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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Netanyahu: Arabs would welcome strike on Iran

I don't know how loudly I'd want to be saying this, even though it's likely true, but Prime Minister Netanyahu has told a French magazine that a strike on Iran would be welcomed in the Arab world.
“Five minutes after [an attack], contrary to what the skeptics say, I think a feeling of relief would spread across the region,” said Netanyahu, who has been calling for the US and the international community to draw a clear “red line” beyond which Iran would not be allowed to pass in pursuit of nuclear capability.
“Iran is not popular in the Arab world, far from it, and some governments in the region, as well as their citizens, have understood that a nuclear-armed Iran would be dangerous for them, not just for Israel,” he said.
The interview appeared on the eve of Netanyahu’s scheduled visit to France on Wednesday where, in addition to meeting France’s leaders in Paris, he will also be traveling to Toulouse to participate in a memorial service at the Jewish school where a terrorist in March murdered a rabbi and three school children.


Asked in the Paris Match interview whether he was concerned that the terrorist responsible for the murders in Toulouse explained his act by saying that “the Jews have our brothers and sisters in Palestine,” the prime minister responded that “nothing can justify the massacre of children. This is pure barbarism.”
“Any attempt to explain, justify or excuse such behavior is absurd,” Netanyahu said. “All civilized people must unite in the battle against terrorism and start by unanimously condemning it. I am going to Toulouse to demonstrate my solidarity with the victims of terror, Jewish and non-Jewish, and call for action against terrorism and those countries that support it.”
So can we start taking bets on when Netanyahu's next trip to Washington will take place depending upon who wins the US elections?

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Martin Kramer eviscerates the Democrats' Israeli shill, Ephraim Halevy

Former Mossad Director Ephraim Halevy, who has become a professional shill for the Democrats, wrote the following in the New York Times last week:
Whenever the United States has put serious, sustained pressure on Israel’s leaders—from the 1950s on—it has come from Republican presidents, not Democratic ones…. Despite the Republican Party’s shrill campaign rhetoric on Israel, no Democratic president has ever strong-armed Israel on any key national security issue.
Martin Kramer strongly disagrees. But instead of taking an example from recent times - from President Obama's and President Clinton's pressure on Israel with respect to the 'Palestinians' - Kramer discusses an example that is older, but in many ways more relevant: The Kennedy administration's handling of Israel's purported nuclear capability.
Former Mossad head Efraim Halevy likes Barack Obama and dislikes Mitt Romney. He’s entitled to his opinion. What he isn’t entitled to do is make categorical statements that do violence to the historical record.
I’m teaching a graduate course this semester on relations between Israel and the United States, and one of my purposes in following a historical approach is to fortify my students against people who misrepresent the past for some present purpose. Just the other week, we spent two hours discussing how President John F. Kennedy (yes, a Democrat) put the screws on Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and his successor, Levi Eshkol, over Israel’s nuclear end-run. The story has been told at considerable length elsewhere, most ably by Avner Cohen, Zaki Shalom, Michael Karpin, and Warren Bass, so I’ll just recap it here. It’s relevant not only as a corrective to Halevy’s erroneous claim. It’s essential background to the renewed debate over Israel’s nuclear posture that the Obama administration has helped to prompt.
When Kennedy entered the White House in January 1961, the CIA had just concluded that the facility under construction in Dimona, with French assistance, was destined to become a nuclear reactor. U.S. intelligence had been one to two years behind the curve on the pace of Israel’s nuclear program, and Kennedy was worried. He had campaigned on a promise to stop proliferation. In his third debate with Richard Nixon, he had warned that “there are indications because of new inventions, that 10, 15, or 20 nations will have a nuclear capacity, including Red China, by the end of the Presidential office in 1964. This is extremely serious.” The CIA would soon list Israel right behind China as a potential proliferator.
In May 1961, just months after his inauguration, Kennedy raised the issue of Dimona with visiting Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, and received a boilerplate assurance that the project had a peaceful purpose. Kennedy and his advisers continued to suspect otherwise, given the size of the plant. Israel allowed informal visits, but they were far from thorough, and in May 1963, Kennedy finally decided to press the issue and insist on regular inspections. He wrote a letter to Ben-Gurion (May 18), warning that an Israeli weapon would throw open the gates of proliferation everywhere:
We are concerned with the disturbing effects on world stability which would accompany the development of a nuclear weapons capability by Israel. I cannot imagine that the Arabs would refrain from turning to the Soviet Union for assistance if Israel were to develop a nuclear weapons capability—with all the consequences this would hold. But the problem is much larger than its impact on the Middle East. Development of a nuclear weapons capability by Israel would almost certainly lead other larger countries, that have so far refrained from such development, to feel that they must follow suit.
Then came the threat. Kennedy, noting the ways the United States had assisted Israel, warned Ben-Gurion that the U.S. commitment to his country “would be seriously jeopardized in the public opinion in this country and in the West as a whole if it should be thought that this Government was unable to obtain reliable information on a subject as vital to peace as the question of the character of Israel’s efforts in the nuclear field.” Years later, Yuval Ne’eman, the physicist who helped Ben-Gurion write his replies, told a journalist that “Kennedy was writing like a bully. It was brutal.” Kennedy’s “Scylla and Charybdis-like letter,” writes Zaki Shalom, “made it absolutely clear that he wanted Israel to accede to his demands unconditionally and immediately, and a request of this sort from the pinnacle of American power, in language so blunt, left Israel no space for maneuvering.”
Read it all.

For a different perspective on Ben Gurion's dealings with Kennedy over the nuclear issue go here.

The gentleman between Ben Gurion and Kennedy in the picture at the top (which was taken when Kennedy was still a Senator) is Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr.

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Barak: Iran delayed nuclear showdown by 8-10 months

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has told the London Daily Telegraph that Iran delayed its date of reckoning by 8-10 months this past summer, by converting some of its 20% enriched uranium for civilians use. But Israel's Defense Minister predicts that date is still coming.
Earlier this year, however, Iran delayed the arrival of that moment. Tehran has amassed 189kg of uranium enriched to 20 per cent purity, a vital step towards weapons-grade material. In August, the country’s experts took 38 per cent of this stockpile and converted it into fuel rods for a civilian research reactor, thus putting off the moment when they would be able to make uranium of sufficient purity for a nuclear bomb.
Mr Barak said this decision “allows contemplating delaying the moment of truth by eight to 10 months”. As for why Iran had drawn back, the minister said: “There could be at least three explanations. One is the public discourse about a possible Israeli or American operation deterred them from trying to come closer. It could probably be a diplomatic gambit that they have launched in order to avoid this issue culminating before the American election, just to gain some time. It could be a way of telling the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] 'oh we comply with our commitments’.”
Mr Barak added: “Maybe it’s a combination of all these three elements. I cannot tell you for sure.”
But this decision had probably avoided a crisis. Asked whether the critical moment would otherwise have arrived “about now”, Mr Barak replied simply: “Probably yes.”
Yet the minister stressed how Iran’s move was not a genuine change of heart. The fuel rods could be converted back into medium-enriched uranium, although this would take months and waste much of the material. In any event, Iran is now using 9,852 centrifuges to enrich uranium, according to the IAEA, so its stockpile is being replenished.
Mr Barak insisted that Iran was still resolved to build nuclear weapons, predicting that success would trigger an arms race in the Middle East and “make any non-proliferation regime impossible. Saudi Arabia will turn nuclear within weeks – according to them. Turkey will turn nuclear in several years. The new Egypt will have to follow”. The world would start the “countdown” to the “nightmare” of “nuclear material ending up in the hands of terrorist groups”
What could go wrong?

