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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘threat’

Arrogance, Silence, and the Saudi Threat

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Saudi Arabia has, according to the US, threatened that they will step in to protect Iran by shooting down any Israeli planes on the way to destroy or damage the Iranian nuclear threat to its people. There are so many facets of this concept and so many things go through my mind.

First, is the arrogance. I am reminded of the single plane in 1967 that kept flying into Eilat, landing and then appearing to unload war equipment and then taking off again, only to circle around out of sight and then land again – all to convince the Arabs that Eilat was being supplied with massive arms and it was not worth attacking. It worked. One plane…

I am reminded of the story – fact or fiction – of Israeli jet fighters making their own statement by not only overflying Saudi Arabia, but daring to touch down on their runways before lifting off again to the skies. I am reminded of our daring flight to Uganda to save the hostages in Entebbe; of our flights to Ethiopian and Yemen to bring the persecuted Jews of those communities home. I am reminded of our flying in to Iraq to bomb the beginnings of their nuclear reactor; of our flying in to Argentina to kidnap and bring Adolf Eichmann to justice. I am reminded of a few years ago, as Elie was on the Syrian border, of our planes flying overhead to bomb the beginnings of what would have been a Syrian nuclear reactor.

It is arrogance on my part to laugh at the Saudi threat; to wonder if they would even have, in the blink of an eye, the time to identify the Israeli jets, let alone scramble and catch them. Of course, it is arrogance. The Saudis have advanced warning systems – thanks to their allies in the United States. And still I dismiss the Saudis. I think of them, probably wrongly, as lazy and arrogant men who belittle their women, sit around in long robes smoking on ancient water pipes. It’s a silly image and yet it persists.

Second, then, in my thoughts, is the fact that this threat is being made public by the US and not by the Saudis. The Saudis have apparently chosen to voice this threat through American officials and this time, Israel has correctly identified it as yet another attempt by the US to control Israel. Obama’s government doesn’t want Israel to attack Iran until it gives the go-ahead either by performing the attack itself, or by granting us permission.

On the flip side, Israel understands quickly that if the US attacks Iran – Iran’s first target will be Israel. We will pay for any attack with missiles against our civilian population. And yet, the US expects us to alert them to our plans, to delay and/or go according to their schedule.

There is one great truth that all Israelis know; that all Jews have accepted. Today’s modern Jew, at least in Israel, is different than the Jew of yesteryear. A former boss of mine was once describing his life in Poland before World War II. He explained how the Jews would step into the streets in his village, so that the Christians could walk on the sidewalk. The Jews would bow their heads a bit; look at the ground. I was young, a new mother with two children in my first few years of marriage as I listened to his description.

Without thinking, I blurted out, “I’d be dead.” He looked at me, a bit shocked, and I clarified, “I don’t know how to do that. I don’t.”

My children – a generation of Elies and Shmuliks don’t know how to do that either but where I can at least understood the need Jews once had to feel that they needed to behave this way, my sons won’t even understand that. No, we will not return to what we once were and we will leave the defense of our land in no one else’s hands.

Will Israel strike at Iran? For all the politicians on both sides of the ocean that speak of this and to all the journalists who discuss it, my answer is clear and unequivocal. You’ll hear about it hours AFTER it happens. It will happen in the dead of night, or first thing in the morning. Perhaps in the afternoon of a particularly hot day, or just before the first stars come out. It will happen when…when it needs to be done.

Who’s Really Isolated? He Who Misunderstands Middle East Realities

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/whos-really-isolated-he-who.html

One of the mantras from Israel’s supposed foreign well-wishers is that the country is now “isolated.” You can tell the hostile ones because they quickly add that this alleged isolation is Israel’s own fault.

Sure, on the surface the first proposition makes sense. Israel has lost its two main regional friends—Turkey and Egypt—which are now hostile. The United States under its current government—but doesn’t President Barack Obama love Israel?—is no longer reliable. Isn’t it rather notable that despite these two countries turning totally against Israel this has had zero effect on the Obama Administration’s totally positive policy toward both, a list to which could be added the Hizballah regime in Lebanon mentioned above. Perhaps the U.S. election in November will change this situation but there’s nothing Israel can do about that.

