lowenthal Marcus wrote accusing the Jewish Federations of North America of moving away from its support of Israel and Zionism. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ongoing support of Israel is fundamental to Federations and to JFNA. Our system sends hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Israel to support the vulnerable, to assist in education programs, to help new immigrants, to assist in job and skills development, and to provide concrete expressions of solidarity during Israel's darkest hours. We connect American Jews to Israel and Israelis by supporting birthright and other youth and young adult programs, community and national missions to Israel, and innovative partnerships between our communities and Israeli communities. We are proud to be holding our 2013 General Assembly in Israel, where we will have an opportunity to highlight the important work we do with our partners in Israel."
Note that they don't deny the substance of the story, namely that the word Zionism was removed.

Read the whole thing before you contribute to your local Federation.

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Silicon Ali?

It seems that the poor, oppressed 'Palestinians' are becoming quite a high tech success - when they put their minds to it.
With 120 employees, ASAL is one of the largest companies in the small but burgeoning Palestinian tech sector, which many of those involved say is on the verge of big things. “We are in the right position to have exponential growth,” said Mr. Tahboub, looking every bit the part with his slicked-back hair and black-rimmed Lacoste eyeglasses.

Compared with other industries that the anemic West Bank economy might look to develop, the information and communications technology sector has an advantage: it is much less affected by impediments to movement, like the barriers, checkpoints and permit requirements that Israel imposes on the territory in the name of security.

“This is a sector that has no borders,” Mr. Tahboub observed. “You just need electricity and a telephone line.”

In the four years since Cisco Systems made an initial strategic investment of about $10 million here, financing the beginnings of business-service outsourcing to Palestinian companies, supporting training programs and drawing in other international partners, the sector is said to have grown from less than 1 percent of the Palestinian economy to more than 5 percent today — albeit of an economy whose total output is estimated at a modest $5 billion to $6 billion.
If I were thinking of investing there, my biggest concern would be an Iran-style cutoff of the internet. Of course, the Times doesn't even mention that possibility.

Read the whole thing.

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Israel's latest export: Border security fences

The United States and India are both interested in learning about Israel's border security fences according to a report in Monday's Jerusalem Post.
A growing number of countries are flocking to Israel to study border security as the Defense Ministry works to complete the construction of a physical and technological barrier along the Egyptian border.

In August, a delegation from India will arrive to study the various technologies used by the IDF to secure the borders with the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Egypt, and which could be implemented as part of India’s own fence with Pakistan and Bangladesh.


India is interested in beefing up its border security to prevent future incidents like the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

The Indian press reported Sunday on a tunnel that had been discovered under the border with Pakistan in the contested Kashmir region.

Another country closely following Israel’s decisions on border security is the US, which is building a barrier along its border with Mexico.

The Department of Homeland Security is, for example, testing the ELM-2112 family of persistent ground surveillance radars, developed by Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, and used by the IDF to detect intruders before they reach the border.

Five different versions detect individuals at ranges from 300 m. up to 20 km., and vehicles at up to 40 km.

The radars feature four stationary antennas, each covering a 90-degree sector enabling persistent surveillance and tracking over a wide area.
Of course, none of those countries will have to deal with a Supreme Court that knows nothing about security but dictates the fence's route. Nor will they have to worry about the International Court in the Hague, or various bodies of the United Nations getting involved and condemning them.

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Syrian-bound Russian weapons ship disappears

Western sources are following the Russian-flagged ship Alaed, which disappeared from global positioning since it was first reported headed for Syria, according to Israel's PORT2PORT transportation Website. The ship was reported to be carrying weapons, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was carrying helicopter parts and no firearms.

A spokesman for the company that owns the ship denied that the crew disabled the global positioning transmitter, explaining that the vessel's transmissions could have been disrupted by the weather. The ship reportedly sailed to Scotland but had to return to Russia over insurance issues. Port2Port's ship tracker showed, Monday morning, that the ship had again left Russia and was in the Baltic Sea.
Ya think they'd disable the GPS? Hmmm....

