Thursday, February 28, 2013

Harsh EU report likely won’t spell settlement sanctions

Harsh EU report likely won’t spell settlement sanctions

European consuls recommend reduced trade with Israelis over the Green Line, slam construction in East Jerusalem neighborhoods


Senior European Union officials stationed in East Jerusalem and Ramallah have recently recommended that the organization curb trade with Israelis located beyond the Green Line and cease financial support for them.

The move is seen as another indication of the EU’s growing frustration with Israeli settlement policies and the stagnating peace process, but the imposition of any kind of concrete sanctions against Israel remains unlikely.

In a new report sent to Brussels and foreign ministries in 27 member states, the consuls general representing the EU in the Palestinian territories call on the EU to “prevent, discourage and raise awareness about problematic implications of financial transactions including foreign direct investments, from within the EU in support of settlement activities, infrastructure and services,” Haaretz reported Wednesday.

The EU’s office in Israel declined to directly comment on the leaked document, but diplomats representing EU member states told The Times of Israel on Wednesday that while the report’s language seemed strong, suggesting a call for active EU divestment from the settlements, it signified no actual change in the union’s policy. The 2012 Heads of Mission report, which will be discussed by policymakers in Brussels but is nonbinding, merely calls for stricter implementation of already existing EU legislation, according to a European diplomat.

Even a harsh-sounding yet vaguely worded phrase, in which the consuls call on the EU to “prevent… problematic implications of financial transactions… in support of settlement activities,” already appeared in last year’s report, a senior European diplomat said.

According to Haaretz, the report makes seven recommendations that directly or indirectly suggest imposing sanctions on Israeli groups operating in the West Bank or East Jerusalem. The consuls urge Brussels to ensure strict enforcement of the EU’s policy to not give preferential treatment to imported goods from the West Bank and to prevent them from being labeled as originating in Israel. They also call upon the EU to stop supporting research projects by Israeli organizations located beyond the Green Line.

The EU does not recognize the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967, as Israeli territory, and products from these areas therefore do not benefit from preferential trade arrangements between Israel and EU. However, the EU’s ambassador in Israel, Andrew Standley, told The Times of Israel earlier this month that the imposition of sanctions against Israel required a unanimous decision of the 27 member states and was therefore unlikely. “The EU is opposed to boycotts. This is not the way we operate in terms of our international relations,” he said.

However, Standley did acknowledge that EU officials were paying “renewed attention” toward figuring out to how to ensure that relevant EU regulations were correctly implemented. Such efforts could be understood as “the expression of concern at the political level at the lack of positive movement in the Middle East peace process” and continued Israeli settlement construction, he said.

In line with longstanding EU positions, the consuls’ 2012 report also slammed the Israeli government for seeking to expand the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Har Homa, Gilo and Givat Hamatos. Those plans are “systematic, deliberate and provocative” and aimed at preventing a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible, the senior diplomats said.

Hamas warns Obama against Temple Mount visitTrip to Jerusalem’s holiest site would be ‘a diplomatic catastrophe,’ Islamists declare; mufti sets three conditions for presidential tour

Hamas warns Obama against Temple Mount visitTrip to Jerusalem’s holiest site would be ‘a diplomatic catastrophe,’ Islamists declare; mufti sets three conditions for presidential tour


Responding to unconfirmed rumors that US President Barack Obama intends to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during his trip to Israel next month, the Hamas terror group warned the American leader against the idea on Tuesday, calling it “a diplomatic catastrophe,” and local Muslim leaders set stiff conditions for a presidential tour there.

A statement issued by Hamas called Obama’s potential visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, located at the southern perimeter of the Mount, “an imminent danger which the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem have never faced.”

Hamas stated that a visit by the American president to the contested site under the auspices of “the Zionist occupation” would be more dangerous than the relocation of any country’s embassy to Jerusalem, considering the international preeminence of the United States.

The Temple Mount, revered by Jews as the site of the first and second temples and by Muslims as the point from which Muhammad ascended to heaven, is administered by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a trust that has governed the site since the 12th century.

Ekrima Sabri, who used to administer the Temple Mount as mufti of Jerusalem and currently heads the High Islamic Council in Jerusalem, told The Times of Israel that Obama would be allowed to visit the site only if he abided by three conditions.

According to a protocol drafted by the Waqf in 1967, official visitors may enter the Temple Mount through any of its 11 gates excluding the Mughrabi Gate, which is connected to the Western Wall plaza by a bridge.

“The Israeli army stole the keys to that gate from the Islamic Waqf, so entry through that gate gives the impression that Israel has sovereignty over Al-Aqsa,” Sabri said.

“We insist on Muslim sovereignty over the Temple Mount,” he said.

Israel took control of Jerusalem’s Old City, including the Temple Mount, in the 1967 Six Day War.

The other conditions placed by the Waqf on Obama’s visit are that no Israeli official accompany the president onto the mount, and that the visit be of a sight-seeing rather than a political nature.

Sabri said that in the past, visiting officials — including French President Jacques Chirac, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI — abided by the Waqf’s regulations.

“If Obama does not abide by these rules, we will refuse to accept him in Al-Aqsa,” Sabri concluded, adding that his organization intended to send a petition to the American consul general in Jerusalem next week outlining its conditions and protesting Israeli attempts to “Judaize” Jerusalem.

The White House gave no indication that Obama actually planned to visit the Temple Mount.

A visit to the site by former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon while he was opposition leader in September 2000 is widely regarded as the immediate precursor — Israel says it was a pretext — for the outburst of the Second Intifada, marked by a strategic onslaught of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel, and referred to by Palestinians as the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

Egyptian documentary on Jews of Egypt might be pretty honest

Egyptian documentary on Jews of Egypt might be pretty honest

Al Ahram has an exclusive preview of a new film, four years in the making, called "The Jews of Egypt" - and it describes  how they were expelled.

While many Egyptians routinely deny that Jews were expelled from their country, the preview here seems to show pretty definitively that they were indeed methodically thrown out.

I expect that this film will stir up at least as much controversy as the film about Moroccan Jews has beenreceiving there.

The film will be released on March 6.

Faulty connections, futile concessions

Faulty connections, futile concessions

Zalman Shoval

"The formula for an understanding between Obama and Netanyahu is simple," a prominent Jewish-American leader (a Republican, actually) told me during a visit to New York last week: "War and peace," that is to say, an American war against Iran in exchange for Israeli peace with the Palestinians. However, as with many nifty magic formulas, this one too provides nothing more than an optical illusion.

