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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘international affairs’

High Stakes in Iran for Ahmadinejad

Monday, May 6th, 2013

In Iran almost nothing is what it seems to be. Iranian culture is formal; it places a premium on politeness and manners. By violating both principles, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been mesmerizing Iranians, to the delight of the masses and the embarrassment of the few. When Iranian reporters in New York, for instance, told him that the Iranian parliamentarians had criticized him, he shot back “Goh khordand” (“They can go eat [explitive]“).

Referring to the U.S.-Iranian relationship, Ahmadinejad refers to breast-feeding babies and uses profanity, and his audience loves him! The first reference comes from a Persian expression: Mamaro looloo bord ["The ogre has taken away the mother's breastfeeding"], meaning: From now on, the rules have been changed and you had better listen to me.

Ahmadinejad constantly belittles the regime’s enemies — and is the most successful leader to do so since the death of Khomeini. Khomeini prophetically proclaimed, “America cannot do a damn thing,” and history seems to have proven him right — both throughout the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the pullback of the Marines from Beirut by President Reagan, through the present failure of the U.S. to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad keeps standing up to America and America keeps doing nothing to stop him. It was America alone, by doing nothing, that enabled Khomeini to achieve greatness and maintain his grip on power.

Ahmadinejad follows in Khomeini’s footsteps. He proclaims the holocaust is a myth; he constantly belittles America, and the U.S. still does nothing. When Ahmadinejad is interviewed by the American media, the interviewers are ill-prepared: they never ask follow-up questions, challenge his lies, or call his bluff.

Iranian society, like most of us, likes winners, and if winning comes through the principle of zerangi [winning at the expense of others], and you come out on top, all the better.

Ahmadinejad is, moreover, known as a big teller of tall tales and white lies: a chakhan. Telling tall tales and white lies is embedded within the Islamic culture of Iran: in the religious writings, telling white lies to your enemies is encouraged. As a devout Shi’ite Muslim, Ahmadinejad is practicing taqiya [dissimulation] — completely acceptable if used to advance the goals of the Islamic Republic — and also possibly your rule — whenever and wherever necessary.

During Ahmadinejad’s latest trip to Isfahan province, the Fars News Agency, which is friendly towards him, carried multiple pictures of him and his choice for the next president, Esfandyar Mashai; it went on to show single photographs of Mashai. It just so happens that Mashai is also related to Ahmadinejad by marriage: his son married Mashai’s daughter. Blood alliances are a big factor in Iranian politics.

If we are to understand the fierce battles now raging among Iran’s rulers, we need to find answers to the following questions: What has emboldened Ahmadinejad to use such foul language in public when addressing his adversaries?

  • Who and what is emboldening him openly to support, as his successor, Mashai, a man singled out by other forces in the regime for criticism?
  • Are these signs of a major power shift in the Islamic Republic?

We can draw two conclusions from the above:

  • Ahmadinejad dares not give the impression that he is weak;
  • He is certain that his opponents — three Larijani brothers and Khamene’i — are weak.
  • As an activist, however, within the ranks of the veterans of the Revolutionary Guards, he must feel that they cover his back. This is a game of high-stakes poker, following in the footsteps of large sums that have been transferred out of Iran by the cronies of the regime.

The stakes are so high, in fact, that Ahmadinejad is providing videos of another Larijani brother, Fazael Larijani, demanding bribes. This video was screened in parliament to the shame and amazement of the speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani.

For Ahmadinejad, this is a win-win gamble. He can either succeed by blackmailing his opposition within the ruling Islamic regime not to harm him, or, should he be harmed, he will be granted martyrdom — a lofty and much sought-after status in the current messianic Shi’ite regime.

Israel’s Surprising Economic and Strategic Position

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Israel’s economic and strategic situation is surprisingly bright right now. That’s partly due to the government’s own economic restraint and strategic balancing act, partly due to a shift in Obama Administration policy and partly due to the conflicts among Israel’s adversaries.

Let’s start with the economy. During 2012, Israel’s economy grew by 3.1 percent. While some years ago this would not be all that impressive it is amazing given the international economic recession. The debt burden actually fell from 79.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product to only 73.8 percent. As the debt of the United States and other countries zooms upwards, that’s impressive, too.

Israel’s credit rating also rose at a time when America’s was declining. Standard and Poor lifted the rating from A to A+. Two other rating systems, Moody’s and Fitch, also increased Israel’s rating.Now not only is gas from Israel’s offshore fields starting to flow but a new estimate is that the fields are bigger than expected previously.