Yet none of this is in fact Israel’s fault. The Turkish people elected and reelected a subtly Islamist regime that loathes Israel for reasons having nothing to do with Israel. The Egyptian people elected an openly Islamist regime that loathes Israel for reasons having nothing to do with Israel. The problem is the ideology of the rulers. And the same thing applies to the United States, doesn’t it? At least in Egypt the armed forces are holding back the Muslim Brotherhood.

Erdogan, al-Mursi, and Obama are not really reacting to some Israeli mistaken policy and the problems won’t be solved by more unilateral Israeli concessions. Indeed, given the dangers of the situation—and most Israelis appreciate this—such give aways are out of the question. Nothing Israel does will fix the problem and any retreats will make matters worse.

Nor is anything Israel does likely to move negotiations with the Palestinian Authority ahead by even an inch (or, if you prefer, a centimeter).

So the situation isn’t wonderful on the surface and anyone who reads the newspapers and develops great theories in his own mind can reach that conclusion.

Yet the following development, for example, is more important than all of the anti-Israel media articles and boycott campaigns of the last year put together: This week the European Union is offering Israel upgraded relations in 60 different areas, removing all obstacles against Israel having full access to European government-controlled markets and  cooperation with nine EU agencies, including Europol and the European Space Agency.

But let’s look deeper, specifically at the situation immediately on Israel’s borders, to see if things are as bad as they might seem.

Lebanon: Neighboring Lebanon is governed by Hizballah and various clients of Syria and Iran. That’s not good. Yet let’s remember that Hizballah and its allies are now trembling over what might be the impending fall of their Syrian backer. How will they fare without the Damascus dictator behind them? A Sunni Muslim dominated Syrian regime might hate Israel but it will not love or help those who aided the government that was murdering them.

And the Lebanese government has another problem. It wants to consolidate control over Lebanon and rule the country. Fomenting a war with Israel that brings Israeli warplanes to destroy the country’s power plants, bridges, airport, and pretty much every other major infrastructural project will make Hizballah hated.

A Hizballah direct offensive against Israel is not in the cards.

By the way, people are forgetting the implications of blaming Hizballah for the terrorist attack in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists. Hizballah is not some group hanging out in caves; it is the government of Lebanon. So will a U.S. government that has publicly blamed Hizballah for the attack actually take any action against Hizballah the government? Probably not but isn’t that a disgrace? Maybe after January 20 there will be someone in Washington DC who will recognize the rather bizarre contradiction in such behavior.

Then there’s tottering Syria. Israeli defense officials have pointed to the danger of jihadists operating in sections of Syria near the Golan Heights but no longer under the control of an overextended central government. True, Israel should be prepared for such a danger.

Yet the Golan border is well defended and closely watched. Terrorists are unlikely to be able to cross. As for a massive influx of Syrian refugees, why should they chance the minefields when they can more easily get out through Iraq, Lebanon, or Turkey? The long-run threat from a Sunni Islamist regime is real but then so is the discomfiting of an Iran deprived of its main ally. And Syria’s armed forces are going to be a mess for years to come. So once again this is an issue that must be taken seriously but is not all that menacing.

How Involved in Terror Against Israelis and Jews are the Iranians?

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

http://thisongoingwar.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/21-jul-12-how-involved-in-terror.html

When it comes to carrying out deadly terrorist attacks on Israelis and/or Jews, just how dangerous and persistent is the government of Iran?

The New York Police Department has an answer. Its intelligence analysis arm says the government-controlled Iranian Revolutionary Guards directly or via their undercover representatives have executed nine plots against Israeli or Jewish targets around the world so far this year. This was reported in a major syndicated story on Friday by Reuters ["Exclusive: New York police link nine 2012 plots to Iran, proxies"].

