Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Is an Islamic Cleric Thanking Obama For Waging "Jihad for Allah"?

The following by Raymond Ibrahim is reposted here with permission of Middle East Forum:

Top Islamic Leader Calls on U.S. to Wage 'Jihad for Allah'

by Raymond Ibrahim
January 31, 2014

Raymond Ibrahim
Raymond Ibrahim
A video of Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi calling on the U.S. government to wage jihad for Allah in Syria, is currently making the rounds on Arabic media and Facebook, to mockery and dismay.

In the recorded speech, Qaradawi—one of the most influential Islamic clerics in the world, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, author of over 100 books on Muslim doctrine, and head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars—sarcastically thanks the U.S. for supporting the "freedom fighters" in Syria, adding that "Allah willing, your [U.S.] aid will increase."

Yusuf al-Qaradawi (c) draped in a "Free Syria" flag. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Then, while working himself up because the U.S is only providing weapons to the jihadis in Syria, as opposed to directly intervening, Qaradawi declares in frustration: "We want America to take a manly stand—a stand for Allah!"

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Another Red Line For Obama? -- Syria Shipped Out Less Than 5% of Chemical Weapons

The Israel Project notes that Syria has shipped out less than 5% of its chemical weapons:
Syria retains the vast majority of its chemical arsenal, can likely weaponize biological agents, and has restored the pace of its missile production to pre-war levels, according to a stream of analysis and reporting published on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Efraim Karsh: Michael Oren Misunderstands the Obstacle to Peace

The following by Efraim Karsh is reposted here with permission of Middle East Forum:

Michael Oren Misunderstands the Obstacle to Peace

by Efraim Karsh
The Jerusalem Post
January 30, 2014

Efraim Karsh
Efraim Karsh
For an accomplished historian, Michael Oren seems to have an extraordinarily short memory.

In a recent article on CNN's website, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States argued that in the absence of a two-state solution, "One solution could be a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian population centers in the West Bank." This, he reasoned, would allow Israel to "end the occupation of the Palestinians, preserve its security, and perhaps lay new foundations for peace."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry chats with Michael Oren at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport, on April 9, 2013. (Image source: U.S. State Department)

But this precisely what Israel did some 20 years ago.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Paper on Distinguishing Between Criticism of and Bias Against Israel

The topic of Israel is a volatile one which can lead to heated rhetoric. Some of that rhetoric has been described as Antisemitic, while those who use such rhetoric claim that such criticisms are nothing more than an attempt to silence Israel's critics.

Cartoon by Dave Brown that later won first prize in the British Political
Cartoon Society's annual competition

To address the issue, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in NY has now come out with a 2 page document to serve as a guide for dialogues about Israel to ensure that those dialogues can be critical of Israel -- without crossing into bigotry, bias and baseless assertions.

Jonathan Spyer: The Syrian Peace Process: An Exercise in Futility

The following by Jonathan Spyer is reposted here with permission of Middle East Forum:

The Syrian Peace Process: An Exercise in Futility

by Jonathan Spyer
The Jerusalem Post
January 24, 2014

The international conference that convened this week in the Swiss town of Montreux in an attempt to find a way toward resolving the war in Syria is one of the more strange international gatherings of recent years.
The aims of the combatant sides in Syria remain entirely irreconcilable.

Neither the Assad regime nor the rebellion against it is strong enough to strike a decisive blow against its opponent.

Neither side is sufficiently weak to feel compelled to accept whatever outcome its enemy wishes to impose on it.
In such a situation, diplomacy becomes reduced to the rituals of protocol.

Form replaces content. And the purpose of bringing the sides together becomes unclear.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why The Chinese Bond With Israel May Get Even Better

Relations between China and Israel are good -- and appear to be getting better.

In 2012 it was announced that Israel and China Will Work Together On The New Eilat Railway.
Last year it was clear that Netanyahu's Visit To China Brings Opportunities For Both.

Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu talks to China's premier Li Keqiang
 during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China.
Photograph: Pool/Getty Images Credit: The Guardian

Why Is Daniel Pipes Yawning Over the Latest From the Middle East?

The following from Daniel Pipes is reposted here with permission:

Yawning Over the Latest From the Middle East

by Daniel Pipes
January 26, 2014
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner

The Middle East does offer some signs of hope, such as the inspiring example of Israel, the metaphorical "villa in the jungle"; the bracing prospect of Islamists falling into disarray; and the emergence of an independentKurdistan.
But these are the exceptions. In general, the regions these days hosts such unchanging, repetitious and dreary news that this commentator barely reads the news and has little to say about it. Consider some leading issues of the moment:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Anne Bayefsky: Holocaust Remembrance Day at the UN: A Disturbing Paradox

For Immediate Release:
January 27, 2014
Follow us on Twitter

Holocaust Remembrance Day at the UN: A Disturbing Paradox

This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on FOX News.

It is Holocaust remembrance time at the United Nations. Once a year, Jews from around New York, a dwindling number of Holocaust survivors, occasional celebrities, and precious few friends, file into the General Assembly Hall and grant the U.N. the privilege of appearing to care.

This year’s speakers include Steven Spielberg. When it is over, the year-round ritual censure of the Jewish state will resume.

Characteristic of “International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust” is the scarcity of express emphasis on Israel, save for the remarks of the Israeli ambassador.

Modern Israel, if it had existed, would not have allowed six million Jews or one million children to perish while railway lines delivering human cargo to their final destination were left intact. And yet, the well-being of the only country dedicated to saving the Jewish people is generally peripheral.

At first, the pattern seems odd, given that the U.N.’s Holocaust Remembrance Day and associated activities of its “Holocaust Outreach Programme,” are supposed to be about ‘never again’ and a U.N. commitment to genocide prevention.

Strange also, since the U.N. member state of Iran is openly pursuing the annihilation of Israel, and a repeat of the Holocaust that it denies.

Arlene Kushner: More On Israel's Treatment of African "Refugees"

From Arlene Kushner:
January 26, 2014

Legal Grounds

These are the legal grounds Israel has in Judea and Samaria – charges by the international community not withstanding.  It is what I - and my co-chair on this effort, Jeff Daube, head of the Israel office of ZOA – are working on ever diligently with regard to the Levy Report and associated documentation.

I am eager to share the URL for our website (which is up, looking splendid, but still a work in progress): We Have Legal Grounds!.  Please, see it and share it!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mideast Media Sampler 1/24/14: Despite His Policy Failures, Obama Insists He Knows Best for Israel

by David Gerstman, contributing blogger at Legal Insurrection

Obama Knows Best; Israeli Voters Disagree

Secretary Kerry Introduces President Obama at Consulate Jerusalem.
U.S. Department of State / WikiCommons

Yesterday the Israeli media reported on remarks made to Israel Radio. According the Jerusalem Post:
A US official close to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said both men are disturbed over what is being perceived in their inner circle as “Jewish activism in Congress” that they think is being encouraged by the Israeli government, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.

The official has informed Israeli government figures that the president and secretary of state are disappointed over repeated attacks made against them by leading members of the Jewish community in the US.
So let’s try to unpack this.

According to Obama and Kerry American Jews are following the lead of the Israeli government. There’s something distasteful about that. Is the administration so convinced that it is following the proper course of action regarding Iran and the peace process that no one could object to their approach based on cold rational analysis?

Actually, I think that the answer is “yes.” The administration believes that it is correct and no one could object unless he was subject to undue influences.

Last year President Obama proclaimed to Jeffrey Goldberg that “Israel doesn’t know what its best interest are.” Kerry, for his part, says that he worries about Israel’s future without a peace deal. Clearly the administration is so concerned with Israel’s well being, so it must be doing the right things and above reproach. They know better than Israelis what is important for them.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Does Kerry Really Think Assad Ouster Would Assure Safety of Syrian Christians and Minorities?