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First pro-Israel Arab party formed

Four and a half years ago, I blogged a column by Caroline Glick that claimed that most 'Israeli Arabs' are actually pro-Israel. So why do they continue to send the likes of Ahmad Tibi and Hanin Zoabi to the Knesset? Because there were no pro-Israel Arab parties. Until now. 42-year old Aatef Karinaoui has founded a party called El Amal Lat’gir — “Hope for Change” - to run for the Knesset in the upcoming elections. Will he make it? I'm going to be very blunt: I hope he lives long enough to find out.
Karinaoui gives the impression of a man who believes his time has come. A 42-year-old resident of the Bedouin city of Rahat in the Negev, he is a traditional Muslim but does not consider himself religious. Though involved in politics for nearly two decades, and exceedingly busy preparing his Knesset campaign, he is soft-spoken and patient. In fact, when we recently spoke, in a cafe at Ben Gurion Airport, he repeatedly extended our chat to accommodate my questions — despite the nudging of his staff. And his anger at Israeli Arab politicians, who he says cultivate the division between Jewish and Arab Israelis, clearly runs deep.
“All the bad things they say about Israel and its supposed ill-treatment of Arabs is a lie, a bald-faced lie,” he says intently, just moments after we’ve sat down. “Arab members of Knesset are setting a fire. They feed off of the politics of division and don’t represent the Arab public. The Arab Knesset members do nothing to educate them or advance their situation… But [at present] there is no alternative to the current leadership.”
By forming El Amal Lat’gir, which he says is loyal to Israel and concerned exclusively with social matters, Karinaoui aims to provide that alternative.
Karinaoui, who is married with five children (including a daughter currently on a national service program), is the chairman of the nonprofit organization Social Equality and National Service in the Arab Sector, which encourages Arabs to shoulder a share of the national service burden. He’s also in charge of operating computer centers in Arab cities throughout Israel as part of the Finance Ministry’s Lehava project, whose goal is to “narrow the digital gap” by providing access to the Internet in lower-income areas of the country.
“We don’t need the Arab members of Knesset to obsess over marginal matters and foreign affairs as they’ve been doing,” he declares. Arab MK Hanin Zoabi participated in the May 2010 Mavi Marmara bid to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, for instance, while her colleague Ibrahim Saroor last year denounced the American “murder” of Osama bin Laden.
“We have real, pressing concerns -– 15 people living in a single house, land issues, education problems,” says Karinaoui. “We have plenty to deal with. But [Arab MKs] distance us from the mainstream and don’t want progress. Their leadership is the real failure.”
Read the whole thing.  I think he's a breath of fresh air. But I fear what the Islamists might do to him. Especially if he actually wins.

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Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Wednesday, October 31.
Osama bin Laden is dead
Barry Rubin in A short guide to the Benghazi issue, writes:

Al-Qaeda, however, is a relatively weak organization, capable of staging only sporadic terror attacks, with the exception perhaps of remote Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan. It cannot take over whole countries. The fact that Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Turkey, and perhaps soon Syria are governed by Islamists is a far greater strategic threat.
Then why couldn’t the Obama administration have said that the consulate was attacked by evil al-Qaeda for no reason other than its lust to murder Americans, with the perfect symbolism of the attack having been staged on September 11?
There was a dual problem. First, the group involved was one the U.S. government had worked with during the Libyan civil war so it could not admit they were close to al-Qaeda. Second, the official line was that al-Qaeda had been defeated so it could not still be a threat. Therefore, an alternative narrative and a cover-up were needed.
How did the mainstream media report this?

The Washington Post reports After Benghazi attacks, Islamist extremists akin to al-Qaeda stir fear in eastern Libya:
Some Libyans say the extremist views are held much more broadly than just among the Islamist militias themselves, a fact they said the United States has failed to understand in the wake of the Benghazi attack. Not all of the extremists in Darna or elsewhere in Libya belong to a group, they said. But those who share al-Qaeda’s ideology are many, they said, and that creates ample opportunity for recruitment.
“It’s a way of thinking,” said Saad Belgassim, who used to work as a bureaucrat in Darna’s now defunct court system. “They kidnap people like they do in Afghanistan. They delude young people and send them off to bomb themselves.”
In some ways, the sway that Islamists hold here is not a surprise. Neglected, conservative and desperately poor under Gaddafi, Darna stood out for its fierce Islamist resistance to the old regime — and for sending more jihadists to Iraq during the U.S. occupation than any other place in Libya.
The article is descriptive of the extreme groups operating in Libya. There's no obvious agenda in the reporting. The same can't be said for a "news analsis" Al Qaeda-Inspired Groups, Minus Goal of Striking U.S. that recently appeared in the New York Times. 
The candidates offered profoundly different answers during their final debate last week, with President Obama repeating his triumphant narrative of drone attacks and dead terrorists, and Mitt Romney warning darkly about Islamists on the march in an increasingly hostile Middle East.
In a sense, both are true. The organization that planned the Sept. 11 attacks, based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is in shambles; dozens of its top leaders have been killed since Mr. Obama assumed office, and those who remain appear mostly inactive.
But there is an important distinction: most of the newer jihadist groups have local agendas, and very few aspire to strike directly at the United States as Osama bin Laden’s core network did. They may interfere with American interests around the world — as in Syria, where the presence of militant Islamists among the rebels fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad has inhibited American efforts to support the uprising. But that is a far cry from terrorist plots aimed at the United States itself.
The gist of this article is to support President Obama's view that he has successfully defeated Al Qaeda and made the world safer. Even if the last paragraph is true, does it mean that the jihadists won't target the United States when they've achieved their more immediate goals.

Later in the article there's this: 
Jihadists now control Mali’s vast north, as Mr. Romney mentioned more than once in the last debate, and have links to an older group officially affiliated with Al Qaeda that grew out of Algeria’s civil conflict in the 1990s. Although these groups are well armed and dangerous, some appear to be more criminal than ideological, focused on kidnapping and drug smuggling. Jihadists have also gained strength in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, just across the border from Israel.
At one point during the debate, Mr. Romney appeared to link these varied threats with the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt. To some terrorism analysts, this kind of talk is counterproductive, because it blurs crucial distinctions between potential allies who profess to believe in democracy and civic rights, like the Brotherhood, and more militant Islamists who view those principles as heresy.
“There is still a tendency to talk about the enemy in grand terms, linking them all together, because it makes you sound tough,” Mr. Fishman of the New America Foundation said. “In fact, it does the opposite, because it obscures differences that should be at the heart of our counterterrorism efforts.”
It wasn't enough to support President Obama's claim that he has Al Qaeda on the run. Here the reporter, Robert Worth, criticizes Mitt Romney's view, citing a friendly "expert."

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Protectzia, American style

I've seen a lot of references to Green Slush on the internet lately. Green slush is money that the Obama administration has poured into 'green' companies that have gone bankrupt. There are a lot of Israelis involved in those companies, which makes sense because this is a country that is a world leader in high tech, and was developing energy conserving technologies long before the Obama junta came to power in the US.

