A policy grounded in La La Land 0

Middle East sources are claiming – without providing evidence as yet – that Obama has envoys negotiating directly with Ahmadinejad and the mullahs for co-operation in dealing with the increasingly perilous situation in Pakistan. Iran’s permission is being sought, they say, for American troops to move through Iran. A novel idea that would be – to depend on the goodwill of your worst enemies and give them a possible stranglehold on your forces!

The governing Democrats are too taken up with grave and urgent matters at home, such as censoring Rush Limbaugh, keeping a close watch on vets in case they develop terrorist tendencies, and trying to get members of the Bush administration prosecuted in revenge for President Clinton’s impeachment, to bother with Iran and the Taliban becoming nuclear powers. But it seems there is one foreign issue that Obama and his Secretary of State seriously want to resolve: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Caroline Glick, in her article that we quote from below, seems to be of the opinion that Obama is warning Israel that he’ll let Iran go nuclear unless Prime Minister Netanyahu agrees to dance yet again the old ‘two-state hop’ with one or another Palestinian terrorist leader. But Netanyahu himself is of a contrary opinion – that a settlement with the Palestinians will only become possible if Iran is neutralized first. So intent are Obama and Hillary Clinton on realizing the unrealizable goal of a Palestinian state (which the Palestinians themselves don’t want), they seem not to have noticed that even the Arab states are much more troubled by Iran developing a nuclear war capability than they are by the Palestinian issue. The Obama administration also seems not to be aware that a nuclear Iran is a danger not only to Israel but also to America and the whole world.

It is a strange situation when Egypt and Jordan feel it necessary to defend Israel against American criticism. But this is the situation in which we find ourselves today. Last Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee that Arab support for Israel’s bid to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is contingent on its agreeing to support the rapid establishment of a Palestinian state. In her words, "For Israel to get the kind of strong support it’s looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can’t stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts." As far as Clinton is concerned, the two, "go hand-in-hand."

But just around the time that Clinton was making this statement, Jordan’s King Abdullah II was telling The Washington Post that he is satisfied with the Netanyahu government’s position on the Palestinians. In his words, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has "sent a message that he’s committed to peace with the Arabs. All the words I heard were the right words."

As for Egypt, in spite of the media’s hysteria that Egypt won’t deal with the Netanyahu government and the Obama administration’s warning that Israel can only expect Egypt to support its position that Iran must be denied nuclear weapons if it gives Jerusalem to the PLO, last week’s visit by Egypt’s intelligence chief Omar Suleiman clearly demonstrated that Egypt wishes to work with the government on a whole host of issues. Coming as it did on the heels of Egypt’s revelation that Iranian-controlled Hizbullah agents were arrested for planning strategic attacks against it, Suleiman’s visit was a clear sign that Egypt is as keen as Israel to neutralize Iranian power in the region by preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

And Egypt and Jordan are not alone in supporting Israel’s commitment to preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power. American and other Western sources who have visited the Persian Gulf in recent months report that leaders of the Gulf states from Bahrain – which Iran refers to as its 14th province – to Saudi Arabia to Kuwait and, of course, to Iraq – are praying for Israel to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities and only complain that it has waited so long to attack them

UNFORTUNATELY … as the Arabs line up behind Israel, the Obama administration is operating under the delusion that the Iranians will be convinced to give up their nuclear program [only] if Israel destroys its communities in Judea and Samaria. According to reports published last week in Yediot Aharonot and Haaretz, President Barack Obama’s in-house post-Zionist, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, told an American Jewish leader that for Israel to receive the administration’s support for preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, it must not only say that it supports establishing a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza, it must begin expelling its citizens from their homes and communities in Judea and Samaria to prove its good faith.

