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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Report: Syria to transfer Russian air defense system to Iran

This might even be true - and if so, it is not good news.
Report: Syria to transfer Russian air defense system to Iran
Geostrategy-Direct,, May 30, 2007

LONDON - Syria plans to transfer advanced Russian-origin air defense systems to Iran.

Jane's Defense Weekly said Syria would supply Iran with the 96K6 Pantsyr-S1E anti-aircraft system. The Pantsyr-S1E was developed for the United Arab Emirates and is considered one of the most advanced short-range mobile surface-to-air missile systems in the world.

This year Syria approved a $730 million contract to purchase 50 Pantsyr-S1E systems from Russia. Jane's said Damascus would supply Iran with at least 10 of the systems.

The Pantsyr has an interception range of up to 12 kilometers and detection range of 30 kilometers. The system can engage two air targets simultaneously.

"The end user for 10 of the systems is Teheran," a source close to the deal told Jane's on May 21.

Iran helped finance the Pantsyr sale to Damascus and Iran plans to take delivery in late 2008.

In 2005, Iran and Syria signed a strategic cooperation agreement that increased the flow of technology and facilitated joint arms purchases. The agreement has been enhanced over the past few months amid the threat of a U.S. air strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

The Pantsyr-S1E, produced by the Tula-based KBP Instrument Design Bureau, is a close-in air defense system that can destroy fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, ballistic and cruise missiles, precision-guided munitions and unmanned air vehicles. In 2000, the UAE ordered 50 such systems in a project delayed by three years because of a request for further development.

The UAE has received the first enhanced Pantsyr with a new radar. Deliveries of the air defense systems, half of which would be mounted on Russian-origin GM-352M1E vehicles, are scheduled to continue through 2009.

Western intelligence sources said Iran has offered to finance Russian arms purchases for Syria, including the TOR-M1 short-range mobile air defense system, and plans to procure the S-300PMU1 air and missile defense system for both Damascus and Teheran.

"With Security Council sanctions on Iran, the only way Russia could sell weapons is through Syria," an intelligence source said.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Continued (Permanent Link)

Dershowitz threatens legislation against boycotters

Note that he is just threatening legislation meanwhile:
Note the difference between the headline and the content in the Financial Times report.
The headline: Harvard legal expert vows to sue lecturers boycotting Israel
The content:
A top American lawyer has threatened to wage a legal war against British academics who seek to cut links with Israeli universities.
"I will obtain legislation dealing with this issue, imposing sanctions that will devastate and bankrupt those who seek to impose bankruptcy on Israeli academics," he told the journal.
It is not clear how Dershowitz would obtain such legislation, but he is not suing them. And of course, it provoked the typical response:
Sue Blackwell, a UCU activist and member of the British Committee for Universities of Palestine, said: "This is the typical response of the Israeli lobby which will do anything to avoid debating the real issue - the 40-year occupation of Palestine." Jewish groups have attacked the UCU vote, which was opposed by Sally Hunt, its general secretary.
Ami Isseroff
By Jon Boone
Published: June 2 2007 03:00 | Last updated: June 2 2007 03:00
A top American lawyer has threatened to wage a legal war against British academics who seek to cut links with Israeli universities.
Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor renowned for his staunch defence of Israel and high-profile legal victories, including his role in the O.J. Simpson trial, vowed to "devastate and bankrupt" lecturers who supported such boycotts.
This week's annual conference of Britain's biggest lecturers' union, the University and College Union, backed a motion damning the "complicity of Israeli academia in the occupation [of Palestinian land]".
It also obliged the union's executive to encourage members to "consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions".
Prof Dershowitz said he had started work on legal moves to fight any boycott.
He told the Times Higher Educational Supplement that these would include using a US law - banning discrimination on the basis of nationality - against UK universities with research ties to US colleges. US academics might also be urged to accept honorary posts at Israeli colleges in order to become boycott targets.
"I will obtain legislation dealing with this issue, imposing sanctions that will devastate and bankrupt those who seek to impose bankruptcy on Israeli academics," he told the journal.
Sue Blackwell, a UCU activist and member of the British Committee for Universities of Palestine, said: "This is the typical response of the Israeli lobby which will do anything to avoid debating the real issue - the 40-year occupation of Palestine." Jewish groups have attacked the UCU vote, which was opposed by Sally Hunt, its general secretary.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

Continued (Permanent Link)

Gaza group threatens to behead immodest women

An article in the Jerusalem Post tells us that there is, apparently, a worse possibility than Hamas in Gaza, at least for Palestinians:
A radical Islamic group in the Gaza Strip issued over the weekend a death threat against Palestinian women working for the official Palestinian Authority television station, accusing them of dressing immodestly and behaving in a way that violates the teachings of Islam.

The threat, the first of its kind against female employees of Palestine TV, was made by the Righteous Swords of Islam, a relatively new group that is believed to have links with al-Qaida.

The group has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on Internet cafes and restaurants in the Gaza Strip over the past year.

Members of the group are also responsible for splashing acid in the face of a number of young women who had been accused of "immoral behavior."
The Righteous Swords of Islam is one of three al-Qaida-affiliated groups that have popped up in the Gaza Strip over the past two years.

PA officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that the presence of the extremist groups in the Gaza Strip would "eventually lead to the transformation of the Palestinian territories into a Taliban-style entity."

According to one official, "The day will come when we will miss Hamas. These are extremely dangerous groups that are trying to take Palestinian society back to the Dark Ages."

A leaflet distributed by the Righteous Swords of Islam specifically referred to the women who appear on Palestine TV. "The saying these days is that the enemy has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and so have our morals," it read. "It's indeed disgraceful that the women working for the official Palestinian media are competing between each other to display their charms."

The leaflet concluded by threatening to "slaughter" the women for allegedly spreading corruption in Palestinian society by appearing on the screen with their faces uncovered. "The administration and workers at Palestine TV should know that we are much closer to them than they think," it added. "If necessary, we will behead and slaughter to preserve the spirit and morals of our people."
Great stuff.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Reflections on assymetric threats

Assymetrical threats should be on the Israeli agenda as well as the American one, for obvious reasons.

"Assymetrical threat concept" (as in Michael Rubin's article below)  seems to me to be a legitimate concept, but also buzzword, the implications of which have not been well thought out. Caesar faced an assymetrical threat in fighting the Gallic tribesmen, and in fact all enemies of the Roman empire were "assymetrical threats."

Likewise, the Spanish conquistadores faced an assymetrical threat in the form of the Incas, and Gordon faced an assymetric threat at Khartoum, as did Kitchener. All the imperialist wars were fought against assymetric threats, and the stronger party always won at first. It was only later, at the end of the colonial period, that guerrilla tactics began to be successful.

Clearly, some of those situations are different from others, but we haven't discovered how to identify them.  Instead "assymetrical threat" is applied indiscriminately to any war in which your side is objectively much stronger, but is obviously losing. Here for example, is Michael Rubin's review of assymetrical threats faced (and posed) by the U.S. in history:

If asymmetry involves merely a conflict of weak against strong, or non-traditional versus traditional, then the American Revolutionary War is an example of asymmetrical warfare. General George Washington did not confine himself to confront the British head-on in battle, but rather engaged in guerilla operations, hit-and-run attacks, and tactical surprise.


The World War II rocket race between Nazi Germany and the West, and the subsequent Cold War arms race characterized by the development of bigger nuclear bombs, convinced major powers that military victory depended upon technological advancement.


While the U.S. military fought a conventional army that occasionally employed irregular tactics in the Korean War, its engagement in Vietnam was a different and more formidable experience. Throughout the war, the U.S. maintained air superiority. Initial U.S. strategy prepared the terrain to maximize U.S. strengths. In 1968, Gen. William Westmoreland established the Marine base at Khe Sanh to lure Viet Cong and decimate them from above.[8] The tactic had mixed success. While U.S. forces inflicted high casualties, the Viet Cong consolidated control of the terrain, eventually forcing Khe Sanh's evacuation. Air power did not substitute for ground control. U.S. airpower may have disrupted Viet Cong supply lines, but it did not interdict them. Soviet provision of surface-to-air missiles helped to blunt U.S. air superiority at a relatively low cost. Viet Cong casualties—more than three million killed[9] in comparison to 58,000 American deaths—was a cost Hanoi considered acceptable....

What Rubin leaves out, is the decidedly asymmetrical threat of the American Indians and of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the CSA inventor of guerrilla warfare. Why? Apparently because, in both cases, the "good guys" (the US) won.

Some key points are missing from the article below. First, there are varieties of assymetric threats, as the IDF experience in Lebanon showed. The Hezbollah in Lebanon were not the same sort of assymetric threat as the Fatah and Hamas in the occupied territories, as the IDF learned to its cost. The Viet Cong were not the same sort of asymmetric threat as either of those,  Al Qaeda is something else again, and Iraq is yet another sort of warfare. They have some points in common, but what worked in the West Bank didn't work in southern Lebanon, and couldn't really be applied.

The second problem is a failure to recognize that there are two sides to every fight, and to examine if the supposedly stronger is really stronger. What was the great difference between the Japanese holed up in Iwo Jima or the Aleutians, and  the Viet Cong in Viet Nam? The great difference was the willingness of the US to use all of its resources, and sacrifice any number of lives in Iwo Jima and the Aleutians, and the unwillingness or inability of the US to use all of its resources in Vietnam. The sort of sacrifices that were required to beat Japan were simply unacceptable to the U.S. public in Vietnam, because unlike Japan, Vietnam was not perceived as a vital threat. The Iraq war that draws so much bitterness and protest has cost less than 4,000 lives in over 4 years. How many lives were lost in a single day of trench warfare in World War I? How many died in the Battle of the Wilderness in the U.S. Civil War? But Americans have not decided that winning in Iraq is a matter of vital U.S. interest. If it is not, then there is no point in fighting there at all. If it is a matter of vital interest, then the U.S. would have to bring to bear the resources necessary to win there.

Israel faces the same sort of problems in Lebanon and in Gaza. If the Lebanon war this summer did not defend a vital Israeli interest, then Israel should never have gone into Lebanon. If it did defend a vital Israeli interest, then failure to call up the reserves and to plan a land battle from the start was silly. In the event, Israel applied not enough force to win, and yet was lambasted for disproportionate response. Israel didn't get to either have the cake or to eat it.

Ami Isseroff


Asymmetrical Threat Concept and
its Reflections on International Security

by Michael Rubin
May 31, 2007
Presentation to the Strategic Research and Study Center (SAREM) under the Turkish General Staff, Istanbul.

Less than three weeks after al-Qaeda terrorists crashed hijacked passenger jets into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in rural Pennsylvania, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld issued his first Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) Report.[1] He wrote that it was imperative that the U.S. military plan not only for conventional wars, but that it should also develop strategies to "deter and defeat adversaries who will rely on surprise, deception, and asymmetric warfare to achieve their objectives."[2] Rather than plan for large military operations, or even small wars limited to specific nation-states, the Pentagon should develop strategies to tackle unconventional threats from both state and non-state actors who might seek to attack U.S. interests.

Asymmetric threats are not new, nor are strategists' attention to them. In every era, from the pre-modern to the present day, weak forces utilize surprise, technology, innovative tactics, or what some might consider violations of military etiquette to challenge the strong. The 1991 Iraq War and subsequent al-Qaeda terrorism shattered notions that the collapse of the Soviet Union would usher in an age of peace or an end to history. In order to ensure cohesion in both appropriations and strategy, Congress in 1996 passed legislation[3] requiring the Pentagon to conduct quadrennial defense reviews. In the first report the following year, then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen identified "asymmetric challenges" and "asymmetric means" as a major component of future threats. Adversaries, the report found, "are likely to seek advantage over the United States by using unconventional approaches to circumvent or undermine our strengths while exploiting our vulnerabilities."[4]

Identifying the existence of asymmetrical threats is far easier than to define them. While asymmetry focuses on how to place one strengths against an adversary's weaknesses, even where the overall correlation of forces may favor the adversary, there remains no consensus about the nature of the asymmetric threat concept. Stephen J. Lambakis, a senior analyst in space power and policy studies at the National Institute for Public Policy, questions the usefulness of the concept, given the lack of consensus over its meaning.[5] Such logic, however, falls flat. After all, that there exists no consensus about the definition of terrorism does not mean that government should not develop counter-terrorism strategies.

Still, the breadth of asymmetrical threats undercuts the notion that there can be any unified response to them. While, in general terms, the asymmetrical threat concept describes how the weak might battle the strong, discussions diverge when discussing asymmetrical threats from states versus those posed by non-state actors.

The interplay between technology and asymmetry

Control of technology is among the most important factors in determining state power. History is replete with centralized states seeking to consolidate control and peripheral forces resisting it. Fracturing of central control marked the decline of the Abbasid Empire. Authorities might have paid nominal heed to the caliph in Baghdad, but local dynasties held sway. They controlled the military necessary both to ensure obedience from local residents and to counter pretensions to control from Baghdad. These city states and small polities became easy pickings for the Mongol hordes who swept through Asia and Europe in the 13th century. No sooner had they departed, though, than centrifugal forces again fractured Asia and Europe. With no central monopoly over the most advanced weaponry—bows, arrows, and iron—they could not overcome challenges to control of vast and far-away territories.

The components of military balance-of-power changed, though, in the fifteenth century. Governments monopolized gunpowder technology and found their relative power over the periphery to increase when they controlled artillery which smaller states could not master or afford. Rulers could control far broader swaths of territory than had earlier been possible. In the early sixteenth century, the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal states—the so-called "Gunpowder Empires"—together stretched from Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia.[6]

Their monopoly faded over time. Both internal and external challenges eroded the empire's control over its periphery. The Ottoman sultan lost control over large chunks of North Africa, the Safavid Empire disintegrated into rival states on the Iranian plateau, and the Mughal Empire disintegrated. European armies, though deficient in numbers compared to their Middle Eastern and Asian counterparts, made vast inroads, if not formally colonizing territory, than nevertheless exerting informal influence over it.

While the Islamic world never again rose to challenge Europe, within the context of their own societies, Muslim rulers soon regained advantage over their periphery. The communications revolution swung the balance of power in favor of the central government. While weak within, for example, the Qajar dynasty in Iran experienced a resurgence of power when it invested in the telegraph to bolster communications among government officials dispersed across the nation. For a few decades in the latter half of the nineteenth century, they consolidated control over restive provinces. They had a technological advantage and re-established an asymmetric relationship. However, with time, they lost their comparative advantage. Opponents used the communications technology to coordinate a mass movement to check the government's power. The result was a period of upheaval and mass movements, culminating in the 1905-1911 Constitutional Revolution. Technology not only enables asymmetry in power relations, but can also be used to overcome it.

The American Experience

If asymmetry involves merely a conflict of weak against strong, or non-traditional versus traditional, then the American Revolutionary War is an example of asymmetrical warfare. General George Washington did not confine himself to confront the British head-on in battle, but rather engaged in guerilla operations, hit-and-run attacks, and tactical surprise.

Upon winning its independence, the new U.S. government, still weak relative to European powers, sought benefit in its isolation. Speaking before Congress on December 2, 1823, the nation's fifth president James Monroe outlined what would become called the Monroe Doctrine: The U.S. would remain neutral with regard to European conflicts, but would consider any European military involvement among the independent states of the Western hemisphere to be dangerous and contrary to U.S. peace and safety.

Washington did not envision a role as a global power until difficulties projecting force simultaneously against Cuba and the Philippines during the 1898 Spanish-American War forced reassessment. As military technology advanced, the security borne by distance declined. Abutting two oceans doubled naval needs. Throughout the 1930s, the U.S. Navy sought to determine how much force they needed to project power in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.[7] World War II cemented the United States as a global superpower.

U.S. victory in the war ushered in an era of optimism. The United States was an industrial powerhouse. And, as the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki demonstrated, Washington controlled unrivaled technological superiority. But outbreak of the Cold War and the 1957 launch of Sputnik shook U.S. confidence. The Soviet Union had not only achieved technological parity, but also had surpassed it. Throughout the Cold War, both Democrats and Republicans considered Soviet expansionism an existential threat.

The World War II rocket race between Nazi Germany and the West, and the subsequent Cold War arms race characterized by the development of bigger nuclear bombs, convinced major powers that military victory depended upon technological advancement.

But while Washington and Moscow engaged in a race to build larger and more lethal weaponry, insurgents developed their own doctrine in order to amplify the impact of their inferior forces. After the Japanese invasion of China, revolutionary leader Mao Zedong sought to trade space for time, forcing his Japanese adversaries to stretch their supply lines thin. Insurgents elsewhere favored pinpoint attacks on troops or critical infrastructure.

While the U.S. military fought a conventional army that occasionally employed irregular tactics in the Korean War, its engagement in Vietnam was a different and more formidable experience. Throughout the war, the U.S. maintained air superiority. Initial U.S. strategy prepared the terrain to maximize U.S. strengths. In 1968, Gen. William Westmoreland established the Marine base at Khe Sanh to lure Viet Cong and decimate them from above.[8] The tactic had mixed success. While U.S. forces inflicted high casualties, the Viet Cong consolidated control of the terrain, eventually forcing Khe Sanh's evacuation. Air power did not substitute for ground control. U.S. airpower may have disrupted Viet Cong supply lines, but it did not interdict them. Soviet provision of surface-to-air missiles helped to blunt U.S. air superiority at a relatively low cost. Viet Cong casualties—more than three million killed[9] in comparison to 58,000 American deaths—was a cost Hanoi considered acceptable. Faced with an opponent willing to suffer so many casualties—a price many Western countries and democracies were unwilling to pay—Washington could do little, while the Viet Cong could simply achieve victory by outlasting its opponents. Donald J. Mrozek, a Kansas State University military historian, concluded, "Although willing to accept the occasional tactical gain, all the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong really needed to accomplish while U.S. forces remained in Vietnam was to avoid catastrophic loss while ensuring political instability throughout the south."[10] Only after Hanoi split Saigon from its superpower sponsor did they revert to a conventional, tank-led force to capture the South.

Chechen nationalists and their foreign supporters pursued the same strategy in their war against Russia. Their willingness to suffer immense casualties—or, at least to permit the civilian population to suffer—may not have won an independent state, but they have both denied the Russian military the victory which Moscow sought and eroded international unwillingness to offer them concession in response to violence.[11] In July and August 2006, Hezbollah survived a withering Israeli air bombardment to claim victory amidst the rubble.[12] Careful planning and battlefield preparation coupled with a willingness to sacrifice Lebanese infrastructure paid off for the Iranian-trained group.[13] Had Serb officials shown the same morbid stamina in Kosovo, they might still control that territory. The question boils down to a battle between coercion and resilience. While the Serbs and many industrialized societies are unwilling to suffer unlimited civilian casualties, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah assign no such value to civilians in their areas of operation or control.

International legal constraints adopted by Western governments shift the balance in favor of resilience and so empower liberation movements, guerilla groups, and terrorists. Many African and Middle Eastern states augment their power relative to Western countries simply by eschewing legal responsibilities. The trend among European Union officials, U.S. military lawyers, and non-governmental organizations to apply maximal Geneva Convention protections universally, regardless of enemy combatant adherence to the accords, furthers this trend. If adversaries have no incentive to abide by international law, knowing that they are afforded universal protection regardless, then there is no consequence to utilizing terror or endangering the civilian population.

Terrorism: Democracy's Achilles' Heel

Terrorism becomes a tactic of choice when its potential to achieve political aims outweighs the costs of its use. Misapplication of international law among Western societies encourages terrorism by decreasing its cost while increasing its effectiveness. On April 15, 2002, for example, six European Union countries endorsed a United Nations Human Rights Commission resolution that endorsed the use of violence as a means to achieve Palestinian statehood.[14] The result, in practice, created a precedent in which terrorists could argue that international humanitarian law justified their embrace of suicide bombing.

The United Nations' mendacity is enabled by a lack of consensus over the meaning of terrorism. A 1988 study found that professionals utilized more than 100 different definitions of terrorism.[15] The UN General Assembly defined terrorism in part as "Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public,"[16] and, in 2005, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan defined terrorism as any act "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act."[17] Neither definition, however, enjoys codified status or the status of law.

Terrorism by nature is irregular, although not always asymmetric. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, for example, have since 2004 concentrated their attacks on the U.S. military in Iraq, where the concentration of U.S. weaponry and air support gives U.S. forces a comparative advantage over softer targets elsewhere, like undefended schools, shopping centers, or public transportation.[18]

Nor are all terrorist groups weak. Terrorism is a tactic. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union sponsored both terrorist and separatist groups. Analysts might consider the terrorist groups weak only if they took them out of their full context. But, as proxies of a larger unit, they were no less weak than the states supporting them. The Greek government helped support and supply the Kurdistan Workers Party [Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, PKK] not because Athens was weak in comparison to Ankara, but rather because it simply sought to act by terrorist proxy to weaken a competitor. Stephen Sloan, a terrorism expert at the University of Oklahoma, noted that while terrorism traditionally aimed at resisting state oppression from within, today states use terrorism to amplify force.[19] With state sponsorship, terrorists become more lethal.

Terrorism combines surprise and shock to amplify effect and demoralize the broader public. It is asymmetric only so far as it "attack[s] vulnerabilities not appreciated by the target."[20] The U.S. government remains ill-prepared to counter such surprise. Most U.S. strategic planning with regard to terrorism focuses on replication of past activities. While a few exercises had considered the possibility of hijacked aircraft used as weapons, these were exceptions. Indeed, the Defense Department canceled one drill simulating a hijacked plane crash into the Pentagon because the scenario seemed too far-fetched.[21] Most thinking was more conventional. U.S. officials increased perimeter security around major public buildings after the 1993 World Trade Center attack and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City two years later.

Many analysts see al-Qaeda as an asymmetric threat. So too does the Pentagon.[22] But, whether terrorism is state-sponsored, state-directed, or pan-Islamist, its goals are similar and consistent with traditional psychological operations. Terrorists and traditional state enemies both seek to affect change by demoralizing the public and winning through psychological operations what they cannot win in conventional battle. Democracies are especially vulnerable because of the power their public holds. A former North Vietnamese commander explained, "The conscience of America was part of its war-making capability, and we were turning that power in our favor. America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win."[23]

The North Vietnamese strategy was little different than that of Somali militiamen who dragged the body of a mutilated American soldier through the streets of Mogadishu, permitting the international media to broadcast the incident in gruesome detail, or Hezbollah terrorists who carefully stage-managed the international media during the summer 2006 Lebanon war. "The camera and computer have become weapons of war," Marvin Kalb, senior fellow at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center, observed in his analysis of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.[24]

How effective a terrorist attack may be is inversely proportional to Washington's own perceptions of its interests. Hezbollah's 1983 suicide truck bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks succeeded because the Reagan administration judged perseverance in the peacekeeping operation not worth further casualties.[25] The Clinton administration made similar calculation after Somali militiamen downed two U.S. MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters on October 3, 1993. Usama Bin Ladin has acknowledged the issue when, on May 28, 1998, he told an American interviewer that "The American soldiers are paper tigers… After a few blows [in Mogadishu], they forgot about being the world leader and the leader of the new world order. They left, dragging their corpses and their shameful defeat."[26]

Terrorism aims to affect its opponents psychologically more than militarily. Modern media enables this objective. Prior to establishment of satellite news networks, terrorists seldom enjoyed a sustained global audience, with the Palestinian seizure and murder of Israeli athletes at the 1973 Munich Olympics perhaps the only exception. The proliferation of satellite television networks across the globe wins terrorists a global audience for every hijacking, car bomb, or kidnapping.

Democracies are especially susceptible to such media manipulation. In the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war, satellite channels broadcast bombing damage in both Israel and Lebanon. The openness of Israeli society enabled journalists to access better the Jewish state's internal political debate and hand-wringing. "A closed society conveys the impression of order and discipline; an open society, buffeted by the crosswinds of reality and rumor, criticism and revelation, conveys the impression of disorder, chaos and uncertainty, but this impression can be misleading," Kalb observed.[27]

Validation also bolsters terrorism. Terror sponsors and leaders calculate cost and benefit. Every terrorist attack and every propaganda statement creates forensic evidence which may increase the vulnerability of terrorist leaders or provide evidence to link them with their sponsors. The willingness of satellite television providers to distribute terror propaganda both bolsters terrorist propaganda and bestows an image of legitimacy.[28] The Egyptian government's willingness to host Hezbollah's al-Manar on its Nilesat television provider alongside the state television of Bahrain, Sudan, Kuwait, Syria, and the U.S.-funded al-Hurra legitimizes its incitement and support for terrorism, just as the Danish government's licensing of Roj TV, the PKK's media channel, does.[29] It was to prevent such legitimacy that the French government eventually removed al-Manar from its Eutelsat.[30]

More serious, the willingness of Western diplomats to negotiate with terrorists or engage with their sponsors bolsters their legitimacy, validates their tactics, and shields them from consequence. The impact of such engagement creates precedent which empowers a wide range of terrorist groups. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan's decision to welcome representatives of Hamas to Ankara in February 2006, undercut Turkish efforts to de-legitimize the PKK, which like the Palestinian terrorist groups, justifies its actions in national liberation.[31]

Normal diplomatic practice also shields terrorists. Premature recourse to diplomacy can validate the decision to utilize terrorism. Diplomats and journalists both condemned Jerusalem's disproportional military response to the conflict initiated by Hezbollah. Disproportionality, however, is a deterrent to terrorism. Diplomatic linkage between equitable distribution of casualties and legitimacy of conflict has no basis in international law.

Sympathy for a cause often amplifies concern about disproportionality. Terrorism cannot be successful without sympathizers. The Beider Meinhof Gang conducted several terrorist operations in the 1970s, but failed to win support. They may have enjoyed Soviet patronage, but their ideology did not resonate nor could they translate terrorism into recruitment success. Their membership dwindled as West German authorities captured or killed operatives. In contrast, the Irish Republican Army, the ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna), or, for that matter, Hamas and al-Qaeda espouse an ideology popular enough to enable replacement through recruitment. Daniel Byman, director of Georgetown University's security studies program was correct to note, "We continue to pour money into intelligence, homeland defense and the military, but this spending is primarily to defeat today's terrorist cells. More spies and better defenses do little to defeat a hostile ideology."[32] It is an observation which the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review seconded. "Victory will come when the enemy's extremist ideologies are discredited in the eyes of their host populations and tacit supporters," the report argued.[33]

While it is necessary to combat the ideologies underpinning contemporary terrorism, if the West is to counter the terrorist challenge, it is also important to treat terrorism as a military matter rather than simply a criminal matter. Such a determination is important. If terrorism is a criminal problem, then it should be dealt with by law enforcement. This not only makes prevention difficult, but it also glosses over ideological motivations and the state sponsorship which bolster terrorists' reach and lethality. If terrorism is just a criminal matter, then states cannot use military force to counter it. The Pentagon perceives terrorism as a military matter. "This is both a battle of arms and a battle of ideas," the QDR declares. The report continued to argue that defeat of terrorist networks depended upon augmenting human intelligence, surveillance, special operations, and willingness to conduct irregular warfare.[34]

A Revolution in Military Affairs?

Many of Rumsfeld's arguments appear tied to the idea that there has been a Revolution in Military Affairs. This concept, which argues that technological advances supplant past emphasis on manpower, received a boost from U.S. dominance over Iraq in Operation Desert Storm.[35] Many commentators at the time expressed concern about the mission: Iraq had the fifth largest army in the world, raising fears among Americans of a quagmire or, at the least, a high price for success.[36] U.S. dominance—memorialized with video of precision bombs going down chimneys—reinvigorated the notion that technology would dominate future warfare.

Also impacting the debate was the notion of Fourth Generation Warfare. A construction first voiced in 1989, military expert William S. Lind led a team of army and marine officers who posited that there had been three distinct generations of warfare, emphasizing in turn, manpower, firepower, and maneuver. They argued that ideology and/or technology would underpin a fourth generation in warfare, and predicted that this could blur both chain of command and the distinction between civilian and military. Maneuver would trump logistics which, they argued, would become less important than the ability of troops to live off the land. Whereas troop concentration was once an asset, Lind and his colleagues theorized that, in the future, it could become a liability, more vulnerable to attack. Rather than destroy opponents on the battlefield, a new generation of enemies might try to collapse their adversaries from within.[37] In such an age, the idea of front and rear lines may be outdated.[38]

While the Fourth Generation Warfare theory fits events ranging from the rise of al-Qaeda to the Iraqi insurgency, critics point out that the generation division is artificial, somewhat arbitrary, and that it does not elucidate strategies to conduct war against non-conventional forces. Nor are many Fourth Generation ideas new. Sun Tzu, the sixth century B.C. military strategy described similar strategies in The Art of War.[39] Ancient Greeks, Persians, and later the Mongol hordes mastered the art of demoralizing enemies to collapse societies from within.[40] More recently, Western states and their proxies eschewed convention and logistics. In 1948, for example, the Philippine Constabulary formed Force X, a group which infiltrated Panay as a fake Huk unit, with the aim to sabotage the Huk rebellion from within by sabotaging ammunition while conducting surveillance. The British conducted similar operations during the Malaya Emergency and in Kenya during the Mau Mau insurgency.[41] Defenders of the Fourth Generation thesis may conclude that the attrition that characterized early and mid-twentieth century warfare will not reoccur,[42] but this may be a hasty conclusion. Stalemate and attrition characterized the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), even though both sides enjoyed highly educated publics whose militaries had access to missiles, jets, and chemical weaponry. Between 1998 and 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea fought to a stalemate in a border war that cost, according to some estimates, 70,000 lives.[43]

Nor is irregular warfare necessarily superior to traditional methods. In his analysis of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, Andrew Exum, a U.S. Army Ranger platoon leader in both Afghanistan and Iraq, noted that Hezbollah's decentralization prevented its units from supporting each other in the same way that the more structured Israeli Defense Forces did.[44]

Former West Point professor and American Enterprise Institute military historian Frederick W. Kagan issued an important correction to the popular but mistaken notion that technology can alter the human investment necessary in warfare. He observed that between 1989 and 2003, there were eight major U.S. military operations, five of which resulted in long-term deployments in hostile or semi-hostile environments. Such commitments require large ground forces, irrespective of technological advances.[45] "Military planning during Donald Rumsfeld's terms as secretary of defense rested on three basic assumptions about the nature of future conflict," Kagan wrote. "Future wars will be short, sharp affairs; their outcomes will turn heavily on the opponents' relative levels of technology; and the United States can and should rely increasingly on using indigenous forces instead of its own ground troops. All three assumptions have been badly undermined by recent operations."[46]

The casualty rates subsequent to George W. Bush's declaration of the end of major combat in Iraq[47] show Kagan to be correct. While U.S. forces defeated the Iraqi army in just three weeks at a cost of 158 coalition lives, the battle against insurgents, terrorists, and militias cost has since cost more than 20 times as many U.S. lives.

