Saturday, February 27, 2010

When rhetoric rules the roost.

 

by Caroline Glick

To avoid Europe's encroaching fate, Israel must abandon its current course.

There is something pathetic about what passes as European foreign policy these days. Quite simply, more often than not, the concerted positions of the EU member nations have nothing to do with any of their national interests.

Take the EU's initial response to the killing of Hamas terror-master Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on January 19. A senior terrorist engaging in the illegal purchase of illicit arms from Iran for Hamas-controlled Gaza is killed in his hotel room. The same Dubai authorities who had no problem with hosting a wanted international terrorist worked themselves into a frenzy condemning his killing. And of course, despite the fact that any number of governments, (Egypt and Jordan come to mind), and rival terrorist organizations, (Fatah, anyone?) had ample reason to wish to see Mabhouh dead, Dubai's police chief Lt.-Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim blamed Israel.

Not only did he blame Israel, to substantiate his claims, Tamim released what he said was video footage of alleged Mossad operatives who entered Dubai with European and Australian passports.

Relying only on Tamim's allegations, EU leaders went into high dudgeon. Ignoring the nature of the operation, the basic lack of credibility of the source of information, and the interests of Europe in defeating jihadist terrorism in the Middle East and worldwide, the chanceries of Europe squawked indignantly and threatened to cut off intelligence cooperation with Israel.

In Britain for instance, Foreign Office sources told the Daily Telegraph, "If the Israelis were responsible for the assassination in Dubai, they are seriously jeopardizing the important intelligence-sharing arrangement that currently exists between Britain and Israel."

It reportedly took the intervention of the highest echelons of Europe's intelligence agencies to get their hysterical politicians and diplomats to stop blaming and threatening Israel. After being dressed down, on Monday, the chastened EU foreign ministers abstained from mentioning Israel by name in their joint condemnation of the alleged use of European passports by the alleged operatives who allegedly killed the terrorist Mabhouh.

And lucky they held their tongues. Because on Tuesday, Tamim claimed that after the hit, at least two of the alleged members of the alleged assassination team departed Dubai for Iran. It's hard to imagine Mossad officers feeling safer in Iran than in Dubai at any time and certainly it is hard to see why they would flee to Iran after killing an Iranian-sponsored terrorist.

What the initial European reaction to Tamim's allegations shows is that blaming Israel has become Europe's default foreign policy. It apparently never occurred to the Europeans that Israel might not be responsible for the hit. And it certainly never occurred to them that cutting off intelligence ties with Israel will harm them more than Israel.

They didn't think of the latter, of course, because Europe has no idea of what its interests are. All it knows is how to sound off authoritatively.

THIS HAS not always been the case. It was after all Europe that brought the world the art of rational statecraft. Once upon a time, Europe's leaders understood that a nation's foreign policy was supposed to be based on its national interests. To advance their nation's interests, governments would adopt certain policies. And to facilitate the success of those policies they developed rhetorical arguments to explain and defend them.

Contemporary European statecraft stands this traditional foreign policy model on its head. Today, rhetoric rules the roost. If actions are taken at all, they are adopted in the service of rhetoric. As for national interests, well, the Lisbon Treaty that effectively bars EU member states from adopting independent foreign policies took care of those.

With national interests subordinated to the whims of bureaucrats in Brussels, Europe does little of value in the international arena. As for its rhetoric, as the EU's rush to threaten Israel for allegedly killing a terrorist shows, it is cowardly, ineffectual and self-defeating.

If the Mossad did in fact kill Mabhouh, then the operation was an instance in which Israel distinguished itself from its European detractors by acting, rather than preening.

Unfortunately, such instances are increasingly the exception rather than the rule. Over the past 16 years or so, Israel largely descended into the European statecraft abyss. Rather than use rhetoric to explain policies adopted to advance its national interests, successive Israeli governments have adopted policies geared toward strengthening their rhetoric that itself stands in opposition to Israel's national interests.

Take Israel's positions on Iran and the Palestinians, for instance. Regarding the Iranians, Israel's national interest is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Today, the only way to secure this interest is to use force to destroy Iran's nuclear installations.

Given Iran's leaders' absolute commitment to developing nuclear weapons, no sanctions – regardless of how "crippling" they are supposed to be – will convince them to curtail their efforts to build and deploy their nuclear arsenal.

Beyond that, and far less important, the Russians and the Chinese will refuse to implement "crippling sanctions," against Iran.

IN LIGHT of these facts, it is distressing that Israel's leaders have made building an international coalition in support of "crippling" sanctions against Iran their chief aim. And this is not merely a rhetorical flourish. Over the past several weeks and months, Israel's top leaders have devoted themselves to lobbying foreign governments to support sanctions against Iran.

Last week Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went to Moscow to gin up support for sanctions from the Russian government. This week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak traveled to the UN and the State Department and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon flew off to Beijing just to lobby senior officials to support sanctions.

It isn't simply that this behavior doesn't contribute anything to Israel's ability to destroy Iran's nuclear installations. It harms Israel's ability to do so, if only by diverting our leaders' focus from where it should be: preparing the IDF to strike and preparing the country to withstand whatever the aftereffects of such a strike would be. Moreover, by calling for sanctions, Israel contributes to the delusion that sanctions are sufficient to block Iran's race to the nuclear finish line.

As for the Palestinian issue, it is fairly clear that at a minimum, Israel's interest is to secure its control over the areas of Judea and Samaria that it requires to protect its Jewish heritage and its national security. But it is hard to think of anything the government has done in its year in office to advance that basic interest.