While there may be a lot of Israelis who have benefited from green slush, the common thread among the companies is not that they have Israeli officers, directors or investors. It's that they are controlled by Obama 'bundlers' (people who raised $500,000 or more for the Obama campaign in 2008 and this year). An astounding 80% of the government money that went into the 'green' economy went to companies controlled by the President's direct supporters (Hat Tip: Wintery Knight).
It would take an entire book to analyze every single grant and government-backed loan doled out since Barack Obama became president. But an examination of grants and guaranteed loans offered by just one stimulus program run by the Department of Energy, for alternative-energy projects, is stunning. The so-called 1705 Loan Guarantee Program and the 1603 Grant Program channeled billions of dollars to all sorts of energy companies. The grants were earmarked for alternative-fuel and green-power projects, so it would not be a surprise to learn that those industries were led by liberals. Furthermore, these were highly competitive grant and loan programs—not usually a hallmark of cronyism. Often fewer than 10 percent of applicants were deemed worthy.
Nevertheless, a large proportion of the winners were companies with Obama-campaign connections. Indeed, at least 10 members of Obama’s finance committee and more than a dozen of his campaign bundlers were big winners in getting your money. At the same time, several politicians who supported Obama managed to strike gold by launching alternative-energy companies and obtaining grants. How much did they get? According to the Department of Energy’s own numbers ... a lot. In the 1705 government-backed-loan program, for example, $16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted as of Sept. 15 went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers—individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party. The grant and guaranteed-loan recipients were early backers of Obama before he ran for president, people who continued to give to his campaigns and exclusively to the Democratic Party in the years leading up to 2008. Their political largesse is probably the best investment they ever made in alternative energy. It brought them returns many times over.
These government grants and loan guarantees not only provided access to taxpayer capital. They also served as a seal of approval from the federal government. Taxpayer money creates what investors call a “halo effect,” in which a young, unprofitable company is suddenly seen to have a glowing future. The plan is simple. Invest some money, secure taxpayer grants and loans, go public, and then cash out. In just one small example, a company called Amyris Biotechnologies received a $24 million DOE grant to build a pilot plant to use altered yeast to turn sugar into hydrocarbons. The investors included several Obama bundlers and fundraisers. With federal money in hand, Amyris went public with an IPO the following year, raising $85 million. Kleiner Perkins, a firm that boasts Obama financier John Doerr and former vice president Al Gore as partners, found its $16 million investment was now worth $69 million. It’s not clear how the other investors did. Amyris continues to lose money. Meanwhile, the $24 million grant created 40 jobs, according to the government website recovery.gov.
One might think that the Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office, which has doled out billions in taxpayer-guaranteed loans, would be directed by a dedicated scientist or engineer. Or perhaps a civil servant with considerable financial knowledge. Instead, the department’s loan and grant programs are run by partisans who were responsible for raising money during the Obama campaign from the same people who later came to seek government loans and grants. Steve Spinner, who served on the Obama campaign’s National Finance Committee and was a bundler himself, was the campaign’s “liaison to Silicon Valley.” His responsibilities included fundraising, recruiting more bundlers, and managing Obama’s relationship with a cadre of very wealthy donors. After the 2008 campaign, Spinner joined the Department of Energy as the “chief strategic operations officer” for the loan programs. A lot of the money he helped hand out went to that same cadre of wealthy Silicon Valley campaign donors. He also sat on the White House Business Council, which is made up of Obama-supporting corporate executives.
Read the whole thing. It's astounding. By the way, the book has already been written by the article's author, Peter Schweizer. It's called Throw Them All Out. Yes, there's Vitamin P in America too.....

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OMG! Is this what happened in Benghazi?

I pass this on and let you decide whether and how much of it to believe.

Let's go to the videotape.

Hmmm. Unfortunately, it sounds plausible. Too plausible.


Romney big winner in Pennsylvania absentee voting

This morning President Obama’s campaign indicated they are going on the air in Pennsylvania and sending Joe Biden to the state trying to protect a state that just one week ago was considered to be safe ground.  One possible reason? The enormous GOP edge in absentee ballot returns in the state, creating an enormous and unexpected hole for the President’s campaign to dig out of. 
In 2008 the GOP edged the Democrats by just 2% in absentee returns. As of today the GOP’s lead is 18.8% — a 16.9% bump in a state Obama won by 10% in 2008. Republicans have turned in 55.2% of the absentee ballots to date while the Democrats have returned just 36.4%.
How many voters in Israel are registered in Pennsylvania anyway? Acccording to iVoteIsrael.com, there are 163,395 American voters in Israel, of which about 5% (8,170) come from Pennsylvania. But there have been over 115,000 absentee ballots cast in Pennsylvania, so this one isn't (as of statistics available now) the Israelis' fault.


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Devastating J'accuse video on Benghazigate

This is a really powerful video destroying the Obama administration's handling of the terror attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were murdered.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: MFS - The Other News).

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How low will Obama go?

How low will Barack Hussein Obama go to win this election? There doesn't appear to be any limit. .

This obscene video was made by Obama buddy Michael Moore on behalf of the Soros-financed MoveOn.org.

Yes, it's obscene - parental discretion advised. Language warnings.

Let's go to the videotape.

I wonder how many of them have Alzheimers and therefore have no idea what they're saying.

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Due process anyone?

Turkey is putting Israel 'trial' starting next Tuesday, November 6. And I'm sure this 'trial' will comport with due process like in any other western country. Right.... (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
The first hearing of the trial concerning an Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla and Mavi Marmara ship will be held at an İstanbul court on Nov.6. IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which is one of the organizers of the Freedom Flotilla, is carrying out significant work to bring this case to the world’s attention. Hundreds of lawyers will seek co-plaintiff status at the trial.

The suspects of the trial include former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Naval Forces commander Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, Israel's military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and Air Forces Intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi. They will be tried as “fugitive suspects.” There are 490 complainants and victims in the case including flotilla passengers from 37 countries and relatives of the martyrs.

The first hearing of the Mavi Marmara trial will begin at Çağlayan Courthouse at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 6 and it will continue for three days with breaks. Flotilla passengers from Turkey and other parts of the world, relatives of the Mavi Marmara martyrs and their lawyers will be in attendance at the trial. The trial will be closely followed by human rights observers from Turkey and abroad, media members, jurists and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

Mavi Marmara lawyers, IHH and other relief organizations which are among the organizers of the Freedom Flotilla which was carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, are carrying out extensive work ahead of the first hearing of the case.

Common case of the humanity: Mavi Marmara
The article goes on to mention that the hopelessly biased United Nations 'human rights council' condemned Israel, but somehow manages to ignore the report of the United Nations' Palmer Commission, which US President Hussein Obama and his Best Friend Forever, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, tried to suppress. 

What could go wrong?

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The Obama Hot Air Express

I apologize to my friends Ed (whom I've met in person) and Allah (whose identity remains top secret) for invoking the name of their blog in vain. But this is really funny.

