Monday, June 29, 2009

Israel Prepares F-15 Jets for Long Range Attack

Someone is going to have to halt Iran.
It seems to me that it should be done by the U.S. , as it is past time for Obama to show in deeds that he is indeed a friend of Israel as he has stated many times.
If Israel has to do the deed, and take out Iran's nuclear capapbilty, the world will condemn her, and Iran may react in a way that will cost untold numbers of Persian lives and possibly a significant number of Israeli lives, as well.

If the U.S. reacts against this existential threat, a criminal Islamist regime with the ability to murder millions, most of the world will welcome it.
Militarily, at this point, Iran is not a real threat.
Even so, it behooves us to prepare and improve our weaponry.
Thanks to Arutz Sheva for this enlightening article.

Michael Blackburn, Sr.

by Gil Ronen F-15 Upgraded for Distant Attack

The Israel Air Force’s F-15 fleet is undergoing an upgrade, with systems that make it better equipped for complex long distance attack scenarios. The systems are being installed in both the F-15 and the F-15I -- a model of the F-15 that was developed by its U.S. manufacturer specifically for the IAF.

According to IDF journal BaMachaneh, the F-15I model is currently being fitted with two new systems – one called “Barad Pelada” (“Steel Hail”), and another named Lightning.

The Barad Pelada advanced weapons system has been operational in the IAF’s F-16s for almost four years, but had to be modified in order to fit the F-15.

Barad Pelada is an advanced Israeli armament that operates like a smart bomb. “The system is unique in that it is able to plan the bombing in an accurate way by identifying the target from above,” a knowledgeable source in the IAF explained. “After the identification, the system carries out guidance to the target and only then is impact made.”

The Lightning advanced attack system has also been in use in the IAF’s other jets. Until now, the F-15I jets had to rely on the older Inbar system, which used to be fitted in all of the IAF’s jets but was gradually phased out.

The Inbar system is capable of providing an operational solution in some ranges, but other attack scenarios require advanced systems like the Lightning, IAF sources said. “The need for the new system led to an accelerated procedure of development of advanced means,” a source in the IAF’s Weapons Department explained. “Once the testing at the Flight Experiment Center is finished, we will complete the system’s integration in the aircraft.”

A combination of two systems

For the time being, however, the F-15I jets will not part with the older Inbar systems. “From now on, the aircraft will enjoy a combination of both attack systems and will enjoy a meaningful advantage in their operational activity,” the sources said.

The F-15 jets, meanwhile, recently received a new weapon system named “Barad Kaved” (“Heavy Hail”) and used it for the first time during operation “Cast Lead” in Gaza in early 2009. IAF sources said the use was a success. The F-15 fighters used Barad Kaved in attacks with zero malfunctions, and “we are very pleased with its performance in the operation,” the sources said.

Palestinian Leaders Prefer Advocating--Even When They're Not Practicing--Terrorist Violence

June 26, 2009

Volcanoes are classified historically as active, dormant, and dead. The second group is merely inactive at present but could blow any time. As a terrorist organization, Fatah, the leading group in the Palestinian Authority (PA) which supplies nearly all of its leaders, is dormant, not dead.

The unfortunate reality is that the ideology that favors the total destruction of Israel as a higher priority than getting an independent Palestinian state is still dominant; all the mechanisms of terrorism are still in place; incitement goes on daily. It’s a very good thing that these are not active and it is important to try to keep them that way. But the real PA and Fatah are far from the diplomatists’ dreams and the journalists’ description of the group as “moderate.”

This is a problem not only because it blocks any hope of a negotiated peace, but it also ensures the group’s ineffectiveness. While Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is a pretty genuine moderate, he is also rather alone in that category.

What can Fatah and the PA offer better than Hamas? In theory, the answer is a simple one: a dedication to obtaining a state, living in peace, raising living standards, and providing West Bank Palestinians (the ones it rules) with a better life than Gaza Strip Palestinians (the ones Hamas rules).

There are, however, daily reminders by these same leaders--Fayyad excepted--that this is not the primary focus of Fatah and the PA. An
interesting video is provided by the valuable and accurate Palestinian Media Watch group that illustrates this reality rather effectively.

