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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

Israel’s Strategy Shift Bears Fruit

Monday, August 1st, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

Last Wednesday’s announcement that Guinea is resuming ties with Israel almost half a century after severing them is a nontrivial piece of good news. Granted, Guinea is a poor and relatively unimportant African country. But it’s 85 percent Muslim, and few Muslim-majority countries have yet been willing to forge open relations with Israel; consequently, its decision could encourage others to follow suit. Guinea was also the first country in Africa to sever relations with Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War. For both those reasons, its renewal of ties underscores the degree to which a new Israeli strategy aimed at improving relations with the non-Western world has begun bearing fruit.

The Guinea announcement comes on the heels of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s successful trip to Africa earlier this month. Highlights of that trip included announcements by both Kenya and Ethiopia–two of Israel’s closest African allies–that they would push for Israel to receive observer status at the African Union, as well as Tanzania’s announcement that it planned to open an embassy in Israel, 21 years after renewing relations.

Israeli media outlets have also reported that officials from three other Muslim-majority African countries that don’t have relations with Israel–Mali, Chad, and Somalia–recently paid secret visits, indicating that the prospect of other Muslim countries following Guinea’s lead is far from inconceivable. Indeed, just last week, Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold visited Chad for a meeting with its president. This prospect is made more plausible by the warming of Israel’s relations with key Arab states. As several African leaders noted during Netanyahu’s trip, there’s little point in African countries continuing to give Israel the cold shoulder when some of the very Arab countries that originally pushed them to do so now have either overt or covert relations with it.

There are two reasons why Israel ascribes such importance to its warming ties with Africa, and both have more to do with the long term than the short term. The first is the need to diversify its trading partners. Currently, about a third of Israel’s exports go to Europe. But the combination of Europe’s slowing economy and its growing hostility to Israel make this heavy reliance on Europe a potential threat to Israel’s economic future. Africa is the world’s poorest continent, but it’s experiencing rapid economic growth, and many of Israel’s fields of expertise fit well with Africa’s needs, including agricultural technology, water conservation, and counterterrorism. Thus by expanding and improving its diplomatic relations with African countries, Israel hopes to eventually expand its trade relations as well.

The second, as Netanyahu said during his Africa trip, is the hope of ending the automatic majority against Israel in international forums. As he readily acknowledged, this could well take decades; long-entrenched voting patterns don’t change overnight. Nevertheless, change is far from impossible: See, for instance, the 2014 Security Council vote on setting a deadline for Palestinian statehood, which was defeated because the Palestinians failed to muster the requisite nine votes. Two of the five crucial abstentions came from Africa (Rwanda and Nigeria).

Even if African countries can’t yet be flipped into the minuscule camp of pro-Israel voters, just moving them from the anti-Israel bloc to the abstention column could ease Israel’s dependence on America’s Security Council veto. Since Security Council resolutions need a minimum of nine “yes” votes to pass, an abstention has the same effect as a “no” for countries without veto power. It should also be noted that reliably abstaining would suffice to make African countries better voting allies than about half the European Union and of equal value to most of the rest: EU countries almost never vote with Israel, and some regularly vote against it.

Israel’s burgeoning relations with Africa obviously stem partly from something beyond its control: the rise of Islamist terror. As several African leaders openly acknowledged during Netanyahu’s trip, counterterrorism assistance is currently the thing they most want from Israel. And if reports of the visits by officials from Mali, Chad, and Somalia are true, it’s a safe bet they were also seeking counterterrorism help; all three have serious problems with Islamist terror.

The improvement also stems partly from Israel’s longstanding policy of proffering aid even to countries it has no relations with, which sometimes bears belated fruit. For instance, Israeli officials said one factor in Guinea’s decision to renew relations was the medical aid Israel gave it during the Ebola crisis two years ago. A salient example from Asia, another continent with which Israel’s ties have recently blossomed, is Singapore. Singapore asked Israel to train its army in the mid-1960s, before the two countries even established relations, and then concealed that fact for decades. But last month, as Elliott Abrams noted, Singapore joined forces with India and Rwanda–the third country in the club of Israel’s closest African allies–to help Israel gain the Non-Aligned votes it needed to win the chairmanship of a key UN committee.

The third reason for Israel’s declining isolation, however, is a deliberate decision by successive Netanyahu governments that the country could not afford, either economically or diplomatically, to keep focusing almost exclusively on the West while largely ignoring the rest of the world. Avigdor Lieberman, now the defense minister, made a major push to improve Israel’s ties with Africa and Asia during his term as foreign minister, and since his departure, the ministry has continued this drive under the de facto leadership of Gold (Netanyahu is the nominal foreign minister).

