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September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

G8 Issue Message of Hope to Palestinian Deadbeats and Firebombers

Friday, April 12th, 2013

We just received the G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Statement, and here’s what they have to say about the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP).

Well, first of all, I love the name: MEPP. Sounds like the way Israelis pronounce “Map.” Is it a hint?

So, here’s the press release, by the foreign ministers of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia:

G8 Foreign Ministers confirmed their commitment to a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East… The Ministers welcomed President Obama’s visit to the region and his statement that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is necessary, just and possible.. The Ministers stressed that a long term solution to this conflict can be achieved only through direct negotiations, taking note of the 23 September 2011 statement of the Middle East Quartet. Ministers called on parties to refrain from unilateral actions and to create an atmosphere conducive to peace. They strongly reaffirmed that unilateral actions by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations.

Wait a minute, wait a minute, we interrupt this press release to examine the information therein: they “called on parties to refrain from unilateral actions”? But one of the sides, the PLO, in a stunning unilateral act, breaking the very foundation of the Oslo Accords, applied to the UN general assembly last year, to receive an “upgrade” to statehood – and guess who supported the move? France, Italy, Japan and Russia. And two other G8 states, Britain and Germany, abstained. Only the U.S. and Canada out of this bunch voted against.

Do they really think our memories are that short? Is this a planet populated largely by goldfish?

OK, go ahead with the press release, but I must register my profound dumbfoundedness.

Ministers expressed grave concerns about the poor state of the Palestinian economy, and the impact this has on Palestinian state-building efforts. Ministers affirmed their support for the Palestinian Authority and encouraged Arab countries, as well as emerging economies, to extend the fullest assistance possible to revitalizing the Palestinian economy.

Do you know who revitalizes the Palestinian economy? I’ll tell you a story:

In late 2012, former Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz halted the transfer of tax revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, to pay the Palestinians’ debt to the Israel Electric Company. But following US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel last month, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to release the withheld funds as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinian Authority.

The debt is estimated at $125 million.

As my friend Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu reported in this space in late March, the IEC spokesperson stated that “if there is no alternative, the utility will have to record the debt in its books as lost debt and ask the Public Utilities Authority to recognize it as an expense to be covered by electricity tariffs.”

Rates will have to be increased approximately 3 percent for one year to cover the debt, but that is only for electricity and does not cover other PA debts.

Tzvi commented: “Three percent would not be so bad by itself, but it would come on top of a 6.5 percent hike that was approved” earlier.

So now you understand who is revitalizing the Palestinian economy? The very people whose children they firebomb and stone on the highways.

Back to the G8 press release (in case you haven’t lost your breakfast yet):

The Ministers welcomed the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire of 21 November 2012 which ended hostilities in Gaza and southern Israel, condemned rocket attacks in contravention of this and urged all sides to uphold their commitments.

What commitments? The Hamas has no commitments, other than the vow to destroy Israel. I’m starting to suspect that this is what the G8 is expecting them to uphold.

Will the UN Peacekeeping Force on the Israel-Syrian Border be Removed?

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Earlier we posted about first-hand testimony from Syria confirming the scale and purpose of that rogue state’s chemical weapons arsenal.

Turns out that already Monday, with scant attention from the news media, the UN was told much the same thing. From a Times of Israel report:

The United Nations peacekeeping force deployed on the Israeli-Syrian border has begun taking precautions against the possible use of chemical weapons, and may collapse in the face of a Syrian regime offensive, France’s ambassador to the UN said on Monday.

Gérard Araud told London-based daily Al-Hayat that clashes between Syrian government and opposition forces on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights have sparked fears in Western countries concerning the safety of their nationals serving at the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force.

Some of these countries, Araud said, may withdraw their men from the force, known as UNDOF, as a result. “Such a situation may bring about the collapse of UNDOF and the security arrangements between Israel and Syria which it represents,” Araud told Al-Hayat. [more]

The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force was created by a UN Security Council decision on May 31, 1974 after the agreed disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. UNDOF’s role is currently carried out by a deployment of 1,034 troops sent by Austria, Croatia, India, Japan and Philippines; plus 84 local (Syrian) civilians and 41 international civilian staff. (We had cause to write about them some months ago, when mortar fire crashed into Israel from the Syrian side of the border – see “25-Sep-12: Incoming fire on the northern border“.)