The televised show was put on by Fatah in order to demonstrate why it is better than Hamas. With top Fatah and PA officials prominently seated in the audience, the event is a mock debate in which Fatah “proves” it is better than Hamas. How? By getting Western aid? By having better schools? By holding out the likelihood of a Palestinian state where refugees can be resettled?

No. By more effectively killing Israelis.

Here’s the transcript of the key section:

Fatah student taunts Hamas: "Since Hamas seized power, we haven't heard of any martyrdom operation [suicide-bombing]."

Hamas teacher: "It's called 'fighter's rest.'"

Fatah student: "A Hamas fighter needs rest, but a Fatah fighter doesn't need rest?!"

Hamas teacher: "Every fighter has the right to rest."

Fatah student: "Why is it that when Fatah stops fighting, you [Hamas] say they're cowards, but when Hamas stops fighting, you say it's 'fighters' rest'?"

Hamas teacher: "I don't know much about resistance [terror] and fighters..."

Fatah student: "The first shot was fired by the PLO; the first Jihad was carried out by the PLO [audience applauds], with all the other factions - but Hamas always opposed.

Hamas student: "What do you say about Hamas having kidnapped the [Israeli] soldier Shalit [still held hostage - Ed.]?"

Hamas teacher: "Ahaaa!"

Student: "By Allah, it's good."

Hamas student: "Did Fatah ever capture a soldier?!"

Fatah student: "It was the [other] brigades who captured him [Shalit] and sold him to you [Hamas]. It's a deal that you [Hamas] made for your own benefit, not for the [Palestinian] people's benefit. [Applause]

Fatah student: Remember, in Ramallah the [PA-Fatah] police arrested two soldiers - have you forgotten, teacher?!"

And what happened in Ramallah? Two unarmed Israeli reservists who were driving got lost, wandered into Ramallah, were taken into custody by the PA police, and then turned over to a mob which tore them apart and murdered them in cold blood.

This is one of the greatest achievements Fatah offers to prove its superiority.

The other main Fatah point is that Hamas is "chicken" because it no longer fires as many rockets and mortars at Israel as it did before the attack. Of course, Fatah can't win on that point either since it wasn't firing any at all. And of course the implication is that Hamas should prove it is macho and an appropriate leader for the Palestinians by attacking Israel more.

Aside from the extremism and anti-peace views this approach indicates it is simply a losing argument for Fatah and the PA. Hamas can easily out-terrorism Fatah. If that is the criterion there is no doubt who will win in this competition.

Here is the problem with the argument, so often heard, that Fatah and the PA are "moderate," often accompanied by the speaker saying, "If I were them...." or "If they were smart...."

Well, if Fatah and the PA were led by Western Europeans or Obama supporters we would indeed be better off. They'd say: All Hamas can offer is more decades of bloodshed, whereas we can get Western support, get a state really fast, resettle all the refugees there, get billions of dollars in compensation money, raise living standards, and end the violence.

But they never say that to their constituents. Why? Because that isn't their set of priorities.

For Fatah and the PA the competition in violence and martyrdom, the seeking after total victory, the refusal to make concession or compromise isn't only an immoral argument, it is also an inevitably losing one against both Israel and Hamas.

It is, however, the policy they prefer because this is what the vast majority of them believes in and they also fear that if they were to adopt a real moderate policy they'd lose popular support. To debate the latter point is most interesting--the Fatah/PA leaders may not be right to think that--but those doing such debate are outsiders. The actual leaders know what they themselves think and will do.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gilad Shalit, Victim of Hamas War Crimes

Three years Gilad Shalit has been a victim of Kidnappers and terrorists.
Hamas are the same brutal thugs that murdered and tortured their fellow Palestinians in
Gaza, members of Fatah.
Although Fatah and Hamas are both criminal terror groups, Hamas hates members of Fatah because they are not members of Hamas, and because they have, indirectly, agreed to recognize Israel.
If they would torture their fellow terrorists, imagine the treatment the innocent, young, IDF soldier, kidnapped in Israel, is receiving.
If thousands of Americans write their Congressman, and Senators, and Barrack Obama, pressure will mount to do the right thing by this innocent man.
Put yourself in Gilad Shalit's shoes.
Imagine your son or daughter living this nightmare.
What would you do then?
Would you move heaven and earth to show mercy and compassion to a young man who has lived in agony and misery, cut off from all but his inquisitors, for three years, in contravention of all laws and any sense of decency?
President Obama has called on Israel to make concessions, but are concessions in order to these thugs who hold Gilad Shalit?
I think not.
Please contact all of the officials below.
Don't wait for someone else to do it.

