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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘History’

A History of ‘Evenhanded’ Failure

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

{Originally posted to Commentary Magazine}

Among those diplomats and journalists who don’t simply blame the Arab-Israeli conflict entirely on Israel, the preferred approach is “evenhandedness.” This approach, epitomized by the “cycle of violence” cliché, holds that both sides want peace and are equally to blame for its absence. Remarkably, this view has persisted despite decades of proving wrong in ways that hurt the very countries which espouse it – as demonstrated yet again by newly released documents from the Nixon Administration.

The documents, which Amir Oren reported this week in Haaretz, include redacted versions of the CIA’s daily presidential briefings on the eve of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The agency’s cluelessness is mind-blowing.

On October 5, 1973, one day before the war began, the CIA acknowledged that “The military exercises underway in Egypt seem to be on a larger scale and are being conducted more realistically than previous ones,” but nevertheless insisted that “they do not appear to be preparations for an offensive against Israel.” The agency even dismissed an obvious danger sign as a reasonable response to fears of Israeli aggression: “Cairo may have put its air defense and air forces on alert as a precaution against an Israeli reaction to the initial phase of the exercise.”

On October 6, just hours before the war began, the CIA’s briefing was similarly disconnected from reality:

Tension along Israel’s borders with Egypt and Syria has been heightened by a Soviet airlift that is in its second day. Neither the Israelis nor the Arabs seem bent on starting hostilities, but in this atmosphere the risk of clashes is greater than usual. … Both the Israelis and the Arabs are becoming increasingly concerned about their adversaries’ military activities, but neither side seems bent on starting hostilities … A military initiative at this time would make little sense for either Cairo or Damascus.

Once again, the agency seemed to view potential Israeli aggression as the main concern: “Syria’s cautious President [Hafez] Assad appears braced for a possible second blow from Israel rather than seeking revenge for his recent loss of 13 MIGs to Israeli fighters … Nevertheless, the Syrians’ fears could lead to a mobilization of their defenses, which in turn could alarm and galvanize the Israelis. Such a cycle of action and reaction would increase the risk of military clashes which neither side originally intended.”

And once again, it ignored clear danger signs, like the evacuation of Soviet dependents from Egypt and Syria. While admitting that this could be due to “fear of an outbreak of hostilities,” it optimistically suggested that instead, “The Soviets might be using the excuse of rising tensions to reduce their presence without annoying the Egyptians.”

What actually happened on October 6 is history: Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated assault on Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur. This had serious consequences for America, which I’ll get to shortly. But first, consider the question of why the CIA was so oblivious to the danger signs.

This can’t be attributed solely to its lack of good intelligence sources in Cairo and Damascus, though that lack is evident. First, as Oren noted, America had already received warning from someone with excellent sources in both capitals: King Hussein of Jordan. On September 25, Hussein took the extraordinary step of meeting with Israel’s prime minister, despite the countries’ lack of formal diplomatic ties, to warn that Syria and Egypt would soon attack. Israel relayed this to the White House, which informed the CIA.

Moreover, though the CIA asserted on October 5 that “the Israelis are not nervous” about the Egyptian exercise, on October 6, it acknowledged that the Israelis were now very nervous; they no longer viewed Egypt’s activity as “normal” and Syria’s activity as “defensive.” Since Israel had fought three wars with Syria and Egypt in the past 25 years and monitored its neighbors’ military activity very closely, the fact that Israel now deemed the Egyptian-Syrian activity unusual and worrying was an obvious danger sign, especially against the background of Hussein’s warning. Yet the CIA dismissed it as unimportant, blithely reiterating that “neither side” wanted hostilities and that its main concern was any Israeli move which could provoke “a cycle of action and reaction.”

The only explanation that makes sense is the one that emerges clearly from the briefings’ language: The CIA was so committed to its “evenhanded” approach, in which “neither side” wanted war, that it ignored all evidence to the contrary. Yet in reality, only one side wanted to avoid war. The other side, Syria and Egypt, was in fact “bent on starting hostilities.”

This ideological blindness ended up hurting not just Israel, but also America. Because the CIA insisted that neither side wanted war, and that the real danger was Israeli action, which could provoke a Syrian/Egyptian response, Washington exerted heavy pressure on Israel to refrain not just from launching a preemptive strike, but also even from a large-scale call-up of the reserves. This pressure might have been less effective had Israel’s own intelligence agencies not also blundered, but it nevertheless contributed to the final result: Israel ended up absorbing a two-front attack from two much larger armies without adequate forces in place to meet it. Consequently, it suffered a rout during the first few days and had insufficient weaponry left to launch a counteroffensive.

