Monday, October 20, 2014

Iron Dome: "Rigged Success"? - Peter Huessy

by Peter Huessy

Critics of missile defense must have seen their whole multi-decade, multi-million dollar campaign to stop U.S. missile defenses in danger of crashing to the ground.
"All flight tests of the weapon have been rigged," William Broad, New York Times, June 9, 2000.
The success of Iron Dome apparently gave lie to the repeated claims that missile defense tests are rigged; that missile defense systems cannot work; that they do not save lives, and that the threat of rocket attacks must be dealt with through appeasement and concessions.

Imagine that hundreds of armed terrorists from ISIS are in a secure sanctuary in northern Mexico. For nearly two months in 2015, they launch 4479 rockets into the United States. Their targets are schools, hospitals, apartment buildings and day-care centers in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Then imagine that not a single person is killed from this terrorist rocket barrage (although mortar fire at one border crossing kills two Americans).

Why are so few Americans harmed? A missile-defense system along America's border with Mexico was able to shoot down over 90% of the incoming rockets that were engaged, while others could be ignored as they fell harmlessly into the southwestern American desert.

Further imagine that, say, Canada helped fund such a missile-defense. Americans would be thankful for the help of its Canadian brothers and sisters; cheer the defense industry that developed the missile-defense which, as President Reagan said in 1983, allows us to protect lives rather than avenge them; and they would thank God there were so few fatalities.

The media would tell a story of success; folks would move to support further defensive missile technology, and then tell their leaders go and find ISIS and destroy every last vestige of them.

The parallel to this is exactly what took place in the skies over Israel between July 6 and August 26, 2014.

The aggressor was not ISIS but its sister terrorist group, Hamas, which launched 4479 rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip.[1]

Ninety percent of the rockets launched by Hamas and engaged by the Iron Dome missile defense were destroyed. This defense technology was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Defense (although developed, built and used solely by Israel in 2012 in the first Gaza rocket war).

A battery of the Iron Dome missile defense system. (Image source: IDF)
There were zero Israeli fatalities from Hamas's rocket fire in areas defended by Iron Dome, although two Israelis perished and 30 Israelis were wounded, some seriously, from Hamas rockets not intercepted by Iron Dome.

News outlets such as the Wall Street Journal[2] and CNN lauded the Iron Dome's success.[3]

Other 2014 articles echoed a similar story from Time magazine on the first use of Iron Dome in 2012: that Iron Dome was the "most effective, most tested missile shield the world has ever seen."[4]

But then the story changed.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists started the skeptical coverage on July 19, 2014 with a story purporting to reveal "The evidence that shows Iron Dome is not working."[5]

Reuter's David Axe followed up a week later with a story, complaining on July 25, 2014, "Israel's Iron Dome is more like an iron sieve."[6]

On July 31, 2014, the Middle East Monitor entitled a story "It is a lie to say that Iron Dome is Protecting Israelis from Hamas." [7]

Two weeks later, August 12, 2014, reporter Dylan Scott asked, "For all the Hype, Does Israel's Iron Dome Even Work?" [8]

What happened?

In America there is a strong anti-missile defense "industry." Most of the organizations that subscribe to its views are either highly skeptical of missile defenses, or oppose them altogether. [9]

Most have also worked for many years to stop, delay, or defund American missile defense deployments, especially those designed to protect the continental United States as opposed to our allies or forces overseas.

In tracking the success of the Iron Dome, in 2006, before it existed, Hezbollah, in Lebanon, launched 4200 rockets at Israel; they killed 53 people.[10]

In 2012, when Iron Dome was initially deployed with five interceptor missile batteries, Hamas launched 1600 rockets at Israel; they caused five fatalities.

In 2014, Hamas launched 4479 rockets at Israel, which was protected by nine Iron Dome batteries. The rockets caused two fatalities -- in an open area not protected by Iron Dome.

To compare: from 2006 to 2014, more rockets were fired at Israel than were launched by Nazi Germany against Great Britain in all of World War II. Yet Israel fatalities dropped from 53, to 5, to 2.