With just months separating Iran from either joining the nuclear club or from being barred entry to the clubhouse, the Obama administration’s apparent obsession with Judea and Samaria tells us that unlike Israel and the Arab world, its Middle East policies are based on a willful denial of reality…

IF IRAN acquires nuclear weapons, the Obama administration can throw its hopes for Middle East peace out the window. Today, even without nuclear weapons, Iran is the major force behind the continued Palestinian war against Israel. Iran exerts complete control over Hamas and Islamic Jihad and partial control over Fatah. In and of itself, Iran’s current control over Palestinian terror groups suffices to expose the Obama administration’s plan to force Israel to destroy its communities in Judea and Samaria as misguided in the extreme. With Iran calling the shots for the Palestinians, it is clear that any land Israel vacates will fall under Iranian control. That is, every concession the US forces Israel to make will redound directly to Iran’s benefit. This is why Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s claim that it will be impossible to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians without first neutralizing Iran rings so true

GLOBALLY OF COURSE, a nuclear-armed Iran would be well positioned to take over the world’s oil markets. With Saudi Arabia’s main oil installations located in the predominantly Shi’ite eastern provinces, it would be able to credibly threaten to destroy Saudi oil installations and so assert control over them. With Iran’s strategic alliance with Venezuela, once it controls Saudi oil fields, it hard to see how it would not become the undisputed ruler of the oil economy.

Certainly Europe would put up no resistance. Today, with much of Europe already within range of Iran’s ballistic missiles, with Iranian-controlled terror cells fanned out throughout the continent and with Europe dependent on Persian Gulf oil, there is little doubt of the direction its foreign policy would take in the event that Iran becomes a nuclear power. Obviously any thought of economic sanctions would disappear as European energy giants lined up to develop Iranian gas fields, and European banks clamored to finance the projects.

Finally, there is America. With Israel either barely surviving or destroyed, with the Arab world and Europe bowing before the mullahs, with much of Central and South America fully integrated into the Iranian axis, America would arguably find itself at greater risk of economic destruction and catastrophic attack than at any time in its history since the War of 1812. An EMP attack that could potentially send the US back to the pre-industrial age would become a real possibility. An Iranian controlled oil economy, financed by euros, would threaten to displace the dollar and the US economy as the backbone of the global economy. The US’s military options – particularly given Obama’s stated intention to all but end US missile defense programs and scrap much of its already aging nuclear arsenal – would be more apparent than real.

Yet what Clinton’s statements before Congress, Emmanuel’s statements to that American Jewish leader and Obama’s unremitting pandering to Teheran and its Syrian and Turkish allies all make clear is that none of these reasonable scenarios has made a dent in the administration’s thinking. As far as the Obama White House is concerned, Iran will be talked out of its plans for regional and global domination the minute that Israel agrees to give its land to the Palestinians. The fact that no evidence exists that could possibly support this assertion is irrelevant.

On Sunday, Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland claimed that Obama will not publish his administration’s policy on Iran until after he meets with Netanyahu at the White House on May 18. It will be during that meeting, Hoagland wrote, that Obama will seek to convince Netanyahu that there is no reason to attack Iran. The fact that Obama could even raise such an argument, when by Israel’s calculations Iran will either become a nuclear power or be denied nuclear weapons within the next 180 days, shows that his arguments are based on a denial of the danger a nuclear Iran poses to Israel and to global security as a whole.

It is true that you can’t help but get a funny feeling when you see the Arabs defending Israel from American criticism. But with the Obama administration’s Middle East policy firmly grounded in La La Land, what choice do they have? They understand that today all that stands between them and enslavement to the mullahs is the Israel Air Force and Binyamin Netanyahu’s courage.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, May 1, 2009

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Swinging on a hinge of history 0

From an article in Newsmax by Ken Timmerman (read it all here): 

When newly appointed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President Barack Obama next month, don’t expect a public spat over peace process politics. Sources in the new government tell Newsmax that the Israeli prime minister is determined to focus all of his energy on convincing Obama that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons dwarfs all other concerns either nation could have. Netanyahu sees the threat from a nuclear-armed Iran as a “hinge of history,” that could fundamentally alter the world if it goes unchallenged, sources told Newsmax in Jerusalem on Tuesday. 

