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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Lessons from 5776, Optimism for 5777

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

As we take our leave from 5776, I would sum it up as the year that Israel discovered the correct paradigm for dealing with her adversaries.

In previous years, many believed Israel’s military superiority allowed and even obliged her to take “risks for peace.” Others believed that propping up the economies of Israel’s neighbors until they were on par with her own, while giving up land, would bring peace.

But in 5776, Israel discovered that the secret for a relatively peaceful status quo comes not from creating economic parity, giving away land or taking risks, but rather by creating economic dependence, along with the application of Israel’s military superiority.

It should be made clear that a peaceful status quo is a separate discussion from what Israel’s long term vision for the region should be — whether that solution be Israel applying phased or full sovereignty over all of Israel’s territories, a confederation with Jordan, or some other ideas not yet tested or considered.

It’s been repeatedly noted that only one of the terror attacks by PA Arabs in this recent terror wave was executed by an individual with an Israeli work permit.

Israelis have learned that no matter how much their neighbors may hate them (and by the way, not all of Israel’s neighbors close and far hate Israel), or how much incitement they absorb from Palestinian Authority TV and the Islamic preachers, their families and villages depend on the money they make from Israelis, and all of them, save one, would not dare risk that.

Which is why the Palestinian Authority tried its best to force these Arab workers to stop working in the settlements, and why it failed. (PA Arabs make three times more working for Israelis than they do working in the Palestinian Authority.)

Incidentally, Israel would probably help the future stability of Judea and Samaria by announcing it will guarantee PA police salaries should the Palestinian Authority collapse under the weight of its own incompetence and corruption or Abbas’ retirement or death.

There’s very little that creates more loyalty than a paycheck paid on time.

Despite the roadblocks set up by Israel’s High Court, 5776 concluded with Jordan signing a $10 billion gas deal with Israel, which a Jordanian official said will save Jordan $600 million a year. It’s a deal that might very well tie Jordan’s economic stability to Israel for the next 15 years, along with the fresh water that Israel provides them.

Besides natural gas, Turkey, Greece, various Arab countries, some African states, India, Russia and China are looking to purchase or enter business partnerships with Israel, to acquire Israeli technology, military experience and equipment, fresh water solutions, solar energy, agricultural know-how or simply gain access to Israeli projects.

As these countries and others become more reliant on what Israel has to offer, there will be a gradual, visible change in their public attitudes, voting in international forums, and policies towards Israel, as Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out in his speech last month before the UN General Assembly.

On the military side, this past year, the IDF finally resumed its function in actively preventing terrorism, rather than restricting itself to a reactive mode. IDF soldiers have been raiding the hornet nests in the Palestinian Authority every night, to confiscate illegal weapons and ammunition, uncover weapons factories and erode the terror networks of Hamas, the PLO, and the various Islamic Jihadi groups which expanded operations under former defense ministers Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya’alon. And, surprisingly, these IDF actions hardly provoke any international condemnation, save for criticism from Haaretz.

It was also the year Israel has actively taken on BDS, and began to beat it down, state after US state.

Obviously, all was not rosy this past year.

Thanks to the Iran deal, a revitalized Islamic Iran has been expanding its terror operations. But as Iran and their client Hezbollah try to establish terror bases on Israel’s Golan Heights’ border, Syrian Rebels are fighting those Iranian and Hezbollah terrorists on the Golan — the same rebels who are reportedly receiving much-needed medical aid from Israel.

There has been an upswing in Israeli Arabs participating in terror attacks and joining ISIS due to Islamic radicalization, incitement and propaganda, but Israel is already learning how to deal with them.

Hamas is still destroying Gaza as it continues to prepare for another round of fighting with Israel.

In the spring of 5777, Israel will celebrate 50 years since the liberation of our ancient lands of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem from the illegal Jordanian occupation. Expect the usual NGOs (under new names and old) and Israel haters to foment their venomous propaganda, and also expect fewer and fewer people, everywhere in the world, to pay attention.