It is argued that Israel's interest in maintaining good relations with the US administration trumps its interest in strengthening its control over areas in Judea and Samaria that it deems vital. The problem with this argument is that it takes for granted that Israel can determine the status of its relations with the US administration. In the case of the Obama administration, it is abundantly clear that this is not the case.

President Barack Obama and his senior advisers have demonstrated repeatedly that they are interested in weakening – not strengthening – the US alliance with Israel. This week the administration condemned Israel for defining the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem as national heritage sites. The fact that they are national heritage sites is so obvious that even President Shimon Peres defended the move.

Moreover, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, reiterated for the millionth time this week that he opposes military strikes against Iran's nuclear installations. That is, for the millionth time, the top US military officer effectively said that he prefers a nuclear armed Iran to an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear installations.

In the interest of strengthening Israel's ties with a hostile administration, the Netanyahu government has adopted rhetoric on the Palestinian issue that is harmful to Israel's national interests. It declared its support for a Palestinian state, despite the fact that such a state will define itself through its devotion to Israel's destruction.

It has outlawed Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, despite the fact that the move simply legitimizes the Palestinians' bigoted demand that Jews be barred from living in Judea and Samaria.

And it has advocated on behalf of Palestinian leaders like Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad who refuse to accept Israel's right to exist.

Indeed, if Israel were to reject the current European model and craft a foreign policy that advanced its national interests, one of its first acts would be to point out that the unelected Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad is not a man of peace.

Just this week, Fayyad threatened to respond with a religious war to Israel's classification of the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb as national heritage sites. Last Friday he joined rioters at Bil'in to attack Israel's security fence. Fayyad has taken a lead role in the campaign to implement an international boycott of Israeli products. Over the past couple of years he has sought to take control over the PA's security forces not to fight terror, but to prevent Israel from fighting terror. Finally, since the Hamas victory in the PA legislative elections in 2006, he has overseen the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas.

In short, Fayyad, a former World Bank employee, is not a "moderate," as his supporters in the US and Europe claim. He is a fiscally sound terror financier and sponsor, actively waging war against Israel.

RECENT REPORTS indicate that IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi – who strangely received a nice medal from Mullen two years ago – is the main opponent of an Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear installations. If this is true, then Ashkenazi must either be forced to change his position or lose his job. The Iranian threat is too great to place in the hands of a commander the US reportedly views as its "friend" in Israel's decision-making circles.

As for the Palestinians, the situation will not be remedied simply by firing a few incompetent office holders. For 16 years, in the interest of enhancing the country's ties with Europe, and to a lesser degree with the US, successive Israeli governments have ignored Israel's vital national interest in maintaining its control over Judea and Samaria. Indeed, they have preferred Euro-friendly, and Israel-unfriendly rhetoric to the sober-minded pursuit of Israel's national interest.

Yet as Europe's immediate response to the Dubai operation makes clear, Europe itself has abandoned the sober-minded pursuit of its own interests, in favor of cowardly, feckless, self-defeating rhetoric. Obviously Europe should favor Israel over a Hamas terrorist. But in its current state of strategic imbecility, no European leader can acknowledge this basic fact. Consequently, Europe may well be doomed.

To avoid Europe's encroaching fate, Israel must abandon its current course. The purpose of rhetoric is to support policies adopted in the pursuit of a nation's interests. And Israel has interests in need of urgent advancement.


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

 

More Like This Please.

 

by  Michael J. Totten

I can understand why Dubai authorities aren't happy about the killing of Hamas senior military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, presumably by Israeli Mossad agents, in one of the city-state's hotel rooms last month. More than most countries in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates has stayed out of the Arab-Israeli conflict and would rather it not wash up on the beach.

Even as European Union officials perfunctorily squawk about the use of forged passports by the assassins, few others have grounds to complain. Al-Mabhouh was a terrorist commander on a mission to acquire Iranian weapons for use against civilians. He was a combatant. Unlike his victims, he was fair game. He would have been fair game for even an air strike if he were in Gaza. As he was, instead, in Dubai, he was taken out quietly without even alerting, let alone harming, any of the civilians around him.

If only Israel could fight all its battles this way. It would be the cleanest and least-deadly war in the history of warfare. Even some of Israel's harshest critics should understand that.

"The Goldstone Report," Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Jerusalem Post, "suggests that Israel cannot lawfully fight Hamas rockets by wholesale air attacks. Richard Goldstone, in his interviews, has suggested that Israel should protect itself from these unlawful attacks by more proportionate measures, such as commando raids and targeted killing of terrorists engaged in the firing of rockets. Well, there could be no better example of a proportionate and focused attack on a combatant deeply involved in the rocket attacks on Israel than the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh."

Hamas and Hezbollah use civilians as human shields. Hezbollah uses an entire country as a vast human shield. Some critics, for various reasons, are more interested in lambasting Israel than the terrorist organizations it's fighting. That's easy when you live in New York or Brussels. People in the Middle East have to live with (or die because of) what happens. How Middle Easterners fight wars isn't political or academic to me. I've never been inside Gaza, but I once lived in Lebanon, I travel there regularly, and there's a real chance I'll be there when the next war pops off. I'd rather not be used as a human shield if that's OK with those who give Hamas and Hezbollah a pass. And I'd much rather read about Hezbollah leaders getting whacked by mysterious assassins with forged passports than dive into a Beirut bomb shelter during Israeli air raids.