One of the basic assumptions in the aforementioned proposal is that blocking Iran's nuclear program is just an Israeli interest, and that U.S. military action against Iran would essentially be a "favor" to Israel. For its part, Israel would commit to provide a "payment" of concessions to the Palestinians in return for American military action against Iran.

However, the logic and analysis behind this formula is completely devoid of real diplomatic sense: A general attitude of opposition to overseas military action currently prevails in the U.S., so much so that the government would only be moved toward war if Iran's nuclear program was perceived as a threat to the country's vital interests. In Congress, and even in President Barack Obama's new administration, there will be those who will perhaps support military action, but there won't be a shortage of others trying their best to influence the president in the opposite direction.

In other words, it needs to be clear that if Washington remains unconvinced that an atomic bomb in the hands of the ayatollahs isn't a direct threat to the country or its essential interests — even if Israel never builds another house in Jerusalem and gives Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas control over the Western Wall — U.S. bomber aircraft won't be taking off at dawn.

One can hope that during talks between the two leaders in Jerusalem next month they discuss the Iranian threat separately from the other issues (according to the latest reports by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran's nuclear program is accelerating toward the point of no return), and not as part of some "package" that lacks substance.

Not to mention that regardless, the timetables for the various moving parts in this formula aren't synchronized: The challenge of stopping Iran's race toward a nuclear weapon could last months, perhaps weeks, while a solution to the Palestinian problem, in the best-case scenario, could take many long years.

Meanwhile, the other and perhaps most fundamental flaw that characterizes this futile formula is, of course, that the Palestinians haven't given any sign that they intend to abandon their strategy, which primarily calls for avoiding any real negotiations with Israel devoid of preconditions and demands. According to this strategy, they simultaneously continue to engage in maneuvers and distractions in the goal of receiving international recognition without the need to make concessions and compromises themselves, including anything pertaining to recognition of Israel's existence as the home of the Jewish people (on this matter, incidentally, Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni have essentially agreed).

It can be assumed that Netanyahu will indeed present the U.S. president with certain practical proposals on the Palestinians. And he should do so; but we cannot agree, not even conceptually, to the phony link between the Palestinian issue and Iran's nuclear program.

Where should there be a link? Between the disquieting diplomatic and security-related developments in our region — including the increasingly harsh threat from Iran as well as the Palestinian matter — to Netanyahu's efforts, in a short timetable, to assemble as broad a government as possible. One can understand that new politicians, who suddenly feel they are "big-time," get caught up in things that their more experienced, responsible colleagues would never start in the first place, but there's a limit. These folks need to understand that politics isn't merely about tricks and shticks, or about newspaper headlines, but about shouldering the burden of responsibility that the public has charged them with carrying.

We could have expected Habayit Hayehudi to display more stately and responsible behavior, while in the political department store known as Yesh Atid there are still doubts, to my regret. Netanyahu prefers a broad government, and not just because the Likud primary results demand it but because of the difficult challenges Israel is expected to face in the coming years.

But there comes a point in time beyond which a responsible leadership can't further delay the formation of a new government, even if it is less expansive than he would like — and then perhaps the Yesh Atid movement will discover that its future is already behind it.

Farrakhan Calls on Chicago Gangs to Protect Islamic State in America

Farrakhan Calls on Chicago Gangs to Protect Islamic State in America

By Daniel Greenfield

If you were wondering how Chicago could get any worse, the guy whose Washington DC rally Obama helped organize, has an answer for you.

Farrakhan unveiled a plan to establish an independent Black Muslim country in America using “Muhammad’s Economic Blueprint: Ending Poverty and Want.” (That’s Elijah Muhammad who believed that white people were created by a mad scientist and that there were UFOs orbiting the earth, not the Muhammad who was a pedophile and mass murderer.)

Using the University of Illinois Chicago Pavilion as a forum, Farrakhan proclaimed that “By Allah’s grace, will give you a vision of what we as a people must do to solve our problems.”

Then Farrakhan went on about Jews running all the banks and Palestinian Arab Muslims sexually molesting young black girls. He praised China’s involvement in Africa and claimed that he was sent by Allah to end Western civilization.

Farrakhan denounced the Jews for not recognizing him as a messenger of Allah. “And—speaking now to the Jewish people—you accepted that agreement, according to the Qur’an. And what is that agreement? That when that one comes that is found written of in the Torah and the Gospel, that you would help him and in helping him you would be helping yourself. I represent that one—I am in his place, he is alive, well, and now in power.”

“My job is the same as the job of Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah!” Farrakhan proclaimed.

Then Farrakhan called for all African-Americans to contribute to a united treasury and create a separate nation that would be protected by Chicago gangs.

“You are the natural warriors to defend,” Farrakhan said at the University of Illinois Chicago Pavilion. “And the science of war must be taught to us, so that we will protect whatever God allows us to buy or to build.”

“We have to protect what is ours from any thief or robber,” the controversial leader said.

 “America is for sale,” Farrakhan said. “But we are not owning it. We helped build this. Our sweat and blood was used to protect it. Shouldn’t we be co-owners of it? You’ve got to think like that now. I don’t want to walk streets that we don’t own.”

So… looks like Chicago’s problems are almost over.

Rahm Emanuel can just turn over the city to Farrakhan and Chicago gangs and walk away whistling while pretending not to notice while the whole place burns down. And then the UFOs will come down and open proper Islamic soap factories whose profits will go to Calypso Louie Farrakhan.

Palestinians Exporting Terrorists to Syria Where Next?

Palestinians Exporting Terrorists to Syria
Where Next?

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Palestinians who are heading to Syria have been told their next station will be Jordan, then Israel, where, with their friends in Jabhat al-Nusra, they hope to create an pan-Islamic state ruled by Sharia laws.

The Gaza Strip has begun exporting terrorists to other countries. If the terrorists are not stopped, they will start showing up in European capitals and probably cities in the United States.

In contrast to claims by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaderships to the effect that the Palestinians are not taking sides in the conflict, Palestinians are involved in the fighting in Syria.

The Palestinians who are heading to Syria have been told their ultimate mission is to liberate Palestine "from the river to the sea." Once they get rid of Assad, they are told, they will move to their next station -- Jordan. From there, their jihad will take them to Israel, where they and their friends in Jabhat al-Nusra [The Support Front] hope to create a pan-Islamic state ruled by Sharia laws.

