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April 25, 2015 / 6 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Obama Administration’

An Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program in What was Formerly ‘Syria’

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

{Originally posted to author’s website, Liberty Unyielding}

Note: This analysis takes on renewed significance in light of the Iranians’ announcement this week that they intend to build two new nuclear reactors, and the Obama administration’s insistence that such a clear expansion of the Iranian nuclear program does not constitute a violation of the Joint Plan of Action to “freeze” the program while its ultimate status is being negotiated.  The facts on the ground are busy changing under our feet, with almost no notice by the Western media.

It was evident a year and a half ago that there would be no restoration of Syria, as we know it, under the Assad regime.

That reality is something the mind of a global public hasn’t really caught up to yet.  But it is reality – Syria, as delineated after World War I, has fallen apart – and it should color our perception of a report from 9 January that remnants of Assad’s nuclear program are still alive and well.

We should not overestimate what’s going on with those remnants, which don’t have anyone close to a nuclear breakout.  The remnants are real – Western intelligence agencies think so – but the evidence of where they have been relocated is indirect, and mostly non-specific.  Assuming they are there, the best estimate would be that they are in approximately the same state they were four years ago: elements of a program not much degraded, perhaps, but not much advanced, if at all, from its earlier condition.

What matters more, however, is that if the analysis of experts is correct, the physical “stuff” in question was moved from one major battle site in Syria to another one, in 2012 and 2013, and ended up in a region on the border with Lebanon now controlled by Hezbollah and Iran.

In other words, the stuff was present in at least one and possibly two areas being fought over by Assad’s forces and rebel forces.   Natural-uranium stock and uranium fuel rods, for example, could have fallen into the hands of foreign jihadis, and/or the Al-Qaeda-backed Al-Nusra Front.

Now those materials, and probably others (including processing equipment), are thought to be stored in an area seized by Hezbollah in 2013, under the direction of the Iranian Qods Force.

This should alarm us.  While Assad controlled Syria, his nuclear aspirations were a big but boundable problem.  Now that he no longer controls Syria, what has happened to the elements of his nuclear program is likely to have non-boundable implications.  At the very least, it has the potential to empower Iran, Hezbollah, or both, with materials held in locations whose political control and accountability will be uncertain – from an official international standpoint – for the foreseeable future.

It’s a nightmare:  the very real potential for the most dangerous kind of nuclear proliferation.

The nuclear problem

Readers will remember that in September 2007, Israel attacked a nuclear reactor being constructed, with the help of North Korea, at al-Kibar in northeastern Syria.  No follow-on construction resumed at the reactor shell itself, although it was quickly covered with tarps and temporary structures after the strike, to frustrate foreign intelligence collection.

The type of reactor being put up was assessed to be a gas-graphite reactor like the one in Yongbyon, North Korea, which would produce enough plutonium as a byproduct for one to two plutonium bombs per year.

The gas-graphite reactor is different from Iran’s at Bushehr (a “light-water” reactor cooled by pressurized water), which would not be a significant source of plutonium.  Iran’s main path to nuclear weapons has been the separate one of uranium enrichment, with a uranium bomb as the end-product.  The enrichment path involves direct enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade purity, using centrifuge cascades as the principal method (although Iran is also thought to be working with laser enrichment).  No reactor is involved in the production of material for the weapons per se.

That said, Iran does have a heavy-water plutonium-producing reactor under construction at Arak, and is thus pursuing both paths to weaponization.

All of this matters, because it affects two things: the footprint of Assad’s nuclear program – what physical clues we have to look for – and the utility of his program to revolutionary Iran’s aspirations.

In Syria, we are not looking for centrifuge facilities like the vast enrichment complex at Natanz in Iran, or the smaller facility at Fordo, near Qom.  We will be looking instead for plants where yellowcake is converted to a usable form (in this case, uranium tetrafluoride, or UF4) and is metalized into fuel rods for the reactor.  We will also be looking for a facility at which plutonium can be separated out – harvested, essentially – from the spent fuel rods after they are removed from the reactor.  In North Korea, this process occurs at the “Radiochemical Laboratory” at Yongbyon, a six-story industrial building.