This was the height of the Cold War, and an American client was already losing to Communist forces in Vietnam; Washington couldn’t afford to have an American client lose to two Soviet clients in the Mideast as well. So Nixon ordered a massive airlift of arms, which enabled Israel to win a decisive victory.

But the airlift had two pernicious consequences. First, it inflamed tensions with America’s European allies, since European countries categorically refused to let the U.S. planes land and refuel (Portugal eventually capitulated to American pressure and permitted refueling in the Azores Islands). More importantly, it inflamed the Arab world, which responded with an oil embargo that inflicted major damage on the U.S. economy.

The oil embargo probably wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the airlift. The airlift might have been unnecessary had Washington not pressured Israel before the war to refrain from steps that could have helped it win quickly, like a preemptive strike or an earlier call-up of the reserves. And Washington might not have pressured Israel in this fashion had it actually understood that Syria and Egypt were “bent on starting hostilities.” But the CIA, stuck in its “evenhanded” mindset, provided policy makers with egregiously incorrect assessments. And America paid the price.

Forty-three years later, it seems the lessons still haven’t been learned. The Palestinians and Hezbollah have replaced Cairo and Damascus as Israel’s main Arab enemies (Iran is non-Arab), but the world still prates about the “cycle of violence” and insists that “neither side” wants war, no matter how many times the Arabs say otherwise. And Western countries are still suffering from their own cluelessness about the conflict’s real nature.

Evelyn Gordon

The Truth About the UN with Danny Ayalon

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

Video of the Day

Kedumim’s Early Pioneers Celebrate 40 Years in Samaria

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

by Anav Silverman On Tuesday night, thousands of people gathered together to celebrate 40 years to the establishment of Samaria’s first community – Kedumim, home to over 900 families. Participants included Chief Rabbi David Lau, who spoke at the festivities, along with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Culture Minister Miri Regev, and MK Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, among other public figures and supporters.

The celebrations also included a reunion of the original members of the Elon Moreh pioneering group, many of whom are grandparents today. Affiliated with the Gush Emunim settlement movement, the Elon Moreh pioneering group established Kedumim following the Yom Kippur War.

Led by Rabbi Menachem Felix and Benny Katzover, the young members did not immediately succeed in settling the barren Samaria hilltops. “We went up seven times, and we were removed each time,” Benny Katzover recalled of the group’s attempts to settle in the early 1970s in Sebastia, near Shechem, during an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

“But nothing could stop our spirit,” said Katzover, 68, founder and leader of the Elon Moreh community, located northeast of Shechem in northern Samaria.

At the time, the Israeli government did not support the group’s activities and the army removed the residents from Sebastia, the capital of the ancient biblical kingdom of Israel. But by their eighth attempt on Hanukkah 1975, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin compromised and allowed the settlers to stay in Samaria, with 30 families settling in Kadum, an army camp. It was the first time that Jewish inhabitants populated the rocky mountaintops of Samaria since ancient times.

Among the supporters of the Elon Moreh pioneering group was the late Ahuvia Tabekin, of Kibbutz Ein Harod, whose wife, Chava, spoke during Kedumim’s celebrations. Ahuvia, the son of Yitzhak Tabekin, the founder of the United Kibbutz Movement and a labor movement leader, strongly supported the Jewish settlement of Samaria.

“Ideology about land was different back then, even among some kibbutz members,” said Chava Tabekin, who also pointed out that Ein Harod took part in building Kedumim’s synagogue – the first synagogue to be built in Samaria. “Ahuvia supported Kedumim from its inception. He was a member of both Kibbutz Ein Harod and a resident of Kedumim.”

Other early pioneers of Kedumim remembered the difficult beginnings. “When we first came to Kedumim, everything was barren and the conditions were very hard,” Nurit Ben-Menachem Graus, 67, told TPS.

Graus, who grew up in Tel Aviv and was the first teacher in Kedumim, said that she and her husband came to Samaria 40 years ago out of ideology. “There was no water, no electricity,” she said. “We came because this is the land of our forefathers.”

“All my children and grandchildren live in Samaria today,” said Graus. “We made history happen.”

Chana Gofer told TPS that she and her family came to Kedumim in August 1979. “There were only 40 families at the time, and we arrived with 40 more families, following Menachem Begin’s promise to settle the heartland of Israel. Kedumim doubled its population within one night,” recalled Gofer, whose has grown children living in Samaria today.

