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Monday, July 06, 2015

The encyclopedia of US caving on its positions to Iran

This article in The Foreign Policy Initiative is as damning as it gets.

Excerpts:



I. REQUIREMENTS FOR A GOOD DEAL
Dismantling Iran’s Nuclear Program
What They Said Then
December 4, 2013: Chief U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman tells PBS that a final agreement should include “a lot of dismantling of their infrastructure.”
December 10, 2013: “I don’t think that any of us thought we were just imposing these sanctions for the sake of imposing them,” says Secretary of State John Kerry in congressional testimony. “We did it because we knew that it would hopefully help Iran dismantle its nuclear program. That was the whole point of the [sanctions] regime.”
What We Know Now
April 2, 2015: The P5+1 and Iran reach a framework agreement that does not require Tehran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure. “Iran is not going to simply dismantle its program because we demand it to do so,” President Obama says in a Rose Garden statement.
**********
Iran’s “Right” to Enrich Uranium
What They Said Then
November 24, 2013: “There is no right to enrich,” Secretary of State John Kerry tells ABC News. “We do not recognize a right to enrich. It is clear, in the — in the NPT, in the nonproliferation treaty, it’s very, very [clear] that there is no right to enrich.”
What We Know Now
December 10, 2013: “There is no right to enrich in the NPT,” says Secretary of State John Kerry in House testimony. “But neither is it denied. The NPT is silent on the issue.” In a final agreement, Kerry adds, “I can’t tell you they might not have some enrichment.”
April 2, 2015: The P5+1 and Iran reach a framework agreement that permits Iran to enrich uranium in more than 5,000 centrifuges and to retain more than 1,000 additional centrifuges in storage. “As soon as we got into the real negotiations with them,” a senior U.S. official tells The Wall Street Journal, “we understood that any final deal was going to involve some domestic enrichment capability. But I can honestly tell you, we always anticipated that.”
**********
The Fordow Enrichment Facility
What They Said Then
December 7, 2013: “We know that they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program,” says President Obama at the Brookings Institution's Saban Forum.
What We Know Now
April 2, 2015: The P5+1 and Iran reach a framework agreement indicating that Fordow will remain open as a research facility, and may retain approximately 1,000 centrifuges capable of nuclear enrichment.
June 24, 2015: According to a draft appendix to the final deal obtained by the Associated Press (AP), Iran will use Fordow for isotope production rather than uranium enrichment. However, as the AP notes, “isotope production uses the same technology as enrichment and can be quickly re-engineered” for nuclear weapons development.
**********
The Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s Nuclear Program
What They Said Then
February 4, 2014: “We raised possible military dimensions” in the negotiations, says chief U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman in Senate testimony. “And in fact in the Joint Plan of Action, we have required that Iran come clean on its past actions as part of any comprehensive agreement.”
April 8, 2015: “They have to do it,” Secretary of State John Kerry tells PBS, referring to Tehran’s disclosure of PMD. “It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal, it will be done.”
What We Know Now
June 16, 2015: During a press availability, Secretary of State John Kerry says the Obama administration no longer considers Iran’s disclosure of PMD a priority. “We know what they did,” he says. “We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in. What we’re concerned about is going forward.” Only eight days earlier, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano had said the agency lacks such knowledge.
**********
Iran’s Breakout Capacity
What They Said Then
December 7, 2013: “It is my strong belief,” says President Obama at the Brookings Institution's Saban Forum, “that we can envision an end state that gives us an assurance that even if they have some modest enrichment capability, it is so constrained and the inspections are so intrusive that they, as a practical matter, do not have breakout capacity.”
What We Know Now
April 2, 2015: According to the U.S. version of the framework agreement, Iran will have a breakout time of one year for a duration of at least ten years. The Iranian version and the joint EU-Iran statement omit the issue entirely.
April 7, 2015: “What is a more relevant fear” under a deal, President Obama tells NPR, “would be that in year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.”
 
**********
The Timing of Sanctions Relief under a Deal
What They Said Then
March 3, 2014: “Iran is not open for business until Iran is closed for nuclear bombs,” says Secretary of State John Kerry in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
January 27, 2015: Under a final deal, “the international community would provide Iran with phased sanctions relief tied to verifiable actions on its part,” says Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in Senate testimony.
What We Know Now
April 2, 2015: The P5+1 and Iran reach a framework agreement that leaves the timing of sanctions relief ambiguous. The U.S. version states that Iran will receive sanctions relief “after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps” (emphasis added). Tehran’s version states that sanctions “will be immediately removed after reaching a comprehensive agreement” (emphasis added). The joint EU-Iran statement says Iran will receive relief “simultaneously with the IAEA-verified implementation by Iran of its key nuclear commitments” (emphasis added).
April 17, 2015: Administration officials tell The Wall Street Journal that Iran may receive a signing bonus of $30 billion to $50 billion immediately upon reaching a deal. About a month later, in an interview for The Atlantic, President Obama speaks to the possibility of $150 billion in sanctions relief.
**********
The Military Option
What They Said Then
Selected Statements by President Obama on the Military Option against Iran
  • “As president of the United States, I don’t bluff.” (March 2, 2012)
     