According to Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip, in the past few weeks alone, dozens of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip headed to Syria through Turkey to join various radical organizations engaged in the fighting against the army of Bashar al-Assad.

Many of these Palestinians have fallen in love with Jabhat al-Nusra, a group recently designated a terrorist organization by the US and, according to reports in the Arab media, believed to be responsible for some of the massacres against Syrian civilians.

The organization consists of hundreds, if not thousands, of Muslim fundamentalists from several Arab and Islamic countries. Its declared goal is to topple the Assad regime and create an Islamic state.

The Palestinian men who are heading to Syria belong to Salafi and other radical Islamist groups that have been operating in the Gaza Strip over the past few years. Some are also former Hamas members who broke away from the Islamist movement under the pretext that it was too 'moderate.'

Abu al-Ayna al-Ansari, the leader of one of the Salafi groups in the Gaza Strip, revealed that in recent weeks at least two Palestinians were killed in the fighting in Syria: Mohamed Kunaita, 32, and Nidal al-Eshi, 23.

More than 1,000 Palestinians, most of them from the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, have been killed in the past few months during the fighting between the rebels and Assad's army.

The camp has been under daily attacks by the Syrian army ever since terrorists belonging to Jabhat al-Nusra and other Islamist groups found shelter among the Palestinian residents.

The Gaza Strip is swarming with radical Islamist groups whose goal is to destroy Israel and the US. Most of these groups emerged after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and the Hamas takeover of the coastal region two years later.

The Hamas government, which feels threatened by these groups, has failed to stop them from exporting terrorists to neighboring countries. The Egyptian authorities have also been unsuccessful in preventing Palestinian jihadis from entering Sinai, which has become a major base for Muslim terrorists.

The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which was reached after Operations Pillars of Defense three months ago, has left members of various terror groups unemployed.

Now that the jihadis in the Gaza Strip have nothing to do, such as fire rockets at Israel, they have started searching for other places to carry out their terror attacks. They have found no better place than Syria to start sending their men to join some of the radical Islamist organizations fighting against Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The US and Western countries would do well to pay serious attention; Syria is not where this trend will stop.

The European Union’s Misplaced Priorities

The European Union’s Misplaced Priorities

Seth Mandel

In December, I wrote that despite all the misunderstanding and misinformation in the press about Israel’s construction plans for the area around Jerusalem, specifically the E-1 corridor, there was one very illuminating aspect to the controversy. The reaction by Western European leaders and diplomats to the Israeli government’s restatement of the official policy of every Israeli government–right, left, and center–exposed a fault line in EU-Israel relations. The Israeli consensus crosses the EU’s “red line,” and therefore the two are unlikely to find common ground in the peace process.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise to read in the Times of Israel that a new EU report recommends the European Union more actively boycott and sanction Israeli products and companies on the other side of the Green Line. Europe’s growing hostility to Israel and its vast ignorance of Mideast geopolitics are frustrating all by themselves, but a thorough report in the Washington Post today on Hezbollah’s operations in Europe put the EU’s manifest lack of seriousness in stark relief. First, the Times of Israel reports:

In a new report sent to Brussels and foreign ministries in 27 member states, the consuls general representing the EU in the Palestinian territories call on the EU to “prevent, discourage and raise awareness about problematic implications of financial transactions including foreign direct investments, from within the EU in support of settlement activities, infrastructure and services,” Haaretz reported Wednesday.

The EU’s office in Israel declined to directly comment on the leaked document, but diplomats representing EU member states told The Times of Israel on Wednesday that while the report’s language seemed strong, suggesting a call for active EU divestment from the settlements, it signified no actual change in the union’s policy. The 2012 Heads of Mission report, which will be discussed by policymakers in Brussels but is nonbinding, merely calls for stricter implementation of already existing EU legislation, according to a European diplomat.

Contrast the vigilance EU diplomats recommend be employed against Israeli companies with the EU’s continued, exasperating, and fundamentally indefensible reluctance to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The issue was brought to light again this month as Hezbollah was connected by authorities to last year’s terrorist attack in Bulgaria. Hezbollah has long been among the world’s most resilient and dangerous terrorist organizations, and declaring it as such–as the U.S. and Israel have–would greatly advance security efforts on the continent and would enable increased diligence in tracking and preventing Hezbollah’s funding and communications.

As Joby Warrick writes in the Post, the case of a Hezbollah operative in Cyprus has enabled officials and the public to widen the scope of the terrorist group’s surveillance operations in Europe. And officials are well aware of the implications:

Now, seven months after that attack, new details emerging in Yaakoub’s case are providing chilling insights into what investigators describe as a far broader effort by the Lebanon-based militant group to lay the groundwork for killing Israeli citizens and perhaps others in multiple countries.

Some details have come from Yaakoub himself, who made his first public appearance last week during his trial in Cyprus. But a much fuller account comes from legal documents summarizing the Swedish man’s statements to police during weeks of questioning last summer and obtained by The Washington Post.

The evidence echoes discoveries by investigators in Bulgaria and prosecutors in Thailand, India, Azerbaijan, Kenya and other countries hit by a wave of attempted assassinations and bombings linked to Hezbollah or its chief sponsor, Iran. U.S. officials characterize the plots as part of a shadow war directed by Iran in part to retaliate for Western efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program. Evidence uncovered by investigators portrays a professional, well-funded effort by Hezbollah to recruit, train and position European-based operatives for what U.S. analysts describe as preparations for future terrorist operations.

It’s important to put the revelations about Hezbollah–which, we can imagine, are not revelations to EU law enforcement and intelligence officials–in the larger context of Hezbollah’s patron, Iran. As Warrick notes, American officials are getting impatient with their European counterparts’ unwillingness to take necessary action against Hezbollah because time is of the essence. The U.S. is working to prevent the Iranians from acquiring nuclear capability, and one element of that has been the stepped-up shadow war between Iran and the West.

In the world of asymmetric warfare, eliminating terrorist safe havens is crucial–as we attempted to do in Afghanistan. But it’s even more important to do so in Europe, both because it’s easier to target Americans and Jews–Iran’s favorite victims–in Europe, where both are far more numerous than in, say, Central Asia or North Africa, and because giving them a safe haven in the West makes it easier to target other Western states. Thus, the EU’s incredibly dangerous actions don’t exist in a vacuum. It’s time for European leaders to stop pretending otherwise.