While Rumsfeld directed the Pentagon to expand Special Operations Forces and Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units and tasked the Air Force to establish an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron,[48] such technological prowess has yet to neutralize the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), relatively low-technology devices responsible for the bulk of U.S. casualties.

The Weapons of Mass Destruction threat

While a disparate network of adversaries may utilize low-technology remedies to neutralize U.S. power in Iraq, opposing states may pursue other means to neutralize U.S. military might. In the wake of the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon's strategy directorate tasked RAND scholars Bruce W. Bennett, Christopher P. Twomey, and Gregory F. Treverton to identify asymmetric threats facing the United States. They agreed that airpower was the United States' chief military asset and focused upon how adversaries might counter it. They predicted adversaries might use a combination of theater missiles and chemical or biological weapons. North Korea, for example, might utilize SCUD missiles equipped with chemical or biological payloads. Other threats they listed included mines, diesel submarines, terrorism, and information warfare.[49]

The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review updated concern about asymmetric challenges to recognize that the most lethal challenges might not come directly from states, but rather that there might be "conflicts in which enemy combatants are not regular military forces of nation-states" and in which adversaries conduct "catastrophic terrorism employing weapons of mass destruction."[50]

Such concern about weapons of mass destruction has grown with time. International inspections do not provide a credible antidote. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein managed to hide a covert nuclear program for more than a decade despite International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections. Hans Blix, who had certified Baghdad's compliance at the time, later admitted that "the IAEA was fooled by the Iraqis."[51]

Nor do multilateral organizations provide security. In 2006, Charles Primmerman, assistant head of the Sensor Systems Division at the Pentagon-funded Lincoln Laboratory, analyzed asymmetric threats to the United States. While most revolved around weapons of mass destruction, Primmerman suggested an adversary's pursuit of asymmetric strategies might include not only use of a weapon of mass destruction, but also deception. On one hand, this might include insincere treaty negotiation as cover to develop such weapons, something the Soviet Union did with regard to biological weapons and the Islamic Republic did with regard to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Safeguards Agreement. On the other, he suggested, an adversary might turn such weaponry against its own citizens for the purpose of blaming the other party.[52] An adversary absorbing a conventional air strike on its nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons facilities might, for example, spread contamination in order to blame the attacker for killing its civilians.

Tactical nuclear weapons also enhance threats. The Soviet Union's collapse and the subsequent deterioration in Russian conventional forces led Moscow to place greater emphasis on Russia's tactical nuclear arsenal. Analysts might consider this an asymmetric strategy. It amplified Russian prestige and influence beyond what its economic and military strength might normally presage. Indeed, Russian threats to deploy extra missiles in Belarus have caused European Union bureaucrats to reconsider the desire of Poland and the Czech Republic to host early warning sites and anti-ballistic missiles shields.[53] However, Moscow's strategic calculations have wider repercussions on other nations' threat perceptions and create a cascading threat. Gunnar Arbman, director of research at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, and Charles Thornton, a research fellow at the Center for International and Security Studies, explain, "The deterioration of its conventional forces means Russia must rely more heavily on its tactical nuclear weapons; and yet, the deteriorated state of the military's morale, readiness, and reliability means that there is an increased internal threat of the accidental or unauthorized launch, or the proliferation of a nuclear weapon."[54]

The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review recognized that possession of weapons of mass destruction was an attractive asymmetric strategy for U.S. adversaries. "They may brandish nuclear, chemical and biological weapons to ensure regime survival, deny the United States access to critical areas, or deter others from taking action against them," the report read.[55] Technological advancement increases the threat, not because weapons may get more sophisticated, but rather because they become more accessible.[56]

Surprise and Dominance

Surprise enhances the effectiveness of asymmetric challenge. History is replete with weaker powers seeking to transform surprise attack into advantage.[57] Japan, for example, launched surprise attacks against both Russia in 1904 and the United States in 1941. The 1950 Chinese intervention in Korea surprised Western officials, as did the 1965 Pakistani incursion into Kashmir. Few in London expected Argentina's 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands.

The Peoples' Republic of China continues to embrace surprise as mechanism to sidestep comparative weakness on other fronts. Michael Pillsbury, a former Pentagon official and expert on Chinese military doctrine, noted that Beijing's strategic thinkers consider the Israeli destruction of the Egyptian air force in the opening hours of the 1967 Six-Day War to be a model of inferior forces triumphing over the superior because of surprise. The Chinese navy, likewise, sees submarine warfare as a means to enable its inferior forces to, by stealth, triumph over the superior.[58]

Interwoven into surprise is mastery of the information battlefield. Chang Mengxiong, former senior engineer of the Chinese military's Beijing Institute of System Engineering, argued that the key to Chinese success in 21st century asymmetric warfare would be Beijing's development of technologies to attack satellites, electronic warfare aircraft, and ground command sites.[59] Dominance of the information battlefield might level the playing field and might enable smaller, weaker militaries to enhance their range of operation.

Here space technology may coincide with others aspects of battle strategy. Chief among Beijing's political and, perhaps, military objectives are reunification with the island nation of Taiwan. However, the Peoples' Republic lacks the naval assets to ensure victory.[60] Here, Beijing might use satellite technology to overcome its relative weaknesses. This is reflected in Chinese naval doctrine. "The mastery of outer space will be a prerequisite for naval victory, with outer space becoming the new commanding heights for naval combat," writes the Chinese Naval Research Institute's Captain Shen Zhongchang.[61] In this context, the destruction on January 18, 2007, of a Chinese weather satellite by a Chinese anti-satellite missile is worrisome.[62]

Chinese military thinkers have argued that their strategy should center less on conventional battles where troop concentrations are susceptible to remote attack, and more on striking enemy information systems while ensuring Beijing's capacity for information warfare.[63] While anti-satellite weaponry might be one method to level or establish dominance over the information field, it is not the only mechanism. Chinese strategist Chen Hu'an explains, "The operational objectives of the two sides on attack and defense are neither the seizing of territory nor the killing of so many enemies, but rather the paralyzing of the other side's information system and the destruction of the other side's will to resist."[64] U.S. defense strategists are particularly concerned about electromagnetic pulse weapons. The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review explains, "Expanded reliance on sophisticated electronic technologies by the United States, its allies and partners increases their vulnerability to the destructive effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP), the energy burst given off during a nuclear weapons explosion."[65] Less destructive strategies might involve increasingly sophisticated efforts to disrupt computer networks, especially given greater U.S. reliance on net-centric warfare.[66]

Preemption or Diplomacy?

While there may be no unified asymmetric threat, technological advancement coupled with access to and lethality of weapons mandate that every state be prepared to counter threats before they develop fully. No longer can states count on strategic depth to absorb a first blow. Nor, in an age of ideological terror, can strategists assume that mutually assured destruction is an adequate deterrent to the use of nuclear weapons.

The White House outlined its concern about the threat posed by terrorists utilizing weapons of mass destruction in its 2002 National Security Strategy. "The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroad of radicalism and technology. Our enemies have openly declared that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and evidence indicates that they are doing so with determination," the president wrote in a letter accompanying its unveiling.[67] The strategy emphasized pre-emption. "We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends… We cannot let our enemies strike first."[68]

The 2002 National Security Strategy was controversial from its inception because critics saw it as blurring the line between defense and aggression. Many analysts pointed out that U.S. justification for its own first strikes might create a precedent for other countries to stage surprise attacks. "What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," Oxford University professor Adam Roberts told the Washington Post. "I have to say it puzzles America's allies that that danger doesn't seem to be fully grasped."[69] Indeed, much of the international hostility toward U.S. policy in Iraq reflected less disagreement about the perceived danger posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein than the fear that successful regime change in Iraq might create a precedent for forceful regime change. The subsequent difficulties encountered by U.S. forces in Iraq, however, cooled enthusiasm for pre-emption. The 2006 National Security Strategy emphasized multilateralism, with chapters emphasizing the strengthening of alliances, cooperation to defuse regional conflicts, and development of common agendas "with the other main centers of global power."[70]

Diplomacy is important, but the rush to abandon pre-emption in favor of multilateral affirmation can be irresponsible. If citizens elect political leadership transparently and democratically, then it is the responsibility of that government to guarantee their security, not multilateral organizations whose officials are not directly accountable to any citizenry. The 1981 Israeli air strike on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor illustrates this issue. The United Nation Security Council "strongly" condemned Israel's actions[71] and, yet, hindsight shows that the Israeli leadership made the correct decision. International organizations often discuss problems, but they seldom solve them. There is often an inverse relationship between the size of any coalition or multilateral organization, and its effectiveness.

Governments should always first consider the diplomatic option to counter a threat. The costs incumbent in diplomacy are almost always lower than those expended in military conflict. However, diplomacy misapplied can amplify rather than resolve asymmetric threats, especially if they legitimize terrorist violence.

The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, for example, arms and provides safe-haven to the PKK. While Iraqi Kurdish leader Masud Barzani condemns terrorist violence, he ties any peshmerga crackdown on the PKK to Turkish political concessions. It is a strategy of blackmail. Should Ankara make political concessions in the face of terror, then it legitimizes Barzani's support for terrorism and will likely convince the Iraqi Kurdish leader that his best asymmetric strategy is further terror support.

Both Tehran and Damascus have sought to leverage hostage-taking into diplomatic concession,[72] and the Palestinian Authority under Yasir Arafat's leadership was quite transparent in its strategy. In a public 1996 conference, Palestinian Authority Planning Minister Nabil Sha'ath said that Israel should not dismiss any Palestinian demands since, "We will return to violence. But this time it will be with 30,000 armed Palestinian soldiers…."[73]

While Primmerman spoke of treaty violation as an asymmetric strategy, insincere engagement is as much a threat. For more than a decade, the foundation of European policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran has been critical dialogue. In a February 9, 2002 interview, EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten explained, "There is more to be said for trying to engage and to draw these societies into the international community than to cut them off."[74] European officials saw in Iranian president Muhammad Khatami a worthy partner who spoke the words they wanted to hear. Between 2000 and 2005, EU trade with Iran almost tripled. Instead of liberalizing society or curtailing its terror support, Tehran invested the resulting hard currency windfall in a clandestine nuclear program. The lesson is clear: Conditioning rogue regimes to expect reward for defiance exacerbates rather than mitigates conflict.

Despite the high-minded rhetoric of the United Nations and other international bodies, coercion—the threat of force and, if necessary, its use—will remain a critical element of U.S. foreign policy.[75] If states are to counter threats, they must remain willing to use brute force, even if it means engaging in a war of attrition or multiyear counterinsurgency. Any conflict from which a state shirks will become the asymmetric strategy of choice for its adversary. The idea that the long war can be abandoned with a turn of phrase is both naïve and dangerous.


While the Bush administration and its policies are unpopular through much of the world,[76] the necessity for Washington to address asymmetric threats will transcend administrations. Whereas once the Pentagon concerned itself with fulfilling the ability to fight two major wars simultaneously,[77] today it must also worry about counteracting and, if necessary, pre-empting weapons of mass destruction attacks against U.S. targets.[78] It must be prepared to face well-developed militaries—for example, to defend Taiwan against Chinese invasion—and also counter uncompromising ideologies. Distance is no longer a defense nor, as the 9/11 terrorist attack showed, is an adversary's lack of ballistic missile capability.

There is no unified asymmetric threat, however. All states and adversaries will adjust their strategies to maximize advantage and minimize weakness. A Chinese attack on U.S. satellites, communications infrastructure, or shipping might look very different from an al-Qaeda or Hamas attack on tourists, shopping malls, or military bases.

While a dictatorship's unity of purpose and a terrorist group's decentralization might appear advantageous against the inefficiency of democracy, democratic governance is itself an asymmetric advantage. Few individuals relish dictatorship. Decision-making in Beijing and Moscow, Pyongyang and Havana may be streamlined, but they fear their own citizenry in a way democracies do not. Communication and lines-of-control in democracies tend to be more flexible than in terrorist groups. Democracies can fight either regularly or irregularly; terrorist groups have no such choice and, when successful, have difficulty controlling territory.

While the U.S. army today teaches that victories combine both military and political components,[79] Washington should recognize that an opponent's strategy will incorporate non-military components as well. Information warfare and influence operations should be an important component of any strategy to counter asymmetric threats. While, in the U.S. context, free speech should be absolute, politicians should recognize some responsibility for how foreign audiences interpret their words.

If there is any unifying concept that democracies might consider to counter the asymmetric threats they face, it is flexibility. If opponents eschew international norms and the laws of warfare without consequence, can Western nations afford to abide by their most liberal interpretations? Perhaps rather than hold states unilaterally to the broadest interpretations of international and humanitarian law, Western governments must calibrate their interpretations to those of their adversaries. Ironically, this is not an innovation, but rather the original intent of the Geneva Conventions.

Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is editor of the Middle East Quarterly. He is grateful for the useful comments and insights provided by AEI colleagues Dan Blumenthal, Tom Donnelly, Frederick W. Kagan, and Gary Schmitt.

[1] U.S. Department of Defense. Quadrennial Defense Review Report. September 30, 2001. Available at: Hereafter QDR (2001).
[2] QDR (2001), p. iv.
[3] Public Law 104-201, Sept. 23, 1996.
[4] QDR (1997),; and
[5] Stephen J. Lambakis. "Reconsidering Asymmetric Warfare." Joint Forces Quarterly, February 2005, pp. 102-108. C.A. Primmerman also observed that many definitions of "asymmetric threat" stand up neither to historical nor logical scrutiny [C.A. Primmerman, "Thoughts on the Meaning of `Asymmetric Threats.'" (Lexington, Massachusetts: Lincoln Laboratory, 2006), 1,]
[6] Marshall G.S. Hodgson. The Venture of Islam: Volume 3: The Gunpowder Empires and Modern Times. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), p. 17.
[7] For an excellent review of the history of U.S. defense posture, see: Gary J. Schmitt and Thomas Donnelly, "Numbers Matter" in Schmitt and Donnelly, eds. Of Men and Material: The Crisis in Military Resources. (Washington: The American Enterprise Institute Press, 2007), pp. 5-29.
[8] Donald J. Mrozek, "Asymmetric Response to American Air Supremacy in Vietnam," in: Lloyd J. Matthews, ed. Challenging the United States Symmetrically and Asymmetrically: Can America Be Defeated? (Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania: U.S. Army War College, 1988), pp. 96.
[9] "Vietnam-anniversaire." Agence France Presse, April 4, 2005.
[10] Mrozek, 103.
[11] For an example of weakening consensus, see: Richard Pipes, "Give the Chechens a Land of their Own." The New York Times, September 9, 2004.
[12] Al-Manar Television (Beirut), September 22, 2006.
[13] See Andrew Exum. Hizballah at War: A Military Assessment. (Washington: The Washington Institute, 2006), pp. 3-4.
[14] Steven Edwards. "UN backs Palestinian violence: Arab, European nations pass resolution supporting use of `armed struggle.'" National Post, April 16, 2002.
[15] Alex P. Schmid, Albert J. Jongman et al., Political Terrorism: A New Guide to Actors, Authors, Concepts, Data Bases, Theories, and Literature (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1988), pp. 5-6, as cited in Jeffrey Record. Bounding the Global War on Terrorism. (Carlisle Barracks: U.S. Army War College, 2003), p. 6. For the 1974 International Association of Chiefs of Police definition and the 1976 National Advisory Committee on Justice, Criminal Standards, and Goals definition, see: Stephen Sloan, "Terrorism and Asymmetry," in Challenging the United States Symmetrically and Asymmetrically, p. 174.
[16] UNGA A/RES/49/60 (December 9, 1994), §I3.
[17] "In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, security and human rights for all." Report of the Secretary General. March 21, 2005. Chapter 3, §93.
[18] For this point, I am grateful to American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Frederick W. Kagan.
[19] Stephen Sloan, "Terrorism and Asymmetry," in Challenging the United States Symmetrically and Asymmetrically, p. 176.
[20] Bruce W. Bennett, Christopher P. Twomey, and Gregory F. Treverton, What Are Asymmetric Strategies? (Washington: RAND, 1999), p. 3.
[21] Steven Komarow and Tom Squitieri. "NORAD had drills eerily like Sept. 11." USA Today, April 19, 2004.
[22] While neither the 2001 or 2006 QDR reference al-Qaeda directly, both refer to the September 11, 2001 attacks as the start of the new war [QDR (2001), pg. iii; QDR (2006), pg. v].
[23] As quoted in Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., "Preliminary Observations: Asymmetrical Warfare and the Western Mindset," in Col. Lloyd J. Matthews (U.S. Army, ret.). Challenging the United States: Symmetrically and Asymmetrically. (Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania: U.S. Army War College, 1988), p. 7
[24] Marvin Kalb. "The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict." Faculty Working Paper Series, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, February 2007.
[25] Bennett et al., p. 7.
[26] "Usama bin Ladin: `American Soldiers are Paper Tigers.'" Middle East Quarterly. December 1998.
[27] Kalb, p. 5.
[28] Doreen Carvajal. "Banning channgel accused of hate speech could be difficult: France finds Beirut station a turnoff." International Herald Tribune, December 10, 2004.
[29] "Danish Resistance, Turkish anger in row over Roj TV," Zaman, April 15, 2007.
[30] Doreen Carvajal. "French ban Al Manar TV channel." International Herald Tribune, December 14, 2004.
[31] "Turkey, Israel patch up ties after Hamas tension." Turkish Daily News, February 22, 2006.
[32] Daniel Byman. "How to Fight Terrorism." The National Interest. Spring 2005.
[33] QDR (2006), pg. 21.
[34] QDR (2006), pg. 23.
[35] See, for example, John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, eds. In Athena's Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age. Santa Monica: Rand, 1999.
[36] See, for example, "The Larger Patriotism." The New York Times, January 10, 1991. Pg. A24.
[37] William S. Lind et al. "The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation." Marine Corps Gazette, October 1989, pp. 22-26.
[38] This was the conclusion in the official U.S. army history of Operation Iraqi Freedom. See: Col. Gregory Fontenot, Lt. Col. E.J. Degen, and Lt. Col. David Tohn. On Point: The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2005), pg. 414.
[39] Sun-Tzu (Roger Ames, trans.), The Art of Warfare. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993.
[40] See, for example, Antulio J. Echevarria II, Fourth-Generation War and Other Myths. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2005.
[41] Lawrence E. Cline. Pseudo-Operations and Counterinsurgency: Lessons from Other Countries. (Carlisle: Strategic Studies Institute, 2005), pp. 1-6.
[42] Capt. John W. Bellflower, "4th Generation Warfare," Small Wars Journal, February 2006.
[43] Ian Fisher. "From an Old-Fashioned War, a Very Modern Calamity." The New York Times, June 4, 2000. §4, Pg. 5.
[44] Exum, pg. 10.
[45] Frederick W. Kagan, "Protracted Wars and the Army's Future," in Schmitt and Donnelly, Of Men and Material, pp. 30-50.
[46] Kagan, p. 33.
[47] "Remarks by the President from the USS Abraham Lincoln," Office of the Press Secretary, the White House, May 1, 2003. http://www.whitehouse.gpv/news/releases/2003/05/20030501-15.html
[48] QDR (2006), p. 5.
[49] Bennett et al., pp. 6-7.
[50] U.S. Department of Defense. Quadrennial Defense Review Report, February 6, 2006, p. 1. Full report available at: Hereafter, QDR (2006).
[51] Julian Borger. "Inside Story: The Anthrax Hunter." The Guardian (London), April 10, 2002.
[52] Primmerman, pp. 8-9.
[53] Vago Muradian. "Russia Resists Polish Missile Defense Role." Defense News, September 25, 2006.
[54] Gunnar Arbman and Charles Thornton. Russia's Tactical Nuclear Weapons. (Stockholm: Swedish Defense Research Agency, November 2003), pg. 7.
[55] QDR (2006), pg. 32.
[56] QDR (2006), pp. 32-33.
[57] For a thorough discussion, see: T.V. Paul. Asymmetric Conflicts: War Initiation by Weaker Powers. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
[58] Michael Pillsbury. China Debates the Future Security Environment. (Washington: National Defense University Press, 2000), pp. 289.
[59] Pillsbury. China Debates the Future Security Environment, p. 292.
[60] See Piers M. Wood and Charles D. Ferguson, "How China Might Invade Taiwan," The Naval War College Review, Autumn 2001, pp. 55-68.
[61] Pillsbury. China Debates the Future Security Environment, p. 293.
[62] Caitlin Harrington. "Chinese ASAT test rekindles weapons debate." Jane's Defense Weekly, January 24, 2007, p. 4.
[63] Chen Hu'an. "The Third Military Revolution." Contemporary Military Affairs, March 11, 1996, as reproduced in Michael Pillsbury, ed. Chinese Views of Future Warfare. (Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific, 2002), p. 391.
[64] Hu'an, p. 393.
[65] QDR (2006), pg. 33.
[66] For U.S. reliance on net-centric warfare, see: Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege, Jr. "Net-Centric Warfare is Changing the Battlefield Environment," CrossTalk: The Journal of Defense Software Engineering. January 2004.
[67] The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. The White House. September 2002. Here after, NSS (2002).
[68] NSS (2002), pp. 14-15.
[69] Peter Slevin. "Analysts: New Strategy Courts Unseen Dangers; First Strike Could be Precedent for Other Nations." The Washington Post, September 22, 2002. Pg. A1.
[70] The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. The White House. March 2006.
[71]UN S/RES/487 (June 19, 1981).
[72] Daniel Pipes highlighted the examples which follow in: "Assad's Cunning Game." The Washington Post. November 4, 1986.
[73] "`…The only way to impose our conditions is inevitably through our blood.'" Middle East Media Research Institute. Special Dispatch No. 132. October 6, 2000.
[74] Jonathan Freedland. "Patten lays into Bush's America." The Guardian. February 9, 2002.,4273,4352929,00.html
[75] Daniel Byman and Matthew Waxman. The Dynamics of Coercion. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 1-3.
[76] The Pew Global Attitudes Project. Conflicting Views in a Divided World, 2006. (Washington: Pew Research Center, 2006), pp. 9-15.
[77] "Defense Strategy," in William S. Cohen. Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review. May 1997. . Hereafter: QDR (1997).
[78] QDR (2001), p. 3.
[79] See, for example, Counterinsurgency. Field Manual No. 3-24. Washington: Department of the Army, 2006.

Continued (Permanent Link)

The left and Israel hate in Britain

An important statement
Thursday May 31,2007
Leo McKinstry

ANTI-RACISM is supposed to be one of the guiding principles of our society, preventing discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin or nationality. 

Yet it is a bizarre paradox of modern Britain that there is now a climate of increasing hostility towards Jews, particularly in those Left-wing intellectual circles which otherwise make a fetish of their concern for racial sensitivities. 

Dressed up as criticism of the state of Israel, anti-Semitism is becoming not just tolerated but even fashionable in some of our civic institutions, including the universities and parts of the media.

Thanks to the Left's neurotic hatred of Israel, we now have the extraordinary sight of self-styled liberal campaigners launching McCarthyite witch-hunts against anyone deemed to have Israeli connections, as in this week's debate at the University and College Union's annual conference at Bourne­mouth calling for a boycott of all Israeli academic institutions. 

Respect for democracy, individual rights and freedom of speech are being crushed beneath the juggernaut of shrill indignation. 

What is particularly disturbing is the way opposition to the Jewish state descends into vicious antagonism against Jews themselves, as shown by this sickening recent outburst from writer Pamela Hardyment, a member of the National Union of Journalists, which in April voted to boycott Israeli goods.

Explaining her support for the NUJ's stance, Ms Hardyment described Israel as "a wonderful Nazi-like killing machine backed by the world's richest Jews". 

Then, like some lunatic from the far-Right, she referred to the "so-called Holocaust" before concluding: "Shame on all Jews, may your lives be cursed." 

Such words could have come straight from Hitler or the most fervent supporter of Osama Bin Laden.

But Ms Hardyment is hardly unique. 

This sort of seething resentment can be found throughout the Left, whether in demands that Israel be treated as a pariah state or in connivance at anti-Semitic propaganda. Typical of this approach was the opinion of  Ulster poet and darling of the BBC Tom Paulin, who once argued that "Jewish settlers in Israel should be shot dead. They are Nazis, racists. I feel nothing but hatred for them." 

Yet Paulin would no doubt be outraged if some English extremist uttered the same sentiments about radical Muslims settling in Britain. 

One of the most nauseating rhetorical devices used by hysterical campaigners such as Paulin and Hardyment is to draw an analogy between the Nazi regime and the modern government of Israel. 

Such a link is not only historically absurd, since Israel is by far the most democratic and liberal country in the Middle East, but it is also offensive because it demonises the Jews and devalues the horror of the Holocaust.

The pretence that Israel's actions in its own defence against Islamic terrorists are  somehow the equivalent of Nazi Germany's gas chambers is a lie worthy of Dr Goebbels himself. And the tragedy is that this continual assault on Israel has led to a rise in anti-Semitism in Britain, much of it fuelled by Islamic radicals. 

In 2006 there were 594 anti-Semitic race-hate incidents in this country, a 31 per cent rise on 2005 and the highest total since records began in 1984.

I should perhaps stress that I do not come from a Jewish family. Like Tom Paulin, I hail from the Belfast middle-class. But I have been repelled by the anti-Semitism – disguised as support for the Palestinians – of parts of the British Left. 

I first became aware of this nasty phenomenon when, in 1985, I attended the annual conference of the National Union of Students at Blackpool. There I was appalled to hear delegates calling for a ban on student Jewish societies, on the grounds that because such groups supported the state of Israel they were essentially fascistic in nature.

Yet, more than 20 years later, this sort of intolerance is no longer confined to the student debating floor. It now exists in large swathes of education, the press and the arts. 

The boycott of Israel by academics was started by Professor Stephen Rose of the Open University, like Paulin another BBC favourite, who told his colleagues that "you have no right to treat Israel as if it were a normal state".

The boycott is now so widespread that, in one grotesque incident, an Israeli PhD student had his application for Oxford initially rejected purely because he had served in his country's army.

The professor dealing with the case, Andrew Wilkie, said he had "a huge problem with Israelis taking the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust and then inflicting gross human rights abuses on Palestinians".

Professor Wilkie would not have dreamt of turning down a Zim­babwean because of Mugabe's tyranny, or a Chinese applicant because of his own opposition to the occupation of Tibet.

This is what is so contemptible about the intellectuals' fixation with Israel.    

They are guilty of the most bizarre double standards.      

While they scream about the Jewish state, they remain silent about human rights abuses carried out by brutal regimes across the world.

And it is ironic that, on the day the lecturers debated a boycott of Israel, they also voted to refuse to co-operate with any attempt to crack down on radical Islam on campuses, claiming such a move would be an infringement of free speech. 

Given some of the lecturers' enthusiasm for silencing Israeli opinion, such a position is laughable in its hypocrisy. 