  • “I will take no options off the table.” (March 4, 2012)
     
  • “When I say all options are at the table, I mean it.” (March 5, 2012)
     
  • “I will repeat that we take no options off the table.” (September 30, 2013)
     
  • “When the president of the United States says that he doesn’t take any options off the table, that should be taken seriously.” (December 7, 2013)
     
  • “[I] stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon.” (January 28, 2014)
     
  • “Now, if Iran ends up ultimately not being able to say yes [to a deal] … then we’re going to have to explore other options.” (January 16, 2015)
     
  • “I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.” (January 20, 2015)
What We Know Now
May 29, 2015: “A military solution will not fix it, even if the United States participates,” President Obama tells Israeli television. “It would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program, but it will not eliminate it.”
**********
No Deal is Better than a Bad Deal”
What They Said Then
“No deal is better than a bad deal.”
(A Selected List)
– President Barack Obama, December 7, 2013
– Secretary of State John Kerry, November 10, 2013
– National Security Advisor Susan Rice, November 13, 2013
– Secretary of State John Kerry, November 24, 2013
– Secretary of State John Kerry, December 7, 2014
– Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, January 21, 2015
– Secretary of State John Kerry, March 1, 2015
– National Security Advisor Susan Rice, March 2, 2015
What We Know Now
June 24, 2015: In a public statement on the Iran nuclear negotiations, a bipartisan group of American diplomats, legislators, policymakers, and experts — including five former Obama administration officials — writes:
The agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability. It will not require the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear enrichment infrastructure. …
…we fear that the current negotiations … may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a “good” agreement.
The Obama administration remains on the verge of signing such an agreement.


Read the whole thing.

(h/t TIP)

Imagine if you were taking this train to work

In my last post, I mentioned that "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas praised the "spirit of the first intifada" and the "culture of popular resistance" practiced by Palestinian children.

Here's an example of what Abbas is praising.

This photo, of Arab youths throwing rocks at a Jerusalem light rail train, was taken this weekend:


As the lighted sign on the train indicates, this rail line serves Arab sections of Jerusalem as well as Jewish areas.

Look at the size of the brick in the hand of the right-most terrorist:


That could easily kill someone if thrown hard enough at a moving vehicle.

Now imagine how police in Chicago or London or Oslo would react to direct assaults on their mass transit lines.

And ask yourself why this story did not even make the Israeli newspapers.

The answer is because this stone throwing happens every single day.

Now imagine a society where young men who throw bricks at innocent civilians are lauded as heroes by their leaders. Where they are encouraged to act this way, and indoctrinated since they are very young to throw stones at Jews.

You don't have to imagine it. Mahmoud Abbas just praised them.

And the UN dedicated a year to that exact society.

Abbas: "We need the spirit of the Intifada"

Supposedly "moderate" PA president Mahmoud Abbas has called for Palestinians to embrace the spirit of the first intifada, the spree of murder and riots that embroiled Israel from 1987 to 1991.

"We need the spirit, values ​​and wisdom of the heroes of the popular uprising that glorified our children and young people, the elderly and women over the full four years in accordance with the correct vision that was able to expose the occupation and foil its plans to find alternatives to the PLO, and dismantling of the isolation of the organization that were imposed in the wake of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait," Abbas said.

Abbas is pretending that the first intifada was meant to make the PLO relevant, when in fact its leaders acted independently and were against the PLO. After a few years the PLO managed to co-opt the movement.

Abbas added that the spirit of the popular uprising was characterized by purity, clarity and philosophy derived from the national consensus to get rid of the occupation, and that the activities of the popular resistance today (which includes shootings, stabbings, running over Jews in cars, and thousands of firebombs) is "part of the spirit of the uprising which we desperately need to reach today."

He praised the role of the Coordinating Committee and its members who led the events of the intifada first with wisdom and courage, and their role in spreading the culture of popular resistance that children still practice.

Here is a brief history of the intifada:

False charges of Israeli atrocities and instigation from the mosques played an important role in starting the intifada. On December 6, 1987, an Israeli was stabbed to death while shopping in Gaza. One day later, four residents of the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza were killed in a traffic accident. Rumors that the four had been killed by Israelis as a deliberate act of revenge began to spread among the Palestinians. Mass rioting broke out in Jabalya on the morning of December 9, in which a 17-year-old youth was killed by an Israeli soldier after throwing a Molotov cocktail at an army patrol. This soon sparked a wave of unrest that engulfed the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.