Reporting from February 2011 – the very outset of the Arab Spring – identified a probable uranium conversion plant at a Syrian military base, Marj as-Sultan, just east of Damascus.  The site had come under IAEA suspicion as early as 2008.  Specific types of major equipment present there were named in a 2011 report from Suddeutsche Zeitung, cited extensively in analysis by experts at the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

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In January 2013, an article at Financial Times (subscription required; see link in ISIS’s link in this report) indicated that “unusual activity” had been taking place at the suspect area of Marj as-Sultan, where the equipment, along with 50 tonnes of uranium and possibly more than 8,000 fuel rods, were thought, based on earlier intelligence, to be stored.

The unusual activity at the suspect site was probably a consequence of the fighting in the area between regime and rebel forces, which occurred at the same time: in the autumn of 2012.  More on that in the next segment.  The point here is that there is good reason to believe that some of the remnants of Assad’s nuclear program – at a minimum uranium stock, fuel rods, and conversion equipment – were still at the Marj as-Sultan site sometime in 2012.

This brings us to the report by Der Spiegel last week, which indicated that a site in Qusayr, Syria, on the border with Lebanon between Damascus and Homs, has been identified as a nuclear-related site.  Spiegel cites government intelligence sources who have studied activity at the site since 2009, when work on it began.  The site appears to be an underground facility for which the excavation was carefully disguised:

According to intelligence agency analysis, construction of the facility began back in 2009. The work, their findings suggest, was disguised from the very beginning, with excavated sand being disposed of at various sites, apparently to make it more difficult for observers from above to tell how deeply they were digging. Furthermore, the entrances to the facility were guarded by the military…

The most recent satellite images show six structures: a guard house and five sheds, three of which conceal entrances to the facility below. The site also has special access to the power grid, connected to the nearby city of Blosah. A particularly suspicious detail is the deep well which connects the facility with Zaita Lake, four kilometers away. Such a connection is unnecessary for a conventional weapons cache, but it is essential for a nuclear facility.

Syria-nuke-Qusayr

Beyond the observed developments at the site, Spiegel quotes a source as offering communications intelligence confirmation:

But the clearest proof that it is a nuclear facility comes from radio traffic recently intercepted by a network of spies. A voice identified as belonging to a high-ranking Hezbollah functionary can be heard referring to the “atomic factory” and mentions Qusayr. The Hezbollah man is clearly familiar with the site. And he frequently provides telephone updates to a particularly important man: Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission.

There is, moreover, an intriguing possibility suggested by the disappearance of the North Korean scientist, Chou Ji Bu, who has been most closely associated with the Syrian nuclear program.  The possibility is that Chou has been in Syria since sometime in 2007Spiegel again:

Chou was long thought to have disappeared. Some thought that he had fallen victim to a purge back home. Now, though, Western intelligence experts believe that he went underground in Damascus.

In sum: prior to the Arab Spring, Syria had accumulated important elements of a program to build a working reactor like the one at Yongbyon and produce material for plutonium bombs.  Although Israel destroyed the reactor itself while it was under construction, several elements of the program remained intact in Syrian hands.  It is not clear what progress, if any, has been made with them in the nearly four years since the Arab Spring began, but there is credible evidence not only that the nuclear program continues, but that the previously-accumulated elements of it are still in Syria.

The question, however, is who is really in charge of them at this point.

The political control problem

That a Hezbollah operative is making reports on the “atomic factory” to the godfather of Assad’s nuclear program – Ibrahim Othman – is hardly meaningless.  It means at least that Iran still works through Assad in Syria, for important purposes.  There is still a convention of gestures between the two governments.  Othman himself, as we should expect, retains a unique significance.

But given everything else about this situation, including the location of a suspect site at Qusayr, and the history of the site at Marj as-Sultan in the civil war, we would be wrong to think of the nuclear program in Syria as still being Assad’s nuclear program, to do with as he wants.  Like the territory of Syria itself, the true ownership of the nuclear program is now a question more of who has local control – and who will set boundaries for Assad, since he is unable to reconsolidate “Syria” in his own power.

First, we must stipulate that the activity at the Qusayr site, which began in 2009, was directed originally by the Assad regime.  Revolutionary Iran has always had an interest in Assad’s nuclear program, and some degree of influence over it, but in 2009, Assad was still making his own decisions.