Three plots were foiled in January, three in February and another three since late June. Iran has repeatedly denied supporting militant attacks abroad. The documents, labeled “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” said that this week’s suicide bomb attack in Bulgaria was the second plot to be unmasked there this year. The reports detail two plots in Bangkok and one each in New Delhi, Tbilisi, Baku, Mombasa and Cyprus. Each plot was attributed to Iran or its Lebanese Hezbollah militant allies, said the reports, which were produced following the bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria of a bus carrying Israeli tourists. Iran on Thursday dismissed “unfounded statements” by Israel linking Tehran to the Burgas blast, saying they were politically motivated accusations which underscored the weakness of the accusers… U.S. officials say they increasingly concur with Israeli assessments that Iran and its proxies organized the killing of seven Israeli tourists in Burgas by a suicide bomber after they boarded an airport bus.

The indefatigable Challah Hu Akbar has pulled together publicly accessible news analysis and reports, and draws the conclusion that the Islamic Republic or its proxies have done more than Reuters is reporting. His posting, also from Friday, is called “A Review of Recent Iranian/Hezbollah Plots Against Israelis & Jews Abroad” and is worth a visit.

Here is a distillation of Challah Hu Akbar’s posting, with the facts of the incidents drawn from publicly available sources.

-May 2011 – Bombing in Istanbul: Eight people were wounded in a bombing attack that was publicly attributed – like virtually all acts of terror in Turkey – to the the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK. The Italian daily Corriere della Sera says the terrorists were in fact from the Lebanon-based Islamist organization Hezbollah and they were targetting Israel’s consul general in Istanbul, Moshe Kimchi. [Report]

-January 2012 – Baku, Azerbaijan – Thwarted attempt to kill two Jewish teachers: Azerbaijan’s Ministry of National Security reported that its people had uncovered an attempt to kill two teachers employed at the Chabad Or Avner Jewish school in Baku. Three men were arrested. The charge is that they received smuggled arms and equipment from Iranian agents. [Report]

-January 2012 – Bulgarian secret service uncovered a planned attack on Israeli visitors: The plan was for a major “showcase” terror attack with Israeli citizens residing in, or traveling to, Bulgaria. The plan was to have the attack coincide with the anniversary of the killing of notorious Hezbullah figure, Imad Mughniyah, killed on Febuary 12, 2008. [Report]

-February 2012 - Car bombing of vehicle of Israeli diplomat’s wife’s in New Delhi: The freelance journalist arrested for facilitating an attack on an Israeli diplomat’s wife [we blogged about it here] was found by the Indian police to have been in close touch with Iranian officials, and had made two visits to Iran during 2011. [Report]

-February 2012 - Bangkok, Thailand: An explosives attack on Israeli diplomats: Three Iranians were arrested after their bombs went off prematurely (blowing off the legs of one of them) before they were able to execute a plan to attack Israeli diplomats. [Report]

-February 2012 - Bombing in Georgian Republic: The Thai authorities said they had discovered what they termed a “direct connection” between the attacks on Israeli diplomats in Bangkok with a bomb attack on the Israeli embassy in the Republic of Georgia [we blogged about that here] – as well as with the New Delhi attack. Police in Tbilisi defused an explosive device found in the car of an Israeli embassy employee a day after the fourth death anniversary of Mughniyah. The common element: the involvement of the Iranians. [Report] Iran’s response was, and is, that Israel carried out an attack on its own embassy [source].

-February 2012 - Another attack on Israelis foiled in Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan stopped another terror attack and arrested members of a linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force. The men were arrested and their firearms and explosives seized before they could do any real harm. [Report]

The Art of “Gray-Hull Diplomacy”

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I received a question last week from a correspondent:

I was wondering if you could suggest some manners in which the US could make the military option more credible against Iran.

To my request for clarification, the correspondent replied that this question was more about how to credibly intimidate Iran than about how to effectively interdict Iran’s nuclear program with military force.

