Saturday, March 7, 2009

How Obama, Hillary and Kerry will, ultimately, bring peace to the Middle East.

 

by Caroline B. Glick

 

Compare and contrast the following three events:

At the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday, George Schulte, the US ambassador to the IAEA pointed an accusatory finger at Syria. Syria, Schulte said, has not come clean on its nuclear program. That program of course, was exposed in September 2007 when Israel reportedly destroyed Syria's North Korean built, Iranian financed al Kibar nuclear reactor.

In its report to its board of governors, the IAEA stated that in analyzing soil samples from the bombed installation, its inspectors discovered traces of uranium. The nuclear watchdog agency also noted that the Syrians have blocked UN nuclear inspectors from the site and from three other suspected nuclear sites.

Reacting to the IAEA report, Schulte said that it, "contributes to the growing evidence of clandestine nuclear activities in Syria." He added, "We must understand why such [uranium] material - material not previously declared to the IAEA - existed in Syria and this can only happen if Syria provides the cooperation requested."

On Tuesday, at a press conference in Jerusalem with outgoing Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the Obama administration is sending two senior envoys to Syria. Their job, as she put it, is to begin "preliminary conversations," on how to jumpstart US-Syrian bilateral ties.

Clinton's statement made good headlines, but she was light on details. On Wednesday, hours after Schulte accused Syria of covering up its illicit nuclear program, US Senator John Kerry helpfully filled in the blanks about the nature of the Obama administration's overtures to nuclear-proliferating Damascus. In an address before the left-leaning Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute in Washington, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who just returned from a visit to Syria, Israel and the Palestinian Authority said that the purpose of US overtures to Syria is to appease Syrian President Bashar Assad.

If in the past, both American and Israeli policymakers interested in engaging Syria have made ending Syria's alliance with Iran a central goal of their proposed engagement, Kerry dismissed such an aim as unrealistic. In his words, "We should have no illusions that Syria will immediately end its ties with Iran."

Indeed, as far as Kerry is concerned, Syria's role in these talks is not to actually give the US anything of value. Rather, Syria's role is to take things of value from the US - and of course from Israel.

Kerry proposed that in exchange for Syrian acceptance the US's offer of friendship and Assad's willingness to negotiate an Israeli surrender of the Golan Heights, the US should consider "loosening certain sanctions" against Syria. Doing so, he claimed will also be good for the US economy because it will open new opportunities for US businesses.

On the surface, the disparate statements by Schulte, Clinton and Kerry present us with a puzzle. In Geneva, Schulte noted that Syria is a nuclear proliferating rogue state that has refused to cooperate with UN nuclear inspectors. And in Jerusalem and Washington, Clinton and Kerry ignored Syria's dangerous actions, and advocated a policy of appeasement.

At the same IAEA Board of Governors meeting this week, the agency reported that Iran has produced more than a thousand kilograms of low enriched uranium - enough to build a bomb after further enrichment. That enrichment can be completed by year's end with Iran's 5,600 centrifuges. Moreover, between the Russian-built, soon to be opened nuclear reactor in Bushehr and Iran' illicit heavy water reactor in Arak, Iran will have the capacity to build plutonium-based bombs within two years.

Commenting on the IAEA's report on Iran, US Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledged that Iran has enough uranium for a bomb. Seemingly contradicting Mullen, Defense Secretary Robert Gates claimed that there is no reason to worry about all that uranium because Iran won't have a bomb for some time given that the uranium it possesses is not sufficiently enriched to make a bomb.

For his part, US President Barack Obama is receiving guidance on contending with Iran from former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who co-authored the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report published in December 2006. That report called for the US to coordinate the withdrawal of its forces from Iraq with Iran and Syria - the principal sponsors of both the Shiite and Sunni insurgencies in the country. It recommended that the US purchase Syria's good will by pressuring Israel to surrender the Golan Heights to Damascus and Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to Hamas. It recommended that the US win Iran's trust by accepting it as a nuclear power and pledging not to overthrow the regime.

In an interview last month with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, Hamilton reiterated those recommendations. He claimed that the starting point for US-Iran discussions is for the US to "state our respect for the Iranian people, renounce regime change as an instrument of US policy, seek opportunities for a range of dialogue across a range of issues, and acknowledge Iran's security concerns and its right to civilian nuclear power."

Hamilton assured Ignatius that these recommendations have been adopted by the White House.

All of the above show that there is no contradiction between what the Obama administration understands about Iran and Syria and the policy it has adopted towards them. Specifically, as Schulte's and Mullen's statements make clear, the administration is aware of the dangers that both Iran and Syria constitute to global security. And as Clinton, Kerry, Gates and Hamilton all make clear, the administration's policy for dealing with those dangers is to change the subject and hope the American public won't notice or mind.

To this end, the administration is now asserting that Iran and Syria - the two most active agents of regional instability - share the US's interest in a stable, democratic Iraq. And owing to their sudden devotion to stability, Obama's surrogates tell us the Syrians and Iranians will support the new anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian Iraqi democracy and even protect it after the US withdraws its forces from the country.

Then too, as both Kerry and Clinton made clear, the administration plans to ignore Syria's support for Iraqi, Palestinian and Lebanese terrorism, its nuclear proliferation activities and its massive ballistic missile arsenal as well as its strategic alliance with Iran. Rather than confront Syria about its bad behavior, the administration favors a policy based on making believe that in his heart of hearts, Assad is a liberal democrat who aspires to peace, and hope, and change.