As noted by Uzi Rubin, founder and former director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization (in Israel's Ministry of Defense), in his September 12 briefing in Washington, D.C.[11], there were missile defense critics who seemed unhappy that Iron Dome appeared to work well.

Many critics of missile defense sometimes sound as if they assume that the proponents of missile defense want the U.S. to protect America all by itself -- without the help of other nations -- and without relying on arms control agreements with other countries. They thus described President George W. Bush's 2002 plan to build national missile defenses in Alaska and California as a "go it alone" strategy.

But is such a charge true? Today, the American Missile Defense Agency [MDA] website features dozens of nations with which the U.S. cooperates in pursuing joint missile-defense objectives -- precisely what missile defense critics complained was not being done.

Furthermore, simultaneously, from 2002-08 the Bush administration also significantly reduced nuclear weapons stockpiles with the Moscow Treaty between the U.S. and Russia, proving the compatibility of pursuing both missile defense and "working with others" on proliferation threats.

On July 19, 2004, for instance, former MDA Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering noted in remarks to the Multinational Missile Defense Conference in Berlin, Germany,[12] three keys ways the US had been seeking international cooperation on missile defense during the Bush administration:
"That is why we emphasize in the Missile Defense Agency this simple axiom—geography counts. It matters where we locate the piece parts of the missile defense system. The role for our allies [emphasis added] here is obvious. Second, we need to present a united front to those who would seek to harm us with ballistic missiles. Our ability to deter attacks and dissuade other governments from investing in ballistic missiles will be significantly enhanced if we can speak through our alliances, friendships, and coalitions with a single voice. Third, cooperation means pooling our intellectual and financial resources." [Emphasis added].
* * *
According to Uzi Rubin[13], the aforementioned press reports relied on amateur videos and photographs of the missile intercepts over Israel, as well as on an examination of pictures of the "smoke contrails" of the Iron Dome interceptor and Hamas rocket explosions.[14]

Press reports also noted that much of the critical analysis of Iron Dome came from an assessment of the 2012 Gaza missile attacks, and not primarily from the 2014 rocket attacks from Gaza.[15]

National Public Radio [NPR], on its "All Things Considered" program, just three days after the beginning of the 2014 Gaza War, claimed Iron Dome did not work -- before most data from the 2014 attacks could even be fully collected and analyzed.[16]

After two months of the rocket attacks, some in the arms-control community, such as Subrata Ghoshroy of MIT, originally gave grudging praise for Iron Dome's success[17] while others, referenced such media coverage as the June 9 NPR story in concluding that the Iron Dome probably did not work.

Others concluded that even if the Iron Dome system did work, it does not make Israel any less blameworthy for protecting itself. As it was put in one essay from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [18], "Israel needs to end the lockdown on Gaza." For Israel to allow enemies outspokenly dedicated to its destruction to be better able to attack it?

Still others in the arms-control community eventually went back to their ongoing, comfortable position that if it is a missile defense system, it cannot possibly work. As Philip Coyle emphasized, "No military system is 90% effective."[19]

If Iron Dome is effective, and works well, it would be a huge boost to missile defense in general and the security of the U.S. and its allies in particular.

American arms-control groups, however, have defined "effectiveness"[20] in a manner that makes achieving either workability or effectiveness for U.S. missile defenses extremely difficult.

The current missile defense of the continental United States, for example, intercepts missiles in mid-course, in space, where it is difficult to distinguish decoys and other counter measures from real warheads.