Over the next week, rock-throwing, blocked roads and tire burnings were reported throughout the territories. By December 12, six Palestinians had died and 30 had been injured in the violence. The following day, rioters threw a gasoline bomb at the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem. No one was hurt in the bombing.

The intifada was violent from the start. During the first four years of the uprising, more than 3,600 Molotov cocktail attacks, 100 hand grenade attacks and 600 assaults with guns or explosives were reported by the Israel Defense Forces. The violence was directed at soldiers and civilians alike. During this period, 16 Israeli civilians and 11 soldiers were killed by Palestinians in the territories; more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and 1,700 Israeli soldiers were injured.

Jews were not the only victims of the violence. In fact, as the intifada waned around the time of the Gulf War in 1991, the number of Arabs killed for political and other reasons by Palestinian death squads exceeded the number killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat defended the killing of Arabs deemed to be “collaborating with Israel.” He delegated the authority to carry out executions to the intifada leadership. After the murders, the local PLO death squad sent the file on the case to the PLO. “We have studied the files of those who were executed, and found that only two of the 118 who were executed were innocent,” Arafat said. The innocent victims were declared "martyrs of the Palestinian revolution" by the PLO (Al­Mussawar, January 19, 1990).

Palestinians were stabbed, hacked with axes, shot, clubbed and burned with acid. The justifications offered for the killings varied. In some instances, being employed by Israel's Civil Administration in the West Bank and Gaza was reason enough; in others, contact with Jews warranted a death sentence. Accusations of "collaboration" with Israel were sometimes used as a pretext for acts of personal vengeance. Women deemed to have behaved "immorally" were also among the victims.
B'Tselem considers the first intifada as lasting until 2000, and counts over 420 Israelis killed, most of them civilians.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Operation Entebbe - in animation

This is quite good, on events that happened exactly 39 years ago:



(h/t Ashley P)

...and it's kosher!


It is a Lance cheese cracker sandwich, certified kosher by the OU.


(h/t Shlomo HaLevi)

.@CNN (@jacoprisco) parrots Arab propaganda about Temple Mount

CNN has a travel feature of beautiful buildings to visit before they are destroyed:



“A holy city for three different religions, it attracts millions of tourist with over 200 monuments, including the majestic Dome of the Rock. But political tension has hardened relations between Israel and UNESCO, preventing any preservation plans from moving forward.”

UNESCO placed the Old City of Jerusalem on its list of World Heritage Sites in Danger since 1982 - at Jordan's request.

Clearly no one from UNESCO compared what the Old City looked like in 1967, after 19 years of neglect by Jordan, and what it looked like in 1982 when it was rebuilt. No one compared the slums of what had been the Jewish Quarter with how it looked when it was rebuilt.

And no one from CNN bothered to look at Jerusalem today to see exactly who was endangering the Old City.

Because the people who have shown the most blatant disregard for the Old City's cultural value has been the Waqf, the Muslims who run the Temple Mount. They have dug out and destroyed thousands of cubic meters of land holding priceless archaeological treasures with not a word of protest from UNESCO.

No, the Old City is not in danger as long as Jews control it. On the contrary - it is far better in every sense. The Old City is more beautiful by far. It is more secure by far. It is more open to members of all religions.  Many more fascinating archaeological treasures have been discovered and scrupulously preserved. It is a living, breathing part of the city and not the backwater relic that Jordan considered it.

But to UNESCO, and clueless CNN reporters, the Jews are the problem, and Jerusalem was better off as a squalid and ignored Jew-free Jordanian town than it is today as the reborn capital of the world's Jews.

07/05 Links: Will Israel Save America?; Down and Out on the Temple Mount; Mayim Bialik in Israel

From Ian:

