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Arlene from Israel

It’s obvious that many of the happenings I write about, rather than being discrete events, are snapshots of a continuing situation.  And so, I must return to these continuing situations repeatedly.

It is only a couple of days since I wrote about Obama’s horrific policies regarding Iran.  I said then that every time I indicate that the situation has deteriorated, it proceeds to get even worse.  And hello!  Here we are again.

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With regard to the negotiations, I had last written about the need for Iran to reveal all past nuclear military activity. This was being insisted upon by the IAEA, for base-lining the Iranian nuclear program was a critical prerequisite to any verification scheme.  As recently as April 8, John Kerry stated definitively that there would be no final deal without this Iranian disclosure.

This Kerry statement was in response to news that the Obama administration was restructuring the demand because Iran was balking.  What the WSJ had reported was that the West was prepared to “frontload sanctions relief and insist the Iranians come clean some time later lest they face snapback.”  This means removing sanctions before the Iranians have provided the required information, and makes it enormously unlikely that the Iranians would ever be forthcoming with anything.  The “snapback” that Obama refers to so blithely is a farce.

That’s the recent history of the situation.

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And here we have the latest:

Yesterday, Kerry addressed the State Department press corps by teleconference. Michael Gordon of the NY Times raised a question about whether issues concerning atomic work by Iran’s military would “need to be fully resolved before sanctions are eased or released or removed or suspended on Iran as part of that agreement.”

Kerry’s response, in part (my emphasis added):

“Michael, the possible military dimensions, frankly, gets distorted a little bit in some of the discussion, in that we’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another. We know what they did. 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….”

http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/06/243892.htm


Credit: Alex Wong/Getty

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WHAT?  “We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge…”  “Absolute,” yet, not just ordinary knowledge.  Talk about overplaying your hand.

You do not have to have a doctorate in political science to know this cannot be.  For if the US had absolute knowledge of what Iran has been doing regarding military nuclear development until now, why would there have been all those discussions about getting Iran to reveal information?  How is it that this spring IAEA Director Yukiya Amano declared that Iran was withholding key information and that thus, his agency was “not in a position…to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities”?

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/3/2/un-nuclear-watchdog-says-iran-still-withholding-key-information.html

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Onmi Ceren of The Israel Project believes this line by Kerry was rather inevitable.  Once the US government caved on their promise to secure information on what Iran has been doing before easing sanctions, this was the next logical step: See, we don’t have to get the Iranians to reveal pertinent military data, we can ease sanctions, because we already have all the information we need.

My friends, this is not simply a distortion of the facts or a creative reinterpretation of the situation.  This is out and out falsehood. The secretary of state has offered a lie to the American people on an issue of critical importance.

Ceren catalogues some of the information about Iran that is not known:

[] how far Iran got on testing nuclear detonators

[] whether Iran maintains the infrastructure to do further tests and build on that work

[] whether Iran diverted nuclear material, including enriched material, for past or future clandestine purposes

[] what nuclear assets and knowledge Iran acquired from North Korea and is keeping on the shelf

[] same about nuclear assets and knowledge acquired from Russia

[] how Iran skirted inspectors in the past and whether they could repeat those tricks in the future

[] what the Iranians managed to destroy when it literally paved over the Parchin site where it did nuclear work

And this is just a partial list.

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The question then is whether the American people will sit still for this.  Will you?

I would suggest that a hue and cry go up – and that everyone who is incensed and frightened give voice to this fact in all the ways I regularly talk about: letters to the editor, talkbacks on the Internet, postings on websites and FB pages and discussion lines, etc.

But here I also suggest something else to American citizens: Contact your Senators and Congresspersons.

Express your outrage and your concern in a brief and polite message.

Of course some of your Senators and Congresspersons are already solidly in opposition to Obama’s plans.  But it does not hurt for them to hear from you anyway: thank them for their positions and ask them to stand strong for the sake of the country and the world.

Other Senators and Congresspersons may be on the edge – not quite prepared to stand against Obama, but not happy about his policies.  They, most of all, need to hear from you.

I would guess that there are likely some Senators and Congresspersons who have been minimally supportive of Obama (or reluctant to buck him, at any rate), but are now thoroughly enraged by the position Kerry has just embraced.  As Ceren writes: “It’s a collapse of the administration’s core promise to lawmakers on any deal…The administration told Congress to hold off pressuring Iran by declaring they were going to bring home a deal in which the Iranians capitulated on PMDs [possible military dimensions]. They failed. Now they’re claiming it never mattered anyway.”

But don’t rely on the likelihood that they are furious – contact them anyway.

For your Congresspersons:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

For your Senators:

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

And please, suggest to others that they do the same.

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Then let me return here to the matter of the Druze community in Syria that is endangered by islamists – primarily the Nusra Front, which is loosely connected to al-Qaeda.

Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front

Credit: Reuters

It is anything but a simple situation.  Yesterday Nusra Front launched an attack on the village of Hader, home to 25,000 Druze who have until now been loyal to Assad.  Hader is right on the other side of Mt. Hermon, across from the Israeli Druze village of Majd al-Shams.