But I'm not particularly concerned about my own skin here. Nobody forces me to travel to war zones. I don't have to visit the Middle East ever again if I don't want to. Every trip I've ever taken has been voluntary, and I can leave whenever I've had enough.

A lot of people I care about live in Lebanon, and some of them can't leave. They never volunteered to be used as human shields by Hezbollah, and in fact had their neighborhood — my old neighborhood — shot up and blown up by Hezbollah gunmen recently. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah doesn't consult them or their elected officials on his foreign policy and would sooner shoot them than be relieved of his ability to declare war unilaterally or on the orders of Tehran.

It's unlikely that Israel can avert the next war by assassinating its enemy's leadership, but it's always better to take out a high-level target in person whenever possible than with a blockbuster bomb from a distance. I can't help but wonder if those griping about the recent hit in Dubai — assuming the Mossad actually did it — care less about the lives of real human beings than the latest excuse to bash Israel. If the Arab-Israeli conflict will continue — and it will continue — civilians on both sides should prefer combatants be taken off the board quietly while everyone else goes about their daily business in peace.

 

Michael J. Totten

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

 

Can We Defeat Terrorists without Defeating Terrorism?

 

 

by  Daniel Greenfield

 

"We are not waging a war against terrorism because terrorism is but a tactic that will never be defeated, any more than a tactics of war will. Rather, such thinking is a recipe for endless conflict. ... We are at war with Al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and any comment to the contrary is just inaccurate."

John Brennan, Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

 

Now there's an obvious paradox in a man whose own post is defined by counterterrorism, arguing that terrorism can never be defeated. Back when the USSR forged its pact with Nazi Germany, the Soviet propaganda machine propounded that they were not at war with "fascism", as "isms" could not be defeated. Similar defeatist arguments were used by Western governments to argue that Communism was another "ism" and Isms could not be defeated.

Both arguments were of course proven wrong, because you can defeat an "Ism" by bringing down the system and country that most exemplifies it, thereby devaluing it as a political or ideological strategy at least for some time to come. That in turn is exactly why Muslim terrorism is targeting America, because we exemplify a society that blends human freedoms, popular representation and free enterprise. If they can corrupt, destroy or bring down America, they will have come one step closer to demonstrating that there is no alternative to accepting Islam.

Brennan argues that terrorism is just another tactic of war, and that therefore it cannot be defeated. This is wrong on both counts, as a man who spent so much time in the intelligence and counterterrorism world should know.

First of all a tactic of war can indeed be defeated by demonstrating that its use is either futile or self-destructive. The reason we have never had a nuclear war, is because any strategy that depended on winning a nuclear war was eliminated by demonstrating that it was far more likely to lead to self-destruction, than to victory.

Secondly terrorism is not a tactic of war, it is a political tactic. Terrorists don't employ terrorism in order to defeat armies, but to show that the army and security forces are unable to defeat them or stop their attacks. Their real target is the political apparatus of the enemy which is forced to make concessions to the political goals of the terrorists in order to end the attacks. These concessions can be direct or indirect. An example of direct concessions would occur at a peace conference, such as the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and Arafat. While an indirect example would be the American and European attempt to appease "moderate" Muslims who have the same goals as the "extremist" Muslims . While the terrorists will usually denounce such appeasement, this is only done in order to stake out their position on the left or the right, and thereby achieve even more far ranging concessions.

 

Understanding that terrorism is a political tactic is the key to defeating it. Terrorism gambles that the spines of the enemy politicians will be weak enough that they will choose to withdraw, appease and concede-- rather than fight harder and do whatever it takes to win. Terrorists cannot win against a nation whose political and military leadership is united with their citizens in their determination to defeat the terrorists. They can only win by exploiting weakness, and their crimes are crimes of weakness.

If terrorists had the courage to make war, they would make war. They don't plant bombs in cafes because they believe they can actually defeat their enemies in battle. They plant bombs in cafes because they know that they can't, and that their only hope is to spread terror through public acts of terror and highly visible atrocities in order to make it easier for weak politicians to make a fitful effort to stop them, and then pull back when they realize that their half-hearted measures alone won't carry the day.

That is why it is impossible to defeat terrorists, without defeating terrorism. Because the two are the same. Terrorists depend on the success of their core tactic, that of terrorizing the enemy. You cannot defeat them without discrediting this tactic, without demonstrating that it is futile and self-destructive. And you do that in two ways, first by never bowing to terrorism or its demands in any way shape or form. And secondly by going on the offensive against terrorists, by targeting their allies and their affiliated political movements, and any groups, ethnic, religious or political that support them.

The terrorists' tactic is to turn up the heat on their enemies. The best counter is to turn up the heat on them. The terrorists gain their strength by being on the offensive and forcing their enemies to take reactive stances, always waiting to defend against every possible attack. The best counter is to force the terrorists to go on the defensive, to hit them and keep hitting them so that they are forced to be reactive, anticipating the next attack.

A major terrorist organization requires a core of professionals to train new recruits and run operations. It requires a constant flow of money to fund terrorist activities. It needs a political arm or sympathizers and fellow travelers who will conduct their propaganda for them, and make their aims and goals clear. And finally it needs warm bodies to throw into the fray and transform into martyrs. Critics usually harp on the last of these as demonstrating that you cannot simply kill terrorists because they will just recruit more. Which is true. But such recruits are generally worthless. Suicide bombings alone demonstrate how worthless even the terrorist leaders themselves think their recruits are.