United by anti-Semitism, the bigots of the academic Left and Muslim fundamentalism are destroying freedom of thought in this country

Continued (Permanent Link)

Palestinians reinventing history

In King Herod's return, Walter Reich explores the Palestinian campaign to rewrite history, which came to the fore once again in connection with the newly discovered tomb of Herod:
After the recent announcement that Herod's tomb had been found, the Palestinian response was quick and sharp. A Palestinian official said the finding lacked scientific credibility and was driven by ideological motivations.
But this episode of archeological denial pales in comparison with the decades of denial in the case of Jerusalem's Temple Mount, which is known to Arabs as Haram al Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary.
In 1930, when Britain administered the area, the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem noted that the Temple Mount's "identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute." But at the Camp David summit in 2000, Yasser Arafat insisted that a Jewish temple had existed not on the Temple Mount but in Nablus. And an Arafat aide, Saeb Erekat, said, to President Clinton's amazement, "I don't believe there was a temple on top of the Haram, I really don't." Mahmoud Abbas, the current Palestinian Authority president, later agreed with Erekat, as did the mufti of Jerusalem. Arafat later went further and denied the temple existed anywhere in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza, including Nablus.
Today, denial of the temple's existence has become a mainstay of Palestinian rhetoric. "They say that the temple was here," a Palestinian historian scoffed. "What temple …? What archeological remains?" And temple denial has turned into temple removal. During the last few years, Palestinians have discarded remains of the first and second temples.
Reich spoils it with a fairy tale about Israeli denial of the existence of Arabs, because of the need for "balance" in the LA Times one supposes.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Next year in Jerusalem

"Congress Set To Vote on Jerusalem" reads the headline in the N.Y. Sun. This is the U.S. congressional version of a regular rite of American Jewish politics. In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy ActPublic Law 104-45 which was to have forced the U.S. government to move the embassy to Jerusalem.
In 2002, Congress passed the Jerusalem Foreign Relations Authorization ActHR 1646, which had about the same intent as the earlier Embassy act, and the same effect.  Unlike the Embassy act however, this bill had removed the loophole supposedly. It too would remain a dead letter, however. 
Congress can afford to practice this rite, knowing that they will never be called upon to implement it. Congress does not make foreign policy. President Clinton ignored the 1995 bill, using conveniently placed loopholes in the legislation to continue the absurd policy of the U.S. government, which refuses to record that an American born in Jerusalem was born in Israel. President Bush didn't even bother with legal loopholes.
There is an executive version too. Candidates swear they will move the U.S. embassy: "Next year in Jerusalem."  As the U.S. presidential election campaign heats up, there is no doubt that candidates will line up to support the logical position that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. And there is no doubt that, like many Diaspora Jews for 2,000 years, when the time comes for implementation, they will renege on their vows.
Every President since 1980 has gone through the ritual. George Bush is no exception:
As a candidate for president on August 28, 2000, George W. Bush told a B'nai B'rith convention, "Something else will happen should I be elected: as soon as I take office I will begin the process of moving the U.S. ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital."
Don't hold your breath. Bush never moved the embassy of course. When he signed into law the Jerusalem Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 2002, President Bush simply announced that he would treat it as "advisory:"
Section 214, concerning Jerusalem, impermissibly interferes with the President's constitutional authority to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs and to supervise the unitary executive branch. Moreover, the purported direction in section 214 would, if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, impermissibly interfere with the President's constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States, speak for the Nation in international affairs, and determine the terms on which recognition is given to foreign states. U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem has not changed.
Nobody challenged his right to do so. Under the constitution, the President decides foreign policy. Congress grants the funds to carry it out. As illustrated in the recent Iraq war budget showdown, it is almost impossible, in practice, for congress to change foreign policy by withholding funds. The congresspersons who vote for these Jerusalem resolutions know that this is so, the lobbyists who lobby for them know that it is true too, so why does anyone bother? The resolutions have as much effect as notes put into the wailing wall.
Does the "move the embassy to Jerusalem" charade have value as a symbolic reminder of the political power of Israel supporters? Will there one day be a bold innovator who will turn the charade into reality, just as nineteenth century Zionists made "Next Year in Jerusalem" a program of action, rather than a prayer after 2000 years? Or is it rather a futile exercise, that reminds us of a humiliating circumstance: No country in the world recognizes the capital of Israel, not even our greatest ally. No country is willing to grant that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state. Not even Israel's greatest ally. The rationale given for the refusal differ from generation to generation. Here is the current version:
When asked for a comment about the House resolution calling for America to move the embassy, a State Department spokesman, David Foley said, "The State Department position remains unchanged, Jerusalem is a permanent status issue to be negotiated between the parties."
Actually, the position of the United States and of the State Department has changed. They still do not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but they find  a different excuse than the one used before the Six Day War. At that time, they didn't recognize West Jerusalem, because of U.N. resolutions that stipulated internationalization of Jeruslalem. Now they don't recognize all of Jerusalem instead.
Not even the Palestinians formally claim West Jerusalem, yet the United States never had an embassy in Jerusalem. The United States did not recognize West Jerusalem as part of Israel before 1967, and it doesn't recognize West Jerusalem today either. The Six Day War changed nothing at all in this respect. In 1947, the UN decreed that Jerusalem would remain a Corpus Separatum, an internationalized city. The relevant UN resolutions are still on the books. If the Israelis and Palestinians ever come to any agreement about Jerusalem, that agreement would be in violation of UN General Assembly resolution 181 and UN General Assembly Resolution 303.  Both resolutions declare that Jerusalem is an international city. Neither the United States nor any other country has ever challenged these unrealistic resolutions.
Can we really fool ourselves into believing the following?
The director of the Orthodox Union's Institute for Public Policy, Nathan Diament, said it "would send a clear message to the administration that it is time to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to its rightful place in Jerusalem. Just as the United States locates its embassy in the duly designated capitals of other nations, so too it should locate its embassy in Israel's recognized capital."
It seems to me that the passage of yet more futile legislation, and the process of ignoring the legislation, may send quite a different message. It sends the message that Israeli sovereignty and the "Israel Lobby" are treated as something of a joke, both in the United States and elsewhere. It points out that the Israeli government is powerless against the Arab lobby and western cultural prejudices against surrendering Christian holy places to Jewish sovereignty; it cannot command the elementary respect of other nations. Do U.S. politicians think that Jews are fools who cannot see through empty  declarations? The message that is broadcast is that both the Israel government and the vaunted "Israel lobby" are bad jokes that cannot even command the fundamental niceties of international diplomacy. They cannot get the capital of Israel recognized by the United States government and they  can't get Ambassador Jones replaced when he makes cruelly frivolous remarks about Jonathan Pollard. They wouldn't dare to try.
Perhaps Jerusalem is not important. If so, then perhaps the Israel government bit off more than it can chew when it annexed Jerusalem, and perhaps the lobbyists are failing because they are trying to do the impossible. And yet, the Jewish people cannot renounce our claims to Jerusalem.
The value of political action is a function of reality. The Balfour declaration would not have been worth the paper it was written on, were there not, eventually, "facts on the ground," in the form of Jews living in Israel, that compelled the creation of a Jewish national home in the land of Israel. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 was not worth the paper it was written on, regarding provisions for internationalization and a Palestinian state, because it didn't reflect reality. Neither the Jews nor the Arab States wanted a real Palestinian state, that would live in peace with Israel.  The partition resolution, Ben-Gurion's declaration of the state of Israel, and President Truman's recognition of it, would have been worthless were there not Jews here to defend that homeland. The Oslo Accords that were to usher in an era of peace proved to be worthless, because they did not reflect reality. Bitter experience has taught us that political documents must be grounded in reality.
Rather than seeking more worthless congressional resolutions about Jerusalem, and applauding them, perhaps the state of Israel and its supporters should turn their efforts to achieving the politically possible, and to using whatever can be obtained to shore up the reality of Jewish national sovereignty, making possible further political gains in the future. Israeli annexation of Jerusalem was in large part an empty political gesture, and this is reflected in the attitude of the world. Declarations about a united city do not reflect "facts on the ground."
Like the U.S. congressional resolutions, they are empty charades that are not supported by action. Real priorities seem to lie elsewhere. Before 1967, the government did not invest seriously in West Jerusalem. After 1967, the government did not invest enough serious effort in the unification of Jerusalem and the building of Jerusalem as a united city and the capital of Israel. Our capital was a backwater of ultra-orthodox society before 1967, and it is now an unconsolidated mixture of Arabs, ultraorthodox Jews, government officials and students, gaudy tourist attractions, government offices and educational and religious institutions.  It doesn't have an industrial base to support a productive population.
It would be more to the point to inaugurate a new factory or science-based industries park in Jerusalem each year then to have another Jerusalem day celebration. It would be more to the point to protect the antiquities of the Temple Mount then to illuminate the walls of Jerusalem with kitchy colored spotlights. Fifty thousand American Jews settling in Jerusalem would do more for Jerusalem than fifty thousand congressional resolutions.
Regarding the Arabs of Jerusalem, the government essentially decided not to decide, essentially allowing the questions to be settled - or not settled - by the municipality of Jerusalem, the Ministry of the Interior and various other branches. This is convenient, because when the inevitable debacle arrives, each could say that it was someone else's responsibility.
In what is supposedly our own capital, we behave as thieves in the night, as in mandatory Palestine. Arab residents were neither given full rights nor excluded. Rather, they are arbitrarily harassed by the government in a mutual guerrilla war that pits widespread illegal Arab building in places like Silwan, against various ineffective and undemocratic Israeli measures such as occasional house demolition and pernicious games played with residence permits. As more and more Arab Palestinians are attracted by the higher standard of living in Jerusalem, and repelled by the chaos in their own society, we are moving to a situation where the majority of West Bank residents may soon claim that they are wrongfully evicted residents of Jerusalem, who have returned to claim their "rights."
We cannot even decide where to put the security fence. It is we who have not really made up our minds if Jerusalem is part of Israel, or what parts are part of Israel, or if it is part of the West Bank, and if the West Bank is part of Israel. If the West Bank is part of Israel, and Jerusalem is part of Israel, then there can be no objection to Arabs from Ramallah moving to Silwan. It would be politically explosive to draw a border anywhere, so the government doesn't do it. It is a non-policy carried out in the absence of a real policy. The Arab Palestinians, on the other hand, have a clear policy, and they are carrying it out. They do not say "next year in Quds al Sharif," they just do it, and they are not going to be satisfied with empty congressional resolutions. They move in, and create "facts on the ground."
The Israeli government did little to integrate the Arab population of Jerusalem into city life as well. It has not provided for their social needs, housing or infrastructure. To an objective observer, it would probably appear that we have not really decided what to do about Jerusalem, and what to do about the Arabs of Jerusalem.
On the diplomatic front, the government has not used any real diplomatic leverage, if it has any, to get foreign governments to move their embassies. What is the point of having a Jerusalem Day celebration, and announcing again and again that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, if the government does nothing to implement the reality?
Apparently, the Israeli government too are saying "next year in Jerusalem" each year - a declarative statement with little meaning behind it. If the Israeli government doesn't care about Jerusalem, and if the Jews of the United States do not care, how can we expect the U.S. government or any other government to respect our protestations about "rights?"
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Pew Survey on Six Day War and American attitudes: What is the message?

Pew center sees consistent support of the US public for Israel since 1967, but it is not really in their data, but Americans of most religious persuasions insist on an "even-handed" policy toward Israel. The table tells the stoy. Only Jews and Evangelical Protestants agree that the U.S. should support Israel over the Palestinians. That is pretty amazing considering that Palestinians cheered Saddam Hussein and carried huge posters of Osama Bin Laden.
Nonetheless, the US is the country with the highest public support for Israel. More below.
Ami Isseroff

A Six-Day War: Its Aftermath in American Public Opinion

For 40 years, public opinion has consistently favored Israel over the Palestinians

The Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem's Old City (Photo: Benjamin Rondel/CORBIS)

It was famously a six-day war, and in varying guises the conflict has so far lasted another 40 years.

For six days, beginning June 5, 1967, Israel battled Egypt, Jordan and Syria. As a result of the fighting, Israel won control of the Sinai desert, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

For all of the 40 years since then, substantially larger numbers of Americans have placed their primary sympathy with Israel rather than with Arab states or with the Palestinians. That support is a near constant in American public opinion about the Middle East, beginning with Israel's creation as a state in May 1948.


The 1967 combatants unknowingly planted the seeds for much of what was to come: the rise of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, another all-out Arab-Israeli war in 1973, construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, a war in Lebanon, the first Palestinian uprising, peace accords between Israel and the PLO, a second Palestinian uprising and, in 2006, a second war in Lebanon. Because of the speed of the Arab states' defeat and their loss of territory to Israel, the 1967 war also brought discredit to secular governments in the region and contributed to the rise of Islamist politics. In both Israel and the Arab world, the war helped make religion rather than just nationality, seem a cause worth fighting for.

American Support for Israel Rarely Wavers

Public opinion surveys over the years show that Americans' lopsided division of support in favor of Israel has persisted through every war in the region, through the making and collapse of peace agreements and through attacks and reprisals by all sides. The changing fortunes of Labor and Likud governments in Israel seemed to have little lasting impact on American sympathies. Neither has the rise and fall of Arab leaders, the central role gradually taken by the PLO or, since the late 1990s, the rise of the Islamic party Hamas.

Of course, as shown by the chart, variations in attitudes toward both Israel and the Arab states or Palestinians may be associated with particular events. American support is often nuanced. In particular, support for Israel tends to rise when that nation is threatened and fall when Israel is perceived to be the aggressor. In 2002, for example, after Israel launched a military offensive in the West Bank following a series of Palestinian suicide bombings, about two-thirds of Americans surveyed said Israel was justified in defending itself, but nearly as many said Israel should use greater restraint and make greater efforts to avoid civilian casualties. Pew Research Center President Andrew Kohut noted that while Americans have consistently favored the Israelis over the Palestinians, "average Americans see shades of gray in the Middle East conflict, and their sympathies notwithstanding, they favor a neutral role for the United States."1


Looking back to the start of this 40-year history, a Gallup poll, conducted during the three days before the outbreak of the 1967 war and extending through the first three days of the fighting, found 45% of Americans sympathized more with Israel than with the Arab states, 4% sympathized more with the Arab states and 26% with neither. Another 24% had no opinion.

Six years later, on the eve of the 1973 war, the figures were virtually unchanged (45% had more sympathy for Israel, 5% for the Arab states, 23% for neither). Whatever the intervening events and whatever the bellicosity of leaders in the region during that period, the dips and rises in sympathy for either Israel or the Arab states were small. With only small variations in wording,2 pollsters have asked Americans the same question about their sympathies almost every year since then.

From late 1973 to the late 1980s, public opinion became somewhat more volatile. A growing number of Americans sympathized more with the Arab states, but the figures remained modest: about 9% when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat visited Israel in 1977, rising to 13% in November 1978 following the signing of the Camp David Accords by Israel and Egypt in September of that year. Support for Israel dipped (to 34%) in March1978 when Israel invaded southern Lebanon, then rose during the peace negotiations with Egypt. Among the subset of Americans who had heard or read about the Mideast, about half (51%) favored Israel when it returned the last portion of the Sinai peninsula, seized during the Six-Day War, to Egypt in April 1982.

Some of that support ebbed away after Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Within a few weeks of the start of Israel's siege of Beirut, the number of Americans who sympathized more with Israel or more with the Arab states was nearly equal (32% sympathized more with Israel, 28% with Arab states. Another 21% sympathized with neither; 19% had no opinion.)

In the years since, public opinion follows one pattern in the case of Israel and another, inextricably related pattern in the case of the Palestinians.

A larger number of Americans sympathize with Israel when it is perceived to be facing acute threats, or when the United States itself appears to be threatened by part of the Arab or Muslim world. For example, the number of Americans siding with Israel rose (to 64%) during the Gulf War in early 1991 when Iraq fired missiles at Israel. Surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center show support beginning to ebb about the time the Gulf War ended.


Response after the 9/11 attacks against the United States was more tepid. Support rose somewhat in the weeks after (from 40% just before to 47% immediately after) but receded to 41% by the following April. It has varied only modestly in surveys over the ensuing years, hitting a low point of 37% in July 2005, and rising somewhat by that October, after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Sympathy again rebounded, to a recent high of 52%, during the fighting in August 2006 between Israel and the Islamic group Hezbollah.

With regard to the Palestinians, American sympathy generally rises when relations between Israel and the Palestinians show signs of growing closer. And it falls when Americans feel threatened by the Arab or Muslim world. Support for the Palestinians jumped (to 24%) when the PLO in 1988 first promised to recognize Israel and again when Israel completed its withdrawal from Gaza (in this latter case, support for Israel also rose, with declines registered among those who responded "neither," or "don't know" or refused to answer). Though neither situation directly involved Palestinians, American sympathy for them fell after the 9/11 attacks and during Israel's fighting with Hezbollah in 2006.

No Other Country Supports Israel So Strongly


In their opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Americans are distinctly different from people in other countries surveyed by Pew. In the 2006 Pew Global Attitudes survey, support for Israel was higher in the United States than in any of the other 14 countries surveyed. In two European countries (Great Britain and Spain), more people sided with the Palestinians than with Israel. In the five Muslim countries surveyed, the Palestinians were favored by large -- and in some instances overwhelming -- majorities (59% in Pakistan, 63% in Turkey, 72% in Indonesia, 97% in Egypt and Jordan).

The one-sidedness of support in Muslim countries highlights religion's relatively recent, more nearly central role in the conflict. In even their most belligerent statements on the eve of the 1967 war, Arab leaders made no references to Islam. In Egypt and Syria, leaders talked of representing the "Arab world," not Muslims. The conflict was not yet cast in starkly religious terms; Arab leaders emphasized their secularism, not their religious faith.


Among both Israelis and Palestinians, majorities consistently say they favor a peaceful settlement of the conflict. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in an April telephone poll by Near East Consulting, most Palestinians (63%) said they supported a peace settlement with Israel, though the outlines of an agreement were not described. A smaller majority (57%) said Hamas -- the senior member of the current Palestinian government -- should no longer call for the elimination of Israel. But support for a peaceful settlement and for a change in Hamas' policy was lower than in the year before.

Americans -- including Muslim-Americans -- express greater optimism than people elsewhere that an equitable solution can indeed be found. In a 2007 Pew survey, Muslim-Americans said by a margin of nearly 4-1 (61%-16%) that they believe a way can be found for Israel to exist so that the rights and needs of the Palestinians can be met. That is nearly the same response given by the U.S. public as a whole but dramatically different than the views expressed in seven predominately Muslim countries surveyed earlier by Pew. There, roughly half or more of the Muslims interviewed said Palestinian rights could not be taken care of as long as Israel existed.


Given demographic realities, Jewish support for Israel is at most a relatively small part of the overall American figure: Pew surveys find that Jews account for only about 2% of the U.S. population. However, support for Israel is especially high among white evangelical Protestants. They are also more likely than other Americans to identify their religious beliefs as the single largest influence in their support. In addition, substantial majorities of white evangelicals believe that Israel was given by God to the Jews (69%) and that Israel helps fulfill the New Testament prophecy of the second coming (59%). That greater support for Israel is also true of Hispanic evangelicals, compared with Hispanic Catholics and secular Hispanics.

By many measures, the 1967 war changed everything yet changed little: Israel gained control over large amounts of territory, but the final disposition of much of that territory has yet to be agreed upon. Permanent, internationally recognized borders for Israel and a possible Palestinian state are yet to be set. American public opinion -- which matters greatly because of U.S. influence in the region -- occasionally shifts, but without significantly eroding the greater sympathy for Israel. Both in the region and in American public opinion, the conflict in its many forms continues.

Chronology of Major Events in 40 Years of Middle East Conflict

June 1967: Israel (45%), Palestinians (4%). Survey taken immediately before start of the 1967 war and during the conflict's first three days.

October 1973: Israel (45%), Palestinians (5%). Survey conducted immediately before the start of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and during the conflict's first three days

October 1977: Israel (40%), Palestinians (9%). Egyptian President Anwar Sadat a few weeks from proposing to visit Israel.

December 1977: Israel (37%), Palestinians (8%). After Sadat's November 1977 visit to Israel.

March 1978: Israel (34%), Palestinians (10%). Palestinian guerillas kill 37 Israeli civilians. Israeli forces enter southern Lebanon.

August 1978: Israel (37%), Palestinians (10%). Preparations underway for Camp David summit involving Israel, Egypt and U.S.

November 1978: Israel (39%), Palestinians (13%). Camp David Accords signed by Israel, Egypt and U.S. in September.

March 1979: Israel (37%), Palestinians (13%). Formal peace treaty signed by Israel and Egypt.

April 1982: Israel (51%), Palestinians (12%). Israel completes withdrawal from the Sinai, returning territory to Egypt.

June 1982: Israel (52%), Palestinians (10%). Israel invades Lebanon.

July 1982: Israel (41%), Palestinians (12%). Israel besieges Beirut.

September 1982: Israel (32%), Palestinians (28%). Fighting continues in Lebanon.

October 1986: Israel (61%), Palestinians (10%). Likud Party leader Yitzhak Shamir replaces Labor Party's Shimon Peres as Israeli prime minister.

May 1988: Israel (43%), Palestinians (20%). Palestinian uprising in its fifth month.

December 1988: Israel (46%), Palestinians (24%). PLO declares independent Palestinian state, promises recognition of Israel.

October 1990: Israel (42%), Palestinians (24%). Iraq invades Kuwait in August 1990.

January 1991: Israel (64%), Palestinians (8%). Gulf War begins. Iraqi missiles strike Israel.

March 1991: Israel (60%), Palestinians (17%). Gulf War ends in February.

September 1993: Israel (42%), Palestinians (15%). Israel and PLO formally recognize each other. Jordan and Israel agree to negotiate.

October 2000: Israel (41%), Palestinians (11%). Second Palestinian uprising begins.

September 2001: Israel (40%), Palestinians (17%). Before 9/11 attacks.

October 2005: Israel (43%), Palestinians (17%). Israeli withdrawal from Gaza completed.

August 2006: Israel (52%), Palestinians (11%). Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.


1Andrew Kohut, "American Views of the Mideast Conflict," The New York Times, May 14, 2002.
2Prior to mid-1988, surveys asked about relative sympathy toward Israel and the Arab states. In later surveys the word "Palestinians" replace "Arab states."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, June 1, 2007

With Rabbis like this, who need enemies?

The Lubavitcher Rabbi explained that the Jews who died in the Holocaust got divine justice:
On the subject of the Holocaust, the Rebbe wrote as follows: "It is clear that 'no evil descends from Above,' and buried within torment and suffering is a core of exalted spiritual good. Not all human beings are able to perceive it, but it is very much there. So it is not impossible for the physical destruction of the Holocaust to be spiritually beneficial. On the contrary, it is quite possible that physical affliction is good for the spirit" ("Mada Ve'emuna," Machon Lubavitch, 1980, Kfar Chabad).
Schneerson goes on to compare God to a surgeon who amputates a patient's limb in order to save his life. The limb "is incurably diseased ... The Holy One Blessed Be He, like the professor-surgeon...seeks the good of Israel, and indeed, all He does is done for the good.... In the spiritual sense, no harm was done, because the everlasting spirit of the Jewish people was not destroyed."
The Rebbe's stance, therefore, is clear: The Holocaust was a good thing because it lopped off a disease-ravaged limb of the Jewish people - in other words, the millions who perished in the Holocaust - in order to cleanse the Jewish people of its sins.
I wonder if he would've thought the same thing if he had been a victim, or his children. I cannot imagine anyone heartless or frivolous enough to concoct such a theology.  
Ami Isseroff

By Yehuda Bauer

The panel discussion on "Haredim and the Holocaust" recently aired on Channel 1 should have included the views of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Chabad's so-called "King Messiah"), Rabbi Menachem Schneerson.
On the subject of the Holocaust, the Rebbe wrote as follows: "It is clear that 'no evil descends from Above,' and buried within torment and suffering is a core of exalted spiritual good. Not all human beings are able to perceive it, but it is very much there. So it is not impossible for the physical destruction of the Holocaust to be spiritually beneficial. On the contrary, it is quite possible that physical affliction is good for the spirit" ("Mada Ve'emuna," Machon Lubavitch, 1980, Kfar Chabad).
Schneerson goes on to compare God to a surgeon who amputates a patient's limb in order to save his life. The limb "is incurably diseased ... The Holy One Blessed Be He, like the professor-surgeon...seeks the good of Israel, and indeed, all He does is done for the good.... In the spiritual sense, no harm was done, because the everlasting spirit of the Jewish people was not destroyed."
The Rebbe's stance, therefore, is clear: The Holocaust was a good thing because it lopped off a disease-ravaged limb of the Jewish people - in other words, the millions who perished in the Holocaust - in order to cleanse the Jewish people of its sins.
There is logic in this theology: If God is indeed omnipotent, knows everything and controls the world ("God presides over the trials of 4 billion people all day long, every day without a moment's rest"), which implies divine supervision on an individual and collective basis, then the Holocaust took place not only with his knowledge, but also with his approval.
Schneerson does not accept the idea of "hester panim," or God's face being turned away, to explain why He was not present when 1.5 million Jewish children were murdered. According to some religious Jews, this hester panim was a consequence of man's sins, and, above all, the sins of the Jewish people. Schneerson says that God was there, and that he wanted the Holocaust to happen. But because it is inconceivable, in his view, for God to commit evil, he portrays the Holocaust as a positive event, all the more so for the Jews.
After this text was published in the summer of 1980, kicking up a storm, Chabad claimed it was based on an inaccurate Hebrew translation of talks that the Rebbe delivered in Yiddish. The Rebbe, they said, had no idea his remarks were being published. It seems hard to believe Schneerson would not go over every word published in his name, let alone a text put out in Hebrew by Machon Lubavitch in Kfar Chabad.
In fact, there is a document written by the Rebbe himself, in Hebrew, which bears his statements about the Holocaust. The late Chaika Grossman, a leader of the underground in the Bialystok ghetto, who survived the war and served as a Knesset member for several terms, published an article in Hamishmar newspaper on August 22, 1980, quoting Schneerson and expressing her profound shock at his words. On August 28, 1980, the Rebbe sent her a reply on his personal stationary. The letter, apparently typewritten, contains a number of corrections in his own handwriting, and is signed by him. In it, the Rebbe confirms everything in the published text.
His remarks, Schneerson explained, were based on the Torah. Hitler was a messenger of God in the same sense that Nebuchadnezzar is called "God's servant" in the Book of Jeremiah (chapter 25). The "surgery" he spoke of was such a massive corrective procedure that the suffering (i.e., the murder of the Jews) was minor compared to its curative effect.
I was invited to take part in this television debate, but my appearance was canceled at the last moment, perhaps because of my opinions on the subject. The truth is, there are no "Haredim." There are Haredi groups and Haredi individuals, and their conduct during and after the Holocaust took different forms. Since the Holocaust, Jews have wrestled with this issue and continue to do so. Rabbi Schneerson's views are one of many.
But Chabad is a large and influential Hasidic dynasty. It has a messiah who lived and died, and many look forward to his resurrection. In this respect, Chabad is a kind of semi-Christian movement. Therefore it is important to know what its leader said. The "King Messiah" did not deny the Holocaust. He justified it.
The author is a Holocaust scholar.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Bradley Burston on anti-Israel boycotts

By Bradley Burston
Just for the sake of argument, let's suppose that you're a British academic. You believe strongly that the occupation must end, that the Palestinians should have an independent state, that Israel's military and diplomatic policies are wrongheaded to the point of immorality.
What to do? Simple. Find the one group within Israeli society which has consistently, vigorously and courageously campaigned against the occupation since its inception.
Then attack them.
Single them out for professional ruin. Do your best to get as many of their colleagues around the world to shun them. Yes, just as if you were in seventh grade and had decided to alleviate your own feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, panic and lack of requisite cool by cutting another victim from the middle school herd and lobbying your equally insecure colleagues to abuse the chosen victim.
Choose your victim with care. Select the one group in Israel which has taken substantive physical, professional, legal and personal risks, which has defied the spirit of Israeli nationalism and the letter of Israeli law, in order to seek out Palestinians to search for equitable solutions.
Select the one group which has, from the very beginning, spoken out eloquently for the rights of the Palestinians to self-determination, to freedom from Israeli domination, to freedom from disproportionate and often indiscriminate use of force, to freedom from social injustice.
Then denounce them.
Decide that your moral vision fully empowers you to declare Israeli professors and other university and college faculty to be unworthy of practicing their calling. All of them.
That is, perhaps, the real beauty of the British campaign to declare a quarantine over Israeli academics.
You really must envy the U.K. far-left for its blindness. Its consummate inability to see more than one side, which is to say, its demonstrated refusal to see Jews as fellow human beings, is only exceeded by its exquisite sense of timing.
No matter that in the whole of the 1991 Gulf war, Saddam Hussein managed to hit all of Israel with a total of 39 missiles, and that two weeks ago, Hamas sent 40 rockets into the Sderot area in the space of a single day.
No matter that Sapir College, Israel's largest public college, has for years been a primary target of Qassam crews.
No matter that in boycotting all Israeli academics on the basis of their being Israelis, the measure is patently racist, a grotesque reprise of the history of curbing academic freedom.
No matter that Israeli Arab academics who are staunchly opposed to the occupation are vehement opponents of the boycott as well.
No matter, even, that opposition to the boycott runs strong within the British University and College Union itself. In fact, all the more reason to press on.
For the genuine elitist, the unpopularity of an opinion is the best assurance of its real value.
Perhaps this is why the whole boycott campaign smacks of a uniquely far-left British brand of moral masturbation, a desperate, delusional, sterile, supremely self-contained form of non-activism that risks nothing even as it changes nothing.
There must be some reason why no one in this world does condescension better than the British far-left. There must be some reason why the British far-left manages to satisfy itself with a uniquely public, uniquely self-congratulatory form of ideological self-abuse.
Leftists abroad would do well to respect their Israeli counterparts for defying societal norms to work for the rights of people with whom their nation is at war. Perhaps the Israeli left deserves respect, as well, for having to do this while enduring the racist abuse of leftists abroad.

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More Israel boycott moves ahead in Britain

Yet another British union boycott in the making. From the New York Times:
LONDON, May 31 — A movement in Britain to boycott Israel economically and culturally gathered speed on Thursday as the country's biggest labor union said it would follow the union of university instructors in weighing punitive measures against Israel.
Mary McGuire, a spokeswoman for Unison, a union of public service employees with 1.3 million members, said a resolution calling for a boycott had been placed on the agenda for the group's annual national conference starting June 19. Word of the proposal emerged one day after the University and College Union, representing 120,000 instructors, voted to urge its members to consider their future relationships and exchanges with Israeli academics.

