Follow by Email

Monday, July 21, 2014

David Ignatius, "How to break Hamas’s stranglehold on Gaza": Two Blind Mice

The geocentric model of the universe, which explained how the sun, the moon and the stars revolve around the earth, persisted until the 16th Century. Although the underlying facts were wrong, some of world's most brilliant people continued to "improve" the geocentric model until Copernicus came along in 1543 with his heliocentric model of the solar system. Bottom line: Before wedding yourself to a universally accepted model, review the underlying facts.

In his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "How to break Hamas’s stranglehold on Gaza" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2014/07/21/how-to-break-hamass-stranglehold-on-gaza/?hpid=z3), David Ignatius writes:

"Hamas’s biggest weakness of all is its unpopularity among Palestinians in Gaza now. A poll taken in June, before the latest fighting began, showed that 70 percent of Gazans wanted a continuing cease-fire with Israel; 57 percent wanted a Fatah-Hamas unity government to renounce violence against Israel; 73 percent thought nonviolent resistance had a positive impact, and large majority thought Hamas had failed to deal with crime and corruption.

The future? Asked if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should send security personel and other officials to take over administration of Gaza, 65 percent said yes. The poll was published in July by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and its senior fellow, David Pollock."

So what isn't Ignatius telling us about the results of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy poll results (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/new-palestinian-poll-shows-hardline-views-but-some-pragmatism-too)? David Pollock also states (my emphasis in red):

"Regarding the longer-term, fundamental issue of a two-state solution, Palestinian public opinion has clearly taken a maximalist turn. Other recent polls, even after the collapse of the latest peace talks, showed a majority or plurality still favoring the goal of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel (though the numbers were gradually declining). But now, a clear majority (60% overall, including 55% in the West Bank and 68% in Gaza) say that the five-year goal 'should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.'"

Ignatius commends Jackson Diehl for his WaPo opinion piece published yesterday (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/07/jackson-diehl-when-gaza-fighting-is.html), in which Diehl declared:

"A smart U.S. strategy would aim at brokering a deal between Israel, Abbas and Hamas whereby prisoners are released and the blockade on Gaza eased in exchange for Hamas’s commitment to a long-term cease-fire and free and fair elections for a unified Palestinian government. The result could be a new generation of Palestinian leaders with a genuine mandate from their people."

However, as I observed yesterday, Diehl is also ignoring Palestinian radicalism, held by a majority of Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza, which rejects Israel's basic right to exist.

Build a model for peace based upon Palestinian moderation and common sense? Regrettably, both Ignatius and Diehl are ignoring the underlying facts.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jackson Diehl, "When Gaza fighting is over, there is a way to change for the better": Keep Kerry Far Away!

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "When Gaza fighting is over, there is a way to change for the better" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jackson-diehl-when-gaza-fighting-is-over-there-is-a-way-to-change-for-the-better/2014/07/20/a597a540-0dc1-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html?hpid=z2), Jackson Diehl writes:

"A smart U.S. strategy would aim at brokering a deal between Israel, Abbas and Hamas whereby prisoners are released and the blockade on Gaza eased in exchange for Hamas’s commitment to a long-term cease-fire and free and fair elections for a unified Palestinian government. The result could be a new generation of Palestinian leaders with a genuine mandate from their people. The new crowd might turn out to be more or less willing to negotiate with Israel or to lay the groundwork for statehood. But they would, at least, end a dismal era in which one set of Palestinian leaders dodged multiple peace proposals and the other engaged in futile wars."

Ease the blockade on Gaza, so Hamas can import more concrete for building tunnels into southern Israel and acquire more advanced missiles from Iran? No way.

Diehl, whom I respect, needs to have another look at the Hamas charter:

"But even if the links have become distant from each other, and even if the obstacles erected by those who revolve in the Zionist orbit, aiming at obstructing the road before the Jihad fighters, have rendered the pursuance of Jihad impossible; nevertheless, the Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!

. . . .