American mid-course-intercept tests have worked in 9 of 14 tests, and have overcome some key technological hurdles. But many critics continue to insist such missile defense tests are rigged and thus the missile defense technology will never demonstrate a sufficient capability to enable a high confidence in the system working. In short, its nothing but a military boondoggle.[21]

Under such assumptions, it is not surprising that as one prominent critic from the Union of Concerned Scientists [UCS], Lisbeth Gronlund claimed, missile defense was unachievable unless it was one hundred percent reliable: "It shouldn't be deployed," adding, "Something is not better than nothing."[22]

Three years later, at a May 14, 2004 UCS press conference, Gronlund said in a variation on the same theme, "No missile-defense is better than some defense," a statement echoed a week later by press conference participant Congressman Rush Holt, who called missile defense a "wasteful, dead-end program that adds nothing to our real national defense."[23]

The United States has conducted dozens of missile defense tests for a variety of systems. Such tests have been successful in 66 out of 81 attempts, including, most recently, 20 successful intercept tests in a row, including consecutively successful tests of the U.S. Navy's Aegis, and the Army's Terminal High Altitude Air Defense [THAAD] and Patriot missile defenses.

But such a success rate is still not sufficient to get the support of missile defense critics. Philip Coyle of the Center for Arms Control, for example, proclaimed at a June 4, 2014 Brookings Institution missile defense seminar that he was "surprised" that some of the American missile defense tests failed because they were all "rigged for success."[24]

As the New York Times put it in a June 9, 2000 report, "all flight tests of the weapon have been rigged". Ironically, this charge by the New York Times was made during the Clinton Administration, although subsequent reporting by the Times made it appear the "rigged" tests were solely an artifact of the subsequent George W. Bush administration missile defense program.[25]

By contrast, the success of Iron Dome upset the rhetorical apple cart of the missile-defense deniers. In the real world of an actual war, this missile defense system worked. There was nothing "rigged" about its success -- and obviously it performed in a "realistic environment."

As many members of the U.S. Congress concluded this summer after watching and hearing of Iron Dome's success, if missile defense can protect Israel, missile defense can protect America, too.[26]

The critics of missile defense must have seen their whole multi-decade, multi-million dollar campaign to stop U.S. missile defenses in danger of crashing to the ground if the American people came to believe missile defenses like Iron Dome did, in fact, work -- and work spectacularly well.
* * *
According to a briefing[27] by missile defense expert Uzi Rubin, most critics of Iron Dome were guilty of making seven key mistakes.

First, said Rubin, the pictures and videos of Iron Dome interceptors appearing to plummet to earth -- and thus giving some the idea that Iron Dome was not working -- were an optical illusion that understandably easily confused non-experts. In fact, the Iron Dome interceptors were actually homing in on their targets.

Second, the critics failed to account for nearly 4500 Hamas warheads that had to land somewhere in Israel. If they were not intercepted, where did they go?

Some Iron Dome critics, said Rubin, simply assumed that thousands of Hamas warheads, while not intercepted, either did not explode or were ineffective and thus did not cause much damage.

In fact, Rubin said, Iron Dome intercepted hundreds of Hamas rockets; others fell in open desert or vacant areas, while some did strike property and, in unprotected spaces, did cause some Israeli casualties and injuries, some serious.

By contrast, in 2006, when Israel had no missile defenses against Hezbollah rockets, many more Israelis were killed or wounded, and property damage was extensive.

Third, critics, pointing to mobile phone "pictures" of Hamas Grad rockets apparently bypassing the Iron Dome interceptors, alleged that the interceptor missile had to "hit the attacking missile head on," otherwise the attacking rocket could not be destroyed.

On July 9, for instance, three days after the Hamas rocket attacks commenced, Bob Siegel of NPR said: "As I understand it, for it to work, it actually has to hit an oncoming rocket head on." His guest assured him that he was "correct" adding, "The Iron Dome has no chance, for all practical purposes, of destroying the [Hamas] artillery rocket."[28]

According to Uzi Rubin, "the critics just got this part wrong".

What they missed, said Rubin,[29] is that Iron Dome has an "elegant capability" to destroy an adversary's rocket even if it is just nearby an incoming rocket. The interceptor, Rubin explained, must indeed "approach" the incoming rocket "head on" but does not need actually to strike the rocket at that point.