But the core of the administration's campaign to ignore Iran's nuclear program - as well as Syria's - is its unrelenting quest for the big payoff: Palestinian statehood.

This week Iran staged yet another "Destroy Israel" conference in Teheran, replete with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's trademark Holocaust denial, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's ritual castigation of the Jewish state as a "cancerous tumor," and the US as a treacherous enemy, and Ali Larijani's threat to attack Israel's suspected nuclear sites. The conference enjoyed a newfound sense of international legitimacy taking place as it did just after burka-clad Annette Benning's goodwill Hollywood celebrity visit to the mullocracy.

The genocidal pageantry in Teheran, elicited no significant response from Clinton and Kerry. They had bigger fish to fry. While the administration and its supporters seem to believe that the US has no right to make demands on Iran and Syria which, they assert, are both just advancing their national interests, for them Israel is a completely different story. As Clinton and Kerry demonstrated this week, the administration and its supporters will not stop making demands on Israel.

Kerry justified Syria's continued alliance with Iran by saying that Syria should be expected to "play both sides of the fence [with the US and Iran] as other nations do when they believe it is in their interests."

But Israel has no right to similarly take what action it deems necessary to secure its interests. In Kerry's view, the time has come for the US to show that it is serious about Palestinian statehood and the way to do that is to force Israel to block all Jewish building in Judea and Samaria.

In his words, "On the Israeli side, nothing will do more to make clear our seriousness about turning the page than demonstrating - with actions rather than words - that we are serious about Israel freezing settlement activity in the West Bank."

He also called for the US to compel Israel to open its borders with Gaza. And he said that from his perspective, it is unacceptable for the incoming Netanyahu government not to embrace establishing a Palestinian state as its most urgent goal.

Clinton joined Kerry his efforts to compel the Jewish state to ignore its national interests in the cause of the higher goal of Palestinian statehood. Like him, she attacked Israel for not handing control over its borders with Gaza to Hamas. And like Kerry, she stated repeatedly that her greatest goal is to establish a Palestinian state.

Clinton's unique contribution to that great "pro-peace" endeavor this week was her outspoken criticism on Wednesday of the Jerusalem municipality's decision to enforce the city's building and planning ordinances equally towards both Jews and Arabs. That policy was made clear this week when city inspectors destroyed illegal buildings in both Jewish and Arab neighborhoods.

Since as far as Clinton is concerned, Israel will one day be required to throw all the Jews out of East, South and North Jerusalem to make room forwhat she believes is the "inevitable" Palestinian state, Israel has no right to treat Arabs and Jews equally in its soon-to-be-inevitably divided capital city. Arabs should be allowed to break the law at will. When Israel insists on enforcing its laws without prejudice, Clinton condemns it for being anti-peace.

Kerry argues that by forcing Israel to give its land to the Palestinians the US will be promoting regional stability by doing the bidding of anti-Iranian Arab states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But even if putting the screws to Israel makes Cairo and Riyadh happy, their happiness will have no impact whatsoever on Iran's nuclear weapons programs or on Syria's proliferation activities. That is, Israeli land giveaways will have no impact on regional stability.

And that's precisely the point. The Obama administration has no intention of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power or Syria from maintaining its alliance with the mullahs. The White House seeks far more modest ends.

Through its policies towards Israel on the one hand and Iran and Syria on the other, the Obama administration demonstrates that it has already accepted a nuclear Iran. Its chief concern today is to avoid being blamed when the mushroom clouds appear in the sky. And it may well achieve that aim. After all, how could the administration be blamed for a nuclear Iran when it has wholly devoted its efforts to advancing the righteous cause of peace?

 

Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

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

 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Aid for sale in Hamas' Gaza.

by Asaf Romirowsky and Nicole Brackman

There was a bit of head-scratching going on recently in the hallowed halls of the UN.

After weeks of rebuking Israel for preventing humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza, UN officials were forced to cancel deliveries of aid into the Hamas-controlled territory after terrorists broke into a UN Relief and Works Agency warehouse and made off with 800 tons of blankets, food and other basic commodities to sell them to the highest bidders.

Israeli officials have been saying all along that Hamas routinely diverts humanitarian aid. In April, fuel trucks destined for UNRWA warehouses were overtaken. It was reported in August that Hamas gunmen had hijacked more than 10 trucks destined for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society full of food and medical supplies.

All that is only more ironic given the worldwide castigation of Israel for allegedly preventing humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza during the military operation.

And the criticism wasn't limited to the issue of aid. The UN (and the international community) was quick to condemn Israel for allegedly targeting an UNRWA-run school, despite widespread acknowledgement that Hamas routinely employs such facilities as "civilian shields" in an attempt to draw Israeli fire.

The incident where IDF fire hit an UNRWA school in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza is indeed tragic. At the time, UNRWA insisted there were no terrorists in the school compound and the Israelis were "careless," with UNRWA Operations Director John Ging claiming that mortars had hit the school, killing dozens and wounding more.

Just days ago, though, UN officials admitted that Israel had not hit the school at all, but an area outside it. Ging admitted that his original claims were wrong.

It may have taken the embarrassment over such a glaring error to get the UN to acknowledge what the Israelis have been saying all along: that Hamas' callous use of civilians as shields is itself a humanitarian crisis.

Despite the new information, it's worth taking a close look at the historical ties between UNRWA and Hamas. UNRWA has long been a major employer for Hamas members, and has lent its facilities to Hamas and other terror organizations for weapons-related purposes.

For example, in May, we learned that Awad al-Qiq, who was targeted by the Israeli military, was a U.N. employee and headmaster of a top prep school in Gaza. Al-Qiq, a science teacher, was also in the rocket business while at the same time educating Palestinian youth.