This is not a Jewish or Israeli issue.
They despise all gentiles almost as much as they do the Jewish people, they have murdered and kidnapped Gentiles in the past.
Please help free Gilad Shalit from this endless nightmare.

Thank You, With All My Heart,

Michael Blackburn Sr.
Michael Blackburn Jr.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gilad Shalit, Come Home!

Free Gilad Shalit! Hamas War Crimes Continue

First, some background, to bring everyone up to date:

Gilad Shalit, born 28 August 1986, is an Israeli soldier who was captured on 25 June 2006 by Palestinian militants in a cross border raid from the Gaza Strip on the crossing Kerem Shalom (in Israel) and has been held hostage by Hamas since.
Shalit is believed to be alive.
Shalit, a soldier of the IDF's Armor Corps, held the rank of corporal at the time of the incident but has since been promoted to staff sergeant.
He became the first Israeli soldier captured by militant Palestinian forces since Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. His abduction and the following cross border raid by Hezbollah, resulting in the abduction of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev into Lebanon, occurred prior to the conflicts in Gaza and Lebanon during summer 2006.
Shalit holds French citizenship, a fact that encouraged France and the European Union to be involved to some extent in the efforts to release him.
Hamas has barred the International Red Cross from seeing him, and demands the release of 450 Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas' refusal to negotiate about the status of Shalit or even to provide further information about his status strained the temporary Israel-Hamas cease-fire enacted in 2008 and it led partly to the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict.

In January 2009, there were claims from Palestinian sources that Shalit had been injured by shrapnel during the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.

On 11 January 2009, Abu Marzuk, Deputy Chief of the Hamas Political Ministry, told the London-based Arabic daily, Al-Hayat that "Shalit may have been wounded, and he may not have been. The subject no longer interests us. We are not interested in his well-being at all, and we are not giving him any special guard since he is as good as a cat or less."
On 22 January 2009, Israel indicated that it wanted to swap Palestinians held in Israeli jails for Shalit as part of a longer-term truce after the three week military operation in Gaza.
On 26 January 2009, it was reported that Israel is offering to free 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Shalit. On 16 March 2009, it was reported that a prisoner swap deal to gain Shalit's release was close, and the negotiation team was urged to wrap up the deal.
Israel has agreed to release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, but there were still disagreements over a number of prisoners.
The negotiation team however deadlocked over the release of 450 "heavyweight" prisoners. According to a senior source in the PM's Office, "a deal cannot be finalized on such terms, and there's nothing to vote on (in the government session) Tuesday".
In May 2009, President Shimon Peres invited Shalit's family to meet Pope Benedict XVI at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on Monday.

On 25 June 2007, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem issued a statement saying "international humanitarian law absolutely prohibits taking and holding a person by force in order to compel the enemy to meet certain demands, while threatening to harm or kill the person if the demands are not met", and thus holding Gilad Shalit as a hostage to their demands is a war crime.
Shalit's denied access to Red Cross (ICRC) visitation was also noted as a violation of international law.

Human Rights Watch has also called for Shalit's release and for the ICRC to be granted access to him.

This article was written and published by Wikipedia

Here is the latest, hopeful, news about our dear Chaver, Gilad Shalit:

New U.S. initiative to free Shalit underway

Tags: Gilad Shalit, Israel News

Abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will be transferred to Egypt within a few days as part of a prisoner-exchange deal with Hamas, European diplomatic sources said Thursday.
The move is part of a new United States initiative that includes Egyptian and Syrian pressure on Hamas, internal Palestinian reconciliation and Israel's opening of the Gaza crossings.
reliable European source said this Egyptian-brokered agreement was reached two days ago. A Palestinian source confirmed the report last night but officials in Jerusalem denied any knowledge of it.