The following by Raymond Ibrahim is reposted here with permission of Middle East Forum:

Kerry Boasts of 'Pluralistic' Syria Once Assad Gone

by Raymond Ibrahim
January 23, 2014

Raymond Ibrahim
Raymond Ibrahim
U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, was recently interviewed about Syria. While many of his assertions can be debated, one especially requires a response. Throughout the interview, he repeatedly insisted that, if Bashar Assad would only leave power, everything would go well — especially for all of Syria's minorities.

In his words: "I believe that a peace can protect all of the minorities: Druze, Christian, Ismailis, Alawites — all of them can be protected, and you can have a pluralistic Syria, in which minority rights of all people are protected."
Elsewhere in the interview, Kerry declared that "The world would protect the Alawites, Druze, Christians, and all minorities in Syria after the ousting of Assad."

The problem here is that we have precedent — exact precedent. We've seen this paradigm before and know precisely what happens once strongman dictators like Assad are gone.

As demonstrated in this article, in all Muslim nations where the U.S. has intervened to help topple dictators and bring democracy, it is precisely the minorities who suffer first. And neither the U.S. nor "the world" do much about it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Arlene Kushner: Obama's Much Vaunted Geneva Agreement Postpones Iran's Nuclear Capacity By One Month

From Arlene Kushner:
January 24, 2014

A "Train Wreck"

I’m been so focused on Israeli issues that I haven’t written about Iran and its nuclear aspirations for a while.  But now it seems very necessary. 
It has been crystal clear to me that Obama – I won’t say was “had” by Iran – but rather that he was willingly permitting himself to be had.  That he went along with a deal that on the face of it was not good and didn’t bargain tough.
But there’s more.  An interim deal of some sort was struck with Iran and now a final deal is supposed to be negotiated.  The first problem here is that the Obama administration refuses to publicly release the details of how that interim agreement – the Joint Plan of Action - is to be implemented.  What is evolving is a picture in which the president has misrepresented to his own public what that Plan of Action includes.  The implications here are huge.

Daniel Pipes on the Multiple Maladies Afflicting The Muslim World

The following by Daniel Pipes is reposted here with permission:

 title: "The Middle East mightily resists efforts to prod modernization"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Daniel Pipes -- Source Material on Israel as The Jewish State and Arab Refusal To Recognize It

The following by Daniel Pipes is reposted here with permission:

by Daniel Pipes
April 13, 2007

updated Jan 19, 2014

It has become increasingly clear in recent years that the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel by Arab states with Jerusalem does not equate to accepting Zionism, which is to say, accepting that Israel is a state created by Jews as a homeland for Jews. This weblog entry pursues that theme, focusing on two topics: Israeli insistence on being recognized as the Jewish state and Arab responses to this demand.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

UN Propaganda Campaign Against the Legitimacy of Israel Has Now Reached Epidemic Proportions

For Immediate Release:
January 22, 2014
Follow us on Twitter

2014, the UN Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People:

The UN propaganda campaign against the legitimacy of Israel has now reached epidemic proportions

This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on The Jerusalem Post.

Palestinians, and their undemocratic UN cohorts, are off to a roaring start for 2014, the UN Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Last week UNESCO tore down an exhibit on the Jewish people’s ties to the land of Israel, just before it opened to the public, because it offended Arab states. Unfortunately, the move was only the tip of the UN iceberg.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Is The US the #1 Facilitator of Christian Persecution In The World Today?

The following by Raymond Ibrahim is reposted here with permission of Middle East Forum:

The U.S. and Christian Persecution

by Raymond Ibrahim
National Review Online
January 18, 2014

Raymond Ibrahim
Raymond Ibrahim
Prominent indicators confirm that the U.S. is the chief facilitator of the persecution of Christians around the world today.