But if you can destroy or severely damage the first three, then you have destroyed or severely crippled the ability of the terrorist group to operate. If you destroy its core personnel, you can eliminate the entire group as a threat. If you can humiliate them by forcing confessions out of them, you can even discredit the group's "brand" and impede other terrorists from trying to form the group again in the future.

If you can stop or black the majority of operations, and discredit or destroy some of the core personnel, you will discourage the flow of donations to the group from its backers. Furthermore if you can destroy the political arms and terrify or take down the fellow travelers, you can essentially isolate the terrorist group both from its financial backers and its political goals. The group becomes a dead end, with no real way left to achieve its objectives. Because terrorism is a political strategy, and if the group cannot have any way left to effect political change, it becomes worthless.

It sounds easy, but it's not. The key is to understand that doing these without any real commitment is almost as bad as not doing anything at all. Because the terrorists depend on a certain amount of engagement in order to be able to carry on a running battle that will bring them attention and money, and that will make the people feel that further fighting is futile. The terrorists count on being able to survive repeated engagements by a government too afraid to fight them with the gloves off... so that they can then claim that force will not stop them, only concessions and appeasement will end the violence.

To defeat both terrorists and terrorism, you must be ruthless. You must destroy them by destroying whatever cover they depend on. You must cut off their outside aid and political camouflage, put them on the run and keep them on the run, until they are isolated and immobile, at which point they can be destroyed. This will require tactics that often seem ugly to the postmodern mentality that believes that force is only moral, when it is practiced with perfect purity. But the only thing uglier than what it will take to defeat terrorists, is their victory.

 

 

Daniel Greenfield

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

 

Dithering on Damascus.

 

by Matthew RJ Brodsky

The argument made in Washington that aggressive diplomacy with Syria was tried and failed and incentives must be the order of the day, is false.

President Barack Obama's recent decision to name a new ambassador to Syria is puzzling. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs explained, "Ambassador Ford will engage the Syrian government on how we can enhance relations, while addressing areas of ongoing concern." But the areas of "concern" with the Assad regime are deep and will not be improved or resolved by the return of an American ambassador.

There were many compelling reasons why the Bush administration withdrew its ambassador to Syria in 2005. The straw that broke the proverbial camel's back was the brazen murder in Beirut of the pro-West Lebanese politician Rafik Hariri in an operation that bore all the hallmarks of a politically connected, well-funded, Syrian state-sponsored assassination.

But Hariri's assassination was just the tip of the iceberg. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, Syria has financed, trained, armed, encouraged, and transported foreign jihadists to fight against both coalition forces in Iraq and the fledgling army of the new Iraqi government. The Assad regime has pursued nuclear weapons and continues to support terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah in Israel and Lebanon, and remains tactically and strategically wedded to Iran.

While the White House says that appointing a new ambassador "represents President Obama's commitment to use engagement to advance US interests by improving communication with the Syrian government and people," nothing indicates that this form of engagement will yield positive results. In fact, a year into the Obama administration, it is becoming increasingly clear that the "direct engagement" he envisioned during his presidential campaign with regimes such as Syria and Iran has produced nothing more than an increase in Syrian support for terrorism and the ongoing spinning of centrifuges in Iran.

THAT IS because Obama's engagement strategy with Syria is based on several misguided assumptions. The first is that it is possible to effectively pry Damascus apart from its alliance with Teheran, which will make engaging with Iran and solving the nuclear issue easier for the United States. But the durable Syrian-Iranian alliance is not a reactive marriage of convenience. They seek to overturn the regional balance of power and undermine Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as the US. Furthermore, Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is not dependent on Syria. Teheran's problem with Israel is not territorial; it is existential. Moreover, America's issues with Iran will not improve with a change in Syrian behavior.

The second faulty premise is that Syria is ready to sign a peace agreement with Israel that will be acceptable in Jerusalem and in Washington. But Assad's concept of peace with Israel was revealed last year in an interview with the Emirati newspaper Al-Khaleej: "A peace agreement," Assad said, "is a piece of paper you sign. This does not mean trade and normal relations, or borders, or otherwise." What would a cold peace with Syria look like with Hamas and Islamic Jihad's headquarters still open for business in Damascus while weapons continue to pass freely to Hizbullah in Lebanon?

The bomb that killed Hariri and brought about the withdrawal of America's ambassador to Syria weighed 1,000 kilograms and left a crater 10 meters wide in downtown Beirut. In addition to Hariri, the bomb killed 21 people, injured 220 more, knocked down several buildings, and set dozens of cars ablaze. This is Bashar Assad's preferred method of engagement and he has yet to be held to account. When Syria ended its nearly 30-year military occupation of Lebanon, it did so because of strong and sustained international pressure in the wake of Hariri's assassination. It was not the result of lengthy hand-holding and endless diplomatic engagement, but the real fear of consequences that could threaten the stability of the Assad regime.

 

The argument increasingly made in Washington that aggressive diplomacy with Syria was tried and failed and now engagement and incentives must be the order of the day, is false. American policy toward Syria has dithered since 2005 with neither a carrot nor a stick approach fully explored. Syria's rogue behavior is not the result of Washington's diplomatic communications skills; it is the result of strategic calculations and decisions made by Damascus. Syria should be presented with difficult choices that will unequivocally and irreversibly demonstrate that it has changed its worldview and behavior. Unfortunately, sending an American ambassador back to Syria will merely embolden the regime and those in the region that are opposed to peace.