Fourth, Rubin said, damage to property in Israel was totally inconsistent with the idea that Iron Dome failed to intercept a high percent of Hamas rockets. Damage from such rocket attacks, he explained, is reimbursed by the State of Israel upon the filing of a claim, no questions asked. Even if it is not unheard of to have people fudge things and occasionally blame some "fender benders" on "rocket attacks," in 2014, despite twice as many rocket attacks as in 2012, the number of Israel property-damage claims fell by 25%.

Fifth, in 2014, despite an increase in the number and frequency of rocket attacks, Israel's fatalities fell from 53 to 2, a decrease of 97%.[30]

Sixth, in all measures of lethality, there were dramatically fewer casualties and property damage in Israel in 2014 when Iron Dome was deployed, compared to the casualties and property damage from rockets in the 2006 Lebanon War, when Iron Dome was not deployed.

Finally, Rubin explained that Israel's civil defense shelters -- often simply safe-rooms in buildings and apartments -- did not account for the low number of casualties and scarce property damage in 2014.[31] The same civil defense shelters were present in 2006 when 53 Israelis died in the missile war that year. And Israelis are not able to run for shelter faster now than in 2006.

The difference, then, between 2006 and 2014 was precisely the presence of Iron Dome.

In short, Iron Dome gave lie to the repeated claims that missile defense tests are "successful" only because they are rigged; that missile defense systems cannot work; that they do not save lives, and that the threat of rocket attacks must be dealt with through appeasement and concessions.

Missile threats from countries such as Iran and North Korea can be dealt with, at least in part, by missile defenses.

We do not have to be victims unless we choose to be. We can successfully defend ourselves.

We should, finally, ask ourselves seriously: Is "No missile-defense better than some defense"? Really?