The 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement Between Israel And Syria, brokered by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, created a security zone between the two countries and established UNDOF. Its contribution to preserving the often-tense peace between Syria and Israel is in their  inspections (“not less often that once every fifteen days“) of the buffer zone along the Israel-Syria border. But that value depends on UNDOF actually having men and equipment in place to do the job. The Security Council was told Monday by its head of peacekeeping services, Herve Ladsous, that

gas masks and additional armored vehicles were sent to UNDOF as a safety precaution against a possible chemical attack by the Assad regime.

But as the French are suggesting, it’s at least questionable whether measures like that will keep the UN forces there. Japan already announced a week ago [report] that because of the “deteriorating security situation in Syria“, the 47 Japanese soldiers serving in UNDOF are going to go home now instead of in March 2013 when their tour of duty is supposed to end.

Way back in 1956, soldiers of the UN Emergency Force were stationed in Sinai near Israel’s borders with Egypt and Egyptian-occupied Gaza. Their removal from the scene came very quickly, and in the end was a simple matter of the Egyptians demanding on May 16, 1967 that they go. Wikipedia notes that U Thant, the Secretary General of the UN,

“acted to effect the Egyptian order without consulting either the Security Council or the General Assembly. Most of the forces were evacuated by the end of May”

and full-scale war in the region broke out a week later.

Not that we’re making any comparisons.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Israeli 8th Graders’ Math Scores Ahead of All Western Democracies

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar on Tuesday morning presented data from international tests TIMSS (math and science) and PIRLS (literacy) of the The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).

The tests examine the abilities of eighth graders in science and mathematics as well as the capabilities of fourth graders in literacy.

According to current statistics, in mathematics, Israeli eighth graders have risen from 24th to seventh place in the world. Korea is in first place, followed by Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia and Israel. This makes Israeli eighth graders the best in math in the entire western world.

Science tests show Israeli eighth grade students rising from 25th to the 13th in the world. Israeli fourth graders reading tests came up from 31st to 18th in the world.

East Asian countries continue to lead the world in mathematics achievement. At the eighth grade, the Russian Federation, Israel, Finland, the United States, and England also were included in the top ten high-achieving countries. The U.S. states of Massachusetts, Minnesota, and North Carolina and the Canadian province of Québec also had high achievement, but lower than the East Asian countries.

Singapore, Korea, and Hong Kong SAR, followed by Chinese Taipei and Japan, were the top-performing countries at fourth grade literacy.

At the eighth grade, clearly the East Asian countries, particularly Chinese Taipei, Singapore, and Korea, are pulling away from the rest of the world by a considerable margin. Capitalizing on the head start demonstrated by their fourth grade students, these same five East Asian countries had by far the largest percentages of eighth grade students reaching the Advanced International Benchmark. Very impressively, Chinese Taipei, Singapore, and Korea had nearly half of their students (47–49%) reach the Advanced International Benchmark. Hong Kong SAR had about one-third (34%) reach this level, and Japan had over one-fourth (27%).

Next, the Russian Federation and Israel had 14 and 12 percent, respectively. At the High International Benchmark, Japan (61%) trailed the other four Asian high achievers ( 7 1–7 8%) , but the next highest were the Russian Federation and Israel with less than half (40–47%) achieving at the high level. At the Intermediate International Benchmark, the Russian Federation (78%) followed the five top-performers (87–93%), and at the Low International Benchmark Finland and the Russian Federation joined the five East Asian countries (with 95–99%), followed by Slovenia (93%).

Education Minister Sa’ar noted that the improvement in all three areas of learning included all of Israel’s socioeconomic groups. “A sharp improvement has been marked in the ratio of high scoring students. This rate is now higher than the world average in all three disciplines. There has been an absolute improvement of tens of percentage points in students’ achievements, as well as a dramatic improvement relative to teh comparable data.”

Sa’ar noted also that the improvement took place in both the Jewish and the Arab sectors, although the gap is still wide between Hebrew and Arab speaking students.

“This success was not achieved using magic but through hard work,” Sa’ar said.

Hiroshima on My Mind

Friday, November 16th, 2012

The Spokesman for the IDF is constantly announcing that the Israeli Air Force is doing pinpoint bombing in order to protect innocent civilians. Prime Minister Netanyahu also says that Israel deserves praise for the care it is taking not to injure innocent civilians.