This constituted a major shift in Israel’s strategy, and it stemmed from a simple realization: Relations with Europe are inevitably being frayed by the fact that what the EU seems to want most from Israel is something beyond Israel’s power to provide. Namely, a peace deal with people who have consistently refused every Israeli offer and are currently refusing even to negotiate with it. Europe’s attitude could change someday, but Israel can’t count on that. Hence it must develop alternative sources of trade and diplomatic support as an insurance policy.

The restoration of relations with Guinea is yet another sign that this strategy is starting to pay off. And that’s very good news for Israel.

Evelyn Gordon

What is the Most Important Part of a Good Investment Strategy?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

The most important part of your investment strategy is objectivity.
Relying on your emotions when making financial decisions can damage any investment strategy.

Dr. C. Thomas Howard, co-founder of AthenaInvest, talks about why objectivity should be an important component of your investment strategy. He describes the five emotional triggers that cause the most damage, and why he thinks Modern Portfolio Theory may lead to emotional investing.
However, don’t be discouraged if you do make a wrong investment decision. You can always learn from your mistakes.

This is also an important lesson to teach your children. Find out why it’s a good idea to let your children make financial mistakes… and learn the best way to help them understand the importance of financial responsibility.

The Goldstein On Gelt Show is a financial podcast. Click on the player below to listen. For show notes and contact details of the guest, go to www.GoldsteinOnGelt.com

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

What is the Best Strategy for Claiming Social Security?

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

If you are an American living in Israel, how do you claim Social Security? Due to a class action lawsuit, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is no longer applicable to pensioners who receive bituach leumi. However, if you receive another Israeli pension, you may still be affected by WEP.

Listen for the link to a video, “Are You Getting the Social Security You Deserve,” which will tell you more about how to plan successfully for retirement and avoid Social Security mistakes.

You may also be wondering when the best time is to take Social Security. Andy Landis, author of Social Security: The Inside Story, explains why sometimes it’s a good time to take it early, but why it is usually better to wait.
What is the future for the Social Security system, and is it linked to inflation? If so, how will that affect your financial future?

The Goldstein On Gelt Show is a financial podcast. Click on the player below to listen. For show notes and contact details of the guest, go to www.GoldsteinOnGelt.com

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Why Ted Cruz Speaks for Me

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Ted Cruz and his allies get it.  They get that Americans can’t afford to have Obamacare implemented against our groaning, near-collapse finances.  They get that we are disgusted (and alarmed) at the idea of being the GOP’s economic attrition strategy for the 2014 election: the strategy that says, “Let things get as bad as they’re going to with Obamacare, and then people will finally blame the Democrats.”  The problem with that strategy is that someone has to pay the price for it – has to accept the financial losses, which for many people could be disastrous, even permanently life-changing – and that someone is us.

Cruz – and Mike Lee in the Senate, along with Matt Salmon (AZ) and others in the House – show that they get what the stakes are, by being willing to take a big risk on a deliberate strategy.  They’re making an attempt they could actually be defeated in:  to galvanize the rest of the GOP and get it to take a risk.

Contrast that with the bet-hedging and consultation-begging we see from the GOP leadership.  Here’s where my confession of populism comes in:  I don’t recall ever having such a sense of revulsion against the air of protecting privileged insularity that hangs over Beltway insiders, both politicians and pundits.  As we understand it, GOP leaders sent unsolicited “opposition research” to Fox News on Sunday, in order to undermine Cruz in his appearance with Chris Wallace.  Karl Rove excoriated Cruz on the Sunday show for failing to properly “consult” with his colleagues.  Tucker Carlson, Charles Krauthammer, and even Brit Hume took up the cry on Monday’s Special Report, accusing Cruz of grandstanding, and personalizing their criticisms of him to a startlingly petty degree.

Meanwhile, as the GOP impugns Ted Cruz’s motives with slam-book-quality allegations, it quietly accepts Obamacare exemptions and special subsidies for Congress.  The whole scenario seems like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington come to life.  All that’s missing is misleading photos of Cruz making bird calls.

But the truth is, this isn’t Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – because the plot of Mr. Smith turned on a relatively small matter, one that might have had symbolism for the operation of the whole government, but that in a literal sense affected only a small number of citizens.  The implementation of Obamacare is the biggest issue America has dealt with since how to get rid of the atrocious institution of slavery, and what “union” and “states’ rights” mean.  It profoundly affects everyone who will ever be an American from this day forward.  Issues don’t come any bigger.   Obamacare is about government’s relation to the citizen; about what government can dictate and control in our lives; and about what our economic liberties will mean, not in a decade, not a year from now, but tomorrow — and for the rest of our life as a nation.