Fast-forward, however, to the critical period in 2012 and 2013 when the nuclear program was imperiled by local fighting in the civil war.  The regime’s air base at Marj as-Sultan was endangered by fighting in the larger Eastern Ghouta area in 2012, and rebel forces made significant headway there throughout the year.  In late November 2012, they overran the air base as part of their campaign in Eastern Ghouta.  Later reporting revealed that Assad’s forces had evacuated the operable military equipment from the base before it was overrun; that information, and the imagery observation of unusual activity at the suspect nuclear site, support the assessment that the nuclear-program material was also removed.

The Telegraph’s characterization (link above) was the common one at the time: the rebels, making gains in Eastern Ghouta, just outside Damascus, were “tightening the noose” on Assad.  The period from late 2012 to mid-2013 was actually a critical inflection point in the fortunes of the Syrian civil war.  Assad was on the ropes, losing strategic ground in the north as well as around Damascus.

Syria-nuke-map-2

A big part of what changed the momentum in his favor was a decision in the early spring of 2013 to shift regime forces from the Qusayr area, where they were in a standoff with the Al-Nusra Front, and bring them to Eastern Ghouta and Daraya, east and south of Damascus.  This shift enabled the turning tide that saw regime gains later in 2013, a campaign that included the battle in Eastern Ghouta in which Assad is alleged to have used chemical weapons.

Syria-nuke-map-3Syria-nuke-map-4

Qusayr would not be left to fall, of course.  Situated at the north end of the Beqaa Valley, Qusayr commands the approach from Lebanon to Homs, and must be held in order to keep the entire province secure, and prevent Homs from being cut off from Damascus.

But this feature of the campaign is where the sand shifted under Assad’s feet, so to speak.  He couldn’t regain momentum in Damascus and also establish control of Qusayr.

Iran and Hezbollah, executing an Iranian plan, stepped in to do the fighting and defeat the rebels at Qusayr.

The Hezbollah campaign at Qusayr in the spring of 2013 marked a significant break in Hezbollah’s level of political and military involvement in the Syrian civil war, which had hitherto been minimal – a fact quickly noted by analysts.  There was no question who had seized control of Qusayr when the battle was won: Hezbollah was in charge, not the forces of the Assad regime.  In fact, when the defeated rebels sought safe passage out of the city, their flight was negotiated by Lebanon’s Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a long-time associate of Hezbollah in the ever-shifting politics of Beirut.

Some of the impact on Lebanon of the disposition of Qusayr, and Hezbollah’s control of the city, is hinted at by this brief report from April 2014, which notes the arrest by the Lebanese army of a “military council leader” from Qusayr.  The report suggests he was engaged in arms trafficking; he would have been a Hezbollah operative.  Hezbollah has been an encroaching force in Lebanon for decades, controlling parts of the country and resisted in others.  With Assad’s status on the other side of the border increasingly subject to an Iranian veto, Hezbollah is on the cusp of holding a worrisome new strategic advantage.

A new picture emerges

It is no accident that the site of a nuclear facility in Syria has ended up under the control of Hezbollah and Iran.  It’s a question for another time what the Assad regime’s original purpose was in locating it in Qusayr, but we do know that in 2013, the commander of the Iranian paramilitary Qods force, Qassem Soleimani, is reported to have fully orchestrated the Hezbollah takeover in Qusayr:

According to Will Fulton, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute, Hezbollah fighters encircled Qusayr, cutting off the roads, then moved in. Dozens of them were killed, as were at least eight Iranian officers. On June 5th, the town fell. “The whole operation was orchestrated by Suleimani,” [said former CIA officer John] Maguire, who is still active in the region. “It was a great victory for him.”

There has been extensive recognition of Iran’s involvement in Syria; see here, here, and here, for example.  Much of that discussion has already understood that the battle of Qusayr was both a turning point in the civil war and a key feature of the Iranian strategy.  But the emerging information about the nuclear site at Qusayr sheds a new light on the strategic import of the Iranian involvement, and on the critical inflection point in Assad’s fortunes in late 2012 and early 2013.

Qusayr’s geographic features are an important reason for Hezbollah to have wanted to make an investment there.  But the existence of a nuclear site would have intensified Iran’s interest, explaining the focus Tehran put on orchestrating a victory there – a victory by Hezbollah, and not by Assad’s forces.  The before-and-after implied in that sentence speaks volumes.

Put that development in the context of growing recognition that there is no “Syria” anymore – see, for example, the treatments here and here – and a new picture begins to emerge of what Iran is really doing in what used to be Syria.