There’s concern over Obama’s anticipated November surprise at the UN.

And, of course, there will be the new challenges that either candidate for US president will present to Israel.

At the JewishPress.com we believe we have reason to be optimistic.

Israel has made significant positive changes this past year, with strategic, long term ideas being implemented, already with noticeable results. 5777 will bring challenges, even difficult ones, but we believe Israel is ready for them.

Shana Tova – Have a sweet new year.

Stephen Leavitt

IAEC Director: Middle East Instability Worsened By Non-State Actors Supported by Syria, Iran

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

IAEC Director Ze’ev Senir told participants at the 60th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Wednesday that the challenge of nuclear security is of “paramount significance” to Israel “due to the somber reality in the Middle East.”

Senir underlined Israel’s hope that her Arab neighbors, as well as other countries around the world, will begin to collaborate in the effort to combat “nuclear terrorism.”

He emphasized that Israel “continues to follow IAEA guidance regarding the security of nuclear facilities and the protection of nuclear materials. Israel enforces regulations in line with the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and its amendment.”

Israel has even submitted a report on its national legislative implementation of the Convention, he said. “Israel upholds the highest standard of physical protection measures in its nuclear centers. Advanced security means and procedures are employed in domestic and international transport, as well as import and export processes. Such measures are undertaken in accordance with Israel’s international obligations, and in accordance with our national legislation.”

But for all of that, he said, Israel cannot control the threat of nuclear terrorism beyond her borders — in particular, the current threat to the north.

“Instability in the Middle East has recently been worsened by the presence, and violent activity of non-state actors, supported and funded by countries such as Syria and Iran.

“The access of non-state actors to materials which may be used for non-conventional weapons, combined with the motivation to conduct large-scale acts of violence, present a clear and undeniable threat to global nuclear security,” he said.

“As head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, I call upon my Arabb colleagues to join forces in professionally addressing this severe challenge.”

Senir also raised the ongoing issue of the existential threat posed by Iran.

“When discussing the instability of our region, we cannot overlook the ongoing concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

“Despite the recent agreement, Iran continues to be a destabilizing force in the Middle East. Its support of terrorist groups and its long-range ballistic missile programs present a real and increasing threat.

“At the same time, we must address Iran’s blatant concealment and duplicity, as demonstrated in their well-known weaponization activities.

“Iran’s commitment to the JCPOA must be evaluation with a long-term perspective, which must include its adherence to its international obligations, as well as transparency in its actions.

“I remind you that in its recent words and deeds, Iran continues to threaten Israel directly and via proxy organizations, such as Hezsbbollah.”

Hana Levi Julian

Emergency Session on Syria at UN Security Council

Monday, September 26th, 2016

The United Nations Security Council held urgent talks Sunday in response to a summons by the United States, UK and France for an emergency meeting over the ongoing bombing of Aleppo by Russia and Syrian regime forces.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters the incendiary munitions that have been dropping on Aleppo are “indiscriminate and a clear breach of international law. The barrel-busting bombs are falling from the skies likewise.”

French Ambassador Francois Delattre was more blunt: “War crimes are being committed in Aleppo. They must not be unpunished and impunity is simply not an option in Syria.”

According to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, more than 150 air strikes targeted the northern Syrian city between Friday and Sunday night. The death toll has reached 115 in the assault, including at least 19 children, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

A number of cluster bombs remain undetonated and sitting in the streets of eastern Aleppo where some 250,000 civilians are under siege in a section of the city that is populated by many who support the opposition forces.

Close to half a million people have died in the conflict since March 2011, and some 11 million others have been driven from their homes.

According to local Syrian sources, most of the air strikes currently targeting Aleppo are being carried out by Russian fighter jets. “No ISIS fighters are in the targeted areas; all the victims are civilians,” the source tweeted.

UNICEF reported that although repair efforts are ongoing at the damaged pumping station for east Aleppo, 100,000 children have had no safe drinking water for the past three days.