Anti-Semitism Is Still Not a Joking Matter

Anti-Semitism Is Still Not a Joking Matter

Jonathan S. Tobin

Viewers of this year’s Oscars ceremony who were unfamiliar with the work of Seth MacFarlane were probably shocked or even offended by some of the host’s irreverent and off-color attempts at humor. In particular, many Jews were outraged by the scripted comedy routine in which the animated teddy bear “Ted” (whose voice is spoken by MacFarlane) told actor Mark Wahlberg that “if you want to work in this town” you had to be Jewish. The bear went on to say that his claim of Jewish identity and contributions to Israel might earn him a private plane after the next “secret synagogue” meeting. These lines earned MacFarlane a stiff rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League, which inveighed against the use of age-old anti-Jewish stereotypes even if the intent was purely humorous.

But the problem with any such complaint, even one as measured as that of the ADL, is that in contemporary American popular culture ethnic and religious slurs, such as those that are spewed on MacFarlane’s long-running animated show “Family Guy,” are par for the course. Anyone who watches that show knows that its author will make fun of any individual or group in pursuit of a cheap or even clever jibe. The whole point of “Family Guy” is to push beyond every conceivable boundary in an effort to lay all our foibles, prejudices and even sacred beliefs bare in order to laugh at them. Any outrage directed at him, no matter how egregious his jokes might be, merely serves his purpose. Remonstrating with MacFarlane about his insensitivity and bad taste just makes the complainer sound like a whiny fool whose feathers ought to be ruffled.

Thus, the ADL will probably garner more brickbats than applause for criticizing the routine. But the ADL nevertheless had a point about the audience for the show that goes to the heart of the problem.

The group acknowledged that “insiders at the Oscars” knew the joke “should not be taken seriously.” Many viewers would point out that the definition of “insiders” should be expanded to mean anyone in the television audience who was familiar with the popular comedian’s work. That means most Americans got the joke and realized it was not to be taken any more seriously than his song about which actresses had exposed their breasts in their movies.

It may be hard for us to accept the idea that nasty stereotypes such as those uttered by “Ted” are just jokes. In fact, they aren’t–and can help spread the lethal virus of anti-Semitism. However, in the context of an America in which the barriers to Jewish achievement that were once both widespread and impenetrable are gone, it might be possible to treat the old “Jews control Hollywood” meme as merely humor when performed in such a manner as to lampoon hate.

But the problem here is that the Oscars show is viewed by more than a billion people around the world. While the abuse hurled at Jews and other groups in a “Family Guy” episode isn’t worth complaining about, the same thing must be understood differently when placed in the context of international opinion.

As the U.S. State Department noted last year in its annual report, anti-Semitism is on the rise around the globe. Crude and hateful traditional stereotypes about Jews mixed with anti-Israel propaganda are gaining more of an audience throughout the globe. Jew-hatred has become a principle export of the Arab and Muslim world, and Europe is seeing a revival of anti-Semitism that has not been seen on such a scale since the Nazi era. Just as they were once singled out for dissenting from the views of the majority about religion, now the Jewish people are once again marked for hatred and violence because of the belief that Israel has no right to exist or to defend itself.

To date, these offensive views are confined to the fever swamps of the far right and the far left in America, though they are gaining a foothold on college campuses with the BDS movement that seeks the destruction of Israel.

But for those inclined to tell the ADL to get a life, it’s important to remember that one of the most-watched television mini-series broadcast in the Muslim world in recent years was based on the premise that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was real and not an anti-Semitic forgery, and that anticipation is keen for another such show in production that will celebrate a seventh-century genocide of Jews.

That is why MacFarlane’s equal opportunity offender defense of his use of anti-Semitic stereotypes falls flat. Perhaps in a more perfect world, in which such hatreds were just heard on the margins of society, there might really be nothing wrong with poking at these old wounds with the comedian’s sharp stick. But in one where Jew-hatred is the engine driving an international movement whose goal is the elimination of the one Jewish state in the world and the slaughter of its people, the joke doesn’t seem quite so funny.

Bibi, tell him to take his promises and go home

Bibi, tell him to take his promises and go home

News item:
When he visits Israel next month, US President Barack Obama will tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a “window of opportunity” for a military strike on Iran will open in June, according to an Israeli TV report Monday evening.

Obama will come bearing the message that if diplomatic efforts and sanctions don’t bear fruit, Israel should “sit tight” and let Washington take the stage, even if that means remaining on the sidelines during a US military operation, Channel 10 reported. Netanyahu will be asked to refrain from any military action and keep a low profile, avoiding even the mention of a strike, the report said, citing unnamed officials.

Translate “citing unnamed officials” as “the administration leaked.”

There is no way I can put an optimistic interpretation on this. There are four things that immediately come to mind:

First, Israel is asked to put its trust in the Obama Administration to deal with an existential threat. Simply, would you take this bet?

Second, the US armed forces are stretched extremely thin as a result of the budgeting policies of the administration, and now by the likely sequester of funds. For example, the USS Harry S. Truman, scheduled to deploy to the Persian Gulf this month, will not do so (h/t: JD). The US is not in a position to ‘gear up’ for anything major.

Third, Obama is said to be offering this to Israel. What will Israel be expected to do in return? I don’t have to tell you, do I? Hint: it involves the Palestinians.

Fourth, the demand to ‘remain on the sidelines’ is a direct attack on Israel’s sovereignty as well as an invitation to disaster. When the first Tomahawk hits Iran, Israel will be attacked by Hizballah, which has stockpiled 50,000 missiles for just this occasion, and probably also by Hamas. Iran, too will throw whatever it can against Israel.

The policy of ‘no self-defense’ would result in the deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Israelis. It is as stark as that.

And what is the reason for this tactically foolish restriction? Wouldn’t it be better if the US had Israel on its side? This is part of the deal, because the Arab world, as it did in 1993, wants to see Israel hurt and Israelis die. It is offensive to the Saudis, for example, when Jews dare to raise a hand to Arabs or Muslims. This is why Israel was required to suffer bombardment of Iraqi scuds during the Gulf War, and why it is expected to do nothing when Iranian proxies try to tear it apart.