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Yet another anti-Israel double standard

Here's something I never knew before.

You will recall that last month, in response to a Supreme Court order, the residents of Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood were 'voluntarily' expelled from their homes because the homes were built on 'private Palestinian land.'

I always knew there was private Jewish land in Judea and Samaria (and Gaza, for that matter) that had been purchased by Jews before 1948. What I did not know is that Kings Abdullah (the grandfather - not the current one) and Hussein of Jordan built some of the largest 'Palestinian refugee camps' on privately owned Jewish land - specifically on land owned by the Jewish Agency.

Specifically, the Dehaishe 'refugee camp' outside Bethlehem and the El Aroub 'refugee camp' (from which Jews are regularly stoned) between Gush Etzion and Hebron, were both built on land owned by the Jewish Agency. What's worse, Israel cannot even build 'bypass roads' around El Aroub because it cannot take the necessary 'Palestinian fields' to build those roads by eminent domain and the 'Palestinians' won't sell them.

So why doesn't the Jewish Agency go into court and demand the expulsion of the 'refugee camps' like the 'Palestinian landowners' in Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood did? Because we're a bunch of wimps.

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Cantor blasts Pelosi's anti-Semitic remarks

House majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) blasted anti-Semitic remarks made about Jewish Republicans by minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) in an interview over the weekend, calling them 'patronizing' and 'insulting.'
“It is both patronizing and deeply insulting for Nancy Pelosi to suggest any Jew is 'exploited' for their political beliefs or that support for Israel is somehow an 'excuse' for anything," Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement.

During the TV interview, Pelosi agreed with the interviewer that Republican Jewish supporters are very politically active and that Jewish voters are intelligent enough to understand the situation.

"Well, that’s how they’re being exploited,” she said. “And they’re smart people. They follow these issues. But they have to know the facts. And the fact is that President Obama has been the strongest person in terms of sanctions on Iran, which is important to Israel.”

Pelosi also is facing criticism that she implied Obama as president has been to Israel "over and over again."

President Obama has not been to Israel since taking office. He did travel to the country during his 2008 presidential campaign and reportedly went twice as a senator.
Let me guess: No one can find any record of him having been here as a Senator. Just like Occidental and Columbia....

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Romney may not have blasted Obama but Netanyahu sure did

With Mitt Romney at his side, Prime Minister Netanyahu blasted President Obama's reliance on sanctions (which Obama opposed) to stop Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
Speaking with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney at his side, Netanyahu said a "strong and credible military threat" was needed on top of the sanctions to get Iran to make a change.

“I think it’s important to do everything in our power to prevent the Ayatollahs from possessing that capability," Netanyahu said. "We have to be honest and say that all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota. And that's why I believe that we need a strong and credible military threat coupled with the sanctions to have a chance to change that situation."

Romney's campaign outlined a nearly identical position earlier in the day, criticizing those who call the talk of military action irresponsible as making peace less likely.
For those who think that Netanyahu has overstated the case, I challenge you. Show me one way in which Iran's nuclear program has been slowed down by the sanctions. Yes, the sanctions are making the Iranian people suffer. Yes, the sanctions are destroying (or at least hindering the growth of) Iran's economy. But show me one way in which they have slowed down Iran's nuclear program.

I didn't think you could.

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'Gutsiest call ever' was postponed three times

It turns out that "one of the... gutsiest calls of any President in recent memory" - the decision to eliminate Osama Bin Laden - was postponed three times at the urging of... Valerie Jarrett (Hat Tip: Doug Ross)?
In ”Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him,“ Richard Miniter writes that Obama canceled the “kill” mission in January 2011, again in February, and a third time in March. Obama’s close adviser Valerie Jarrett persuaded him to hold off each time, according to the book.

Miniter, a two-time New York Times best-selling author, cites an unnamed source with Joint Special Operations Command who had direct knowledge of the operation and its planning.