Since Hamas' takeover of Gaza in 2006 after Israel's unilateral withdrawal in August 2005, UNRWA hasn't raised explicit objections to the brutal Hamas violence that enabled the terrorist group to take the Gaza Strip by force.

UNRWA appears to be chiefly concerned with its own survival and continued funding. As Karen AbuZayd, the commissioner general of UNRWA, said after the Hamas takeover, "We are not scared. Donor countries have not in any way said they will stop their aid to UNRWA.

"On the contrary, we were approached by many of these countries, even Israel, asking us to continue our services to Palestinian refugees and perhaps even extend these services to do things we haven't done before."

To be perfectly blunt, the theft of humanitarian aid by Hamas (not to mention its ruthless use of its own people as targets as well as shields) only proves the point: Dead civilians are not Israel's goal but Hamas'.

According to Hamas' thinking, the more Palestinian victims there are, the more the international community will try to pressure Israel to avoid any further military operations.

Now that the shooting has stopped, the Obama administration has pledged to provide some $900 million to help rebuild Gaza. Governments and NGOs serious about assisting Palestinian Gazan society must insist on accountability whereby that reconstruction funding is allocated independently and transparently.

When it comes to doling out the money, UNRWA and Hamas - both of whom seem to be more focused on empty rhetoric rather than working towards a peaceful Palestinian civil society - should be bypassed.

Asaf Romirowsky is an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum and manager of Israel and Middle East affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Nicole Brackman is a former Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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

 

Bringing Hamas Into the Fold.

 

 

by Lee Underwood

 

Reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah began Thursday morning (February 26, 2009/2 Adar 5769) in Cairo, Egypt. The negotiations are being handled by Egypt. In addition, just as Israel does before it seeks concessions by the PA/PLO, Fatah released 42 Hamas prisoners in Judea and Samaria on Tuesday.

 

What exactly is the goal of these talks? According to the politicians involved, the intended goal is to form a unity government. In the end, that means it would end up being like the one that was formed by the democratically-held Palestinian Authority (PA/PLO) elections in 2006. The problem at that time, however, was that Hamas won that election by a landslide and, despite its demands for the election, the leaders of world would not stand for a Hamas-led government. Despite the fact that no one disputed that the elections were held democratically, the nations of the world, led by US President George W. Bush, voided Hamas' victory and placed the Fatah terrorist organization in charge of the PA/PLO. It was thought at that time that Fatah could lead the Arab people in Israel and successfully negotiate a 'peace' agreement with Israel. However, as time as shown, that was not to be. Despite massive amounts of monetary aid from many different nations, and the physical training and arming of Fatah-led PA/PLO troops by the United States military, Hamas proved to be a much more formidable foe than was previous thought. In the end, Hamas drove the PA/PLO 'military' out of Gaza and took away their US-supplied weapons. (It has been feared that Hamas would eventually do the same thing to Fatah in Judea and Samaria.) Since then, Hamas has continued its rocket attacks on Israel, even in spite of the recent IDF defensive actions in Gaza. Although the IDF have crippled Hamas to some degree, the terrorist organization continues to launch missile attacks on Israel on a daily basis.

 

Hamas has a large following in Gaza, due to its implementation of social programs, schools and other government-related activities. The Hamas terrorist organization funds schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues. In regards to these type of government-related activities, Hamas is much better at it than Fatah. In addition, although it is a terrorist group, the Islamic beliefs of Hamas cause it to look unfavorably towards government corruption, in contrast to Fatah, helping to increase its popularity among the Arab population in Israel. As the nations have finally learned, these facts make it hard to ignore Hamas in any kind of solution to divide Israel.

Over time, the nations of the world have come to discover that they must also bring Hamas "into the fold" in order to take land away from Israel to form another Arab terrorist state. Hamas is being drawn into the fold of the peace process because the US, EU and Israel falsely believe they will never be able to divide Israel without it. These nations won't do it directly because negotiating with Hamas is against the law in those countries. Instead, they choose to let Egypt handle it. That way, in the end everyone is happy and gets what they want: Egypt gets the glory and the nations get a divided Israel with its sworn enemies in its midst.

In order to appease those Arabs that support Hamas, the US (and other nations will soon follow) recently announced it is providing $900 million in aid to rebuild Gaza after the recent defensive actions of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to protect Israeli citizens. The money is supposed to flow through the Fatah-led PA/PLO but given the reconciliation talks that just started, Hamas will also become part of the PA/PLO, if not its ruling party.

 

That's $900 million from a nation who recently suffered the worst economic diaster since the 1930s (if not even worse than that). Millions of people in the United States have lost their jobs and their homes, public schools are being forced to close their doors, state and local governments are seeking ways to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from their respective budgets, yet the US government feels it is more important to support a failed 'peace' process than to help its own citizens. Some people may say it's not about the 'peace' process; rather it's about helping the people of Gaza. If that were true, then why hasn't the US "helped" other nations rebuild on that scale? It does help in diaster situations but generally not when the destruction has come by war, unless it caused the destruction itself, and certainly not on that grand of a scale.

 

So, as was done back in the early 1990s with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hamas will soon become a respectable, peace-loving humanitarian organization. Sounds a bit crazy, doesn't it? I have stated several times over the past years that this would eventually happen. Unfortunately, it seemed too far-fetched for most people, even though the same exact thing happened with the PLO. Let's not forget that master terrorist Yasser Arafat even won a Noble peace prize! Perhaps one of Hamas' leaders will soon follow his terrorist brother in that reward. Who knows, in this world today, if he plays his cards right, Osama bin Laden may even be able to make Al-Qaeda look respectable.