And that’s not all. Unemployment fell from 8.5 percent in 2009 to either 6.8 to 6.9 percent (according to Israel’s bureau of statistics) or 6.3 percent (according to the CIA).

In terms of U.S.-Israel relations, the visit of President Barack Obama and Israel’s cooperation on Iran and on an attempted conciliation with Turkey brought quick rewards. For the first time, Israel will be allowed to purchase KC-135 aerial refueling planes, a type of equipment that could be most useful for attacking Iranian nuclear facilities among other things.

The same deal—which includes sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to make U.S. allies feel more secure vis-à-vis Iran—includes V-22 Osprey planes that can switch between helicopter and plane mode. Israel is the first foreign country to be allowed to purchase this system. It could be used for border patrols—a bigger problem given the decline in the stability along the Egyptian and Syrian borders—and troop transport.

Finally, there would be more advanced radars for Israeli planes and a new type of missile useful for knocking out enemy anti-aircraft sites, potentially useful against Iran among other targets. In addition, an Israeli company is now going to be making the wings for the advanced U.S. F-35 fighter planes.

The completion of the border fence with Egypt increases security in places where Palestinian and Egyptian Islamist groups are trying to attack. It also has reduced illegal civilian crossings to zero. Ironically, Israel has gotten control of its border while the U.S. government proclaims that task to be impossible for itself.

And of course there is the usual and widely varied progress on medical, agricultural, and hi-tech innovations. Here is a summary of those inventions.That doesn’t mean problems don’t exist, including a budget deficit caused by some boosts in social spending (responding to protests in 2012) and unexpected defense spending to protect the border with Egypt or to handle the Iranian threat. But that deficit will be addressed, unlike in other countries. (Here is a discussion of the problems and likely policies of the new government).

The picture is even bright regarding U.S.-Israel relations, certainly compared to the previous four years. This point is highlighted by Wikileaks publication of a U.S. embassy dispatch of January 4, 2010, describing my article that day in the Jerusalem Post:

“[As far as Israel is concerned] what is important is that Obama and his entourage has learned two things. One of them is that bashing Israel is politically costly. American public opinion is very strongly pro-Israel. Congress is as friendly to Israel as ever. For an administration that is more conscious of its future reelection campaign than any previous one, holding onto Jewish voters and ensuring Jewish donations is very important….

“The other point is that the administration has seen that bashing Israel doesn’t get it anywhere. For one thing, the current Israeli government won’t give in easily and is very adept at protecting its country’s interests. This administration has a great deal of trouble being tough with anyone. If in fact the Palestinians and Arabs were eager to make a deal and energetic about supporting other U.S. policies, the administration might well be tempted to press for an arrangement that largely ignored Israeli interests.

Obama and the Red Line

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Political metaphors may simplify or symbolize actual or anticipated events but take a toll on political responsibility and sincerity. Throughout history, including the “line in the dirt” challenge of Colonel William Travis in March 1836 at the Alamo, lines have been drawn in the sand as indicators of intentions or actions. Individuals since Julius Caesar, who in January 49 B.C. violated the rule that Roman generals were forbidden to bring their troops into the territory of the Roman Empire and invaded with his army from the area of Gaul, have taken decisive action and crossed the Rubicon.

The most recent metaphor in American politics is the “red line,” supposedly a stronger warning than these other metaphors that an action or behavior will not be tolerated. A “line” is more definite and durable than “sand” or the flowing Rubicon, and has an analogy with a geographical line. The present dilemma for President Barack Obama, and to a lesser extent for Hillary Clinton, who in August 2012 similarly spoke of a red line but now is no longer secretary of state, stems from his use of this metaphor on a number occasions regarding Syria.

The problem for Obama is that in August 2012 he unequivocally said the use of chemical weapons by Syria would be a “red line for us…. There would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front, or the use of chemical weapons. That would change my calculus, or calculations, significantly.”

Of course one can appreciate, as Obama said to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, that though information has filtered out in Syria, “we have to make sure that we know exactly what happened… I think having the facts before you act is very important.” This was clearly a not very subtle reference to the actions of President George W. Bush in justifying the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 because of the information of supposed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the country, information that turned out to be inaccurate or not corroborated.