[1] "Israeli Missile Defense" by Uzi Rubin, who founded and was the first director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization in the Israel Ministry of Defense (MOD) and is known as the "Father" of the Israeli Arrow Missile Defense… September 12, 2014 from C-Span, read more.
[2] WSJ Video, "How Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System Works", July 11, 2014, noting its successful intercept rate.
[3] "How Iron Dome blocks rockets from Gaza, protects Israelis" by Michael Martinez and Josh Levs, CNN, July 9, 2014
[4] "Iron Dome: A Missile Shield That Works",, November 19, 2012,
[5] "The evidence that shows Iron Dome is not working", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), July 19, 2014.
[6] . "Israel's Iron Dome is more like an iron sieve", by David Axe, Reuters, July 25, 2014. Axe writes: The conclusions were based on "Careful analysis of amateur videos and photos of Iron Dome interceptions over the past three years...most of [this] data is from a previous round of fighting in 2012."
[7] "Middle East Monitor Story on Missile Defense Quotes Phil Coyle" by Alastair Sloan July 31, 2014, subtitled "It is a lie to say that Iron Dome is protecting Israelis from Hamas."
[8] In "For All The Hype, Does Israel's Iron Dome Even Work?", Talking Points Memo, August 21, 2014, Dylan Scott asks: "But what if the U.S. government is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a system that isn't nearly as effective as it is claimed to be?"
[9] The Arms Control Lobby Confronts Ballistic Missile Defense: Critics Torture Logic to Discredit Anti-Missile Technology, March 2003 Capital Research Center, Washington, D.C.
[10] From Uzi Rubin, September 12, 2014, "The Gaza Missile Wars", CSpan.
[11] From Uzi Rubin, September 12, 2014, "The Gaza Missile Wars", CSpan. See also "Iron Dome—Savior, or Sales Job?", by Jim Fallows, The Atlantic, July 15, 2014, and "Does Israel's US-funded Iron Dome make the world safer?" by Azriel Bermant, The Guardian, August 6, 2014.
[12] From the website, Address by Lt.Gen (Ret) Trey Obering, USAF, former Director, Missile Defense Agency, Multinational BMD Conference, Berlin, Germany, July 19, 2004.
[13] From Uzi Rubin, September 12,2014, "The Gaza Missile Wars", CSpan.
[14] From Uzi Rubin, September 12,2014, "The Gaza Missile Wars", CSpan.
[15] Aviation Week and Space Technology, "Iron Dome -- Are The Critics On Target?" by Bill Sweetman, Aug 25, 2014.
[16] "The Rockets from Hamas, and the Iron Dome That Could Use Patching", July 9, 2014, All Things Considered, National Public Radio.
[17] "Israel's Iron Dome: A misplaced debate", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), July 29, 2014.
[18] "Israel's Iron Dome: A misplaced debate", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), July 29, 2014. See also: "More Than a Missile: Judging Iron Dome" by Zachary Goldman, August 11, 2014, Commentary;"Iron Dome: The public relations weapon" by John Mecklin, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS). Mecklin writes: "Israel's Iron Dome rocket defense system is high-tech. So is the PR campaign around it." 27 May, 2014. And "Iron Dome Boondoggle: Has Obama Just Signed a $225M Check for a Defective Israeli Missile Shield?," See also David Talbot in Technology Review, "Israeli Rocket Defense System is Failing", July 10, 2014.
[19] Quoted in the Middle East Monitor story by Alastair Sloan of July 31, 2014 entitled "It is a lie to say that Iron Dome is protecting Israelis from Hamas."
[20] For an extended look at what makes missile defense effective, the June 26, 2014 update of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis [IFPA] Independent Working Group on Missile Defense is an excellent source as well as "The Arms Control Lobby Confronts Ballistic Missile Defense: Critics Torture Logic to Discredit Anti-Missile Technology", March 2003 Capital Research Center, Washington, D.C. See Defense Dossier, American Foreign Policy Council, February 10, 2014, "Missile Defense for Today and Tomorrow" by Rebeccah Heinrichs.
[21] Missile Defense Agency - U.S. Department of Defense test data show 65 of 79 actual tests were successful (excluding two tests where the test was aborted because the target or interceptor did not launch).
[22] At the Union of Concerned Scientists, Press Conference, on July 26, 2001. At a later Washington, D.C., UCS Press Conference, on May 14, 2004, Lisbeth Gronlund said: "No missile-defense is better than some defense."
[23] Congressman Rush Holt, (D-NJ), Congressional Record, May 21, 2004, House of Representatives. Also May 14, 2004, UCS press conference and follow-up remarks on May 21, 2004 on the floor of the House.
[24] "U.S. Missile Defense Developments: How Far? How Fast?" Brookings Institution, June 4, 2014.
[25] "Antimissile Testing is Rigged to Hide a Flaw, Critics Say," by William Broad, June 9, 2000, New York Times.
[26] "Americans Should Take Notes on Israel's Iron Dome", by Rebeccah Heinrichs , July 27, 2014, Daily Signal.
[27] From Uzi Rubin briefing in Washington, D.C. provided to over 120 top defense specialists, September 12, 2014, "The Gaza Missile Wars", CSpan.
[28] "The Rockets from Hamas, and the Iron Dome That Could Use Patching", July 9, 2014, All Things Considered, National Public Radio.
[29] From the Uzi Rubin, "The Gaza Missile Wars" September 12, 2014 briefing (picked up by C-Span).
[30] From Uzi Rubin, September 12,2014, "The Gaza Missile Wars", CSpan. The rocket attacks were 4200 in 2006 and 4479 in 2014.
[31] From Uzi Rubin, September 12,2014, "The Gaza Missile Wars", CSpan.

Peter Huessy


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Recognizing a Terror State - Steven Plaut

by Steven Plaut


So let us see if we have this straight.  The British parliament decides to “recognize” the “state” of “Palestine.”    It thus reverts to exactly the same displays of courage and integrity that it showed back when Britain recognized the right to self-determination of the Sudeten Germans in 1938.   All this from Britain, the occupier of Gibraltar, the Falklands, Wales, Scotland, Ulster, and the Channel Islands.   The Brits are  joined by Sweden in a similar belch of “recognition.”  You remember Sweden, the country that was too cowardly to choose a side in either World War and that provided iron ore to feed Hitler’s war machine.  Yes, Sweden, which refuses to recognize the rights to self-determination of its own Samis, and whose journalists recycle medieval blood libels about Jews murdering gentiles and selling their body parts.   Other European countries are expected to follow.  Why “Palestine” is any more worthy of being “recognized” than ISIS, another terrorist gang claiming to be a state seeking “recognition,” is never explained.

