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

US Doesn’t Want to See Hamas Crushed

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Until recently, Jewish communities in Christian or Muslim principalities existed on the sufferance of kings and princes. If the ruler was not theologically hostile to Jews and/or if he found their presence useful, then they were able to live relatively unmolested lives; although in most cases there were restrictions placed on them, ranging from the prohibition against a Jew riding a horse in Muslim lands, to the exclusion of Jews from various trades in Europe.

But if the prince had a problem with Judaism, or even owed big debts to local Jewish moneylenders, then things could turn ugly. Rulers could turn a blind eye to pogroms — or even incite them — and total expulsion of Jews from a nation was possible, as happened in England in 1290, France in 1306 and Spain in 1492.

Zionism was in part supposed to be a solution to Jewish powerlessness and dependency. In a sovereign Jewish state, it would no longer be necessary to cater to, bribe and flatter non-Jewish authorities in order to exist.

Well, the joke seems to be on us. Although there is a sovereign Jewish state, Israel, it is “the Jew among nations,” trying to stay in the favor of the powerful nobles of the world (including the most powerful, the President of the US).

Of course there is a difference: the Jews of the diaspora were physically powerless, while Israel has the IDF. But what good is an army if someone else has veto power over its use?

The present situation, in which savage antisemites have launched (as it were) a pogrom against the Jews of Israel, is precisely the right time to use the power of the Jewish state, to do what the Jews of Kishinev could not do in 1903: stop the pogrom and destroy the ability of the antisemites to hurt them in the future.

This can be done with Hamas and the other terrorist factions in Gaza, but it requires an incursion into the densely populated cores of the cities where Hamas’ command facilities are located. A partial military solution, such as was accomplished by operation Cast Lead in 2008-9, only provides time for the terrorists to rearm and prepare for the next round, incorporating lessons learned.

It cannot be accomplished by negotiations. Diplomacy succeeds when it can provide benefits for both sides, but when one side’s very reason for being is to destroy the other, there isn’t a mutually beneficial solution.

But Israel’s arm is restrained by the patron to which it is most beholden, the USA, as well as the lesser potentates of the E.U. and the U.N. Israel’s PM seems to have agreed — or been forced to agree — to wait a few days to see if an acceptable Egypt-brokered agreement can come about. Meanwhile, tanks and reserve soldiers sit idle near the Gaza border.

The international princes are ostensibly horrified by the potential for harm to civilians (this from the folks that burned Dresden and Tokyo!), but it’s hard to credit this when 30,000 mostly-civilians have been killed in Syria’s civil war, not to mention the millions of black Africans who have died in that continent’s unending conflicts, with little or no response beyond talk.

Whatever the reason, they don’t want to see Hamas crushed.

Israel’s leaders know that there isn’t a diplomatic solution. But what can they do? Over the years, Israel has become so dependent on the U.S. — for advanced weapons, spare parts, etc. — that it is almost impossible to say no to US demands. Possibly some of the attitudes that we developed in the Middle Ages remain with us, as well.

I don’t have a quick fix to suggest. Maybe a tiny nation like the Jewish people must always be dependent to some extent. But it should be a national goal to reduce this dependence as much as possible, to be able to survive even when the occupants of the royal palaces of the world are unfriendly.

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Gaza Op Likely to Continue for Weeks, not Days

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

The IDF had hit numerous rocket launching sites in Gaza, particularly those for the long-range Iranian Fajr missiles. Before the weekend, there were fewer reports of rockets landing in Israel, and in particular no further sirens in the Tel Aviv area. If felt like it could be a trend. But it wasn’t.

IDF sources have indicated that the campaign will likely take weeks, not days. Its intention is to continue until the threat hanging over residents of southern Israel is ended, and indicated that a ground operation is not out of the question. The IDF is making concrete preparations for an invasion, although we have no way to know if a decision has been made to go ahead with it.

There is reason to think that both sides are interested in continuing the conflict at this point. Daniel Pipes lists several reasons why Hamas is prepared to fight, despite its comparative weakness:

* Test the waters in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s reelection. * Rouse public opinion against Israel and make it pay a price internationally. * Refute accusations by Palestinian Islamic Jihad that it has abandoned “resistance.” * Remind the Palestinian Authority, as it seeks statehood at the United Nations, who controls Gaza. * Rile up Israeli Arabs. * Pre-empt Egyptian plans to destroy Gaza tunnels, as Cairo cannot be seen helping Israel in a time of crisis. Israel, on one level, cannot allow its population to continue to be threatened. With the acquisition of longer-range missiles, the number of Israelis in range of Gaza more than quadrupled (not that the increasing pressure on the south could be allowed to continue).