For Zionist scheming has no end, and after Palestine they will covet expansion from the Nile to the Euphrates. Only when they have completed digesting the area on which they will have laid their hand, they will look forward to more expansion, etc. Their scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present [conduct] is the best proof of what is said there. Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason and it will bring curse on its perpetrators."

Israel should enter into a brokered deal with Abbas and Hamas? Diehl is ignoring Hamas's raison d'être.

Meanwhile, John Kerry is planning a trip to Cairo to implement a ceasefire. Caught on a hot mic yesterday, (see: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/20/politics/mideast-kerry-hot-mic/index.html?hpt=hp_t1), Kerry discussed the Israeli military operation in Shejaiya with a State Department aide, Jonathan Finer:

Kerry: "It's a hell of a pinpoint operation. It's a hell of a pinpoint operation."

Finer: "Right. It's escalating significantly. It just underscores the need for a cease fire."

Kerry: "We've got to get over there."

Finer: "Yup, yup."

Kerry: "Thank you, Jon. I think, Jon, we ought to go tonight. I think it's crazy to be sitting around. Let's go."

Well, how about not going, John. What is it that you hope to accomplish? As noted by Jackson Diehl today, "this is the third mini-war between Israel and Hamas in less than six years," and Gaza needs to be demilitarized in order to free Israel from an incessant missile threat and to ensure that hundreds of millions of dollars being given to Gaza be used for the social welfare of its some 1.8 million inhabitants, instead of for armaments and tunnels.

What should Kerry, whose negotiations involving the Ukraine, Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Authority have come to naught, do instead with his time? How about a few more Botox injections, John?

The IDF's need to continue its current ground operation was highlighted by two incursions into Israel this morning by Hamas terror squads. As reported by Ynetnews (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4547287,00.html):

"The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said two terror cells infiltrated into Israeli territory Monday morning through a tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip.

Observation units identified the terrorists; Israeli Air Force planes attacked and hit the first cell. An IDF force deployed to the area killed some 10 terrorists from the second cell. IDF forces are continuing to scan the area.

The terrorists infiltrated into Israeli territory Monday morning between two kibbutzim, Erez and Nir Am. After two hours, in which residents were directed to remain indoors and lock their doors – roads were even closed to traffic south of Ashkelon – IDF forces killed the terrorists."

A video of one of the attempted infiltrations this morning:



Bottom line: Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life on both sides, there is still work that needs to be done to prevent future Hamas terrorism.

Support for Israel from the international community? Although Obama and Kerry are providing Israel with wavering support at best, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, yesterday told it like it is (http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2014/07/20b.aspx?lang=eng):

"Canada condemns in the strongest terms Hamas’s shameful decision to continue its cowardly and indiscriminate violence that has today cost the lives of 13 soldiers. Yet another breach of a ceasefire by Hamas in Shejaiya confirms that it has no interest in peace.

Hamas’s continued aggression, combined with cowardly tactics that endanger civilians, has resulted in the tragic deaths of approximately another 87 Palestinians. Innocent civilians living in Gaza deserve far better than the reckless actions of this terrorist organization."

God bless Canada!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "A Popular President": Start Building the White House Bachelor Suite?

Over the course of a lifetime, I have only been in the physical proximity of two presidents: Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. One exuded inquietude and malaise, while the other radiated charm and charisma. True, Nixon at the time was seeking reelection, and the seeds of Watergate had begun to germinate. My chance encounter with Clinton, on the other hand, was several years after his second term, yet I still believe that Clinton by nature is and always was very comfortable in his own skin.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Popular President" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/maureen-dowd-a-popular-president.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0), Maureen Dowd questions why Bill Clinton's popularity continues to wax, while that of Hillary and Obama has begun to wane. Dowd writes:

"As Hillary stumbles and President Obama slumps, Bill Clinton keeps getting more popular.