Hana Levi Julian

Trump Promising Netanyahu Jerusalem Embassy, Wants Advice on Building Fences

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

The Trump campaign press release following the meeting Sunday between Benjamin Netanyahu and the GOP presidential candidate stated that Trump told Netanyahu “a Trump administration would finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.” The statement also said Trump “agreed that the military assistance provided to Israel and missile defense cooperation with Israel are an excellent investment for America,” and “there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries,” should Trump be elected.

Trump emphasized that Israel is a “vital partner of the United States in the global war against radical Islamic terrorism.” According to the statement, the nuclear deal with Iran and ways to defeat ISIS were also discussed, as well as “Israel’s successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders.”

A short while before Sunday’s meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump, the GOP presidential candidate and indefatigable tweeter tweeted: “Looking forward to my meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Trump Tower at 10:00 AM.” The meeting lasted an hour and twenty minutes behind closed doors, and the two did not speak to the press before or after.

The Prime Minister’s office released a laconic statement saying, “Netanyahu presented to Trump Israel’s positions on regional issues related to its security and discussed with him Israel’s efforts to achieve peace and stability in our region.” The PM’s office also said that Netanyahu thanked Trump for his friendship and support for Israel. The meeting included Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and Trump’s son-in-law, Jewish businessman, investor and political operative Jared Kushner.

Netanyahu was scheduled to meet next with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who has already committed to inviting the Israeli PM to her White House as soon as she’s sworn in. Clinton is on the record as supporting the nuclear deal with Iran, but repeats her commitment to Israel’s security. In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 TV, Clinton said “Trump should worry every Israeli, regardless of his positions on Israel.”

The two meetings were arranged when a senior Netanyahu official told reporters after his meeting with President Obama that he hadn’t been approached by either candidate for a meeting while he’s in the US, but should they invite him he’d be delighted to accept. A day later the invite came from the Trump campaign, followed by one from Hillary.

Monday night the world will follow with bated breath the first presidential debate between the two candidates. Many Israelis have reported setting their alarm clocks (or apps) to wake them up at 4 AM Tuesday, to watch the Monday at 9 PM match.

David Israel

Massacre in Aleppo As Syrian War Escalates After Collapse of Ceasefire

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

An existential battle raged Saturday night between government troops and opposition forces for control over the Handarat Arab refugee camp on the northern outskirts of the Syian city of Aleppo.

Regime loyalist troops and its allies seized control over the camp on Saturday, according to Reuters journalist Tom Perry, but opposition forces counter attacked at nightfall.

More than 250,000 residents are still trapped in besieged east Aleppo, a rebel stronghold. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the battle that began Thursday was still ongoing late Saturday night.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died since the start of the war in March 2011, and approximately 11 million others have been driven from their homes. A fragile ceasefire worked out two weeks ago between the United States and Russia lasted barely a week. Syria’s regime forces announced an end to the truce nearly simultaneously with a ferocious attack on a United Nations humanitarian aid convoy that was to be allowed to deliver desperately needed food and medical supplies to east Aleppo last week. At least 20 civilians, including a Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) medical staff worker, were killed in the assault for which neither side has been willing to take responsibility.

But that attack unleashed a storm of fury at the United Nations and among humanitarian agencies, not least of which included those that were attacked. In a statement released last week following the massacre, the SARC and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said they were “outraged by [the] horrific attack on a SARC warehouse and an aid convoy in Orem Al Kubra in rural Aleppo…. The attack deprives thousands of civilians of much-needed food and medical assistance. We’re totally devastated by the deaths of so many people, including one of our colleagues, the director of our sub-branch, Omar Barakat.

“Syria is one of the most dangerous conflicts for humanitarian workers in the world. During the past six years, 54 staff and volunteers of SARC have lost their lives whilst carrying out their duties.”

According to a UN official quoted by the Associated Press, nearly two million people in the northern part of Aleppo are currently without running water; the pumps were destroyed in one of the air strikes.