Apparently to them, these “civilians” are “innocent” even though they house grad rocket launchers in their homes, and it’s their fathers and brothers who are doing the firing. In the meantime, we are bombing evacuated warehouses and underground tunnels, and the Gazans keep firing away, not at all worried about being hit. In the 200 plus forays our fighter bombers have made over Gaza, maybe 20 people have been killed and a couple dozen wounded. Peanuts. So the innocent civilians keep shooting away.

Whose approval are we trying to win? Has America or the United Nations applauded us on our great sense of morality and fair play? Has France or Russia? You’ve got to be kidding. In their heart of hearts, they think that we’re jerks. No one fights a war this way.

Calculations of the death-toll from the Anglo-American bombing of Dresden in February 1945 have varied widely. Figures have ranged from 35,000 through 100,000 and more. The German city of Dresden had a population of three quarters of a million people, plus hordes of anonymous refugees from the Eastern Front. It was destroyed in one night by Allied aircraft armed with more than 4,500 tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs. The devastated area amounted to around 13 square miles – not much different from the size of Gaza. The victims weren’t Nazi soldiers but innocent civilians. No one said a word.

Toward the end of World War 2, following a firebombing campaign that destroyed many Japanese cities, the Allies prepared for a costly invasion of Japan, knowing that thousands of American soldiers would be killed. To avoid this, American airmen dropped the “Little Boy” atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, immediately killing 66,000 innocent civilians. Then they dropped the “Fat Man” bomb over Nagasaki on 9 August, killing 40,000. Six days later, the Japanese surrendered without the loss of one American soldier in Japan. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki. Once again, no one said a word.

If you ask me, it’s time we took a lesson from the goyim. Before even one of our soldiers steps foot in Gaza, instead of bombing vacant warehouses and tunnels, we should level a few eight-story buildings filled with “innocent civilians.” That will stops the rockets, believe me.

Israeli Companies Just Can’t Make It in the Japanese Market

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Israel and Japan are celebrating sixty years of diplomatic relations, and so, a week ago, the Israel-Japan Chamber of Commerce marked the occasion with a festive event. But the current commercial ties between the two countries gives less cause for celebration. Israeli businesses find it difficult to understand the Japanese market and Japanese companies are not in a hurry to reach Israel, The Marker reported.

“I have been exporting diamonds to Japan since the sixties,” said Shmuel Schnitzer, Vice Chairman of the Israel-Japan Chamber of Commerce. “Japan is a nation with whom it is a pleasure to do business. When you play according to their rules, the Japanese client will be more loyal to you than any other client in the world. He will remain loyal to you even when a competitor offers merchandise at a lower price, and he won’t switch suppliers.”

Another exporter, selling water infrastructure, has been experiencing difficulties breaking into the Japanese market. “We joined up with a trading company, which, by and large, is how you do business in Japan,” he said. “We approached our targeted clients – beverage and bottling companies. We also tried to connect with engineering companies in the water business. Procedures in Japan are very lengthy, costly and difficult. The culture gaps are enormous. I’ve been to Japan twenty times. I’ve learned that not only do I not understand the Japanese, but I have no chance of ever understanding them.”

Israeli exports to Japan are still modest, and according to that exporter, the main obstacle is the Japanese perception of technology and marketing. “We haven’t succeeded in explaining to the Japanese concepts that are practiced in other parts of the world. One of the central issues there is the concept of time. Procedures are conducted from the bottom up, and nothing happens without consensus. Reaching a consensus depends on every single employee understanding the product or proposal. There is only a technological approval after this entire process is completed.”

The same exporter added that there are definitely language comprehension difficulties. “In one of the rounds of talks, they said ‘yes,’ but meant ‘no.’ Plus, they prefer locally-produced good. If there is a comparable Japanese product or technology, they will prefer it.”

Another obstacle preventing penetration into the Japanese market, according to the exporter, are the high prices. From his experience working in another company, he said, but “the potential is tremendous and the minute you penetrate the market, it’s a real success.”

Trade between Israel and Japan is volatile and varies between $2.5 – $3 billion annually. About 25% of this is Israeli export and the rest import. Cars (mainly Toyota and Subaru) make up a significant part of the imports. Last year, this included machinery and equipment. According to informed sources, the increase in car imports is a result of car imports by Intel as part of their investment in their Kiryat Gat, Israel, plant.