Will Israel Save America?
America forgot the inspiration it drew from the ancient Hebrews. Yet the living presence of the Jewish people, the same people who chose God as their sovereign at Mount Sinai, provides Americans with a chance to remember, or to turn away. If America was created in the Protestant vision of an imagined biblical republic, Israel is the republic of the people of the Bible. The restoration of the Jewish people to its ancient land and language, embodied in a modern democratic state, outstanding in it is accomplishments in every field of intellectual endeavor, demanded a readiness for sacrifice and boldness of purpose like that of no other nation on earth.
As a result, Israel’s impact on America’s national consciousness has been profound. Evangelical Protestants, for example the Rev. Billy Graham, supported Israel from the outset. (Rev. Graham’s deprecating remarks about American liberal Jews were made in context of praise for Israeli Jews.) Israel’s victories in 1948 and especially 1967 galvanized evangelical Christians. It was not, as the old canard has it, that evangelical Christians thought war in the Middle East advanced the timetable for Armageddon. On the contrary, believing Christians saw the fulfillment of God’s promise to the Jews as a sign of hope that God would also fulfill his promises to them.
One does not have to view Israel’s accomplishments through a theological mirror to understand what the Jewish State tells us about statecraft. Freedom does not arise from the mere presence of democratic institutions, as we learned in Iraq, or from bursts of popular enthusiasm, as we learned in the Arab Spring, or from participation in elections, as we learned when Hamas swept the 2006 West Bank elections. It depends on the radical commitment to the premise that a higher power than human caprice is the ultimate arbiter in civic life. It requires willingness to take existential risk. That is the Jewish principle in politics, the civil content of the Sinai covenant, and the basis for the American Founding. To the extent we have forgotten this, the people who stood at Mount Sinai still are there to remind us. If we reject this reminder, we will un-choose ourselves as Americans.
Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn attacked for calling Hezbollah and Hamas 'friends'
The ultra left-wing MP made the remarks when he invited delegates from the two Islamist factions, which have been accused of carrying out grisly war crimes, to a conference hosted in the House of Commons.
He can also be heard describing the Government's classification of the groups as terrorist organisations as a "big, big historical mistake".
In the video, on the eve of a conference he organised as patron of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, the controversial MP describes it as an "honour" to welcome members of the terror group Hezbollah to parliament, adding that he had also invited Hamas militants who were blocked from attending by the Israelis.
He says: “Tomorrow evening it will be my pleasure and my honour to host an event in parliament where our friends from Hezbollah will be speaking.
"And I’ve also invited friends from Hamas to come and speak as well. Unfortunately the Israelis would not allow them to travel here.
He then adds: "The idea that [Hamas] should be labelled as a terrorist organisation by the British government is really a big, big historical mistake and I would invite the government to reconsider its position on this matter and start talking directly to Hamas and Hezbollah.”

Anti-Israel Professor Finds New Home in Lebanon
The anti-Israel professor whose appointment to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was rescinded last fall over a series of incendiary tweets written during Operation Protective Edge has found new employment.
Steven Salaita has been hired as the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut, he revealed on Twitter last Wednesday.
“Thank you, friends. I’ve really missed the classroom. I’ll do my very best to honor the legacy of Dr. Said,” he wrote in another tweet.
Said was a noted Palestinian-American academic and literary theorist, who taught at Columbia University.
The saga over Salaita's employment began last summer when he published virulently anti-Israel tweets on his personal Twitter page during the ongoing Gaza war.
One tweet branded Israel's defenders "awful human beings" while yet another suggested it would be no surprise if Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children." (h/t sophie44)

Michael Oren names a villain (Mike Lumish)





underwood5smallFormer Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, has recently published his highly anticipated memoir, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide.

In the weeks and months leading up to the publication much chatter arose suggesting that Oren primarily blamed US President Barack Obama for the deterioration of US-Israeli relations during Obama's tenure.  Oren's recent articles in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and Foreign Policy raised very serious concerns about Obama's foreign policy competency and his friendliness toward America's foremost ally in the Middle East, the Jewish State of Israel.

Those articles raised expectations concerning the book.

Therefore, many people are asking themselves "who is the villain?"


The Primary Question

Over the years, Barack Obama has nurtured an animosity among pro-Israel / pro-Jewish people throughout the world for his support of political Islam and his apparent eagerness to welcome a nuclear-armed Iran as a strategic partner to the United States... despite the fact that Iran is a Muslim-authoritarian theocracy that likes to hang Gay people from cranes.

Many of us who follow the conflicts in the Middle East want to know why Obama supports the Muslim Brotherhood and the forthcoming Iranian bomb?

As Ambassador to the US, Oren is used to fielding all sorts of questions concerning Israel.  One question that he found interesting, and I paraphrase, is this:
Is it easier to explain Americans to Israelis or Israel to Americans?  
He suggests that it is much harder to explain America - or, at least, the current American president - to Israelis than the other way around.

For Israelis, but also for many alert diaspora Jews, Obama's support for the Muslim Brotherhood is alarming and unfathomable given the fact that the Brotherhood is the parent organization of both Hamas and al-Qaeda and it called for the conquest of Jerusalem during Muhammad Morsi campaign rallies.

The Muslim Brotherhood is, in fact, a genocidal organization because it contemplates a second Holocaust against the Jews of the Middle East, via the conquest of Israel, and it supported Nazi Germany and the Nazi cause during, and after, World War II.