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

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On Iran, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself

I got this by email from its author, Evelyn Gordon, and since it's behind a paywall at JPost, I'm going to post most of it.
Consider, for instance, the difference between today’s situation and 1967. Back then, America refused to sell most types of weaponry to Israel; today, Israel is generously supplied with top-of-the-line American arms. Back then, Egypt fought in alliance with Syria and Jordan, both of which fielded powerful armies of their own; Iran’s likely allies boil down to Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, whose capabilities, while non-negligible, pale beside those of Syria and Jordan. Back then, Egypt and Syria were both clients of a superpower (the Soviet Union), whereas Israel lacked superpower backing; today, it’s Israel that has superpower backing, while Iran makes do with lukewarm support from lesser military powers like Russia and China. Finally, Israel today has three times the population and twice the GDP that it did in 1967, giving it far more men to put under arms and money with which to equip them.

In short, back in 1967, a smaller, poorer, worse-armed Israel with no superpower backing could nevertheless defeat a regional power with formidable allies and superpower backing all by itself. But today, according to [Home Front Defense Minister Avi] Dichter, a much bigger, richer, better-armed Israel with superpower backing is incapable of fighting unaided against a regional power with no state allies and no superpower backing. Objectively speaking, it sounds ridiculous; hence my outrage at hearing a top defense official spout it.

But it didn’t take long for fear to set in – because regardless of the objective balance of power, an army that believes itself incapable of winning almost certainly will be. And while it’s possible that Dichter doesn’t represent the defense establishment’s consensus view, judging by his record, he is one of this establishment’s least defeatist senior officials: As Shin Bet security service director from 2000-2005, not only was he a major architect of the counterterrorism strategy that defeated the second intifada, but he pushed this strategy in the teeth of objections from Israel Defense Forces officers who insisted – wrongly – that “there is no military solution to terror.”

In contrast, many senior IDF officers argued against a major military operation in West Bank refugee camps (where terrorist groups were largely based), issuing panicked warnings that it would result in hundreds of dead soldiers. In reality, Israel lost 30 soldiers in Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 – less than a quarter of the 132 Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists in a single month before the operation.

Senior army officers similarly warned that a major military operation against Hamas in Gaza would result in hundreds of dead soldiers; in reality, Israel lost exactly 10 soldiers in Operation Cast Lead in 2009, four of them to friendly fire. And today, senior IDF officers still insist there is “no military solution” to terror from Gaza, even though the IDF itself decisively disproved this theory in the West Bank just a few years ago.

I’m all in favor of senior defense officials eschewing reckless overconfidence; the Second Lebanon War of 2006 amply showed how dangerous that can be. Even against a third-rate opponent like Hezbollah, victory is impossible if defense officials neglect the basics: a sound battle plan, proper training and good logistics.

But at the same time, there’s no point in having an army at all if you’re afraid to use it when truly necessary.  And it’s hard to think of a greater necessity than stopping Iran’s nuclear program: Defense Minister Ehud Barak exaggerated only slightly when he said “The [Iranian] sword hanging over our neck today is a lot sharper than the sword that hung over our neck before the [1967] Six-Day War.”

The danger posed by defeatism is a recurring theme in Jewish history (though in fairness, so is the danger of overconfidence). The first example, as Israel Harel noted in Haaretz a few weeks ago, dates back to right after the exodus from Egypt: Spies sent to Canaan in advance of a planned Israelite conquest returned to say the Jews couldn’t possibly win, because the people of the land were “giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” God finally solved that problem by making the Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years until the entire generation had died, after which a new, less defeatist generation accomplished the conquest fairly easily.

Today, however, Israel can’t afford to wait 40 years. Barring unforeseen developments, Iran’s nuclear program could hit the point of no return as early as this spring, requiring Israel to choose between military action and a nuclear Iran. And as I explained in this column three weeks ago, should military action be necessary, Israel will almost certainly have to do it without American help.

From a strictly military standpoint, Israel probably has the capacity to do the job. The question is whether our political and military leaders can find the courage to use this capacity if necessary. For if the grasshopper mentality prevails instead, the result is liable to be a nuclear Iran.

And however intimidating Iran is as a nonnuclear regional power today, it will be far more dangerous as a nuclear one.

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Former Special Operations officers join together to remove Obama from office

Former Special Ops officers from four separate branches of the military have joined ranks for one specific purpose -- to remove Barack Obama from office.

Your gift of $25, $50, $100 -- even $1,000 or more if you can possibly spare it -- will help us Special Operations Speaks PAC bring an end to Barack Obama's war on the military and military voters. So, I urge you, please give as generously as you can.


Would it be fair to say that this is unprecedented?

Let's go to the videotape. 

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Israelis help out with hurricane relief

We Israelis are helping out all our friends on the US Eastern Seaboard with hurricane relief.


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Joe Kennedy and Sean Bielat on how to deal with Iran

Here's a video from Massachusetts 4 (the Congressional District where I was born) which deserves more exposure.

You will recall that Republican Sean Bielat nearly defeated Democratic Barney Frank in 2010. As a result, Frank retired and Bielat now finds himself running against Joe Kennedy, whose qualifications for office are... his least name... and the fact that he thinks the capital of Israel is... Tel Aviv.

Here's how Bielat and Kennedy responded to a question about how to deal with Iran in a recent debate.

Let's go to the videotape.

As you all know, I was in that district briefly last week (I had planned to stay longer but cut my trip short to return home and sit shiva). The district is heavily Jewish. So of course, most of the signs I saw on people's lawns were for Fauxahontas (Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, who has been lying for years about having Indian heritage) and for Joe Kennedy.

Jews don't get it, do we?

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Video explaining Benghazigate in 30 seconds

Here's a video that explains Benghazigate in 30 seconds. It was done by the Women United PAC.

Let's go to the videotape.

PJ Tatler adds:
On the group’s web site, Women United PAC says that the Obama administration and the Democratic Party are treating American women with contempt:
Women United PAC speaks plainly: the Obama administration and the Democrat Party are waging war against women who care about the future of our country. They are hoping to distract women from the big issues, to focus on so-called “women’s issues,” thereby reducing women to mindless, sexual, reproductive vessels. This is not feminism; it is contempt.
We don’t buy it. We won’t have it. And we are tired of it.
Women United PAC knows that the devastating effects of Obamacare, the shrinking economy, the refusal to develop America’s energy resources, the overwhelming number of new regulations and penalties, the number of unemployed and underemployed, the uncertainty of small businesses, and the centralization of authority in Washington all represent a threat to our country’s future.
We know that women continue to serve our country proudly, having raised generations of good citizens and great Americans. Women have fought with paper and pen, waged campaigns, and organized civic institutions. Women have spoken up and demanded justice, our freedom, our right to vote, our jobs, our education and our equality, and are not about to permit the discussion about our country’s future decline into a discussion about paying for an individual’s contraception.
Women across America are alarmed at the direction in which our nation is headed. Our families, cities, and Nation are in crisis and the alarm is widespread.
We intend to speak and be heard, honoring the legacy of American women.
Anyone still wondering why Obama has lost his lead among women? There are other things that are more important to women than giving Sandra Fluke $9 per month for birth control. 

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Former Chair of Democrats Abroad Israel writes devastating anti-Obama op-ed

In an earlier post, I showed you an ad featuring Bryna Franklin, the former Chairperson of Democrats Abroad Israel, who is voting for Mitt Romney this year. Franklin also published a devastating op-ed in Tuesday's Jerusalem Post, in which she expands on why she's voting for Mitt Romney. Here's the part of it that's connected to Israel.
DEMOCRATS BELIEVE in furthering human rights and promoting liberty around the world. But Obama completely misreads the international scene. He called Syria’s Assad a “reformer,” yet has remained silent as Assad slaughters his own people. He abandoned president Hosni Mubarak to the Egyptian mobs. In addition, he allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to take control, not only threatening Israel but also terrorizing Egypt’s minorities.