Take that picture, moreover, and add to it data points from the last few days.  After the Spiegel piece came out, members of the Free Syrian Army in the Qusayr area reported on 12 January that Iranian officers were there supervising the suspect facility, and that Hezbollah was mounting an “unprecedented” security presence for it.

[FSA official] Al-Bitar said the Friday report [in] Der Spiegel has been discussed at length in command meetings of rebel factions in the Kalamoon area.

He went on to say that “what can be confirmed is that what’s going on there is happening under direct Iranian supervision and the Syrian regime is only a cover-up for this.”

On 13 January, Adam Kredo reported at Washington Free Beacon that Iran acknowledges building missile manufacturing plants in Syria.

IRGC Aerospace Commander Haji Zadeh touted Iran’s capabilities and bragged that Iran has gone from importing most of its military hardware to producing it domestically, as well as for regional partners such as Assad.

“A country such as Syria which used to sell us arms, was later on to buy our missiles,” Zadeh was quoted as saying earlier this week by the Young Journalists Club. “Right now the missile manufacturing firms in Syria are built by Iran.”

Iran’s involvement in weapons manufacturing in Syria was already well known.  But the statement by Zadeh is a reminder of the scope of what Iran does in Syria – and the potential created by that array of activities for hemispheric power projection, through terror and intimidation.

The beauty of the territory of “Syria” for Iran is not only that it is in political turmoil.  It’s also that Syria is a wedge into the West, with a coastline on the Mediterranean: on the “other side” of both Israel and the Suez Canal from Iran’s regional encroachments on the Red Sea.  Under today’s chaotic conditions, Iran has an “interior” line of communication between her territory and Syria.  She can move men and material in and out of Syria via that LOC for many purposes, without being interdicted.  Eventually, Iran can foresee consolidating her position on the Syrian Mediterranean coast, and using it for purposes that can’t be accomplished without that unfettered access to points west.

Opportunity for Iran

All that said, however, Syria is now uniquely important to Iran’s nuclear aspirations because of the internal turmoil.  There is no meaningful mechanism for enforcing “national” Syrian accountability to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.  This is an ideal situation for Iran, and is only enhanced by the fact that the Syrian nuclear program has been on the alternate path to a plutonium bomb, as opposed to Iran’s well-advanced path to a uranium bomb.

Syria-nuke-map-5

Omri Ceren, an analyst with The Israel Project, made the following point in correspondence with me this week:

Between Hezbollah and the IRGC, Syria hasn’t existed as Syria for a long time. Even without the IRGC and Hezbollah physically there – which they are – a Syrian nuclear plant is an Iranian nuclear plant. The Iranians are building redundancy into their program. They’re just putting some of their facilities across what used to be the Syrian border. It’s the equivalent of building a new plant inside northern Iran, except it’s a little farther out in their frontier.

It’s actually better than building a new plant inside Iran.  It’s taking the work already done in Syria under Iran’s wing, and, by keeping it geographically distinct, putting a whole segment of the Iran-supervised effort outside any reasonable prospect of international inspection or accountability.

The State Department made it clear on Monday that the Obama administration has no intention of pursuing this as an issue with Iran.  Under questioning from reporters, Marie Harf was adamant about that (emphasis added):

QUESTION: On the Spiegel story, you said you’re seeking – who are you seeking more – I mean, you know – you should know this area better than anybody –

HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: — certainly better than a German, although highly respected, news magazine

HARF: I would agree with you that we probably have information they don’t.

QUESTION: So who are you seeking information from or are you —

HARF: Seeking internally or from our partners to see what more we can – if we can cooperate this, but again, not sure we can.

QUESTION: Is that – well, you couldn’t corroborate it because of intelligence reasons or because the story’s false and you want to leave it out there?

HARF: We don’t know yet. We just saw the reports and we’re looking into it.

QUESTION: Will you discuss this issue with the Iranians in the upcoming talks?

HARF: No. The upcoming talks are about the Iranian nuclear program.

QUESTION: Yeah, but if they are helping the –

HARF: Yes, but we don’t discuss other issues with them at those talks, as you all know.

QUESTION: But if they are –

HARF: Let’s move on to North Korea and let’s —

QUESTION: But if they are helping the Assad regime to build a nuclear facility –

HARF: I just said we’re not going to. I’m not sure what you don’t understand about that. We’re moving on to North Korea.