The idea to transfer Shalit to Egypt in exchange for the release of Palestinian women, teens, cabinet ministers and parliamentarians being held in Israeli prisons was raised about a year ago during a visit by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter to Damascus, Jerusalem and Gaza. Apparently Carter raised it again on his visit earlier this month, during which he met Noam Shalit, Gilad's father.

According to the plan Shalit will be entrusted to Egyptian intelligence, and his parents will be allowed to visit him. He will be returned to Israel after an agreement is reached regarding the list of Hamas prisoners to be released that was previously submitted to the cabinet.

An Egyptian source close to the developments told Haaretz that Hamas is insisting that Israel release prisoners with "blood on their hands" as approved by the cabinet under former prime minister Ehud Olmert.

Israel this week freed Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Sheikh Aziz Dweik after three years in prison. Dweik, a leader of Hamas in the West Bank, espouses a moderate line in the organization.
The European source said Shalit's transfer to Egypt was the first stage of the Egyptian-brokered agreement hammered out between Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian factions, in coordination with the U.S. and with Syria's support.
The deal would put the Gaza Strip under the leadership of a joint committee subordinate to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, removing it from the control of the government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
On Tuesday Palestinian news agency Maan quoted Egyptian sources as saying that Shalit was to be transferred from the Gaza Strip into Egypt within hours, a report that Israeli sources denied.

Shalit was abducted in a cross-border raid by Gaza militants on June 25, 2006.

The leader of Hamas said yesterday he welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama's new approach to the Middle East, but is waiting to see action.

In a televised speech Hamas chief Khaled Meshal pointedly avoided any mention of the recent turmoil in Iran, even though Hamas is backed by the Tehran regime.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, has increasingly tried to reach out to the Obama administration in recent weeks. The militants are trying to bring an end to an international boycott of Hamas and a two-year border closure of Gaza.
Meshal said the only way for Israel to win Shalit's release is by striking "a full deal," and not "the way of obduracy" which he claims was characteristic of Olmert.

Noam Shalit urged Israelis yesterday to think of his son's plight in Hamas captivity.

"My request today, June 25, 2009, is for every person in the country, man and woman, young and old, to close their eyes for three minutes. Three minutes only, and to wait until these minutes are over, and in this time for everyone to try to think of what my son Gilad is going through," Noam Shalit told Army Radio.

In the radio interview, Noam Shalit described his son as "a young man who is waiting with bated breath, not only for three minutes, and not only for three hours and not even for three days; but waiting in darkness and despair, suffering physically and mentally, for the freedom that was taken from him three years ago."

Posted by Michael Blackburn, Sr.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Obama's Big Freeze Leaves Israelis Cold

By Barry Rubin*

June 22, 2009

Ironically, three of President Barack Obama’s ideas in dealing with foreign policy, so visible in his Iran policy, have had more impact on his relationship with Israel.

The first of these is that he held back on condemning the Iranian regime’s stealing an election and repressing its people for fear that this might provoke a patriotic reaction against him. In fact, he has united Israel’s citizens to view him as hostile.

Secondly, he suggested that the United States should not meddle in Iran’s affairs, implying that Iranians knew best what their country needed. This has not stopped the president and members of his administration, however, from telling Israel—on the basis of both ignorance regarding the facts on the ground and a poor understanding of the country’s situation—what’s best for its interests.

And finally, Obama’s cultural relativism—everything’s really the same in its differentness—which led him to equate the Iranian regime and opposition has made him equate democratic Israel and a Palestinian movement which has still not reconciled itself to a two-state solution.

While it should be stressed that so far the Obama administration has restricted itself to somewhat harsh words where Israel is concerned, the results have been remarkable. They also show that his mismanagement of relations with Israel is so most counterproductive for Obama’s own policy ambitions.

