There are several items of news requiring attention that can, in one respect or another, knock you off balance.
But let us start with this indisputable winner, because it will take the time required to read the rest of my post before you get your breath back.
Most of you probably know that a UK soldier, not in uniform, was killed yesterday on the street in broad daylight by two Islamic terrorists — both of whom are believed to be native British, and at least one reportedly a convert to Islam — who then proceeded to behead him with a meat cleaver, while calling “Allahu akbar.” Eye witnesses described the victim as having been hacked “like a piece of meat.” The terrorists were shot by police, taken to a hospital, and then arrested.
Many of the sites I pulled up when searching for data on this referred to a “likely terrorist event,” or “what appears to be terrorism.” So tentative, so cautious.
A British security officer said it seemed to be “ideologically motivated.”
Today, British Prime Minister David Cameron said (emphasis added):
“This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country…”
Now it strikes me that Cameron is just a tad afraid of guys like this. He did allude to “terrorism,” but then he quickly disassociated what happened from Islam.
Well…let me tell you what one of the attackers said (emphasis added):
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. Your people will never be safe. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day.
“We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth…You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you. Do you think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns? Do you think your politicians are going to die?
“No, it’s going to be the average guy like you, and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so we, so you can all live in peace.”
These terrorists, reports indicate, speak with a London accent. But they are of Nigerian heritage. The “us” is Muslims in Nigeria. What is clear here is the threat. The threat against the British people generally and against Cameron and the British government specifically.
So lets jump to a report from three years ago by American Robert Leiken, author of Europe’s Angry Muslims. In this report for CNN, entitled, “London breeding Islamic terrorists,” he writes:
“Since the mid-90s, London has been a haven for foreign jihadi preachers, organizers, agitators and propagandists, many of them recipients of generous welfare benefits.
“‘Londonistan’ attracted second-generation British Muslims who spurned the folk Islam and customs of their immigrant parents but were repelled by a British culture they regarded as decadent and racist…
“About 100,000 British university students are Muslims. About a quarter of them belong to Islamic Societies, and half of those are active members.
“With the ascendancy of identity politics in Britain, Islamic Societies, rather like African-American student associations of yore, have become the hub of students professing to seek ‘social justice.’ But their idea of justice is to indict as the world’s real terrorists the U.S. and Israel…
“Islamic Society members vary widely. They may be moderate Sufis, apolitical pietists, democratic Islamists, windy radicals or extremists like Abdul Mutallab. Many of them believe that violence is acceptable if their religion is under attack, which is little comfort, because the central plank of radical Islam is that their religion is under attack worldwide…
“But if we begin to point fingers at Britain, we will need two hands. The danger from Britain has its source in nearly every institution in British society: a Parliament that cannot pass counterterrorism legislation, police that do not arrest because evidence is not strong enough to convince a British court, security agencies that do not disclose to the media information about suspects, Islamic organizations that tell Muslims that such silence proves that the suspects have been falsely accused, a press that allows the public to believe such claims, jurors who then hold prosecutors to impossible standards and a once-glorious culture of tolerance that has lost its bearings.
“London has become a fertile field in the jihadi playground, along with Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia.
“Our great friend has allowed herself to become a strategic resource to our common enemies and a liability in the struggle against terrorism.”
So for Cameron to disassociate this terror attack from Islam is extremely disingenuous. For him to have cited, as he did, ostensibly “brave” pieties about how in Britain they know how to deal with such attacks by going on with their lives is pathetic. For he is refusing to grapple with Britain’s essential problem. And in refusing he becomes part of the problem.
London is in a whole lot of trouble.
Well, Secretary John Kerry is here, so can peace negotiations be far behind? Actually, yes…
In greeting Kerry today, PM Netanyahu said they would be talking about Syria and Iran…
“But above all, what we want to do is restart the peace talks with the Palestinians.
“It’s something I want, it’s something you want. It’s something I hope the Palestinians want as well and we ought to be successful for a simple reason: When there’s a will, there’s a way.”
I know. This is hard to swallow. But consider how blatant it is. With Russian rockets in Syria and the possibility of a nuclear Iran sitting on his shoulders, is it remotely plausible that “most of all” he wants to restart peace talks? This is Netanyahu playing his game, and playing it well enough so that Kerry voiced appreciation for his “seriousness.”
This is what it’s about for Netanyahu: appearing serious on the issue before the (very biased) court of world opinion. He’s got to be the good guy, to Abbas’s foot-dragging bad guy. Presumably, there are diplomatic benefits to this, even if negotiations never happen.