 

Sounds crazy? Yeah, right.

 

Lee Underwood

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

 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Change has come.

 

by Caroline B. Glick

Provoked by the Palestinians' escalating missile campaign, on Sunday evening the Ashkelon Parents Association voted not to send their children to school on Monday.

Ever since the outgoing Kadima government ended Operation Cast Lead in Gaza on January 20, the Palestinians have steadily stepped-up their missile war against Israel. Over the weekend the IDF acknowledged that six weeks later, daily Palestinian missile barrages against Israel have returned to pre-Operation Cast Lead levels. Moreover, the IDF warned that over the past six weeks, Hamas and its sister terror groups have rebuilt their missile arsenals both through imports of Iranian arms from Egypt and through local production lines. They have also brought in fairly advanced anti-aircraft missiles capable of shooting down IAF helicopters.

The proximate cause for the decision to close down schools was the weekend missile strike against a high school in Ashkelon. The direct hit caused massive damage both to the school and to surrounding apartments. IDF inspectors assessed that the Grad missile the Palestinians used in the attack had been locally upgraded. Its warhead was two and a half times bigger than usual.

As Ashkelon's children settled into their living rooms instead of their classrooms on Monday morning, a few hundred kilometers to the south representatives from 80 countries and international organizations convened in Sharm el-Sheikh to pledge billions of dollars in aid to Hamas-controlled Gaza. The US, represented by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pledged $900 million in assistance.

Also on Monday, The Jerusalem Post reported that the US is curtailing its military aid to Israel. Under new Pentagon guidelines, the Ministry of Defense must give a detailed accounting of how it uses every item it purchases with US aid money. As a consequence, the Defense Ministry issued new instructions to the IDF that from now Israel's purchases from the US will be limited to defensive armaments and systems aimed at preserving its "qualitative edge" against its enemies.

******

 

TO UNDERSTAND HOW it came to pass that six weeks after Operation Cast Lead, the US has joined the nations of the world in funding Hamas and is curtailing its military assistance to Israel, it is necessary to understand Israel's domestic politics. Specifically, since as Israel's leaders during Operation Cast Lead Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are responsible for Israel's current predicament, it is necessary to understand their Kadima party's operating rationale.

The main rule of politics that has guided Kadima since its founding in November 2005 is never be perceived as failing. For the past three years, with the active collusion of the local media, Kadima has managed to control the flow of information to the public and so successfully covered up the abject failures of its strategic policies. Its success in last month's elections is testament to its extraordinary capacity to spin and obfuscate information.

******

 

THIS KADIMA PRACTICE was first implemented in the lead-up to the 2006 elections. At the time, the media worked with Kadima to suppress information about the strategic significance of Hamas's electoral victory in the January 2006 Palestinian Authority elections. They also blocked reportage and public discussion of the massive build-up of Iranian-supplied arms in Gaza following Israel's withdrawal from the area in September 2005, and the transformation of Gaza's disparate terror cells into Hizbullah-trained and styled paramilitary brigades.

The need for the cover-up was obvious: An open discussion of post-withdrawal developments in Gaza would have demonstrated to the public that Kadima's signature policy of unconditionally surrendering land to the Palestinians was, to put it mildly, insane.

Both the Palestinian cross-border operation in June 2006 that led to the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Schalit to Gaza, and Hizbullah's similar raid in July 2006 that fomented the summer war in Lebanon demonstrated the dire consequences of Israeli land giveaways. Neither the onslaught from Gaza nor the war from Lebanon would have happened if Israel hadn't left Gaza in 2005 and Lebanon in 2000.

For Kadima it was clear that to survive the events of the summer of 2006, it needed to develop a story line to hide the truth. In Lebanon, hiding the truth meant choosing defeat over victory.

For anyone with even a vague notion about strategy, it was clear at the time that the only way to protect northern Israel from Hizbullah was to deny Hizbullah the use of southern Lebanon as a base of operations. To do that, Israel needed to conquer and maintain control over southern Lebanon. Nothing else could end the Iranian proxy's ability to rain its missiles down on Israel. And given the jihadist nature and foreign command of Hizbullah, Israel has no capacity to deter the paramilitary force.

For Kadima's leaders however, a reconquest of south Lebanon would involve recognizing that their land surrender strategy was wrong. Their governing rationale would be discredited.

So instead they opted for defeat. Rather than fight Hizbullah to victory, they attacked their domestic political opponents by claiming that only warmongers would support a reconquest of south Lebanon. In so doing, they discredited the only viable strategy for victory while sending IDF forces to Lebanon to fight battles whose sole purpose was to run down the clock until the US stepped in and negotiated a truce with the terror army.

The US-mediated ceasefire, which legitimized Hizbullah as a political force and paved the way for its rearmament and takeover of the Lebanese government, was a disaster for Israel. But for Kadima it was a great success. Livni spun the ceasefire as a massive diplomatic accomplishment for herself and Kadima. The willing media went along with the fiction.

Although all the spinning in the world couldn't convince the public to support Kadima's planned unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, Kadima was able to salvage the gist of its defeatist strategy. By pretending that Israel hadn't failed in Lebanon, and defending the view that victory isn't an option, Kadima deftly replaced its unilateral surrender strategy with as strategy of surrendering land in the framework of a "peace process" with the pro-terror, corrupt, unpopular, and anti-Israel Fatah-led PA in Ramallah. That "peace process" in turn kept the land surrender policy on the table by asserting that the main obstacle to peace is Israel's unwillingness to give its land to the Palestinians.