Nowhere has President Obama failed to live up to Democratic ideals more than in his relationship with democratic Israel. From his creation of “daylight” between our countries to constant public criticism of Israeli policy – does Obama do this to any other country? – Obama has allowed severe deterioration of our special relationship just as Israel and the world face extreme danger.

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S open hostility to Israel’s prime minister, and his insulting true feelings caught on an open microphone, indicate antipathy towards the citizens of Israel. Obama’s administration does not even maintain symbolic gestures: at the recent opening of the United Nations Assembly, the United States sat and listened to the address by the president of Iran, yet Ambassador Rice was absent during the entire presentation by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. This wasn’t lost on the leaders of Israel’s enemies.

Coming from Missouri, I take immense pride that President Truman had the courage, conviction and moral compass to recognize the nascent state of Israel. By comparison, President Obama has steered our relationship to an abysmal low.

In reviewing the above, I see no choice but to switch sides and cast my vote for the Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney, who better embodies our Democratic ideals. I ask you to join me.
Read it all

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Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Tuesday, October 30.
1) Compromised

Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born. I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror.
President George W. Bush, June 24, 2002
While President Bush's hopes for the Palestinians were high, as he said further:

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.
President George W. Bush approaches the podium to unveil his plan for the Middle East during a Rose Garder press conference Monday June 24. White House photo by Eric Draper In the work ahead, we all have responsibilities. The Palestinian people are gifted and capable, and I am confident they can achieve a new birth for their nation. A Palestinian state will never be created by terror -- it will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions, based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.
Khaled Abou Toameh demonstrates how empty those aspirations are now. In Which Fatah won? he writes:
The low turnout and the success of Fatah rebels in the elections should be seen as a vote of no-confidence in Abbas and the old guard leadership of his ruling faction.
For decades, Abbas and his veteran loyalists in Fatah have blocked the emergence of fresh and younger leaders – something that has seriously affected Fatah's credibility. Failure to reform Fatah and get rid of corrupt officials has also driven many Palestinians away from Abbas and his loyalists.
Abbas's term in office expired in January 2009, but this has not stopped him from continuing to cling to power. In wake of the results of the local elections, it has become obvious that Abbas does not have a mandate -- even from his Fatah faction -- to embark on any significant political move, such as signing a peace treaty with Israel or applying for membership for a Palestinian state in the UN.
In an article for the Baltimore Sun in 2005, Shoshana Bryen argued that the bet on Abbas was likely to fail. HonestReporting highlighted the key paragraph in the essay:
There is irony in the sight of a semi-reformed terrorist meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a dictator for life, to air his fears that non-semi-reformed terrorists will depose him and carry out the terrorist agenda more efficiently.
2) Hamas reporting #fail

With an politically ineffective Fatah controlling the PA, there's room for competition. The New York Times reports on Arrests for Rebuilding Hamas. What do we know about Hamas from this article?
Hamas won legislative elections in the West Bank and Gaza in 2006 and took full control of Gaza a year later. Its rival, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, has limited control in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and has also worked to suppress Hamas there.
Though the article also calls Hamas an "Islamic militant group," the impression given by the article is that Hamas is democratic and has been (unjustly) suppressed by Fatah. But there's no mention of its continued commitment to the destruction of Israel as well as its continued terrorist activity aimed at southern Israel.

Joel Greenberg writes in Israel reckons with unraveling Gaza policy for the Washington Post.
The Israeli government adopted measures to isolate Gaza, sharply restricting supply shipments at border points, tightening bans on movement out of the territory, and promoting an international diplomatic boycott of the Hamas government.
The policy, strongly backed by Washington, was coupled with moves to promote economic development and foreign aid in the West Bank, where the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is dominant. The intention was to squeeze Hamas by blockading and imposing austerity on Gaza, while boosting Abbas and Fatah through improved living conditions in the West Bank.
But the policy essentially backfired. Hamas rallied popular support in Gaza through a shared sense of siege, and it consolidated economic control by taxing goods smuggled through tunnels from Egypt.
Greenberg is misleading here. The point of the blockade was primarily to deprive Hamas of material that could be used for terror. Had Hamas focused on building Gaza rather than destroying Israel, Israel wouldn't have imposed a blockade.

After dismissing Israel's blockade of Gaza as a failure, Greenberg gets to the point of his article:
Giora Eiland, a former general who headed Israel’s National Security Council during the withdrawal from Gaza, asserted after the emir’s visit that Israel should shift away from trying to undermine Hamas rule and focus exclusively on security concerns, such as halting rocket attacks across the border.
“Israel has an interest that Gaza resemble, as much as possible, a state with a stable government. That is the only way to have an address for both deterrence and dealing with security issues,” Eiland wrote in the Yediot Ahronot daily. “Israel has an interest in economic improvement in Gaza of the kind Qatar can bring. Such improvement creates assets that any government would be concerned about damaging, and thus it will be more moderate and cautious.”
Eiland is one of several experts or activists who are quoted to the same effect, that it is in Israel's best interests to deal with Hamas. There's no evidence that if Israel dealt with Hamas or that if Hamas had a bigger stake, it wouldn't risk an escalation with Israel. In fact, the evidence suggests otherwise.

The word "terrorist" appears twice in the article and "rocket" once. This isn't reporting. It's propaganda.

3) When Barry Rubin agreed with the New York Times

In the New York Times Libya Warnings Were Plentiful, but Unspecific reported:
Interviews with American officials and an examination of State Department documents do not reveal the kind of smoking gun Republicans have suggested would emerge in the attack’s aftermath such as a warning that the diplomatic compound would be targeted and that was overlooked by administration officials.
What is clear is that even as the State Department responded to the June attacks, crowning the Benghazi compound walls with concertina wire and setting up concrete barriers to thwart car bombs, it remained committed to a security strategy formulated in a very different environment a year earlier.
In the heady early days after the fall of Colonel Qaddafi’s government, the administration’s plan was to deploy a modest American security force and then increasingly rely on trained Libyan personnel to protect American diplomats — a policy that reflected White House apprehensions about putting combat troops on the ground as well as Libyan sensitivities about an obtrusive American security presence.
The first paragraph quoted above shows the orientation of the article: that there's no proof to Republican charges. Still the final sentence, shows that the administration's policy was governed by sensitivity to Libyan perceptions.