Matthew RJ Brodsky
is the director of policy at the Jewish Policy Center in Washington, DC, and senior geopolitical analyst at IntelliWhiz LLC.

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

 

Israel's Right To Self-Defense.

 

by Gerald M. Steinberg

 

The Dubai hit exposes the failure of international law to fight jihadi terror, forcing the Jewish state to act independently.

 

The headlines and video images allegedly showing Israeli spies in Dubai are titillating, but they mask the serious issues involved in the death of Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Along with predictable European hand-wringing over forged passports, this case is the latest example of the failure of the international legal system and the United Nations to provide a remedy to mass terror.

Al-Mabhouh was a cold-blooded murderer—in an interview just last year on Al Jazeera he boasted about kidnapping and then killing two Israeli soldiers. He was also a major figure in arranging arms shipments from Iran to Gaza. Al-Mabhouh shared responsibility for the thousands of rocket attacks fired at civilians in Sderot and other Israeli towns, which resulted in last year's war in Gaza. In his travels, the Hamas terrorist was probably making arrangements for the next round of attacks.

But international law provides no means for stopping terrorists like Al-Mabhouh, or for his Hezbollah counterpart, Imad Moughniyeh, whose life ended with an explosion in Damascus in 2008. (In addition to numerous attacks against Israelis, Moughniyeh has been blamed for the 1983 Beirut bombings that killed hundreds of American and French peacekeepers and the murder of Lebanese President Rafik Hariri.) Cases involving Muslim terrorists, supported by Iran, would never be pursued by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, or raised in the framework of the United Nations. Al-Mabhouh violated the human rights of untold Israeli civilians, but the U.N.'s Human Rights Council—which is dominated by such moral stalwarts as Libya, Algeria, and Iran—has no interest in Israeli complaints.

It is equally hard to imagine Interpol issuing arrest warrants in response to Israeli requests. And if warrants were issued, history shows that German, French, Belgian, and other European governments would not risk the consequences of acting on them. Little effort was ever made to apprehend the perpetrators of the Munich Olympic massacre, or of the deadly bombing attacks against synagogues in Istanbul and Athens. It's a widely known secret that European governments had ungentlemanly agreements with the PLO that allowed the Palestinians to operate from their territories, provided the terror attacks occurred elsewhere. Not until 2003 did the EU even put Hamas on its terror list. Hezbollah is currently free to operate in Europe.

The bitter reality is that for Israel, international legal frameworks provide no protection and no hope of justice. Instead, these frameworks are used to exploit the rhetoric of human rights and morality to attack Israel. In European courts, universal jurisdiction statutes, initially created to apprehend and try dictators and genocidal leaders, are now exploited as weapons in the service of the Palestinian cause. In this way, Israeli defense officials are branded as "war criminals."

Similarly, Richard Goldstone's predetermined "fact finding inquiry" into the Gaza war makes no mention of Al-Mabhouh or Iran, which supplied Hamas with over 10,000 rockets for attacks against Israelis. Mr. Goldstone and his team have remained silent about what would be the "legal" way to bring jihadi murderers to justice. In their efforts to demonize Israel, Palestinian terror actually doesn't really exist. The Goldstone team simply refused to accept conclusive Israeli video evidence of Hamas war crimes.

The same legal distortions are found among the organizations that claim to be the world's moral guardians, such as Human Rights Watch. HRW's systematic bias is reflected in a Middle East division that sees no problem in holding fund-raising dinners in Saudi Arabia—one of the world's worst human rights violators and a country officially still at war with Israel—to help finance their campaigns against the Jewish state.

In the absence of any legal remedies or Western solidarity, Israel's only option to protect its citizens from terror has always been to act independently and with force. When in 1976 a group of Palestinian and German terrorists hijacked an Israel-bound Air France plane to Uganda and separated the Jewish passengers, Israel decided to act. In a daring mission, it rescued all but three passengers while killing all terrorists and several Ugandan soldiers who had been protecting the terrorists. Back then, Israel's detractors also fretted about the "violation of Ugandan sovereignty" even though dictator Idi Amin was in cahoots with the terrorists. Entebbe, though, quickly became the gold standard for successful counter-terror operations. Only a year later, Israeli-trained German special forces freed in Mogadishu, Somalia a Lufthansa plane hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. Similarly, when after years of horrific suicide bombings Israel pioneered the targeted killings of Hamas terrorists—often with the help of unmanned drones—Israel's Western adversaries complained about "extrajudicial assassinations." Today, though, U.S. forces have copied Israel's technique with their own drone killings of jihadi terrorists in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.

Unlike those Predator strikes, though, which hardly raise an eyebrow in the West these days, there was no "collateral damage" in the mysterious Dubai hit. No innocent civilians were hurt, no buildings were damaged. Justice was done, and al-Mabhouh's preparations for the next war ended quietly.

All this is lost on those diplomats, "legal experts," and pundits who blame Israel for Dubai, and angrily denounce the passport infractions. In the absence of viable alternatives, and a refusal to share any of the risks, they are in no position to condemn actions aimed at preventing more terror.

 

Mr. Steinberg teaches political science at Bar Ilan University and heads NGO Monitor.

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

 

 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Top UK military commander says Israeli advice key to British strategy against suicide bombers in Afghanistan, warns of "dark forces" in the BBC.