******

 

A SIMILAR PATTERN unfolded with Kadima's handling of Operation Cast Lead. Here too it was clear to any semi-sentient observer that the only way to defend southern Israel is to reconquer Gaza. For as long as Hamas controls territory it will use it to fight Israel. And given Hamas's subservience to Iran, its jihadist ideology and its Syrian-based leadership's distance from the front, it is obvious that Israel has no capacity to deter Hamas.

But for Kadima, which owes its existence to its leaders' execution of Israel's 2005 pullout from Gaza, acknowledging that Israel has no option other than reasserting control over Gaza was not an option. Then too, a reconquest of Gaza would discredit Kadima's new-old signature issue of giving away Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

And so, rather than fight to win, Kadima again fought for US intervention. Livni and Olmert claimed again that only warmongering extremists supported reconquering Gaza, and announced that Israel's goal was to deter Hamas. For its part, the media blocked all discussion of whether or not it is possible for Israel to deter Hamas and cooperated in demonizing anyone with the temerity to note that the only way to secure southern Israel is to control Gaza.

Then, as elections approached, Kadima declared that deterrence had been achieved and pulled IDF forces from Gaza. They told us that the continued Palestinian missile offensive against the south was nothing more than the last gasps of a defeated foe. And the media went along with them.

In the lead-up to the elections, the international diplomatic backlash against Israel was underplayed and the strategic meaning of Hamas's continued missile war was widely ignored by both Kadima and the media.

******

 

NOW, AS THE LIKUD-LED rightist bloc is forming the next government, information about Israel's actual situation is finally being reported. Not only did Israel not deter Hamas, the inconclusive end of the campaign has paved the way for a massive diplomatic onslaught against Israel and a diplomatic campaign to legitimize Hamas.

Today Israel is being blamed for Hamas's war against it.

Kadima's favorite Palestinian "peace" partners in Fatah are leading an international campaign to indict IDF commanders as war criminals.

While last weekend's bombing of yet another Israeli school was met with international indifference, international leaders lined up to have their photographs taken outside the UNRWA school in Gaza that the IDF attacked in January after Hamas combatants used the building as a missile launching pad against Israeli civilians.

Then there is the US-backed international campaign to force Israel to surrender control over its borders with Gaza to Hamas. Last week Clinton joined her European counterparts in demanding that Israel permit cement, aluminum tubes and other missile components to enter Gaza in order to alleviate the "humanitarian suffering" of the poor Gazans. Furthermore, like Europe, the Obama administration supports the establishment of a Hamas-Fatah government.

******

 

IN THE MEANTIME, Kadima pretends that there is nothing to worry about. As The Jerusalem Post reported on Friday, both Livni and Olmert refuse to actively oppose the international campaign to criminalize IDF commanders because doing so would involve criticizing Fatah leaders with whom they claim to have such wonderful ties. Similarly, the Obama administration cannot be criticized because that would mean that Kadima has failed to maintain US support for Israel.

And that's the point. With its policy of never acknowledging failure, Kadima's strategy for dealing with the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead has been on the one hand to ignore what has happened, and on the other hand, to blame Likud for what is transpiring.

Rather than attack Hamas and Fatah in international forums and so defend Ashkelon's schoolchildren at least diplomatically, Livni devotes herself to attacking Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu for refusing to back Palestinian statehood.

Netanyahu's view is clear. Surrendering control over Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians will endanger Israel. For as long as that remains the case, it is impossible to support Palestinian statehood.

Likud's position is indisputable. But it is also a denunciation of Kadima's governing strategy. So Livni denies the truth to advance her party's interests and condemns Likud for recognizing reality.

In so doing, she has paved the way for an international boycott of the Likud-led government. The Palestinians and their allies throughout the world are already arguing that there is no difference between Likud and Hamas since both of them reject the so-called "two-state solution." Clinton is expected to demand that Netanyahu publically endorse Palestinian statehood during her visit here.

As we absorb the spectacle of world leaders lining up to give their money to Gaza while Israeli schoolchildren are forced to stay home from school, we must understand how we got here. We are here because Kadima has placed its political success above Israel's security.


Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

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

 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hillary in the Holy Land

 

by Tom Gross

One of Netanyahu's most difficult challenges during his first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 was coping with the Clinton administration that berated him for his belief that peace must be built from the bottom up through the liberalization of Palestinian society, rather than from the top down by giving land to terrorists. The question is whether President Obama and Hillary Clinton have come round to Netanyahu's way of thinking.


WTEL AVIV —Hillary Clinton arrives in Israel today on her first visit since becoming Secretary of State, at a time when many influential people in America and beyond are clamoring for the Obama administration to pressure Israel into making major concessions. Before she succumbs to those pressures, she might want to bear in mind the pain Israel suffered the last time it was forced to make such concessions — when Mrs. Clinton's husband was president.


It is a pain that has many names and faces. One of them is Kinneret Chaya Boosany. At the very moment that Barack Obama was delivering his historic victory speech in Chicago's Grant Park in the early hours of November 5, a small miracle was happening over 6000 miles away in Israel when Kinneret gave birth to her first child. Six years earlier, Kinneret, then a 23-year-old dancer and student of alternative medicine, was blown up as she worked as a waitress in a small coffee shop on Tel Aviv's Allenby Street. (Like many young Israelis, she worked as a waitress to earn extra money. She was also exceptionally good-looking: heads would turn wherever she went.)