According to the recently released 2014 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 nations where Christians are most persecuted, Syria is the third worst nation in the world in which to be Christian, Iraq is fourth, Afghanistan fifth, and Libya 13th. All four countries receive the strongest designation, "extreme persecution" (other designations are "severe," "moderate," and "sparse" persecution).

Aside from being so closely and harshly ranked, these four nations have something else in common: heavy U.S. involvement. Three—Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya—were "liberated" thanks to U.S. forces, while in the fourth, Syria, the U.S. is actively sponsoring "freedom fighters" against the regime, many of whom would be better labeled "terrorists."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Arlene Kushner on Canadian PM Stephen Harper's Visit To Israel

From Arlene Kushner:
January 20, 2014

Music Sweet to the Ears

There isn’t much we hear these days that can be categorized as “sweet music.”  And so we must relish it whenever we hear even a few bars (which is all we’re likely to get).
The other day, in one more strange and foolish comment, Prime Minister Netanyahu said something about advancing new ideas to invigorate the negotiations.  His latest: We need a fourth settlement bloc, in addition to the three commonly identified: the Ariel bloc, the Ma’aleh Adumim bloc, and the Gush Etzion bloc.  That fourth would be a Beit El bloc, and in exchange we would surrender the Arab area of the Galilee (the triangle) to the Palestinian Arabs.

Report: Muslims Responsible for 82% of All Christian Persecution Around The Globe

The following by Raymond Ibrahim is reposted here with permission of Middle East Forum:

The Existential Elephant in the 'Christian Persecution' Room

by Raymond Ibrahim
CBN News
January 17, 2014

Raymond Ibrahim
Raymond Ibrahim
Open Doors USA recently released its widely cited 2014 World Watch List—a report that highlights and ranks the 50 worst nations around the globe persecuting Christians.

The one glaring fact that emerges from this report is that the overwhelming majority of Christian persecution around the world today is being committed at the hands of Muslims of all races, languages, cultures, and socio-political circumstances: Muslims from among America's allies (Saudi Arabia) and its enemies (Iran); Muslims from economically rich nations (Qatar) and from poor nations (Somalia and Yemen); Muslims from "Islamic republic" nations (Afghanistan) and from "moderate" nations (Malaysia and Indonesia); Muslims from nations rescued by America (Kuwait) and Muslims claiming "grievances" against America (fill in the blank __).

A common denominator, a pattern, exists, one that is even more extensive than Open Doors implies.According to that organization's communications director, Emily Fuentes, "of the 50 worst nations for persecution, 37 of them are Muslim," or 74%.

Geneva Agreement With Iran Encourages Arab World To Appease Iranian Ambitions in Middle East

The following by Daniel Pipes is reposted here with permission:

Has Iran Gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula?

by Daniel Pipes
January 15, 2014
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner

According to a sensational report by Awad Mustafa in DefenseNews, a Gannett publication, not only has Tehran signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates over three disputed islands near the Strait of Hormuz, but it has also reached a possibly even more important accord with the government of Oman. Both of these agreements have vast implications for the oil trade, the world economy, and Iranian influence.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Arlene Kushner: US Demands Yaalon Apology While Ignoring Palestinian Actions

From Arlene Kushner:
January 16, 2014

With Twisted Arm

Today was Tu B’Shvat. Actually the time considered the new year for trees (an issue with import in Jewish law) but popularly thought of as a sort of Jewish Arbor Day.  Trees are planted in honor of the day, and fruits and nuts – products of trees – are eaten.

 Credit: ishashiri

I spent the day with a tour into the Jordan Valley sponsored by World Likud – a tour that emphasized the fact that this Valley is ours.  Anyone in Likud who isn’t for the retention of the Valley, does not belong in Likud, declared key speaker Deputy Minister of Defense Danny Danon.
As I’m beginning late, this post will be short (or short for me, at any rate).
The twisted arm I refer to above belongs to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mideast Media Sampler 1/17/14: Media Still Insists On Distorting Facts on Ariel Sharon

by David Gerstman, contributing blogger at Legal Insurrection

Ariel Sharon Misconstrued

Ariel Sharon: The Media still insists his visit to Kotel started
intifada -- despite Palestinian admissions to the contrary
Credit: Legal Insurrection / Photo:  
Government Press Office / Flickr ]

I never expected Ariel Sharon to be treated fairly by the mainstream media. I’d like to reiterate one point made by Prof. Jacobson in his post memorializing Sharon: Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount was not the cause of the so-called Second Intifada.