Barry Rubin,in A Short Guide to the Benghazi Issue: What Is It Really All About? writes:
As noted above, the establishment view today is that America has been a bully in the past, acting unilaterally and not respecting the views of others. Obama has said this directly when speaking to foreign — including Middle Eastern — audiences.
But how does one stop being a bully? By showing that one isn’t tough and doesn’t protect one’s interests fiercely. Thus, in the Benghazi case, the U.S. government didn’t send the ambassador to Benghazi with Americans to guard him, nor did the consulate have Americans to provide security. To do so would be to show disrespect for the Libyans, to act in a way that might be perceived of as imperialistic.
Similarly, the president would not call in an airstrike against the attackers or send an armed rescue team to the consulate because to do so would have signaled an arrogance and aggressiveness, putting Americans first and not acting as a citizen of the world.
The difference is that the New York Times uncritically reported the concern for perceptions of others; Barry Rubin identified it as a handicap. However much of what was reported by the New York Times, though, is more in line with Rubin's view:
“Given the large number of attacks that had occurred in Benghazi that were aimed at Western targets, it is inexplicable to me that security wasn’t increased,” said Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the senior Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, one of the panels holding inquiries.
“The lethality of an armed, masked attack by dozens of individuals is something greater than we’ve ever seen in Libya over the last period that we’ve been there,” Patrick F. Kennedy, the State Department’s under secretary for management, told reporters at a news conference on Oct. 10.
But David Oliveira, a State Department security officer who was stationed in Benghazi from June 2 to July 5, said he told members and staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he recalled thinking that if 100 or more assailants sought to breach the mission’s walls, “there was nothing that we could do about it because we just didn’t have the manpower, we just didn’t have the facilities.”
Even the mostly positive spin of the New York Times fails to defend the administration from its less than thorough efforts to secure the Benghazi consulate.

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Anti-Israel and anti-Motherhood

Some of you may recall the radical Leftist Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic candidate for Congress in the newly created Arizona -9 Congressional district, whom Shmuel Rosner so delicately called 'not instinctively pro-Israel.'

Well, here's a rather shocking video about Sinema, which ought to be of concern to the Jewish community as well.

Let's go to the videotape.

Does it go without saying that the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix has endorsed Sinema?
We also trust Sinema when it comes to promoting and fostering our partnership with Israel. Profoundly affected by her 2009 visit there, Sinema understands well the deep and complex problems Israelis deal with daily. She will join the overwhelming, bipartisan consensus in Congress that supports our relationship with the Jewish State.

We expect her opponent, Vernon Parker, would do the same. That said, the prospect of a President Romney gives us pause. As Israel's former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy said last weekend, Romney's presidential campaign, by its repeated and forceful condemnation of negotiations with Iran, is "mortally destroying any chance of a resolution without war." Parker, as a newly elected member of the Republican majority, would be unlikely to push back his party's president, even when his actions would deal, as Halevy describes it, "a heavy blow to the ultimate interest of the United States and Israel."
Unless a miracle occurs, the only possible resolution of the Iranian crisis without war is a nuclear Iran.  But then we already know that Halevy would be happy to see that happen.


Netanyahu visits wounded soldier

Here's Prime Minister Netanyahu visiting IDF officer Ziv Shilon who was critically injured when a bomb exploded alongside the Gaza security fence last week.

This is something that Netanyahu does regularly. As a former soldier who was wounded in action, he realizes how much this means to the troops. Unlike the leader of one of our largest allies... 

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This used to be the Whitehall subway station in lower Manhattan

The picture was originally posted by Governor Cuomo on Instagram.

I've been in that station many, many times....

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Arafat's body to be exhumed

Maybe this time we can wrap it in pig's fat and dump it at sea.... Yasser Arafat's body is to be exhumed to determine the cause of death.
According to French officials, French investigators plan to exhume Yasser Arafat's remains next month in order to determine the PLO leader's cause of death. According to Palestinian authorities, a seperate Swiss investigative team is planning on arriving in Ramallah at the same time, yet no specific date was mentioned.
I can tell you what the cause of death was - A I D S.


Image: Ground Zero flooded with sea water

Above is another image from the New York City Fire Department.

Yes, that's the construction site at Ground Zero flooded with sea water.

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Woods to Obama: 'It's better to die the death of a hero than to live the life of a coward'

Here's Charles Woods, the father of murdered Navy SEAL Tyronne Woods, blasting President Obama for his behavior the night of the Benghazi attack. This is awesome.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: The Right Scoop).

What a class act Charles Woods is. Too bad I can't say the same for the President.

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Terror attack on US embassy in Amman thwarted

I was sitting shiva when this happened, so I missed it, but Jonathan Schanzer has some reasons to be concerned about last week's attempted terror attack on the US embassy in Amman.
Jordan disrupted a major terrorist attack in Amman this month, and security services reportedly arrested 11 jihadis who intended to attack multiple targets – including the U.S. embassy and popular shopping areas – with heavy weaponry including car bombs and machine guns.
That the attack was thwarted comes as good news for this American ally, where King Abdullah's rule has come under increasing pressure amid the Arab Spring. But the failed operation was also, in many respects, a witch's brew of America's most vexing policy challenges, raising questions about the path ahead.
For one, the failed attack raised additional fears about our diplomatic security. After all, American diplomats and diplomatic installations were among the targets. In light of the recent debacles in Benghazi and Cairo on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the plot raises the question: was the United States sufficiently staffed and prepared at the Amman embassy? If you've ever seen the fortress we call an embassy in Amman, the answer is probably "yes." But the bigger question is: how do we address this apparent surge in attempts to harm American diplomats in the region?
Then there is the issue of Syria. Jordanian Information Minister Samih Maayatah announced that the suspects had entered Jordan from neighboring Syria. And as a Jordanian security source told Reuters, "Their plans included getting explosives and mortars from Syria."
These revelations underscore the cost of American indecision. The U.S. has stood on the sidelines while Syria descended into civil war. Washington ignored the death toll as it climbed over 30,000, and the refugee count as it neared a quarter million, insisting that intervention on any level would only attract more radical jihadi types into an already complex situation. A year and half later, in addition to what can only be deemed a sectarian mess, the jihadis have arrived, anyway. The debate continues about whether the fighters are affiliated with al Qaeda or not, but it doesn't matter. There is a jihadi component to the Syria war, and it's now spilling over into Jordan, where Washington has a stake in the survival of the regime.
The Iraq angle is equally troubling. The Jordan Times cited Jordanian press sources as noting that the disrupted cell "gathered intelligence and consulted with the Iraqi branch of al Qaeda via the internet."
The resurgence of al Qaeda in Iraq, a franchise of the al Qaeda core once thought to be largely defeated, is now undeniable.
Read the whole thing.

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For those who aren't there, here is a picture from the 86th Street Station on the R line in Manhattan from the New York City Fire Department.

Wow! Stay warm and dry everyone!



The Shin Bet has broken up the beautiful downtown Ramallah branch of Hamas and has arrested its 30 members. As a bonus, it turns out that two of them were participants in the lynching of two IDF reservists (pictured above) in October 2000.
The men set up a headquarters for Hamas in the West Bank city traditionally seen as a Fatah stronghold, and operated in the areas of the Binyamin region of the West Bank, according to security forces.
"During questioning of suspects by the Shin Bet, it emerged that the headquarters sought to renew Hamas's activities and rebuilt the organization in the Ramallah area… ahead of the future elections in the Palestinian Authority" security forces said.
The Shin Bet identified Murad Muhammad Khaled Abu Baha as the head of the cell, naming several regional subordinates. Maher Ayoub Abd Dalashiya was named as the alleged money man.
A man named Matzav Muhammad Ahmed Sarur was responsible for recruiting students, security forces added.
The recruitment drive involved the setting up of Hamas student cells in West Bank universities, in the Ramallah and Abu Dis areas.
Hamas transferred large funds through student bodies, and some of the money was earmarked for Hamas prisoners and their families, according to the Shin Bet.
The suspects also tried to set up student cells in Hebron and Bethlehem, though those efforts were interrupted by the arrests.