The women, the cheesy behavior, the fund-raising excesses, the self-pity, the adolescent narcissism, the impeachment, the charges of racially tinged insults against Obama in 2008, the foundation dishabille — all that percussive drama has faded to a mellow saxophone riff for many Americans."

Dowd goes on to observe:

"Speaking at the 92nd Street Y last month, Bill O’Reilly was asked by Geraldo Rivera whether the country would have been better off electing Hillary instead of Barack Obama.

'With Hillary you get Bill,' O’Reilly replied. 'And Bill knows what’s going on. You may not like him but he knows what’s going on. Hillary doesn’t understand how the world works.'"

But did Bill Clinton really know what he was doing? Maybe. He added a mere $1.4 trillion to US national debt, peanuts compared with the "contributions" of George W. Bush and Obama, and although his foreign policy was never deemed stellar, he certainly never promised "flexibility" to the likes of Vladimir Putin.

Or stated otherwise, when Bill Clinton left office, there were still possibilities, whereas today it's all but over.

US debt under the incredible shrinking president has reached an unsustainable $17.6 trillion. Obama has also presided over a string of stinging foreign policy debacles - Russia, the Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Iran, Israel-Palestine and China, and America's standing overseas has never been lower. Yup, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."

Can Hillary make it better? Probably not. Although she logged countless frequent flyer miles as secretary of state, even her most ardent admirers have trouble pointing to a single foreign policy success.

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Perhaps. But if so, Hillary's failed book tour was poorly timed, and there is now talk of an emerging Elizabeth Warren challenge.

Start building a White House bachelor suite for Bill? Not yet. Place him front and center, and a fickle American electorate could soon have misgivings.

New York Times Editorial, "Israel’s War in Gaza": The Blind Leading the Blind

In an editorial entitled "Israel’s War in Gaza" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/19/opinion/Israels-War-in-Gaza.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0), The New York Times relies on three would-be authorities: President Obama, the UN and Nathan Thrall. Regarding President Obama, the editorial tells us:

"There was no way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was going to tolerate the Hamas bombardments, which are indiscriminately lobbed at Israeli population centers. Nor should he. As President Obama said on Friday, 'No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders, or terrorists tunneling into its territory.'

. . . .

Hamas leaders deserve condemnation for storing and launching rockets in heavily populated areas, cynically knowing they will draw Israeli fire to places where civilians live and play. Still, in a call with Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Obama was right to express concern about the 'risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life.'"

Of course, if President Obama says it, it must be right. No mention by the Times that the US, the UK and Afghan government forces have killed a total of some 6,500 innocent Afghan civilians in recent years (see: http://www.thenation.com/afghanistan-database).

Also no mention by the Times of US drone attacks in Pakistan. As reported in a 2014 Huffington Post article entitled "The Toll Of 5 Years Of Drone Strikes: 2,400 Dead" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/23/obama-drone-program-anniversary_n_4654825.html) by Matt Sledge:

"Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued a pair of reports in October fiercely criticizing the secrecy that shrouds the administration's drone program, and calling for investigations into the deaths of drone victims with no apparent connection to terrorism. In Pakistan alone, [the Bureau of Investigative Journalism] estimates, between 416 and 951 civilians, including 168 to 200 children, have been killed."

Apparently unbeknownst to Obama and the editorial board of The New York Times, the Israeli Defense Forces are also seeking to minimize civilian casualties:



Of course, this does not mean that civilians are not going to be killed in a war in which Hamas uses schools to store its missiles (see: http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-strongly-condemns-placement-rockets-school), but the IDF is making efforts to reduce civilian casualties, which include leaflets asking civilians to evacuate battle zones, phone calls to civilians warning of an imminent attack, and "knocking-on-the-roof" (a warning with a rocket that does not contain an explosive charge) prior to an air strike.

The Times editorial also quotes the United Nations:

"The United Nations says that of the more than 260 Palestinians killed, three-quarters were civilians, including more than 50 children."