For an interval of time following the attack, matters were said to have calmed down. But that was fleeting. The latest report, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, is that Hader has been surrounded by rebel forces.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4669701,00.html

Alarmed Israeli Druze are demonstrating in large numbers, and have raised some $2 million to purchase weapons so that their cousins in Syria can defend themselves.  Additionally, MK Ayoub Kara (Likud) is seeking permission for Israeli Druze to cross the border to lend humanitarian assistance in Hader. Israeli law forbids Israeli citizens from entering enemy territory. There has been talk of an IDF hospital for Druze to be set up at the border, but there seem to be some doubts about the viability of this.

Israel has sent a message to Nusra Front via the Free Syria Army, warning them to leave the Druze alone.  Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said yesterday that the IDF would act to protect refugees [read Druze refugees] fleeing to the area near the Israeli border from being slaughtered.  He is obviously not eager, however, to see hundreds of thousands of Syrian Druze flock to the border and attempt to cross into Israel.

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While the focus at the moment is on the Druze, implications of the movement of Nusra Front into the Syrian Golan area are even larger: There is concern that this group may be seeking to take Hader as a first step in moving to control the Golan region of Syria immediately adjacent to Israel.  Israel has, until now, scrupulously avoided direct military involvement in Syria (other than launching a missile or mortar into Syria in response to munitions shot into Israel).  That there is now concern about the situation at the highest levels of the IDF is clear; matters may well be shifting.

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-sends-message-to-Nusra-Front-Cease-attacks-on-Syrias-Druse-406183

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There have been press reports in the last couple of days regarding indirect talks between Hamas and Israel – via European contacts or Arab states (with Qatar said to be involved).  It is all too vague at present to be able to make definitive sense of what is going on (or not going on). The rumor mill is working over-time.

One of the things that has been suggested is that a long-term (five or ten year) “truce” is being discussed  I felt a fleeting alarm, on reading these reports, lest this appeal to some Israeli decision makers.

One analysis had it that the dynamic between Israel and Hamas is shifting because of the presence in Gaza of more radical jihadi movements.  I think that may be so. And then, with the great concern about what’s going to be happening in the north, it might seem to make sense to take the possibility of conflict in the south out of the defense equation for an extended period.  I could imagine some thinking this way.

Whatever the case, whatever the perceived benefits, I say unequivocally that it is a very bad idea.  For what is being referred to as a “truce,” is in the Muslim ideology, in Arabic, a hudna.  This is a contracted period of calm, agreed to by the Muslim party, which is suffering a disadvantage in terms of strength.  The goal is not permanent peace, but rather the ability to buy enough time to garner additional strength.  This harkens back to Mohammad.  At the end of the hudna, the Muslim party attacks.

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A quick look at some of the possible parameters of a “truce,” as they are being discussed.  What Hamas wants is opening of crossings and easing of the sea blockade, as well as reconstruction (which means bringing in construction materials that can be diverted for rocket development or bunkers to store rockets).  They would also demand that there be no Israeli fly-overs above Gaza.  Israel, at least one source suggested, would require absolute quiet – no “drizzle” of rockets.

The catch is obvious: Hamas would have to refrain from launching rockets (would appear “peaceful”), but would find ways to smuggle in rockets and rocket parts via the open seaways and to continue to manufacture rockets and train troops. In fact, I have not read anything that suggests that as part of a truce Hamas would be required to stop establishing a stockpile of weapons.  Even now Hamas is preparing for eventual war. At the end of five or ten years, they would be ever so much better equipped to hit Israel. They have the patience to wait.

A very bad idea.

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At any rate, Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya denies that there is a truce being discussed.  It’s just a “distraction” he says.  Let’s hope so.

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While we are on the subject of Hamas, I share additional news – also lacking in firm details and actually providing a bit of comedy relief:

Abbas has announced the dissolution of the Fatah-Hamas unity government that had been established last year.  He accepted the resignation of unity government prime minister Rami Hamdallah and told him to form a new government, likely to consist of politicians and not technocrats.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4669631,00.html

Credit: Irishtimes

There are reports that this was in part because Abbas was miffed about Hamas-Israel meetings.

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Meanwhile…

“’Hamas rejects any one-sided change in the government without the agreement of all parties,’ Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.

“’No one told us anything about any decision to change and no one consulted with us about any change in the unity government. Fatah acted on its own in all regards.’”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-rejects-unilateral-dissolution-of-palestinian-unity/

Wait?  If Fatah decides to quit the unity government, do they need Hamas’s permission to do so?

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We’re on a roll, so now consider this:

Tonight begins the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, during which time observant Muslims fast from sunup to sundown.  Israel is making a number of “gestures” for this month.  Including making it easier for Muslims to travel to the Temple Mount, in order to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Officials of the Palestinian Authority are having second thoughts about this however: “top officials in the Palestinian Authority have been calling for PA Arabs to boycott the Al-Aqsa Mosque – for fear that Arabs will spend money while they are there, enhancing the Israeli economy.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/196881#.VYHW05uJjIV

This is in the spirit of BDS, obviously. But if they want to stay away, that is very fine with us. They are going to have a final meeting on this matter, and my guess is that in the end they will encourage people to go.  But talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.  How crazy it all is.

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