It is understandable that no imminent attack is envisaged or that quick military action against Syria is improbable, or perhaps has never been contemplated by Obama. Yet there are real problems with Obama’s position and lack of action following the rhetoric. First, there is the refusal to admit that the existing facts made known so far justify that action. Although three countries, Britain, France, and Israel, as well as U.S. intelligence agencies, have declared that chemical weapons have been used in Syria on at least two occasions, and Secretary of State John Kerry said they had been used in Aleppo and near Damascus, the Obama administration still maintains that this is insufficient confirmation.

Reservations about Syrian actions were expressed with cautious nonchalance by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on April 25, 2013 when he stated that “The U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria.” Secretary Hagel still had “uncertainties about what was used, what kind of chemicals was used, when it was used, who used it.”

Obama has been even more reserved. The mantra, often repeated concerning Iran, that “all options are on the table,” is now applied to Syria. But Obama’s utterances of the last week suggest otherwise. It has long been clear that Syria has chemical weapons — sarin, mustard gas, and other military-grade agents that attack the respiratory and nervous systems. But a problem regarding Obama’s position is that sarin gas, a nerve agent that can be found in human tissue, dissipates within a short time. Asking for more time to investigate and find evidence thus is less likely to lead to success.

Nevertheless, Obama on April 26, 2013 said he was responding “prudently” and “deliberately” to evidence that Syria had used chemical weapons. Using language — “prudence” and “deliberate assessment” — more like that of Edmund Burke than of a liberal Democrat, Obama was seeking further proof of culpability for the chemical attacks. In view of the refusal of the Syrian government to allow United Nations inspectors or the head of the U.N. agency for disarmament into the country, a refusal backed by Russia, it is difficult to see how the indisputable proof can be found. In his conversation with the King of Jordan on April 26, the president spoke of the need to obtain more direct evidence and confirmation of this “potential” use of chemical weapons.

The Rise of China’s Militant Nationalism

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

In April 2012, China’s ships surrounded Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. By July, the Chinese had erected a barrier to the reef’s entrance, denying access to all but their own vessels. The swift action was taken despite mutual promises by Beijing and Manila to leave the area, which up until then had been controlled by the Philippines. Chinese state media gloated over the deception.

After gobbling up Scarborough, Chinese vessels and aircraft stepped up their intrusion into Japanese territorial waters and airspace around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, in an effort to wrest them from Tokyo. In a display of massive force, eight Chinese ships entered the waters around the uninhabited outcroppings on the 23 of this month. On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry said the islands were a “core interest,” meaning that Beijing will not stop until it has taken control of them. Some analysts think China will try to land forces on the Senkakus soon.

Beijing’s aggression on the seas is being matched by its aggression on land. During the night of April 15, a Chinese platoon-strength force advanced 10 kilometers south of the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border between China and India in the Himalayas, and established a tented camp in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector of eastern Ladakh. In recent days, Chinese troops advanced another 10 kilometers into India, one more bold attempt to take ground from a neighboring country.

China is a belligerent state that seeks to seize territory from an arc of nations: from India in the south, to South Korea in the north. At the same time, we are hearing war talk from the Chinese capital—from civilians, such as new leader Xi Jinping, to China’s senior military officers. Washington has yet to understand the fundamental challenge China’s militant nationalism poses to America and to the international community.

At one time, it seemed that Beijing, for its own reasons, wanted to work with the U.S. Washington, in turn responded to Chinese overtures. Since Nixon’s trip to Beijing in 1972, the U.S. “engaged” the Chinese to bring them into the international community. The concept was that our generous policies would avoid the devastation that Germany and Japan precipitated last century. The American approach proved durable, despite tumultuous change over the course of four decades, precisely because it was consistent with our conception of our global role as the ultimate guarantor of peace and stability. The policy of engagement of China was enlightened, far-sighted, and generous.

It was also a mistake.

Beijing prospered because of America’s engagement, and while the Chinese required help, they seemed to accept the world as it was. Now, however, they believe they no longer need others and are therefore trying to change the world for the worse. China is not only claiming territories of others but also trying to close off international waters and airspace; proliferating nuclear weapons technology to Iran; supplying equipment to North Korea’s ballistic missile program; supporting rogue elements around the globe; launching cyber attacks on free societies; undermining human rights norms, and engaging in predatory trade tactics that helped tip the global economy over the edge in 2008.