The instructors' vote — which did not impose an immediate boycott — drew protests from academics in the United States and Israel. In Britain, senior figures at some of the country's top universities, including Cambridge and Oxford, distanced themselves from the resolution, saying that they "strongly condemned" it and that they "reject outright the call for an academic boycott."
The chairman of the group, Prof. Malcolm Grant of University College London, said, "It is a contradiction in terms and in direct conflict with the mission of a university."
Politicians from the major political parties also condemned the vote by the instructors' union.
Asked if the Unison congress would also consider a boycott of some form, Ms. McGuire said, "There is a motion down on our agenda that is to that effect." However, she said, with around 150 motions from the union's 1,500 branches to debate, it was not clear whether the boycott call would be discussed. According to the Unison Web site,, the proposal to be debated at the conference says, "Unison believes the appropriate response is to support the growing international moves towards a union-based campaign of boycott and sanctions against Israeli institutions, in line with the call from over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations including the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions and individual unions and labor collectives."

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British ballsup over Israeli Entebbe Rescue

For once, it seems the BBC got it right. A declassified British government archive revealed that "sources" had informed HMG that the Israeli Mossad had colluded to bring about the hijacking in order to discredit the PLO. These are probably the same folks who believe that Hitler was Jewish, and that "the Zionists" brought about the Holocaust in order to make the world allow a Jewish state.

Apparently HMG took it seriously. The documents themselves can be read online, at no charge:

Click here for FCO 93/913

Click here for 93/914

When prompted for payment click on "Pay using Credit/Debit card." As there is no charge, the order is immediately processed without
actually requiring a credit card.

The Telegraph ( Telegraph [UK] Israeli agents 'helped Entebbe hijackers' ) comments about British government comportment with creditable reserve. It notes that:

Most of the file is taken up with Foreign Office attempts to distance itself from the Israeli raid while privately admitting that the Israelis were probably justified in sending their troops into President Idi Amin's Uganda.

The truth is stranger than "Yes, Minister." If it weren't sad, it would be funnier than Monty Python.

Ami Isseroff

Telegraph [UK] Israeli agents 'helped Entebbe hijackers'

By Peter Day Last Updated: 12:20am BST 01/06/2007

An extraordinary claim that Israeli intelligence may have had a hand in an airline hijacking before sending in commandos to rescue the hostages at Entebbe was made to the Foreign Office.

It came via David Colvin, the first secretary at the British embassy in Paris, according to a newly released National Archives file.

He heard it from a contact in the Euro-Arab Parliamentary Association three days after the Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris was seized in mid-air by Palestinians and German terrorists on June 27, 1976.

Mr Colvin told his superiors that his source suggested that the attack was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine with help from the Israeli Security Service, the Shin Bet.

It was designed to torpedo the rival Palestine Liberation Organisation's standing in France and to prevent what they saw as a growing rapprochement between the PLO and the Americans.

''My contact said that the PFLP had attracted all sorts of wild elements, some of whom had been planted by the Israelis,'' Mr Colvin added. The message was received without comment by the Foreign Office but later officials recorded that a journalist from the Liverpool Post, Leo Murray, had also told them that a splinter group of PFLP was planning a series of spectacular incidents to disrupt contacts between the PLO leader Yasser Arafat and the US.

An official noted: 'If, as Mr Murray's sources allege, the aim of the Entebbe hijacking was to prevent the development of relations between Arafat and the West, and Arafat knew this, it would provide another motive for Arafat's recent approach to the French in Cairo warning us of further attacks.''

Most of the file is taken up with Foreign Office attempts to distance itself from the Israeli raid while privately admitting that the Israelis were probably justified in sending their troops into President Idi Amin's Uganda.

Frank Wheeler, the first secretary, reported that there was abundant evidence of Ugandan collaboration with the hijackers. Palestinians had been brought from Mogadishu in President Amin's private jet to join the hijackers, according to the file.

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How the Soviets turned the Six Day War into Israeli Agression

The Victory and The Lie:

Four Decades after the Six-Day War a Soviet Lie and local Mismanagement threaten to deprive Israel of its Victory

Joel Fishman
 Makor Rishon

1 June 2007

Commemorating the Six day War is a valuable practice because it encourages us to draw comparisons between the past and the present. While we may observe the anniversary of this war annually, every decade which passes provides a distinct perspective, and for this reason, the fortieth anniversary of this dramatic historical event is all the more meaningful.

But before we consider the present, let us look back two decades. On the war's twentieth anniversary in 1987, Israel Television, -- there was only one channel then, -- organized a panel of the generals who had won the war. The late Yitzhak Rabin, the Chief of Staff in 1967, presided over this group. In this discussion, only one basic thought emerged and it was repeated over and over: the war had brought Israel strategic depth (omek astrategi, to use the exact term).

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, this was the end of an era. These men, the military and political elite of Israel, evaluated the situation in spatial but not human terms. They did not grasp that one day the inhabitants of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza might have a will of their own. They lacked the imagination to envisage unforeseen possibilities. In their capacity as military strategists they simply overlooked the human dimension. They assumed that the secure world of May 1987 would go on forever, which explains why, just six months later, the outbreak of the Intifada caught them by complete surprise. They were unprepared for the challenge of asymmetrical war, low intensity conflict, a type of political warfare which appealed to world opinion through the intensive use of the media. Because they never quite understood this type of warfare, these men failed to cope with it.

In retrospect, the twentieth anniversary of the Six Day War represents a dividing line between an age when the country's security could be assured mainly through military force, when the political part of the equation – which included world opinion – was marginal. Since then, the mix has gradually changed. For years, there had been some awareness of this reality, although it was not uppermost in people's thoughts.

Today, four decades after the event, recent scholarship has dramatically improved our understanding of the Six-Day War and its political context. Two Israeli researchers, Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez recently examined the policy of the Soviet Union in the Six-Day War. They published their findings in their new book, Foxbats over Dimona; The Soviets' Nuclear Gamble in the Six Day War [Ataleifim beshmei Dimona, hahimur hagarini shel Brit HaMoatsoth be-Milchemeth Sheshet ha-Yomim.] They found that "the Soviets had prepared a marine landing, with air support, on Israel's shores, which was not only planned but actually set in motion; they had readied strategic bombers and nuclear-armed naval forces to strike…." Their main target was the nuclear reactor in Dimona, and their real objective, although they did not say so openly, was to end the existence of Israel. It was in this context that Ginor and Remez presented their conclusion that the "Six-Day War was definitely not premeditated by Israel for expansionist purposes. Rather, it resulted from a successful Soviet-Arab attempt to provoke Israel into a preemptive strike." The Soviet plan was to provoke Israel into making the first move, framing it in the role of aggressor, in order to provide the pretext for a massive intervention. When the Israel Air Force bombed the Egyptian airfields, it foiled the Soviet strategy.

Ginor and Remez give further evidence in support of their interpretation. "According to the not unfriendly account of India's delegate at the United Nations, on 5 June the Security Council's deliberations were complicated 'by the Soviet demands that [it] should condemn Israel's aggression' as a condition for any cease-fire." Separately, Dore Gold pointed out that the Soviet Union attempted unsuccessfully to get both the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations to condemn Israel as the aggressor. In due course, the Soviets transformed the proposition that Israel was the aggressor into the centerpiece of their own propaganda campaign in which the East Bloc also participated. One contemporary example may be found in the East German newspaper Neues Deutschland of 9 August 1968: "The new Israeli acts of aggression prove the urgency which in the Declaration of the Communist and workers' parties of the Socialist countries confirms the demand for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied Arab territories. This demand is the voice of the people."

Reacting to the East German propaganda campaign, Simon Wiesenthal in a press conference, held in Vienna on September 6, 1968, pointed out that the propagandists who participated in this campaign had once served the Third Reich and were actually using Nazi terminology in their campaign against Israel. He said that this campaign was characterized by "aggression, wrongful accusation, and unlimited exaggeration."

In addition to the Soviet efforts, one must also recall France's negative contribution. On 25 November 1967, at his semi-annual press conference, General de Gaulle not only attacked the State of Israel but also the Jewish people. He was careful to state that Egypt which created the "vexatious affair of Aqaba" but added that this move gave the Israelis the opportunity for which they waited, and they now became the conquerors. De Gaulle did not use the actual word "aggressor," but the meaning of his comments was abundantly clear. His infamous description of the Jewish people will always be remembered: "an elite people, self-assured and domineering." Raymond Aron, who defined himself as a French citizen who did not want to break his links with the other Jews in the world or with Israelis, observed in his essay, De Gaulle, Israel and the Jews, that the outcome of de Gaulle's brutal language was to make the public expression of antisemitism acceptable in postwar Europe: "…General de Gaulle has knowingly and deliberately initiated a new phase of Jewish history and perhaps of antisemitism. Everything has once again become possible; everything is beginning over again…."

The above information explains the origin of the lie that Israel is an aggressor, the motives of the perpetrators, in this case the Soviet Union, and, after the fact, the East Bloc and France. It follows also that in a war of self defense, Israel had a good reason take the territories and in the absence of a final settlement still has a valid reason to hold onto them. A defensive response to aggression is completely different from a war of conquest, and the use of the term "occupation," as it is widely understood is inappropriate. A challenging question is why certain parties chose to buy into this lie, although they knew the truth.

Continued at Six Day War: The Victory and the Lie

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family values and faith based action in the Middle East

At least one government is defefending family values and keeping women in their place. There are lots of immoral women in Iran it seems. The Iranian government has been arresting and harassing women who do not dress according to the code:
Tehran, 29 May (AKI) - In the four weeks since a highly publicised government moralisation campaign kicked off, 14,635 people were temporarily detained under strict new Islamic dress code laws punishing offenders with arrest. Another 67,000 people were reprimanded by police, according to a tally kept by the local Rooz daily based on police statements. Only in airports and train stations some 1,115 people, mostly women, were arrested while 17,135 were not allowed to board planes or trains as they were not dressed properly
If you like family values and old time religion, you'll love Iran. 
"Girls were girls and men were men
Mister we could use a man like Ayatollah Khomeini again"
So remember, if you support family values and faith based action, don't vote Republican, vote for the Mullahs.
Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

How to stop the UCU boycott - A strategy

Though some academics are outraged by the UCU boycott resolution, we must admit that the anti-Israel boycotters did a clever thing. Like a virus (or aliens from extra-galactic space) they have taken over the leadership of the UCU, and their resolution states essentially that they can use union funding and facilities to push the cause of Israel hate and McCarthyism. It is a brilliant implementation of a classic Bolshevik strategy.
The resolution states that UCU will "circulate a motion to all its branches to discuss calls from Palestinian trade unions for a "comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli academic institutions". The motion is going to branches for "their information and discussion." The resolution is one sided of course, as it will not discuss calls for boycotting trade unions controlled by terror groups, Arab Palestinian trade unions that support terrorism or anyone else. Only Israel is on the agenda, and only one course of action is on the agenda.
Boycotts of Israel, called "anti-normalization," have been endemic to Arab world trade unions for many years, in particular, Jordanian and Egyptian trade unions have used these boycotts to sabotage their country's peace agreements with Israel, and to terrorize journalists and academicians into breaking off any contact with Israelis. This activity began long before the current Intifada and has nothing to do with the occupation. Aided by British anti-Zionist activists, these trade unions, supported by the most extreme elements in Palestinian society, in Egypt and Jordan, have now succeeded in exporting their racist campaign to other countries. Through the UCU, they have found a way to spread their poisonous approach.
It is better for them than a boycott resolution, because it will be a chance for boycott leaders to use union facilities to brainwash membership, and it will give them a way to keep the Israeli-Palestinian issue alive and gather support, even if they can never get enough votes for an actual boycott. The discussion is going to be much more harmful than the boycott.
A Strategy
Opponents of academic boycotts must make themselves heard at all such union meetings, and must ensure that meetings are not engineered to only allow a one-sided message. They should bring a proactive program to those meetings, of the type that was used to successfully blunt a similar one-sided divestment resolution of the Presbyterian Church (see Presbyterian Church USA reverses divestment - proactive for peace ) and should probably consult the organizers of that campaign. The basic question that UCU members should be asking themselves is whether they are for dialogue and reconciliation in the Middle East, and whether or not boycotts and anti-normalization campaigns will supoort these goals.
Some key points of the anti-boycott campaign should be:
  • Explain the roots of the boycott request by Palestinian trade unions in the context of the Arab-world anti-normalization campaign.
  • Expose the hidden agenda of groups like the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel , which tells youth that dialogue groups like "Seeds of Peace" are dangerous, and explains that there is no point in dialogue, since Israel is a foreign implant in the Middle East and must be eradicated.
  • Urge UCU members to support dialog between the sides and academic cooperation between Israeli unversities and others.
  • Urge UCU members to adopt a resolution favoring a two-state solution, and deploring terror and racist incitement as well.
  • Urge UCU members to adopt a resolution boycotting "anti-normalization" groups, as well as urging academic freedom for Palestinian Arabs.
Ami Isseroff

Academics express outrage at Israeli boycott

Debbie Andalo
Thursday May 31, 2007

Academics and students today hit back at the decision by university lecturers to support calls for a boycott of Israeli institutions.

Yesterday the University and College Union decided by 158 votes to 99 to circulate a motion to all its branches to discuss calls from Palestinian trade unions for a "comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli academic institutions". The motion is going to branches for "their information and discussion".

But the decision taken at the inaugural UCU national conference in Bournemouth was condemned by the Russell group of research-led universities, the National Union of Students and organisations with an interest in Israel and academic free speech.

In a hard-hitting statement, the Russell group "rejected outright" the boycott call.

Its chairman, Prof Malcolm Grant, who is also president and provost of University College London, said: "It is a contradiction in terms and in direct conflict with the mission of a university.

"It betrays a misunderstanding of the academic mission, which is founded squarely on freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech.

"Any institution worthy of the title of university has the responsibility to protect these values, and it is particularly disturbing to find an academic union attacking academic freedom in this way."

Prof Grant promised that its universities "will uphold academic freedom by standing firm against any boycott that threatens it".

Meanwhile, the executive director of the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB), Ofir Frankel, accused the union of allowing itself "to act as a one-sided player in Middle Eastern politics".

He said: "The IAB is amazed that the extremists that led their union to such an initiative decided not to discuss the option to pass this initiative to a vote of all 120,000 members, a decision that could have allowed the majority to rescue their union from this discriminatory action by reharnessing the values of academic freedom, discourse and debate, as their own general secretary suggested."

The chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jeremy Newmark, described the union's decision as "an assault on academic freedom" that "damages the credibility of British academia as a whole". He called for the union to organise a full membership ballot before introducing any boycott.

The decision by the UCU was also condemned by the Academic Friends of Israel, which accused the union of having "failed to support the wishes of its membership".

Criticism of the UCU decision also came from student organisations.

The president of the National Union of Students, Gemma Tumelty, said it did not support the principles behind an academic boycott of Israel because it "undermines the Israeli academics who support Palestinian rights".

It also "hinders the building of bridges between Israelis and Palestinians".

She added: "Retaining dialogue on all sides will be crucial in obtaining a lasting peace in the Middle East. International academics have a lot to offer higher education students in the UK and a boycott of this specific country is extremely worrying.

"We will express our concerns to UCU and we are awaiting clarification from them on the exact nature of this policy and its potential impact on students and the academic community."

There were also reservations about the UCU decision from the World Union of Jewish Students.

Its chairwoman, Tamar Shchory, a student at Ben Gurion University in south Israel, said: "In campuses abroad the climate of hostility towards the state of Israel and Jewish students is getting stronger.

"It seems like the UCU has chosen a one-sided, not constructive, position in a very complex and sensitive matter instead of promoting the basic value of academic freedom and constructive initiatives."

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Ronnie Kasrils leads South African support for Hamas, Iran & Terrorism

The most frustrating aspect of South Africa's anti-Israel policy, is that it is spearheaded by a Jew. However, Kransdorff is mistaken if he thinks that Ronnie Kasrils is alone in his thinking. He is more likely a figurehead for followers of Bishop Desmond Tutu and others, who have essentially the same view of Israel, and the same enthusiasm for the Hamas and Hezbollah.

Why Jewish S. African minister forms friendships with Israel's enemies
Kransdorff, Magid Published:  05.30.07, 08:14 / Israel Opinion
When it comes to Israel, the South African government seems to employ a schizophrenic foreign policy. At times it portrays itself as a potential honest broker, wanting to share its successful experience in conflict resolution and contribute to fulfilling the hopes of moderates everywhere - to establish two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
But the South African government has also on numerous occasions exhibited a more sinister Middle East foreign policy agenda by warmly embracing the enemies of the Jewish people and expressing rabid anti-Zionist positions.
South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC,) has a long history of ambivalence towards the State of Israel. Nelson Mandela in his autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom," for example, credits Jewish paramilitary organizations, such as the Irgun, with having partly inspired the formation of the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe.
But Israel's close ties with the apartheid regime led many ANC activists to view the Palestinian cause as a sister struggle. This position was clearly articulated by ANC Secretary General Oliver Tambo in his 1979 pledge that "the struggle of the fraternal Arab people of Palestine, led by the PLO, will always be assured of the support of the African National Congress and the entire fighting people of South Africa."
Since coming to power in 1994 in South Africa's first democratic election, the ANC has at times shown remarkable pragmatism towards many issues, including its relationship with the Jewish state. Despite strong Leftist anti-western ideological tendencies among its political base and its coalition partners, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU,) the South African government has sought stronger economic ties with Israel.
In 2004 Ehud Olmert (then minister of trade and industry) at the invitation of the government led a high-level business delegation to  South Africa and signed a historic investment protection agreement. A reciprocal visit by an influential South African business delegation to Israel took place the following year. Today Israel is one of South Africa's largest trading partners in the Middle East with trade between the two countries estimated to be worth over $700 million per year and growing. Eight hundred Israeli companies currently operate in South Africa and the two countries have plans for future collaboration in the areas of mining, telecommunications, agriculture, engineering and water.
Eager to engage
The post-apartheid South African government has been eager to engage with Israel not only in the economic sphere but on a political level as well. To the surprise of many, representatives of Ariel Sharon's then ruling Likud party were invited in 2004 on an official visit to share ideas on the peace process. They met with several politicians who featured prominently in the negotiations that resulted in the peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa. Furthermore, following Israel's painful disengagement from Gaza, President Mbeki sent Prime Minister Sharon an unprecedented letter of support.
However, despite this semblance of warm relations, South Africa is one of Israel's fiercest detractors, rivaling even Arab and Muslim nations. Without doubt, the main proponent of this anti-Israel agenda is the Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, who, perhaps somewhat conveniently, is of Jewish descent. Shortly after the Palestinians initiated the Intifada, Kasrils, using the South African parliament as his platform, launched his own campaign - "not in my name" - designed to pressure the Jewish community into publicly denouncing Israel. Its strident rejection by mainstream South African Jewry has served to only goad him on.
In an anti-Zionist propaganda blitz, reminiscent of the former Soviet Union (where he in fact underwent military training,) Kasrils has used his ministries' official websites (previously, Kasrils was the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry,) international conferences, state visits, the ANC journal Umrabulo and of course the media to demonize the Jewish state. He has called Israelis baby killers, likened IDF actions in the Territories to those of the Nazis, declared Israel worse than apartheid and charged the "Zionist regime" with committing a creeping genocide against the Palestinian people.
It would be a mistake to view Kasrils as the only radical anti-Israel element within the South African government. His virulent rhetoric has been ably matched by Willy Madisha, president of the ANC's coalition partner COSATU. Last year at an international trade union conference in London, for example, he described South Africa's apartheid policies as "a Sunday picnic" in comparison to Israel's "brutal" treatment of the Palestinians. He has on other occasions denounced Israel as an "evil state" and called for an anti-apartheid type sanctions campaign to bring it to its knees.
Unconditional support for Israel's enemies
Despite the hopes of many in the Jewish community that this is just rhetoric designed to placate radical Islamist and hardcore leftist groups in South Africa, the government has shown time and again its willingness to back up these anti-Israel words with anti-Israel actions.
It has voted for a litany of United Nations resolutions condemning Israel, on occasion even co-sponsoring. It opposed Magen David Adom's inclusion in the international Red Cross/Crescent Society. And it was one of only 15 countries to make a legal submission to the International Court of Justice in The Hague against Israel's security barrier, commonly referred to by the deputy foreign minister as the "apartheid wall."
Perhaps more worrying than South Africa's hostility towards the Jewish state is its unconditional support for Israel's enemies. South Africa has in recent years strengthened its ties with Iran's genocidal regime, defending Tehran's right to develop nuclear technology and allegedly offering to supply it with uranium (this is detailed in the Jan/Feb edition of the Arms Control Association journal Arms Control Today.)
Following the latest United Nations Security Council resolution against Iran's nuclear program, Kasrils was sent to the Islamic Republic on what was seen by many in foreign policy circles as a solidarity visit to reassure the increasingly isolated regime of South Africa's continued support. To date South Africa has never officially condemned Ahmadinejad's call "to wipe Israel off the map" or Teheran's hosting of the Holocaust Denial conference despite pleas from the Jewish community to do so.
In addition to Iran, South Africa has also been squandering its political capital on defending the Hamas-dominated Palestinian unity government. Kasrils made international news headlines last month when on an official visit to the Palestinian territories he issued an invitation to Prime Minister Haniyeh to lead a Palestinian delegation to South Africa. This was the first such invitation by a non-Muslim country.
In response to the outcry that followed, South Africa took the ludicrous position that Haniyeh's regime had "gone a long way to meeting" the three international requirements (recognizing Israel; denouncing violence and adhering to past agreements) and that the embargo should be lifted. Thus this invitation was designed to strengthen the international legitimacy of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian unity government, even at the cost of South Africa's credibility in the West.
This schizophrenic Middle East foreign policy is by no means haphazard: it has served as a successful way for the ANC government over the last 13 years to straddle the diplomatic fence. It certainly helped South Africa earn its United Nations Security Council seat in January this year. But with its now enlarged international stature and the increasingly polarized nature of geopolitics this strategy cannot continue indefinitely.
South Africa in the near future will have to choose, as George W. Bush crudely put it after 9/11, if they are either "with us" or with the terrorists. Given its recent behavior towards Israel and the Middle East in general, it looks increasingly likely that they will side with the latter.
Michael Kransdorff and Steven Magid are authors of the South African Jewish blog, Its Almost Supernatural (

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IAF Skyhawk Crash - An accident stopped waiting to happen?

Thirty four to thirty seven years old is an OK age for people. For aircraft it is a bit old. Old aircraft need a lot of tender loving care and frequent inspections and overhauls.  There have been a number of Skyhawk accidents, suggesting that they are not getting the ground care and overhauls that they need. Thus far there have been no fatalities, but there is no reason to wait until the first one.
Ami Isseroff
Fighter pilot ejects from warplane off Ashdod coast; Air Force team locates, rescues him unharmed. Initial inquiry reveals pilot identified a malfunction in Skyhawk's engine, which gave out shortly thereafter
Hanan Greenberg Latest Update:  05.31.07, 12:22 / Israel News
An IAF pilot ejected from his Skyhawk warplane Thursday morning due to a technical malfunction. The engine caught fire and the pilot abandoned the plane which plummeted into the sea. An air force team located him and rescued him unharmed about 5 kilometers off the Ashdod shore.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office reported that the pilot acted according to regulations. He was taken to hospital after being rescued.
Israel Air Force Commander Major-General Eliezer Shakedi appointed a committee of inquiry to look into the accident. According to an initial inquiry, the fighter pilot identified a malfunction in the Skyhawk's engine, which gave out shortly thereafter.
The pilot initially attempted to make a emergency landing in a nearby military base but realized this would be impossible and guided the plane towards the open sea, after which he ejected. Following the incident, the army's entire Skyhawk array has been grounded and naval forces are aiding in the search after the remains of the abandoned Skyhawk. 
 Skyhawks are used mostly at the air force pilot training school. Following Thursday's accident, the Skyhawk squadron will most probably all be grounded, at least until the circumstances have been investigated.
 In 1998, a Skyhawk crashed during a practice flight in the Mount Hebron area. Two crew members were lightly injured.
Another accident occurred in February 2004 in the same region when a fire broke out in the cabin of a Skyhawk and spread quickly through the aircraft. The pilot also ejected and landed safely.
IAF sources said that Skyhawks were considered very reliable aircraft and malfunctions were uncommon.
Aircraft history
The Skyhawks were introduced into the IAF in the 1970s. It was the first fighter plane that the US agreed to sell to Israel. It is a US-manufactured single-seat attack aircraft used for attack and for assisting ground forces. The IAF website writes that the aircraft was purchased in 1967 following the French Embargo imposed on Israel, putting off delivery of the 50 Mirage J5 that had been purchased from France.
A new model of the aircraft was developed for Israel, the A-4H, that had different equipment, carrying capacity and included a drogue parachute. Dozens of this model were put into service and during the War of Attrition, 1968-1970, they were the main IAF attack aircraft. The aircraft carried out many attacks during the Yom Kippur War and later, at the First Lebanon War.
In 1973 the A-4N was also brought into service. This is the model used today. It has a bigger engine; the cockpit is larger; it has 33 mm cannons and better maneuvering capabilities.

First Published:  05.31.07, 10:38

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Bar Mitzvah present: A thirteen year old Qassam victim

"Look what America gave me for my bar-mitzvah"
Report: Kassam victim dies of his wounds Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST May. 31, 2007

It was revealed Thursday morning that another victim of rocket fire died from wounds he received last week. The boy, aged 13, was riding a mini-bus when the rocket struck.

Meanwhile, the defense echelon estimates that Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist will continue to fire rockets into Israel despite the fact that the number of Kassams fired into the country has decreased, Israel Radio reported Thursday morning.

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Is it time to boycott South Africa again?