Not only will we not address this with Iran: we have only long-term and ineffectual plans to address the turmoil in Syria.  Our plan to train and equip an opposition force capable of fighting either the ISIS jihadi group or the Assad regime hasn’t even started yet.  It is, in any case, a plan with a long lead-time – at least a year – which the Obama administration does not intend to accomplish through its longstanding association with the Free Syrian Army.  (See here as well.)  Just this week, the commander of Special Operations Forces in CENTCOM met with Syrian opposition leaders to begin laying out a strategic vision.

The plan, moreover, doesn’t envision pacifying or unifying Syria, or taking territory from Assad or ISIS.  It’s a wholly defensive plan, which will apparently result only in setting up defended enclaves in a Syria left divided and unsettled.

In other words, nothing we plan to do will make the slightest headway against the very real problem of Syria as an unsupervised storage shed and back-room manufactory, for Iran or for whoever can manage to get hold of its contents.  Some of those contents are still from the Assad regime’s nuclear program.  It’s by no means impossible for ISIS to get hold of them; we don’t know where everything from the old program is.

If they are under the active supervision of Iran today, and are incorporated in a strategic plan of the mullahs’ devising, it is suicidal to be complacent about where they may end up, or how they may be used.

Seeing Security through a Screen

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

{Originally posted on author’s site, FirstOne Through}

In November 2014, “someone” in the Obama Administration chose to belittle the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The choice of expletives aside, the call was not just revealing about how much Barack Obama and his administration disliked Netanyahu, it reflected a smugness and cluelessness of the US Administration about living in the dangerous Middle East.

America at Peace America has been blessed with peace on its shores. While the country has waged many wars over the past 70 years, the actual fighting was on foreign lands including: Europe; Iraq; Vietnam; Korea; Japan; Libya; Kosovo; Somalia and many other countries. Other than two attacks on American soil, the US has been spared fear and death at home.

  1. Points in Time: There were only two days that the USA had foreigners attacking the country: December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001. America has not faced a prolonged attack on its shores for centuries.
  2. Troops Trespassing: Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks were done via airplanes. Foreign warriors did not walk the streets of America.
  3. Families Threatened: The two attacks were on military installations (the navy fleet and the Pentagon) and financial center (World Trade Center).   America did not face an enemy that threatened homes and families.
  4. Existential Threat: America is a superpower, armed with firepower that can destroy the world many times over. It has not engaged with an enemy that could threaten the very existence of the country.
  5. Peaceful borders: America is lucky to have only two borders despite its enormous size. Both neighbors are friends, allies and trading partners of the USA.

None of these facts are true for Israel. Israel is surrounded by several enemy countries. These neighbors have stated their intention to wipe Israel off of the map and have repeatedly gone to war and fired directly into civilian population centers over and over again through the decades of Israel’s existence.

Lawyers as Commanders-in-Chief America’s peaceful existence has enabled it to calmly elect presidents with no military experience over the last several decades. When America fought its great wars such as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and World War II, the American people elected the respective generals to become the Commanders-in-Chief in the following years (George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Dwight Eisenhower).

  1. Never in battle. The recent US presidents and vice presidents (particularly the Democratic ones) including Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Bill Clinton had no military experience at all. George HW Bush fought in World War II, while George W Bush served in the National Guard but was never in battle. Al Gore served as a military reporter for a short stint.       Other than HW Bush, these men never faced true fear or saw friends die in battle. They led the world’s largest military machine as Commanders-in-Chief without appreciating the danger and fear of deadly combat.
  2. No draft. America no longer has a draft so every person that serves in the military does so as a volunteer. Such a system can mask the decision of deploying troops for a military commander. Each soldier is a volunteer and trained professional. This “professional army” is very different than “citizen armies” that pull people out of the workforce and touch every corner of a country. As such, American presidents fight wars without the same direct economic and emotional impact that face other countries.
  3. The infrequent visitor. President George W Bush launched the Iraq War in response to the attacks on 9/11 and President Obama invested heavily in the War in Afghanistan. Each president made only four short trips to the regions despite deploying well over half a million troops in each war over many years.