Thus, Oren writes:

"Most challenging to explain to Israelis was Obama's support for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.  Contrary to the assurances I had received that the administration would not engage the Isamist movement, the State Department formally initiated ties with Brotherhood leaders in January 2012.  Six months ater, after the election of the movement's leaders, Mohammed Morsi, to the presidency - by just over 51 percent of th vote - those contracts became an embrace."
This is a question that concerned Jews - aside from the ideologically blinkered - have been grappling with for years.  Although Obama's supporters, and particularly his Jewish supporters, refuse to acknowledge the obvious, the fact remains that the President of the United States supports a movement - political Islam - that oppresses women, is chasing Christians out of the Middle East, despises Gay people, is destroying antiquities, and screams from the hilltops for the blood of the Jews.


The fundamental question that Oren seeks to answer is, how is this possible?


The Cairo Speech of 2009

Whether or not the Cairo speech is the most important speech in the career of Barack Obama, it is the one wherein he endeavored to "reset" the American relationship to the Islamic world... as if there is any such monolith.

Concerning the speech, Oren writes:
More passionately than ever, he described his personal connections with Muslims and his conviction that "Islam is part of America."  He reiterated his vision of a new era of understanding between the United States and Muslims based on "mutual interests and respect" and the shared American and Quranic values of "justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."
Oren suggests that if you wish to understand Obama's foreign policy in regards the Middle East then the Cairo speech is key.  Unlike President George W. Bush, Oren claims that Obama was intent on supporting authentic, democratically-elected Muslim leadership.  Whereas Bush hoped to impose democracy, Muslim or otherwise, onto the Arab-Muslim Middle East, Obama was intent on taking what he considered a more "enlightened" and respectful approach grounded in his education at the feet of post-colonial professors such as Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi in places like Columbia University and Harvard.

The events around the Cairo speech presaged what was to come.  Over Hosni Mubarak's objections, Obama invited the Muslim Brotherhood to the speech despite the fact that the Brotherhood has generally been considered an enemy of Egyptian governments since the 1920s.  However, Mubarak represented old-school Cold War-style Arab-Nationalist dictatorships of the sort that Obama opposes in contradistinction to the new-school democratically elected "authentic" Islamists which Obama supports.

While opposing secular dictatorships is certainly within the liberal tradition, if Obama is a liberal and liberals support freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and social justice, then why does Barack Obama support the Ayatollahs and the Brotherhood?

The answer, according to Oren, is that both are seen by the president as representing authentic expressions of Muslim democracy.  Many Christian Copts may have been kept from voting at the point of a rifle by Brotherhood members and Iran's "Supreme Leader," Ayatollah Khamenei, was not democratically elected and, in fact, was a product of the anti-American 1979 revolution. Nonetheless, according to Oren, Obama concluded that they represent the true democratic will of the Muslim world, along with other milder Islamists like Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.


The Post-Colonialists

Obama's instincts are not his alone.

The Cairo speech is an expression of American post-colonialism as derived from an important strand of western academia typified by the late professor of literary criticism, Edward Said, and historian Rashid Khalidi, among others.  

Obama grew up in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and through the decay of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States toward the end of the twentieth-century.  He attended university at a time when veterans of both those fights held influence and tenureship throughout the Western academe and who generally looked upon American and Western influence throughout the non-western world as one of imperialism, racism, and theft of natural resources.

Oren says this:
Their ideas found fullest expression in Orientalism, a book published in 1978 by Edward Said, a Columbia literary critic and spokesman for the Palestinian cause.  Said denounced Middle East experts - the Orientalists - as "racist, imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentic," and accused them of abetting the region's conquests by the West.  Only by identifying "wholeheartedly with the Arabs" and becoming "genuinely engaged and sympathetic... to the Islamic world" could these scholars redeem themselves.  They had to shun traditional Middle Eastern professors such as Bernard Lewis and reject Israel, which Said maligned as the ultimate Orientalist project.
Thus according to Said and any number of currently working academics - including Jewish ones who claim to be pro-Israel - Israel represents a western, racist imperial intrusion onto the land of other people.


So, really, just who is the villain here?

The Villain

If anyone intends to use Oren's book to castigate or malign the Obama administration there is plenty of material here to mine.

Do not be shy.  Go right ahead.

I do not need to draw bullet points, just go into the index and choose the pet peeve of your choice.

{Mine is the apology to Erdogan which Oren actually approved of.}

An important truth of this book, however, is that while Oren is unsurprisingly kinder to Benjamin Netanyahu than he is to Barack Obama, he is also more than fair to Barack Obama.  This is not a book intended to smear anyone.  Oren is a well-respected historian and I, as someone who follows the conflict closely, found his portrayal of his central characters, including himself, to be decent.