Obama’s policy is Saudi policy. That is where the irrational push to create a Palestinian state comes from, and that is where the handcuffs on the IDF are forged.

Netanyahu must tell Barack Hussein Obama to take his promises and go home.

Chuck Hagel’s Plan for U.S. Forces in ‘Palestine’

Chuck Hagel’s Plan for U.S. Forces in ‘Palestine’

By Joseph Klein 

On the eve of a Senate vote to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, a 2009 report co-authored by Hagel has surfaced titled “A Last Chance For A Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement.” It called for Israel to make “the hard compromises and painful concessions for peace” without asking anything comparable from the Palestinian side. Indeed, the report warned against “the Jewish-American and Christian Zionist groups that feel comfortable amplifying the positions of Israeli politicians hostile to hard compromise and painful concession.”

One of Hagel’s principal co-signatories on the report was Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had advised Obama on foreign policy during his first presidential campaign. Brzezinski has been openly hostile to Israel, accusing it of “brutal repression” and colonialism among other things – i.e., the Palestinian party line.

Hagel was obviously not interested in teaming up with an objective analyst, as reflected in the report. Its tone was set when it questioned the historic “intimacy of the American-Israeli relationship,” which it said is presenting “policy and security challenges for the U.S. in the Middle East and beyond.”

The principal painful concession recommended in the report was a two-state solution that would result in Israel having to retreat largely behind the indefensible pre-June1967 lines, with minor land swaps.  President Obama’s own proposal for a two-state solution mirrored this recommendation.

The report also endorsed a Jerusalem divided into two national capitals “with Jewish neighborhoods falling under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighborhoods under Palestinian sovereignty.” The reality on the ground, however, is that there is no such strict separation of populations all over Jerusalem. Rather there are some mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhoods. Many Jerusalem-area Arabs also would not want to give up so easily the benefits of living under Israeli sovereignty, such as superior health care, social security and better access to jobs.

Christian holy places would be administered by Palestine, a dubious proposition considering the experience in Palestinian-administered Bethlehem where Christians were a majority in 1990 and constitute only 15% of the population today. Christians there found the same type of conditions that Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Libya and other Muslim-controlled countries and regions have encountered – beatings, Palestinian occupation of churches, discrimination and other forms of intimidation. The one safe haven for Christians in the Middle East turns out to be Israel, where the Christian population has grown nearly five-fold since Israel gained its independence in 1948.

The report envisions a non-militarized Palestinian state for at least a transitional period, which has about as much chance of succeeding as the failed plan for disarming Hezbollah and other militias in Lebanon.

Who would enforce an imposed two state solution according to the recommendations signed off by Hagel? A “U.S.-led multinational force” which would be “under a UN mandate” and “feature American leadership of a NATO force supplemented by Jordanians, Egyptians and Israelis.” Jerusalem would have “a special security and administrative regime of its own.”

A NATO researcher estimated that about 60,000 US/NATO troops and about 160 billion dollars over 10 years would be required to carry out this UN mandate.

Moreover, our troops would be sitting ducks for the kind of terrorist attacks that have killed thousands of American soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon. And if the report’s recommendation to include Jordanian and Egyptian soldiers in the U.S.-led multi-national force is followed, there is a risk of jihadists committing acts of terrorism from the inside as we have seen all too often in Afghanistan.  The last thing we need to do is engage in another long nation-building exercise that Islamists will propagandize as a Western crusader occupation and use to recruit more foot soldiers for jihad.

In providing a thumb-nail revisionist history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by way of background, the report highlighted the “considerable and ongoing Palestinian suffering” that accompanied “the creation and sustaining of a democratic Jewish State in the wake of the Holocaust.” This buys into the Palestinian victimhood narrative that they were innocents forced to pay a heavy price for a European event in which they had no part.  The truth is that the Palestinian leadership and its Arab neighbors threw away the chance for an independent Palestinian state which they could have had for the last sixty-four years. Moreover, the Palestinians under the leadership of such men as Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini collaborated with Nazi Germany. They ended up on the losing side, but still could have had their own state, living side by side in peaceful co-existence with Israel, if it weren’t for their determination to destroy the Jewish state from its inception.

Hamas maintains the same rejectionist stance today, but the report bearing Hagel’s name recommended U.S. engagement with the jihadist terrorist organization:

In brief, shift the U.S. objective from ousting Hamas to modifying its behavior, offer it inducements that will enable its more moderate elements to prevail, and cease discouraging third parties from engaging with Hamas in ways that might help clarify the movement’s views and test its behavior.

The idea that there are any “moderate elements” in Hamas is an oxymoron. Hamas is dedicated to the complete destruction of the Jewish state. This has not changed since the enactment of Hamas’s founding charter, which remains in effect.

Last December, for example, Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal stated:

”We are not giving up any inch of Palestine. It will remain Islamic and Arab for us and nobody else. Jihad and armed resistance is the only way. We cannot recognize Israel’s legitimacy. From the sea to the river, from north to south, we will not give up any part of Palestine — it is our country, our right and our homeland.”

So much for engaging Hamas on the contours of a two-state solution.

In 2011, Hamas’s former minister of “culture,” Atallah Abu Al-Subh, called Jews “the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the earth.”

Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense will be in a position to push the disastrous recommendations of the report he co-authored. It would not take much to convince Obama that they are worth trying, particularly if the UN puts its stamp of approval on the plan and it is conducted under the UN’s auspices. Any Senator foolish enough to confirm Chuck Hagel, given his demonstrated incompetence, will also have to explain to U.S. soldiers put in harm’s way if the recommendations endorsed by Hagel move forward.

Terrorism Without End

Terrorism Without End

By Daniel Greenfield 

The reason why the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is doomed can be summed up in a paragraph. The Arab populations left in political limbo when Israel recaptured in 1967 the territory that it had lost to Egypt and Jordan in 1948 exist only as a strategic weapon of disruption. They have been shaped into a population that is defined only by terrorism because that is the purpose that their sponsors put them to. There can be no constructive outcome of the conflict because you cannot negotiate with a weapon.

The trouble is not that Israel is unable to reach a settlement with the Palestinians; but that the Muslim countries funding and operating the terrorist groups that constitute the Palestinian political factions are unwilling to give up their weapon. Negotiating with the Palestinian Authority or Hamas is like trying to negotiate with a gun or bargain with an attack dog. There is nothing to be gained from such a futile task. The conflict will end only when those countries that are behind it will decide that it should end. And they have no reason to want it to end.