However, the United Nations receives its casualty figures from the health ministry in Gaza, which is run by . . . Hamas. Hamas, needless to say, is actively interested in inflating the number of civilians killed for propaganda purposes.

Finally, the Times editorial refers its readers to a guest op-ed by someone named Nathan Thrall, which was published by the Times yesterday (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/07/nathan-thrall-how-west-chose-war-in.html). Thrall would have us believe that Israel, with the help of Egypt and the West, brought the current war with Hamas upon itself. However, Thrall's risible essay fails to mention:

  • The Hamas charter, which calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis.

  • Past suicide bombings in Israel perpetrated by Hamas operatives (425 terrorist attacks between September 2000 and March 2004, which killed 377 and wounded 2,076).

  • The thousands of rockets fired into Israeli population centers from Gaza by Hamas and Islamic Jihad over the course of more than a decade.

Thrall does, of course, repeat Obama's declaration that the situation in Gaza in "unsustainable."

Truly an instance of the blind leading the blind.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nathan Thrall, "How the West Chose War in Gaza": The New York Times Continues to Wage Op-ed War Against Israel

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "How the West Chose War in Gaza" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/18/opinion/gaza-and-israel-the-road-to-war-paved-by-the-west.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0), Nathan Thrall would have us believe that Israel, with the help of Egypt and the West, brought the current war with Hamas upon itself. Thrall begins:

"AS Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities and Israel follows up its extensive airstrikes with a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, the most immediate cause of this latest war has been ignored: Israel and much of the international community placed a prohibitive set of obstacles in the way of the Palestinian 'national consensus' government that was formed in early June.

That government was created largely because of Hamas’s desperation and isolation. The group’s alliance with Syria and Iran was in shambles. Its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt became a liability after a July 2013 coup replaced an ally, President Mohamed Morsi, with a bitter adversary, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Hamas’s coffers dried up as General Sisi closed the tunnels that had brought to Gaza the goods and tax revenues on which it depended."

No mention by Thrall of the Hamas charter, which calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis.

No mention by Thrall of past suicide bombings in Israel perpetrated by Hamas operatives (425 terrorist attacks between September 2000 and March 2004, which killed 377 and wounded 2,076).

No mention by Thrall, after an initial fleeting reference in his first paragraph, of the thousands of rockets fired into Israeli population centers from Gaza by Hamas and Islamic Jihad over the course of more than a decade.

Bear in mind, Hamas, after losing the support of the Muslim Brotherhood when Sisi came to power in Egypt, and after losing the support of Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei by siding with the opposition in Syria, is bereft of backing, and Israel now needs to come to its aid in order to pay Hamas's 43,000 civil servants. You see, when a terrorist organization is facing collapse, you need to help it back on its feet. Yeah, right.

Those rockets fired into Israel which Thrall so studiously ignores? See the following table provided by the IDF (http://www.idfblog.com/facts-figures/rocket-attacks-toward-israel/):



Rocket fire? Mere mosquito bites, right? Who cares if they are now being indiscriminately aimed at Beersheva, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem? But can you imagine the response in the US if debris from exploding rockets was falling on the heads of the inhabitants of Philadelphia, New York and Washington? Americans would not put up with this for an instant.

Thrall declares:

"It is unsustainable for Gaza to remain cut off from the world and administered by employees working without pay. A more generous cease-fire, though politically difficult for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would be more durable."

Of course, Thrall is aping President Obama, who three days ago also declared that the situation in Gaza in "unsustainable" (http://www.timesofisrael.com/obama-even-after-truce-status-quo-unsustainable/). Regrettably, it never occurred to Thrall or Obama that it is "unsustainable" for Gaza to be ruled by a terrorist organization calling for the murder of all Jews, and that a cease-fire should begin with a renunciation by Hamas of its offensive racist charter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "Keep Negotiating on Iran’s Nukes": Obama Spins His Wheels, Khamenei Spins His Centrifuges

The P5+1 will not reach agreement with Iran over its nuclear weapons development program by the July 20 self-imposed deadline set by the negotiations. Surprise, surprise, surprise! What next?