A recent public opinion survey by Israel’s most reliable polling company shows that only 6 percent of Jewish Israelis consider the administration to be pro-Israel. Israelis certainly gave Obama a chance. His personal popularity was sky-high at the time of his election and as late as May 17, Israelis viewed Obama’s administration to be pro-Israel rather than pro-Palestinian by a 31 to 14 margin, with 40 percent saying it was neutral.

It should be stressed that for 40 percent of Israelis to say the U.S. government is neutral between the two sides is not a vote of confidence or a sign of happiness with Washington.

Today, however 50 percent view the administration as pro-Palestinian, 36 percent say its policies are neutral, and only 6 percent think it is favorable to Israel.

To show how fully Obama misplayed his hand, the same poll showed that 57 percent are in favor of removing outposts and 52 percent support a freeze on construction in settlements deep within the West Bank. Regarding the “settlement blocs,” that is the close-in, higher-populated settlements that Israel wants to keep in any peace settlement, any freeze was opposed by a 69 to 27 margin.

Here’s what this tells us: If Obama had established himself as more skeptical about Palestinian demands and claims, more truly even-handed in his approach, he could have won strong support within Israel.

The approach could have been to renew what Israelis believe they were promised by his two predecessors: border modifications in any peace treaty with the Palestinians would allow the incorporation into Israel of relatively small areas of high settlement and strategic importance like Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion.

In this context, in exchange for some real concessions from the Palestinian Authority regarding incitement and anti-terrorist efforts, there would have been strong support for the removal of outposts and a freeze on construction in far-flung settlements built amidst Palestinian population concentrations.

But instead the administration used brutal language toward Israel, bossing it around as if it were some American puppet regime while simultaneously pandering to literally every other country on earth.

This administration has now created a big problem for itself without moving one millimeter for peace. Meanwhile, of course, the Palestinian Authority continues to ignore its commitments but instead pleads and demands that the United States give it everything it wants in exchange for no effort on its part.

Six months into an administration which promised rapid progress on what is euphemistically called the peace process, the Obama administration has already reached a dead-end. And as far as dead-ends go, this is only the beginning.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to
The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


She raised her children, took care of her family, served humanity, and gave me the greatest gift of love possible.
I can only say, Todah Rabbah, Esther, I love you very much.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Only Article On the Iranian Crisis You Will Need

Of course, the title above is meant in a joking manner. But after reading literally hundreds of articles and blog items on Iran, they seem to all be saying precisely the same thing which can be summarized as follows:

The regime is giving no ground and insisting the election will stand with Ahmadinejad reelected. The demonstrations continue. There are some killings but the events are mostly peaceful, marked more with harassment and beatings at the margin. The level of violence being used, however, is slowly rising. A few already known softer-liners among the hardest liners—notably Rafsanjani—are not supporting the regime. Arrests of some key figures are being made but there is no all-out crackdown. Western governments are being cautious, restricting themselves to generalized calls for fair elections and freedom of speech.

That’s about what we know, plus lots of amplifying details. So I’ve decided not to read all the dispatches and await further developments.

But what can we say we know? The regime believes that time is on its side and that the demonstrations will fade. It will not give ground. Despite defections, its ranks remain pretty solid. It will not use massive force unless that seems necessary, hoping the opposition will fade away. It will blame foreigners—the West and Israel—no matter what they do but those accusations aren’t going to change anyone’s mind in Iran.

The opposition can hope for no external help, no breakdown of the regime, no offer of huge concessions. On that last point, this is a dictatorial Islamist regime, not a European government. Armed struggle is not an option.

It is also important to understand that in Iran it isn’t a case of the people versus a few bloated oligarchs but a struggle between two camps, both of which are very large. The reformists outnumber the hardliners but the latter have the guns and instruments of power.

Given this situation, short of a deus ex machina (one might better say, a mahdi ex machina, that is a hugely influential external factor that changes everything unexpectedly), the regime will win. Then Western countries can get down to the “serious business” of wasting months to engage this regime without any productive result.

The central factor remains this issue: The West needs to recognize that the Iranian regime and its allies abroad are enemies, not negotiating partners. The regime’s behavior toward its own people has shaken up many people in the West, bringing them closer toward recognizing the true nature of this regime. The fact that it is weaker internally than they thought tends to delegitimize the regime and show that it does not represent most of the people there.