From where I sit, it looks like Ted Cruz gets that.  He gets that we can’t just sit still, paralyzed by bad press and Democratic talking points, and let these questions be decided through the back door by the implementation of brain-deadening regulations.  He gets that that’s what’s happening.  He recognizes that a time comes when risk must be taken: when it just isn’t good enough for the well-worn remedies of consultation and deferral to produce the same unsatisfactory outcomes that they always do.  This time, the cost of taking that risk-averse route is too high.

Cruz did what he had to do on Fox on Sunday, remaining on message with admirable rhetorical discipline.  What he said was an accurate and succinct representation of the alternative he and his allies are offering:  fund the government without Obamacare in fiscal year 2014, as the alternative to funding it with Obamacare.  Delay implementation of the individual mandate, if that’s the best deal we can get, but go for the most we can get while still funding the government.  Don’t shut it down.  I found him to be effective in getting his point across.

But the old-school GOP leaders won’t get onboard with that message, apparently preferring to emphasize that they haven’t been consulted with.  They might as well just concede the terms of the fight to the Democrats and have done with it.

There are an awful lot of Americans out here who don’t know when the next shoe is going to drop, as the predator in the dark stalks their jobs, insurance, and finances.  Despising these people and their worries about Obamacare and the trend of big government – in the manner of Harry Reid – is as much bad karma as it is bad politics.  Yet senior Republicans seem to join Reid in being annoyed with the people for not wanting to play the role of the sacrifice in an electoral-politics ritual.

Instead of deferring an Obamacare fight to a future point we can’t guarantee we’ll even reach – i.e., after a Senate victory in 2014 – Cruz and his allies propose to fight today, on ground we can at least define clearly and prepare for in the present.  Are they right?  There are arguments pro and con.  But I don’t hear GOP leaders making any of those arguments in a forthright or convincing manner – or in any other way, for that matter.

One thing we can guarantee: we, Republican leaders and voters, won’t come to a unified position on that by refusing to address the question on the terms proposed by Cruz and his allies.  Cruz is trying to force the issue, which accords it the weight and immediacy that I give it.  He’s carrying my water.  If GOP leaders want to lead, they need to get out in front of this issue.  Go in strong with Cruz to make the strategy theirs – give the people something to applaud or reject – instead of merely sniping from the shadows.

J. E. Dyer

Israel Shouldn’t Be The Main Course

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Israel has always suffered from an inability to form an all-inclusive strategy. In the words of former secretary of state Henry Kissinger: “Israel doesn’t have a foreign policy; it has only internal politics.”

This failure to form a strategy is not due to some Jewish intelligence deficiency; it is because we have been evading the fundamental truth of our national existence. We justify the existence of the state of Israel with pragmatic – not destiny-based – reasons. The Holocaust memorial museum, Yad Vashem, has become our holy temple. The Temple Mount, on the other hand, is a source of primal fear for Israel’s leadership, which will do everything possible to rid itself of it – and the sooner the better.

So despite the fact that we are the most (actually the only) advanced state in the region, we are the only state in the region that has no regional interests. Our only interest is to survive. That is why we are capable of nothing more than reacting. We will never initiate. If the Syrians attack, we will attack them even harder. Until then, though, we will simply wait.

Strategy means formulating general policy to foster a goal that is beyond mere existence. Tactic is a policy of actions and reactions.

In the Middle East, you either sit down for the dinner – or you are the main course. Western democratic countries can maintain static relations between them; in other words, “I do not desire what is yours, and vice versa.” Israel would love to conduct its foreign policy in such a reality. But the Muslim culture in our region rules that out. Here the rule is: if you do not trample me, I will trample you.

Strategically, Israel must strive to be a regional power in the Middle East. Due to the fact that we see ourselves as strangers and foreigners in our own land, we show no interest in strategic objectives – nothing beyond basic survival.

The Middle East is crumbling, taking on the shape of the original, pre-World War I Sykes-Picot Agreement. It will fall into the greedy hands of Iran or Turkey. Everybody wants to be the new Salah al-Din of the greater Arab nation, which is shedding the national masks forced upon it by the West. Iran bids for hegemony by threatening Israel with nuclear annihilation. Turkey does the same by repeatedly humiliating Israel.

Meanwhile, the vacuum that has been created is sucking in the world’s superpowers. First Russia, and now, reluctantly, the U.S., which is taking advantage of the chemical weapons massacre in Syria in an attempt to rehabilitate its image.

Having a strategy means that if there is a massacre in Syria, Israel must intervene and prevent it from happening again. What? Are we crazy? We should intervene on behalf of the Syrian nation and be the target of missiles in Tel Aviv?