There was a marked decrease of 13% in trade with Japan (down to $1.4 billion) in the first half of 2012 in comparison with the first half of 2011. Exports dropped 8% to $341 million; imports dropped 15% to $1.1 billion. A 38% drop in automobile imports is predicted.

“We haven’t managed to crack Japan,” said Shauli Katzenelson, chief economist for the Export Institute. “Our rate of penetration into Japan stands out negatively compared to the rest of the world. Our share there is a mere 0.11% of their import, compared with our overall percentage of the world imports, which stands at 0.27%. Even when allowing for Japan’s huge oil imports, our situation there is not good.”

Roni Burstein, chairman of the Israel-Japan chamber of commerce and a Kikoman importer for more than 20 years, said “the problem at the moment is not with the Japanese but with us. If Israeli companies give Japan a high priority, which means investing in entering the market, in the end it will pay off, even if it takes a long time. It’s a market of 130 million homogeneous consumers. Once we get in, we won’t be easily kicked out.”

J.E. Dyer: Tumultus Post-Americanus

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

You’d think they could wait until America has decided if we really intend to be post-American.  I mean, what’s President Obama going to do about Iran and Syria – get Qatar to bomb them?  Does that really require a regional-war-scale response from Russia?  And what about the South China Sea?  It’s not like our new Marine contingent in Australia can do anything about China’s strong-arming of the other nations there.  Nor does there seem to be much likelihood that we will react to Russia’s chest-thumping in the disputed Kuril Islands north of Japan.  And when I say “react,” I mean “react at all.”  For all the president’s new focus on the Pacific, we don’t seem to have any positions we intend to actually enunciate there, much less defend.

The Tumultus Post-Americanus is now well underway.  The US and NATO, and our Pacific allies Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines, have tremendous latent power, but the American leadership to focus this power for strategic purposes has gone missing.  There is no initiative on our collective part – we have done nothing but react in the last three years – and possibly even less appreciation of how the world is changing.  The forms of international discourse – the processes of the UN, the G-8 and G-20, the IMF – are being adhered to now because they are a convenience, not because they produce anything useful.  They are brittle relics of a peace that no longer has a core and is waiting to be breached by regional initiative.

Hiatus, for now

My sense today is that nothing is about to “break.”  I believe those who sense otherwise misread the dynamics of the current situation.  There is no unified actor – either a nation or a movement; e.g., Islamism – in a position today to prosecute an abruptly transformative, offensive campaign on the model of predatory Marxist-Leninism or the outright-conquest methods of Adolf Hitler.  The nations of today all know this – even Iran’s mullahs.

Russia and China are both acting under the compulsions of their traditional geopolitical motives; as important as American power is in their calculations, they are at least as concerned about each other.  They cannot escape their neighborhood.  Right now, Russia’s actions are, to the Russian mind, wholly defensive.  China hopes to enlarge her base of invulnerable power by controlling the sea- and tradeways around her perimeter, and staking out power outposts in Central and South Asia and Africa.  China sees a watershed opportunity; Russia sees a loss of stasis and a rise of Islamism, and seeks to prepare for whatever that’s going to do to her, in part by reclaiming territory she feels vulnerable and disrespected without (e.g., Georgia).

The decisive factor for political Islam – Islam focused through the lens of ideology on politics and the nation-state – is still its internal competition.  Saudi Arabia and Iran have led separate factions for decades.  But now an economically and militarily resurgent Turkey is seeking to put her own stamp on Islamist geopolitical leadership.  And Egypt – a very large, populous, and educated nation, long held in a neutral stance by Mubarak’s effectively secular regime – appears to have entered the sweepstakes with the election of Mohammed Morsi.  Some Western pundits are waiting for the Egyptian military to drop the hammer on Morsi, but I am not sanguine about that possibility.  Erdogan’s Turkey, where the traditionally moderating political power of the military has been broken in the last 3-4 years, looms as an example to the region.  It will take some time, as it has in Turkey, but Egypt will probably emerge as a nation-state competitor to Turkey, and she is likely to do it by emulating Erdogan’s methods.