Obama administration officials also said after the raid that the president had delayed giving the order to kill the arch-terrorist the day before the operation was carried out, in what turned out to be his fourth moment of indecision. At the time, the White House blamed the delay on unfavorable weather conditions near bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

But when Miniter obtained that day’s weather reports from the U.S. Air Force Combat Meteorological Center, he said, they showed ideal conditions for the SEALs to carry out their orders.

“President Obama’s greatest success was actually his greatest failure,” Miniter told The Daily Caller Friday. ”Leading From Behind,“ he said, traces the arc of six key Obama administration decisions, and shows how the president made them — and, often, failed to make them.
It's too bad this won't be part of the movie.

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Want to make a fast $50K? Find the tape!

I will be thrilled if this works: Breitbart News has announced that it is offering a $50,000 reward to anyone who can produce the video of then State Senator Obama making anti-Semitic remarks at a departure party for Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi (Hat Tip: Bad Blue).
Breitbart News hereby announces a $50,000 reward to whomever can provide the complete video recording of the 2003 farewell party for radical Palestinian academic and activist Rashid Khalidi, at which then-state senator Barack Obama spoke--and which the Los Angeles Times has refused to release since reporting the event in April 2008.


In further attempts to locate the tape or determine its whereabouts, Breitbart News has contacted the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) in Chicago, which Khalidi founded and which Obama provided with money while serving on the board of the Woods Fund with Bill Ayers. However, a request for comment received no response, despite verbal assurances from AAAN that a response would be forthcoming.

Breitbart News also attempted to contact blogger and activist Ali Abunimah, who served on the board of AAAN at the time and wrote in early 2007 about his disappointment with then-U.S. Senator Obama's alleged abandonment of the Palestinian cause. No response was received.

The occasion for the farewell party was Khalidi's departure from the University of Chicago for Columbia University in New York. His provocative advocacy for the Palestinian cause had created controversy in Chicago, and would do so in New York as well. Obama's participation in a special event in Khalidi's honor reflected not only the friendship between their two families, but also the eagerness with which Obama attempted to win support from left-wing constituencies in advance of the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 2004.

The $50,000 reward is contingent on Breitbart News being able to obtain independent authentication of the video recording, as well as verification that the video recording contains Obama's complete remarks at the event.
I really hope this works. That video could have made a huge difference in 2008 (assuming it contains what it's said to contain), and it could make an even bigger difference in 2012.

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Dennis Ross leaving politics just when Obama needs him most

This story by Eli Lake seems a little ominous for the Obama campaign: Dennis Ross is bowing out of politics rather than defend Obama's record.
Dennis Ross, a longtime diplomat and a key architect of the Oslo peace process under President Clinton—a man who worked for the Obama campaign during the 2008 Democratic primaries despite his previous loyalty to the Clintons—won’t be campaigning for Obama this time, Ross confirmed to The Daily Beast.

“I am the Counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy,” Ross said in an email on Friday. “The Washington Institute is a non-profit organization and I cannot do political work from here. When I acted for the campaign in 2008, I had to take a leave of absence to do so. Having only recently returned to the Institute, I cannot now again take a leave of absence.”


“Ambassador Ross was obviously the No. 1 pro-Israel surrogate for the Obama campaign in 2008,” said Josh Block, a former press aide for the Clinton administration and former top spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “The fact that after three years of working on Mideast policy side-by-side with the president, Ambassador Ross has decided to sit out this campaign, unlike other former top officials now at nonpartisan think tanks, will certainly be understood as a message of its own, intentionally or unintentionally.”

Ross himself said, “I can give substantive advice to the administration, the president’s campaign, or any campaign that would ask for it. And, of course, when I speak I can talk about my views on policy and I have been supportive of the president’s policy on leading foreign-policy issues.”

That’s a departure from Ross’s hands-on work with the Obama administration over the past four years.
Read the whole thing. I'm sure Ross knew when he took this position that he would have to sit out the campaign. Are the rats leaving the sinking ship?