Two of the suspects confessed to taking part in the October 2000 lynch of two IDF reservists who mistakenly entered Ramallah and were beaten to death by a frenzied Palestinian mob.
And you still wonder why almost no Jews in this country want to turn control of Judea and Samaria over to the 'Palestinian Authority'?

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Iran sends a message to Israel

Just days after a massive explosion and fire at an Iranian weapons plant in Khartoum, Iran has sent a message to Israel by sending warships to Sudan.
IRNA said the helicopter carrier Khark and the destroyer Shahid Naqdi were carrying: "the message of peace and friendship to neighboring countries and were ensuring security for shipping lanes against marine terrorism and piracy".
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency said that the vessels docked in Port Sudan on the Red Sea and the fleet's commanders were scheduled to meet Sudanese navy commanders.
Sudan, with close ties to Iran and Sunni jihadis, has long been seen by Israel as a conduit for weapons smuggled to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, via the Egyptian Sinai desert.
The IAF should give them a resounding send off before they leave. Heh. 

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Turkey dropping Greenwich in favor of Mecca

In a further sign of its growing Islamization, Turkey is switching the meridian it uses to set its clocks from Greenwich Mean Time to Islamic Mean Time. It will be using the clock tower pictured above, which is located in Mecca (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
According to a law passed in 1925, Turkey uses the 30th meridian east of Greenwich to set its time. This meridian, which passes through Izmit, puts Turkey in the same time zone as many European countries and is identified as GMT+2. The meridian our ministry wants to use now is 40th, which passes through eastern Turkey. If we adopt that, then Turkey will be GMT+3, which will distance us from Europe one more hour.
As the 40th meridian also passes through Saudi Arabia, it will mean Turkey will be twinned with Riyadh instead of Athens, as it is now.
Then I noticed something else relevant. It was a news report about the Mecca Kingdom Clock that is being installed in Zem Zem Towers Building, close to the Kaaba. Six tons of gold were used in that impressive structure.
The Saudi Kingdom is now calling on Muslim countries to use Islamic Mean Time (IMT), which will based on this clock tower as a reference, and abandon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). According to reports, many Arab media outlets, led by Al-Jazeera, are now arranging their programs according to the new time reference.
Our ministry said it postponed the ending of winter time for “technical reasons.” We have not been told why, and the proposed dropping of winter time will take place in 2014 instead.
We hear that the ministry is determined to use the 40th meridian. This will mean we will have to set our time according to IMT — that is, the Islamic time — from now on. Remember when the idea was first floated, and how international traders and financial concerns in this country had risen against it on grounds it would negatively affect Turkey's foreign trade?
So when will they be adding 'Islamic' to the name Republic of Turkey? What could go wrong?


Turkey to return drones

Gee, you think they were looking for an excuse? Turkey is returning three Heron drones to Israel, provoking yet another commercial dispute between the two countries.
Turkey decided to send the three Heron drones back after technical problems were found with the aircraft, Turkish news outlet NTV reported. Turkey acquired the drones four years ago as part of a 10 drone, $183 million deal with Israel Aerospace Industries.
According to Israel Radio, Ankara claimed the Israeli government has rejected repeated requests to repair the aircraft, as specified in their agreement. As a result, Turkey has decided to return them to Israel and demand compensation for damages incurred because of Israel’s unwillingness to meet its obligations.
One of the planes crashed while operating on a mission in southeastern Turkey and two others haven’t been used in eight months due to technical issues, Turkey claimed, according to the NTV report.
IAI responded to the report saying that it had stood by all its obligations regarding repair of the aircraft, and that it did not know what the problem was.
Last year, Turkish daily Today’s Zaman reported that Turkey returned several Heron drones for repair because of ”engine-related” and “other problems.” After delays in getting them back to Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly complained. Israel then returned the drones and sent technicians to fix them.
It was not clear whether the Herons being returned to Israel were the same ones that required repair in 2011.
IAI doesn't know what the problem is? (I know I have at least one regular reader at IAI...). The problem is that Turkey wants nothing to do with Israel and therefore is willing to act against its own interests to embarrass and harm Israel. Well, let them. But don't pay them a red cent in compensation over this one. 

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Halloween masks

Actually, there are a lot of other scary things that are consequences of four more years of Obama....

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How committed is President Obama to stopping Iran?

Jeffrey Goldberg and Yossi Klein HaLevi talk about President Obama's (lack of) commitment to stop Iran.
Here is an interesting (to me, at least) exchange (originally published in The New York Jewish Week)  I had with my friend and sparring partner Yossi Klein Halevi, of the Shalom Hartman Institute, on the subject of President Obama's Iran policy. Yossi is one of those Israelis who is, to my mind, irrationally fearful of Obama, and Yossi wanted to test my sangfroid.
I don't believe that there's any such thing as an Israeli who is 'irrationally fearful of Obama.' Obama has given us more than enough evidence with which to work.
Dear Jeff,

Like many Israelis, I don't trust President Obama's resolve on Iran. When he says that all options are on the table, I remain deeply skeptical about this President's willingness to order a military strike if all other options fail.

More than any journalist I know, you've been at once clear-eyed on the Islamist threat and also a strong advocate of trusting Obama on Iran. So, as someone who takes the Iranian nuclear threat as seriously as we do here, tell me what we Israelis are missing about Obama.

Dear Yossi,

I think Obama takes the threat very seriously. I think he takes it just as seriously as Netanyahu takes it. More, maybe. It seems to me sometimes that Netanyahu, if he truly believed his rhetoric, would have acted already against the Iranian bomb threat. I know there are people in Washington who think he's not actually serious about striking Iran, should all else fail. And these are people who six months ago thought he would do it.
I don't believe the question is whether Netanyahu believes his rhetoric. I think that Netanyahu, like everyone else, acknowledges the reality that an American strike on Iran is far more likely to take out the Iranian nuclear program than an Israeli strike. And so he hedges his bets - constantly threatening an Israeli strike in a bid to force an American one. At some point, Netanyahu may decide that he has no choice but to strike. That's one of the reasons we are going to elections now - he wants a coalition that he can trust to stand behind him. He doesn't have one right now, at least with respect to Iran. 
What you and other Israeli skeptics don't get about Obama is this: He is deadly serious about stopping nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. It is a core belief of his. He has enunciated on many occasions compelling reasons why he believes it to be unacceptable for Iran to cross the nuclear threshold. He also knows that the reputation of his presidency is riding on this question. If Iran goes nuclear against his wishes, he looks like Jimmy Carter. He doesn't want to go down in history looking like Jimmy Carter.
Obama has a core belief in nuclear disarmament. He has an equally strong belief in resolving disputes by negotiations. Which belief is stronger? I think he's willing to risk an attack on Israel because he believes that the horrible reality of a 21st century nuclear attack may spur the rest of the world to disarm.  And that he is willing to take that risk by continuing to 'negotiate' even when there is no real partner on the other side.
The flipside of this, of course, is that I believe Mitt Romney would be less likely to act, especially in 2013, which may be the year of decision. He'd be a new president, one with an inexperienced national security team. And he won't want to begin his presidency by plunging the U.S. into another Middle Eastern war.
Maybe. But I believe that Romney is more likely to give Israel a green light, and is much more likely to back Israel up if it does act. And he's less likely to try to extract a diplomatic price (on the 'Palestinian' front) for doing so.
It is so much harder for a Republican to confront Iran than it would be for a Democrat, for so many reasons. Obama's drone war is a good example; he gets away with things George W. Bush couldn't even imagine doing. Such is the nature of politics in America.
You mean that the Democrats in Congress will oppose Romney striking Iran and they won't oppose Obama doing so. Maybe. But if this election goes poorly enough for the Democrats, tht will matter a lot less.
Dear Jeff,