 

by Robin Shepherd   

A rare voice of sanity in the British establishment, Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan, has mounted another devastating defence of Israel. In a speech at the annual dinner (which I attended) of the UK’s Zionist Federation in London last night, Kemp even revealed that prior to his deployment in Afghanistan a four hour briefing by a top Israeli general had been instrumental in formulating British tactics and strategy on how to deal with Taliban suicide bombers.

To my knowledge, such an intimate strategic relationship on such a sensitive matter has never before been revealed. If it has, it has certainly not received widespread coverage in the UK press.

Kemp’s counter-orthodoxy views on Israel rose to global prominence in October last year when, against the background of the Goldstone Report, he appeared before the UN Human Rights Council to say of Operation Cast Lead: “..Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.”

In the course of his speech last night, Kemp reiterated the substance of those remarks, adding that “dark forces” inside the BBC and further afield were subjecting Israel to a wholly biased, discriminatory and distorted campaign of vilification.

Speaking from personal experience, he contrasted the media response to the immense difficulties faced by British and American troops in facing down terrorists with the response to Israeli troops facing the same problems:

“When we go into battle we do not get the same knee-jerk, almost Pavlovian response from many, many elements of the international media and international groups, humanitarian groups and other international groups such as the United Nations which should know better,” he told the 400 strong audience.

He described it as the kind of “utter automatic condemnation” which British and American forces do not encounter. Shamefully, the British government abstained in the latest UN vote on the Goldstone Report against a background of near-monolothic vilification of Israel in the British and international media, and in order to preserve good relations with Arab and Muslim dictatorships.

To its credit, the BBC carried a report of Kemp’s speech to the Zionist Federation on its website (see link below). It will be interesting to see whether his remarks are now dispersed more widely across the British media.

 

Robin Shepherd   

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

 

What The IAEA Knew.

 

by Anne Bayefsky

The most important thing gleaned from the report by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) circulated on Feb. 18, which states that Iran may indeed be bent on developing a nuclear bomb, is not new information about Iran. It is that for years the United Nations apparatus lied about what they knew and actively stood in the way of efforts to prevent the world's most dangerous regime from acquiring the world's most dangerous weapon.

The "confidential" report leaked to every news agency on the planet, is quoted as stating that on the basis of "extensive" and "credible" information the IAEA now has "concerns about the possible existence in Iran of ... current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile," and "concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program.''

While Obama administration officials have attempted to spin the first report of IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, who took over last December, as a U.N. achievement, the implications of the evident U.N. deceit cannot be overstated. After all, the organization has a choke hold on global imaginations. In 2005 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the IAEA and its then Director General Mohammed ElBaradei "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes." It is now clear that this occurred at the very same time that ElBaradei was engaged in what may well prove to be the most lethal cover-up in human history.

For almost a decade, the IAEA and its director general stalled for time on behalf of Iran, with reports feigning ignorance of Iranian designs while leaving an escape hatch should the IAEA's disguise as a non-proliferation agency be blown. In February 2006 ElBaradei reported: "Although the Agency has not seen any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, the Agency is not at this point in time in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran. The process of drawing such a conclusion ... is a time consuming process."

In August 2006 ElBaradei reported: "the Agency remains unable to make further progress in its efforts to verify the correctness and completeness of Iran's declarations with a view to confirming the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme." In January 2007, in the midst of growing calls for sanctions, ElBaradei suggested a "time-out." In July 2007 ElBaradei concocted a deliberately nebulous deal between the IAEA and Iran "on the modality for resolving the remaining outstanding issues." In September 2007, with stiffer sanctions on the horizon, ElBaradei again called for a "time-out." In January 2008 the IAEA reported: "ElBaradei has repeatedly noted that ... the IAEA has not seen any diversion of material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."

And on and on the reports and the carefully timed interviews went. The organization charged with stopping nuclear proliferation enabled it. This latest "revelation" should, therefore, be a shot heard round the world. Or at the very least, in the halls of Congress, where every year at least 5 billion American taxpayer dollars are directed to the United Nations in cash or in kind.

Last week's report did not see the light of day because the U.N. has turned over a significant new leaf. Rather, this is a desperate attempt by Amano to save the organization's hide. It is an indication that Iran's breakout as a nuclear power is so close at hand that the "watchdog" agency can no longer keep a lid on it.

The development does cast a new light, however, on ElBaradei's assessment of President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize. Over the course of his presidency, Obama has repeatedly taken the heat off Iran: muting criticism over the stolen elections, minimizing response to human rights violations, sidelining the plight of Iran's American hostages and treading water on sanctions for over a year. One particularly treacherous strategy has been to equate the urgency of nuclear disarmament--including by the United States--with nuclear non-proliferation. This inevitably delays progress on the latter. In the name of some perverse concept of fairness, the peril of a nuclear-armed United States and like-minded democracies is set off against the craving of non-democratic developing states to be equally armed. ElBaradei agreed with this strategy--as did the Nobel Committee.

Fellow honoree ElBaradei was therefore "absolutely delighted" at Obama's award. Perceiving the Obama-ElBaradei approach to have been applauded once again, he told reporters: "I could not have thought of any other person today that is more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than Barack Obama ... I think the [Nobel] committee understood fully, as they have done in 2005, that we really need to address the number one security threat we face in the world--which is to get rid of these inhumane weapons. And Obama has ... managed to put nuclear disarmament on the top of the international agenda ... That is something I think the committee, by giving him the prize today, has applauded and said 'you are doing the right thing; keep doing what you are doing.' Exactly the same message that they have sent to the IAEA in 2005 ... and myself."