Obama is not a villain in this treatment because the writer, in terms of Obama versus Netanyahu, is not dealing in Good Guys versus Bad Guys.  He is doing his best to be fair while, simultaneously, keeping an eye on his own political future, in the coming years, within Israel as a Knesset member with the moderate Kulanu party.

If there is a villain in Oren's story it is not Barack Obama nor, obviously, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The real villain is the news media.

Again and again throughout the book Oren castigates the news media for distorting the truth and Matti Friedman's important contribution to this subject did not go beneath notice.

Oren writes:
Israel sells.  Arabs massacring Arabs in, say, Syria is a footnote, while a Palestinian child shot by Israeli soldiers is a scoop.  The racist undertones are clear but the reality, irrefutable.  And no one understands it better than the terrorists, Hamas and Hezbollah.  If they fire at Israeli civilians, Irael will retaliate and invariably kill the Palestnian and Lebanese civilians behind whom the terrorists hide.  The pictures will be gruesome, and if insufficiently so, the terrorists will manufacture them, exhuming bodies from morgues and graveyards.  The staged images, picked up by editorless blogs proliferate on the Internet.  Many will be reproduced, uncritically, by the mainstream press.
Oren has many significant criticisms of Barack Obama and understands his flaws as a product of western post-colonial ideology which, in my view, is correct.  The problem is not that Obama has malice toward Israel, but that he honestly believes that the Arabs have been abused under Israel due to circumstances that neither could well control.  Obama is sympathetic toward the plight of the Jews in the Middle East, but he is also sympathetic toward the local Arab population who he believes have been displaced and occupied.

The End

Ultimately the book is a terrific read because, throughout, Oren is on the run and he is a man with a mission and that mission is defending and protecting the Jewish State of Israel.  His take on Barack Obama, however, is fair.  He gives Obama credit where credit is due, but he also criticizes Obama in an honest and straight-forward manner, which is why this highly sensitive administration takes such objections to the book.

The main criticism that he has of Obama is that he is an ideologically-driven president who simply does not understand the Middle East.  Obama hoped that an unclenched American hand could meet an unclenched Islamic hand.  This is an admirable goal for any president of the United States, but the only happy faces that Obama is finding in the Middle East are in the faces of the Iranian ayatollahs.

And that is not good for either Israel or the United States or Europe or the Sunni-Arab states.

No one is happy with the Iran nuke deal aside from the Iranians, Barack Obama, and some within the Democratic Party.

Oren certainly is not.



Michael Lumish is a blogger at the Israel Thrives blog as well as a regular contributor/blogger at Times of Israel and Jews Down Under.

Dictator Abbas grooming Saeb Erekat to be next leader

Mahmoud Abbas is still a dictator:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday appointed Saeb Erekat to the post of secretary-general of the PLO.

Erekat, who served as chief PLO negotiator for the past two decades, will replace Yasser Abed Rabbo, whom Abbas fired last week.

The move improves Erekat’s chances of eventually becoming head of the PA.

Abed Rabbo, a veteran PLO official and former information minister, was fired after falling out with Abbas.

Palestinian sources claimed that Abed Rabbo had joined forces with former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad and ousted Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan to undermine Abbas. The sources claimed that Abed Rabbo had recently visited the United Arab Emirates, where he held secret talks with Dahlan.

Dahlan has been living in the Gulf country ever since Abbas expelled him from Fatah four years ago. Abbas has accused Dahlan of conspiring against the PA leadership, murder and financial corruption – charges the latter has strongly denied.

Abbas’s decision to appoint Erekat to the top job is seen by some Palestinians as a significant promotion for the chief negotiator. They see it as an indication of Abbas’s full confidence in Erekat and that he considers him fit to serve as the next PA president.
Middle East Monitor adds:
Secretary of the Executive Committee of the PLO Yasser Abed Rabbo said Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas does not have the power to sack him, Quds Press reported yesterday.

He said he was "surprised by the news that Abbas had sacked him" and reiterated that he did not receive any information about this or the reason behind the action. He said media outlets had informed him that Abbas was planning to take this step.

Abed Rabbo added: "Abbas does not have the power to sack me. This is the power of the Executive Committee. If it planned to sack me, this must be in a general meeting and it must be clearly announced."
Abbas is the chairman of the PLO Executive Committee, head of Fatah, President of the Palestinian Authority, and President of the "State of Palestine." But the Palestinian Authority and "State of Palestine" reports to the PLO anyway, so he holds all the cards despite the pretense of democracy and procedures.

But he is now 80 yeas old and it seems fitting for him to groom a fellow liar Saeb Erekat as his successor, since he has no one else he trusts.