Other advanced weapons in the hands of Hamas — anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles from Libya, for example — pose new threats. It is essential to restore a posture of deterrence against Hamas and the other terrorist factions in Gaza.

But there is another issue. The Iranian nuclear program hasn’t taken a break. The ‘secret’ negotiations with the US can only reduce the pressure on Iran. An Israeli attack on Iran is likely at some point. Even if the US takes action itself — which I doubt — Israel will be a major target of Iranian retaliation. A castrated Hamas will be less able to open an additional front at that time.

This suggests that maybe Hizballah — Iran’s main proxy against Israel — will be next. We have to remember that despite the damage that Iran’s proxies can do, they are ultimately proxies in the real conflict, which is with the genocidally antisemitic Iranian regime. Pulling some of Iran’s teeth in advance is a good strategy.

Israel is definitely not out of the woods yet. I can’t see any way to complete the operation against Hamas without a ground invasion. There will be casualties on both sides, and there will be accusations of massacres, war crimes, murdering children, etc. We’ve already seen some of the propaganda with faked photos, even some showingwounded in Syria that they claim are from Gaza! Hamas may have had most of its long-range rockets destroyed, but it still has numerous smaller ones. It still has the ability to perpetrate terror attacks inside Israel by means of its cells in Judea/Samaria/Jerusalem.

May the soldiers of the IDF, who are fighting not only for the state of Israel, but for all the Jewish people, finish their job in safety and success!

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Life with Rockets

Monday, November 12th, 2012

When something outrageous goes on for a long time, people stop being outraged. It is boring to hear or read about things like genocidal wars in Africa, Europe’s collapse into poverty, or the complaints of Israelis about being the targets of thousands of rockets, day in and day out. Better to search the internet, perhaps to find nude pictures of David Petraeus’ girlfriend.

I’m in Israel now, so a few words about the rockets. Everyone I talk to says the same thing: how can this be allowed to continue?

Every day, you take your kids to school (if it’s open and you are not in a shelter), hoping that there will not be a rocket barrage on your way — although Hamas makes an effort to shoot at these hours — moving quickly, keeping an eye on the closest shelter. Every day, rockets land all over southern Israel — small Hamas-built Qassams which can kill you if they land within a few yards, or larger military Grads, a Russian design that is built in multiple countries, including Iran. They smash into open fields, roads, parking lots, homes, schools, synagogues, stores, gas stations, living rooms, bathrooms, farms, factories, banks, telephone booths, markets, everywhere.

When they explode, they spray deadly shrapnel. If you are driving down the street and one lands near your car, the fragments penetrate the sheet metal. Then they penetrate parts of your body, and you may die or be permanently maimed. The sides of buildings are peppered with holes from the shrapnel, like they were hit by a shotgun blast. People’s faces can look like this, too.

When the rocket fire is dense, whole families go to shelters, as many as a million people. Then they come out and perhaps find their homes, cars or workplaces destroyed.

Children wet their beds, can’t concentrate in school, can’t sleep. Adults become phobic or crazy from their powerlessness to protect their families. Sometimes it’s quiet for hours and people relax. Then suddenly, perhaps at 3 am, the “color red” alert is heard, followed by the sound of explosions. In Sderot, which is relatively close to Gaza, there are 15 seconds between the alert and the explosion.

The Iron Dome system is deployed in some places, especially against the longer-range Grad rockets. Sometimes the explosion you hear is in the air, when a rocket is intercepted. Sometimes not.

Rocket fire into Israel from Gaza began in 2002. The intensity varied over time. Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9 slowed Hamas down a little, but activity soon went back to ‘normal’. The people who live in southern Israel have been bearing this for ten years.

Deaths have been relatively few compared to the number of rockets because of a combination of factors: the area of effectiveness, especially of the Qassams, is small, they are not aimable except in a general direction, schools and public buildings have been hardened, shelters large and small have been sprinkled throughout the region, and the Iron Dome system works well where it is deployed.

But still there have been numerous injuries, many serious, a large amount of property damage, and incalculable psychological harm done, especially to children. Today even a young teenager who grew up here never knew a time when death didn’t fall randomly from the sky.

Would you live like this? Would you try to raise your kids like this?