A report by the AFP news agency described scenes in eastern Aleppo of “pools of blood and shredded bodies on the streets” and said the city has been “reduced to an apocalyptic battlefront.”

At least 100, possibly more civilians, including women and children, were killed and hundreds more injured in intensive air strikes that are being described by international reporters across the board as a massacre. Photographic tweets showing the result of the air strikes have been deemed too graphic for our readership and so are not included here.

Some 200 air strikes have pounded the city since Friday, according to the Syria Civil Defense volunteer emergency medical group. At least five members of the group, also called the White Helmets, were injured in one of the air strikes, according to CNN. One is in critical condition.

A spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Saturday that the use of bunker-buster bombs, incendiary weapons and the intensive air strikes that had taken place in densely populated areas such as Aleppo may amount to war crimes.

“The secretary-general is appalled by the chilling military escalation in the city of Aleppo, which is facing the most sustained and intense bombardment since the start of the Syrian conflict,” the statement said. “The secretary-general considers this a dark day for the global commitment to protect civilians,” Ban’s spokesperson said.

Hana Levi Julian

Iran Threatens to Turn Tel Aviv, Haifa to ‘Dust’

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Tehran is back to threatening Israel, this time during a parade marking the anniversary of the 1980 Iraqi invasion of Iran, a war that lasted eight years.

A wide variety of military hardware was on display Wednesday during the parade, which made its way down the main drag in the nation’s capital. Included was the Qadr H missile, which allegedly has a range of 2,000 kilometers.

Long-range ballistic missiles, tanks and the Russian-produced S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system were all in full view as the gala parade was broadcast on state television.

One military truck displayed a banner shown prominently on the broadcast that read:

“If the leaders of the Zionist regime make a mistake, then the Islamic Republic will turn Tel Aviv and Haifa to dust.”

The Iranian Navy showed off 500 vessels, along with submarines and helicopters, at the port of Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf.

Iran has tested American mettle more than 30 times so far this year with close encounters in the Gulf between its vessels and those of the United States Navy, according to U.S. officials quoted by Reuters.

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu: US Never Offered Us More than $38 Billion

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning opened his weekly Cabinet meeting telling his cabinet ministers that despite reports to the contrary, the $38 billion military aid package Israel received from the Obama Administration for the next 10 years was the highest amount that had ever been suggested by the Americans.

“I hear all kinds of background noise and disinformation about the agreement,” Netanyahu said, noting, “I would like to make it clear: We were never offered more. We were not offered more money, not even one dollar, and we were never offered special technologies. These are distortions and fabrications by interested parties; either they do not have the facts or they are distorting the facts, and they are, of course, showing ingratitude, and in my view this is the saddest thing of all, ingratitude to our greatest and best friend, the United States.”

The reports that suggested Israel stood to receive as much as $45 billion over ten years came from opponents of Netanyahu, most notably prime minister wannabe Moshe Ya’alon, whom Netanyahu had removed from the defense ministry, and former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who served as Netanyahu’s defense minister before Ya’alon. The reports also suggested that Netanyahu’s refusal to accept the Iran nuclear deal, and the fact that he dared go behind President Obama’s back to speak directly to Congress against the deal, is what cost Israel the additional funds.

But Netanyahu denied all that, insisting “the support for Israel in the United States is stronger than ever. It crosses political parties and embraces the length and breadth of the United States and it finds expression in this agreement. This is the largest assistance agreement that the United States has ever provided to any country in its history, and this agreement proves the depth of the relationship, and the strength of relations, between Israel and the United States.”

In an earlier statement, last week, Netanyahu also stressed Israel’s strong ties with the US, saying the “agreement illustrates a simple truth: relations between Israel and the United States are strong and steadfast. This does not mean that we do not have disagreements from time to time, but these are disagreements within the family. They have no effect on the great friendship between Israel and the United States, a friendship that is expressed in this agreement, which will greatly assist us in continuing to build up Israel’s strength in the coming decade.”


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