In short, it is not only aggressive abroad—using terrorism, destabilizing the region, seeking hegemony, getting nuclear weapons—but repressive at home.
Ordinarily, of course, governments are rightly more concerned with international behavior than with internal actions. It is primarily the Iranian regime’s international behavior that shows why it must be battled. When, however, a government passes a certain level in its internal repressiveness, that suggests an international response is warranted.

Iran now presents both of these aspects to the world.

There is a connection between them. The regime believes itself divinely ordained, is willing to use methods without limit, and is detached from reality.

Not the kind of people you want to have nuclear weapons.

Not the kind of people who are going to be talked out of having nuclear weapons.
Perhaps not the kind of people who are going to be talked out of using nuclear weapons or giving them others to use.

Certainly not the kind of people who are going to refrain from pointing to their possession of nuclear weapons as they seek to overthrow or intimidate all the other governments in the neighborhood; block any hope of Arab-Israeli peace; and destroy Western influence and interests.

As Bob Dylan put it:

‘How many years can some people exist
before they're allowed to be free
How many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see.”

And how long can the West go without seeing that it faces a very serious threat and a very determined enemy in the Iranian regime and the radical Islamist movement?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Forty-Eight Hours of Reality

By Barry Rubin*

June 16, 2009

In the Middle East the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry because reality steps in.

President Barack Obama based his policy of engaging with Iran on the idea that while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a wild man, Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei was a closet moderate, or at least a pragmatist.
Now all can see that Ahmadinejad and Khamenei are wedded, together at last. Khamenei is so set on Ahmadinejad’s character and policy that he risked the regime’s internal and external credibility and stability in order to reassure his reelection.

Pro-Ahmadinejad forces are now talking about this event as a “third revolution,” following on the 1979 Islamist takeover and then seizure of the U.S. embassy and the holding of all their as hostages. In other words, this is an even more radical rebirth of the movement, but this time with nuclear weapons.
Reality: 1, Obama policy: 0

Then comes the Palestinian reaction to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech which accepts immediate negotiations and a Palestinian state at the end of the process, if an agreement can be made.
What did Obama say in Cairo? First, he said that the Palestinians, have “suffered in pursuit of a homeland” for more than 60 years. Second, he insisted that “the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.”

As I pointed out at the time, the first statement was a misrepresentation of history, the second a false picture of the present.

Now if Obama was right, the Palestinians should be eager for a state. So if Netanyahu calls on them to recognize Israel as a Jewish state—what do they care if they are accepting to live alongside it permanently?—and have their own state. Yes, that state would be “demilitarized,” I prefer the word “unmilitarized,” but all that means is that they would have the same security forces that they do now. And in proportional terms, the Palestinian Authority (PA) already has more men in uniform compared to the overall population, than any state on the planet.

So here’s Obama’s solution: an independent Palestinian state, Muslim and Arab, according to the PA’s constitution for that country, next to a Jewish state.

But how does the PA’s leader—who is always referred to as “moderate” in the Western media and is more moderate than any other Palestinian leader (it’s all relative)—react?

Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for PA leader Abbas, said Netanyahu’s speech "torpedoes all peace initiatives in the region." Another top PA leader, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said that recognizing Israel's Jewish character would force Palestinians "to become part of the global Zionist movement".

Think carefully about what Rabbo said. Very carefully. The Zionist movement advocates a Jewish state, Israel, exists. But the PA leadership—the top “official” leadership, the most moderate people in the Palestinian movement—are still not reconciled to Israel’s existence.

Sure, there might be a country there but not a Jewish state, in their thinking. But if it isn’t a Jewish state, why call it Israel? They have another name for the future state they have in mind for Israel to become: Palestine.

How does even the BBC, famous for its anti-Israel bias, explain this? “The Palestinians say they and their millions of descendants have the right to return to Israel - which would mean an end to its Jewish majority - but Israel has consistently rebuffed that demand.”

And Abbas is well-known as a fervent advocate of this “right of return.” So Netanyahu is right: the core of the issue is the refusal to accept Israel’s existence as Israel, not a Palestinian “pursuit of a homeland” or “intolerable situation.”

