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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Egyptians find huge tunnel into Gaza

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/egyptians-find-huge-tunnel-into-gaza.html

 
And more alarming text:
 
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Sources in the Egyptian security services said Friday
they had discovered a tunnel from Egypt into the Gaza Strip they suspect was
used to smuggle weapons.

The source told Reuter's Egyptian security officials found the tunnel by
accident near international marker No. 5 south of the Rafah border crossing.

The source said that the 1300 meter tunnel was equipped for smuggling
operation and that it appeared to have been used several times.

A 1.3 KM tunnel is not to be scoffed at. And the fact that it was discovered by accident, and had been used, suggests that there is no means of systematic searching for tunnels, and perhaps not much enthusiasm, and that very probably there are more of the same. 
 
Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

Humor from Egypt: Honor in Journalism

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/humor-from-egypt-honor-in-journalism.html

Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt, has a developed sense of humor, not unlike that of comrade Stalin. After jailing editors for publishing "rumors" that he is ill, Mubarak had this to say:
 
 
"The ignorance of some [writers] of the facts and [their] going too far in publishing lies and false information, is an issue that has nothing to do with the freedom of press but aimes [sic] at causing chaos," ....
 
Mubarak stressed that press freedoms were not stifled but that everyone who violates the journalism's[sic] covenant of honor or puts the nation's safety in peril must be punished."
 
 
The covenant of honor of Egyptian journals, and the ignorance of the writers are never at issue as regards Israel or Jews. Despite a peace treaty that supposedly bans incitement, Egyptian newspapers routinely publish anti-Semitic cartoons, articles alleging that Hitler didn't finish the work of killing the Jews, articles alleging the truth of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and similar fare. All these are apparently within the "journalism's code of honor," Egypt style, as was a recent and wholly fallacious report claiming that an Israeli unit had executed prisoners of war in the 1967 Six Day War.  
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

More rumors about the Israel air incursion in Syria

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/more-rumors-about-israel-air-incursion.html

Headline: Report: IAF targeted N. Korean shipment to Syria. Supposedly it was nuclear materials. However a different rumor claims that Koreans and Iranians were working on assembling rockets for Hezbollah. It embellishes the story with four missiles fired from Israeli aircraft, only one of which hit a target and partly destroyed it. That rumor is courtesy of Israel radio, but all the rumors are quoted "from foreign sources." Those foreigners have great imaginations.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 
Last update - 10:16 15/09/2007    
 
By Barak Ravid, Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel,
Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and News Agencies
 
An American Mideast expert said the alleged Israel Air Force strike in northern Syria last week was directly connected to a shipment Syria received from North Korea three days earlier, the Washington Post reported Saturday.
 
The expert spoke on condition of anonymity in order to protect his sources, who the report said are comprised of "Israeli participants" in the strike. He said the shipment was labeled as cement, but Israel believed it carried nuclear equipment.
 
The U.S. daily said the expert believed the IAF strike targeted a facility the Syrians claim serves as an "agricultural research center," but Israel believes is used to extract uranium from phosphates.
 
The Washington Post also reported that the secrecy of the mission, on which Israel refuses to release details, was extended to those who carried it out. He said that the pilots providing cover for the aircraft that attacked the facility were not given specifics of the mission, and the pilots who actually carried out the strike were only briefed after they were in the air.
 
While neither side has explained what exactly happened in the early hours of September 6, a number of Israeli and American officials have speculated that the alleged attack was designed to thwart the possible development of Syrian nuclear capabilities.
 
Saturday's statements come amid a growing number of reports on possible Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation. A senior U.S. nuclear official said on Friday that North Koreans were in Syria and that Damascus may have had contacts with secret suppliers to obtain nuclear technology.
 
"Syria was on the U.S. nuclear watch list," said acting deputy assistant secretary for nuclear nonproliferation policy Andrew Semmel, asserting that foreign technicians were in the country and that there had been possible contacts with suppliers for nuclear equipment.
 
Semmel didn't name the suppliers, but said that he couldn't exclude that the network run by disgraced Pakistan nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan was possibly involved.
 
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Israel had gathered satellite imagery showing possible North Korean cooperation with Syria on a nuclear facility.
 
North Korea, which has a long alliance with Syria, condemned the Israeli air incursion. Israeli experts say North Korea and Iran both have been major suppliers of Syria's missile stock.
 
"There are indicators that they do have something going on there, he said," Semmel said. "We do know that there are a number of foreign technicians that have been in Syria. We do know that there may have been contact between Syria and some secret suppliers for nuclear equipment. Whether anything transpired remains to be seen."
 
"So good foreign policy, good national security policy, would suggest that we pay very close attention to that," he said. "We're watching very closely. Obviously, the Israelis were watching very closely."
 
Asked if the suppliers could have been North Koreans, he said: "There are North Korean people there. There's no question about that. Just as there are a lot of North Koreans in Iraq and Iran."
 