It’s a very good question.  How should an American president use the military in an intimidating, persuasive manner, to induce Iran to give up her nuclear-weapons purpose?  Very little has been discussed on this topic in the forums of punditry; virtually all treatments focus on the feasibility or proper method of a military attack campaign.  Is there an “intimidation option,” short of a shooting war?  And if so, what would it look like?

The first principle in answering these questions is that intimidation is personal, not mechanical.  There is no force package that is more effectively intimidating than another, if the will to carry out one’s threats is not considered credible.  The short and non-flippant answer to my correspondent’s question is, “Get another president in the White House.”  Changing an opponent’s intentions through intimidation is entirely about credibility, and credibility comes from the threatener’s history and perceived character.

This is especially true as regards the United States.  We have three aircraft carrier strike groups in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf right now, something no other nation can possibly do.  (We won’t have three a few weeks from now; two of the carriers are swapping out on station, and thereafter our two-carrier presence will be maintained.)  We have Air Force strike-fighters in the Gulf, about 15,000 US Army troops in Kuwait, and tens of thousands of soldiers in Afghanistan, along with air assets.  We have an amphibious group with a Marine battalion in the Gulf region as well.  In spite of our drawdown over the last 20 years, we retain forces in Europe and Turkey, as well as the still-large package of permanently-stationed forces we have in the Far East.

We have the conventional forces to be intimidating with.  The question about our credibility is not related to the believability of our military capacities.  It’s about the leadership and will behind them.

But from a methodological standpoint, leadership and will can produce different courses of action, and they are not all equally effective.  Presidents Bush and Obama have chosen not to use the US military to increase the pressure on Iran, and the “escalation” path adopted by the Perm-5 + 1 has been selected for its extreme slowness and incremental nature.

It’s worth taking a moment to clarify the point that we aren’t using military power to increase pressure on Iran.  The US forces in Southwest Asia have been drawn down absolutely since 2008, and outside of Afghanistan, what we have kept or sent to the theater since then has been purely defensive.  Incremental defensive preparations, such as the introduction of additional minesweepers or anti-missile batteries around the Gulf, are not a means of intimidation.  They are not attack assets.  The current mix of US forces in the Gulf region indicates that we believe Israel and/or Iran might mount a military initiative.  It does not indicate that we intend to.  The US force posture around the Gulf is a defensive one, indicating our intention to have the option of reacting.

The UN and US sanctions on Iran have, meanwhile, been incremental and very slow-acting.  The issue for our purposes is not whether that is “good” or “bad,” but whether it is effective.  Objectively, the sanctions in place are not discouraging or usefully delaying Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons.  Nations like China, India, and Germany continue to do robust business with Iran, not only supplying Iran with hard currency by buying her oil, but selling her technology and materials for her nuclear program.  In spite of the annoying impediments created by the international community, Iran continues to expand her uranium-enrichment operations and to deny IAEA access to suspect facilities.  The program of multilateral talks with Iran merely serves Iran’s purpose of dragging out the current situation, which is favorable for her objectives.

The mere presence of military forces is not automatically intimidating, nor is there an intimidation formula that prescribes levels or combinations of force.  What intimidation boils down to in this case is Iran’s perception of what we intend to do with our forces, on an operationally significant timeline.

Jihadi Tourism Hits Europe

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Increasing numbers of Muslims in Europe are travelling to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and other conflict zones to obtain training in terrorist methods.

Although intelligence agencies have been following the trend since the July 2005 bombings of the London commuter system, which were perpetrated by four home-grown Islamic terrorists, the scale of the problem has come into greater focus in recent weeks.

European security officials are especially concerned about reports that al-Qaeda is recruiting and training Western operatives who have “clean” criminal records and have the ability to travel freely and blend in with European and American cultures.

In Norway, for example, an ethnic Norwegian convert to militant Islam who has received terrorist training from al-Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen, is awaiting orders to carry out an attack on the West, officials from three European security agencies said on June 25.

European officials have confirmed that the man is “operational,” meaning he has completed his training and is about to receive a target. Although the terrorist-in-waiting is believed to still be in Yemen, even if he is found he cannot be extradited: under Norwegian law it is not a crime to attend a terrorist training camp.