Ladies and gentleman, the facts are before you.

Iran’s regime is irreconcilable. It seeks to become the main regional power. It doesn’t want conciliation with America, it wants America’s defeat.

The Palestinian movement as presently constituted is irreconcilable. It wants to destroy Israel, not live alongside it. The movement prefers to sustain the conflict for decades rather than make a stable peace.

President Obama and everyone else, take heed and act accordingly. You already have two strikes against you and we're just getting started.

* Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to
The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, P.O. Box 167, Herzliya, 46150, Israel Phone: +972-9-960

Friday, June 12, 2009

Israel and America: Neither Surrender nor Confrontation

By Barry Rubin*

June 11, 2009

The United States demands that Israel stop construction on settlements. If this doesn’t happen, it hints at dire retaliation.

If Israel agrees to this step, President Barack Obama promises great things. First, he claims this will bring dramatic progress toward Israel-Palestinian peace.

That’s rubbish. We know that yielding would be followed by Palestinian Authority (PA) demands for more unilateral Israeli concessions. PA leaders openly say their strategy is to let the West force Israel to give them everything they want without any change by them. We know the current PA leadership is both disinterested and incapable of making real peace.

In addition, the U.S. initiative is absurdly one-sided, without hint of reciprocity by the other side. Equally, the administration’s brutal-style rhetoric denies previous U.S. commitments to Israel have been made on this issue. This approach seems almost designed to convince Israelis that further unilateral concessions will continue to be unrewarded and Western commitments continue to be forgotten.

Second, we are promised that if Israel gives in, Arab states will change their policies, becoming more conciliatory toward Israel and more helpful on pressing Iran.

This, too, is rubbish. Arab regimes have their own interests. They need the conflict; they view its solution to be an American problem. They’ve already make it clear that the United States will get nothing from them for pressuring Israel into concessions except demands to press Israel for more concessions.

Third, we’re promised that if Israel stops construction on settlements, the West can act more effectively on Iran. But they’ve already chosen a policy of engagement and concessions to Iran. There’s no will or ability to increase sanctions, not to mention continuing opposition by Russia and China.

So this, equally, is rubbish. Iran will make no deal, is stall for time, and correctly assess Western willpower as low. Of course, Iran wants to be regional hegemon. It sees having nuclear weapons as a plus whose political and economic costs are low.

Most disgusting of all are honeyed claims by American and European officials—be they cynical or foolish—that such concessions are good for Israel, as it will help it make peace and greater security. In truth, they want Israel to make concessions for their own selfish interests. They believe it will make the radical Islamist threat go away at Israel’s expense.

What then is the reality? If Israel ceases construction on settlements it will get nothing. Arab states, the PA, and West won’t change policies. Iran will go merrily on toward nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, there’s still a strong case for Israel making a gesture to the U.S. administration for several reasons:

--To avoid alienating the U.S. government. Failing to resolve this issue means that the administration will blame its inevitable failures and certain lack of progress in the region on Israel for the next three, perhaps next seven, years.

--By saying “no,” Israel would play into the scapegoating game, letting everyone pretend that all would be fine if Israel only altered its behavior. American and European policymakers will claim the only reason they can’t get peace, Arab cooperation, or an end to Iran’s nuclear drive is because of Israel’s behavior.

--The issue is construction, not dismantling settlements or withdrawing from more land. While one might respond that will be the next demand, a partial “yes” now does not inhibit saying “no” on a bigger issue.

--Israel’s first response, offering removal of outposts or roadblocks and asking for adherence to past promises, has failed. Up to a point, stalling is a good tactic. No matter how determined the U.S. government is on this issue at present, months can go by in maneuverings. Crises and distractions will arise; the U.S. administration might learn to understand reality better.

To me the decisive factors are these: A single gesture must be made toward the new U.S. administration as a “gift” to Obama in order to consolidate his personal commitment to Israel. The fact that this step is temporary, reversible and doesn’t endanger Israeli lives makes it preferable to alternative actions.