The greatest obscenity in this is that it has become acceptable, to the world and even to the Israeli government, to shoot at Jews. If it weren’t OK, why is it allowed to continue? Is the Hamas more powerful than the IDF, than the US, than all the international institutions that supposedly exist to make human life better? If not, why can’t it be stopped?

Defensive measures like shelters and Iron Dome are not a solution, because they affect only the side effects of the Hamas program, not its central goal, which is to humiliate the Jews, to define them as interlopers and legitimate targets, to make them powerless. To make itacceptable to shoot at them. This is how the Arabs get their “honor” back.

If the IDF takes serious steps to get at the root of the problem, as they began to do but didn’t complete in Cast Lead, the Arabs will squeal like stuck pigs, inventing war crimes to pull at the heartstrings of the West, which is always ready to believe them.

A Particularly Dangerous Form of Weather

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

On Tuesday, three IDF soldiers were wounded by a bomb planted near the border fence between Israel and the Gaza strip. On Thursday when soldiers were trying to repair the fence, a huge explosion occurred when a tunnel packed with explosives was detonated. Luckily only one soldier was lightly injured, but it could have been catastrophic.

Then last night an IDF jeep in the area was struck by an antitank missile. Four soldiers were wounded, at least two seriously (reports vary), and Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The IDF either returned fire or otherwise retaliated, killing at least four Palestinians. The last time an antitank missile was used by Gazan terrorists was in April of last year when a school bus was attacked and 16-year old Daniel Wiflic was murdered. Hamas took ‘credit’ for that, too.

Hamas is bombarding southern Israel with rockets as I write this (Nov. 10, 11:59 PM Israel time), making at least 25 that have hit Israel this evening. A million Israelis are in shelters, schools are closed tomorrow, etc. In fact, warning sirens have been heard in Gedera, just 8 miles south of my daughter’s home, Rehovot, where I am sitting now!

It isn’t just rockets. There are reports that several terrorists infiltrated into Israel from Gaza.

The pattern of escalation is similar to what occurred in late 2008 — an IDF-Hamas clash over a tunnel under the border fence led to a rocket barrage and ultimately to Israel’s response, Operation Cast Lead — and there are other worrisome parallels to that period.

Cast Lead was supposed to have three phases: the first was to attack Hamas assets from the air, the second was to enter the strip and take overall control of the territory, and the third was to go into the densely populated areas and rescue hostage Gilad Schalit, destroy Hamas control centers, and kill or capture a large number of its fighters and perhaps its leadership as well. For various reasons — including the probable intervention of the incoming Obama Administration in January 2009 — phase III never happened, Hamas kept Schalit for two more years, and with construction materials, electricity, etc. provided by Israel for ‘humanitarian’ reasons, rebuilt its damaged infrastructure.

Is history about to repeat itself exactly four years later? Israel can’t go on accepting rocket barrages like a particularly dangerous form of weather. Hamas is pushing very hard and there will soon come a point at which Israel’s leadership will have to act to defend its population, despite what the Obama Administration or the UN would prefer.

It is going to be a long night at the PM’s office in Jerusalem, and at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv. And for about a million Israeli civilians in rocket range of Gaza.

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The Ant-Churchill Tries to Rise Again

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Could there be an Israeli politician more cynical than Ehud Olmert?

Yesterday he accused PM Netanyahu of alienating President Obama — as if Obama could dislike him more — by ‘intervening’ in the US election:

“Following what Netanyahu did in the last few months, the question arises of whether or not our prime minister has a friend in the White House,” Olmert said in a meeting with New York Jewish leaders.

Olmert said that while the Israeli head of state was allowed to have a personal preference for one candidate over another, it would be “better, obviously, if he kept it to himself.”

“What took place this time was a breaking of all the rules, when our prime minister intervened in the US elections in the name of an American billionaire with a clear interest in the vote,” Olmert continued. “The very same billionaire used Israel’s prime minister to advance a nominee of his own for president.”

Olmert’s words were a clear reference to Jewish-American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who according to reports donated some $100 million to Romney’s failed campaign. Adelson also owns the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom, which is largely perceived as a stalwart backer of Netanyahu.

Olmert didn’t explain how he knows that Adelson was acting on Netanyahu’s instructions. He seems to think that it is impossible for a Jewish billionaire to prefer one or another candidate for US president or Israeli PM without engaging in a conspiracy. His remarks, intended to damage Netanyahu with the Israeli public, can only damage his relationship with Obama as well.