The New York Times obituary of Ariel Sharon gets it wrong:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Iran Pays Homage To Mass Murderer of Americans

The Israel Project's notes that Iran FM “Signals Insincerity” By Honoring American-Murdering Hezbollah Terrorist:
Reuters this evening published photos taken earlier today showing “Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif… lay[ing] a wreath at the grave of assassinated Hezbollah military commander” Imad Mughniyeh, a terrorist who was killed in 2008 after having spent literally decades killing Americans and others on behalf of his paymasters in Tehran.

Monday, January 13, 2014

In 2008, Abbas Approved A Law That Prevents Him From Making Peace With Israel (Does Kerry Know?)

Writing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jonathan D. Halevi notes that Abbas Denies His Authority to Make Cardinal Decisions for a Lasting Peace Agreement.

Here is the executive summary of the article:
  • Mahmoud Abbas is not a serious partner for negotiating with Israel because he does not have the authority to make decisions for the Palestinian people. His rejection of any authority to make historic decisions regarding a political compromise closes the door to any stable, lasting solution for two states living in peace next to each other.

Arlene Kushner: Most Illegal African Immigrants To Israel Are NOT Refugees

From Arlene Kushner:
January 12, 2014

A Rapidly Shifting World

As most of you undoubtedly know, Ariel (Arik) Sharon, 85, former prime minister of Israel, passed away yesterday, after eight years in a comatose state following a stroke. 

Credit: USAToday

In some quarters, the news is filled with laudatory articles about him.  For in his younger days he was a brilliant and fearless military commander whose strategies were critical in the victories in 1967 and 1973.  Subsequently, as a government minister, he fostered the building of communities in Judea and Samaria.
None of this can be taken away from him.  Nor would I wish to do that.
In Arab and related anti-Israel quarters there is obscene jubilation at his death, with the leveling of accusations against him that are absolutely not true.  He was not responsible for the massacre at Sabra and Shatila.  And, I hasten to point out, he did not initiate the Second Intifada by going onto Har Habayit.  That Palestinian Arab war against Israel begun in 2000 was not a spontaneous uprising of anger – it had been thoroughly pre-planned by Arafat, who was waiting for a pretext to begin.  It is important that this record be kept straight.  The anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish media saw him as a special target for vilification, so that he was represented – with outrageous injustice – as a monster. This cannot be allowed to stand.  Against such accusers I stand read to defend his record.
And yet... and yet...
Minister Naftali Bennett says we should leave discussion of the disengagement for another time.  This is, surely, a response to the principle of not speaking ill of the dead, and in particular the very recently deceased.  I respect that, and yet cannot let pass mention of the expulsion from Gaza (Gush Katif), which Sharon pushed through the government, and which was an unmitigated disaster for this country from both a diplomatic and security perspective. It generated a time of enormous national pain from which we have not yet recovered.  As I see it, the Gush Katif expulsion was a betrayal of Sharon’s mandate from the electorate, and a betrayal of the nation.  It represented a reversal of all that he was understood to represent until then, and left many highly bewildered.  There seems no way to reconcile Sharon’s different policies, although a great many people are struggling to do just that.

Credit: Kuma
Sharon is lying in state today and will be buried next to his wife Lily at his Negev farm tomorrow.
For eight years, the neshama (soul) of Arik Sharon floated between this world and the next.  Perhaps now he will find peace.  And may we, having learned important lessons about standing strong, move on to peace for the soul of our nation.