Tragically, we are heading straight for a repeat of the U.S. attack on Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in 1991. If the U.S. attacks Syria (for its own interests) it will be Israel that will pay a heavy price. In 1991, Israel passively sat out the Iraq war, relegating its security to the U.S. As a reward for our “good behavior” we got Iraq’s Scud missiles exploding in Ramat Gan and diplomatic pressure that led to the Madrid Conference, Oslo, the Expulsion in Gaza, and the serious deterioration in Israel’s existential legitimacy that we witness today. If there is an American attack on Syria, we will pay the same price for our passivity.

If we take the initiative, our first step should be the neutralization of Syria’s missile capabilities. This would diminish potential harm to Israel and in the future, whoever would want to exert influence in the Middle East would understand that they must include Israel in the equation – not to exact a price, but to pay Israel its strategic due. In other words, in the Middle East, either you sit down for dinner or you are the main course.

I know that currently, this idea does not have many supporters in Israel. Israelis feel like guests in their own land. They cannot yet absorb this line of thinking. For now, this is food for thought. Until I am elected to lead Israel, we can all relax in our sealed rooms, contemplating life on the Saudi dinner plate.

Moshe Feiglin

Cancer Imagery and Jew Hatred

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Rowhani’s comment about Israel being a ‘sore’ (whether or not he added that it should be removed) expresses a popular meme in the Muslim world. The idea is expressed explicitly in the Hamas covenant, and it often appears in PLO media. Palestinian Journalist Khalid Amayreh published an article in 2010 on an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood website in which he called  Jews “an abomination, a cancer upon the world.” Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday called Israel a “cancerous gland” which must be “excised,” echoing Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Other Iranian officials also use this language on a regular basis.

rowhaniqudsday

The idea persists, despite the fact that — by any objective standard — the behavior of Israel is anything but expansionist and invasive. Although Israel ‘grew’ at the expense of the Arab nations in 1967, it has eagerly abandoned most of the territory conquered in the name of ‘peace’, even when that goal proved illusory. It would probably have given it all up if the Arabs had been more focused on strategic advantage than honor and vengeance.

Since 1948, the Arabs (and from 1979, the Iranian regime) have persisted in trying to ‘cure’ the Jewish ‘cancer’, sometimes by war, sometimes by diplomacy and often by both at once. The Arabs seem to have learned by successive humiliations (which only deepen their hatred) that direct means will not be successful. Now they have adopted a multi-pronged strategy of military pressure combined with delegitimization to reduce Western support for Israel, along with diplomatic offensives at the UN and with the US to obtain a solid territorial base. Once this is achieved, they expect to finish the job in another regional war.

The Arabs in particular have never been terribly original. First they borrowed the anti-Jewish ideology of the Nazis, exemplified by Palestinian Arab leader al-Husseini’s relationship with Hitler and the Nazi scientists and war criminals who found sanctuary in Egypt, Iraq and Syria after the war.

The rest of the world was understandably repelled by Nazi ideology, but in the late 1960′s Yasser Arafat was instructed by the KGB to present his gang as a movement of national liberation for a distinct ‘Palestinian people’, and Zionism as a form of imperialism. The international Left followed the KGB’s lead, and this marked the beginning of the Left’s fanatic anti-Zionism.

In 2001, a new element was added with the development of the Durban Strategy by anti-Israel NGOs. Gerald Steinberg explained it thus in 2005:

The Durban conference crystallized the strategy of delegitimizing Israel as “an apartheid regime” through international isolation based on the South African model. This plan is driven by UN-based groups as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which exploit the funds, slogans and rhetoric of the human rights movement.

On this basis a series of political battles have been fought in the UN and in the media. These include the myth of the Jenin “massacre,” the separation barrier, the academic boycott, and, currently, the church-based anti-Israel divestment campaign.

Each of these fronts reflected the Durban strategy of labeling Israel as the new South Africa.

Since then the campaign has expanded greatly, despite the complete absence of parallels between Israel and apartheid South Africa.

It’s important to understand — and the cancer imagery makes this clear — that despite the various guises that the Arab-Muslim-Palestinian cause affects, there is one basic element that underlies it: an extreme hatred of the Jewish people and the desire for another genocide against it.

Vic Rosenthal

Why the Ancient Art of War and Other Strategies Matter

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Why is it important to study the strategies of history and the ancient art of war today? Has military strategy essentially changed over the years? In part two of this week’s podcast, Andrew R. Wilson, Professor of Strategy and Policy at the United States Naval War College, and prolific author on the subject of Chinese military history, explains why the lessons of history are so important today.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/why-the-ancient-art-of-war-and-other-strategies-matter/2013/05/29/

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