Here is an infographic I made in 2012 that I believe is still accurate:


Terrorist celebrates his masters degree in Israeli prison

Residents of Jenin are celebrating Islam Salih Jarrar, who recently received his masters degree in Israel Studies from Al Quds University.

He received the degree while in an Israeli prison. He was mentored by Marwan Barghouti.

Jarrar is a member of Hamas.

Yes, Hamas terrorists can still earn their advanced degrees in those awful, inhumane Israel prisons.

Jarrar is serving a term of nine life sentencesfor his role in a terror attack in Safed in 2002. It appears that the attack was a suicide bombing in August of that year:

Aug 4, 2002 - Nine people were killed and some 50 wounded in a suicide bombing of Egged bus No. 361 traveling from Haifa to Safed at the Meron junction in northern Israel. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

The victims: Mordechai Yehuda Friedman, 24, of Ramat Beit Shemesh; Sari Goldstein, 21, of Karmiel; Maysoun Amin Hassan, 19, of Sajur; Marlene Menahem, 22, of Moshav Safsufa; Sgt.-Maj. Roni Ghanem, 28, of Maghar; Sgt. Yifat Gavrieli, 19, of Mitzpe Adi; Sgt. Omri Goldin, 20, of Mitzpe Aviv; Adelina Kononen, 37, of the Philippines; Rebecca Roga, 40, of the Philippines.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

07/04 Links: Saudi prince to visit Israel (*hoax*); London neo-Nazi protest met with large counter-rally

From Ian:

Saudi prince to visit Israel in unprecedented overture
[It appears this is a hoax, JPost changed the headline to "False online rumors suggests Saudi prince to visit Israel", then deleted the article h/t Zaba]

In an unprecedented overture, Saudi Arabian prince and wealthy media tycoon Talal Bin Waleed announced Thursday that he is planning a seven-day-trip to the Jewish State and urged all the Arab nations in the region to "strive for a more peaceful, prosperous and homogenous Middle East," according to Saudi Arabian news media.
"All my Muslim brothers and sisters must understand that it became a moral imperative for all inhabitants of war-torn Middle-East, namely Arabs, to desist their absurd hostility toward Jewish people," Okaz reported the prince saying, an Arabic-language Saudi news agency.
"My sovereign, King Salman has instructed me to open a direct dialogue with Israel's intellectual (community), building amicable ties with our Israeli neighbors," Bin Waleed added.
Bin Waleed also mentioned in his statements that he hopes his visit would herald a new beginning in "peace and fraternity" between Israel and its Arab neighbors, stressing the importance of fostering better relations between each other's military and intelligence communities.
The Saudi prince said that he plans to pray at the Al-Aksa mosque located on top of the Temple Mount when he visits Jerusalem's old city, the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site in Islam.
It was not clear when the Saudi prince would embark on his visit to Israel.
London neo-Nazi protest met with large counter-rally
A neo-Nazi rally in central London on Saturday afternoon was met with a large counter-protest by Jewish and anti-racism groups.
Only about two dozen people showed up for the neo-Nazi demonstration ostensibly against the “Jewification” of London’s Golders Green neighborhood — where the protest was originally scheduled to be held — and Shomrim, the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood watch group. The area has a Jewish population of 40 percent.
Authorities moved the rally to Richmond Terrace in Westminster instead, fearing public disorder.
The new location was secured by some 200 police officers who cordoned off an area for the neo-Nazis.
They displayed Palestinian and Confederate flags and waved several national banners, including those with the “White Pride” slogan.
The neo-Nazis were soon outnumbered by counter-protesters, numbering some 200 according to media reports, and shouting slogans such as: “Nazis off our streets” and “We are black, white, Asian and we’re Jews, and there’s many, many more of us than you,” according to a report in the Evening Standard. (h/t Effect)
Ben-Dror Yemini: Saying one thing and doing another
There is something very despairing in the free world's war against global jihad and the terrorism it produces. We should pay close attention particularly to France, a country that has turned into a terror victim and does not shy from making blunt statements about it, including a rare recognition that this is a "war of civilizations." Normally, European leaders are afraid of even uttering this factual truth. Not in France, though. They stress there, and rightly so, that this isn't a war against Muslims, but against jihad. And they don't try to hide it.
The problem is that France says one thing and does the complete opposite. The most important of the boats that attempted to reach the Gaza Strip this week was the Marianne. All of the useful idiots were on it. The boat sailed with the aid of the French NGO Platform for Palestine (Plateforme des ONG françaises pour la Palestine). Practically all of the organizations under this umbrella are a part of the BDS campaign against Israel.
This platform, as the umbrella organization, issued a call for boycott against Israel and led the campaign to pressure the French mobile company Orange to cut all ties with Israel. The problem is that this organization gets funding from the French government through the French Development Agency (AFD). Is this how you fight radicalization?
Gaza flotillas, as we've previously learned, are a result of instructions coming from the Hamas regime, which has been recognized as a terror organization by the European Union. The Hamas charter openly calls for the annihilation of Jews. And not just Jews. Hamas television also airs propaganda that says: "We must kill the Jews, we must kill the Christians, we must kill the Communists - every last one of them."