One of the issues I want to focus on today is that enormously problematic situation of the African migrants currently in Israel.  You may well have heard – via some of those same anti-Israel sources I referred to above – about how lacking in humanitarian sensitivity Israel is with regard to policy on these migrants.  As they present the situation, Israel can do no right. If there is an opportunity for attacking us, they grab it.
A few basic facts:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Daniel Pipes: Ten Percent of Muslims Call for Niqabs or Burqas

The following by Daniel Pipes is reposted here with permission:

Ten Percent of Muslims Call for Niqabs or Burqas

January 11, 2014
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner

A survey conducted in seven Muslim-majority countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Pakistan) finds that a median of 10 percent of the respondents prefer women to wear either a niqab or burqa when in public. The specific country figures range enormously, from 74 percent approval of these two garments in Saudi Arabia and 35 percent in Pakistan to 3 percent in Lebanon and Tunisia and just 2 percent in Turkey.

Mideast Media Sampler 1/12/14: Media Expects Israel to Make Major Concessions in Return for Basics

by David Gerstman, contributing blogger at Legal Insurrection

Palestinians are looking for concessions, not an agreement.

Danger of 1967 borders for Israel. Credit: Legal Insurrection;
JerusalemCenter / YouTube

Exhibit A:

In June, 1999, shortly after Ehud Barak had defeated Benjamin Netanyahu to become Israel’s new prime minister, Charles Krauthammer wrote a column title, Clinton Should Have Targeted Arafat Instead.

Krauthammer noted that Arafat was going around the world to lobby support for accepting UN General Assembly resolution 181 as a basis for any peace deal.
What is that? An obsolete, defunct resolution passed by the General Assembly (unlike 242 and 338, not by the Security Council, and thus not even binding) . . . in 1947! It partitioned British Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. At the time, every single Arab state and the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee totally rejected 181. In fact, they invaded the area given to the Jews with the express purpose of wiping it off the map.

They failed. And now 50 years later, the Palestinians are converts to 181.

What’s wrong with that?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Raymond Stock: As Obama Dithers, Egypt Ramps Up Its Nuclear Options

The following by Raymond Stock is reposted here with permission of Middle East Forum:

As Obama Dithers, Egypt Ramps Up Its Nuclear Options

by Raymond Stock
Fox News
January 9, 2014

Raymond Stock
Raymond Stock
After the fatally-flawed interim deal signed by the P5+1 in Geneva November 24 over Iran's nuclear program, America's slighted ally Egypt is now possibly pursuing its own nuclear option, amid fears of an atomic arms race between Tehran and its regional Sunni rivals in Cairo, Riyadh and beyond.

And no one seems to be paying attention.

Egypt's traditionally close relations with the U.S. have been severely strained since Minister of Defense General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ousted the narrowly-elected President Mohamed Morsi after more than thirty million marched against him and the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), to which he belongs.

Daniel Pipes: Kerry Is Just Not in Touch with Reality

The following by Daniel Pipes is reposted here with permission:

"Kerry Is Just Not in Touch with Reality"

by Daniel Pipes
January 9, 2014
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner

Despite all that's going on the Middle East – the Iranian nuclear buildup, the violence in Iraq, the shaking of Erdoğan's rule in Turkey, civil war in Syria, Egypt and Yemen in melt-down mode, Libya unraveling, Tunisia in political crisis – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has one main thing on his mind, and that's a Palestinian-Israeli accord. Unbelievably, he is paying a twelfth visit to the region on Jan. 13 to pursue this goal.
As he returns and returns again, senior Israeli diplomatic officials are showing impatience with him. Here are quotes from some, speaking off the record and very candidly to Israel Hayom. First, about process:
  • "We believe that in return for Israel's request to extend negotiations by a year, Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] will ask more of Israel, such as a [settlement construction] freeze or another prisoner release, and these demands will be backed by Kerry and turned into an American demand, accompanied by a threat. This, while the Arabs have never given anything in return, from the Oslo negotiations until today."