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It wasn't what Romney said, it was how he said it

Barry Rubin reports on Mitt Romney's speech to the Jerusalem Foundation on Sunday evening. He writes that it wasn't so much about what Romney said as it was about how he said it.
At a beautiful outdoor setting with the Old City in the background, Romney declared his strong support for Israel, using phrases often heard from American presidents. He also proclaimed his view that Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital. The difference, of course, is that those listening were less inclined to think that when President Barack Obama said similar things to AIPAC meetings he was describing his own views and policies.

Clearly, Romney was restrained by the American principle that partisan politics stopped at the water’s edge, that no politician should criticize a president or U.S. government while abroad. Thus, Obama’s name—or even his specific policies—were never explicitly mentioned.

What Romney did do, however, was to scatter among the assertions of U.S. support for Israel’s security and a strong belief in a U.S.-Israel alliance some subtle references that many viewers and much of the mass media are likely to miss. Here are the key ones, which give some hints over Romney’s future campaign and possibly his presidency:
Read it all.

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BBC questions Israel's size

The BBC will never give up. They have 'improved' their Israel entry on their Olympics website, but as Brian of London points out, they have put an asterisk next to Israel's area.
Previously they stated the size of Israel was 22,072 km² (screen cap on the right).

Now they’re telling us the size of Israel is 22,072 km² (screen cap on the left). What’s the difference? We are now informed that this number is the work of the “Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics” and includes “Jerusalem and Golan”.

BBC, you got a problem with that?
Well, they certainly should not. Some questions:

  • Does the BBC note whether the Russian figures include the Kuril Islands?
  • Does it note whether Pakistani and Indian figures include parts of Kashmir?
  • Does it note whether Indian figures include Lathitila?
  • Does it note whether Armenian figures include Nagorno-Karabakh?
  • Does it note whether Chinese figures include Aksai Chin or Taiwan?
  • Does it note whether Serbian figures include Kosovo?
  • Does it note whether UK figures include Gibraltar, the Falkland islands and Chagos archipelago?
  • Does it note whether Georgian figures include Abkhazia?
  • Does it note whether Moroccan figures include the Western Sahara?
  • Does it note whether Ethiopian figures include Badme?
  • Does it note whether Cypriot figures include Turkish Cyprus?
Also, look at the Palestinian figures – do they note any dispute about territories or population?

You can all guess the answers....


Mitt Romney: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel; I'll move embassy when Israeli government wants me to

We can only hope Mitt Romney will stick by this one, because it's a promise that every President for the last 17 years has broken, and it's one that US Presidents have not been willing to consider even before that. Mitt Romney says that he would move the United States embassy to Jerusalem - if Israel's government wants him to move it.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Herb G).

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Video: Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomes Governor Romney to his home

Here's video of Prime Minister Netanyahu welcoming Republican candidate Mitt Romney to his home on Sunday evening.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Sunlight).

Can anyone envision a similar meeting with Hussein Obama? I didn't think so.

By the way, for the record, Governor Romney's son and brother are both traveling with him.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Iranian and Syrian nerve gas: Manufactured in Europe

Giulio Meotti rips the cover off a big story. Iran and Syria are threatening Israel with biological weapons that are made in Europe.
What very few people know is that European companies and scientists gave Iran, Syria, Libya and Iraq the material to attempt to kill the Jews, again.

In 1992 a 100-page report, prepared by the Paris-based Middle East Defence News, listed about 300 European firms which the centre said it believed had "played a significant role in the unconventional weapons programmes in Iran, Syria and Libya".

Germany topped the list of suppliers with 100, the report said, then 29 French, 22 British, 13 Italian and 13 Swiss.

German companies have played a crucial role in helping Iran to build a chemical weapons industry, and have illegally supplied nerve gas precursor chemicals," the report said. It said France had played a "crucial role...in helping Syria to develop both a chemical weapons and a biological weapons capability".