Olmert, who was probably the worst Prime Minister in Israel’s history, plans to return to politics after a miraculous escape, with his skin mostly intact, from a trial on several serious corruption charges. The Israeli state prosecutor’s office has filed an appeal of his acquittals on the major charges and an especially light sentence he received for one minor offense.

Olmert said that he would run only if Obama won the US election — which makes one wonder if he expects ‘intervention’ in the opposite direction, which apparently he considers appropriate! He is expected to join with Tzipi Livni and other outspoken enemies of PM Netanyahu, take over the moribund Kadima party, and run against him in upcoming elections on an anyone-but-Bibi platform.

Livni was Olmert’s partner in the government which so badly bungled the 2006 Second Lebanon War, leading to the unnecessary deaths of dozens of soldiers and a disadvantageous cease-fire which left Hizballah in a position to rebuild and rearm (which it has done with a vengeance).

Both Livni and Olmert are preferred to PM Netanyahu by the Obama Administration, because of their perceived willingness to withdraw from the territories in a deal with the Palestinian Authority. Olmert claims to have come close to such a deal in 2008, which thankfully fell through when he left office under a cloud of accusations of corruption.

He has recently criticized the PM for his tough position on the Iranian nuclear project and echoed Obama’s position that sanctions and diplomacy must be given more time to work. I’m sure this has endeared him even further to the president.

Olmert is also known for making one of the most embarrassing speeches in oratorical history in 2005, prompting me to call him “the anti-Churchill:”

We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies. We want them to be our friends, our partners, our good neighbors, and I believe that this is not impossible… That it is within reach if we will be smart, if we will dare, if we will be prepared to take the risks, and if we will be able to convince our Palestinian partners to be able to do the same.

As I noted at the time, an unprecedented combination of defeatist rhetoric, bad politics, and fundamentally wrong analysis! But nobody ever accused Olmert of lacking arrogance or chutzpah, and he seems to think that with everyone to the left of Bibi and President Obama on his side, he can retake the Prime Minister’s chair.

Jewish Support for Obama Not Mystifying

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Somewhere between 68 and 70% of American Jewish voters went for Obama, depending on whose exit poll you believe. Israelis that I talk to are mystified. “Are they crazy? What were they thinking?” they ask.

It’s not really mystifying. Here are some general facts about non-Orthodox and secular (the large majority) American Jews:

Although they will say that they support Israel, they do not know the history of the Middle East and the 100-year old conflict over Jewish sovereignty. They are well-educated, which means that they went to universities where, if they studied the conflict, they are likely to have been assigned books and articles by the revisionist (read: anti-Zionist) historians. They will certainly have been exposed to numerous lectures and films presented by Palestinian advocates and student groups. If they are left-of-center and engaged in antiwar or other ‘progressive’ causes, they will certainly be bombarded with extreme anti-Israel propaganda as well.

They tend to be liberal, which means that they get their news of current events from sources like the New York Times, NPR, MSNBC, etc. What they will see and hear will generally confirm their mildly left-wing beliefs, but in one area — Israel — will be consistently and deliberately biased to an extreme degree.

They are very concerned about what they perceive as the danger of a Christian takeover of American society, in which Christian symbols and prayer will be officially sanctioned in public places, abortion and contraception will be prohibited on religious grounds, their children will be required to sing Christmas carols, etc. They associate Christianity with antisemitism — but do not seem to be alarmed by growing antisemitism on the Left, or in the black community.

They are less threatened by Muslims, whom they see as another minority in the US who suffer from discrimination, like blacks and Jews. They seek interfaith cooperation, and are not alarmed by the treatment of Islamist organizations as mainstream by the administration.

Although today many are financially successful, they are suspicious of “big business” and — not entirely incorrectly — feel that the population is being ripped off by corporations like banks, pharmaceutical companies, etc. They are pro-union. But they are not as worried by the fact that the tax burden on them is rapidly rising while government services that actually benefit people are falling. As liberals, they tend to be less concerned about the increasing power and intrusiveness of government than the loss of privacy to corporations.

Finally, as well-educated liberals, they find it hard to criticize Barack Obama, who presents himself as ‘black’, lest they be guilty of racism, a secular blasphemy punishable by total social ostracism.

Not everything I’ve said applies to all American Jews — there are conservatives among them, and some who take both conservative and liberal positions on various issues. There are Orthodox Jews who are more conservative, and even haredi anti-Zionists (who knows how, or even if, they vote). But I think my generalizations are, er, generally, correct.