Now an interesting twist to the story is the demonstration of the Israeli Radical Left of its contempt for democracy and for Israeli sovereignty.  The Israeli Left, led by the tenured leftists, is willing to endorse pretty much anything that is harmful to its own country.  It has been urging European countries to “recognize the state of Palestine.”   A petition was signed by dozens of Israel’s most anti-Israel academics, plus some non-academic members of the Hamas Lobby.  It was organized by Amiram Goldblum from the Hebrew University, a founder of the extremist anti-Israel “Peace Now” organization, and Alon Liel, an ex-diplomat who now teaches for some reason at Tel Aviv University.  These two were earlier among the initiators and organizers of a notorious pseudo-poll that claimed falsely to show that Israeli Jews favor “apartheid.”   That “poll” last year was an exercise in distortion and tendentious manipulation, designed to generate misleading “statistics.”  It was thoroughly discredited by serious social scientists.

Now the same “Israel is an Apartheid Regime” propaganda team is back, rallying the rest of the anti-Israel academic Left to attempt to bypass and neutralize Israeli sovereignty.   Their initiative also reflects the utter contempt and disdain that Leftists in Israel have for democracy.

No one is stopping the Radical Left in Israel from peddling its ideological wares in the marketplace of public opinion.  In fact the Radical Left exercises unchallenged control over two of Israel’s daily newspapers and also dominates all of the television and radio broadcasts.   The problem is that it has been a dramatic failure.  Its anti-Israel lobbying has fallen flat on its face.  The public simply repudiates the Left’s agenda.  Treason just has not proved to be the grand vote grabber that the Left expected.   Certainly since the outbreak of the recent battles in Gaza, almost no one in Israel still favors the so-called “Two State Solution.”  Almost no one is willing to see Israel “withdraw” from the West Bank and allow a Palestinian terror state to operate there.  Almost no one is willing to reward Hamas with “concessions.”

The Left understands that its “ideas” have been rejected by nearly the entire Israeli political spectrum.  Since it is incapable of persuading Israelis of the correctness of its agenda, it has decided instead to recruit foreign powers to “do the job” for it and bully Israel.  It demands that foreign countries and organizations hostile to Israel coerce the Jewish country into adopting the very political platform favored by the Left that is rejected by perhaps 97% of Israelis.

Goldblum, the organizer of the petition calling for European recognition of the “state of Palestine,” has a long track record of calling for Europeans to suppress and override Israeli sovereignty and impose policies upon Israel from without opposed by the bulk of Israelis.   In a notorious speech before an assembly of leftists in May 2012, Goldblum was quoted as calling upon Israel’s Left to stop wasting its time attempting to persuade the general public to embrace its political agenda, evidently because it is clear that the public will never do so.  Goldblum said he has no interest in the Israeli electorate and general public and called upon the radical Left to go directly to political groups abroad, outside of Israel, and recruit them as pressure groups to coerce Israel into accepting the agenda of the Israeli Left.

His comrades in Petitiongate are not very different.  Among the signers calling on Europeans to “recognize Palestine” are Shlomo Sand, the pseudo-historian from Tel Aviv University who is the most openly anti-Semitic “academic” in Israel, Oren Yiftachel, who has built an “academic” career by asserting that Israel is an apartheid regime, plus a gaggle of card-carrying communists, tenured anti-Semites, and Hamas aficionados.  The presence of such people on the faculties of Israeli universities tells you pretty much all you need to know about the state of academic standards here.

