02/4/15

Horrendous Truths Unfold

Arlene from Israel

What I write about here will not in its essence be a surprise to many of my readers.  And yet, there is no way to confront what is going on without a sense of horror.  The reality is being exposed, one ugly report followed by another:

We start with this, which broke yesterday:

According to Israeli officials, European diplomats are saying that the US, which has made significant concessions, is close to striking a deal with Iran that would permit them to keep up to 6,500 centrifuges in return for “guaranteeing regional stability” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/02/03/eu-concerned-over-report-of-major-us-concessions-to-iranians-in-nuclear-negotiations/

This is insane.  How can the source of the greatest terrorist unrest in the world “guarantee stability”?

This deal would put Iran about three months from creating a bomb.  What is more, apparently the US is also considering a “time limit,”so that the “restrictions” would last only for 10 to 15 years, after which Iran could do what it wished.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-us-deal-will-leave-iran-with-6500-centrifuges-spinning-months-from-a-bomb/

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Now, it might be, as some say, that Obama is doing this because he covets the “historical legacy” of having “brought Iran into the family of nations” (a la Nixon and China).  And I suppose it’s possible that he hopes Iran will cool its instigation of terrorism briefly, in order to allow him to say has accomplished positive things without having to commit the US military in a significant way.  But when you tally the implications of this report with others, below, it appears that he is on the other side, content to see the destruction of his own nation, as well as others that he should be eager to protect.  This is a surreal conclusion, but a very distinct possibility.

Word is that the Saudis, whom Iran seeks to control, are thoroughly enraged with what Obama is doing.  In the end, whatever his motivations, his behavior is exceedingly destructive.  (Please, do not write to me to tell me what Obama’s reasons are.  I am tracking his behavior.)

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I do have a question for which there seems to be no satisfactory answer.  In theory, it is P5 + 1 – the permanent members of the Security Council, US, UK, France, Russia and China, plus Germany – negotiating with Iran.  So, if the Europeans are deeply dissatisfied with the US position, why can they not block it or override it?  The best answer I’ve been able to secure is that the US, while cutting Iran significant slack, wields significant power with regard to fellow negotiating partners.  Apparently, what Obama says, goes.

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How can anyone with an ounce of sense in his head object to Netanyahu’s scheduled speech to the Congress?  What he has to say may be immeasurably important.  Yet now I hear that some prominent democrats, Vice President Biden among them, are thinking that they might not attend.  Who knows what arm-twisting has ensued from the White House, but it would be most unfortunate if they were not present.  They might disagree in the end,  but they have a responsibility to be open to hearing the information Prime Minister Netanyahu will seek to impart. That responsibility, in the face of huge dangers to the world, trumps political considerations.

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As if the above were not enough, just under a month ago, the German weekly Der Spiegel broke with news (emphasis added):

”New intelligence suggests that Bashar al-Assad is still trying to built the bomb. And he may be getting help from North Korea and Iran…

”…secret information obtained by SPIEGEL indicates that the world is once again being misled by Assad. Syria’s dictator has not given up his dream of an atomic weapon and has apparently built a new nuclear facility at a secret location. It is an extremely unsettling piece of news

Analysts say that the Syrian atomic weapon program has continued in a secret, underground location..Furthermore, a new reactor or an enrichment facility has very likely been built at the site — a development of incalculable geopolitical consequences.

Intelligence agency findings indicate that the material [uranium, etc.] was moved to a well-hidden underground location just west of the city of Qusayr, not even two kilometers from the border with Lebanon.

“…the clearest proof that it is a nuclear facility comes from radio traffic recently intercepted by a network of spies. A voice identified as belonging to a high-ranking Hezbollah functionary can be heard referring to the ‘atomic factory’ and mentions Qusayr…

Work performed at the site by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is also mentioned in the intercepted conversations…”

http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=66224

What was that, again, about Obama seeking Iran to “guarantee regional stability” in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria?

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And how about this, by Khalid Abu Toameh, who wrote, “U.S. Seen in Middle East as Ally of Terrorists” (emphasis added)”:

“While the Egyptian government has been waging war on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic radical groups, the U.S. Administration and some Europeans are continuing to hamper efforts to combat terrorism.

Many Egyptians and moderate Arabs and Muslims were shocked to hear that the U.S. State Department recently hosted a Muslim Brotherhood delegation…

The State Department’s hosting of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders has outraged Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Sisi, who has been waging a relentless war against the organization over the past year…

’If the White House is out to offend some of its closest Arab allies and is intent on heightening their suspicions, it’s succeeded,’ wrote Middle East expert Linda S. Heard. ‘If there’s a plot, then it’s unfolding,’ she added. ‘Just two days after the controversial visit, the Brotherhood called for a war against their fellow Egyptians.’