The London-based newspaper Sunday Times, quoting intelligence services, published a story on July 1 that said the Norwegian jihadist had been trained by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] to evade airport security and is plotting to hijack an American passenger plane and, in a suicide mission, crash it. The newspaper portrayed the plot as an attack on the upcoming London Olympics, to be held from July 27 to August 12, but said the target was specifically supposed to be an American aircraft.

The paper described the recruit as being a Norwegian citizen in his 30s, with no immigrant background, but who calls himself Abu Abdulrahman. The man, who converted to Islam in 2008, has apparently in recent months been undergoing training at AQAP bases in Yemen.

According to a detailed report in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, on July 5, the individual is a 33-year-old Norwegian who, in his youth, was associated with Oslo’s far-left Blitz movement. Despite his one-time radical credentials, he later worked as a babysitter at a daycare center in Oslo, the city where he was born and raised. He did not have a history of violence, the paper said.

Dagbladet went on to report that eventually he became a member of the Green Party; a source close to the suspect said that, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, he had come to be viewed as an easily-influenced conspiracy theorist.

His ideological priorities shifted, according to the paper, after he married the daughter of a diplomat from an unspecified North African country. In 2008, he converted to Islam and underwent a change of lifestyle: he gave up alcohol and broke off almost all contact with his earlier friends. The newspaper stated that he recently became a father, and that his wife had travelled to her home country with their child.

Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, Britain’s domestic security service, recently provided important context to the threat posed by would-be jihadists. In a rare public address on June 25, Evans said the Olympic Games in London “present an attractive target for our enemies and they will be at the center of the world’s attention in a month or so. No doubt some terrorist networks have thought about whether they could pull off an attack.”

“In back rooms and in cars and on the streets of this country there is no shortage of individuals talking about wanting to mount terrorist attacks here,” Evans continued. “It is essential that we maintain pressure on al-Qaeda.”

Evans also said that al-Qaeda militants are using the countries which toppled their leaders in the Arab Spring as bases to train radical Western youths for potential attacks on Britain: “This is the completion of a cycle. Al-Qaida first moved to Afghanistan in the 1990s due to pressure in their Arab countries of origin. They moved on to Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban. And now some are heading home to the Arab world again.”

“Today,” Evans added, “parts of the Arab world have once more become a permissive environment for al-Qaeda. A small number of British would-be jihadis are also making their way to Arab countries to seek training and opportunities for militant activity, as they do in Somalia and Yemen. Some will return to the UK and pose a threat here. This is a new and worrying development and could get worse.”

NJDC Removes Adelson Petition

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

The National Jewish Democratic Council, citing peace among Jewish groups, has taken down a petition calling on Republicans not to accept money from Sheldon Adelson.

“Regarding our recent campaign surrounding Sheldon Adelson, we don’t believe we engaged in character assassination; we stand by everything we said, which was sourced from current, credible news accounts. Accusations against Mr. Adelson were made not by us, but by others, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ). Nonetheless, we regret the concern that this campaign has caused. And in the interest of shalom bayit (peace in our home / community), we are going to take down our petition today. Moving forward, we’ll continue to work hard to fight against the unique threat posed by the outsized influence of certain individual megadonors, which rightly concerns most Americans and most American Jews.”

The petition based the call on allegations by a former employee suing Adelson for firing him that Adelson agreed to allow prostituion at his casinos in Macau, China; on the claim by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that Adelson, with the tens of millions of dollars he has infused into the Republican side of this year’s elections, was effectively introducing Chinese money into the campaign; and on federal investigations into allegations that Adelson has paid bribes in China.

A number of Jewish groups and figures, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Anti-Defamation League, the Republican Jewish Coalition and Alan Dershowitz called the allegations unconscionable, noting that all had yet to be proven.

Adelson is a major giver to Jewish causes, especially the Birthright program bringing young people to Israel and Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, and has given to causes associated with or favored by those who defended him in this case.