Seems that our chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni, is also playing a game. She was out there today cheerleading for talks with great fervor. But apparently she didn’t count on what her close advisor, Tal Becker, of the Foreign Ministry, would tell Maariv :
He doesn’t believe an agreement with the Palestinian Arabs will be possible for several years. In his opinion, this is the fault of Abbas, who is “not enthusiastic about returning to talks” and is “unwilling to pay the political price” for entering into serious negotiations.
Most likely, folks, there you have it. Kerry is still mum on what various innovative plans he has brought with him to “jump start” the talks.
Yesterday I wrote about the difficulty of assessing Netanyahu’s true intentions — the quote above being yet another case in point. There is one matter on which he is taking a proper stand that I didn’t mention in the course of that discussion and would like to return to now.
On May 16, I wrote about the decision of the government to attempt to apply legal status to four communities that had been considered “unauthorized.” You can see details of the situation here:.
There is no question but that the fact that Moshe Ya’alon is now defense minister has a good deal to do with this government position, yet it is impossible to believe that this situation would have taken shape as it has if the prime minister had not signed off on it.
According to Times of Israel, Kerry contacted Netanyahu on this directly and protested. This interferes with his “peace plans” you see — because Israel is supposed to be giving up (Heaven forbid) Judea and Samaria, not legalizing additional communities. The American Embassy in Tel Aviv also came out with a statement regarding the fact that this action was not constructive for peace.
There has been no stalling, however, no backing down, on the part of the Israeli government that I have been able to discover. Yesterday, representatives for the state had to appear at the High Court to answer the petition of Peace Now regarding the need to take down those four unauthorized communities. The state presented its position as previously outlined. The Court has not yet ruled.
There is however, concern about what went on in the courtroom:
For the very first time ever (Peace Now chair Yariv Oppenheimer said it’s something he’s never seen in all his years of petitioning the court on this issue), a representative of the US Embassy, Andrew Shut, attended the court session. Legally, he is within his rights to do so, but there is the suggestion of impropriety.
Nachi Eyal, Director of the Legal Forum for Israel protested that:
“..the very presence of a diplomat in a legal debate about internal matters of the State of Israel” aims to exert pressure and influence the judges’ decision.
“I think there is unhealthy and inappropriate intervention here on the part of the United States. What do the Americans want there? Do they want the judges to see that [the Americans] are there to oversee them?”
This sure sent my blood pressure up.
Syria. The situation remains exceedingly volatile. Reports have come through that the Russian S-300 missiles may be on their way to Syria very soon — but no one is talking and this cannot be confirmed. A very, very troublesome possibility.
In the town of Qusayr, a major battle has been waging for days, with outcome still uncertain. Both sides are claiming imminent victory and are receiving reinforcements. There is no question but that Iranians and members of Hezbollah are in the midst of the fight, alongside the forces of Assad. This town has been in rebel hands for some time, and Syrian troops are attempting to regain control there. The significance of this battle is that Assad’s control of the town would clear the way for a direct line into Lebanon for transferring weapons to Hezbollah.
Syria’s national television reported on Tuesday that Abu Omar, a top commander with the jihadist al-Nusra Front, was killed in battle in Qusayr.
Top Israeli military personnel have warned Assad that he will be responsible if he escalates the situation with Israel. And there have been warnings, as well, on the part of Israeli military regarding the fact that matters could seriously heat up at any point. We here in Israel are sitting on the edge…
In a turn-around of its previous position, German intelligence now believes Assad will hold out. You can see the assessment here:
One man who does not think it is a good thing is Ephraim Inbar, Director of the BESA Center. His concern is in breaking the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis.
I am not alone in my anguished conclusion (acknowledging that there is no good answer) that better Assad than the jihadist world-domination maniacs who would likely take over if Assad fell. But in the interests of presenting a balanced picture, I share here the link to Inbar’s piece on the issue:
And then, in closing, a thoughtful piece by Aaron David Miller, “The Myth of the Arab State” (emphasis added):
“From North Africa to the Levant, a process of state decentralization, perhaps even fragmentation, is underway that will have negative consequences for American interests, and there may be very little the U.S. can do about it.
“The three elements required for democratic life in any form simply aren’t evident in the Arab world: leaders who rise above sectarian, religious and ethnic affiliations and govern in the best interests of the nation as a whole; institutions that are deemed authoritative, legitimate and inclusive and not mere playthings in the elites’ struggle for power; and an accommodative process that contains and manages even the bitterest of debates without spilling over into violence or political pressures that paralyze national life.”
Miller does not deal in any serious way with the historical background to these Arab states, which were, in some considerable measure, established by the Western powers by drawing arbitrary border lines for political reasons and without regard to internal cohesiveness. Nor does he talk about Islam as potentially a destabilizing factor in this situation.