If the world fails to meet the challenge of stopping the Iranian regime’s nuclear quest, Netanayhu believes “this could be a turning point that is irreversible.”

Should Iran succeed in acquiring nuclear weapons, it would be the first time that a radical Islamic regime dedicated to Israel’s destruction had ever acquired such massive destructive power. “We cannot assume that the normal rational calculations other actors have had for the last 50 or 60 years are going to hold true,” one source said.

But what if Obama desires that irreversible historical change? What if he desires Israel’s destruction? Every appointment he has made in connection with Middle East policy, every step he has taken since coming to power in relation to the Arabs and Islam, has demonstrated his sympathy with the Islamic powers – even to the point of inventing a ‘moderate Taliban’. His decision to base his Israel-Palestine policy on the Saudi plan, which is a formula for the destruction of Israel, confirms his lack of sympathy for the Jewish State. We suspect that Netanyahu is extremely unlikely to change Obama’s mind. There may or may not be a public spat specifically over the (misnamed) ‘peace process’, but there is very likely to be an irreconcilable clash over Iran. 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, April 8, 2009

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The Holy-Land That Needs Hobbes 0

Last September, Mithal al-Alusi, an Iraqi Sunni MP, arrived in Israel to attend an annual counter-terrorism conference. He forcefully cried, “In Israel, there is no occupation; there is liberalism,” to the sound of roaring applause from Israelis and foreign diplomats. Upon his return to Iraq, the National Assembly of Iraq voted to remove his parliamentary immunities and banned him from travelling. He was arrested and threatened with the death penalty. This was not his first visit; in 2004 he made a public visit to Israel. Consequently, five months later, both his sons were murdered. He was sacked from his job at the De-Baathification Commission and was expelled from the Iraqi National Congress.

Al-Alusi recognises that Iraq and Israel share similar challenges, namely the murderous Iranian-funded terrorism that has taken so many lives in both countries. Al-Alusi has lauded Israel as a beacon of hope and liberalism. The Israeli elections on Tuesday were crucially important because it is vital that the future Israeli government seeks to uphold the equality and the civil liberties for all its citizens – Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Druze – that she has attempted to keep implemented since her foundation sixty years ago. She must continue to be the model of a liberal democracy in the despotism-riddled Middle East, despite the very opposite image peddled by the Western Left, the media and the Islamists. It is easy for much of the West to forget that Israel has many Arab politicians, several serving in the cabinet.

The Israeli exit polls show that Kadima, the current ruling party, has won the most seats. But Israel suffers the proportional representation system that is used so widely across Europe; this means that a Kadima politician may not necessarily take the position of Prime Minister. What will happen? And what are the implications for Israel, the region and the world?
Last Tuesday’s election was a year earlier than necessary because the current Prime Minister Olmert resigned after continuous public pressure and police investigations into tales of corruption, and the new leader of Kadima, Tzipi Livni, was unable to form a new coalition.

The Knesset is a unicameral parliament. Its 120 members, known as MKs, are elected to four-year terms in a secret ballot whereat the public will vote for a party and not an individual MK. Seats are allocated in proportion to the number of votes each party receives beyond a threshold of two percent. The 120 seats are apportioned through party-list proportional representation using the d’Hondt method – a widely used system that employs a highest averages method. Once the official results are published, the President of Israel gives the task of forming a majority coalition to an MK whom he believes to have the best chance of succeeding. That MK is then given up to 42 days to negotiate a working coalition with other parties and present his government to the Knesset for a vote of confidence. If the government is approved, the MK then becomes Prime Minister.

The numbers and distribution of Knesset seats in the February elections are as follows: Kadima 28; Likud 27; Yisrael Beitenu 15; Labor 13; Shas 11; United Torah Judaism 5; Hadash 4; United Arab List-Ta’al 4; National Union 4; Meretz 3; Habayit Hayehudi 3; Balad 3.