Palestinian terrorism is a strategic weapon of disruption that confines and unbalances Israel. At a cost of millions, the sponsors of that terror have inflicted billions in economic damage. And there is no reason for them to stop. Watching Israel and America try to reason with their attack dogs amuses them and allows them to expand their own influence by offering to act as mediators.

For that same reason, Islamic terrorism in general is also not going anywhere. What the Palestinians are to Israel, Muslim terrorists are to the West and the rest of the world. They are strategic weapons which are allowed to exist because they serve the purposes of their sponsors. Like most living weapons, they occasionally turn in the hands of their sponsors, but that only makes the task of directing them at the proper targets more urgent.

Terrorism can never be defeated by fighting terrorists. Combine massive wealth in some parts of the Middle East with staggering poverty in other parts and the supply of mercenaries is nearly endless. Syrian Jihadists are being paid $150 a month by Qatar; a good salary for an unskilled laborer in a region where life is cheap and every family has plenty of surplus sons and mouths to feed. A barrel of oil can buy the services of a killer for a month and Qatar pumps out millions of barrels a day.

Terrorism is cheap for the sponsors, profitable for the participants and hideously expensive for the targets. A soldier in a First World nation can cost six figures. For that same amount, a backward oil tyranny can field a hundred men. When those hundred men kill a soldier, then his nation will be heartbroken and question the costs of war. When those hundred men die, their mothers will ceremonially wail and cry out for more martyrs to avenge them. And the terror will go on.

Islam makes the process easier. Like Palestinian nationalism, it is a war machine whose ideas lubricate the recruitment, rampages and replenishment of fresh cannon fodder for the wars of the old rich men of the region.

That difference in attitude and ideology is at the heart of the power imbalance. As long as that imbalance exists, then a hundred poorly trained fighters who can hardly shoot without killing themselves will still edge the Army of One.

No Muslim country has been able to field an army that will match a Western nation in some time. The Israeli-Arab wars punishingly drove that lesson home as the tiny Jewish State managed to prevail even when it faced superior numbers and at times even superior technology and surprise attacks.

Palestinian nationalism was born out of the humiliating realization that no amount of firepower and manpower would suffice to sweep Israel off the map. It was an attempt at creating a secularized Islam with a mythical nationalism replacing a mythical religion. But at its moment of greatest success, it began to merge with Islam, like a river returning to the sea. Under Hamas, Palestinian nationalism is completing its merger with Islamism.

Terrorism in the Muslim world was reborn out of that same realization, its secular attachments diminishing as it falls back into the Islamic roots of its birth.  Arab Nationalism failed to produce a single army that could take on the West. Egypt’s armies were smashed by Israel. Iraq’s were torn apart by the United States. And so civilized mass warfare was instead replaced by a primitive calculated chaos.

Saddam’s Republican Guard could not even dream of defeating the United States, but years of terrorism could. Israel beat down entire armies, but blinked in the face of repeated terrorist attacks. An army is expensive, but a terrorist, even a suicide bomber, is cheap. War is expensive, but calculated chaos can be had at cut-rate prices.

Terrorism has no “off switch” because it’s too profitable. There is no down side for its sponsors who can inflict significant amounts of harm and collect enormous profits for a few million here and there. Their power to temporarily turn off the terror makes them even more powerful and influential.

Muslims have gone from nonentities in the Western political sphere to huge power players not through oil, but through the terror that they bought with that oil. Americans paid little attention to Muslims until September 11. Since then Muslims have been flattered and promoted, their political interests have been pandered to and their leaders have gained an enormous amount of influence. Not only has all this pandering failed to stop terrorism, it has instead provided a compelling motive for more terrorism.

Terrorism saw its field test in Israel where it successfully disrupted the national way of life. And then that weapon was deployed on a large scale in New York, Washington DC, London and Madrid.

In Israel, the terrorists became partners. Each act of strategic disruption further increased the scale of concessions in the hopes of getting them to accept that arrangement as the basis for a stable society. Now the United States has made Muslim sponsors of terrorism into its partners in the hopes of getting them to use their newfound power to build a stable international order. The predictable results of that disaster can be seen in the Arab Spring.

There is no way forward without accepting that Islamic terrorism is not a set of particular movements fighting over nationalist causes in Israel and India, over religious causes in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and over tribal causes in Nigeria and Somalia; it is a multi-headed hydra. Each head has its own identity, but it is the body that counts. That body lies under the surface in the form of ideological organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, but even deeper it lies in the flow of funds and influence from oil countries.

Until we accept that the terrorists matter less than their sponsors, we will be stuck fighting terrorism without end.

NY Times: Palestinian prisoner tortured. Don't ask questions.

NY Times: Palestinian prisoner tortured. Don't ask questions.

Leo Rennert

On Sunday, Feb. 24, the Israeli Health Ministry issued the following statement:

This afternoon (Sunday, 24 February, 2013), at the National Center for Forensic Medicine, an autopsy was performed on the body of Arafat Jaradat by Prof. Yehuda Hiss, in the presence of Prof. Arnon Afek, director of the Heath Administration at the Ministry of Health, and Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber Aloul.

During the autopsy, no signs of external trauma were found apart from those pertaining to resuscitation attempts and a small graze on the right side of his chest.

No evidence of disease was found during the autopsy.

Two internal hemorrhages were detected, one on the shoulder and one on the right side of the chest.

Two ribs were broken, which may indicate resuscitation attempts.

The initial findings cannot determine the cause of death.

At this stage, until microscopic and toxicology reports are in, the cause of death cannot be tied to the autopsy findings.

The New York Times, which provided extensive coverage of Jaradat's death in an Israeli prison, did not use a single word of the Israeli Health Ministry's statement.  Not a word about the impact of resuscitation attempts.

Instead, the Jerusalem bureau chief relies on Palestinian versions, which accuse Israel of having tortured Jaradat to death ("Palestinians Dispute Israel's Findings on a Prisoner's death," five-column spread, with two pictures, at top of page 4).

The Times headline is, prima facie, misleading, since Rudoren ignores Israel's actual findings.  Here is her lead paragraph:

The Israeli Health Ministry said Sunday night that preliminary autopsy finding could not determine the cause of death of a 30-year-old Palestinian prisoner, which Israeli officials had at first attributed to a heart attack, but Palestinian officials said the lack of heart damage couple with bruising on the man's chest, back and neck suggested that he was tortured during interrogation.