The West German firm Degussa supplied of chemicals to Libya used to manufacture poison gas. This company also owned a 42.5 per cent share in the Degesch company, which supplied the Zyklon B gas used in the death camps. Degesch is the acronym for "Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Schaedlingsbekaempfung", a company for the extermination of vermin.

It developed the method of using hydrogen cyanide, Zyklon B, as an ingredient in its fumigation gas for buildings and ships. The gas it supplied to Auschwitz was used in the killing of two million Jews.

"For years, Iraqi officers had asked us how it had been with the gassing of the Jews." said Maj. Gen. Karl-Heinz Nagler, former head of the East German Army's chemical service, who had trained the Iraqi Army in chemical warfare for 15 years.

The manufacturing of di-fluoro - from which nerve gas is obtained - requires resistant glass components. Two German companies gave these to the Syrians.

French scientific institutes also played a role, through scientific exchanges.


We can be partners in the Jewish struggle against the new apocalypse. Or we can be part of it. The European companies and scientists have made their choice.
Read the whole thing.

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Full text of Romney's speech to the Jerusalem Foundation

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke to the Jerusalem Foundation on Sunday evening. The full transcript of the speech is here. Some highlights follow.
It is my firm conviction that the security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States. And ours is an alliance based not only on shared interests but also on enduring shared values.

In those shared values, one of the strongest voices is that of your prime minister, my friend Benjamin Netanyahu. I met with him earlier this morning and I look forward to my family joining his this evening as they observe the close of this fast day of Tisha B’Av.

It’s remarkable to consider how much adversity, over so great a span of time, is recalled by just one day on the calendar. This is a day of remembrance and mourning, but like other such occasions, it also calls forth clarity and resolve.

At this time, we also remember the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were massacred at the Munich Olympics forty years ago. Ten years ago this week, 9 Israeli and American students were murdered in the terrorist attack at Hebrew University. And tragedies like these are not reserved to the past. They are a constant reminder of the reality of hate, and the will with which it is executed upon the innocent.

It was Menachem Begin who said this about the Ninth of the month of Av: “We remember that day,” he said, “and now have the responsibility to make sure that never again will our independence be destroyed and never again will the Jew become homeless or defenseless.” “This,” Prime Minister Begin added, “is the crux of the problems facing us in the future.”

So it is today, as Israel faces enemies who deny past crimes against the Jewish people and seek to commit new ones.

When Iran’s leaders deny the Holocaust or speak of wiping this nation off the map, only the naïve – or worse – will dismiss it as an excess of rhetoric. Make no mistake: the ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way.

My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: I will not look away; and neither will my country. As Prime Minister Begin put it, in vivid and haunting words, “if an enemy of [the Jewish] people says he seeks to destroy us, believe him.”

We have seen the horrors of history. We will not stand by. We will not watch them play out again.

It would be foolish not to take Iran’s leaders at their word. They are, after all, the product of a radical theocracy.


I believe that the enduring alliance between the State of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world. America’s support of Israel should make every American proud. We should not allow the inevitable complexities of modern geopolitics to obscure fundamental touchstones. No country or organization or individual should ever doubt this basic truth: A free and strong America will always stand with a free and strong Israel.

And standing by Israel does not mean with military and intelligence cooperation alone.

We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel, voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries.

By history and by conviction, our two countries are bound together. No individual, no nation, no world organization, will pry us apart. And as long as we stay together and stand together, there is no threat we cannot overcome and very little that we cannot achieve.

Thank you all. May God bless America, and may He bless and protect the Nation of Israel.
Read it all.

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Video: Mitt Romney at the Western Wall

Here's Mitt Romney at the Western Wall earlier today.

Let's go to the videotape.

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If a Republican said this, the media would rightfully brand it anti-Semitism

If a Republican accused Jews of voting for a Democrat because they're rich people and want a tax cut, what do you think the reaction would be? I think that Republican would rightfully be branded an anti-Semite. But when a Democrat makes a comment like that, it slips right under the media's radar range. Especially when the Democrat is none other than Queen Nancy Pelosi.