Beijing has gone on a bender. Soon after President Obama’s troubled summit in the Chinese capital in November 2009, China dropped all pretense and started openly to challenge the American-led international system. Chinese diplomats, officials, and officers spent less time explaining, persuading, and cajoling and more time complaining, pressuring, and threatening. In early 2010, China’s flag officers and senior colonels made a point of publicly talking about fighting a war — a “hand-to-hand fight with the U.S.,” as one put it — in the near future. China, as Robert Sutter of George Washington University points out, is the only major power actively planning to kill Americans, and, judging from public comments, China’s senior officers are relishing the prospect of doing so.

IT IS NOT HARD to understand how China became a militant state. First, Chinese leaders became arrogant, evidently believing they were leading the world’s next great power. They saw economic turmoil elsewhere and told us through their media that the United States and the rest of the West were in terminal decline.

Second, the ruling Communist Party was going through a tumultuous leadership transition that, despite appearances, is still not completed. As the so-called Fourth Generation, led by Hu Jintao, gave way to the Fifth, under the command of Xi Jinping, feuding civilians sought support for their personal political ambitions from the flag officers of the People’s Liberation Army. Consequently, the generals and admirals effectively became arbiters in the Party’s increasingly rough game of politics. And in a time of political transition, almost no civilian leader was in a position — or willing to take a risk — to tell the top brass what to do. As a result, the military gained substantial influence, perhaps becoming the most powerful faction in the Communist Party.

The UN: When is Enough Enough?

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

With regard to the U.N., when is enough enough?

The U.N. is supposed to promote peace and human rights. But since the Six-Day War, it has systematically abetted the efforts of the Arab nations to destroy the Jewish state.

Most people have heard of resolution 3379, passed in 1975, which equated Zionism with racism (and which was finally repealed in 1991). But look at resolution 3236 (1974) which asserts that the PLO — a terrorist organization which had not even pretended to renounce violence — is the “representative of the Palestinian people,” and which, among other things,

Reaffirms also the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return;

Then there is Resolution 3376 (1975) which

2. Expresses its grave concern that no progress has been achieved towards:
(a) The exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights in Palestine, including the right to self-determination without external interference and the right to national independence and sovereignty;

(b) The exercise by Palestinians of their inalienable right to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted;

3. Decides to establish a Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) composed of twenty member States to be appointed by the General Assembly at the current session;

Similar resolutions calling for “return” of “refugees” and Palestinian sovereignty have been passed on an annual basis.

In addition to the CEIRPP, the U.N. has established several other bodies to prosecute its diplomatic war against the Jewish state. In 1968, UNGA resolution 2443 established the “Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People” (SCIIHRP), and In 1977, resolution 32/40 created yet another U.N. body dedicated to the Palestinian cause, the Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR).

So what do these agencies do, besides soak up huge amounts of money and scarce parking spaces in New York and Geneva? Here is one explanation (2005):

CEIRPP and SCIIHRP are committees of the General Assembly but it is DPR that does the work. Lodged within the U.N. Department of Political Affairs, which is headed by an Under the Secretary General and two Assistant Secretaries General, the DPR is on the same level as regional bureaus which, in theory, track major developments all over the world. The DPR is equivalent to two regional bureaus for Africa, one for the Americas and Europe, and one for Asia Pacific. One might have difficulty understanding how the DPR merits the same status, staff and budget as the aforementioned regional offices.

The DPR’s website explains its functions: The Division provides support and services to CEIRPP, planning and organizing its programs, including a round-robin of international conferences such as those discussed below. It maintains relations with a network of “more than 1000 NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) from all regions active on the question of Palestine.” It organizes the annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” mourning the U.N. resolution of November 29, 1947, which called for the Palestinian Mandate to be divided between a Jewish and an Arab state. (At this annual event, Israel is routinely denounced and the Palestinian “right of return” is highlighted as a sacred principle.) The DPR prepares reports and publications “on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian People” and, in cooperation with the U.N.’s Department of Public Information, promotes their worldwide distribution. The DPR also develops and maintains the Web-based United Nations Information System on “the question of Palestine,” UNISPAL, which, in collaboration with the UN Department of Public Information, sends out anti-Israel press releases, funnels television footage to international broadcasters friendly to the Palestinians and hostile to the Israelis, and circulates news stories favorable to the Palestinians via email to 27,000 subscribers.

In the past three years, the DPR has arranged and staffed 10 international conferences – officially sponsored by CEIRPP – at which “information” about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is disseminated to an audience of diplomats, NGO’s and representatives of other U.N. agencies. These conferences are sponsored and paid for by the U.N. The most recent meeting, held at UNESCO in Paris on July 11-12, 2005, called for a campaign of divestment, boycotts and sanctions against Israel, consciously modeled on the effort to end the system of apartheid in South Africa. The previous session in Geneva on March 8-9, 2005, was devoted to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice denouncing Israel’s security barrier. As might be expected, no one on the program questioned the legality of the ICJ opinion or provided information about revisions in the fence’s route ordered by Israel’s High Court.