Once past the lead paragraph, Rudoren's dispatch relies entirely on Palestinian suppositions.  Not a word about Israeli findings that the broken ribs "may indicate resuscitation attempts."  No indication that microscopic and toxicology reports are still pending, thus there should be no rush to judgment.

Rudoren, however, is if anything supremely judgmental as she accepts, hook, line, and sinker, inventive Palestinian scenarios.  In sum, Israel was engaged in a scientific autopsy, while the Palestinian propaganda machine was spewing out a political autopsy, designed to inflame passions against Israel -- with a major assist from the New York Times.

Starting with the second paragraph, Rudoren relies on Issa Qaraka, the Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, who calls a news conference in Ramallah and unqualifiedly indicts Israel -- "the Israeli story was forged and full of lies."  And how does he know that?

Well, he purports to have been briefed by the Palestinian pathologist whom Israel graciously invited to attend the autopsy.  Not a word, of course, about the still pending toxicology and microscopic tests before the autopsy can be completed.

Rudoren takes it from there and weaves a heart-tugging tale of Jaradat, "who worked at a gas station" and is "the father of a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy and came from a family in which all the men spent time in Israeli jails."

Readers also are told by an uncle of Jaradat that the Israeli interrogator told him, "Say goodbye to your kids."

And Rudoren, after totally ignoring the preliminary Israeli autopsy report, gives full coverage to the Palestinian version -- again by the Palestinian prisoner affairs minister, who claims that the autopsy showed "severe bruising in multiple areas, the right side of the chest, the upper right part of the back, upper left shoulder and along the spine near the bottom of the neck. The (Palestinian) pathologist reported no blood clotting or sign of heart damage, but did see two broken ribs, an injury inside the lower lip and blood around the nostrils."

Having given full vent to the Palestinian account, Rudoren reinforces it with her own sympathy for Palestinian prisoners.  "Few issues," she writes, "resonate more deeply in Palestinian society than the plight of prisoners; about 800,000 have been detained in Israeli jails since 1967, according to Palestinian leaders; Mr. Jaradat was the 203rd to die in that time."

Did Rudoren bother to check with Israeli officials about these statistics?  No.  Could some of the deaths be attributable to old age of Palestinian imprisoned lifers?  She doesn't bother to check.

Nor does Rudoren mention that many of these prisoners were engaged in terrorist attacks that, during the second intifada alone, claimed more than 1,000 Israeli lives.  In Rudoren's world, only Palestinian prisoners deserve sympathetic coverage, while their victims are completely ignored.

Basically, Arab lives count for more than Jewish lives in the New York Times.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hezb'allah is a Terrorist Organization

Hezb'allah is a Terrorist Organization

By Michael Curtis

Two current issues, on different continents, are concerned with the same political problem. One is the nomination of John Brennan to be head of the CIA. The other is the trial in Limassol, Cyprus in February 2013 of a 24-year-old Lebanese man alleged to be involved in planning attacks on Israeli tourists and a self-confessed active member of Hezb'allah who told of his secret weapons training with grenades. machine guns, and automatic rifles.

Both issues relate to the need to recognize Hezb'allah as a terrorist organization.

This fact ought to be universally recognized. Hezb'allah's two objectives have been clear from the start: establishing an Islamist-style political regime in Lebanon; and eliminating the State of Israel. It has been responsible for assassinations, suicide bombing, terrorist activity, and missile warfare against Israel. Its terrorist activity appeared dramatically in the bombing on October 23, 1983 of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut where 299 U.S. and French servicemen were killed. It then took part, together with Islamic Jihad, in the hijacking of TWA flight 847 from Cairo to Beirut on June 14, 1985.

Two weeks after the arrest of the Hezb'allah operative in Cyprus who is now on trial for, among other things, planning a bombing attack, such an attack occurred in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian foreign minister, Nikolay Mldenov, on February 17, 2013 informed the European Union members that Hezb'allah had been involved in this terrorism on European soil. Two Hizb'allah operatives who apparently used Australian and Canadian passports planned the suicide terrorist bus bombing in July 2012 at the airport in Burgas, the Black Sea resort in Bulgaria, when five Israeli tourists and a bus driver were killed, and many were injured. Mldenov urged his European colleagues to take collective measures to make sure similar attacks would never happen again in Europe.

Israel has long been familiar with and exposed to such attacks. Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezb'allah has made no secret of his intentions. In 2006 he declared, "there is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel." He boasts of the weaponry in the hands of the organization: accurate missiles and rockets, including, more than 600 missiles with electronic guidance systems acquired from Syria capable of hitting Tel Aviv and Israeli installations, advanced anti-tank missiles and mortars, and also special military units to launch raids on Israeli territory.

Though the United States in 1995 declared that Hezb'allah was a terrorist organization, the countries of the European Union so far have been unwilling to do so. In spite of the clear statement of Mr. Tsvetanov on the Burgas atrocity, the EU's foreign minister Catherine Ashton called only for "reflection" and "serious assessment" of the outcome of any investigation of the attack. Her advice was, "we have to consult and come back."

The EU, and others, has argued that there are two wings to Hezb'allah: one military, the terrorist militia; and the other a political organization which provides social services for the Shi'ite population in Lebanon and is interested in participating in an electoral process to gain power. In making this argument the EU refuses to acknowledge that Hezb'allah had created a "state within a state" in southern Lebanon, and has persisted in and continually threatened to continue terrorist activity against Israeli civilians.

Some members of the U.S. Congress have understood the real nature of Hezb'allah. In September 2012 a letter to Ashton signed by 75 members of Congress cited Hezb'allah's links to Iran and the fact that it was engaging in terrorist acts. Again, on February 18, 2013 more than 100 members of Congress called on her to declare that Hezb'allah was a terrorist organization "to prevent further attacks in Europe and around the world." They might have also mentioned this would prevent Hezb'allah from fundraising in Europe, as well as deter its money laundering, drug smuggling, and interference in the Syrian civil war.
However, the EU as a whole has not yet made a similar statement, though there are some tentative calls for it. The French foreign ministry spokesperson has said that France was officially going to make such a statement though President Fran├žois Hollande has been unwilling to do so, and is still "studying the evidence" of the Burgas investigation. David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, in January 2013 urged British Jewish leaders "to make a noise" and lead a grassroots campaign for the EU to proscribe Hezb'allah, a decision which requires consensus of all 27 members of the EU.