Her injuries that night were so horrific that the doctors gave her only a 2% chance of survival. She remained in a coma for 88 days. When she awoke, she changed her name from Kinneret to Kinneret Chaya (meaning "Kinneret Lives" in Hebrew). In her own words, "Kinneret died that night in the flames, but Kinneret Chaya was born."


She is just one of the thousands of Israelis — both Jews and Arabs — injured by Palestinian suicide bombers who were sent out on their deadly missions by either the Islamist Hamas movement or by the Fatah faction headed by "moderate" Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat. The number of Israelis killed in buses and pizza parlors and shopping malls has been greatly reduced in recent years after the government built a security fence to make it harder for bombers to get through.


Today Kinneret has one fully operating lung, sees in only one eye and hears in only one ear. Her skin still bears the scars of burns over 85% of her body. She spends many hours in a heavy pressure suit and face mask to prevent the scarring getting worse and she cannot go out in the day because the sun has become her enemy.


But Kinneret has struggled back to life, through countless operations and long sessions of physiotherapy, learning to accept her disfigured body and to smile in spite of her scarred face. And then in November, even though the doctors said she had only a very slim chance of a successful pregnancy, this beautiful former teenage ballerina, who got married at the start of last year, gave birth to a healthy baby girl.


This story is worth reflecting on as Hillary Clinton arrives here in Israel. Barely a day goes by way without Jimmy Carter and assorted European politicians calling on Obama to coerce Israel into hastily withdrawing from more land no matter what the security risks. The reigning Nobel Peace Prize laureate, for instance, former Finnish Prime Minister Martti Ahtisaari, went so far as to use the prize ceremony as a soapbox to urge Obama to make pressure on Israel the principal focus of his first year in office.


Like most Israelis Kinneret Chaya, who I saw again last week, desperately wants peace with the Palestinians. Indeed it is my experience of covering the region as a reporter for many years that no one wants the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to be peaceably resolved more than Israelis do.


But Israelis are also very aware of the dangers of naively handing over territory to terrorists, as was done during the presidency of Secretary of State Clinton's husband, Bill Clinton, in the 1990s. The vote by Israelis in elections two weeks ago was not a vote against peace as many Western commentators claim. It was a vote for realism and security.


Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's likely next prime minister, has been wrongly vilified as being against a two-state solution. In fact he is open to the creation of a Palestinian state but only if it is one that will live in peace with Israel. And for this, Netanyahu argues, you can't simply wave a magic wand at some fancy signing ceremony on the White House lawn and say "hey presto" — which is exactly what leftist politicians tried to do at the Oslo signing ceremony in 1993.


First the Palestinians need to do the hard work of building institutions that would allow such a state to succeed — a functioning economy, the rule of law, and so on. And Netanyahu is very willing to offer Israeli assistance in building such mechanisms.


Avigdor Lieberman, one of Netanyahu's possible coalition partners, who has been misleadingly described as an extreme rightist by many journalists, has been even more explicit than Netanyahu in calling for a two-state solution, including the division of Jerusalem between Israel and a future Palestinian state.


Even Shimon Peres, Israel's dovish president, now has second thoughts about unilateral Israeli concessions. Having long championed territorial withdrawals to attain peace, Peres last week acknowledged that it was a mistake for Israel to withdraw from Gaza in 2005 without first having a peaceful and democratic Palestinian party to hand that territory to.


Israel has always shown a willingness to make peace if a peace partner exists, as it did in the case of the late Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Jordan's King Hussein. Israelis are still waiting for a Palestinian Anwar Sadat.


One of Netanyahu's most difficult challenges during his first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 was coping with the Clinton administration that berated him for his belief that peace must be built from the bottom up through the liberalization of Palestinian society, rather than from the top down by giving land to terrorists. The question is whether President Obama and Hillary Clinton have come round to Netanyahu's way of thinking.


Kinneret Chaya is an exemplary and courageous figure. The international community owes it to her and the countless other terror victims to confront the basic realities of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. By all means pressure Israel into making concessions that do not threaten its security — into not expanding West Bank settlements, for instance. But Israeli concessions will never resolve the conflict in themselves. They will only work if there is corresponding pressure on the Palestinians to accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state and to make aid to the Palestinians conditional on putting an end to their inciting for the destruction of Israel.

 

Tom Gross

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

 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Serbia's struggle for survival: Lessons from Israel.

 

by Raphael Israeli

 

Much comparative assumption has been  predicated on the seemingly parallel situations in the two vastly different complexes of Serbia-Kosovo-Albania on the one hand, and Israel-Jordan-Palestinians on the other, to warrant some elaboration  that would put this intriguing matter to rest. Not only is this comparison often resorted to by both sides of the divide, in both cases equally, invoking strikingly resembling narratives and mirror-image arguments to justify each party’s cause. Furthermore, amazingly similar moulds of development have been evolving, which may help to reflect on each other, to gain insight into each other and to evince once again the validity of the old adage, plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

It would be useful first to refer to the  geo-strategic setting: on the one hand, two independent ethnic-majority states, Israel and Serbia, which are the anchors of the regional controversy in their respective areas, where ethnicity and faith are intertwined: Israeli Jewishness and Serbian Orthodoxy. Both treasure a long history of separate existence and of hard-won, constantly challenged, defended and painfully maintained independence. Adjacent to them,  the persistent  existence of independent nation-states of Albania and Jordan, respectively, each harboring an ethnic-religious-national entity of their own (Palestinians and Albanians, respectively), not necessarily friendly to their neighbors; and maintaining living family, social, cultural, historical, political, economic and linguistic ties with their kin in territories controlled by their neighbors-  the West Bank and Kosovo, which are precisely considered as the historical heartlands of Israel and Serbia. What is more, each of the latter has also been the home of a considerable, and growing, Palestinian and Albanian, respectively, minority in its territory proper – Palestinians in Israel (inadequately dubbed the Israeli Arabs) and Albanians in the Sanjak province of southern Serbia. And exactly as diaspora Palestinians are dispersed also in the rest of the neighboring and western countries, so does one encounter Albanians in Macedonia, Montenegro, Western Europe and the US.