British boycott avoided, South African boycott begins. Is it time to boycott South Africa again?
Last update - 10:06 31/05/2007   
By Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz Correspondent
South Africa's largest trade union federation will launch a campaign against "the Israeli occupation of Arab lands" this week, demanding that Pretoria impose a boycott on all Israeli goods and break diplomatic relations. South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, who is Jewish, told Haaretz that he actively supported the initiative - which contradicts the policy of his own cabinet.
The president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Willy Madisha, announced the launching of the campaign last week in Johannesburg, calling on the government to cease all diplomatic relations with Israel after its attacks on Palestinian leaders.
"The best way to have Israel comply with United Nations resolutions is to pressure it by a diplomatic boycott such as the one imposed on apartheid South Africa," Madisha said. Cosatu belongs to a recently-formed coalition of organizations operating under the banner "End The Occupation."
Kasrils' anti-Israeli organization Not In My Name belongs to the coalition working toward an embargo on Israel. This runs contrary to South Africa's official stance, and to President Thabo Mbeki's decision to strengthen trade ties with Israel. Mbeki, who heads the ANC ruling party, even appeared as a guest at Israel's Independence Day celebrations in Durban last month.
Kasrils, a member of the ANC, told Haaretz that his support for severing all ties with Israel was not in opposition to his cabinet's policy. "Cosatu is an ANC ally in the coalition against the Israeli occupation. Most elements of this coalition call for boycotting Israel, although the ANC does not," he said.
"We respect their right to encourage people to boycott Israeli goods. As a South African consumer I personally will not purchase Israeli goods until Israel changes its present policy regarding the Palestinians."
Cosatu's spokesman, Patrick Craven, said Kasrils was involved in directing the campaign for imposing a political and economic embargo on Israel. "This is intended to include the diamond trade," he added.
Craven acknowledged that his organization's primary objectives did not pertain to the Middle East, noting that while Cosatu's main goal was improving the material conditions of its 1.8 million members, "it could not stand idly by as Israel perpetrated atrocities in Palestine." Adding that he anticipated "some short-term damage" to South Africa's economy following the boycott, Carven said the damage was "vastly outweighed by the importance of stopping injustice."
The campaign that Cosatu has helped mount will begin Friday, with sermons in South Africa's mosques on "the plight of the Palestinian people". The Christian organizations of the coalition will begin addressing the issue in churches Sunday.
The organizers intend to picket across South Africa next week, including a picket by members of parliament and a candlelight vigil outside the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg. The ANC ruling party has called for a parliamentary debate on "Israeli occupation."
Campaign activists will also hold pickets outside selected stores selling Israeli goods. The events will culminate in mass marches and rallies on Saturday, June 9, both in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Continued (Permanent Link)

The Lubavitcher Rabbi Dubunked

Is this the story that will not be told?  A leading Israeli researcher debunks the Lubavitcher Rabbi, AKA "Messiah King."
By Yair Sheleg

In the early 1990s, Prof. Menachem Friedman, a leading researcher of ultra-Orthodox society in Israel, decided to write a comprehensive study on Chabad Hassidism that would include a biography of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Friedman labored for almost a decade and traced every detail of the Rebbe's past, but in the end decided not to publish his book. Among other places, he searched through the archives of universities in Paris and Berlin to understand what precisely the Rebbe studied there during the 1920s and 1930s. His search yielded information about the so-called "King Messiah" that differs considerably from that publicized by his followers.
Friedman also uncovered interesting information about the Schneerson family: In order to preserve the family's distinguished lineage, there were many marriages within the family; these often led to the birth of mentally and physically handicapped children. The Rebbe himself had a mentally ill brother, Dov Ber, who was murdered by the Nazis in the Ukrainian hospital where he was hospitalized, and his memory has been obliterated from the history of Chabad Hassidism. Another brother of the Rebbe's, Aryeh Leib, turned secular, but Chabad followers tend to portray him as a very pious and righteous man.
The Hassidimim relate that Rabbi Menachem Mendel studied at the University of Berlin, but only after lengthy research was the Rebbe's name found in a list of people auditing classes at the university. It turns out that during his six years in Berlin (1926-1932), the Rebbe studied philosophy and mathematics for a semester and a half.
A similar search in Paris revealed the legend that the Rebbe had studied medicine and engineering at the Sorbonne was also far from the truth. In fact, he studied electrical engineering at Ecole Speciale des Travaux Publics, du Batiment et de l'Industrie (ESTP). As the younger son-in-law of the previous Rebbe, he was not the designated successor, and was allowed therefore to acquire a "secular" profession like electrical engineering.
Blocked archives
Despite the considerable effort invested, Friedman has yet to publish the book. "There were all kinds of excuses I told myself," he says, "such as, I have more pressing and important studies to work on, but the truth is that I didn't feel sure enough to publish the book. The Hassidim blocked access to several of their important archives, and I felt that without those archives, the work wouldn't be accurate. I had excellent material and I felt that I had indeed found the story of this life, and still I was concerned."
Instead of a book, Friedman published a lengthy article analyzing the messianism of the Rebbe, who was perceived by some as the Messiah starting from the early 1980s. According to Friedman, the messianic idea started back in the tenure of his father-in-law, the Admor (rabbi and leader) Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok, known by the Hebrew acronym, Riyatz. The Riyatz was convinced that his era was a messianic era because all the Lithuanian rabbis fled Russia during the period of the Communist revolution, and the Orthodox Jewish community in Russia was left under the control of Chabad, which became the leader of Orthodox Jewry in Russia.
But then Stalin started cracking down on Chabad activities, and the Riyatz was forced to flee, first to Poland and later on, with the Nazi invasion, to the United States. "He had to explain to himself the failure of his predictions, and therefore explained that everything that was happening in Europe was essentially intended to serve as a warning to American Jews to repent to be saved from a similar danger. He himself was saved to be a kind of prophet like Jonah, who warns them of the danger and brings them to repent," says Friedman.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe stayed in France at the start of the Second World War. He was saved thanks to an American visa he obtained through the concerted efforts of Chabad members in the U.S. When he arrived in the U.S., he was not in line to become the Admor. The "natural" candidate was his older brother-in-law, Shmaryahu Gourarie, who had the added advantage of a son - the Rebbe was childless. According to one version Friedman heard, the Rebbe himself was afraid to bring children into this world because of the "precedent" of his brother; according to a rumor among Chabad Hassidim, the Rebbe had a child who died young.
By the time of the Riyatz's death in 1950, things had changed, and he decided to make his young son-in-law, who turned out to be much more talented and charismatic than his older brother-in-law, the leader of the movement to bring people back to religion and "win over hearts" that he had begun to nurture. In addition, the fact that Gourarie had an heir was transformed from an asset to an impediment, because the son renounced religion and became a secular computer businessman, Barry Gourarie (later on, he even demanded the vast Chabad library for himself, in a scandal that created a storm within the movement for years). Friedman spoke at length with Gourarie and heard fascinating details from him about what goes on behind the scenes in the Chabad movement.
Schneerson was named the Admor, but not before there was a sharp clash between the two camps in the year following the Riyatz's death. Even after his selection, the widow of the previous rabbi did not accept the choice and "did not allow the Rebbe to set foot in her house and also did not agree to give him the Riyatz's shtreimel [fur hat]. That is how the custom began of the Rebbe wearing a fedora instead of a shtreimel." Retroactively, as happens with the Hassidim, Schneerson's perceived shortcoming in his childlessness was actually seen as proof of his being the messiah: "An entire doctrine was conceived, which the Rebbe developed already in his first speech as the Admor, around the fact that he is the seventh Admor of Chabad," relates Friedman. Because the number seven has mystical significance, the idea that it was not coincidental that he had no heir began to circulate - he was the seventh and last Admor and redemption would come through him anyway.
To mark Friedman's 70th birthday, Bar-Ilan University will be hosting an international conference in his honor in another two weeks.
He began to research the ultra-Orthodox world completely by chance: "I was taking a seminar with Prof. Shmuel Eisenstadt (the sage of Israeli sociologists - Y.S.), and every student had to write a paper on one of the parties in Israel. Because I worked hard to earn a living, I arrived late when the topics were assigned and Eisenstadt's assistant informed me that 'all the parties had already been taken.' In the end she said: 'Well, there is one party left that doesn't interest anyone.' It was Agudat Yisrael."
Out of that paper, Friedman created a new discipline, the study of modern ultra-Orthodox society from the end of the 19th century to the contemporary era.
Friedman was familiar with the ultra-Orthodox since his childhood. He grew up in Bnei Brak and his parents were both raised in hassidic homes and left them as young adults. In the wake of the Holocaust and the absorption crises he experienced in Israel, his father started moving back to the hassidic world he had left. "I think the encounter with modernity was so traumatic for him that he just went back to his father's house, to the shtibel [small synagogue], to Hassidism. He grew a beard again and went back to wearing a capote [caftan], which prompted very heated arguments with my mother, and he also sent me to an ultra-Orthodox Talmud Torah," recalls Friedman.
As far back as the 1980s, Friedman was the first to coin the term hevrat halomdim (society of the learners) as the primary characteristic of ultra-Orthodox society in Israel, a society where in an unnatural way, most of the men do not work, but learn. He was the one who long ago predicted its collapse, based on the assumption that a time would come when Israeli society would be unwilling, or unable, to finance an entire sector in which most of the men are unemployed by choice.
Ostensibly, Friedman erred in his analysis: Members of the ultra-Orthodox community suffered in recent years from the burden of cuts in child allowances, so many entered the labor market. Meanwhile, the community is not showing any signs of collapse. Moreover, in addition to the graph showing a decline in their economic situation, there is a graph showing the community's growing political power, which enables the ultra-Orthodox political parties to continue to force Israeli society to finance the "society of learners." But Friedman stands by his forecast and even argues that the stability of Israeli society at large is threatened.
A secular child in every family
Friedman says, "True, there is some entry into the labor market, but opposite this, there are two difficult questions: First, is the degree of economic crisis not more intense than the pace of entry into the labor market? Second, the requirements demanded by the labor market today are much stricter, and whoever did not learn any general knowledge until he became an adult will have a hard time closing the gap. I don't see Israelis being able to withstand the sight of Jews starving for bread, even if they are ultra-Orthodox. So the society will be tempted to continue supporting them, at least on a basic level, and then two things will happen: Many in the middle class will be fed up by the situation and they will leave the country, so the ones who stay will be in an even worse financial situation."
Friedman believes the financial collapse will also alter the religious character of ultra-Orthodox society. The mere necessity of entering the labor market will make the ultra-Orthodox increasingly resemble the religious Zionists: less separatism, and with a much higher percentage of people becoming nonreligious, something like "a secular child in every family." This fact will compel them to also change their perception of secularism, because it will become a widespread phenomenon in their midst. He speaks of the model of Eastern European Jewry in the wake of the crisis caused by the Enlightenment, when many families split up into ultra-Orthodox, Zionist and completely secular groups.
Other experts on ultra-Orthodox society present the American model as proof that the ultra-Orthodox's entry into the labor market need not alter the religious character of society - they will be able to maintain a model where a clear line is drawn between being a part of the labor market and maintaining cultural isolationism. Friedman responds, "whoever reviews the American ultra-Orthodox model in depth sees that it, too, is split, mainly between Lithuanians and Hassidim. The Lithuanians did in fact enter the prestigious job market, but they also acquire a high level of general knowledge during their high school years, something that I still don't see happening in Israeli ultra-Orthodoxy. The Hassidim for the most part live in dire poverty, similar to the Israeli ultra-Orthodox."
Given his pessimistic forecasts, Friedman suggests making the entry of the ultra-Orthodox into the job market a key goal for the ultra-Orthodox sector, including totally waiving the demand to do military service, even in the framework of the compromise in the Tal Law. "If we concede to them completely on military service, many of them will leave the yeshivas and enter the labor force. I'm aware of the intense inequality in this proposal, but it is preferable to the existing situation," he says.
Friedman himself sat on the Tal Commission and presented this suggestion to its members, but he says, "Judge Tal told me that his colleagues, the High Court of Justice judges, would for the sake of the principle of equality not let such a proposal pass. Unfortunately, it is possible that he is correct. At the time, I felt that the security situation allowed for the transformation of the entire IDF into a small, professional army. But the Second Lebanon War proved we still need a large people's army, and in the current situation I don't see who will concede in a sweeping and official way to the ultra-Orthodox on the need to do military service."
He concludes with a sigh, "political correctness, not just in this area, has become the curse of this generation. People cling to the slogans of 'correctness' even if they know that in the long term it will lead to greater damage and perhaps endanger their own world."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Qassam rockets in Sderot - Again

Image and reality - Foreign media ignore Qassam damage in Sderot, focus on damage to Gaza from Israeli missile attacks.Suppose the guy in the picture was you, and it was your home?
A Sderot resident inspecting the damage caused to his home by a Qassam rocket on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Last update - 23:45 30/05/2007

Qassam rocket hits electricity pole, lands on Sderot home

By Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondent

A Qassam rocket hit a high-voltage electricity pole and landed on a building in the western Negev city of Sderot Wednesday evening. The house sustained some damage, but the residents of the home had been secured inside a protected room and remained unharmed.

The electricity supply in some parts of the city was disrupted due to the strike.

Earlier in the day, a Qassam rocket directly hit the fourth floor of a Sderot building. No one was wounded but a number people were treated for shock. Several apartments in the building were damaged in the attack, but rescue teams said the apartment that sustained a direct hit had been empty during the strike.

Earlier Wednesday, the IAF killed two Hamas men in a strike on a group of gunners firing rockets at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip.

Hamas radio said the men killed in attack belonged to its military wing.

An IDF spokeswoman said the air force targeted "a group of armed terrorists" in the northern part of the territory near Jabaliya refugee camp.

In addition to the two Hamas men killed in the strike, several people were wounded and a house was damaged, ambulance crews said.

Speaking of Israel's ongoing campaign against Qassam rocket attacks, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said late Tuesday: "Hamas exploits every calm and quiet period to build itself up and prepare for future attacks. We cannot allow this."

Meanwhile, IDF troops shot and wounded a Palestinian militant who opened fire on their patrol near the West Bank town of Tul Karm.

Soldiers later found blood stains and a M-16 rifle, but did not apprehend the gunman.

Also Tuesday, IDF troops killed two Fatah militants during separate raids in the West Bank.

IDF special forces in Ramallah tried to arrest Omar Abdel-Halim, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and a former member of the elite Force 17. An exchange of fire broke out during the raid, in which the 22-year old Abdel-Halim was killed and four other Palestinians were wounded.

Adbel-Halim was considered an associate of Khaled Shwish, who was arrested by the IDF on Monday. Shwish was one of the founders of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Bridages, and is believed to be responsible for the deaths of eight Israelis.

Special forces near Jenin killed Mohammed Mara'i, who five days ago announced the formation of a new Fatah militant offshoot, the Abu Amar Brigades.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

UCU Isael Boycott is off for now - but propaganda and harassment will continue

The UCU boycott vote failed, but the boycott will still be discussed over the next year. The "Gzeira" (anti-Semitic decree) has been postponed. The measure that was passed will allow a steady stream of anti-Israel materials to be drip-irrigated into union branches by anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic groups. That will prepare the way for another vote next year.
Ami Isseroff

By Staff Report Published: 05/30/2007

LONDON (JTA) – Britain's largest trade union for academics passed a motion to circulate Palestinian calls for an academic boycott of Israel to its branches "for information and discussion."

Wednesday's vote by the University and College Union at its first congress in Bournemouth will require members to discuss the issue further over the next year. The motion passed by a vote of 158 to 99.

In a statement, the UCU said the boycott motion means branches "have a responsibility" to consult all of their members on the issue. UCU represents 120,000 workers in further and higher education throughout the United Kingdom.

The motion passed despite comments during the debate by the union's new general secretary, Sally Hunt, that "I do not believe a boycott is supported by the majority of UCU members, nor do I believe that members see it is a priority for the union."

The move is the latest of several British efforts to boycott Israel. Last month the National Union of Journalists passed a motion to boycott Israeli goods. More recently, a group of British doctors and a group of architects called for a boycott within their respective professions.

The union also passed a motion to campaign for the restoration of all international aid to the Palestinian Authority and all revenues that the union says rightfully belong to the authority. Worldwide aid to the Palestinian Authority was stopped when Hamas took control of the government.

Boycott opponents were outraged by the union's vote and called on the UCU to reverse itself.

"Essentially, British trade unions are declaring war on Israel," Ronnie Fraser, director of the Academic Friends of Israel, told JTA.

Ofir Frankel, executive director of the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom based at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, said the union "has allowed itself to act as a one-sided player in Middle Eastern politics. It is very disturbing to behold a form of singling out and discrimination happening in the U.K. – the U.K. which upholds itself as the cradle of fairness, freedom of speech and academic debate."

Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said that while the vast majority of academics do not support a boycott, "this decision damages the credibility of British academia as a whole."

In a statement, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said, "These obscene resolutions have all the faults that academics normally deplore in their profession: a superficial and flawed understanding of the subject, clear bias, and antagonism to the open exchange of ideas."

UCU represents 120,000 workers in further and higher education throughout the United Kingdom.

Explaining why Israeli universities deserve to be targeted, Michael Cushman of the London School of Economics said those institutions are symbols of Israeli national identity.

"Senior academics move from universities into ministries and back again," Cushman said during an hourlong debate. "Regularly, lecturers take up their commissions in the Israeli Defence Force as reserve officers to go into the West Bank to dominate, control and shoot the population."

In the British academic world, four attempts have been made to introduce a boycott of Israeli academics since 2002. The University and College Union was created last June by the merger of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, and the Association of University Teachers, the AUT, both of which had initiated their own boycott proposals.

Motions were defeated by the AUT in 2003, and although a motion passed in 2005, it was overwhelmingly overturned at a special council of the union following international outcry.

A boycott motion narrowly passed at the National Association conference in 2006, but the resolution expired with the merger of the unions.

According to the new boycott motion, "Israel's 40-year occupation has seriously damaged the fabric of Palestinian society through annexation, illegal settlement, collective punishment and restriction of movement."

It goes on to say the union "deplores the denial of educational rights for Palestinians by invasions, closures, checkpoints, curfews, and shootings and arrests of teachers, lecturers and students" and "condemns the complicity of Israeli academia in the occupation, which has provoked a call from Palestinian trade unions for a comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli academic institutions."

In an effort to counter the boycott, a group of Arab and Jewish Israeli students hosted a stand at the conference to detail academic cooperation projects between Israelis and Arabs and between Israel and the United Kingdom, all of which they said could be affected by the boycott. They also talked to delegates about the achievements of Israeli universities and showcased the projects between Israeli and Palestinian universities, as well as the joint work benefiting Israel's Arab minority, that is threatened by the proposed boycott.

"The stall allows Israeli students to show that a boycott is counterproductive and will hurt the very relationships that will help bring peace in the Middle East," said Frankel of the International Advisory Board, which sponsored the stand. "We also want to take this opportunity to build links with British academics that may advance these valuable projects."

The board was established by Bar-Ilan University in 2005 with the Academic Friends of Israel to respond to calls for boycotts of Israeli academics, fight anti-Israel policies of the British education unions and anti-Semitic incidents on university campuses.

The stall was supported by the Fair Play Campaign Group, part of the Board of Deputies of British Jews' campaign to combat boycott initiatives, to promote cooperation and dialogue in the Middle East, and by the British Friends of Israeli Universities.

Proponents of the boycott measure defended their efforts.

"Israeli universities are complicit in occupation of Palestinian territories and in the harassment and abuse of Palestinian students and lecturers," said Haim Bresheeth, a University of East London lecturer who introduced the motion with Tom Hickey, a lecturer in philosophy at Brighton University. "They are part of the system which imposes closures, curfews and collective punishments, supports military invasions of campuses and arbitrary arrests."

"Taking a stand on these issues is the least that we can do. International action is required to persuade Israeli academics that they must examine the role of their own institutions in denying educational rights to Palestinians."

Along with the Israeli students, a delegation of senior Israeli academics conducted a week of meetings with British counterparts, parliamentarians and journalists in an effort to combat the boycott call.

With the delegation was Miriam Shlesinger, a professor at Bar-Ilan University and a victim of a boycott in 2002. She was removed from the board of a journal at Manchester University on the basis of her Israeli citizenship.

"A boycott against Israel is discriminatory and will achieve no useful purpose," Shlesinger said. "Many academics like myself are acting on behalf of the causes that the UCU and others espouse, except that by deterring us from doing this they are achieving the exact opposite."

Also last week, Steven Weinberg, a University of Texas professor and Nobel laureate, canceled a visit to a London university citing the journalists' boycott and what he perceives to be "a widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic current in British opinion."

In a letter to Imperial College he wrote: "I know that some will say that these boycotts are directed only against Israel rather than generally against Jews, but given the history of the attacks on Israel and the oppressiveness and aggressiveness of other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, boycotting Israel indicated a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than anti-Semitism."

(JTA correspondents Vanessa Bulkacz and Jonny Paul in London, staff writer Ben Harris and copy editor Marc Brodsky in New York contributed to this report.)

Continued (Permanent Link)

Arab boycott of Israel stifles scientific cooperation

This news item speaks for itself, I guess. Quote:
Kholouel Al Dorghan, who is in her 20s and works in the Bank for Trade and Finance in Amman, said she was excited by the possibility of working in Israel.

"I met Israelis for the first time in my life here at this conference, and I felt a real buzz in the air here from the young people and the delegates," she said. "I would be happy to do research in the Arava Institute or anywhere in Israel."

Still, several young people who had been invited as individuals from other countries in the region preferred to remain anonymous.

"I would love to work with Israelis," one said, "but my government would not like that at all and would harass me and my family. There must be a way for us to participate as well. I am angry about this, but what can I do?"
Academic boycott, anyone?
Ami Isseroff


By Brett Kline Published: 05/30/2007

PETRA, Jordan (JTA) -- Ilana Meallem and Mazen Zoabi left a recent morning meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II smiling. The king had just proposed the formation of a regional science fund, and they were certain they would have access to that fund.

The two Israelis, project managers at the Arava Institute, an environmental study and research center in southern Israel, were among a small group of people in their 20s from Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and other Arab countries occupying a visible role at a conference of Nobel laureates in Petra.

Most of the media attention had focused on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other political leaders attending the conference held here in May and sponsored by Elie Wiesel's Foundation for Humanity and the king's Fund for Development.

But Abdullah, who had opened the gathering with a plea for more regional cooperation outside the realm of politics, saw this group as a good example.

"The king told us that we are the core of a new organization for youth exchange in the Middle East, and that there will be funding to organize regular meetings," Meallem said. "Israeli youths are full members in this organization. We have our full place here, and this is fantastic."

Indeed, some of the Nobel laureates and invited guests seemed to be more interested in the presentations by the young people, who fielded questions and took compliments, than in Israeli-Palestinian politics.

"We are the soldiers of tomorrow fighting for a more healthy environment," Meallem told the conference. "We need you Nobel Prize laureates, and you need us."

The Arava Institute has about 40 students, including three Palestinians from the West Bank and 10 Jordanians. They all live and study at the kibbutz center on Kibbutz Ketura, about 25 miles north of Eilat. The institute is under construction to house up to 100 students in the near future.

The 10-year-old institute has graduated more than 400 students from its yearlong program. It receives extensive funding from the Jewish National Fund and other American Jewish groups.
Among the graduates is the son of Jordanian Prime Minister Ma'roof Al-Bakeet.

The Israeli students are part of a master's program at Ben-Gurion University in Sde Boker. Institute members organize an annual fund-raising bike ride from Jerusalem to Eilat. This year's ride along the Dead Sea brought in $800,000 for the institute.

Until now the Jordanians have not sponsored their own students at the Arava Institute, but at the conference Jordanian Education Minister Khaled Toukan seemed open to the idea.

"Will the funding from Jordan follow?" Zoabi wondered. "I don't know, honestly, but I think it is in everyone's interest that they fund us."

Programs at the institute include examining pollution levels in trans-border rivers touching Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, probing air pollution in Jordan and a special two-year project with Morocco to cultivate argan almond trees that until now have grown wild only in southern Morocco.

Meallem, originally from London, and Zoabi, a Technion graduate from an Arab town near Nazareth in the Galilee region, are headed to China for three months. They will bring back technology turning small-scale organic waste into energy for use in Bedouin villages in Israel, and later in Jordan and possibly the West Bank. The technology, known as biogas energy, is not uncommon but apparently has been best developed for small-scale use in China.

"We don't yet have a partner for this with the Palestinian Authority," Zoabi said.

He and Meallem spent much of the conference networking.

"Perhaps we could do projects with you and get more Palestinians involved in your institute," Sari Nusseibeh, a leading Arab moderate and the president of Al Quds University outside Jerusalem, told them. "Maybe your generation can go beyond the politics that have dragged us all down."

In the air-conditioned, temporary conference hall not far from the path leading to the spectacular Nabatean ruins that have put Petra on the map, Nusseibeh was busy chatting with Yigal Carmon, the head of the widely read MEMRI: The Middle East Media Research Institute and a counterterrorism adviser in the administration of the late Yitzhak Rabin.

"These environment projects are great for everyone because it is a win-win situation for all sides," Carmon said. "You see here that Jordanian politicians and various prize laureates and funders are very quick to speak with Ilana and the others because it gives them a sense of doing something good for people in a concrete way. I think we have seen enough sessions on conflict resolution; the answer is more real projects."

Wiesel, the conference moderator and winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, said his foundation was ready to put up or raise $10 million for the regional science fund that was proposed by Abdullah. The fund would sponsor projects proposed by groups all over the region.

"I think the Arab countries are taking scientific cooperation with Israel very seriously," Wiesel said. "His Majesty the King is a true associate in this endeavor with the young people. He knows and I know that some of them will be the leaders of tomorrow."

Kholouel Al Dorghan, who is in her 20s and works in the Bank for Trade and Finance in Amman, said she was excited by the possibility of working in Israel.

"I met Israelis for the first time in my life here at this conference, and I felt a real buzz in the air here from the young people and the delegates," she said. "I would be happy to do research in the Arava Institute or anywhere in Israel."

Still, several young people who had been invited as individuals from other countries in the region preferred to remain anonymous.

"I would love to work with Israelis," one said, "but my government would not like that at all and would harass me and my family. There must be a way for us to participate as well. I am angry about this, but what can I do?"

Continued (Permanent Link)

Are anti-rocket defense systems economically feasible?

INSS argues that anti-rocket defenses are not a waste of money, because the damage potential of the rockets is greater than the cost of the anti-rocket defense. However, the potential costs are staggering, and the "possible" damage from a rocket in the word case is not the same as the actual average damage.

The best way to stop the rockets is to eliminate the source.

Ami Isseroff


Anti-Rocket Defense: A Waste of Taxpayers' Money?

Yiftah S. Shapir

The intensification of the Qassam rocket attacks on the town of Sderot has once again raised the question of defense against this weapon. Interest in this subject is not new. More than a decade ago, when the town of Kiryat Shmona was being bombarded by Katyusha rockets from Lebanon, the Israeli defense establishment began to address this challenge. Its initial response took the form of the tactical laser system "Nautilus". The system, which was developed as a joint American-Israeli venture, was supposed to destroy rockets with a powerful laser beam. Vast amounts of money were invested, but the project was finally suspended.

However, interest in anti-rocket defenses has revived in recent years. Even before the second Lebanon war the Israeli defense establishment reviewed several proposals in the framework of its SRBMD (Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense) requirements. The main threats against which this system was built were rockets like the Iranian Fajr-3 and -5 and the Zelzal-2, which were already in the hands of Hezbollah. These were rockets with ranges of between 40 and 200 km.

In May 2006, the Ministry of Defense selected the Rafael-Raytheon proposal called "Stunner" (in Israel it is known as "Magic Wand"). The system is based on a new interceptor based on the Python family of air-to-air missiles, together with a new radar by Elta. It is being developed with American aid: the US congress allocated $25 million for the project in FY07. The price tag of a single interceptor is estimated at $100,000.

In the second Lebanon war, most of damage to Israel was caused by very short-range rockets, like the Russian Grads. Furthermore, the threat of Qassam rockets fired by Palestinian insurgents from the Gaza strip increased. In a fast-track procedure, the Defense Ministry reviewed several proposals for USRMD (ultra short-range – 5 to 40 kilometers -- missile defense) and selected Rafael's "Iron Cap." Like "Magic Wand," it is based on a small interceptor and a radar. Rafael is committed to operational capability within 30 months. Once operational, a single system is estimated to cost $300 million and each interceptor will cost about $40,000.

The development of these systems has been harshly criticized in the media. For example, it has been argued that the technological challenge may be insurmountable: the Qassam and the Grad are very small and their time of flight is very short – not more than 20 seconds. In such circumstances, it will extremely difficult to identify their launch, analyze the data and intercept them.

Secondly, it is argued that intercepting rockets is not viable economically. A single interceptor costs at least $40,000, while the cost of single Qassam is a small fraction of this sum. Thus, the Palestinians or the Hezbollah could draw Israel into an endless cycle of escalating expenses by producing more and more cheap and simple rockets and forcing Israel to build more and more expensive interceptors.

Thirdly, any defense system might be overwhelmed by the simultaneous firing of large number of rockets. Thus, even if the defender were very efficient, many rockets would still be able to hit their targets. In this context, it should be noted that multiple-barrel rocket launchers were specifically designed to fire concentrated salvos. For example, the BM-21, which is a standard system in many armies, is capable of firing 40 rockets in less than a minute. A battery of 6 BM-21s would fire 240 rockets in the same time. It is inconceivable that any defense system would be able to intercept a significant proportion of these rockets.

Notwithstanding all the above, an anti-rocket defense system is not necessarily a waste of taxpayers' money. First of all, although it is clear that no defense system would be able to withstand concentrated barrages of rockets, the systems currently being developed are actually intended to defend against protracted harassing fire on civilian targets, i.e., a small number of rockets launched simultaneously over an extended period. In such scenarios, the attacker needs to preserve his resources and the defender will find it easier to defend himself.

Secondly, comparing the price of an interceptor missile to the price of the rocket it is supposed to intercept is the wrong calculation. The correct calculation would compare the price of an interceptor to the expected damage from enemy rocket fire. It is true that on the average, the direct damage from one rocket is very small (most actually do no physical damage at all). But the relevant calculus should also factor in the cumulative damage to a population subject to the ceaseless threat of rockets and the cumulative damage to the economy of the towns under attack caused by the flight of residents or the flight of investment capital and the corresponding downturn in business activity. Though impossible to quantify, the damage to public morale is also a major consideration.

Thirdly, the impact on the defense industry, which is an important factor it the country's overall defense capability, must also be taken into account. In order to preserve the defense industry's cutting edge, there must be continuing investment, both in terms of budgets and in technological challenges. The Lavi project proved that even if the final product does not materialize, technologies developed for it can be applied in other products and marketed abroad.

Fourthly, there is the matter of Israel's ties with the US defense establishment, which has a strong interest in developing new anti-missile defenses and associated technologies. Israeli investment in such technologies would encourage complementary American investments and would more generally enhance the US-Israel defense relationship.

Finally, it should be emphasized that there is a political consideration that may well outweigh all other factors: from the moment it becomes clear that the technological underpinning – however theoretical – for anti-rocket defenses actually exists, the political echelon cannot refrain from investing in it. The alternative would be to face the charge: "You could have protected us, and you didn't."


INSS Insight is published

through the generosity of

Sari and Israel Roizman, Philadelphia


Continued (Permanent Link)

US is not implementing existing sanctions on Iran

Look at what interesting things you can learn from one little boring news item:
Norway's Norsk Hydro said yesterday that talks with Iran on developing the Azar oilfield in the Anaran block were continuing and the parties aimed to complete them by end-June after missing an April target.
In case you were wondering why  Norway hurried to recognize the Hamas government of the Palestinians, that might be an explanation.
But even more important is this:
Steinum said that international political tensions around Iran had made it more difficult to plan for the development.

"Some things would be easier if Iran had a normal relationship with its neighbours and other countries - also from a practical point of view because the contractors and technologies available are more limited since they (Iran) are on a US sanctions list," Steinum said.