On issues like east Jerusalem, border modifications, security guarantees regarding any future Palestinian state, no compromise with Hamas, and others, Israelis are willing to stand up and face any consequences of a break with the United States. But this specific issue is simply not worth a confrontation, especially because it is the first request by the Obama administration.

There is also a way to do it on Israel’s terms: a temporary, reversible freeze on construction, not including Jerusalem and in a clear framework of what Israel expects in return, with the results to be judged solely by Israel.

What are these conditions? Two could be continuing Western efforts to isolate Hamas, the end to official PA incitement to kill Israelis and wipe Israel off the map.

Other conditions could be private, like evidence of a stronger Western effort against Iran’s nuclear weapons’ drive.
If these things don’t happen, Israel warns in advance that it would say: “We told you so. This experiment has failed” and return to construction. Such a move would provoke criticism that Israel could far more easily resist at costs lower than at present. It should be stressed that unlike withdrawing from territory or dismantling settlements, a construction freeze would be a reversible step.

If these things don’t happen, Israel warns in advance that it would say: “We told you so. This experiment has failed” and return to construction. Such a move would provoke criticism that Israel could far more easily resist at costs lower than at present. It should be stressed that unlike withdrawing from territory or dismantling settlements, a construction freeze would be a reversible step.

Netanyahu knows how far he can go without unraveling his coalition. By conditioning it as suggested here, he could more likely sell a limited concession to his cabinet.

But what he should certainly avoid is alternative concessions to “protect” settlement construction which would be far more dangerous to Israeli lives and interests without solving Israel’s problem with the United States. These could include going too far in loosening restrictions on the flow of goods into the Gaza Strip or dismantling needed roadblocks.

Israel should respond flexibly on the construction issue but only in a way shaped by its own interests and far better appreciation of the situation in the Middle East.

The Global R

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

By Barry Rubin*

May 17, 2009

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall,
Whose the most popular statesman of all?
Who Cares?

Here's one of many questions that should be asked everywhere but you might only see it here:

If President Barack Obama actually succeeds in making himself more popular among Arabs and Muslims, what material advantage would it give the United States?

 The answer shouldn't be taken for granted. Consider the following points:

 --All of these regimes are dictatorships and so popular opinion is of very limited importance.

 --Publics are very hostile to America and the West and will not be easily moved by the charm of an American president unless he does things far beyond any possible policy he might follow. Bashing Israel won't transform this opinion.

 --The impressions of U.S. policies and leaders among these groups are mediated by state-controlled media which are hostile for reasons of national or regime interests, and intellectual elites which tend to be carriers of either Arab nationalism or Islamism, world views that have a systematic antagonism to the United States.

 --Islamists and radicals such as Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, and the Muslim Brotherhoods view America in all its varieties and guises as an enemy. No matter what Obama says or does they will deem it a trick.

 Unless, of course, he gives them concessions in which case they will take them, see him as weak, and give nothing back. That isn't popularity; that's contempt.

 --Middle East leaders emphasize a realist, power-oriented model of politics. Obama wanting to be popular is simply incomprehensible to them. At best, they will attribute this to naivete and weakness. Doubting that he will be strong in protecting them they will actually do less for the United States. That isn't popularity; that's fear that you're on the losing side. 

 So no matter how high Obama gets his popularity in polls-which will be celebrated in the American media and in Washington DC as a great victory-nobody in the region will do more to help him or give him more as a result.

 If you need a test experiment for this assertion, think about Europe. Europeans love Obama; Europe is an American ally. European societies are democracies close to America in culture and world view. And yet when Obama asked European countries for cooperation on various issues ranging from economic revival to Afghanistan they gave him nothing.

 Being popular is actually an American policy deformation. Bill Clinton thought he'd be popular by bringing a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and saying he felt other's pain. George W. Bush thought he'd be popular by getting rid of repressive dictators and bringing in democracy.

 Now Obama thinks he'll be popular by using his color, semi-Islamic background, Third World experiences, and combination of engagement and respect.

 International politics isn't high school. Popularity doesn't matter. Or, to put it another way, being able to hit people upside the head can make you seem very popular indeed. Sad perhaps but true indeed.

The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
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