Two Nobel Peace Prizes later, Iran is much closer to acquiring nuclear weapons and ElBaradei's days as U.N. proliferator-in-chief may not quite be over. On Friday, Feb. 19, he returned to his native Egypt and declared his interest in replacing President Hosni Mubarak in next year's elections. If he were to succeed, he will undoubtedly follow an Iranian bomb with a dash to achieve an Egyptian one, with the tried-and-true U.N. formula of non-discrimination and peace.

 

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and professor and director of the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust in New York.

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

 

Arabs Fear Iran As a Tidal Wave; The West Thinks It's Easily Contained by a Sand Castle.

 

by Barry Rubin

How do leading Arab forces view the U.S. and Iranian maneuverings over Tehran's drive to get nuclear weapons, the world's number one political and strategic crisis? Such reactions are almost always either left out of Western calculations on the Middle East or treated in a distorted manner, replaced by clichés: they only react to what the West does and they are overwhelmingly concerned about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

If treated properly, however, such primary materials are a gold mine for comprehending world views, the situation, and probable responses. Al-Sharq al-Awsat is probably the most interesting Arabic-language newspaper today. It is Saudi-owned, London-based, and the closest thing to a liberal daily. Still, though, it reflects Saudi elite viewpoints.

The newspaper's editor, Tariq al-Homayed, in a February 18 article, sees the region heading toward war, and he is far from alone in doing so. What he says is extraordinarily important even if—especially if—one doesn't take it literally.

In the words of the MEMRI translation:

"The notable thing is that [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad threatens Israel and the West... not with his own country's weapons but in the name of 'the resistance and the countries in the region'....

"If a war breaks out, it will be an Iranian war, and Iran will be its target... Why [then] does [Iran threaten to] attack our region and our countries? This is not our war, nor are we working [to promote it]–this war belongs only to Iran and its proxies. As for us, we will be Iran's victims whether it acquires nuclear [weapons] and whether a war breaks out [against it]..."

Note especially that last phrase. If the United States (an outcome far less likely than Homayed suggests) or Israel attacks Iran to destroy its nuclear weapons' facilities, Iran and its allies will unleash a wider conflict (more details in a moment) that will suck in the Arabs. But if no one stops Iran from getting weapons, the Arabs will suffer even more from Iranian imperialism, both direct and through fomenting revolutionary upheaval.

Of course, portraying themselves always as victims is a mainstay of the general Arab world view. It reflects a desire to let others do the work of solving problems and to provide an excuse to ask for concessions without making any of their own. But the same argument also reflects a sense of weakness, division, and genuine helplessness. In this case it also highlights the remarkable fact that there is not any Arab state with real regional power or even any Arab regime with considerable influence outside its own borders.

Consider the parallel argument made by the editor of al-Goumhouriyya, Muhammad Ali Ibrahim, February 18. That newspaper is usually the most outspoken of the trio of state-controlled Egyptian dailies and since Ibrahim is also a member of parliament for the ruling party he really reflects government opinion. As MEMRI translates it:

"One can envision the region as a chessboard with white and black pieces moving across it...As everyone knows, chess is a game played by two opponents, but in the Middle East, Iran is playing against a very formidable rival [consisting of] the U.S. and Israel…."

The players are the United States, Israel, and Iran. Where are the Arabs? Ibrahim hints they are abandoning the side of Iran and going over to that of the United States and Israel, though saying that in an indirect enough fashion not to tread on Arab Political Correctness of claiming never to side with Israel, and usually not too much with the United States either.

Following his newspaper's usual line—which is more Third World radical and traditionally Arab nationalist in tone, Ibrahim continues by saying, far more questionably, that both sides want war. Iran is supposedly seeking war as a way of uniting its population and getting rid of its domestic problems. I doubt this is true but it certainly reflects how Egyptian and Arab politics have worked for the last century.

He says the United States wants war because it will then "sell advanced weapons to the countries of the region, to impose its air defense umbrella on the Gulf states, and to determine oil prices independently of OPEC...."

What is interesting about this point is not that it is accurate but that it shows—along with a mountain of other evidence--that the presence of President Barack Obama has made zero difference in the Arab view of the United States. It is just business as usual as far as they are concerned. Americans often have no notion of how little real change relates to the president, his strenuous efforts at—depending on your viewpoint—empathy or appeasement, and his alleged popularity.

[Speaking of which I can't resist inserting here a point which I was telling you about a year ago but which even the New York Times has finally had to acknowledge:

"The probable loss of the Dutch contingent and the continuing resistance to significant increases in manpower by other allies [in Afghanistan] demonstrate the extent to which the dividend expected from the departure of President George W. Bush, who was so unpopular in capitals across the Atlantic, has not materialized, despite Mr. Obama's popularity in Europe.


"`The support for Obama was always double-faced,'" said Stefan Kornelius, foreign editor of the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. `It was never really heartfelt. People loved what they heard, but they never felt obliged to support Obama beyond what they were already doing.'"]


Finally, the Arab editors both see two very different aspects to such a war. On one hand, it will be an aerial battle in which cruise missiles and bombs will fall on Iran, but on the other hand it will involve Iranian attacks in the Gulf, against Israel from Arab soil, and within Arab states.

The United States isn't going to attack Iran and it isn't even certain that Israel would do so. But the editors point to three scenarios that no one is talking about in the West:

--Iran may trigger a conflict through aggressive action, including possible miscalculation.