To date, the only countries that list Hezb'allah as a terrorist organization are the U.S., Canada, Israel, and the Netherlands; Britain and Austria list only its military wing as terrorist. Clearly, the EU has not responded sufficiently robustly to the threat of Hizb'allah, including its inadequate response to the conclusions of the investigation of the Burgas attack.

The question now arises of whether John Brennan, adviser to the President on counterterrorism and homeland security, and presumptive incoming head of the CIA, is sufficiently robust on the issue in view of his ambiguous or ambivalent statements in the past. One such statement was made in 2006 on C Span when he asserted that Hezb'allah should not be understood as an evil force, but as a very complex organization that had a terrorist arm to it but also a social and political nature. Another was his statement in August 2009 in Washington that Hezb'allah had a terrorist core but "a lot of Hezb'allah individuals are in fact renouncing that type of terrorism and violence." In May 2010, after Brennan had visited Lebanon, he was quoted as saying that Hezb'allah had "moderate elements" and that President Obama should help build these up.

There has in fact been a noticeable difference between the present American administration and its predecessor. During the Bush administration annual reports always included a statement that Hezb'allah was responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist group. From the start of the Obama administration this statement was omitted from the reports.

One indication of a possible more forthright American position is the recent statement by Secretary of State John Kerry that "We need to send an unequivocal message to this terrorist group (Hezb'allah) that it can no longer engage in despicable actions with impunity." He intended this to be aimed at the Europeans.

Part of the reason for the supine attitude of Europeans and their indifference to Hezb'allah's raising money in Europe is the fear that Hezb'allah might engage in terrorist activity in their own countries. Now that Hezb'allah has shed blood on European soil it is time for the EU to end its obfuscation on the question. It should explicitly recognize and designate Hezb'allah as a terrorist group and should stop its operations in European countries. 

A third intifada?

A third intifada?

Today there were riots in Judea and Samaria, as Arabs protested the death of a prisoner held in Meggido Prison, Arafat Jaradat.

Israeli authorities said that an autopsy, carried out in the presence of a Palestinian doctor, did not show signs of torture. The Palestinian Authority claimed, on the other hand, that there was evidence of bruises and broken ribs. Israel said there were rib fractures but they could be attributed to attempts to resuscitate Jaradat. No cause of death could be determined.

The usual suspects — Amira Hass of Ha’aretz, +972 magazine, etc., — all insist, with zero evidence except their hatred of the Jewish state, that he died as a result of torture. Further tests will be carried out, but the actual facts will not change the opinion of 99% of the people on either side of the issue.

Jaradat, 30, had been arrested after a rock-throwing incident in which an Israeli was hurt. There has been an increase in such attacks on Israelis recently. Khaled Abu Toameh reports,

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said over the weekend that he was in favor of a peaceful and popular resistance and that he and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal have reached agreement on the need for a peaceful intifada.

The two met in Cairo during a recent conference of Islamic countries.

Speaking during an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, Abbas said that he fully supported demonstrations against the security barrier and settlements, as well as Palestinian attempts to establish outposts in the West Bank, but stressed his opposition to violent measures.

“Armed resistance is banned,” he stressed. “This is a law and it is forbidden. It is also forbidden in the Gaza Strip.”

Let me translate this apparently Gandhian remark: Arabs are encouraged to engage in disturbances in which they will throw rocks and launch them from powerful slings at Jewish soldiers and civilians. They may also try to tear apart any of the unwary that they get their hands on, and they may throw homemade firebombs. They will do their best to place security forces in the position that they must use force to defend themselves.

The use of actual firearms and explosives, if such occurs (it will), will be attributed to members of extremist groups that the PA and Hamas do not control. Shootings and bombings will be deplored, but ‘understood’.

It is also important to understand the rationale and the goals of these disturbances. They are currently focusing on the ‘prisoner issue’, that is, the presence of Palestinian Arabs in Israeli jails for security-related offenses. Although many, including murderers, were released in trade for Gilad Shalit, Palestinians continue to engage in terrorism and continue to get arrested.

From the Arab point of view, this is insufferable: first, because any anti-Jewish activity is considered resistance to occupation and therefore is justified; and second, because they do not recognize the authority of the Israeli ‘colonialist’ government to arrest Arabs, whom they view as the indigenous owners of the land. The release of prisoners is one of the PA’s preconditions for negotiation with Israel, along with stopping construction in the territories and eastern Jerusalem.

But why heat things up just now?

Abu Toameh and other commentators have suggested that it is because of the impending visit of Barack Obama to Israel. Although Obama himself hasn’t said much about it, there are indications — particularly from the new Secretary of State, John Kerry — that a new push for an Israel-PA agreement is in the offing.

Kerry is prepared to look reality in the eye and force it to back down:

“We need to try to find a way forward,” Kerry said at his Senate confirmation hearing last month. He said the window to create an independent Palestinian state and to ensure Israeli security soon “could shut on everybody, and that would be disastrous.”

But creating an independent Palestinian state soon would be the worst possible way to “ensure Israeli security!” It’s hard to imagine what logical process went on in Kerry’s head to make this statement possible.

Perhaps the Palestinians do understand whatever drives the illogic of this administration. There will be another intifada; Palestinians will ‘suffer’ even more at the hands of Israel (nobody will talk about Syrians and Egyptians suffering far worse travail at Arab hands); it will be demanded that the US “do something” to “control Israel,” which is preventing “peace” by its intransigence.

The “window” argument given by Kerry will be invoked. Time is running out! Look at the rioting Palestinians… soon it will be impossible to get a “two-state solution!”

Barack Obama will bravely step in to take the political risks necessary to once and for all save Israel and the Palestinians from each other — which he will do by forcing more concessions from Israel, yet again. Of course it won’t fly, not easily, because Israeli leaders understand the consequences of another terror state a few miles from its population centers. Aren’t there other issues that Obama could focus on that are closer to American interests and more likely to bring success?

On contemplating the team Barack Obama has picked — Hagel, Kerry, Brennan — especially on a day like today, which happens to be Purim, one wonders if the supposedly ‘paranoid’ among us could possibly be justified in thinking that one of the very highest priorities of this administration really is to screw Israel?