  • "The negotiations are currently being carried out without papers or documents passing between the sides. This is because the Arabs are refusing to present written documents. The Americans are coming with prepared proposals, they read them and do not leave documents with either side. It is all done verbally. The Netanyahu government is cooperating with Kerry's initiative with the clear knowledge that the Arab side will not accept the agreement and ultimately [Israel] will not be required to make concessions or evacuate settlements."

  • "Israel is forced to cooperate with the American plan, mainly out of concern that if we reject it, the U.S. will blame Israel for the failure of the negotiations."
Then, more revealingly, about Kerry himself and his team:
  • "The conduct of the U.S. secretary of state is obsessive. There are those who say that more than wanting to advance peace, he wants to take advantage of the conflict for his political needs. According to this line of thought, Kerry seems to think his path to the White House is via the signing of a Middle East peace agreement."

  • "Kerry, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and U.S. Special Envoy Martin Indyk are wandering around the country, meeting ministers, briefing journalists and creating a feeling that a peace agreement is about to be signed."

  • Kerry's security plan for the Jordan Valley is "ridiculous and unable to withstand the test of reality."

  • "Kerry visits here a lot, but he does not display any understanding of what is happening here. The U.S. plans are superficial and not serious. There is no connection between what is said in public about the progress of the negotiations and what is actually happening. It seems that Kerry is just not in touch with reality. He is not an expert, to say the least, on the roots of the conflict, he does not know how to create real solutions and does not even demonstrate proficiency in reading maps that are presented to him."
Comments: (1) Kerry has long had a reputation for trying to bend reality to fit his own thinking. This diplomatic effort would seem to be his most ambitious –and harmful – such indulgence to date. (2) The American administration obsesses over the Palestinians because it, bizarrely, sees this as the key to the region's other problems. (January 9, 2014)
John F.Kerry sharing an thoughtful moment with Martin Indyk.

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Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Goal of US Foreign Policy Should NOT Be to Prevent Iran From Building A Nuclear Weapon

The following by Gary C. Gambill is reposted here with permission of the Middle East Forum:

What's worse than an Iranian bomb? An Iranian almost-bomb

by Gary C. Gambill
National Post
January 8, 2014

Gary C. Gambill
Gary C. Gambill
For all of their sharp disagreements over the particulars of foreign policy, everyone in Washington seems to agree on one thing — that the overarching objective of American policy toward Iran should be, as President Barack Obama frequently intones, to "prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon."

They've got it wrong. The primary objective of American policy must be a sweeping degradation of Iran's nuclear industrial infrastructure, preferably by diplomatic means, even if the resolute pursuit of this goal provokes Iran into rashly attempting the construction of a bomb — indeed, especially if it does so.

Bear in mind that Iran hasn't been rushing to build a bomb. Rather, it has been working steadily to increase its breakout capacity — the ability to successfully produce a nuclear weapon on short notice, if it made a mad dash to do so.

Arab Gulf States Have More To Lose From Obama's Middle East Policy Than Israel

The following by Jonathan Spyer is reposted here with permission of Middle East Forum:

Confidence Game: Losing American Support, the Gulf States Scramble

by Jonathan Spyer
The Tower
January 2014

An increasing body of evidence has begun pointing to a major shift in American foreign policy in the Middle East. Over the course of the Obama Administration's tenure, amid the turmoil of the Arab spring, the United States has shown itself unwilling to defend some of its traditional allies (such as the military in Egypt), or to stand by its own threats and red lines (such as punishing the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons); in many cases willing to cede significant influence to other outside powers (such as Russia); and to attempt to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran that is far more conciliatory to Iranian demands than had been the previous policy (such as allowing for uranium enrichment).

Much analysis and attention has been focused on the implications for Israel of these changes in American policy. But Israel is not the biggest loser in the region. On the contrary, Israel is far from isolated in the new Middle East. In fact, its more stable and western-oriented Arab neighbors seem to have more in common with the foreign policy perspective of the Jewish state than at any time in recent history.