The politics of Israel is an extraordinary maelstrom of differing ideals, religions and methods. Muslim voters have supported right-wing Zionist parties and religious Jews have voted for Arab parties. In the disorder of the system there is hope and wonderment at the extraordinary examples of different cultures and religions campaigning peacefully and democratically together to sustain hope and achieve peace; a possibility that cannot be found elsewhere in the Middle East.

There are a huge number of different parties that represent all walks of life, but this election showed huge gains for the Right. The Centrist Kadima was a party that sprang out of a squabbling Likud because of disagreement over the disengagement plan from Gaza. Kadima’s win was a surprise to many – especially the pollsters, who had projected Likud to top the results. Kadima’s decision to withdraw from Gaza was highly criticized at the time and now there is little success to show for it – Gaza has become a terrorist state with regular pogroms against its own people and regular attacks against the civilians of Israel. Kadima’s leadership has been weak in times of war, and its dithering in Lebanon is arguably accountable for the deaths of Israeli soldiers. The decision to release Samir Kuntar – a Lebanese terrorist who beat a little blonde four-year-old Jewish girl to death by smashing apart her head with a rock – provoked huge condemnation and dismay from the media and the public. Kadima has been regarded as an ineffectual, weak government – a feeble image that the Israelis have known hostile Arab states to prey upon. Thus Kadima’s decision finally to respond to the constant barrage of rocket fire from Gaza caused some surprise among the government’s detractors. The attempt to destroy Hamas’ weapon caches in December – Operation Cast Lead – may have changed the minds of many Israelis. The operation certainly sapped Likud’s criticism and its accusations of Kadima’s apparent apathy to the vicious attacks by Hamas.

Despite Kadima winning the largest number of seats, it does not have the support from the other large parties and given the current stances of Likud, Yisrael Beitenu and Shas, it is highly unlikely that Tzipi Livni will be able to secure a working coalition. In this case, President Shimon Peres may ask Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud to form a coalition from the Right-wing parties that dominate the election results.
The large gains by the right can be explained by the realisation among Israelis that their doves have been met with rockets and that their concessions have been met with violence. In 2001, the then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians all of Gaza and 97% of the West Bank with border compensations to make up for the other 3%. Furthermore, Jerusalem would be a shared capital for both countries. When the Palestinians shot down this offer, so fell the appeal of the Left. Further failures to respond properly to terrorist attacks resulted in more support manifesting for the Right. The South of Israel, especially around towns such as Sderot, which has endured thousands of rockets and mortar attacks, almost entirely voted for the Right. The residents want military action to end the indiscriminate attacks on their town – rockets are fired when school is starting or finishing and the children are out on the streets. Suliman Qadia – a Palestinian from Gaza from where the Israeli intelligence service, Shin Bet, helped him escape, said of Hamas: “Nothing else will work, we just need to go into Gaza, full force, and pound them, erase them completely, until it’s over. That’s the only language they understand and believe me – I know what I’m talking about. After all, I lived with them.”

The Northern Arab town Haifa and Tel-Aviv voted for the Left and Centrists; in the South the persistent attacks and a demand for their end necessitated an almost entirely Right-wing stronghold. In other words, the rockets voted.

Obama’s Presidency is also a cause for concern among Israelis. There is a real fear that he would not act to stop a nuclear-armed Iran. In response to an American President perceived as Left-wing, a more hawkish Prime Minister feels like a necessary choice to many Israeli voters.

The reason Likud could not strongly capitalise on the Left’s decline was the belief that Netanyahu’s previous term as Prime Minister in the late nineties was considered by-and-large a failure – he had made similar profitless concessions to the Palestinians that Kadima has made. Netanyahu has also failed to provide a direction for Israel that differs from Kadima’s. Thus, many Israelis that wished to respond to the Palestinian attacks – not to turn the other cheek but to clench their fists – voted for the further-Right parties, such as Shas or Beitenu.