The US Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 calls for sanctions against any person or company making investments of $ 20 million or more in Iran in any 12-month period that enhance Iran's ability to develop its petroleum resources. But to date no sanctions have been imposed.
The US has had an effective sanction law in place since 1996, but has not used it. Why are they asking for more sanctions, if they haven't used the ones they have in place, and do not obey their own laws?
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Lecturers' leader warns against Israel boycott

Today is the day...
James Meikle, education correspondent
Wednesday May 30, 2007

The head of the university lecturers' union will today urge members not to back calls for an academic boycott of Israel.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the 120,000-member University and College Union, will tell its annual conference in Bournemouth that those calling for a halt to university links with Israel are out of step with the rest of the union. Most members "want us to retain dialogue with trade unionists on all sides, to talk to all sides, not just those we agree with", she will say. "Personally I simply do not believe that the majority of our members support an academic boycott of Israel or that they believe it should be our major priority."
This afternoon delegates from Brighton University and the University of East London will urge the conference to condemn the "complicity of Israel academia in the occupation [of Palestine]" and will ask members to back the call of Palestinian trade unions "for a comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli institutions".
The conference will also be urged that "passivity or neutrality is unacceptable and criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-Semitic". Union members should consider the "moral implications" of new or existing links with Israeli academic institututions. The call comes after American Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg cancelled a visit to Britain because of what he saw as a widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic current within British opinion.
The boycott issue has been hotly debated over the last five years by academics within the two unions which merged into the UCU last year. The Association of University Teachers voted for a boycott in 2005 but it was rejected at a special meeting later that year. The union Natfhe continued to support boycotts at its conference last year but the policy was dissolved when it merged to form the UCU very soon afterwards.
Any new boycott call would cause further international outcry, especially in Israel and the United States, after previous attempts provoked outrage in the Israeli Knesset and around the world.
A couple of days after the Association of University Teachers voted in favour of a boycott in February 2005 the story was front page news in Europe, north America and Asia. In the weeks that followed a delegation of Israeli academics toured UK campuses putting their case and the pressure on the union intensified with a letter to the Guardian from 21 Nobel prizewinners, including Shimon Peres and Elie Wiesel, who stated that "academic freedom has never been the property of a few and must not be manipulated by them ... mixing science with politics, and limiting academic freedom by boycotts, is wrong".
There were also grumblings from rank-and-file members who complained that the union was turning its back on bread-and-butter issues like pay and conditions, while absorbed in the boycott row.
However, the move to cut links with some Israeli universities was welcomed by Palestinian trade unions and academics.
Eventually the decision was overturned at a special meeting of the AUT.

Continued (Permanent Link)

YES WE CAN - "Leftists" fight British Academic boycott

As Gerald Steinberg notes, Engage is helping to lead the fight against the British boycotters:
Sober and morally-minded British academics on the Left, led by a group known as Engage, as well as the "Fair Play Campaign Group," are particularly active. And under the IAB (International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom), many Israeli academics have also become active in countering the pervasive propaganda and misinformation.
 The kicker is that Engage is not composed of right wing "Zionists" with horns and tails (from Brooklyn) but of dovish anti-occupation people, some of  whom are not of the "Zionist" faith (AKA Jews). They include John Strawson and other staunch supporters of the cause of Palestinian rights.
Ami Isseroff
"Britain's obsessive boycotters"


While Israelis are targeted by rockets from Gaza and officials from the "elected Palestinian government" threaten attacks by female suicide bombers, calls for anti-Israeli boycotts based on human rights claims would appear to be both immoral and absurd.

But the small group that controls Britain's trade unions has managed to combine both traits, and it is escalating its political warfare in parallel with Palestinian violence. A vote on yet another anti-Israel boycott proposal is scheduled to take place at the end of May, this time by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU).

This is the third such academic boycott campaign in Britain in two years, coming after a divestment debate within the Anglican Church, a "boycott Israel" movement led by British activists in the World Medical Association, and the adoption of a similar program by the National Union of Journalists. Beyond the obvious violations of the academic process inherent in a political boycott, this effort is part of a carefully prepared strategy aimed at isolating the Jewish state.

The crucial difference, however, between the previous attempts and the current boycott battles, including the UCU effort, is the presence of a serious counterweight on the political battlefield to challenge the anti-Israel and often anti-Semitic slogans and myths.

Sober and morally-minded British academics on the Left, led by a group known as Engage, as well as the "Fair Play Campaign Group," are particularly active. And under the IAB (International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom), many Israeli academics have also become active in countering the pervasive propaganda and misinformation.

FOR THE radicals, including obsessive ideologues affiliated with the Socialist Workers Party, history, facts and details are irrelevant. While always invoking "the occupation," the decades of Arab warfare, terrorism, incitement and rejectionism are erased from the record. This is not the result of ignorance but of willful conviction, and nothing will change their anti-Israel, anti-US and anti-democracy agendas. They will continue to use terms such as "apartheid" and "racist" to demonize Israel.

As made clear in recent statements, it is Israel's existence that they reject, and not specific policies.

However, the main purpose of the confrontations between boycott opponents and advocates is not to convince the fanatics, but to address the much larger group that knows very little about Israel and the conflict. After many years of avoidance, in the false hope that the absurdity of these boycotts against Israel would become obvious, there is now a coherent strategy that has a chance of success.

Via vigorous debate, the goal is to encourage those who are not obsessed by Israel to break with the radicals. In trade union votes, these moderate voices will determine the outcome, and persuading many of the injustice inherent in the one-sided singling-out of Israel can defeat the boycott resolutions.

This is a formidable task. The impact of the radical fringe has been greatly magnified by powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Britain that have also been campaigning for years. Well-financed pressure groups such as War on Want, Christian Aid, World Vision, Pax Christi, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch take the lead in singling out and systematically condemning Israel. They repeat the same invented histories, claiming that Israel was "founded in sin," and use invented evidence to condemn Israeli responses to terrorism and aggression. Many journalists who share these prejudices repeat the claims at face value.

AS A result, those who know little about Israel or the Palestinians accept the agendas of the activists. Having heard so much about Israeli "disproportionate response" against attacks from Hizbullah and Hamas, and about the "apartheid wall" (as opposed to a security barrier that has prevented untold attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers), members of the union leadership who focus on other issues accept the attacks against Israel.

There is evidence that some members of this group are beginning to question the obsessive anti-Israel propaganda. In 2005, after the leaders of the Association of University Teachers voted to endorse the boycott, members forced a second vote, which resulted in a reversal. They realized that a partisan boycott was unjust and antithetical to the principles of academic freedom. (A similar re-vote in the case of a second union - NATFHE - was avoided when this group dissolved in a merger with the AUT to become the UCU).

In the Anglican Church, in which the politics resembles the trade union movement, a majority of the leaders overturned the attempt to become involved in a one-sided and counterproductive political attack. More recently, many members of the National Union of Journalists are demanding a revote after being embarrassed by the obvious pro-Palestinian bias formally adopted by their organization, which showed that British media coverage of the Middle East was systematically biased.

These changes, while relatively small, demonstrate that attempts to demonize and boycott Israel are not inevitable, and that the inherently immoral and absurd nature of such campaigns can be exposed.

The writer directs the Program on Conflict Management at Bar-Ilan University, and heads 'NGO Monitor.'

Continued (Permanent Link)

Looking for the lead lining in the Six Day War

Could you imagine a film about World War II, explaining that it was bad, because it left the USSR in charge of Central and Eastern Europe, or a Civil War movie, that explained that it
was a flop, because it didn't cure segregation and racism??
Yossi Sarid:
"So, all right, Nasser made a mistake and Hussein made a mistake," Sarid said. "So why do we have to fall into the trap of their mistake and turn our lives into an ongoing hell? Forty years, 40 years, we have been living in an ongoing hell because of this cursed occupation."
Hey, it beats dying! And we got a peace treaty with Jordan and Egypt.
So all right, Tojo made a mistake and Hitler made a mistake. "So why do we have to fall into the trap of their mistake and turn our lives into an ongoing hell? Forty years, 40 years, we have been living in an ongoing hell because of this cursed occupation of East Germany."
Ami Isseroff

Ilan Bruner/GPO
Israeli generals Moshe Dayan, left, and Hayim Bar-Lev, center, visit army camps in the West Bank with Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, right, in June 1967.

By Tom Tugend Published: 05/29/2007

LOS ANGELES (JTA) -- Is there a middle-aged Jew alive who doesn't remember the euphoric days of June 1967, when the caricature of the cringing, defenseless Jew was destroyed forever, when American Jews suddenly stood taller, when God finally rewarded His people for centuries of suffering, when Israel taught the Arabs a lesson they would never forget?

If the Americans or Russians had won such a war, they would have celebrated with a string of chest-thumping movies, with reckless John Wayne or his Russian counterpart leading his clean-cut soldiers to a glorious, permanent triumph.

Israelis never made such a movie, even in the immediate postwar months, and now a new documentary to mark the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War conveys a sense of somber reflection rather than patriotic elation.

"Six Days," an Israeli-Canadian-French co-production directed by Israeli filmmaker Ilan Ziv, is subtitled "June 1967: 40 Years, New Revelations."

In fact there are few startling surprises for anyone who has read any of the numerous post-mortems of the war.

What the film drives home are how vast the miscalculations are by fallible statesmen, how easy it is to arouse a people to a pitch of war fervor and -- as every dogface in the trenches instinctively knows -- how laurel-wreathed generals fly by the seat of their pants most of the time.

Not to go overboard entirely, the opening strike by the Israeli Air Force, which gambled every available plane to wipe out the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian air forces, was a daring masterstroke.

Israeli troops on the ground fought bravely, intelligently and with high morale. And Israel's political leaders, aided by considerable luck, avoided being crushed between American and Soviet Cold War confrontations.

The biggest loser, of course, was Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who blindly believed his generals that they would "have lunch in Tel Aviv next week." Nasser, who saw himself as the imminent leader of one great pan-Arab nation, learned that once having roused the masses to a hysterical pitch, he could not reverse himself when he wanted.

The second loser, according to the documentary, was Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, a prudent and sensible politician whose hope for a diplomatic solution was foiled by the militancy of his own generals, political pressures and the people's demand for a muscular, charismatic leader like Moshe Dayan.

As in any war, the 1967 conflict easily lends itself to an endless game of "What if?" with most of the questions aimed at the Arab side.

What if the Kremlin hadn't convinced Nasser in mid-May of the fabrication that Israeli troops were massing at the Syrian border?

What if King Hussein of Jordan, blinded by Egyptian boasts of smashing victories, had heeded Israeli warnings to stay out of the war?

What if Nasser had not called off his planned first strike against Israel nine days before the Israelis struck first?

But there are plenty of what-ifs on the Israeli side as well.

What if then-Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin had listened to his mentor David Ben-Gurion, who was adamantly opposed to Rabin's pre-emptive war plans?

What if the Israeli Cabinet, which initially split evenly on whether to go to war, had tilted slightly the other way and avoided what no less a hawk than then-Gen. Ariel Sharon described subsequently as "a war of choice"?

Yet the sense of foreboding about the aftermath of the war, expressed by Ben-Gurion and which pervades much of the film, has been largely justified by events.

The film posits that the euphoria of the victory and the defeat of Nasser turned a mainly secular conflict into an intractable religious one, and spawned a costly and divisive occupation.

Perhaps the most bitter postscript of the war comes from Yossi Sarid, a veteran left-wing politician who served in 1967 as political adviser to Eshkol. One need not agree with his lacerating words, but they are worth hearing.

"So, all right, Nasser made a mistake and Hussein made a mistake," Sarid said. "So why do we have to fall into the trap of their mistake and turn our lives into an ongoing hell? Forty years, 40 years, we have been living in an ongoing hell because of this cursed occupation."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel: Doing well by doing good

Brave Zionism: Brave Zionism is innovative and resourceful. Is this the way to fund education in Israel? Is this a model to emulate?

A lesson in Israeli venture capital: fund invests in youth and education

By Robert Daniel Published: 05/29/2007


TEL AVIV (MarketWatch) -- In the crapshoot that is venture capital, a bet on the right technology can mean riches for the relative few investors and executives involved in a deal, but one investment fund has been trying to spread that wealth a bit more broadly.

Tmura, the Israeli Public Service Venture Fund, solicits options from early-stage venture-capital companies in hopes that the companies will be sold or taken public.

The fund takes the proceeds from those investment exits and invests them in Israeli educational and social programs for poorer and handicapped children and their parents.

"We try to promote a culture of corporate giving and social responsibility" within the VC and high-tech community, says Yadin Kaufmann, founder of Tmura, which is into its sixth year and about to announce its 100th donation from a portfolio company. "A lot of wealth has been created in the industry, and certainly there are generous people," he says. But when Tmura started up in February 2002, "the VC and high-tech sectors hadn't created organisms to institutionalize its connection with the rest of society."

Kaufmann is New York City-born, an attorney with a Master's degree in Middle East studies who came to Israel in 1985. He was recruited to Athena, an early Israeli venture-capital firm, and then helped start up and still runs Veritas, a Herzliya VC firm specializing in very-early-stage technology companies.

The Hebrew word t'mura has a number of meanings, among them "metamorphosis." But it also connotes giving something in return. And the fund's name is a play on words: A switch of two letters generates the word truma, which means donation.

Kaufmann, 47, says he modeled Tmura on the Entrepreneurs Foundation of San Jose, Calif., which encourages VC philanthropy in the U.S. and worldwide.

Tmura relies on the venture-capital firms to encourage their portfolio companies to donate equity. Tmura asks the earliest-stage startups to donate 0.5% of their equity and later-stage companies to donate 0.1% to 0.5%.

"Some have given less," Kaufmann says. "Whatever it is, it should have the potential for a meaningful exit," given that the holdings will be diluted as the startups raise more money.

"In the relatively few cases where we've been turned down," Kaufmann says, "it has been at two levels. Some VCs have a strong U.S. flavor and may be somewhat hesitant to donate to Israel philanthropy as opposed to U.S. philanthropy." At the company level, some have told Tmura that the decision to donate should be made by individual holders rather than by the company overall.

Kaufmann started working on Tmura at an unusual time: in late 2001 amid the wreckage of the tech boom.

"If you talked to anyone" at that point, "they told you that options weren't worth anything," Kaufmann notes.

"For us to make money" for donations, "there has to be a big difference between the exercise price and what the options are worth," he notes. In 1999, "valuations were hugely inflated," but then the tech market crashed in spring 2000.

So "because we started when valuations in the industry were low, we were able to get very significant upside," Kaufmann says. "People were more willing to give; they didn't assume that every option they held would surely be worth a million dollars."

The Tmura fund has so far raised a total of about $1.8 million. Its first investment came from KiloLambda, a Tel Aviv producer of optical power-control solutions based on nanotechnology. The options are still live and the company hasn't yet had an exit.

One exit in progress is Bioline, which went public a few months ago in Tel Aviv. Executive Director Baruch Lipner, the fund's lone employee, says the fund sold part of its options for $25,000, and if it sells the rest on the same terms, the donation will total $200,000.

Its 99th donation arrived early this month from Atria Medical. With offices in Caesarea and in Dover, Del., Atria produces implantable shunts, which help prevent fluid from building up in the lungs of patients with congestive heart failure. Lipner says that one of a number of companies might be the 100th.

Of the first 99 investments Tmura has received, it has executed 11 exits. Lipner says that about 10 of the 99 donations ended with the companies either failing or executing exits but leaving option holders, including Tmura, with no proceeds after distributions to preferred-share holders.

Among the 11 exits were donations from two already public companies: flash-memory producer M-Systems, which is now part of SanDisk, the provider of equipment to enable high-capacity broadband services. M-Systems' $1 million donation to the fund is Tmura's largest to date.

U.S. companies that donate may see some tax advantages from the program if they execute a successful exit, Lipner says, noting that a number of Israeli-affiliated companies are incorporated in Delaware and other states. Tmura is working with Israel's income-tax authorities to enable Israel-incorporated companies to receive tax credits for such donations as well, he says.

Venture-capital model
Lipner, 39, is from Toronto and moved to Israel more than 12 years ago. His background includes positions with Andersen Consulting, in high-tech and in venture capital. He joined Tmura before it launched.

In the same sense that a VC firm tries to ensure a portfolio company uses invested funds wisely, he says Tmura challenges its grantee organizations to improve their organizational structures to use the donated funds efficiently.

The donated funds are disbursed in two installments tied to milestones that the grantee organizations must meet. Again in keeping with the VC-portfolio relationship, "we won't necessarily commit to further financing" beyond that first donation, Lipner says, "but if we're pleased with the progress, there's a reasonable chance that we'd like to stay involved, if and when we have additional funds available."

First donation
The fund's first donation was to College 4 All, a Tel Aviv organization that in 1999 "started an after-school program to help kids in [underprivileged] neighborhoods by preparing them for college and showing them that it's possible to break the mold" of poverty, Lipner says.

For the next academic year, says Adi Tevet, director of resource development for College4All, the group plans to serve about 1,000 students from grades 2 to 12 in 14 centers in Israel. The students are largely immigrants, from Uzbekistan, North Africa, Asia, Ethiopia and elsewhere. They'll be taught by some 300 tutor/mentors, Tevet says.

For the group, Tevet says, Tmura's grants have funded things like classes and operations at its Tel Kabir center in south Tel Aviv and all the current learning materials for grades 3 to 8.

Other recipients of grants from Tmura include the Tel Aviv Rape Crisis Center and four organizations that in the past few months cleared milestones and received their second grant installments from Tmura: Gallop, which runs a farm and stable for children with special needs or at risk; Yedidim (Friends), which operates a big-brother network for immigrants, drop-in centers for troubled youths, and more; Ha'Poel Tel Aviv education and social projects, for kids in the Jewish and Arab sectors in Israel; and Maksam, a support network started by Ethiopian immigrants specifically for their community.

Tmura's operating budget is met through donations from VC funds and from foundations. In addition, a number of firms provide Tmura with legal, accounting and other professional services pro bono.

And to minimize objections to the firm's investment targets, Tmura focuses on two broadly embraced philanthropic areas: youth projects and education. (Tmura doesn't actually run any of the projects it funds.) In the U.S., the company is a 501(c) tax-exempt organization, which means it can take tax-deductible donations according to Internal Revenue Service guidelines.

Having established Tmura in Israel, Kaufmann and Lipner want to reach donors outside the country.

One such project now under way: A U.S. foundation Kaufmann declines to identify donated $500,000 as a matching fund. If an Israeli investor donates, say, $25,000 or $50,000 to an organization within Tmura's guidelines, Tmura will match that donation.

The key condition: The Israeli investor's donation must be his or her first substantial such effort. "We're trying to develop a new generation of philanthropists in Israel," Lipner says. A typical donor who would take advantage of the matching program "has had an exit" and, confronted with a good deal more wealth, "has a different sense of responsibility," he says.

Kaufmann generally would like to see more Israeli companies donating, and donor companies giving more.

"There's more understanding today," he says, "that companies are citizens too and must take responsibility for the societies in which they live."

Robert Daniel is MarketWatch's Middle East bureau chief, based in Tel Aviv.

This article was provided by MarketWatch from Dow Jones. The original version of the article can be found here on the MarketWatch site.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

58% of Israelis think there is a military solution to the Qassam rockets - are they right?

58% of Israelis believe there is a military solution for the Qassam rockets, and 48% think disengagement was a mistake. 19% believe that Bibi Netanyahu can solve the problem. 12% rely on Lieberman. Barak and Ayalon get about 7% each, with Olmert getting only 1%. Israelis don't have much confidence in Olmert. Bibi would talk the rockets to death.
I am also convinced there is a "military solution" - but it is not exactly what other Israelis may have in mind. There is a "military solution" for everything, but it has a price, and people do not necessarily want to pay the price. The nation which showed a whining crying woman fleeing the north of Israel in last summer's war over and over on its TV screens, should consider if it is willing to have a war with Syria. The army that stopped an attack when 12 people were killed should think seriously about the consequences of a war with Syria, or worse, of retaking Gaza without having the war with Syria.
It is very hard for people to understand that the rockets launched physically in Gaza, are, for all intents and purpose,s REALLY launched from Damascus and Tehran, and that a war with Syria would be far more serious than a war with Hezbollah. Would returning the Golan heights stop the rockets in Gaza? It might. It is a possibility that cannot be ignored.
Ami Isseroff

Poll: 58% There is a military solution to the Qassam rockets
Dr. Aaron Lerner     Date: 29 May 2007

Telephone poll of a representative sample of adult Israelis the week of 29 May carried out by Geocartographia for Israel Television's Populitika program as broadcast on 29 May.

Was the disengagement a mistake or correct?
Mistake 48% Correct 37%

What is the solution to the Qassam rockets?
58% There is a military solution
25% There is no military solution - only diplomatic agreement
17% No opinion

What leader can solve the problem of the Kassams? (open question)
No one 31% Netanyahu 19% Lieberman 12% Ayalon 7% Barak 6%
Peres 3% Mofaz 3% Livni 2 Gaydamak  2% Olmert 1%

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730

Continued (Permanent Link)

Gilad Sharon on Gaza - leadership needs Viagra

Gilad Sharon explains why disengagement was the right move, but Israel is wasting it:

Unfortunately, our leadership doesn't understand this - it is flaccid.

Presumably, his father's leadership was tumescent. It is quite true that as Sharon writes:

Firstly, the rocket fire on Sderot began long before withdrawal from Gaza. Secondly, anyone with any sense knew even then, prior to withdrawal, that Palestinian fire would continue

 And therefore, the logical thing would have been to evacuate the settlements, but to leave the IDF in Gaza. But, as Sharon writes:

...with the pullout possibly granting legitimacy and freedom for effective response against the acts of terror originating from the Strip.

Possibly, but possibly not. Surely Sharon the father, as well as Sharon the sons, were aware of the little bird of the U.S. State Department that counsels "restraint" "restraint" were they not? They had been hearing this bird for several years. And if they wanted freedom of action, they should have gotten the US and the EU to sign off on it before they withdrew, rather than simply asserting that they had it.

Ami Isseroff

Gaza achievement wasted

Post-pullout period gives Israel leeway to respond to rockets; let's use it

Gilad Sharon

The abomination of abandoning Sderot and the Gaza-region communities is making the proponents of remaining in the Gaza Strip and self-righteous journalists rise up and beat their breasts in contrition over the Gaza withdrawal, as if it were the reason for the incessant rocket fire.

Firstly, the rocket fire on Sderot began long before withdrawal from Gaza. Secondly, anyone with any sense knew even then, prior to withdrawal, that Palestinian fire would continue - with the pullout possibly granting legitimacy and freedom for effective response against the acts of terror originating from the Strip.

As each of us understands, and also according to the position taken by legal advisors at the time, our exit from Gaza has freed us of responsibility for the lives of Gaza residents and enables us to better protect ourselves.

Unfortunately, our leadership doesn't understand this - it is flaccid. Instead of using our freedom to operate we are behaving as though we are responsible for the residents of the Gaza Strip. Please wake up. We are no longer responsible for them and don't owe them a thing. This is one of the achievements of exiting Gaza - and it's a shame it is being wasted.

If you want to fire at us - we don't want to sell you electricity. Go find work in Egypt, in the Gulf States or Europe, and in addition we'll also fire back.

Unbearable situation must be changed now

And now let's imagine what it would be like if we were still in the Gaza Strip. Besides the rocket fire on Sderot and the outlaying communities, the bloodbath of soldiers and civilians in Gush Katif, Kfar Darom and Nitzanim would also have continued.


Without going into the subject, it is our right to settle anywhere we like; the Israeli public is simply not prepared to pay the casualty toll of remaining in the Strip. Whether this is justified or not, the majority amongst us is prepared to fight for Sderot at any cost, but it is unwilling to pay the cost of settling in Gaza.



Therefore, even the broad support by the public and the Knesset for withdrawal from the Gaza Strip remains a solid, stable and fixed majority in the long term.


With regards to our leadership, albeit that an alternative from the Right or the Left parties is not in the offing, this doesn't matter. Change this unbearable situation now, not in phases and not in an ongoing operation.


There is no point in the futile speeches of "we shall reach them wherever they are," and other such nonsense. If you don't know how to - go, just go. The statement that "no one has a magic solution" is not a good enough reason to stay.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel: Crimes against humanity of reactionaries

Who is a progressive? Who is a reactionary? Who commits "war crimes?" The picture of massive and senseless destruction below should make every decent person angry.

Who committed it, and against whom was it committed?

The structure is not a mosque in Gaza, destroyed by the evil colonialist Zionists. It is a restaurant of Kibbutz Nir Am, a civilian structure in a civilian socialist collective settlement, destroyed by a Qassam rocket launched by the reactionary fanatic and genocidal Hamas in unprovoked attacks on Israeli civilian communities inside Israel. Their declared goal is to eliminate Israel and substitute a Shaaria Muslim state. They never hide their goal.

The rocket attacks are not a response to occupation. They began as Israel decided to withdraw from occupied Gaza, and intensified when Israel withdrew. The rocket attacks are not a response to the international boycott of the Hamas led genocidal racist government, since they began before Hamas was elected to power.

Any fair person has to look at the actual facts, rather than Palestinian propaganda. If that picture showed your home, what would you expect your government to do?

Ami Isseroff

Labels: , , , ,

Continued (Permanent Link)

British moral diet fad: Jews don't count

By Bradley Burston
There's been a refreshing note to much of the overviews, analyses and reconsiderations accompanying the imminent 40th anniversary of the Six Day War - balance.
The early entries, those of the Economist, for example, and the New Yorker, are notably free of the slavish leanings that have poisoned much of the writing on the subject for decades.
A notable companion to these accounts is "Gaza, The Jailed State," an article by author and journalist Zaki Chehab, writing in this week's New Statesman. Nuanced and knowing, the piece examines the performance of the Hamas-led Palestinian government in dispassionate detail.
The article is all the more valuable for the one which follows it, "Children of the Dust," by the London-based Australian writer John Pilger. A political cartoon in the guise of factual exposition, it discusses with minute resolution and admirable compassion the effects of occupation and warfare on the children of Gaza, while writing off the post-traumatic stress of the blitz-plagued children of Sderot as the negligible, they-had-it-coming whining of the faceless offspring of callous brutes.
There have always been two sides to the imbalance story: On one hand, there is the humanist who cries out against the violence and slander dealt to the Jews of the Holy Land, suggesting, with respect to what has happened to the Arabs, that they're only getting what they deserve.
Then there are writers like John Pilger, the kind of humanist who doesn't much care for Jews.
Why, after all, should we care about the people of Sderot at all, when, as Pilger reminds us as the opening of the piece, the only issue that should move anyone, is the fact that Israel's single-minded imposition of hardship on the Palestinians could be seen in the anguish of all distressed peoples everywhere:
"Israel is destroying any notion of a state of Palestine and is being allowed to imprison an entire nation. That is clear from the latest attacks on Gaza, whose suffering has become a metaphor for the tragedy imposed on the peoples of the Middle East and beyond."
Pilger scorns British reporters for what he sees as their overt and consistent pro-Israel bias. He takes them to task for mentioning in reports on Israeli airstrikes "the rockets fired at Israel from the prison of Gaza which killed no one."
Contrast this with the balance and the breadth of the lead sentence of Chelab's article:
"As hundreds of Israeli families leave the town of Sderot in southern Israel to escape Hamas-designed Qassam rockets and mortars, Palestinians in turn are fleeing the wrath of Israeli air strikes on Gaza, which in the past week have killed more than 30 people, many of them civilians."
For Pilger, any suggestion of anything smacking in the least of equivalence, or of Palestinians mounting deadly attacks - for example, a British Channel Four reporter's mention of an "endless war," rather than a unilateral Israeli onslaught against the Palestinian people as a whole - is indicative of unforgivable pro-Israeli pandering:
"There is no war," Pilger writes. "There is resistance among the poorest, most vulnerable people on earth to an enduring, illegal occupation imposed by the world's fourth largest military power, whose weapons of mass destruction range from cluster bombs to thermonuclear devices, bankrolled by the superpower."
In Pilger's kindergarden class of the left, the basic legitimacy of Palestinian suicide bomb, rocket, and drive-by sniper attacks ? most of them aimed at civilians - is both self-evident and intentionally omitted from BBC and other wildly pro-Israel press accounts:
"Under international law an occupied people has the right to use arms against the occupier's forces. This right is never reported."
Here's another point that's never reported: Any Jew who has ever worked for a British news outlet knows which members of staff are anti-Semitic. Any Jew who has ever worked for a British news outlet knows how that Jew-hatred can insinuate itself into news copy.
I have no evidence that John Pilger falls into that class. He may even be Jewish for all I know. I think it entirely legitimate that he may at once detest Israel and have not a molecule of anti-Semitism in his entire constitution.
Which is all the more reason that I believe he owes the Jews of this place a little more consideration as human beings.
The problem goes beyond Jews, after all, because the Israeli people on Israeli soil who are in the line of Palestinian fire are both Jew and Arab, Semites all. The crux of the matter is this:
To argue that attacks on civilians is justified, is to declare those civilians to be sub-human.
Come to think of it, perhaps this is why a humanist like John Pilger can't be bothered to bring himself to care about them.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sderot is no different from Tel Aviv