In Israel, every person must serve in the armed forces. Every family deals with disruption to its business and annual routine. Each citizen faces the risks on a very personal level – physical, financial and emotional. Every family in Israel knows someone who died in one of its wars.

US on Demolishing Homes: No in Israel, Yes in Egypt

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

The same U.S. State Dept. that is condemning Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian Authority terrorists’ homes sanctions the same destruction by Egypt of hundreds of civilians’ homes in the Sinai.

State Dept. spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Thursday said it was “counterproductive” for Israel to demolish the homes of terrorists.

When asked Friday about Egypt’s al-Sisi regime’s demolitions of Sinai homes, whose owners’ only crime was living in an area that Egypt wants as a buffer zone with Gaza, she condoned Egypt’s action.

“There have been some serious security challenges in the Sinai,” Psaki said. “We respect Egypt’s concern about their security in the area and support its right to self-defense. We also expect that they will ensure the rights of those being displaced are respected and that they are adequately compensated. That continues to be what we have conveyed to the Egyptians.”

And how about Israel’s right to self-defense?

“So you don’t regard that as being counterproductive to the cause of peace or fighting extremism, these home demolitions?” in the Sinai, asked Associated Press reporter Matt Lee. “You would not argue that – I mean, you say that there are serious security problems in the Sinai for the Egyptians. Are there not also serious security concerns and security problems for the Israelis?…

”It’s not okay for the Israelis to demolish homes, but it’s okay for the Egyptians to demolish homes?”

Psaki dug up the expired “borders’ argument, to wit:

“Well, it’s an entirely different scenario, Matt. Egypt is not predetermining what borders would be by taking these steps. It’s a different scenario….

We believe it’s counterproductive to their stated goals. In Egypt, we understand their concerns about their security. We’ve seen recent threats to that in the Sinai, as you all have reported on. I think I’m going to leave it at that. They’re different scenarios.”

No, no, Madame Psaki, you may not leave it at that.

She is explicitly saying that since the Obama administration backs the Palestinian Authority claim that half of Jerusalem belongs to a country that does not exist, Israel does not have the right to try to deter terror by tearing down the homes of a terrorist who killed an American-Israeli baby in a vehicle terror attack at a Jerusalem light rail station last month.

She is saying Israel may not send a warning to future terrorists by destroying the home of the attempted murderer who last month shot at point-blank range Rabbi Yehuda Glick for wanting the right for Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.

Psaki is explicitly saying that Egypt has the right to tear down not one home, and not dozens of homes but hundreds of homes of civilians – not terrorists – in Sinai because it is an act of self-defense. In Israel it is “counterproductive.”

Thousands of people on the Egyptian side of Rafah were displaced three weeks ago when the Egyptian army dynamited their homes to create the buffer zone that Egypt hopes will help put a stop to the surge of weapons and terrorists into the Sinai from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

The difference between Israel and Egypt, according to the Obama administration, is that Israel has no right to deter terror if terrorists are killing Jews because of the assumed motive of securing borders for the Palestinian Authority and which Washington has pre-determined and which preclude negotiations that the same Obama administration tries to make believe exist.

Anarchy Fuels War over Jerusalem

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Jerusalem police found two stolen guns, 11 bullet cartridges and dozens of stolen IDF stun grenade in eastern Jerusalem Friday and arrested an Arab suspect in Jabal Mukaber, an Arab neighborhood next to the Jewish area of Armon HaNatziv.

The Israeli government has ordered a crackdown in Arab areas of the city in the wake of the new intifada, riots or Arab Spring uprising, depending on the mood of an editor.

The warning signs have been flashing for three years, but an Israeli blind eye and President Barack Obama’s overt backing for Palestinian Authority-claimed areas of Jerusalem have allowed terror to capture the fancy of an increasing number of Arabs in what is commonly referred to as “eastern Jerusalem.”

In fact, the Palestinian Authority also claims sovereignty over southern Jerusalem, home to tens of thousands of Jews in Gilo, Talpiot and Har Homa, and northern Jerusalem, where Pisgat Ze’ev and Nevei Yaakov are the homes of tens of thousands of other Jews. French Hill and much of Ramot also are in areas where President Obama has declared Jews to be “illegitimate” and “illegal.”

American ignorance of the Arab culture, especially when it comes to its attitude of a Jewish state of Israel, does not take into account that the president’s remarks, certainly not intended as incitement for violence, give the Arab world justification to ram cars into people, beat them with iron rods and throw rocks at them, at their cars and at the Jerusalem light rail trains system in order to defeat the “Zionists.”