The Muslim Brotherhood itself is boresighted on Jerusalem, but the path to that “victory” remains uncertain.  Egypt, for all her geographic advantages, may not be the most obvious launching pad.  Syria, which has been in Iran’s orbit for a long time, is a great strategic prize in the race to Jerusalem, both geographically and politically.  Most political happenings in the Middle East right now are centered on the jockeying process for leadership of the Islamist geopolitical movement.

No one in this mix is ready right now for the fading global stasis to entirely fall apart.  It serves their interests for the stasis to continue and hold their competitors in check.  But within the constraints of the old stasis, they – especially Russia and China, but also India, Iran, and other affected nations – are making military preparations.

J.E. Dyer: Russia, Iran Standing Off from Obama Showcase Events

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Vladimir Putin decided not to attend the recent NATO summit in Chicago – although probably not out of petty pique at our president.  Regardless of his sentiments about Obama, he would have attended if he had thought it was in his interest to do so.   Now Iran has abruptly ended the scheduled talks on her nuclear program in Baghdad, affirming no interest in continuing this round without some lightening of sanctions up front.  The next round of talks is to be held in Moscow.

If they occur, as promised, in June – before the US election – the most likely outcome is more stalling and no progress.  But that is not because there has been no prior interest on the Western side in making big concessions in order to get an agreement.  What Iran is doing actually amounts to avoiding being presented with a favorable agreement.  The abruptness of the talks’ end indicates mostly that Iran doesn’t see it as advantageous to stick around and talk anymore, in spite of – or perhaps because of – the P5+1’s anxiety to negotiate a good deal for Iran.

As for Putin, his proximate reason for not attending the summit is obvious.  Missile defense was – as always, over the last decade – to be one of the two main topics in Chicago, the other being Afghanistan.  The collective NATO missile defense system for Europe was to be declared operational at the summit.  It was.  Russia’s main bone of contention with NATO is missile defense.  Although Russia has been invited to be a missile defense partner with NATO, and has participated in extensive talks on the matter, there remain fundamental disagreements between the parties over how to operate and orient a collective missile defense.

Putin had no intention of being present for photo ops under a “NATO missile defense” banner – in spite of President Obama’s assurance to Dmitry Medvedev that the US would be more “flexible” about the whole thing after our November election.  Putin’s reluctance is partly because Obama’s NATO allies have a different view.  They aren’t interested at all in more “flexibility”:  the Europeans, in their own special way, have actually been quite stringent on the need for missile defense, determined to go ahead with it for political purposes if not for the capabilities of the inaugural system.  The initial capability relies entirely on US Aegis warships being stationed in the Black Sea or Eastern Mediterranean, along with an early warning radar in Turkey whose data the Turks – against NATO policy – don’t want shared with Israel.  The vulnerabilities of this initial set-up are obvious, but for the Europeans, the point is the show of commitment.

Writing at NRO earlier this month, Daniel Vajdic assessed Putin as increasingly detached from reality.  I’m not so sure it’s Putin who’s in that condition.

If Greece leaves the Eurozone rather than staying in and swallowing some very nasty-tasting medicine, who will come to Greece’s aid?  The door will be open to Russia, in a way it wasn’t in 2010 when reports abounded that Russia offered Greece a 25-billion-Euro loan, but was rejected by the Greek leadership due to opposition from the EU and US.  Russia is already keeping Cyprus afloat, and has for centuries had a national interest in maintaining the principal geopolitical influence over Southeastern Europe.  Russia and Greece have begun a significant naval rapprochement – but that’s not the only rapprochement going on between the two Orthodox Christian nations.  Russian businessmen promised in September 2011 that Russian investment in Greece would be increasing dramatically, a credible promise given the level of investment Russia (and China) already had in Greek infrastructure.  As the Eurozone crisis rages – literally, at this exact moment – the second Greece-Russia Investment Conference is unfolding on the island of Evia.

The leaders of Europe have a problem.  If they effectively force Greece out – a move that would be understandable from a fiscal and monetary perspective – they will have to outbid Russia if they want to turn around and buy Greece back.  The implications for NATO are as uncertain as anything else.  A NATO missile defense, opposed by Russia and relying on the nations and waterways around Greece?  America has to be acting like the alpha dog to make that one work.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/j-e-dyer-russia-iran-standing-off-from-obama-showcase-events/2012/05/28/

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