Among the political parties there is a great deal of squabbling. The main issue that divides them so, is of course the path to peace with the Palestinians. There are those that would appease and there are those that would defend themselves at all cost. What is clear however is that Proportional Representation (PR) is disastrous for Israel. This tiny country is at war, and has been so for the last sixty years. It cannot afford to have chaos in the government at a time when order has never been so important. It can be argued that PR does help to unify the country – every party represents all Israelis regardless and so there is no chance of segregation through politics and race. But what of the small Bedouin tribe who needs representation in Knesset and has no MK to do so? Israel needs strength, equality and democracy, and PR does not sustain these values effectively.

One prospect is certain – whoever becomes Prime Minister will have to use a coalition of Right-wing parties. This would suggest – unless the Iranian elections in June provide a reformist candidate that would halt their nuclear programme – that a future Israeli government will take military action against Iran. Hezbollah’s steadily growing supply of rockets in the South of Lebanon and the large-scale Syrian troop movements to the border with Israel, suggests it is possible that a large conflict may break out across the region, a danger exacerbated by Iran’s increased missile capability and promises of retaliation. When Israel’s security is directly threatened, there is little argument among her political parties. Even the far-left parties supported Israel’s recent defensive campaign against Hamas, and in the face of Iran, there is strong unity. Military action is seen as a last resort but recognized as a very possible outcome.

Furthermore, the build-up on the Right would mean that the destruction of the Jewish West Bank settlements would seem unlikely as a means of concession. The idea of displacing almost half a million Jewish settlers is unthinkable to the Right, especially after the ruinous withdrawal from the Gaza Strip that just brought more attacks and death to Southern Israel.

The truth is that Israel’s future has never been so uncertain. There is much speculation as to from whom and from which parties a coalition will be formed. Some American commentators have suggested Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu will be given the foreign office portfolio, and there are even rumours that Livni and Netanyahu might share the position of Prime Minister. It is impossible to know or understand what bargaining and comprising is going on by the political parties behind the scenes. And in some ways, the choice of government may not matter. In foreign affairs, the actions of Israel can only be dictated by the hostile states surrounding it. Every government must protect its people, and Israel’s actions – while perhaps varying in strength – will be unchanged no matter what current party is in power. In times of war, Israel does not want an attempt at government, but definite ordered rule – an effective government is needed.

The results of the elections have reacted little to domestic affairs but largely to the changing world. Reasons such as Obama’s Presidency, a Turkish government that is arguably no longer secular, the Iranian elections in June, the undeniable attempts by Hamas to destroy Israel and her people, are all reasons for many Israeli voters to have demanded a stronger, more hawkish government. But uncertain times have bred uncertain results – now Israel must bring order out of the chaos if she wishes to succeed and survive.

Posted under Commentary by on Monday, February 16, 2009

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Israel can expect a struggle with Obama’s America 0

 Caroline Glick writes in the Jerusalem Post:

In certain respects, [Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni’s … attempt to hide her far-left policies while presenting herself as a new sort of clean politician and engine of political renewal, echoes the strategy that Obama employed with such success in his bid for the White House. Like Obama, Livni wishes to convince the public to support her by not telling us who she is and what she intends to do, sufficing instead with her claim to be different from the other guys.

It is far from clear that Livni will be able to pull off an Obama-like victory. She lacks his charisma. Unlike Obama, she has a public record of far-left governance and policy failure going into the election. And unlike [American voters and] Sen. John McCain, Israelis trust Netanyahu more than they trust Livni to protect the country’s economy.

Moreover, Obama benefited from the public support that the Democratic Party enjoyed after eight years of Republican control of the White House. In contrast, between its failed leadership in the war with Hizbullah and the corruption probes and criminal convictions of its leaders, Livni’s Kadima is the discredited incumbent party. But still, all is not lost for Livni.

Like Obama, she enjoys the full support of the media in her bid for power. In the past, media collusion has repeatedly sufficed to bring leftists posing as centrists to power.

With all that is at stake in February’s elections, it must be hoped that Livni’s Obama strategy will fail her. Facing Iran on the one hand and a potentially hostile Obama administration on the other, Israel requires a leader like Netanyahu who understands that if preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons means butting heads with Obama, so be it. 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Monday, November 10, 2008

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