“Today we have over 400,000 Jewish residents living in Judea and Samaria,” said Yigal Dilmoni, the deputy head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria to TPS. “It’s amazing how 40 people paved the way and completely transformed the reality of Judea and Samaria – to one where we have 200 thriving communities today.”

“We are here in their merit.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Netanyahu Responds to UN Special Envoy’s Statement on the “Illegality” of Settlements

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

By Ilana Messika/TPS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on Tuesday to the statements made by United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov that the Israeli presence in Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem constitutes an impediment to peace.

“The UN envoy to the Middle East’s remarks to the Security Council distort history and international law and drive peace even further away,” Netanyahu claimed in a statement.

“Jews have been in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace,” the prime minister stated. “The obstacle to peace is the unending attempt to deny the Jewish people’s connection to parts of their historic land and the obdurate refusal to recognize that they are not foreigners there,”

“The claim that Jewish construction in Jerusalem is illegal is as absurd as the claim that American construction in Washington or French construction in Paris is illegal,” Netanyahu continued. “The Palestinian demand that a future Palestinian state be ethnically cleansed of Jews is outrageous, and the UN must condemn it instead of adopting it.”

Mladenov had called upon Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Monday in a video briefing to the United Nations Security Council from his office in Jerusalem to “reverse the negative trajectory” of the peace process.

Mladenov also claimed that the recent recommendations by the Middle East Quartet report in July, 2016 had been grossly ignored. The report had listed continued violence, terrorist attacks against civilians, incitement to violence, settlement construction and expansion, and the Palestinian Authority’s lack of control in Gaza as the main threats at present to a negotiated peace.

The UN envoy declared that according to UN Resolution 446 of March, 1979, Israeli settlements in occupied territory have no legal validity and have since then constituted an obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East.

“No legal acrobatics can change the fact that all outposts, whether ‘legalized’ under Israeli law or not, whether located on state land, absentee land, or private land, just like all settlements in Area C and in East Jerusalem, remain illegal under international law,” Mladenov insisted.

Mladenov reported that since July 1, Israel has moved plans forward for over 1,000 housing units in eastern Jerusalem—in Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, Har Homa, and Gilo—as well as 735 units in Ma’ale Adumim and other settlements in the West Bank, while allocating funding for more.

The terse exchange of statements between the UN envoy and the Israeli prime minister follows a recent diplomatic crisis faced by the UN and Israel last month when Waheed Borsh, an engineer employed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Gaza, was indicted on August 9 for using his position to funnel resources to the Hamas terrorist organization.

According to Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, Mladenov’s remarks hindered the peace process while further validating the UN’s hypocritical attitude towards Israel.

“His words are in complete isolation from the facts on the ground,” said Danon. “Israel will continue to build the eternal capital of Jerusalem, just as the nations of the world will continue to build capitals without checking in with the United Nations.”

“The UN should concentrate on solving the main obstacle in the area, which is the Palestinian refusal to condemn terrorism and to return to the negotiating table,” he concluded.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Why Is The Most Corrupt Candidate In History Winning Big?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, The Daily Wire}

The most corrupt candidate in the history of the presidency, Hillary Clinton, is cruising toward victory. If the election were held today, she’d win in excess of 360 electoral votes. She’s currently leading in Pennsylvania (+9.2 percent), Michigan (+6.6 percent), Ohio (+2.6 percent), Virginia (+8 percent), New Hampshire (+8.2 percent), Georgia (+0.3 percent), Florida (+3.6 percent), Iowa (+0.4 percent), Wisconsin (+9.4 percent), Colorado (+11 percent), North Carolina (+2 percent), Nevada (+2.3 percent). Trump’s barely ahead in Arizona (+0.3 percent) and Missouri (+5.3 percent).

How in the world is she winning?

In the last three months, the head of the FBI has said she was “extremely careless” with classified material and came whisker-close to indicting her. Every day, new headlines break about the cozy and likely illegal relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department. She’s unlikable, she’s nasty, and she’s boring.

How can she be blowing out anyone, even Donald Trump?

The answer lies in what economist George Gilder might call the “information theory” of politics. Gilder says that the economy runs on new information changing the equilibrium. In essence, there is a steady drone of old information in the economy – and that’s what creates an economic status quo. Both entrepreneurial successes and devastating depressions add new information to the economy, which is why you see movement in the markets.

But old information doesn’t change anything.

This is the problem with Hillary: she doesn’t add any new information to the system. We already knew Hillary was deeply corrupt from her time in the White House. From Whitewater to Chinagate, from Travelgate to leading up the coverup for Bill’s sexual harrassments, Hillary’s corruption has been top of mind for well over two decades.