It is almost impossible to determine the amount of money that goes into these activities. Ami Isseroff wrote this in 2005:

Together, [DPR, CEIRPP and SCIIHRP] receive an annual budget of about $5.5 Million. In addition, over half a million dollars are spent on “Information Activities on the Question of Palestine,” which has been in the budget of the UN Department of Public Information since 1977, separate from the budget of the DPR. There is also a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. That function was created in 1993, apparently to torpedo the Oslo accords signed in the same year.  The special rapporteur on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is its only expert mandate with no year of expiry. The post was renewed even after the U.N.  Human Rights Council was reorganized because of absurdities such as election of Libya as chairperson. However,  it is impossible to trace all the money spent on anti-Israel propaganda, because the funding is hidden in bodies such as the UN Human Rights Council [today called 'commission'], which spends an inordinate effort on “Palestine” and in UNRWA, which diverts funds that are supposed to be spent on supporting Palestinian refugees.

I presume the amount is much greater today. And what about UNRWA itself, the agency set up to provide “emergency” aid for refugees, which has since morphed into a huge enterprise with a budget of $1.2 billion (2011), and whose function is to pay “Palestinian refugees” to have children and to prevent their resettlement anywhere except Israel?

Obama’s Flawed Advice To Israel (First of Two Parts)

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

It’s farewell to the drawing-room’s civilized cry, the professor’s sensible whereto and why, The frock-coated diplomat’s social aplomb, Now matters are settled with gas and with bomb.

W.H. Auden, Danse Macabre One must presume that President Obama’s most recent calls for Israeli cooperation in the Middle East peace process are balanced, fair, and well-intentioned. Why not? At the same time, unsurprisingly, these all-too-familiar calls are manifestly thin, in the sense that they lack any genuine intellectual content.

At best reminiscent of former president Bill Clinton’s inept and unforgivable orchestrations of Oslo, they are merely the latest unimaginative representation of “old wine in new bottles.” At worst, and once again evocative of Clinton’s long reach of incapacity, they exhibit a conspicuously shallow compilation of empty witticisms. For Obama, as for Clinton before him, advising Israel always entails inevitable diplomatic default: a visceral capitulation to comforting banalities, and convenient half-truths.

In any event, one analytic conclusion is abundantly clear and incontestable. Mr. Obama’s core argument is founded upon thoroughly incorrect strategic and jurisprudential assumptions. Intellectually, this argument is an unwitting self-parody.

The key problem is not, as the president still seems to think, Israel’s unwillingness to compromise more fully. It’s not that Israel is unwilling to make more “painful sacrifices for peace.” It is, rather, the plainly asymmetrical commitment to peace that continues to exist between the Palestinian side(s) and the Israeli side.

It makes no real sense to ask that Israel undertake increasing and incremental surrenders to a bifurcated enemy (Fatah and Hamas) that can still gleefully share at least one overriding commitment – that is, a relentless and generally unhidden dedication to Israel’s “liquidation.”

Let Obama finally take note. From the beginning, the only Israeli compromise that could have satisfied both Fatah and Hamas would have been a perversely codified Israeli commitment to self-destruction and national disappearance. Should Israel now be expected to be complicit in its own genocide?

International law is not a suicide pact. Why hasn’t Obama even looked at the unambiguous historical record? Even before formal conferral statehood in 1948, Israel had sought, courageously and reasonably, to negotiate with its many unheroic and unreasonable enemies. Always, in these efforts, Jerusalem had preferred peace to war.

Nonetheless, challenged by insistent and interminable Arab aggressions, diplomacy has insistently failed Israel. Even the most visible example of any alleged diplomatic “success,” the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty of 1979, is apt to fail calamitously sometime in the post-Mubarak/Muslim Brotherhood era. It’s only a matter of time.

Whatever the neatly fashioned expectations demanded from Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu is first obligated to inquire: What real chance exists that, somehow, this time and also for the future, diplomacy might actually be purposeful?

From Oslo to the present “Road Map,” diplomacy over Israel’s rights and obligations has always been a blatantly one-sided process.

Ironically, Israel’s principal enemies remain thoroughly candid. On some things they do not lie. When it comes to their unceasing intention to annihilate the “Zionist entity” they are seemingly sworn to truth.