Let's go to the videotape. The part I want you to see is between 6:00 and 7:50. More below the fold.

So there it is. Queen Nancy says that Jews are using Israel as an excuse to vote Republican because what they really want is a tax cut.

Jennifer Rubin talks to Matt Brooks, head of the Republican Jewish Coalition, about Pelosi's statement (Hat Tip: Ricky G).
Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition reacted to Pelosi’s remarks in an e-mail to Right Turn. He told me: “The one thing I can agree with Nancy Pelosi on is that Jewish Republicans are ‘smart people.’ We’re smart enough to know that when it comes to Israel we can do a lot better then Barack Obama. Obama has publicly called for ‘daylight’ between the US and Israel, called for Israel to return to the indefensible ‘67 lines as a precondition for peace talks, and condemned Israel for building in . . . Jerusalem.” He then took strong exception to Pelosi’s claims of “exploitation”: “So, sadly, while I appreciate Pelosi saying Jewish Republicans are smart, we most certainly are not being “exploited.” Given the facts and I only wish that when it comes to Israel Nancy Pelosi and other defenders of Obama’s failed Israel policies were as smart as us Jewish Republicans.”
Pelosi tried to walk the statement back on Saturday. Mitt Romney, who is overseas (in Israel, in fact) won't comment right now.

Hmmm. Definitely sounds anti-Semitic to me.

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Hamas and friends issue responses to Temple Institute video

On Thursday, I reported on a video issued by the Temple Institute for Tisha b'Av. Over the weekend, two responses were issued, one by Hamas, and one by an individual named M. Saber Alian. Here's Hamas' version.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Arutz Sheva).

Music warning for those for whom it is still Tisha b'Av.

Obviously, the one on the Left is the Temple Institute video, while the one on the right is in the shape of the state of Israel – which they claim is "Palestine."

Here's the second one. Let's go to the videotape.

Once again, a music warning for those for whom it is still Tisha b'Av.

Rabbi Chaim Richmanת International Director of the Temple Institute, told Arutz Sheva Sunday: "The irony is that this video, aimed at the Jewish world, has succeeded in moving many people towards a deeper feeling about this period of mourning, and the Temple. This whole thing that has angered the Arab world and plunged us into international intrigue, is simply a red herring...

"The irony is that Hashem has used the international media, focusing on Morsi's imagined insult, to bring the idea of the Holy Temple to the attention of people the world over. So actually there is no coincidence even though we didn't plan for the paper to fall on any particular page...that is just what happened to be in the news that day -- but min hashaymaim [from the Heavens, ed.] the video got much more exposure, and thus the idea of the Temple got more exposure."
Indeed it did. The Temple Institute video has more than 300,000 views - more than the other two combined.

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Temple Mount closed to Jews for Tisha b'Av

The Temple Mount was closed to Jews on Tisha b'Av out of fear of 'provocations.'
Nearly 100 right-wing activists arrived at the entrance to the Temple Mount on Sunday morning only to be informed that the site was closed to Jewish visitors.

The activists held a reading of Eicha (Lamentations) the traditional text of Tisha Be’av, which commemorates the destruction of the Temple, outside the entrance to the Temple Mount.

“There were indications from Muslims and from Jewish worshippers that there would be a possibility of incidents taking place on Temple Mount, so after security assessment made early hours of this morning the decision was made by Jerusalem district police in order to prevent any incidents,” said National Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

“The time has come for the racist policies of the police to end,” said MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union). He accused Public Securities Minister Yitzhak Aharanovitch of “implementing apartheid policies” by not allowing Jews on the site.

“The fact that this happened on Tisha Be’av shows how much Temple Mount is not in our hands,” said Likud activist Moshe Feiglin, who compared the decision to a “modern destruction” of the Temple.