Ambushes of Jews in “eastern “Jerusalem were reported as far back as three years ago. People were severely beaten and hospitalized, but the government ignored the incidents, encouraging the state of anarchy.

Police tried to stay out of Arab neighborhoods in order not to “escalate tensions,” a ghetto state of mind that is paralleled today by calls for Jews to stay away from the Temple Mount in order not to anger Arab Muslims.

It more or less reminds me of a little talk gave to a group of armchair Zionists in Baltimore more than 20 years ago during the Oslo idiocy. After I described the illegal hobbies of our Arab neighbors in the southern Hebron Hills, and after explaining the Jewish meaning of the word “Shalom,” one of the names of God, a very polite and stupid gentleman stood up and asked, “Well, if the Arabs don’t want leave you alone in peace, why don’t you just move to Tel Aviv?”

The Arab world has fed Arabs in Israel, and more worryingly an entire new generation, a steady diet of hatred and the notion that they are a “people” who are “stateless.” They believe Israeli is “occupying” them and would not believe how loathsome and pathetic were the lives of the grandparents and great-grandparents under the Jordanian occupation from 1948-1967.

That is part of history they never will learn. Instead, Hamas has done what Yasser Arafat did – exploit a vacuum and incite people to war.

There is war in Jerusalem, a war that Israel cannot afford to lose.

The violence may subdue tomorrow, or next week or next month, or not at all. Like most wars, there is no logic. Jerusalem Arabs received benefits from Israel that they could only dream of receiving under a Palestinian Authority regime.

They enjoy the light rail system, a cheap and efficient way of arriving to work.

But much of Arab Jerusalem is lawless. The city had allowed tens of thousands of Arab buildings to be constructed without permits. It also has discriminated against Arabs when it comes to funding for schools, parks and other municipal services.

Snide Remarks from State Dept. Over Jerusalem Housing Plans

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

The United States has — again — expressed its strong disapproval over the latest plans to build badly-needed housing in an overcrowded Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem.

The district planning and building committee today (Monday, Nov. 3) approved 500 new housing units in the Ramat Shlomo section of Jerusalem, an area built after the 1967 Six Day War. The State Department slammed the move, calling it “unfortunate” and “illegitimate.”

A week ago, the prime minister’s office approved plans to build 600 new housing units in the same neighborhood, in addition to 400 units in Har Homa, another post-1967 neighborhood in the capital.

Washington said at that point that Israel was taking steps that were “not conducive to peace in the region and a two-state solution.”

The State Department expressed “deep concern” over plans for what it called “settlement construction” in Jerusalem, in a loud echo of the anger bellowing from microphones in the Palestinian Authority.

But none of the neighborhoods in Jerusalem even faintly resembles a “settlement” and there is nothing remotely agrarian or rural about any of them.

Nevertheless, while meeting with U.S. officials in Washington, PA spokesperson Abu Rudaineh called today’s housing approval a “direct challenge” to the Obama administration” in a clear attempt to provoke the U.S. into attacking Israel.

A spokesperson for the far left ‘Peace Now’ organization eagerly aided and abetted the effort, telling the AFP news agency the approved housing units in Ramat Shlomo would “expand” the neighborhood’s existing “settlement.”

To put this all in perspective, please note that the average Israeli residential high-rise in Jerusalem’s Romema neighborhood, not far from the Central Bus Station, is built with eight to ten floors and features two or four units on each floor. So we are talking about the equivalent of perhaps a dozen to eighteen high-rise buildings – maybe double that if they are smaller. An addition of two streets, maybe.

This is called “expansion” of a “settlement?” Really?

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki underlined the sharp disappointment of the Obama government with the decision in her news briefing, claiming that Israel had no interest in peace with the Palestinian Authority because the housing project had been approved.

“Obviously, if they were going to restart a peace negotiation we would be seeing actions,” she said. “Actions like these are contrary to that objective.”

Oddly, she made no mention of the Palestinian Authority unity government’s violation of the cease-fire agreement on Friday night, by allowing Gaza terrorists to fire a rocket at southern Israel. The rocket landed in the Eshkol Regional Council district but did not injure anyone and did not cause property damage.