 

Settlements and their Erosion

Apart from the perennial challenge of dealing with a restive and mostly hostile minority at home, both Israel and Serbia have also had to tackle their relations with their immediate neighbors.  The Arab-Israeli wars since 1948 and the breakup up of Yugoslavia which coincided with the end of the cold war and the collapse of Communism and the Soviet bloc, have contributed to instability on the borders of these two states and to their constant vacillations in accordance with the fortunes of those wars, which resulted in the intervention of outside powers to restore stability. In Israel, following the peace process between Israel and Egypt in the 1970’s, the Oslo peace initiative was launched in the 1990’s to seek a settlement with the Palestinians that would also insure Israel’s security. The Serbs, after the Dayton peace settlement on Bosnia which was negotiated (imposed) by the Americans in 1995, thought that their territorial integrity was guaranteed and attempted to concoct a new formula for keeping together the remnants of the defunct Yugoslavia (Serbia, including Kosovo, and Montenegro).

Both hoped-for settlements were geared to bring permanent tranquility to Israel and Serbia, both at a territorial price all right, but without prejudice to the security or territorial sovereignty of either. Following Oslo (1993), which envisaged a certain Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank as part of a permanent settlement with the Palestinians, Israel and Jordan rushed to normalize relations in a peace treaty (1994). This is where Jordan and Albania differ . Whereas Albania became the champion of Albanian minorities in the Balkans outside its sovereign territory and stirred unrest among the  Albanians of Serbia (Prishtina  from 1968, Macedonia during the civil war of the turn of the millennium), and aided its kin across its borders with other states,  Jordan cut itself off the West Bank and contented itself with the special status she was accorded by Israel in Jerusalem under the terms of the peace  treaty.

For the Palestinians, however, the commonality of their nationality was not affected by that exercise and their aspirations to unite their entire people under one nationhood did not wane. They picked up the role which was abdicated by Jordan and began to promote it. It is as if Albania had changed its name and were recognized by the world as Tirannia (and its citizens as Tirannians), and its Albanian identity and claim to statehood were taken over by the Albanians of Kosovo, who because seemingly stateless since Albania had vanished, were entitled to world support, under the sacrosanct rule of self-determination, for independence and statehood. The absurdity of the situation in Kosovo is that the West has been endorsing its claim to a second Albanian state at the expense of Serbia’s sovereignty, while it is prevailing on the Jewish state to allow a second Palestinian state in addition to Jordan, at the expense of Israel’s security and sovereignty.

After the bombing of Serbia by NATO in 1999, the international forces and the UN administration in Kosovo were supposed to protect both the territorial integrity of Serbia and the survival of the Serbian minority, together with its historical, religious and cultural heritage there. But it did nothing to prevent the utter destruction of that heritage and the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Serbs who, far from retaining their predominant role as part of the majority, were now relegated to a persecuted, frightened and waning minority. In the West Bank, the Oslo Accords  submitted the places of Jewish heritage to “guaranteed” Palestinian Authority  protection, but when the Intifadah broke out in 2000, both the Joseph Tomb in Nablus and the Jewish synagogue in Jericho were burned down by the Palestinians, while the PA forces of public order looked on.  So much for entrusting anything Jewish to Palestinian “protection”.

The UN administration was supposed to ensure that before the status of Kosovo was discussed, standards were to be enforced on guaranteeing the level of viability of the Serbs  and of their sovereignty. But soon erosion set in, when standards  and status were lumped together in one go, as the international administration failed to make one the prerequisite of the other, as required, and then it ended up  adopting the status of independent Kosovo without any standards discussed  or attained. So much for international guarantees. That is no more than a replay of the Oslo Accords and then the infamous road-map. In Oslo, the Palestinians undertook first to put an end to terror and violence as a legitimate way to tackle their problems with Israel. But as soon as they were repatriated from their Tunisian exile, and handed power and weapons, they reverted to terror. They learned that those who use violence end up gaining; being the weak side of the equation entitles them to blind support from abroad regardless of what they do.

 

Claims and Disclaimers

And so, weakness becomes the major strength of both the Albanians and the Palestinians. Serbs were bombed and ousted from their country, which was ceded to the imposters who invaded it, under the watching eye of the West. Israel was applauded by the West when it gave up territory out of its own volition, in the hope of bringing the Palestinians to terms, but when the latter’s intransigence grew instead, they found that the support of the West for them did not abate. The Palestinians rapidly learned that they can bomb Israelis indiscriminately, pester their lives and terrorize them  with impunity, because as soon as something was done to arrest their aggression, they immediately posed as the victims and hurled accusations of “horrors”, “genocide”,  “holocaust”, “Nazism”, “war crimes” and the rest against the defenders, who were so demonized as to make any calumny against them look and sound credible. That exact same scenario was repeated during the Gaza War of 2009, in the aftermath of which is still bombed and shelled, but it cannot react forcefully without arousing the wrath of the world which does not suffer the consequences of that aggression.