You make an important point about the advantage of a Democratic president over a Republican president in waging war. A similar dynamic has been at work in Israel. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert fought two wars - against Hezbollah in 2006 and then against Hamas in 2009 - and yet is still widely considered a dove, while Netanyahu, who has never led a military campaign in either of his two terms in office, is widely regarded as belligerent. Only the Likud, the old adage goes, can make peace, because it can deliver the moderate right for an agreement. By the same measure, perhaps only the Israeli left (or a national unity government) can effectively wage war and for the same reason: It can bring consensus.
This is true - for now - and it's a sad comment on the state of our country. But it may not be true for much longer. I believe Netanyahu will go to war if he feels that he needs to. On the other hand, I believe that Netanyahu  is a greater deterrent to our enemies than anyone on the Left (because 'that nutcase' might actually go to war).

There's also another difference between the US and Israel that's relevant here: the US doesn't vote by party.
But the question regarding Obama and Iran, of course, is whether this Democratic president is capable - temperamentally, ideologically - of ordering a military strike against Iran. At issue isn't whether Obama wants to stop Iran but whether he has the determination to match his rhetoric.

Do you believe that the current level of sanctions, however economically painful, are enough to deter Iran? Do you believe the Iranians will agree to a negotiated solution? From reading you carefully over the last few years, I don't think you do. And so, Jeff: If Obama won't bring the sanctions to the point where they can truly stop Iran, then how can we trust him to use military force?
I would add to this that the sanctions - for which Obama is now going all out to take credit - were actually adopted against his will.
What seems to me inarguable is that he has failed to effectively set limits to the Brotherhood, failed to challenge its growing domestic repression. Instead, he wants to increase foreign aid to Egypt. If this were not an election year, he would have likely met with Egypt's president, Mohamed Morsi, during the latter's recent visit to the UN. The result of that policy of accomodationism is that it is Morsi who is setting conditions on America for the relationship between Washington and Cairo (as he recently did in a New York Times interview).
Finally Obama showed misjudgment in repeatedly condemning the ludicrous YouTube anti-Muslim film. By taking out ads on Pakistani TV to condemn the film, the administration encouraged the perception that extremists had a legitimate grievance.

There's a pattern here of weakness against enemies, of appeasing extremists, of missing opportunities
All this is hardly surprising to you: You've written as much in recent weeks. "Obama's record in the Middle East," you wrote, "suggests that missed opportunities are becoming a White House specialty." True, you also wrote the following: "On the most important and urgent issue, the Iranian nuclear program, Obama is an activist president." But can you really fault Israelis for wondering whether, at the moment of truth, Obama will avoid the ultimate missed opportunity?
It's not only Israelis who don't trust Obama on Iran. Arab leaders, as you well know, are skeptical too. Worst of all, the Iranian regime doesn't believe him. That's why it responds to Obama's sanctions and threats by accelerating its nuclear program.
There's a long list of similar 'misjudgments' that aren't listed, but the bottom line is that Klein HaLevi is right, and is reflecting what is pretty much an across-the-board consensus of Israeli Jews. Dismissing us as paranoid won't cut it. If Obama and Goldberg can't sell someone as far Left as Klein HaLevy, they're not going to sell most of the country on the notion that we should stand down and let Obama act. And they haven't been able to sell us on it until now.
If so, there's a deeper question here for Israelis: Can we trust anyone, even the most well-intentioned friend, with an issue of existential importance to us? As someone who knows us as well as any American Jew, this Israeli anxiety will come as no surprise to you.

For many of us the frame of reference is May 1967. At that time, Lyndon Johnson, as good a friend as Israel ever had in the White House, refused to honor President Eisenhower's commitment in 1957 to challenge an Egyptian blockade of Israeli shipping through the Straits of Tiran. Johnson, preoccupied with Vietnam, had good reason for wanting to avoid American involvement in another war. But the fact remains that, at the crucial moment, America violated its commitment to Israel.

Aside perhaps from May 1967, I can't think of a more excruciating time for Israel than now. Obama has repeatedly assured us that he understands our angst, that he supports our right to defend ourselves. And still we stubborn Israelis persist in our skepticism.
Perhaps October 1973 when Richard Nixon had to overcome Henry Kissinger's initial opposition to resupplying us?
[Goldberg] If Romney wins, and if Benjamin Netanyahu stays in power in Israel, I can almost guarantee you that you will see a melting away of whatever Democratic support there is for tough action against Iran, and a melting away of whatever liberal support there still remains for a strong America-Israel relationship. American support is a pillar of Israeli national security policy. Israel cannot thrive - and maybe it can't survive - in a Middle East dominated by a nuclear Iran. But it will also have difficulty surviving without American support, and I'm telling you, medium- to long-term, Israel could be in trouble in the U.S.
And all those foolish American Jews are still going to blindly vote Democratic.... There's a lesson here.
To answer some of your other questions, do I believe sanctions will work to bring Iran to a compromise? No, probably not. Do I believe that sanctions could work to destabilize, and possible bring an end to, the regime? Possibly yes. I'm not sure why you believe Obama is weak on sanctions; he's certainly stronger than his Republican predecessor was. And I think Netanyahu's people are being sincere when they say that there is at least the small possibility that sanctions will work.
That's not fair. Iran is four years closer to a nuclear weapon than it was in 2008. The situation is far more urgent now. And many of the tactics that have delayed Iran (like the cyberwar) actually started under Bush.
But maybe you're right - maybe this is going to be Johnson redux. But you have to consider something else: By extracting himself from Iraq, by drawing down in Afghanistan, by staying out of the Syrian civil war, maybe what Obama is doing is preparing for the day when he has to go to the American people and say that he is taking military action against Iran. He's clearing the decks, in other words. From the Israeli standpoint, maybe you should be glad that he's taking a pause in the Middle East intervention business. This way, when the Iran issue reaches a boiling point, he won't be in Johnson's position - overextended, and unpopular, and therefore not willing to, among other things, come to Israel's aid.
But Johnson wasn't a pacificst at hear. Obama is.
[Klein HaLevi] But from where I'm sitting, it seems to me unthinkable that Obama, for all his commitment to non-proliferation, will order the bombing of Iran. This is after all the man who thought he was atoning for the abuse of American power by abandoning anti-regime demonstrators in Tehran in 2009.

As for Obama and sanctions: Yes, he's imposed far stronger measures than his predecessor, but that is, unfortunately, a meaningless comparison. Four years ago, Obama's sanctions would have been significant. Now, the only question that matters is whether those sanctions are enough to stop Tehran. I don't believe they are.

I fear that Obama still believes he's dealing with essentially rational people in the Iranian regime. And now there are reports of secret negotiations between Tehran and Washington. In the end my deepest fear is that Obama will be outmaneuvered by the Iranians, that his longing for a diplomatic solution will be played by the Iranian regime to reach the point of breakout.
But Jeff: If Obama is reelected, all I can do is pray for that moment when you will say to me, I told you so.

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