“’The U.S. Administration is continuing to jeopardize its relations with Egypt by appeasing Muslim Brotherhood,’ remarked columnist Ezzat Ibrahim. ‘The Muslim Brotherhood is seeking to return to the political arena through the American door and terrorist attacks. The U.S. policy appears to be devious and unreliable.’

“Another Egyptian columnist, Mohamed Salmawi, launched a scathing attack on the U.S. Administration; he accused it of deception and double standards. He said that the meeting between U.S. officials and Muslim Brotherhood leaders exposes the U.S. Administration’s deceptive policy toward Islamic terror groups.

“’The U.S. Administration says it is combating these groups at home while it is supporting them abroad,” Salmawi wrote. ‘This meeting has grave indications because it shows that Washington has not abandoned its policy of double standards toward Islamic terrorism.’

“Said Lindawi, a prominent Egyptian international affairs expert, said that the meeting of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders with State Department officials means that the Obama Administration has given the organization a green light to carry out terrorist attacks against Egypt.

’The U.S. Administration has refused to recognize the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror group,’ he said. ‘The Americans continue to insist that the Muslim Brotherhood is not responsible for the terrorist attacks in Egypt.’

By embracing the Muslim Brotherhood, the U.S. Administration has sent the wrong message to moderate Arabs and Muslims. This is a message that says that Washington believes that there are good terrorists and bad terrorists.”

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5179/us-terrorists-ally

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My job is to broadcast this information as broadly as possible. And so, to that end I look to each of you, as I always do, to share this posting, put the information on your FB pages, write talkbacks and letters to the editor, etc.  Word on the current state of affairs must get out.

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J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami has written: “Momentum is on our side — and it’s growing. Make it clear that Netanyahu’s speech shouldn’t go forward as planned.”  Well, folks, if you are represented in Congress by Democrats, contact them and urge that they attend.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4622997,00.html

Martin Indyk, director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institute, and a former Obama envoy to the “peace negotiations,” is on record as having made some negative comments about Netanyahu’s up-coming speech. But please remember that the Brookings Institute has taken large sums of money from Qatar.

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In spite of all of the horrendous truths I speak about above, there are also signs that are encouraging.  Next posting, I hope to share a number of these.  Here I close with a link to an incredible MEMRI video of an imam in Brooklyn who speaks out passionately for Muslim moderation.

http://www.memri.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4748.htm

There is hope.  (With thanks to Leon K. for calling my attention to this.)

01/19/15

Without Recourse

Arlene from Israel

It should be, even in our less than perfect world, that international courts were bastions of ethical judgment and impartiality. OK, maybe that’s expecting too much.  Shall we say, just institutions that model some degree of ethical judgment and impartiality. But even this is expecting too much in today’s climate of severely distorted perceptions and values.

The court I have in mind, of course, is the International Criminal Court, which is just one more corrupt – and politically correct – international body.  As today’s JPost editorial has it: the court is unable to “differentiate between good and bad.” Ah, yes.

On Friday, Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced her decision to initiate a “preliminary probe” into alleged war crimes committed by Israel this past summer during the war in Gaza (Operation Protective Edge).  This is to determine whether prosecution is appropriate.

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In order to do this, she had to stretch credibility in several regards.  First, she had to determine that, for purposes of the Court, the Palestinian Authority was a state.  Never mind that the PA does not meet all the criteria of a state, the General Assembly – another upstanding institution – has accorded the PA status as an observer state. The ICC says that’s enough.

And then, she had to maintain the fiction that Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas – a terrorist organization, is part of that “Palestinian state.” This was necessary, because a state that accepts the ICC’s jurisdiction can only bring charges in crimes committed within its own borders.

Lastly, she had to overlook the fact that the IDF routinely does investigate charges regarding behavior in the field and pursues prosecution when this is deemed necessary.  The IDF – the most moral army in the world – is, in fact, super-scrupulous in this regard.  But the Court, you see, is only supposed to step in if such systems are not in place.

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International lawyer Alan Baker continues to say this will come to nothing, and that we only serve Abbas’s purposes when we become agitated about this situation.  So we will not be agitated.