Friday, July 03, 2015

07/03 Links Pt2: Netanyahu: UNHRC cares nothing for human rights; Flotilla Brought Hate, Not Aid

From Ian:

Vote approving UN’s Gaza war probe a case of much talk, few consequences
It came as no surprise whatsoever that the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday approved a resolution backing the controversial McGowan Davis report on last summer’s 50-day Israel-Hamas war.
The European Union deliberated until virtually the last minute on how to vote, but eventually decided to throw its full support behind the resolution welcoming a report that Israel considers to be deeply biased and skewed. The desire among the Europeans to speak with one voice eventually led even Germany to vote yes, in what will be perceived as a particularly painful sting in Jerusalem. As so often happens, only the US rejected the resolution.
But even if Israel had succeeded in splitting the European vote into many yeses and a few abstentions, the automatic Arab majority in the 47-member council meant that the end result was never in doubt.
Israeli diplomats in Geneva spent many hours trying to persuade their colleagues to vote against the resolution. Several Israeli politicians, from the coalition and opposition, sent letters urging council members to reject draft resolution A/HRC/29/L/35. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited the ambassadors of the countries sitting on the council to Jerusalem for a special briefing (though according to a diplomat who was there, he spoke mostly about Iran).
The bad news is obvious: Once again, Israel was let down not only by the usual suspects, but also by countries that it considers its friends.
During the debates that preceded the vote on the resolution, Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba and other countries with questionable human rights records voted against resolutions condemning Syria and Belarus. Yet on Friday they all happily voted in favor of a text that, at best, put Israel and Hamas on the same moral plane. (Since the McGowan Davis report strives to differentiate between Hamas and what it calls “Palestinian armed groups,” it actually spares Hamas the kind of direct criticism it levels at Israel.)
Full text of UNHRC resolution on Gaza war probe
The following is the full text of Friday’s UN Human Rights Council resolution backing last week’s report by the Gaza Conflict Commission of Inquiry. It is titled “Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”:
Netanyahu: UNHRC cares nothing for human rights
Israel officials on Friday tore into the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption of a report on last summer’s war between Israel and the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip. The report charged that Israel, as well as Hamas, may have committed war crimes during Operation Protective Edge.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to the vote — which was supported by all European members of the UNHRC — that “the UN’s Human Rights Council cares little about the facts and less still about human rights.”
He added: “On a day when Israel is hit by fire from the Sinai, when Islamic State is carrying out cruel terror attacks inside Egypt, in Syria [President Bashar] Assad is slaughtering his people and in Iran the number of arbitrary executions rises on an annual basis, the council decides to condemn Israel that has committed no sins. Israel will continue to defend its citizens from those who call for its destruction and act every day to achieve this.”
Archival documents reveal secrets of mission to rescue Israeli hostages at Entebbe
The Defense Ministry released the military operations log for Operation Entebbe on Thursday, which marked 39 years since the daring mission to rescue Israeli hostages being held in Uganda.
The IDF Archives also released the handwritten notes passed between then-defense minister Shimon Peres and thenprime minister Yitzhak Rabin in which Peres’s apprehension over the fate of the mission was evident. In one such note Peres wrote to Rabin: “How does the operation start? – They say it is impossible, the timing isn’t right and the government won’t approve it – the only question I’ve seen, and continue to see, is how will it end?” Another note has Peres suggesting changes to Rabin’s plan for the raid at Entebbe Airport.
“The last improvement in the plan, instead of an airport vehicle, a big Mercedes will enter with flags. [Ugandan president] Idi Amin is returning home from Mauritius. I don’t know if it will be possible, but it’s interesting.”
Rabin replied to Peres’s suggestion by asking him, “When is Idi Amin returning from Mauritius? What is the Mercedes for?” The archives also released the video of the Israeli hostages being welcomed back home after the rescue. In the video, Peres and the defense leadership are seen waiting on the runway at Ben-Gurion Airport for the Israel Air Force Boeing 707 with the rescued passengers on board.
Operation Entebbe had the military codename Operation Thunderball, and was later called Operation Yonatan, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother Lt.-Col.
Yonatan Netanyahu, the only IDF soldier killed during the mission that he led, sought to save 84 Jewish passengers and 12 French crew members who had been aboard an Air France flight that terrorists hijacked while en route from Tel Aviv to Paris.