And her threats to national security have been well known for years, too. In 1996, the Clinton campaign allegedly took Chinese donations in return for declassifying sensitive missile technology, which the Chinese then used for their weaponry. So it’s no surprise to find out that she’d willingly sell access to foreign nations in return for donations to the Clinton Foundation slush fund.

In other words, she’s been so dirty for so long that it’s almost impossible to add new information to the system. All she has to do is continue to be the same old kind of dirty we already knew she was, and she’ll waltz her way to the White House.

Trump promised to expose Hillary to criticism she’d never felt before, but he hasn’t done it. Instead, Trump has provided new information to the system every day. While we’ve known Trump for as long (longer!) than Hillary, we didn’t know him on a political level in any serious way. We knew him as an entertaining business magnate and personal branding specialist. But nobody had any real perspective on his view of disabled reporters and Mexican judges. While Hillary refuses to add any new information to the system, Trump’s adding new information every day. That’s why Hillary’s campaign continues to maintain stability while Trump’s seems to bump up and down, nearly at random.

This means that if Trump wants to win, he’ll have to somehow reverse that polarity. He’ll have to force Hillary off her game – he’ll have to give us new information, a new angle about her. We already knew Hillary was Crooked Hillary; labeling her that doesn’t change the background noise. And we didn’t know that Trump was as volatile as he’s proven to be.

Trump needs to stabilize, of course. And then he needs to punch at Hillary, expose information about her most people don’t know. That’s tougher than it looks. We now live in an era where politicians benefit from surviving years of corruption – it makes them seem stable by comparison with newbies who make lots of mistakes and commit lots of sins. That’s Hillary’s major advantage, even more than the media that licks her boots. And that’s the advantage Trump will have to overcome.

Ben Shapiro

Welcome to Israel with Ezri Tubi

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Ezri Tubi give a tour of Israel’s historical roots.

Video of the Day

Israelis and Arabs: “Etzion Bloc Should Be Center of Peace, Not War”

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

By Anna Rudnitsky/TPS

Efrat (TPS) – Arabs and Israelis met on Tuesday evening at the library of the Etzion-bloc community of Efrat to learn about the history of Jewish-Arab relations in the region and about the cooperation that has existed between them throughout the past century.

“We thought that it was important to show that Jewish-Arab relations do not have to be hostile and that they actually used to be friendly, at least here in Gush Etzion. We think that there is even hope for this today, despite the difficult and often bloody reality we live in,” Kfar Etzion Field School Director Yaron Rozental, who helped organize the event, told TPS.

Historian Yohanan Ben-Yaakov shared stories about the establishment of Jewish settlements in the region that he said may not be as well known as others. “Israelis are usually familiar with war stories about the Etzion bloc, about brave Jewish fighters and the numerous sacrifices that they made,” he said. “It is always presented as a very simple story—there were good guys and bad guys, and the good guys won. Relations between Jews and Arabs here were not always that black and white.”

Ben-Yaakov spoke about the settlement of Migdal Eder, the inhabitants of which were saved during the pogroms of 1929 by Arabs from the neighboring village of Beit Ummar, and about Kfar Etzion founder Shmuel Holzman’s son, a Jewish doctor who opened an infirmary near the Etzion bloc junction in 1929 with the intention of helping the local Arab population.

“It’s written in the Torah that Esau hates Yaakov, and everybody remembers these words. Few know what is written later, that he kissed him with his whole heart. These two feelings go hand in hand here today as well and it is up to us to choose between love and hatred,” Ben Yaakov concluded.

The event also featured speakers such as Dr. Yitzhak Glick, brother of MK Yehuda Glick, who received the Moskowitz Prize in 2012 for the free medical assistance he has provided to the people of the Etzion bloc, including to Palestinians, who know him as “our doctor.”

“Gush Etzion must be the center of peace not just in Israel, but in the world,” Dr. Glick maintained.

The event was also organized by Roots, a grassroots initiative which regularly facilitates meetings between Israelis and Arabs. The organization helped bring several Arabs from the nearby villages of Beit Ummar and Yatta to the event. Roots co-founder Khaled Abu Awwad said that he believes that such events could be more effective in bringing peace to the Middle East than meetings between Abbas and Netanyahu.

“Peace between our peoples must grow from the bottom up and only we can break the walls of alienation and hatred that have been put up between us,” he said. “We belong to this land, but the land does not belong to anyone so we must learn to live here together in peace.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israelis-and-arabs-etzion-bloc-should-be-center-of-peace-not-war/2016/08/03/

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