“Accusations against Mr. Adelson were made not by us, but by others, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ),” Harris and Stanley said. “Nonetheless, we regret the concern that this campaign has caused. And in the interest of shalom bayit (peace in our home / community), we are going to take down our petition today. Moving forward, we’ll continue to work hard to fight against the unique threat posed by the outsized influence of certain individual megadonors, which rightly concerns most Americans and most American Jews.”

Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part X)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

To the misnaged-opponent, chassidus was not perceived as a different strand of normative Judaism, nor as a movement to uplift downtrodden Jews – but as an existential threat to Judaism itself. And the threat was no longer viewed as a futuristic potentiality; it was a real and imminent danger, for the movement was no longer limited to just the commoner but had infiltrated the ranks of scholars.

Accordingly, the opponents and their leadership concluded that the time had no longer come to halt the proliferation of the aberrant chassidic movement – but to annihilate it. If there was anything they had learned from the Sabbetai Zvi and Jacob Frank debacles, it was how important it was to crush false prophets at the very first signs, before affording a chance to influence and spread.

Those that had decided upon issuing a cherem (excommunication) against chassidim meant they had decided upon war. Any other move would be too little and too late.

The first stage occurred in 1771 when letters circulated regarding the heresy of chassidus. By 1772 full-fledged excommunication was in the works under the direction of no less a spiritual giant than the Vilna Gaon. The result was that the chassidim were ostracized and excommunicated in Lithuania and Galicia, and a rift had been wedged into the Jewish community.

The war against the chassidim continued to rage after the death of the maggid on 19 Kislev, 1772. With the master’s passing the chassidim concluded that it was time to formulate a counterstrategy. Until then, the battle had remained isolated enough that a single leader was capable of guiding the situation. But this was no longer the case. The battlefront stretched from Sokolov to Vilna, from Slutzk to Pinsk, and from Brisk to Brodi.

The chassidic camp universally felt that there was a need for leaders that were richly endowed with energy and charisma, those who would know how to guard chassidic interests and even be prepared to engage in battle. The candidate who they felt best filled this description was Reb Elimelech, who was to assume the mantle of leadership in Galicia and Poland.

Reb Elimelech was the son of Reb Eliezer Lipman, a leaseholder in the township of Lapachi, near Tiktin. Tradition maintains that Eliezer Lipman was an individual wholly committed to the sake of G-d and His people, outstanding in his love for all Jews. For this reason, chassidic folklore attributes the “crown of charity” to Reb Eliezer Lipman who was known to work sedulously to redeem the imprisoned and repay the debts of poor tenants incarcerated by their rapacious landowners. Everything he did was performed with complete anonymity.

Eliezer Lipman’s wife, Mirish, was also a holy personality who devoted her days to good deeds. Every Erev Shabbos she would travel to Tiktin to dispense alms. One story relates how a group of poor people came to her home. Among them was a leper covered in boils. Everyone avoided this poor soul, but Mirish did not shy away from the opportunity. She exerted herself on his behalf and cared for his needs. Just before the group’s departure, the leper blessed her by saying, “May your children be like me.”

Mirish was frightened, indeed in no small measure revolted by the blessing. But before she could respond, the entire entourage of poor people disappeared. She then understood that she had been subjected to a Heavenly test to gauge her resolve and commitment. Accordingly, the blessing that she received was G-dly in nature and intended for her good.

Mirish was illiterate and did not even know how to read from a siddur. Yet Reb Zusha would testify that when his mother would recite the blessings (which she obviously knew by heart) the Shechinah would hover there. (Obviously only an angel such as Reb Zusha could make such an assertion.)

This pious couple, who lived initially in destitution, were pained that their children were not learned in Torah. As they agonized over their plight, the Baal Shem Tov came to their town. This unknown itinerant would gather crowds of simple folk and regale them about the value of holy and pure prayer and the value of donating to places of worship. The couple was mesmerized by what this man had to say.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/chodesh-tov/reb-elimelech-mlizhensk-part-x/2012/07/11/

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