--Any conflict, no matter how it starts, would bring some involvement by Hamas, Hizballah, and Syria, along with smaller Iran-directed or even independent Islamist revolutionary terrorist groups.

--If Iran does have nuclear weapons, Tehran will outweigh all the Arab states not only in terms of strategic power but the ability to mobilize allies, subversive forces, and followers in the region.

That's why the idea that the West can "contain" Iran using pledges of support and threats to attack Iran if Iran nukes anyone else is so misleading and simpleminded. How is the West going to "contain" the cheering millions, the wave of passion that will sweep the region?

It's easy to find parallels. In the 1950s, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser became a hero across the region and mobilized supporters everywhere merely by nationalizing the Suez Canal company and telling the West to go to Hell. Only his defeat in the 1967 war by Israel dissipated Egypt's leading and revolutionary role in the region.

Later on, during the late 1960s and through the 1970s, came various experiments with Marxism, the PLO, and with radical Arab nationalist regimes in Syria and Iraq as the great transformative heroes.

During the 1980s, the Iranian revolution seemed to pose the model for upheaval but it was handicapped by being Persian, Shia Muslim, and involved in conflicts with Arab states that led to the Iran-Iraq war.

After that it was Saddam Hussein's turn in 1990, until he was defeated the following year. If a U.S.-led coalition hadn't gone in and thrown him out of Kuwait, Saddam would have been the Arab world's strongman.

Usama bin Ladin had his shot in 2001 but didn't go anywhere after his initial big splash. He was chased out of Afghanistan, and any way Arab regimes had an incentive to put down his supporters who were also attacking them.

Now it is going to be the Age of Ahmadinejad and the Egyptians, Saudis, Jordanians, and others know that this involves far more than getting a nuclear umbrella. Either there will be a shooting war or, more likely, a combat conducted through subversion, terrorism, mass hysteria, and serious efforts at revolutionary upheaval.

Meanwhile, in the West, the debate continues of whether to have sanctions; precisely what weak and useless sanctions to impose; or how easily it will be to "contain" Iran through a few sentences of speech by a president not noted for his strength or readiness to use force along with a few military units in the Gulf.
The threat far outweighs the response.


Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

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

 

Arabs Begin to Blame Their Own Leaders for ’Refugee' Status.

 

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Arabs who left Israel in the 1948 are beginning to blame Arab countries for leaving them stateless after promising a quick return to "Palestine." "They [Arab leaders] said, 'A week, two weeks, approximately, and you'll return to Palestine,'" Sadek Mufid, formerly of Akko (Acre) and now living in Lebanon, recently told Palestinian Authority television.

His comments were translated by Palestinian Media Watch

Saudi Arabia has led an Arab world demand that normalization of ties with Israel and the establishment of the PA as a state be conditioned on Israel's allowing the immigration of approximately five million Arabs. Most of them are descendants of Arabs who claim they used to live in Israel.

The United Nations has classified them as "refugees" and placed them in villages, known as "camps," in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and Arab countries. The Arab designation of "refugees" is maintained today by the refusal of Arab countries to allow them citizenship, voting rights, or the ability to move into better housing, in order to preserve their "unique status."

Mufid's testimony represents a new trend of Arab leaders, writers and former Israeli Arab residents who have begun to speak out and openly blame the Arab leadership for the creation of their situation.

Mufid describes a mass departure to Lebanon from Israel, which led to the creation of "11 or 15 refugee camps." He does not place the blame on Israel. As Palestinian Media Watch has previously reported, other recent accounts also describe a deliberate exit from Israel under orders from Arab leaders, as the Israeli government has always claimed, which contradicts the Palestinian leadership's charge that the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who left in 1948 were expelled by Israel.

Mufid, who left the village of Dir Al-Qasi  near Akko in 1948, told the PA TV's weekly program Returning, "We headed first from Dir al-Qasi to Rmaich [Lebanon], considering what they [Arab leaders] said at the time: 'By Allah, in a week or two, you will return to Palestine.'

"The Arab armies entered Palestine, along with the Arab Liberation Army. We left - we and those who fled with us - and we all headed for Lebanon. Some people came to Rmaich and others came to the villages on the border, such as Ein Ibl and also to Bnit Jibil. People scattered. And we have about 11 or 15 [refugee] camps in Lebanon."

In another PA television interview, an elderly Arab recalled how his family left Ein Kerem, in eastern Jerusalem. "The radio stations of the Arab regimes kept repeating to us. 'Get away from the battle lines. It's a matter of 10 days or two weeks at the most, and we'll bring you back to Ein Kerem.'

"And we said to ourselves, 'That's a very long time. What is this? Two weeks? That's a lot!' That's what we thought [then]. And now 50 years have gone by."  

Two years ago, Jordanian-based Aryan journalist Jawad Al Bashiti wrote in Al-Ayyam, "The reasons for the Palestinian Catastrophe [establishment of Israel and the refugee problem] are the same reasons that have produced and are still producing our catastrophes today... The first war between Arabs and Israel had started and the 'Arab Salvation Army' told the Palestinians, 'We have come to you in order to liquidate the Zionists and their state. Leave your houses and villages, you will return to them in a few days safely. Leave them so we can fulfill our mission in the best way and so you won't be hurt.' It became clear already then, when it was too late, that the support of the Arab states [against Israel] was a big illusion."


Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

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

 

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