So along comes Mitt Romney, a guy who represents corporate power if anyone does, who draws support from the Christian Right — at least, at the beginning of the campaign when he plays to the conservative base — and who complains about ‘big government’ and threatens to undo the only liberal success of the Obama Administration, Obamacare.

He is at a huge disadvantage from the start. And the issue of Israel has little or no power to sway American Jews, because, as I’ve argued, deep in their hearts they are not sure that Israel is not really a colonialist oppressor of third-world Palestinians. In an emotional sense, many of them are not with Israel.

We know that politics is mostly emotional, so when Republicans or pro-Israel Jews presented arguments that Obama was not a friend or Israel, they bounced off. Accepting and acting on them would mean going against their deeply felt liberalism and voting Republican, something many could not bring themselves to do. And their pro-Israel feeling is not strong enough to push them over the edge. So they looked for reasons to justify their emotional position.

The Obama campaign presented simplistic talking points to ‘prove’ that he is pro-Israel. They did not have to stand up to analysis. Liberal Jews were looking for a rational excuse to justify their emotional stance, and the talking points provided one.

So Now What?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

There it is: four more years of Barack Obama. What does it mean for Israel?

The bilateral talks with Iran run by Valerie Jarrett will continue. One can hope for the best, but it is very unlikely that an agreement will be reached that will include the effective dismantling of Iran’s bomb-building capability. It’s not at all comforting to think that Israel’s security will be in the hands of Jarrett, Obama’s Chicago fixer. One can speculate what Romney might have done differently, but that is not an option now.

It’s certain that the Iranian regime will not abandon the goal which will bring it geopolitical primacy in the region and for which it has striven (and its people have suffered) mightily, except if it is forced to do so by a credible threat of force. Will Obama make such a threat? What if the Iranians call his bluff? Will he be prepared to take action that would triple the price of oil, and destroy any chance of success for his domestic agenda? Will he be prepared to risk American lives in what would be called a “war for Israel?”

He will make a deal, a deal that will be satisfactory for the US and for Iran. For the US, it will have to appear as though the Iranian program has been derailed, or at least put on hold for the foreseeable future (a few years, in today’s world). For Iran, it will have to allow the regime to continue to put the pieces together to allow a rapid breakout as a nuclear power. It will naturally include a relaxation of economic pressure on Iran — the only thing more important for the regime than getting nuclear weapons is staying in power.

As far as Israel is concerned, nothing is as important as the Iranian question. It’s unlikely that a US-Iran deal will satisfy Israel, because Israel is not at the table. The question originally posed by Ehud Barak will remain: when will Iran enter the “zone of immunity,” when will it reach the point that no practical Israeli action can prevent the Iranians from obtaining nuclear weapons? The deal may change the point at which this occurs, but it will not change the logic of the situation.

The deal will bring prestige to the Iranian regime — it will be played as though Iran forced the Great Satan to blink — and will improve their economy, thus making regime change less likely. Obama may have succeeded in holding off an Israeli strike against Iran so far, but it is still almost certain to occur.

I doubt that Obama will do much about the Palestinian issue  the short term. He must understand by now that there is simply no overlap between Israeli and Palestinian positions of such things as refugees, Jerusalem and the continued existence of a Jewish state. On the other hand, there is a danger that unfettered by electoral considerations, he and his advisers will give free rein to their undisguised pro-Palestinian ideology, and  move even further in their direction. I think it’s harder to predict what the administration will do in this area, because it is almost entirely determined by ideology, and not perceived interests. The administration does not appear to see the fate of Israel as especially relevant to practical US interests.

I do expect continued pressure for ‘regime change’ in Israel. Obama apparently feels that PM Netanyahu is an obstacle, and will do his best to help the opposition. His poorly-hidden dislike and disrespect for Israel’s Prime Minister is remarkable, especially compared with his attitude toward other foreign leaders, especially Islamists like Turkey’s Erdogan and Egypt’s Morsi — not to mention his remarkable obeisance to the king of Saudi Arabia, one of the countries whose political ideology and human-rights behavior is about as far from American ideals as can be imagined.

In these areas, I think a Romney victory would have made a significant difference. Romney clearly understands the Palestinian lack of interest in coexistence — he explained it eloquently at one point — and apparently has a warm relationship with PM Netanyahu. He does not appear to share the academic leftist view that characterizes the Obama Administration, one in which Israel plays the role of a colonial power, and the main cause of conflict is Palestinian ‘rights’ rather than Arab rejectionism. But again, this is not an option now.

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