The principal disputing Palestinian factions (Fatah or Hamas, it makes little difference) will never accept anything less than Israel’s complete removal. This is already obvious to anyone who cares to pay attention to what is actually said. Moreover, in a clearly corroborating bit of explicit cartography, every PA and Hamas map already incorporates all of Israel within “Palestine.”

Toward the end of his tenure, former prime minister Ehud Olmert released several hundred Palestinian terrorists as a “goodwill gesture.” Together with then-president George W. Bush, he had decided to aid Fatah against Hamas with outright transfers of weapons and information. Soon after, the American and Israeli guns were turned (predictably) against Israel.

As for Olmert’s graciously extended “goodwill,” it only served to elicit the next multiple rounds of murderous rocket fire. Matters were not helped at all by the Bush administration’s corollary support for a Palestinian state, a thoroughly misconceived support now being more or less viscerally extended by Barack Obama.

…Continued Next Week

Kissing the Crocodile

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

In Vienna, toward the end of the Age of Aquarius, a father bought his little girl a baby crocodile for her birthday. The child had become enchanted with the reptile after seeing a picture of it in a storybook and when all the other presents were opened, her new pet was presented to her.

The little girl was delighted with the present. She began to play with the baby croc and then tried to kiss it. The croc bit her on the nose. The little girl began to cry and had to be taken to the hospital. And the angry father went off to dispose of the nasty little beast.

On the next day, the police responded to reports of a strange creature in the Danube canal, that arm of the great river which flows timidly through the locks and into the city. Vienna being full of animal lovers, the crocodile was rescued from the canal while the father was reprimanded for nearly causing the creature, used to the warmer climes of the east, to perish of a cold in the chilly waters.

The matter was worried over in the newspaper columns dedicated to one of the rare events in a city where not very much was happening.

Scandalized animal lovers complained that the beast had been misunderstood. They urged readers to empathize with the crocodile. Imagine, they said, that a giant creature a hundred times your size brings you close to its parted mouth. Could they not see that the crocodile was convinced that it was about to be eaten and was only defending itself?

Wiser heads suggested that the father should never have introduced a dangerous creature into his home and once he had introduced it, he should have expected that it would bite. Like the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog; biting was in its nature. And throwing it into the canal after it had bitten one of us was in our nature.

The subject was fortunately confined to crocodiles, canals and little girls. There was no talk of the ’75 hostage crisis in which the Austrian government allowed the Arm of the Arab Revolution led by Carlos the Jackal to escape to Algeria with his hostages after murdering a police officer.

Not long after the crocodile controversy, two Muslim terrorists armed with machine guns and grenades attacked a synagogue where a Bar Mitzvah celebration for children was taking place. Hesham Mohammed Rajeh, a mathematics student, had been living in Austria for two years. When he was later put on trial, he tried to kick the judge and shouted, “When I am out of here, I will spit on you.”

Hesham Mohammed Rajeh and Marwan Hasan shouted “PLO, PLO” and began to shoot and throw their grenades.

Ulrike Kohut, 25, rolled in front of a grenade to protect another woman’s child. She died of her injuries on the way to the hospital. Lotan “Nathan” Fried, 68, died of shrapnel wounds on the same route. Many more were wounded including a pregnant woman and a 12-year-old girl.

Two policemen and an Israeli bodyguard shot it out with the terrorists and won. Their arrest was followed by a phone call in broken German threatening bombings if they were not released, but this time, perhaps because no actual bomb was found, the authorities held firm and the crocodiles stayed in the canal.

A month earlier, two terrorists had been stopped at the airport after Kalashnikov rifles and hundreds of grenades were found in their luggage. The terrorists had been deported and the authorities had lodged a formal protest with Ghazi Hussein, the PLO representative in Vienna, who had been there to meet them at the airport, and eventually kicked him out of the country. Four years later, that airport was the scene of a hand grenade attack in which 39 people were wounded.

Austria’s Socialist Chancellor, Bruno Kreisky, despite being of Jewish ancestry, was fond of Muslim terrorists and of Nazis, but not at all of Jews. Despite being on the left, Kreisky had a habit of filling his cabinet with former Nazis while comparing Zionism to Nazism. His political success rested on a welfare state built with Soviet money funneled through commercial orders and turning a blind eye to terrorist attacks carried out with Soviet and Polish machine guns was part of the price.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/kissing-the-crocodile/2013/04/23/

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