Isn't that what Arik Sharon said about Gush Katif?
By Ari Shavit

Every night, Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal tours his city, checking the number of houses with lights on. Last week the number of lights dropped each evening. On the eve of Shavuot it reached a nadir. Whole apartment blocks stood empty. On the street where Moyal himself lives only a few residents remained. At its height, Sderot had a population of 24,000, the exhausted mayor says. In recent years, when the Qassam attacks mounted, the number fell to about 20,000. But now, with the refugees whom Hamas chased out being scattered throughout the country, no more than 10,000 people remain in the city. And suddenly the feeling is that perhaps it has really happened: Perhaps Sderot has been broken.
But Sderot has still not been broken. If the rocket attacks cease, most people will return. Without security, without hope, without happiness - a depressing return to no-choice. So the basic fact remains: Sderot 2007 is a city that seems cursed. A frontier city with no home front. A frontier city with no aura of heroism. A frontier city that the government should protect, but isn't protecting. A frontier city that the nation should be standing behind, but is not. A frontier city abandoned by the center of the country.
It should not have been like this. Sderot is not Gush Katif. There is no debate. On the contrary: Sderot is a "Green Line" city. Sderot is a post-withdrawal city. Sderot is the righteous Israeli city after the occupation. Sderot is the future. Indeed, it is the litmus test that will teach us in real time what we can expect in the future when we withdraw completely. This being the case, Sderot should have been the apple of the eye of all those preaching withdrawal in the past, and of everyone who still believes in withdrawal. Sderot should have been the city of peace writers and peace singers and peace industrialists. A "peace now" city. A city of Israeli solidarity. A city of mutual responsibility. A city where strong Israelis stand together with Israelis who are less strong in the face of Islamic zealotry.
All this is not happening. Bank Hapoalim is funding the new emergency center there. But the large sum needed to renovate the city's shelters was raised by American evangelical Christians. The major community work in the city is being done by Hanan Porat. Yitzhak Mordechai is working in Sderot, and Arcadi Gaydamak is amusing himself there in the absence of the center of the country. Enlightened, satiated Israel is not standing with all its strength behind Sderot.
The attack on Sderot is a strategic attack on peace. It is an attack on the two-state solution. If the attack succeeds, there will be no chance of any future withdrawal. If the attack succeeds, the occupation will be perpetuated. Therefore, before the great political decision is made on how to act in Gaza, a moral decision has to be made about Sderot. Sderot must become the national project of the current period. Its residents cannot be expected to confront the Qassams alone. In the face of buses removing people from the city, buses of supporters must set out for it. In the face of the economic collapse of Sderot should come an unprecedented economic embrace of it by government and nongovernment bodies alike.
At the same time, it should be made clear that there is one law for Sderot and Tzahala: A Qassam on Sderot is like a Qassam on Kikar Hamedina. The insensitivity has got to stop. Sderot has to be defined as the Israeli front line. The struggle for the city should be viewed as both a struggle for Israeli sovereignty and as a symbol of the responsibility of Israelis for each other.
Sderot is us, all of us. We rise and fall with Sderot.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Cliffhanger results for Israel Labor primaries

Surveys gave different results for the leading candidates, Ami Ayalon and Ehud Barak, with one poll claiming that Ayalon had gotten the 40% needed for a first round victory, and Israel Channel 2 giving Ayalon 39%, while channel 1 claimed only 36% for Ayalon and 38% for Barak. Peretz trailed with about 17%, a surprisingly high figure. The  polls were not exit polls as stated below, but polls which asked voters who either had voted or intended to vote, whom they chose.
Turnout was light to moderate and had reached about 60% by the time the polls closed. The candidacy of Danny Yatom, who is close to Barak, is thought to hurt Barak and may deny him the needed margin of victory.
Contrary to Amir Peretz's statement below, Barak did not withdraw from Lebanon as Defense Minister, but rather when he was Prime Minister.
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 21:32 28/05/2007   
By Mazal Mualem, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies

Exit polls by two of Israel's major television channels predicted different outcomes in the Labor Party leadership primary Monday, with Channel 1 giving former prime minister Ehud Barak a narrow lead over main rival Ami Ayalon, and Channel 2 saying that Ayalon had forged far ahead of Barak.
A strong voter turnout was recorded in the primary throughout the day, which analysts believed would help Ayalon and Barak, and could bring one of them the 40 percent of the vote needed to declare a clear winner in the first round, thus negating the need for a second round.
The polls in the Labor Party primaries opened at 8:30 A.M. Monday morning. Some 43 percent of the 103,498 party members turned out to vote for their preferred candidate by 6:00 P.M. The Kibbutzim sector reported an even higher figure, 46 percent by 6:00 P.M.
Activists campaigning for Ayalon on Monday estimated that the support for their candidate may reach the 40 percent needed to determine Ayalon the definitive winner in the first round. Should he fail to achieve 40 percent of the vote, the two candidates with the highest vote in the first round will go head to head in a second round. A second round would take place on June 12.
The activists believe that Ayalon will receive only a few votes more than his rival Barak, and that the need for a second round will hinge on a difference of a handful of votes.
An Ayalon camp source reported that the fight between Ayalon and Barak is very close, and "now the fight is for every single vote."
When asked where the champagne bottles would be opened should he win, Ayalon replied "even when we win, we don't drink champagne, we drink herbal tea."
This election could have far-reaching effects for the government. Ayalon has said that he would not remain in the coalition under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert if he is elected party chief.
Some senior Labor officials oppose a pullout from the ruling coalition. But should the 19-member Labor faction bolt, Olmert could be forced to seek support from religious or far-right parties. It could also renew pressure on Olmert to resign.
Members of both camps said they think they can win in the first round, but many observers expect the vote to be so split among the five candidates running that none of them will get the minimum 40 percent for victory, making a second round necessary.
The latest polls show that Barak, a former prime minister, and Ayalon, a former Shin Bet security chief, are running nearly neck and neck, with neither reaching the 40-percent threshold.
Trailing behind them is the current party leader, Defense Minister Amir Peretz.
Peretz, voting Monday in his hometown of Sderot, said that the thing he loves most after his wife is the analyzing polls.
"Every ballot that goes to Amir Peretz is one step closer to the Finance Ministry and progress in the social revolution," he said, referring to the platform upon which he was elected as party chair 18 months ago. Peretz has said he will leave the post of defense minister, in the wake of the fierce criticism leveled at him over the handling of the Second Lebanon War.
Peretz said Monday he believes "in the vote party members will prove that what they want is stability."
Barak, voting in Kfar Sava, echoed Monday his previous warning that only he can emerge victorious from a face-off with Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
"I am telling the voters two things today: Think hard about who you want more in times of war. Only I, at the head of this large beehive of a party, can beat Netanyahu. I have a very good feeling this morning."
In the last few days, Barak and Ayalon have been targeting the kibbutz vote and the Arab vote, which are expected to determine the elections. Ayalon is seen as having a slight lead over Barak among kibbutz members, which has led Barak to focus his last-minute efforts in this sector.
Barak emphasized his two messages: "Think about who you want more in a time of war" and "Only I will beat Bibi" - a reference to Netanyahu.
Ayalon has been telling Labor members that they should vote for him because Labor under his leadership would win more seats if a national election was held than it would under Barak.
The Prime Minister's Office is keeping an eye on the primaries because the results are expected to affect the fate of the Olmert government, since the Labor Party, under its new leadership, will have to decide whether to stay in the government.
Barak aides said Monday that if he wins, he will work to bring together the other candidates: Ayalon, Ophir Pines-Paz, Danny Yatom and Peretz.
Former prime minister Barak, who has the support of cabinet ministers from Labor Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Isaac Herzog and Shalom Simhon made dozens of calls Sunday to try to convince Labor members to vote for him.
Ayalon also spent much of Sunday on the phone, repeating his message that he does not plan to sit in a government led by Ehud Olmert.
Peretz said he was optimistic he would again emerge victorious in the primaries. "There are some who want to take away from us the social revolution we began," Peretz said in a recorded message to his supporters. "When we win once again we will demand the Finance Ministry and, from there, continue the social revolution we're dreaming of."
Peretz's tenure as party chairman has been overshadowed by his role as the defense minister during the Second Lebanon War. However, Peretz insisted that his supporters will give him a surprise victory and lashed out against Barak: "We all know the truth, that Ehud Barak was not a successful defense minister.
"He set mistaken concepts for which we paid a price: the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon and a small and smart army."
As the candidates and their staff were immersed in campaigning, reports circulated about attempts to buy votes. The Ayalon camp said on Sunday it had been offered Arab-sector votes for money, but no official complaint has been filed. Yatom vehemently denied a rumor that he received an offer to have his campaign costs covered if he were to withdraw his candidacy.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Honoring our dead - and helping the living

A fitting memorial to a hero...
By Barak Ravid
A march held Friday in memory of a special forces officer killed in the Second Lebanon War, British-born Major Benji Hillman, drew some 1,500 participants. The march in the fields near Ra'anana - including family, friends, and members of his army unit Egoz - also aimed to raise funds to set up Benji's House, a hostel that will offer a home to dozens of soldiers whose families live abroad.
Hillman was a company commander in Egoz, a special forces unit of the Golani Brigade. On July 20, a week into last year's war, he led his troops into Maroun al-Ras, a hotbed of Hezbollah activity. The force encountered heavy resistance and Hillman and three of his soldiers were killed.
Hillman had gotten married three weeks earlier and managed to spend a weekend with his new wife Ayala at their new home in Modi'in before the war broke out.
After the funeral, his family and friends sought a way to commemorate Benji, and they focused on the care he took of his soldiers. At first they decided to create a fund that would raise money for various projects assisting soldiers who have no relatives in Israel.
They then began work on Benji's House, the first major project. The idea is to set up a home capable of housing some 50 soldiers who have no families in Israel or who come from broken homes. They would be able to spend weekends there and even stay after they complete their military service.
The hostel will be supported by volunteers, offering the soldiers financial support, laundry service, meals, access to computers for communicating with their families abroad, and help in finding work and continuing their education after their service. Most of all, the home will be there to offer warmth and support.
The Hillman family is planning to raise $2 million in Israel and abroad, and has already secured $1.5 million. The Ra'anana municipality also rallied to the cause and agreed to offer a plot of land for establishing the home.
The planning for the construction is being finalized, and the family is hoping that construction will begin in a few months. Barring any unexpected delays, the hostel will be ready by late 2008.
Friday's march is the first of what is expected to become an annual tradition in Ra'anana.

Continued (Permanent Link)

The U.S. supports and exports racism - because you allow it!

No idea has played a more seminal role in the recent history of Jewish
and Christian Zionism than the Jewish doctrine of divine election or
chosenness. Since this doctrine is the cornerstone of Zionism, divine
sanction for Jewish uniqueness has been inseparable from Israeli
exceptionalism and Israeli history.
The theology of chosenness offered another advantage; it did not limit Zionist ambitions to Palestine alone. The Lord's promise was not restricted to Canaan; in a few more generous verses, He had expanded the Jewish inheritance to include all the lands between "the Nile and Euphrates". ( Genesis : 15.18) With present-day borders, this expansive Israeli empire would include Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and perhaps more.
In the middle of the Suez war in 1956, Ben-Gurion told the Knesset "that the real reason for it [the Suez war] is 'the restoration of the kingdom of David and Solomon' to its Biblical borders". At this point in his speech almost every Knesset member spontaneously rose and sang the Israeli national anthem.
Ben-Gurion never made any such statement in the Knesset, the chosen people myth has been a favorite motif of racists for 2,000 years, and Israel doesn't want to conquer Iraq or Egypt.
This malicious racist diatribe, with its fabrication of history, was not delivered by a known member of Al-Qaeda. It did not originate on the Web site of the Stormfront or the Hezbollah. It is not the product of Iranian racists. It was written in the government controlled newspaper of Egypt, a United States Middle East ally, that receives about $2 billion annually in U.S. aid, a country which has a U.S. brokered peace treaty with Israel.  
Such stories, along with virulent anti-American polemics, are regular fare in the government controlled Al-Ahram, a newspaper that is supposed to reflect the views of the Egyptian government, which is kept in power by U.S. tax dollars. The story in itself is therefore not remarkable. In the Arabic version of Al-Ahram, hidden from the eyes of Americans, and in other Egyptian media, there is rhetoric that makes this article look liberal and progressive by comparison. Holocaust denial, blood libel stories, editorials that praise Hitler and movies that present the forged "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as fact are common. Egyptians do not like Jews. Egypt was ethnically cleansed of Jews in 1967.
What is remarkable is that the author, M Shahid Alam,  is not a known member of the Muslim Brotherhood, living in Cairo, or a "resistance" hero. Shahid is a professor of economics at Northeastern University in the United States, and the respected author of a book about Middle East studies. Alam will be remembered as the fellow who compared the 9-11 attackers to the US founding fathers. In his own words:
...the attackers believe that they are fighting – as the Americans did, in the 1770s – for their freedom and dignity against a foreign occupation/control of their lands.
George Washington and Tom Paine cast as suicide bombers by an American Professor? Why not? It hardly as inventive as his fabrications about Zionism and Ben Gurion.
If the United States remains a democracy, it will be hard to understand or explain, in a generation or two, how  such people got to be professors, how these preceptors were allowed to inculcate American youth with their evil inventions, and how the United States could support a government that printed such stuff in its controlled media.
If you object to U.S. government support of racism and anti-American propaganda, write to 
President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington D.C.
If you object to racism and incitement at Northeastern, please write to
President Joseph Aoun
Office of the President Northeastern University
716 Columbus Place
360 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02125
Fax: (617) 373-5015
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
James Stellar
100 Meserve Hall
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Ave.
Boston ,MA 02115
(617) 373-5173 (office)
(617) 373-2942 (fax)
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Legitimate resistance of Achille Lauro Hijacker: OK to kill Israelis, but not Lebanese

These are the moderate Fatah of Mahmoud Abbas -
A Palestinian who absconded from Italy while on parole for the 1985 hijacking of cruise ship Achille Lauro is holed up in the Lebanon refugee camp where the army is besieging Islamist militants. Bassam al-Ashker, now 39, told AFP by telephone that he is now a militiaman for the mainstream Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and saw it as his duty to brave the fighting to help the thousands of trapped civilians.
Ami Isseroff
Achille Lauro hijacker plays a new game
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Monday, May 28, 2007

MINIEH: A Palestinian who absconded from Italy while on parole for the 1985 hijacking of cruise ship Achille Lauro is holed up in the Lebanon refugee camp where the army is besieging Islamist militants. Bassam al-Ashker, now 39, told AFP by telephone that he is now a militiaman for the mainstream Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and saw it as his duty to brave the fighting to help the thousands of trapped civilians.
Ashker was just 17 when he took part in the assault on the Achille Lauro by commandos of the Palestine Liberation Front of Abu Abbas in which some 450 passengers were held hostage for several days and a wheelchair-bound American tourist was killed.
He told AFP he had retained his radical anti-Western politics and, after fleeing Italy in 1991 following his release on parole from nearly six years in jail, spent 14 years in Iraq before moving to Lebanon's Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.
"I organize the training of young Palestinian recruits who we send to fight the Americans alongside the Iraqi resistance," Ashker told AFP. "I have even fought them myself in Fallujah and Ramadi," two rebel bastions west of Baghdad.

Despite his anti-Western views, Ashker insisted he had no truck with the Islamist fighters of fringe militant group Fatah al-Islam.
"They have certainly proved their military prowess," he said.
"If they had used it to fight Israel, I would have been the first to join them, but they are fanatics who believe only in religion and have no regard of the consequences of their actions on civilians," he said.
"Not along ago, Muslim clerics reminded them that it was wrong to attack Palestinians or Lebanese but they retorted that their religion took primacy over everything else."
Despite his disdain for the Fatah al-Islam fighters, Ashker insisted he had no intention of leaving the Nahr al-Bared camp, where living conditions have been deteriorating amid chronic shortages of water, food and power.
"It is shameful for a young man to leave the camp - we need all the help we can get," Ashker said. - AFP

Continued (Permanent Link)

Can Israeli government officials learn from a Japanese example?

We are not suggesting bodily harm to anyone, but the general idea that officials who fail their duties should feel some shame and perhaps resign is worthy of consideration in several countries.
28 May 2007
TOKYO - Japan's farm minister, Toshikatsu Matsuoka — under fire for a series of political funding scandals — has killed himself, NHK said on Monday.

Earlier, Matsuoka was found unconscious in his room at a residential complex for lawmakers in central Tokyo near parliament, and media reports said he had attempted to hang himself in the room.
Matsuoka's death comes less than two months before an election for parliament's upper house, a key test for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government.
Media reports have linked Matsuoka to a number of political fund scandals, including a case in which he had declared substantial office expenditures when his office was in fact rent-free, but the minister had repeatedly denied any wrongdoing

Continued (Permanent Link)

Birthright (and other programs) replugged : visits to Israel change youth forever

Visit Israel and change your life.

Jewish teens from Diaspora share their experiences after taking part in MASA long-term Israel programs
Yaakov Lappin Published:  05.25.07, 15:37 / Israel Activism

Thousands of Jewish youths from around the world met in Jerusalem last week to celebrate their participation in long-term programs organized by the MASA organization.
A carnival-like atmosphere enveloped the area of the Sultan's Pool center in Jerusalem, as the youths watched a Kaperua show, and joined in with a hand drum and shofar musical group.
Ynetnews spoke to youths to get their take on their experiences.
Ariel Scheer, 19, New Jersey, US
"I chose to do Marva (IDF program), though when I started it, I questioned whether I was doing the right thing - I was bossed around by my commanders. Now I have no regrets and I think it was the best choice I made. After that, I lived in Bat Yam and volunteered for the community. I taught English to fourth graders from a pretty underprivileged area. I've been thrown into Israeli society. This has been amazing year, and I'm really sad to be leaving. I have gained a new appreciation for what Israel represents for the Jewish people."
Ronnie Ollo, 20, Montreal, Canada
 "I took part in a year program to study abroad. I'm a student at Mcgill University, and now I am doing a year at Tel Aviv University. It has been amazing. This has changed my life. If you had asked me what my life priorities were before I did this, I would have given you a very different answer. I'm studying political science and my professor was a former Knesset Member. I've met some well educated people who know what they're talking about. I find it hard to leave or to book my flight home. I've been so amazed by my experience that it has opened my eyes to the possibility of living here. I would never have considered that before."
 "I've been here for a year. I first came on the Taglit Birthright program. I feel like I've done the right thing, that I've come home. I live on a kibbutz where I learn Hebrew at an ulpan, as well as Israeli and Jewish culture and history. I would love to do the army. Although I miss my family back in India, this is where I really want to be."
Joanna: "I took part in a volunteer program. I've enjoyed it, and I'm thinking about making aliya.
 Diego, 22, Uruguay
"I came to work in film in Tel Aviv. I am making aliya next December. I cam here a few months ago, and although there are a few problems here, I'm having a great time."

Josh, Michael and Ze'ev
Josh Avart, 19, Michael Feldman, 19, Maryland and, Ze'ev Marmorstein, 19, California, US
Josh: "We are here on a Young Judea program, where we have helped Ethiopian kids in Bat Yam. I'm really glad I was put in Bat Yam and not in Jerusalem because I feel its more real here, that I'm meeting real Israeli society. Its a side to Israel that I had not seen before.
Michael: "Volunteering has been really rewarding. I'm much more willing to come back, and I feel that I've made a difference.
 Ze'ev: "I worked at Etgarim, teaching disabled kids and adults how to sail. This is a good way to spend time. If you're a Jew, take a few months and go to the Holy Land."

Continued (Permanent Link)

Selah helps Sderot immigrants

The government is failing, so private charities step in. Perhaps we also need a volunteer army. And - you can help - see below.
Perhaps Arkady Gaydamak can organize three or four divisions of the Russian army, to wipe out the Hamas as they wiped out the Chechnya resistance.
Here's to private initiative!
Ami Isseroff  


As the situation in Sderot deteriorated this past week, SELAH, the Israel Crisis Management Center mobilizes a team to offer help to the community's immigrant residents
Ynetnews Published:  05.24.07, 16:30 / Israel Activism

The escalation of the security situation in Sderot and the repeated Qassam attacks on the city left the old and new residents feeling isolated, traumatized and afraid. Yet, the situation within the new immigrant community is more severe: many face difficulty communicating with the authorities for lack of Hebrew speaking skills, overwhelmed with the bureaucracy and in growing isolation.
In response, SELAH, the Israel Crisis Management Center mobilized its volunteer network to help the over 100 new immigrants who made the town their home.
SELAH's trained volunteers were sent to assist the traumatized individuals, pay visits to the wounded in local hospitals, and visits the homes of Sderot's Russian and Ethiopian immigrant families to provide them with emotional and practical support; offering meals, financial assistance, and a place to sleep until government support arrives.
 "We have been working closely with many families in Sderot for several years and have become a lifeline for many of them during these difficult times," said SELAH's Executive Director Ruth Bar-On. "One cannot imagine the physical and emotional impact on residents from this constant bombardment."
This is not the first time, SELAH's volunteers act in a crisis; during the Second Lebanon War, the network assisted more than 1,000 new immigrants of Israel's northern communities.
SELAH is the only countrywide volunteer network of assistance and support for new immigrants hit by sudden crisis, terror or tragedy. It functions as a safety net for newcomers who can not relay on the support of family and friends. Since its launch in 1993, SELAH has helped over 16,000 new immigrants.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Will you see this story in CNN?

What are the chances of seeing this story in CNN?

MDA ambulance transfers baby with heart defect from Gaza Strip to Sheba Medical Center for life-saving operation
Meital Yasur-Beit Or Published:  05.28.07, 00:51 / Israel News

A Magen David Adom ambulance transferred an eight-day-old Palestinian baby from Gaza to the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer Sunday evening.

This humanitarian act took place during one of the more difficult days in terms of Qassam launchings, during which a 36-year-old Oshri Oz was killed in Sderot 

The baby suffers from a congenital heart defect and without proper treatment will not survive long. He was transferred to the Erez crossing, where an MDA ambulance was waiting to transfer him to hospital ventilated and in an incubator.

"We transfer patients from the Gaza Strip under fire on a daily basis," said Moshe Vaknin, deputy manager of Lachish region of MDA. "Last week, our medics continued to treat a patient while shells were fired at the terminal at Erez. During the Shavuot holiday we evacuated another baby in an incubator, endangering our staff."

The baby is now hospitalized at the intensive care department at the Safra Children's Hospital at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.
'No politics involved'
Dr Dudi Mishali, head of the Department of Pediatric & Congenital Cardiothoracic Surgery at the hospital, said: "The baby has a complete occlusion of his aorta. This is a severe defect, and if the child is not operated on as soon as possible he could die within a day.
'He will probably be operated on tomorrow (Monday) and the prognosis is good. He is currently on medication that is keeping him alive," he added.
Dr Mishali said that an average of three Palestinian babies with heart defects arrive at his department every week: "We have daily communications by phone and fax with doctors in Gaza. There is no heart surgeon in the Strip, so they transfer all of these children, and there are many, to be operated on here."
The Palestinian Authority usually covers half of the expenses and the rest is generally covered by donations raised by the hospital.
"Our treatment has not changed over the last few days. This cooperation has survived difficult times of terrorism and bombings," Mishali said and stressed that politics always stay outside the operating theater.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Some Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) youth do serve in the IDF

Some Haredim do go serve in the IDF. The proportion of those who do serve is much less than the proportion of Druze, however. They claim, "The best way to defend Israel is by studying Torah" - but in the Torah it says that the best way to defend Israel is by fighting. The Druze do not say that the best way to defend Israel is by studying the Qur'an. They have a difference of opinion with God, apparently. Haredi soldiers who have fought for Israel since 1948 have often done exceptional acts of bravery. But the duty of citizens to defend their country cannot be voluntary for some and compulsory for others.
Perhaps the best way to defend Israel is by studying engineering, but engineers are not exempt from the draft, while Talmud students are.
Ami Isseroff

Recruit number 2,000 to haredi regiment says that while best way to defend Israel is by studying Torah, those who are unable to do so must join the IDF
Hanan Greenberg Published:  05.27.07, 16:12 / Israel Jewish Scene
The haredi Nahal regiment marked the recruitment of its 2,000th soldier on Sunday. The new recruit, Itamar Grilus (18) from the strictly Orthodox Givat Shaul neighborhood in Jerusalem, told Ynet, "I think that the best way to defend the land of Israel is by studying Torah, but if one is unable to sit and study all day, he should physically defend Israel."

Grilus, who traded his black suit for army uniform Sunday morning, was a student at prestigious Lithuanian yeshivot and enlisted in the IDF following his brother, who also served in the haredi Nahal.

Founded in 1999, the regiment is considered to be very successful, and has even registered an increase of 15 percent in the number of recruits this year.
 "I made the decision to enlist with my parents and my family, who support me completely." Grilus said. "I was offered by the army to join elite combat units, but I told them that if it weren't for the haredi Nahal I wouldn't have joined the army. The regiment is the only place where I can be a combatant and contribute, and at the same time preserve my haredi lifestyle to the maximum."

Grilus will undergo four months of boot camp, followed by advanced training, after which he will join one of the veteran brigades in the regiment.
'Trend must be strengthened' 
Rabbi Zvi Klobenau, head of the Netzach Yehuda-Haredi Nahal institution that founded the regiment, was also very excited on Sunday. "The enlistment of the 2,000th soldier is a milestone for the regiment. This is an operational, fighting regiment that protects Israeli citizens in general, and in the Jordan Rift valley area in particular," he stated.

"It should be kept in mind that the soldiers who joined the regiment wouldn't have enlisted in the army if there wasn't a haredi regiment committed to observing Torah, mitzvot and the haredi atmosphere," he added.
 According to the rabbi, "We have proven that it's possible to set up a framework in the army that allows the soldier to maintain a haredi lifestyle and be a full-fledged fighter, without having the one canceling the other.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The great victory of the Six Day war - not perfect, but not wasted

Sever Plocker  argues that  the Economist is wrong to claim the Six Day War  was a wasted victory. Plocker is right, and the Economist is wrong. Whoever wrote the article for the Economist was apparently not in Israel before June 5, 1967  and after June 10, 1967, and was not a Jew before June 5, 1967 and after June 10, 1967. In addition to all the benefits that Plocker describes below, the Six Day War changed the position of Jews in every society in which they lived. Somehow, this victory, more than the creation of the state of Israel, helped to end the 2,000 year stereotype of the Jew as someone to be despised. To be sure, anti-Semites found a new image of Jews to latch on to, but they always will perhaps. And the victory of the Six Day War created a new birth for Zionism in the United States and more important, a new birth for Zionism and for the Jewish people in the Soviet Union.
No victory is perfect. The victory of 1948 did not produce immediate peace, and the victory of 1956 only provided freedom of navigation for ten years. The victory of 1967 stopped an effort to destroy Israel, or at the very least, to force humiliating concessions from Israel. It turned Nasser's "bold ploy" into a disaster for the Arabs, and allowed Israel to break out of its meagre and beleagured existence. The peace with Egypt could have occurred without the Yom Kippur war. It would never have occurred without the Six Day War
Ami Isseroff

The Economist is Wrong
Six Day War had significant positive effects and is not a 'wasted victory' as The Economist argued
Published:  05.27.07, 16:10 / Israel Opinion
"Israel's Wasted Victory," this is the headline of The Economist's editorial marking 40 years since the Six Day War. The Economist boasts a circulation of more than one million copies and its readership comprises members of the world's financial, political and cultural elites. The articles written by its authors (the majority of which go unsigned) are perceived as God's words. "The Economist says" - is a ruling that goes unchallenged in many circles.
Nonetheless, in describing the Six Day War as a "Pyrrhic victory" and "a calamity for the Jewish state no less than for its neighbors,"  The Economist is making a grave mistake. The Six Day War changed the course of history for the better, ensured Israel's existence and convinced the Arabs to come to terms with it. Thanks to Israel's full and shining victory, the rulers of the Arab states relinquished their vision of eliminating Israel, and by lack of choice engaged in dialogue based on the concept of "land for peace."
In his book "The Six Day War," historian Michael Oren wrote that events in the Middle East, which until 1967 only accumulated ahead of the conflict, could have moved towards peace even after the war. He added that diplomatic breakthroughs considered unrealistic became almost commonplace after the war.
In November of that year, the UN Security Council passed resolution 242, which since then has constituted a cornerstone for every diplomatic effort in the region including the recent Saudi Initiative.
Resolution 242 called for "just and lasting peace" between Arabs and Jews; Israel endorsed it immediately. It took Egypt another decade to internalize 242 and to sign a peace agreement with Israel in exchange for return of the Sinai.
The maturation process took Jordan an additional 20 years. Syria announced its willingness to sign a full normalization agreement with Israel in January 2000. Here is therefore, a basic fact: Due to Israel's military victory in June 1967, Israel was accepted by the Arab world as a legitimate "Jewish State" entitled to exist within peaceful borders, land that until then was deemed Zionist occupation.
Hubristic folly
Somehow, The Economist manages to ignore these developments and minimizes their significance. The editorial focuses on Israeli-Palestinian relations. Israel, wrote The Economist, "embarked on its hubristic folly of annexing the Arab half of Jerusalem and - in defiance of law, demography and common sense - planting Jewish settlements in all the occupied territories to secure a Greater Israel." And "When, decades later, Egypt and Jordan did make peace with Israel, the Palestinians did not recover Gaza and the West Bank."
The Palestinians did not recover Gaza and the West Bank? Until 1967, Gaza and the West Bank were territories administered by Egypt and Jordan. It may well be assumed that that the Jordanian regime would not have permitted Palestinian refugees, their children and grandchildren to realize their national sovereignty in Gaza and the West Bank and to establish the Palestinian state there.
As to criticism regarding Israel's acts of annexation and settlement since 1967, large parts of the Israeli population share these sentiments, including the author of this article. Under the charismatic and destructive influence of Moshe Dayan, at the end of the Six Day War the government chose to prevent Palestinian autonomy, oppressed Palestinian rights and subjugated the Palestinian workforce to the interests of Israeli employers. This is indeed "hubristic folly."
But is it only ours? The "Land for Peace" movement immediately challenged the Greater Israel movement, and they divided Israeli society from within. Not Palestinian society.
Palestinians prefer 'state of no state'
It should be said unabashedly: Had the Palestinians really wanted a state of their own it would have been established long ago; even Israel's excessive military might would not have sufficed in preventing its establishment within some type of border.
Yet the Palestinians prefer a state of "no state," no responsibility, no commitments and no solution, alongside ongoing terror. Generation after generation, Palestinian nationalism has excelled in denouncement. Had Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres not unwillingly dragged the PLO leadership to the Oslo Accords in 1993 it would not have initiated a thing by itself.
The Economist is very wrong. For Israel, the victory of 1967 was not wasted. Israel's population grew from 2.6 million to 7.1 million, 2 million of whom were new immigrants. The Gross National Product grew by 630 percent. Real per capita product, the benchmark for measuring economic development, grew by 163 percent and last year crossed the $21,000 mark. The average standard of living in Israel is only 22 percent lower than in Britain; on the eve of the Six Day War there was a 44 percent gap. And The Economist has often noted Israel's information technology achievements.
Among Palestinians, however, the situation has deteriorated drastically. Are we to blame? Yes, it is our fault as well as theirs. Two states for two peoples: If this vision was wasted, it was not so because of the Six Day War, but despite it. And if it is realized, it will be another outcome of the Arab plan's defeat in June 1967.