Prime Minister Netanyahu called the Court decision “absurd,” which it is.  The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement that said, in part:

“We see here something truly tragic. The lofty goals of the ICC are being turned upside-down. The court was founded to prevent a repeat of history’s worst crimes, foremost among them the genocide of six million Jews. Now the Palestinians are cynically manipulating the ICC to deny the Jewish state the right to defend itself against the very war crimes and the very terror that the court was established to prevent.”  (Emphasis added)

But the Court cannot be “manipulated” without its consent.  Bensouda could have ruled that the PA was not a state.  I see something very perverse in Palestinian Arab involvement with international organizations, which are prepared to voluntarily distort their essence or their mandates in an effort to be politically correct.  The PA is such a very minor player in the scheme of world affairs.  What gives it this power?

The State Department, I must note, said, “We do not believe that Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC.”

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Actually, I shouldn’t say, as I did above, that we are “without recourse.”  This is true with regard to the international institutions where we might have expected some modicum of support.  But we certainly have recourse to our own sense of good and bad, and, most importantly, to the judgment of Heaven.

There are, as well, nations that are with us.  I note in particular Canada – Canadian Foreign Minister Stephen Baird has just been here, lending words of support.

He told Netanyahu: “Canada doesn’t stand behind Israel; we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with it…The great struggle of our generation is terrorism and far too often the State of Israel and the Jewish people around the world are on the front lines of that struggle.” (Emphasis added)

Can we clone him?  On his visit to Ramallah on Sunday, Arabs pelted his car with eggs because of his pro-Israel stance.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.
Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90

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Missiles fired from two helicopters struck at targets in the Syrian Golan yesterday, taking out either five or six members of Hezbollah.  Israel never officially acknowledges involvement in such attacks, but I would say that here we have an instance of our relying on our own resources with excellent judgment.

Among those killed was Jihad Mughniyeh, son of Imad Mughniyeh, former Hezbollah operations chief whom we dispatched some time ago.  According to western intelligence sources, Jihad was head of a large-scale terrorist cell, with direct links to Iran, that had attacked Israel in the past.

But there is more: According to various reports, also killed were six members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, including General Mohammad Allahdadi, formerly head of a Revolutionary Guard brigade.  The Iranians and the members of Hezbollah were part of one convoy.

The coming together of so many high level Hezbollah and Iranian fighters at one time, near the Israeli border, strongly suggests that a major operation was imminent. It might have included rockets, infiltrations into Israel, border bombings, anti-tank fire and more.  Just days ago, Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah threatened attacks on Israel.

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The attack that smoothly took out Hezbollah and Iranian high level personnel suggests superb Israeli intelligence and an operation that was pinpoint.

As I see it, this not only eliminated an immediate danger (it was essential, given the intelligence!), it enhanced our deterrence power – always a good thing.  They know we are watching, and that we act in our own best interest with great skill.

There is no doubt about the fact that there was a message here for Iran, as well as for Hezbollah.

But the question now is what sort of retaliation we are likely to see.  It is considered unlikely that there will be a major attack that would escalate into war to our north.  But there is certainly a heightened risk of terror attacks – whether we are looking at infiltration into the north of Israel with attempts at kidnapping IDF soldiers, or attacking Israelis elsewhere in the world, as has been done before.

Whatever might be ahead, our forces are on high alert in the north now, with leaves cancelled and an Iron Dome installation moved northward.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eyal Ben Reuven, in a press briefing arranged via The Israel Project, outlined the sensitive situation that Israel now faces: Should, for example, an Israeli soldier be killed by Hezbollah, or should rockets be launched against civilians in our north, this would invite retaliation that might generate a significant escalation in fighting.

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The situation of Hezbollah, operating in the Golan, directly across Israel’s border to the north, is exceedingly complex.  This area is no longer directly controlled by Assad.  Hezbollah, said General Ben Reuven, prefers acting against Israel from this theater rather than from its home base in Lebanon.  The Lebanese are not always happy with Hezbollah because of the violence unleashed on its population in response to Hezbollah actions.  However, Hezbollah still has a primary goal of supporting Assad, and does not want to invite an Israeli attack inside Syria that might result in weakening him.

Right now, with some 200,000 Syrians dead in the civil war, there seems to be a standoff, with neither side achieving victory.

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I end – for now – with a good news story that is both moving and astounding:

Michael Mittwoch, 92, and his wife Marion, 90, fled the Nazis in Germany.  They came to Israel, where they participated in the founding of Kibbutz Lavi in the north.

Now they have just celebrated the birth of their 100th (this is not a typo) great-grandchild.

Michael and Marion Mittwochs, center, surrounded by family and holding their 100th great-granchild. (Photo: Elad Gershgoren)

Credit: Elad Gershgoren

This is not just  a wonderfully uplifting story, it demonstrates something: We are a people who move past adversity to life, a testament to hope.