In an editorial entitled "Keep Negotiating on Iran’s Nukes" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/opinion/Keep-Negotiating-on-Irans-Nukes-.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0), The New York Times takes the position that the US and its so-called partners must continue the negotiations with Iran for an additional six months. According to the editorial:

"None of that has impressed the hard-liners in Tehran and Washington who are determined to sabotage any deal. Some in Congress are demanding conditions that would tie President Obama’s hands and make it impossible to lift sanctions on Iran, essential to any agreement.

. . . .

There are risks in any deal. But there are many more if there is no deal, Iran’s program resumes unchecked and an opportunity to work with Iran on other regional challenges slips away."

Unbeknownst to the Times, there is only one person in Iran who makes all of the decisions, i.e. Supreme Leader Khamenei, and what "hard-liners" or purported moderates might have to say is of no consequence. Moreover, Khamenei has made his position clear: Iran needs 190,000 operating centrifuges (see: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/15/us-iran-nuclear-khamenei-exclusive-idUSKBN0FJ25L20140715).

There are more risks if there is no deal? Fine, gradually reimpose the sanctions and compel Iran to take the negotiations over the next six months seriously. Unfortunately, however, Obama already dismantled much of the sanctions regime, and it would be almost impossible, in the face of Russian and Chinese opposition, to put the genie back into the bottle.

"Work with Iran on other regional challenges"? Oh really? The editorial board of the Times honestly believes that Tehran is going to issue orders to Nasrallah for the removal of Hezbollah forces in Syria? It's simply not going to happen.

You see, Obama is already known throughout the Middle East and beyond as a quivering 98-pound weakling, who is unable to make good on any of his threats.

By the way, The Washington Post also favors continuation of the negotiations with Iran, but their editorial entitled "Nuclear talks with Iran should be given more time" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/nuclear-talks-with-iran-should-be-given-more-time/2014/07/16/b30ff36e-0d10-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html?hpid=z3) gives vent to significant skepticism:

"[Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad ] Zarif’s maneuvering, however, supports two sobering conclusions. One is that the Iranian regime is not feeling as much economic pressure as it was a year ago and no longer sees the removal of sanctions as urgent. The other is that Tehran is positioning itself in such a way that it will be unable to make the concessions that should be required for a long-term settlement without a major climb-down and accompanying loss of face.

. . . .

[The Obama administration] should begin seriously preparing for the moment when time runs out — and when, as seems likely now, Iran refuses to yield."

When "Iran refuses to yield"? Actually, it's when Khamenei refuses to yield, and Obama, who is busy running down the clock on his second term as president, will almost certainly seek any way humanly possible to pass the mess over to Hillary in 2017.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Order vs. Disorder, Part 2": Fresh Horse Manure

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Order vs. Disorder, Part 2" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/opinion/thomas-friedman-israeli-palestinian-conflict-order-disorder.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0), would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman provides a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Friedman writes:

"In my view, the only way Israel can truly curtail the Hamas rocket threat is if the Palestinians of Gaza demand that the rockets stop. Sure, Israel can inflict enough pain on all of Gaza to get a cease-fire, but it never lasts. The only sustainable way to do it is by Israel partnering with moderate Palestinians in the West Bank to build a thriving state there, so Gaza Palestinians wake up every day and say to the nihilistic Hamas: 'We want what our West Bank cousins have.' The only sustainable controls are those that come from within."

Yeah, right. Unbeknownst to Tom, according to a very recent poll commissioned by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, "55% in the West Bank and 68% in Gaza, reject permanently accepting Israel’s existence and instead suggest their leaders 'work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea'" (see: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Majority-of-Palestinians-now-oppose-two-state-solution-new-poll-finds-360489).

Israel should partner with moderate Palestinians in the West Bank? Maybe sometime in the next century, when a majority of Palestinians finally get around to accepting Israel's right to exist.