Continued (Permanent Link)

The real Israel boycott issue and the role of Israeli Academics

The editors of Haaretz have understood what many Israeli academics do not understand apparently. The academic boycott movement is not about the occupation and it was never about the occupation. It is about the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. They write:
The European hard left regards the Law of Return as the root of all evil; however, without acknowledging the Jewish character of the State of Israel, there is not even a basis for dialogue. British academia is in fact demanding that Israel democratically cease to exist as a Zionist entity, and that it be swallowed up in the non-democratic region in order to pander to the latest trend.
Ha'aretz is not a bastion of "right wing Likud neocon settler fanatic Greater Israel Zionism" (are those enough cliche adjectives??). It has been steadily and consistently and outspokenly opposed to the occupation. This is an extraordinary statement by Ha'aretz. It shows an understanding of what the boycotters really want, and in fact the boycotters have never really hidden their intentions. Everyone knows what Sue Blackwell and her friends want. She tells them at her Web site, and everyone can know what groups like Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel want. They insist that Israel is a foreign European implant in the Middle East, and has no rights at all. Almost everyone knows, except those who do not want to know.
According to an earlier Haaretz account, four Israeli academics  came to Britain to fight the proposed UCU boycott of Israel, but they did not understand the issues it seems. A union representative told them:
 "Israel commits terrible, exceptional crimes in the occupied territories."
How do Israel's "exceptional crimes" compare with Darfur, or for that matter, with the crimes of the British when they were running the Mandate for Palestine?
What was the response? Did the Israelis point out that Israel is defending itself against genocidal terrorists? The Israeli academics simply agreed with their hosts, but said they were powerless to stop the "war criminals" of the Israeli government:
At the Brighton meeting, Professor Zvi Hacohen of Ben-Gurion University, a senior official in Israel's lecturers' union, presented two arguments against the boycott: "First, there is widespread cooperation between our universities and Palestinian and Jordanian universities; the proposed boycott will damage this cooperation. Additionally, you must understand that Israeli institutions and universities are not political organizations, and they have no influence over the policies of the government or the parties."
What is he saying? He is saying that Israeli academics agree with the UCU stand that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state, no right to defend itself, and that the Hamas and other terrorists are blameless. Israeli academics agree that Israeli self-defense is a war crime, an "exceptional" crime, but they are powerless to stop the government: "We were only cogs in the wheel."  
The reply of UCU representative, Tom Hickey was quite logical:
...he would be willing to cooperate with any Israeli college that publicly denounced its government's activities.
So, the Jews agreed with the inquisitors that the Jews drink the blood of Christian children, and the nice inquisitors explained that they would spare any Jew who renounced his faith. A great achievement for these academics.
To be sure that there is no doubt about the stand of the academics, Ofir Frankel who coordinates the activities of Bar-Ilan's International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom added:
"We want to influence public opinion among British academics and provide them with a true picture of Israeli academe."
The "true picture" he wants to provide them with is what? That Israeli academe are not all supporters of "war criminals" and that some of them agree with Ilan Pappe, Tanya Reinhart and Jeff Halper? They agree with the UCU that the state of Israel should not exist as a Jewish State, and that the Jewish people have no right of self-determination and no right of self defense, because there is no Jewish people?
The committee is misnamed, because what is at stake is not academic freedom, but the right of a people, and of a member state of the U.N. to exist.
Ofir Frankel claimed that the newspaper report distorted what was said at the meeting by quoting out of context. He did not deny that these amazing statements were made. It may be the case, as often it is, that the newspaper report distorted the picture, but there is no way to defend those statements in any context. Frankel made no public statement to counter the impression given in the Haaretz account.
These academic representatives, like the Jew arguing with the inquisitor, are thinking of themselves and their business and professional career. They want to protect their sabbaticals in Oxford and Cambridge, and their right to submit articles to British journals. For that, they are willing to agree tacitly that Israelis are war criminals who have no right to defend themselves. They apparently agree with the UCU boycotters that the Hamas is a great humanitarian organization. It is only that they have no power to change the criminal policies of the Israeli government. They are willing to wash their hands of the Israeli government and the Jewish people in Israel. They do not understand that if there is no Israel, there will be no Bar Ilan, no sabbaticals, no journal publications. You don't have to be a university professor to understand that.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

How the Six day war changed Soviet Jewry

The the Six Day War changed more than the Middle East. It had a profound effect on Jews in the Diaspora. And perhaps it did more:
Kosharovsky believes that had it not been for the 1967 war, the movement of Soviet Jewry's immigration to Israel would have emerged ten years later. Because of it, the Jews became an integral element in the disintegration of the Soviet Union. "The empire was rotten from within," he says. "But paradoxically, the Jews were the only citizens there who had no other soil, such as Turkmenistan for the Turkmen people, or Ukraine for the Ukrainians. When the Jews started to leave, the glue that held the Soviet Union together started to come loose. The Soviet Union was a prison of peoples, and when the Jews set the example, other nations wanted to do the same." Alla Milkina-Levy is convinced that the immigration from the former Soviet Union changed Israel for generations. When discussing the 40th anniversary of the war that changed the face of Israel unrecognizably, it is important to recall this chapter, too - about it, at least, there is considerable national agreement
Ami Isseroff
By Lily Galili

On June 6, 1967, or perhaps it was June 7, 18-year-old Alla Milkina set out for her boring job in a Moscow office. Whenever she worked in a job that didn't suit her qualifications, something her employer told her resonated in her mind: "You're actually quite talented - too bad you're a Jew." She understood the catch of that remark, but resigned herself to it.
As she did every day, she boarded the subway train that took her to the office. And as on every day, the cars were packed with people pushed up against one another, and as usual they were used to it and passed the time by reading the paper. Milkina also took part in this daily ritual, and had become skilled at glancing at the headlines over the shoulder of the passenger in front of her. Most days, she just let her eyes run over the words without really taking them in.
But on that morning, which can be termed fateful without the risk of resorting to a cliche, the headline not only attracted her attention but made her heart skip a beat. In words she remembers to the letter, the government of the Soviet Union informed the Soviet people that the State of Israel had attacked the progressive socialist Arab states. Moscow, the headline asserted, would not take this lying down.
Her perusal of the headline was accompanied by immediate responses. The first is surprising: this was effectively how Alla Milkina learned about Israel's existence. Strange as it may sound, the fact that Israel existed was not engraved in the young woman's consciousness. It was not that she was indifferent to Israel's existence: she simply did not know about it. True, she had heard the name here and there, but had never associated it with the "Jewish state." Nor did it interest her. "I didn't know where it was on the map. Nobody in my surroundings talked about it; it was not something that was present in our lives. I realize it's not easy to understand this lack of knowledge, but that is the power of a government that controls information."
Even on that morning on the subway, her response did not take the form of great interest. It was a response of great fear. Not for the fate of that country but for herself. "Somehow I associated the name 'Israel' with Judaism, and I was very afraid that I would be accused of something that country would do," she related this week in Jerusalem. "The war was covered with so much hatred that all I wanted to do was hide."
About a month after the war, an event occurred which Milkina-Levy to this day describes as a miracle in her life. Relatives invited her to a wedding in Riga. It was a Jewish wedding, and it prompted her to try to understand the meaning of her Jewishness for the first time. She talks about the festive event in Riga through the prism of her experience at the time. "I felt connected to some tribe with different customs. Then someone said a blessing for the bride and groom, and one of the guests got up and said that another family should also receive a blessing - our brethren in Israel who were defending themselves and our home. Then, suddenly, all the mishmash in my head started to take on shape. All of it: Judaism, the war and the state."
Her relatives in Riga played a mediating role. Ahead of her return to Moscow they gave her an exact address and directed her to a white building which was called a synagoga. She wrote it all down carefully and called the contact upon her return. At Simhat Torah she went to the address she had been given and encountered another 20,000 or so people there.
"Today I know that masses of people met there even before the Six-Day War, but they remained quiet. In 1967, they received backing. The most impertinent among them shouted 'Who are you? - Israel; Who is your father? - Israel.'" The fear had vanished. Thus Alla Milkina was drawn into Jewish underground activity, printing and distributing forbidden material.
Occasionally they went to the Baltic Sea coast and danced the hora. "There was a young man from Minsk there, Yisrael Rashel. He was born on May 14, 1948, and that is why he was named Yisrael. He showed up in 1969 and said he had written a song in Hebrew. Shy and embarrassed, he started to sing 'Blue and white, that is my color,' and instantly we knew this would be our anthem."
But the romantic atmosphere was marred by KGB (Committee for State Security) persecution and interrogation. "Three years of stomach ache - either because of fear or from excitement," is how Milkina-Levy describes the three years that passed between that morning on the subway and her immigration to Israel in 1970. She submitted her request to leave the Soviet Union in January 1969, totally convinced that nothing would come of it. In October 1970, the postcard arrived: "You have five days to get out." "They decided to purge Moscow of extreme nationalist elements," Milkina-Levy says, explaining the timing. "They did not understand the strength of this internal revolt."
Levy turned her life in Israel into a continuation of the action she took back then. She spent her working life in the Jewish Agency, eventually becoming the director general of the unit responsible for the countries of the former Soviet Union. But to her the crowning point of her career was actually the more junior position she held before her early retirement: head of the Jewish Agency mission in Moscow. She wanted to close a circle.
Yuli Kosharovsky describes his personal experience as a mystical passage, which is somewhat surprising coming from this practical person. The experience occurred at the height of the Six-Day War in the middle of a busy street in Sverdlosvk, a closed city devoted wholly to military installations. For one fateful moment the many cars on the street seemed to disappear, and the noise of the masses of people went mute. Kosharovsky heard only an inner voice which showed him the right path: Zionism. Then the noise returned, but he already knew. "The kiss of God" is how this secular person describes the moment that shaped his life.
Kosharovsky, who was denied permission to immigrate to Israel for 18 years, tells his story in his Jerusalem office. On the wall is a photo of him during the years of refusal, captioned "Let My People Go," in English - the slogan of the struggle's activists in the West. On the desk lies volume one of his new book, in Russian, "We Are Jews Again," which documents this chapter in history. He describes a comfortable life, thanks mainly to his great love for his profession, accompanied by an elusive feeling of alienation, reflected mainly in his inability to drink quantities of vodka like his colleagues. Israel, though, did not interest him much at the time.
When the Soviet propaganda campaign preceding the Six-Day War was launched, he heard a broadcast claiming that Israel was an alien body in the region and had no right to exist. That was unexpected: he had been raised to believe in the Soviet values of equality and justice for all peoples - yet suddenly there was an independent state which had no right to exist.
The week of the war was unbearable for him. He couldn't work, couldn't concentrate. He installed antennas at home to pick up as many broadcasts as possible. He shouted and raged at people for five days.
The path he had embarked on became more difficult by the week. The authorities stepped up the pressure, the persecutions became more frequent. After three bad years, a friend suggested he move to Moscow. In the 18 years during which he was denied permission to leave, Kosharovsky conducted both underground and overt activity, met with his colleagues in front of the synagogue, spoke with foreign journalists and was arrested dozens of times. "We operated like soldiers of the State of Israel behind enemy lines," he says in summation of that period, which ended with his immigration to Israel in 1989.
Kosharovsky believes that had it not been for the 1967 war, the movement of Soviet Jewry's immigration to Israel would have emerged ten years later. Because of it, the Jews became an integral element in the disintegration of the Soviet Union. "The empire was rotten from within," he says. "But paradoxically, the Jews were the only citizens there who had no other soil, such as Turkmenistan for the Turkmen people, or Ukraine for the Ukrainians. When the Jews started to leave, the glue that held the Soviet Union together started to come loose. The Soviet Union was a prison of peoples, and when the Jews set the example, other nations wanted to do the same." Alla Milkina-Levy is convinced that the immigration from the former Soviet Union changed Israel for generations. When discussing the 40th anniversary of the war that changed the face of Israel unrecognizably, it is important to recall this chapter, too - about it, at least, there is considerable national agreement.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Jones on Pollard: Don't let this issue die!

Here are commments on the sad performance of Ambassador Jones. He gave this performance because he is what he is, raised on spin and obfuscation. He has disgraced his position and his country. An honorable person would have fallen on his sword or at least resigned.
It is not diplomatically correct to say that Jones is lying. It is better to say that his version conflicts with the truth. However, it doesn't seem that what is required is an apology. Jones should be replaced.
Ami Isseroff

Video of US Ambassador Jones' Lies About Pollard with J4JP Comments
Justice4JP News - May 27, 2007

In his apology, the US Ambassador Richard Jones claims his statements about
Jonathan Pollard were misinterpreted.

Click here to see the video of Jones as he is speaking about Pollard and you
be the judge!


1) Watch the video carefully, and you will see how astute the words of
Israeli master cartoonist Yaacov Kirschen are, when he observed:

"The ambassador is saying that the anger is at the "friend" who "aided and
abetted" Pollard. The "friend" Jones refers to is either "the Jews" or the
Jewish State...We should be thankful to the ambassador for having set the
record straight at last. Jonathan Pollard is not being punished. We are."
[For full text and toon see ]

2) Jones apologised for saying that the US had shown mercy in not executing
Jonathan. Mercy? Jonathan was never facing the death penalty for the one
count of passing classified information to an ally with which he was
charged! More important, Jones did not apologize for falsely accusing
Jonathan of treason, or for falsely accusing Jonathan of having taken money.
These false charges are soundly contradicted by Jonathan's indictment and by
his sentencing transcript, and most important of all by his formal
recognition by Israel as her agent. [See "Refuting the Ambassador's Brazen
Lies"  for details.]

 3) Justice4JP agrees with the analysis of Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive
Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, who recently wrote:

"I believe the case cannot be closed. The apology, as is, is still missing a
correction of Jones' comments. His facts were wrong, he needs to admit that.

"If similar comments were made against an Arab Moslem or others, not of the
Jewish religion, or perhaps not of the Caucasian race, such an apology would
not be accepted and there could be rioting in the streets. We need to demand
a full retraction, correction and perhaps an official inquiry into the
sources of his information, from where his directive to respond with such
lies originated from, etc.

At the same time, it is incumbent on the Israeli government to call in the
ambassador and have him deliver a message to the White House, 22 years is
enough. as James Woolsey, former head of the CIA, has been saying for
months--he knows the pollard file and still he says 22 years is enough.
Jonathan spied for an ally, a fellow democratic country and it is time, to
let Jonathan free and go to Israel to live out his life. Jonathan has been
remorseful, is quite ill and 22 years is enough!

We cannot be silent. it is up to the jewish community to let the President
know that this issue is important to us.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner
Executive Vice President
National Council of Young Israel


Continued (Permanent Link)

Should Israel expand Gaza operations??

Shlomo Brom argues that extensive operations in Gaza are harmful to Israel's interests.

Is an Expanded Military Operation in Gaza the Option of Choice?

Shlomo Brom

INSAS Policy Brief No. 5 May 27, 2007

At the Israeli cabinet meeting on May 13, the primary topic of discussion was the need to expand military operations in Gaza in light of the ongoing Qassam rocket fire and the increasing strength of armed groups in the Gaza Strip. The cabinet meeting ended with a decision to step up preventive actions against Qassam fire, including targeted killings and the entry of small forces into territories near the border. No decision was made to undertake wide scale land operations in the Gaza Strip, as recommended by some elements in the IDF (in the Southern Command). In the meantime Qassam fire has continued, and there is growing pressure to expand the operations.

Following the cabinet decision and the continuing Qassam fire, a view common in certain circles both inside and outside the IDF has garnered new momentum: that wide scale land operations in the Gaza Strip are unavoidable, and that only the trauma from Lebanon is preventing the Israeli government from making this necessary decision. These expanded operations are unavoidable, the theory goes, because first of all there is no other way to stop the Qassam fire, which is exacting an unbearable price from Israel. A sovereign state cannot tolerate a situation in which residents of its towns are harassed on an ongoing basis by rocket fire and cannot maintain a normal routine, even if the damage and the number of casualties are limited. Another reason is that the continuing, uninterrupted flow of weapons to the Gaza Strip and the avoidance of action against armed groups in Gaza together allow these groups to grow stronger, to organize, to train, and to become further entrenched, and thus gradually to build a threat in the Gaza Strip akin to the Hizbollah threat that Israel was hard-pressed to confront in Lebanon. It follows that Israel must adopt a policy of wide scale preventive operations with the goal of causing serious harm to armed groups in Gaza and preventing them from turning into such a threat. Some even claim that Israel must acquire complete freedom of action in the Gaza Strip, similar to the freedom of action it enjoys in the West Bank. Such freedom of action can be attained only by operations like Defensive Shield, whereby the military power of the armed Palestinian groups is broken in the initial stage by comprehensive attacks by the IDF, which assumes control of extensive territory in the Gaza Strip.

The purpose of this paper is to examine whether military actions of this kind in the Gaza Strip are indeed essential, and if so, whether it is worthwhile to conduct them as soon as possible.

There are two ways to examine whether wide scale operations of this kind are necessary. One is to examine the supposition that the security and political dynamic in Israel will necessarily force the decision to carry out such operations. A second way is to examine the strategic logic of such operations. Even if the answer to the first question is in the affirmative, which means there is a high probability that the government of Israel will reach such a decision, there is still reason to undertake the second examination because it will aid in planning operations, which will serve Israel's best interests.

The Security and Political Dynamic

As a result of the Second Lebanon War there is a negative mood among the Israeli public, and the lack of confidence in the government is unprecedented. The chief lesson from the war, emphasized in the Winograd Commission's interim report, is the need to weigh carefully whether decisions on military operations are compatible with the ability of these operations to achieve realistic military objectives that will realize Israel's strategic goals. All of these were added to the basic Israeli reluctance, dating from before the war in Lebanon, to be drawn back into the "Gazan swamp," and in fact they have prompted the government to hesitate and deliberate seriously before making a decision on any comprehensive military action in Gaza.

As long as there are almost no casualties from the Qassam fire it is easy for the government to hesitate and proceed cautiously and judiciously. The problem is that while the Qassams are not a very effective weapon and the warning systems also reduce the chances of fatal casualties, the ongoing firing of Qassams increases the statistical probability that ultimately there will be one incident with a relatively large number of casualties (where a school or kindergarten is hit, for example) or an accumulation of casualties. In addition, the unimpeded and growing power of the organizations in Gaza is facilitating a gradual improvement in the range and effectiveness of the warheads of locally manufactured rockets. It is also facilitating the smuggling of limited numbers of rockets of military quality (Katyushas). This process increases the probability of more casualties and in the longer term places additional areas within range of the rockets. There is also a possibility of additional Palestinian actions that will not be successfully foiled, like the one that led to the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. In such situations the government would come under heavy pressure for a strong response.

The conclusion is that in fact, there is a not insignificant probability that the government will be forced at a certain stage to decide on wide scale military operations in the Gaza Strip.

The Strategic Logic

Israel's strategic interests, which must be taken into account with every decision, are as follows: - Continued separation from the Gaza Strip population (the demographic issue) and less friction with the population - Ensuring normal life for the Israeli population in areas bordering Gaza - Strengthening Israeli deterrence, or at least maintaining it - Stopping the armed groups in the Gaza Strip from growing stronger, or at least curtailing them

There are several reasons for the rocket fire that has emanated from the Gaza Strip since Hamas took upon itself a limited ceasefire (tahdiya): - The ceasefire's restriction to the Gaza Strip: the understanding between Israel and the Palestinians on a ceasefire was limited to the Gaza Strip only. Israel's continued preventive actions in the West Bank lead to Palestinian deaths from time to time. There will always be groups in Gaza who will respond with rocket fire at Israel in order to take revenge and to try to create an equation of mutual deterrence with Israel. - The clashes between Palestinian organizations and the state of anarchy in Gaza: not all the organizations were parties to the tahdiya. Prominent among them was Islamic Jihad, which continued its terrorist attacks along with a variety of groups that have no clear organizational and political identity. The anarchy, the non-functioning Palestinian government, and the continuation of often violent clashes between Fatah and Hamas made it entirely impossible to impose the ceasefire on the turbulent groups. The state of anarchy also generated motivation to fire rockets at Israel as a tool in the internal struggles. The rockets fired in recent rounds of violence are a typical example. Their purpose is to divert attention from the reciprocal lethal violence, to place the blame for the deterioration on Israel, and perhaps even to push Israel toward action that would contain the internal clashes. - In addition, it can be posited that Hamas, which is also frustrated that the establishment of the national unity government has not yielded the hoped-for results

· - removal of sanctions and the government's ability to function effectively

· - is interested in continuing a limited level of violent activity against Israel, even if there is a tahdiya. In this sense its behavior is similar to Hizbollah's, which

· - though it transferred most of its activities to the domestic political realm after the IDF's withdrawal from southern Lebanon

· - was interested in maintaining a limited level of violent confrontation with Israel. The more Hamas is convinced that Israel, the West, and Fatah have pooled their efforts to prevent the government from functioning and ultimately to reverse the results of the elections, the greater its motivation to continue firing at Israel.

There are no military ways of completely preventing rocket fire at Israel by returning fire from within Israel. However, it is possible to strike at some of those involved in rocket fire and at the rocket manufacturing and storage infrastructure, and thereby to reduce the extent and effectiveness of the rocket fire. It is possible to prevent rocket fire almost completely by taking control of the launching areas and clearing them of armed elements, a process that is necessarily relatively extended because the territory is saturated with armed operatives. This means that even after an area is taken over, it will continue to serve as an area for launching rockets until it is cleared through a slow, sustained process, yet once Israeli forces leave the area, the threat will be renewed in its previous form. At the same time the intensity of the rocket fire from areas the IDF has not taken control of will increase. This has two main implications: - In order to prevent rocket fire by military means, permanent military control over wide areas of Gaza will be required for the long term. - These areas will be expanded as the range of the rockets increases, and they are likely to include almost the entire territory of the Gaza Strip.

A broad military operation in Gaza connotes the total collapse of the tahdiya and full mobilization by Hamas to fire rockets. This means that in the initial stage, the military operations will result in a significant expansion of the scope of rocket fire and the damage it causes.

A significant blow to the increasing power of the organizations also requires a broad action over time. This means taking control over wide territories in the Gaza Strip and retaining a permanent presence in at least some of them, such as the area of the Egyptian border, in order to allow action against the weapons-smuggling tunnels. If the goal is a security situation similar to that in the West Bank, a broad action is needed against all the armed groups, i.e., taking control of most of the Gaza Strip and operating there for an extended time.

The Gaza Strip is a military challenge of a different kind from what the IDF faced in the West Bank just prior to Operation Defensive Shield. The Palestinian forces that confront it are on a much larger scale, with a higher level of organization, arms, and training. The physical setting is also different: a crowded urban expanse that covers a large part of the Gaza Strip. It is impossible to separate the armed elements from the population because the population has nowhere to escape to. The various groups, especially Hamas and Fatah, are now engaged in a violent confrontation, but a wide scale Israeli operation will stop the confrontation between them and unite them all in the struggle against the "Israeli invasion." This means that the fighting will be more difficult and involve greater losses.

This analysis suggests that only a comprehensive military operation that brings about the conquest of a large part of the Gaza Strip and whose forces subsequently remain in the territory

· - initially for a prolonged period of mopping-up operations, and later to maintain control over the area

· - can achieve by military means the objectives of: preventing rocket fire and assuring normal life in areas of Israel near the Gaza Strip; dealing a significant blow to the power of the organizations in the Gaza Strip; and restricting the smuggling of weapons to them. The problem is that the price of the operation is liable to be high, both in direct losses from the fighting and in the price the civilian population will have to pay in being subject to widespread rocket attacks for a not insignificant period of time, until the territory is taken over and cleared.

As for the effect on the balance of deterrence, it can be assumed a successful operation will aid in preserving Israeli deterrence, but the risks involved in a wide scale operation and the price Israel is liable to pay are likely to harm the achievement of this objective. This is because in the region's perception, as well as the domestic Israeli mindset, the ability of the organizations to harm Israel is seen as a victory for them even when they are defeated. Wide scale operations might also elicit a tough international response, because the international community does not understand why Israel reacts in a way that seems disproportionate to the provocation.

*********************** BOX *************************

However, all these prices pale in comparison to a calculation of the damage that will be inflicted on the strategic objective of separation from the Palestinians, whose goal is to preserve Israel as the democratic state of the Jewish people. Israel will be drawn back into the Gaza Strip. It is also possible that the chaos that will be created in Gaza will cause the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and will require Israel to renew its military administration of the Gaza Strip, including the elements of civil administration, in order to provide services to the population. In any case, large forces will have to continue to remain within the Gaza Strip.

*********************** END BOX *************************


The main conclusion is that in light of the limited damage caused by the export of violence from the Gaza Strip, Israel would do well to be cautious and not succumb to the illusion that there is a comprehensive solution to the Gaza Strip problem. It is not clear what advantage Israel enjoys if dragged back into the Gaza Strip and forced to pay a much higher price for an achievement that harms a key Israeli interest.

Even if the political-security dynamic leads to a situation where the Israeli government would feel obligated to respond very harshly and take control over territories in the Gaza Strip, there is no reason to advance that moment. The argument that a preventive action must be launched to keep the organizations from growing even more powerful is not sufficiently convincing. First, in the past even an Israeli presence in the Philadelphi Corridor did not prevent weapons smuggling and only limited it to some extent. Second, Israel can also exploit the time remaining until the moment when the confrontation seems inevitable. One lesson Israel would do well to learn from the war in Lebanon is that the unsatisfactory results of the ground war stemmed largely from the lack of sufficient preparedness by Israel, and not just from Hizbollah's preparedness. It is not inevitable that the Palestinians, who suffer from sanctions and heavy financial constraints along with increasing numbers of violent clashes among the various groups, would exploit this time for the better. It is also unclear if Hamas's turning into a force with more attributes of a regular military force will necessarily be to the IDF's detriment. For a military force of a state, dealing with this kind of armed force may be easier.

A better understanding of the price of a comprehensive operation to conquer extensive territories in the Gaza Strip must also influence the definition of objectives of the operations if and when Israel needs to engage in more massive responses to stop the escalation of rocket fire. It must lead to an understanding that it is better to adopt more limited objectives with a lower cost, even if that means partial solutions that only limit Qassam damage, the lack of a comprehensive solution to the problem, and the continued existence of armed groups in Gaza. So, for example, continuing action to hunt down rocket launching squads; continuous strikes at the organizations involved in rocket fire, their assets, and their leadership; and taking control over confined launching areas can be effective in reducing the continuity and effectiveness of the rockets, and at least in pushing Hamas to want to renew the limited ceasefire. From this point of view the IDF's action following Gilad Shalit's kidnapping is a positive model. It exacted a heavy price from Hamas and motivated the organization to return to maintaining the limited ceasefire.

Although Israel is now in the eye of the storm of the escalation in Gaza, it must take into account that even this wave can subside. As in the past, Hamas and Fatah can be deterred from sliding into a full scale civil war and can calm the violent confrontation between them. Then Hamas's interest in a ceasefire will also be renewed, especially if it pays a heavy price during the process. In such an event Israel will have to examine whether there are not also political and diplomatic means of reducing the threat from the Gaza Strip. In this context the following points are worth noting:

·· - Action to strengthen and expand the tahdiya to areas in the West Bank can make a significant contribution to reducing the number of Qassams fired. There are many risks in extending the ceasefire to areas in the West Bank, and it is necessary to examine what arrangements and understandings can be reached with the Palestinians that can neutralize these risks. ·

· - The chaos and civil war in the Gaza Strip do cause damage to the armed groups in the short term, but they also harm Israel's interests. This situation prevents any chance for the development of a Palestinian interlocutor that can interact with Israel, and this internal situation is also one of the main reasons for the recent Qassam fire. Israel must examine how it might contribute to stop the process of deterioration in Gaza. In this context it should examine how the following factors contributed to this deterioration: the unwillingness to work with the Palestinian unity government; the continuing sanctions against it; and at the same time, the encouragement of Fatah elements to engage in a confrontation with Hamas. ·

· - Experience has shown that intensive diplomatic activity vis-a-vis Egypt motivates it to undertake more vigorous action and helps to limit smuggling from Sinai to Gaza.

Finally, in light of the increasing probability of wider scale military confrontations in the Gaza Strip, it is appropriate for the IDF and the political establishment to start intensive preparations for this eventuality. They should not make do with only detailed military planning, equipping the troops, and training them for these operations. The top political and military echelons also need to prepare conceptually by engaging in defining realistic objectives and the means of achieving them, and in examining various scenarios through war games as well.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Apartheid Israel?

A great video about Israeli Apartheid is posted at and some articles about the issue are here:

Israel is a Democracy and Not an Apartheid State

Is Israel an Apartheid State?

Below is a liveleak player version of the video.

Please note that Israel has no obligation to treat populations of occupied territories it did not annex as citizens. Germans occupied by the allies did not get American citizenship and could not vote in American elections.

Ami Isseroff

Labels: , ,

Continued (Permanent Link)

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