For some strange reason, Psaki and her boss have not considered the multiple violations of the cease-fire that have taken place since August to be ‘actions’ that signal the Palestinian Authority has no interest in “restarting a peace negotiation.”

A thinking person targeted in a rocket attack or some other form of terrorist violence (such as a shooting, rock attack or firebombing) might actually think that “actions like these are contrary to that objective.”

No?

Boy Isolated in NY Hospital for Possible Ebola

Monday, October 27th, 2014

A 5-year-old boy who arrived in the United States on Saturday from Guinea has been hospitalized in New York City’s Bellevue Hospital for symptoms of Ebola, while senior federal officials are concerned over new quarantine policies in New York and New Jersey.

The boy was not under quarantine. He was hospitalized with a temperature of 103 degrees (39 Celsius) and vomiting.

New York has issued a quarantine policy, but the Obama administration warned that it could actually hurt the fight against Ebola because it would deter medical personnel from traveling to West Africa to fight Ebola.

.Four cases of the disease have been documented in the United States, and the first diagnosed victim, Thomas Duncan, died from Ebola.

The quarantine requires people exposed to anyone with Ebola in New York to stay in their homes for 21 days and be checked twice a day by professionals.

Responding to concerns that mandatory quarantine would inhibit doctors and nurses from traveling to West Africa, Cuomo said New York wanted to encourage personnel to go, lauding their “valor” and “compassion,” while also protecting public safety at home.

Reacting to the quarantine, the Obama administration stated, “We have let the governors of New York, New Jersey, and other states know that we have concerns with the unintended consequences of policies not grounded in science may have on efforts to combat Ebola at its source in West Africa.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was not changing the policy even though he praised medical workers fighting Ebola “for their valor and their courage and their compassion.”

New Jersey faces a lawsuit by a nurse who was quarantined for 21 days in a hospital after returning from treating Ebola victims in Sierra Leone. She argued that the quarantine violated her constitutional rights.

Gov. Chris Christie said he was sorry that the quarantine made the nurse “uncomfortable but that he had “the people in New Jersey as my first and foremost responsibility to protect.”

Another suit is expected to be filed this week by a patient in Texas wo was quarantined but not tested positive for Ebola.

Livni, Lapid Warn Netanyahu Over Construction Approvals

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid – who both have opposed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on past issues regarding Judea and Samaria – again warned him late Sunday night over his cancellation of a de facto freeze on Jewish building there.

The two senior cabinet ministers told Netanyahu following a Channel 2 report about his approval of projects to build several new roads and some 2,000 housing units in already-existing settlement blocs that the move would exacerbate already-strained ties with the U.S.

“Plans for more construction, even if it’s in the settlement blocs, under such sensitive circumstances that we find ourselves in, is irresponsible from both a diplomatic and security standpoint,” Livni warned. “The fear of publicly acknowledging that there is a construction freeze outside of the settlement blocs will lead to damage to the bloc themselves.”

Lapid also spoke of his fears that the move would further inflame already hot tempers at the White House and State Department. The finance minister said any construction in Judea and Samaria would lead to a “serious crisis in ties with the United States, and it would harm Israel’s international standing.”

He added that while in principle he is not opposed to construction inside the settlement blocs, “at this stage it will cause damage to Israel.”

The Obama Administration has drawn closer to Iran and Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorists despite Israel’s efforts to maintain stable relations with the United States and despite the de facto building freeze that residents of those areas have endured for months.

Such a building freeze means that residents living in Judea and Samaria cannot even repair a road or driveway, or build an addition to a porch, let alone add an extra room to their homes, without the risk of having it destroyed.

It means that no community can add a new classroom to a burgeoning school, no matter how many new babies are born in the town, and no new apartments can be built to accommodate the natural growth among the families.

No new libraries, or community centers, or even bypass roads can be created to avoid the dangerous areas that are increasing by the day, as Arabs in the region are incited to violence by their Palestinian Authority unity government.

This, as neighboring Arabs in precisely the same areas are building freely without cease, beautiful, free-standing new homes going up on a near-daily basis with brand-new roads springing up alongside.

Arab construction is moving forward at a brisk pace with the assistance of generous funding from the European Union and other foreign sources – in the same disputed areas where Jews are warned not to build.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/livni-lapid-warn-netanyahu-over-construction-approvals/2014/10/27/

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