The only thing the signers of the petition detest more than their own country is freedom of speech.  The Israeli far Left is a fascist movement that ferociously opposes not only Israeli sovereignty but also democracy and freedom of speech for non-leftists.   Critics of leftists must be silenced and indicted, insist the Far Leftists, because the exercise of freedom of speech by non-leftists produces violence and it is a clear and present danger.

Meanwhile the number of Tenured Leftists openly calling for violence and murder grows.  The leftist Attorney General never prosecutes such people for their calls to murder.  They are just engaged in protected speech, you see, unlike Rabbis who write controversial books or Non-Leftist protesters expressing their opinions boisterously.  Many of the tenured extremists seek to suppress academic freedom for Non-Leftists, especially for critics of the Left, and also freedom of speech.  Goldblum, the initiator of the petition for “recognition of the State of Palestine,” has a long track record of filing anti-democratic harassment SLAPP suits against those who disagree with his extremist opinions.   Ben Dror Yemini, a Dean of Israeli journalism, has denounced Goldblum as an anti-democratic fanatic.

The Israeli signers of the petition calling upon European countries and others to negate Israeli sovereignty and to “recognize” the “state” of “Palestine” not only hate their own country, but they also hate basic democracy and human freedoms.   “Peace Now,” whose name in Hebrew is Shalom Achshav, should change its name to SHISIS = Subverters and Harassers of Israel and of Israelis.   It may yet merge with ISIS.  Its head should be renamed the Grand Israeli Scheisskopf.

Steven Plaut is a native Philadelphian who teaches business finance and economics at the University of Haifa in Israel.  He holds a PhD in economics from Princeton.  He is author of the David Horowitz Freedom Center booklets about the Hamas  and Jewish Enablers of the War against Israel.


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Another Islamic State push to take Kobani - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

Islamic State forces attacked the Kurdish border town of Kobani from three sides on Sunday, looking for a decisive blow against the out-gunned defenders.

"We had the most intense clashes of days, perhaps a week last night. (Islamic State) attacked from three different sides including the municipality building side and the market place," said Abdulrahman Gok, a journalist in Kobani.
"Clashes did not stop until the morning. We have had an early morning walk inside the city and have seen lots of damaged cars on the streets and unexploded mortar shells," he said.
The Observatory reported two Islamic State car bombs hit Kurdish positions on Saturday evening leading to casualties. A cloud of black smoke towered over Kobani on Sunday.
A fighter from the female units of the main Syrian Kurdish militia in Kobani, YPG, said Kurdish fighters were able to detonate the car bombs before they reached their targets.
"Last night there were clashes all across Kobani ... this morning the clashes are still ongoing," she said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Observatory said 70 Islamic State fighters had been killed in the past two days, according to sources at the hospital in the nearby town of Tel Abyab, where Islamic State bodies are taken. Reuters cannot independently confirm the reports due to security restrictions.
The Observatory said some Syrian Arab fighters from the Revolutionaries of Raqqa Brigade, which are fighting alongside Kurdish fighters, had executed two Islamic State captives.
"One was a child of around 15 years old. They shot them in the head," he said.
Islamic State have also used executions throughout their campaigns in Syria and Iraq, killing hundreds of their enemies and civilians who are opposed to their cause, according to Islamic State videos and statements.
Hundreds of thousands have fled their advance. Turkey hosts about 1.5 million Syrian refugees, including almost 200,000 Syrian Kurds from Kobani.
Ankara has refused to rearm beleaguered Kurdish fighters, who complain they are at huge disadvantage in the face of Islamic State's weaponry, many of it seized from the Iraqi military when it took the city of Mosul in June.
Turkey views the YPG with suspicion for its long-standing links with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a 30-year armed campaign for self-rule in Turkey.
IS fighters are nothing if not relentless. Their efforts show just how important a propaganda victory would be for them if they could overrun Kobani. They would have stood up to coalition air power and overcome adversity, maintaining their aura of invincibility. On the other side of the ledger, President Obama's policy would be exposed as the hollow thing it is.