Retrace the events in Kosovo since the start of the crisis, and you will detect exactly the very same stages, tactics and stratagems played out by the Albanians and Palestinians respectively, and the international community, with few exceptions, aligning itself with the weak and the victim   who was also the imposter, the aggressor and the trouble-maker. Why would the West do that? Why would the Christian world relinquish its natural and tested allies, who constitute the backbone of its geo-strategic security and shoot itself in the foot by  boosting the forces inimical to it, which in the long run are bound to precipitate its demise? By catering to Muslim demands and Muslim causes, like the Palestinian and Kosovo issues, the West hopes to appease the “moderate” Muslim regimes, like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait and Egypt, and perpetuate the flow of oil which has become the lifeline of the industrialized world.

American foreign policy, which was followed by the rest of NATO members, was to attract through alliances and economic development the emerging Muslim nations of Central Asia and the Balkans to the Turkish model and to create a continuum of moderate Islam from the confines of China through Pakistan and Central Asia, to Turkey and the newly constituted entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The US wished not only to maintain intact the borders of the former Yugoslav republics, but also to ensure the continuity of the majority-Muslim Bosnia as part of the grand scheme of the Muslim “moderate” continuum. But when the Albanians in Macedonia rebelled to demand a greater share of power, the West prevailed on the small and weak Macedonians to appease the Albanians. Kosovo Albanians then rose to violate the very principle of territorial integrity that America so vehemently defended in Dayton, and allowed them to terrorize the Serbs and force them out of their land, thus appeasing the Muslims once again.

But, as usual, what the Americans had envisaged is not what they achieved after they made all the possible mistakes. Turkey has turned itself fundamentalist Muslim in 2002 and refused thereafter to accommodate the American strategic needs in Iraq. Bosnia, under Alija Izetbegovic, made connections to Iran and Chechnya, not to the liking of the US, and the “Kosovars” – at least that part of the KLA which was ideologically committed to Islamic revolution – do not seem to follow the Western blueprint. The Christian continuum, which used to connect Russian Orthodoxy via central Europe down to Serbia and Greece to the Aegean Sea, has been disrupted as the Muslim wedges – Bosnia, Kosovo and Metohija, Macedonia, possibly the Sanjak – have been driven into the heart of Europe. In Bosnia and Hetzegovina itself, reports abound of an intense Wahhabi activity, and of inflammatory fundamentalist rhetoric by Saudi-sponsored Imams, who have rendered the Western dream of moderate Islam in the Balkans into a sad and dangerous joke.

 

The Futility of  Constructive Ambiguities”

One of Henry Kissinger’s lessons of diplomacy to the world has been his  theory of “constructive ambiguities”, namely than when two unbridgeable positions make agreement impossible, one is advised to find the formula which provides that bridge by enabling each of the parties to interpret it to his liking. While that formula may have had some temporary benefits to it, when the day of reckoning came and the formula had to be applied to the real world, it turned out that there was no agreement; the discrepancies burst out in earnest. Security Council Resolutions, which say one thing and its reverse are spectacular  masterpieces” which illustrate the point.

The  campaign to Islamize Palestine and Kosovo, which  has been undertaken by Muslim interests, supported  by a West that is steeped in  ambivalent approaches and ambiguous formulae, has come to its crucial defining stage: Will the West rethink its position, reconsider who are its friends and foes, align with the former and stand firmly against the latter, and turn to construct a solid wall of the Western civilized world against the new wave of barbarians which is determined to vanquish it and reduce it to dhimmitude? Palestine and Kosovo must be seen in the context of the third invasion of Islam into Europe. The first invasion in the 8th Century had taken Europe by assault from the south West, colonized the Iberian Peninsula and attempted to take over Gallic France until it was defeated and arrested by Charles Martel in 732. The Spanish reconquista which took centuries to reclaim that land, was not completed before the 15th Century, at the very same time that  the second invasion of the Ottomans, this time from the south-east, attacked the Balkans and made headway to the gates of Vienna. But that invasion too was finally repulsed with the fall of the Ottomans after World War I.

Hence today, the retrieval of the lands once Islamic (Andalusia, Palestine, the Balkans and Kashmir) becomes urgent and pressing of the highest priority from the Islamic point of view. Attacking India or the European Union by Islam outright is too risky, therefore attention is centered on the easier targets of Palestine and the Balkans, with Andalusia, Sicily and Kashmir in the second stage. For the rest of Europe a new tactic of soft invasion, by immigration and demographic explosion, has already yielded impressive results: within one generation, 30 million Muslims have taken a foothold in Europe. The active help they receive from the West in the Balkans is an Allah-sent bonus that they had never dreamt of. The declaration Kosovo’s “independence” in early 2008, which was recognized by the US and part of the Europeans, has been the most dramatic manifestation of this Western capitulation in the face of Islamic aggression in the heart of Europe.

At the same time, the Hamas and Hizbullah, backed by Iran (which also meddles in Bosnia, Kosovo and is maintaining a particularly intimate relationship with the President of Croatia), encouraged by the Muslim successes in the Balkans, continues to press in Palestine and Kashmir too. Under the threat that if the West does not accommodate Islam by exacting more concessions from India and Israel, as it did in the Balkans, both the Arab states and Pakistan may succumb to the fundamentalists, the panicky West seems to be losing all its bearings and falling into the trap of extortion that Muslims exercise, thereby precipitating itself swiftly onto the sliding path into the precipice.

 

Raphael Israeli

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

 

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