Instead, those who have the most to lose are the oil-rich states of the Persian Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Arlene Kushner: Is John Kerry Behind European Boycotts of Israel?

From Arlene Kushner:
January 8, 2014

A Long, Hard Struggle

I’m encountering a lot of anger here in Israel, and the depression that often follows.  Pit-of-the-stomach anxiety, too.  How could it be otherwise?
Kerry took off on Monday but plans to be back very soon.  His “framework” is still not in place, and the rumors continue to fly.  Some of those rumors suggest that the framework might be verbal and not in written form at all.  This may be because he cannot put together a document that both parties would sign – which would be good news.
"There is still no document and the Americans are not succeeding at obtaining agreements between the sides." 
According to Israel National News yesterday:
“Governmental sources report that US Secretary of State John Kerry is behind the European boycott threats on Israeli products and companies operating in Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Mideast Media Sampler 01/07/2014: Media Covers For Abbas' Glorification of Murdering Jews

by David Gerstman, contributing blogger at Legal Insurrection

The Unreal Mideast of American Editorials

Kerry and Netanyahu. Credit: Legal Insurrection,
U.S. Department of State / YouTube

The New York Times and Washington Post have both recently weighed in with editorials about John Kerry’s peace process.

First the New York Times ran The Ticking Mideast Clock.
Signs of failure are everywhere. On Thursday, standing beside Mr. Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a harsh assessment of his Palestinian counterpart, President Mahmoud Abbas, and, implicitly, the prospect of a Middle East peace agreement. Days earlier, Israel let it be known that it would build more settlements in the West Bank, further poisoning the political atmosphere while shrinking the territorial space for a deal. Hard-liners in Mr. Netanyahu’s government are pushing a bill that would annex settlements in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank, where about 6,000 Israeli settlers and 10 times as many Palestinians live.
So what did Netanyahu say?

Monday, January 06, 2014

Arlene Kushner: John Kerry Still Does Not Get The Israel - Palestinian Peace Talks

From Arlene Kushner:
January 5, 2014

Where Are We Going?

The date I have written here is 2014, and I am pleased that I remembered. 

With all honesty, this was the major change that “the new year” represented for me.  But I have no desire to be insensitive: And so, I thank all who wrote to wish me a good new year, and extend the same wishes to all of you.  Mostly, however, I extend these wishes on a personal level: may each of you have health, loving family and friends, satisfying work, secure income.
For the world, I have enormous unease. Certainly no balloons or fireworks.  Only prayers: May Heaven help us.

Why Those Who Claim Israel Should Give Up The Jordan Valley Are Wrong

The following by Efraim Inbar is reposted here with permission of the Middle East Forum:

The Jordan Valley: Israel's Security Belt

by Efraim Inbar
Israel Hayom
January 6, 2014

Efraim Inbar
Efraim Inbar
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is once again in town trying to reach a framework agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. One of the issues of dispute is the fate of the Jordan Valley, which is indispensable for Israel's national security. The Jordan Valley is the only available defensible border on the eastern front, which is the closest border to Israel's heartland -- the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv-Haifa triangle -- which holds 70 percent of its population and 80% of its economic infrastructure.

Many pundits claim that Israel no longer needs the Jordan Valley as a shield against aggression from the east. They argue that the demise of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, the weakening of civil-war-torn Syria, and the impressive stability of Jordan in light of the turmoil of the Arab world renders the threat of the eastern front and its proximity to Israel's center a thing of the past. Yet this is a very short-term perspective, motivated by the desire to convince the Israeli public opinion that the Jordan Valley is militarily dispensable. Such a view ignores the immense potential for political upheaval in the Middle East, as recently demonstrated during the Arab Spring. The destabilization of Hashemite Jordan and Saudi Arabia and a radical jihadist Syria are not far-fetched scenarios for the near future. The re-emergence of the eastern front as a security threat could soon follow.