The Kurds will sell their lives dearly in protecting their city, but superior numbers and firepower is on the side of Islamic State. Whether that will be enough remains to be seen.

Rick Moran


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Islamic State Working to Add Warplanes to Arsenal

by Yoni Hirsch, Eli Leon, Daniel Siryoti, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

With the help of former Iraqi air force pilots, ISIS is test flying several fighter jets captured from Syrian bases • Pentagon shies from providing body count, but says several hundred ISIS fighters killed in Syrian border town in recent days.

Explosions from airstrikes on the Syria-Turkey border town of Kobani, the scene heavy fighting between ISIS and Syrian Kurds
Photo credit: Reuters

Yoni Hirsch, Eli Leon, Daniel Siryoti, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Foreign Policy takes Center Stage in US - Zalman Shoval

by Zalman Shoval

Less than three weeks before the midterm elections in the United States, the war against the Islamic State group has become one of the most significant issues in the campaign, which is in the Republicans' favor.

This is an ironic turn of events, as not long ago various political pundits and pollsters hedged that foreign policy, especially concerning the Middle East, would have little impact on the midterm elections. On the contrary, they said, the current congressional race is devoid of any ideological characteristics, and the voters are likely to make their decision based on their attitude towards U.S. President Barack Obama.

The fact that the president plays such a key role in the voters' considerations is also surprising, as midterm elections are usually decided according to local interests, rather than any wider, national interest. This time, however, the congressional race is likely to reflect the voters' confidence -- or lack thereof -- in Obama's performance.

The latter is also reflected in the American public's view of the economic situation in the U.S., where the administration has marked some positive accomplishments, including a significant drop in unemployment. While this should have helped the Democrats' prospects in the midterm elections, recent polls have found the majority of Americans do not credit Obama with this improvement. 

Two years ago, the Obama administration declared its intent to shift the focus of its foreign policy from the Middle East to Southeast Asia. This included pulling all American troops from Iraq and removing nearly all American troops from Afghanistan, as well as reducing the war on terror. 

But then, as if to mock the administration's new policies, things blew up in Obama's face: Syria plunged into a bloody civil war; U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed in an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi; Egypt underwent a political change the U.S. failed to understand; and various al-Qaida offshoots broke free, giving birth to the formidable threat now known as Islamic State. 

The gruesome footage of Islamic State terrorists beheading hostages, including American ones, as well as the other horrific acts the group has perpetrated, shifted the needle of the political barometer in the U.S. from overall opposition to any American involvement in the Middle East, to growing -- albeit limited -- support in such involvement. 

Obama too, had come to the conclusion that the United States can no longer stand idly by, and ordered an aerial campaign against Islamic State targets, hoping military action would redeem his faltering leadership in the public's eye; but the American public's support of his decision has yet to translate into an improvement in the president's or the Democratic Party's approval ratings.

The fact that several former Washington officials recently published memoirs leveling harsh criticism at what they called the Obama administration's foreign and Mideast policy failures, did little to help the situation. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, for example, said Obama had "lost his way," while former State Department official Vali Nasr slammed the president as "shallow, politically driven and uninterested in real diplomacy." Similar descriptions appeared in the memoirs of other former administration officials. 

The Republicans traditionally enjoy the American public's trust when it comes to matters of national security -- even if said trust is not always justified -- so there is little wonder why Republican candidates have been trying to milk the new and timely jihadist threat for all it is worth.

We were not the ones to point out the president's faults -- his own advisors have done so, the Republicans' campaign states. Obama, it says, is confused and does not grasp the gravity of the threat Islamic terrorism poses.

The results of November's midterm elections may not directly shape the U.S.'s foreign policy for the remainder of Obama's term in office, but they will have some impact on it, including on issues concerning Israel. 

While Obama's unprecedented security collaboration with Israel is commendable, another possible result of the midterm election is that the chaotic realities of the Middle East, and the U.S.'s concern that Islamist terrorism will reach its soil, might reflect positively on Israel's importance as a strategic ally to Washington.

Zalman Shoval


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