Feiglin said former Jerusalem Police chief Nisso Shaham had promised the Temple Mount would be open to Jews on Sunday. On Thursday, Shaham was forced to take a leave of absence following an investigation into charges of sexual harassment and improper sexual relations with a policewoman.
Come on guys - no one really believed it was going to be open to Jews, did we? We should be used to this already.

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Jeffrey Goldberg complains about Mitt Romney's Western Wall visit.
Today is Tisha b'Av, the ninth of Av, a Jewish day of fasting and mourning. It is on this day that the First and Second Temples were destroyed. The Western Wall, in Jerusalem, is a retaining wall of the Second Temple. It is, especially on this day, a locus of prayer and reflection. It is also, on this particular Tisha b'Av, the location of a very important photo opportunity for an American presidential candidate.

How vulgar is this?

Okay, it's not the perfect day for a visit. But he did choose to go at the hottest time of the day when the smallest possible number of people are there. And none of the natives seemed upset about it. In fact, they were kind of excited about it and many of them hung around after their prayer services ended to see.

P.S. The mourning aspect is limited after mid-day. Romney visited the Kotel after mid-day.

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Not the first prominent Mormon to come to Jerusalem

And there's the picture of Mitt Romney putting a note (known as a kvittl) in the Western Wall.

Mitt Romney is not the first prominent Mormon to visit Jerusalem, and Rafael Medoff writes in the Los Angeles Times that a previous prominent Mormon who visited Jerusalem went on to save 200,000 Jewish lives.
In 1913, 29-year-old Elbert Thomas and his wife, Edna, wrapped up their five-year stint in charge of a Mormon mission in Japan and prepared to return to their native Utah. They decided to pay a short visit to Turkish-occupied Palestine on the way home.


The moment, the mood and the words moved Thomas to feel a deep spiritual connection to the Jewish people and to commit himself to becoming one of those who would "take an active part in behalf of Abraham's children." And three decades later, he was presented with an opportunity to do so.

In the 1940s, as a U.S. senator from Utah, Thomas became deeply concerned about the plight of the Jews in Nazi Europe. He joined the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, a lobbying group led by Jewish activist Peter Bergson. Thomas signed on to its full-page newspaper ads criticizing the Allies for abandoning European Jewry. He also co-chaired Bergson's 1943 conference on the rescue of Jews, which challenged the Roosevelt administration's claim that nothing could be done to help the Jews except winning the war. Although a loyal Democrat and New Dealer, the Utah senator boldly broke ranks with PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt over the refugee issue.

Thomas played a key role in advancing a Bergson-initiated congressional resolution calling for creation of a government agency to rescue Jews from the Nazis. Sen. Tom Connally (D-Texas), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, initially blocked consideration of the resolution. But when Connally took ill one day, Thomas, as acting chair, quickly introduced the measure. It passed unanimously.

Meanwhile, senior aides to Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. had discovered that State Department officials had been obstructing opportunities to rescue Jewish refugees. Morgenthau realized, as he told his staff, that the time had come to say to the president, "You have either got to move very fast, or the Congress of the United States will do it for you." Armed with a devastating report prepared by his staff, and with congressional pressure mounting, Morgenthau went to FDR in January 1944.

Roosevelt could read the writing on the wall. With just days to go before the full Senate would act on the resolution, Roosevelt preempted Thomas and the other congressional advocates of rescue by unilaterally creating the agency they were demanding: the War Refugee Board.

Although understaffed and underfunded, the board played a major role in saving more than 200,000 Jews during the final 15 months of the war. Among other things, the board's agents persuaded a young Swede, Raoul Wallenberg, to go to German-occupied Budapest in 1944. There, with the board's financial backing, he undertook his now-famous rescue mission. Thomas' action in the Senate was an indispensable part of the chain of events that led to Wallenberg's mission.
Read the whole thing. Let's hope that Romney can do a lot more than Thomas did for the Jewish people. And that Jews will do a lot for him at the polls as well.

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