Asked if the so-called Khan network, which supplied nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, could have been involved, he said he wouldn't exclude it.
 
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack declined to comment on Semmel's remarks but noted that the United States had long-standing concerns about North Korea and nuclear proliferation.
 
"We've also expressed, over time, our concerns about North Korea's activities in terms of dealing with A.Q. Khan and others around the globe," he told reporters.
 
McCormack said he was not aware of any specific link between North Korea and Syria.
 
Ex-U.S. envoy: Iran and Syria are 'safe havens' for N. Korea nuclear activity
 
The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said North Korea may be using Syria and Iran as "safe havens" for its nuclear activity, and another U.S. official was quoted as saying Damascus may be building a nuclear facility with North Korean assistance.
 
Bolton recently told Haaretz that United States President George W. Bush warned North Korea last year against transferring nuclear material to Syria, Iran or a terrorist organization, saying such a move would be perceived as a "grave threat."
 
Bolton, now affiliated with the "American Enterprise Institute" in Washington, served Bush in his first term as Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. In that capacity, as well as later, he clashed with other officials, most notably from CIA, regarding Syria's nuclear plans.
 
A former Israeli official who would not be named said he had heard the attack had been carried out against a facility capable of producing non-conventional weapons.
 
In an interview on Fox News on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in response to a question on reports of Syrian nuclear development, that her government is working to prevent "the world's most dangerous people from having the world's most dangerous weapons."
 
Rice did not refer directly to Syria at any point, but said, "That's why we have a Proliferation Security Initiative that tries to intercept dangerous cargos. So this is something that's been at the highest point of the President's agenda since he came into power and we work every day and we watch it every day and we're vigilant about it and we're determined."
 
Fox also quoted U.S. sources as saying North Korea had apparently transferred to Syria information, technology and uranium-enrichment equipment.
 
According to a Washington Post report, a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said recent satellite images gathered over the past six months, mostly by Israeli sources, indicate Syria may be building such a facility.
 
Access to the information has been heavily restricted to a team headed by security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, leaving many in the intelligence community unaware of the reports' significance, the Post quoted sources as saying.
 
Reuters reported Wednesday that U.S. officials had confirmed that the IAF strike, but would not discuss the intended targets.
 
"The strike I can confirm. The target, I can't," said one U.S. official, adding that there had been more than one strike. Another official called reports on the likely targets "confused."
 
The New York Times said Wednesday that likely targets were weapons caches Israel believed Iran was sending to Hezbollah via Syria, a claim dismissed later in the day by the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations.
 
"This is blah blah. This is nonsense, this is an unfounded statement. It is not up to the Israelis or anyone else to assess what we have in Syria," said Bashar Ja'afari.
 
"There was no target, they dropped their munitions. They were running away after they were confronted by our air defense," he added.
 
The New York Times quoted a Defense Department official as saying the IAF struck at least one target in northeastern Syria, but said it was unclear what the target was and what was the extent of the damage.
 
Syria said Friday that there would be no military response to the incident. Damascus protested Tuesday to the United Nations about the strike.
 
Israel has repeatedly declined to comment on the matter, but American television network CNN reported Tuesday that the Israeli government is "very happy with the successful operation."
 
Senior CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, citing Middle Eastern and Washington sources, said aircraft and possibly even ground forces, who may have directed the planes to their target, took part in the operation.
 
The attack left "a big hole in the desert," the report said. CNN quoted U.S. government and military sources as saying they were "happy to have Israel convey to both Syria and Iran the message that they can get in and out and strike when necessary."
 
Al-Jaafari said Israel had violated Syrian air space and dropped munitions, but denied that Israel had landed troops inside Syria.
 
"This is absolutely not true," he said, adding that the reports were an attempt to show that Israel could land troops wherever it wants.
 
The only countries that have expressed solidarity with Syria are Iran and North Korea. Russia issued a condemnation of sorts.
 
Report: U.S. says Israel took images of Syria atomic facility
 
Meanwhile, the New York Times on Wednesday quoted a Bush Administration official as saying Israel had recently photographed possible nuclear installations in Syria.
 
"The Israelis think North Korea is selling to Iran and Syria what little they have left," the New York Times quoted the official as saying.
 
"One Bush administration official said Israel had recently carried out reconnaissance flights over Syria, taking pictures of possible nuclear installations that Israeli officials believed might have been supplied with material from North Korea," the paper wrote.
 
"The administration official said Israeli officials believed that North Korea might be unloading some of its nuclear material on Syria," the report said.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Of Burg and Munich: the right to ignorance in criticism

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/of-burg-and-munich-right-to-ignorance.html

Last update - 14:30 13/09/2007    

Musings/Non-readers' charter  is written by a man after my own heart, who will not condemn a book completely without reading it completely, yet reserves the right to criticize.
 
I saved time by not reading the book at all, and arrived at the same conclusions as Fox: Avram Burg's book apparently said some things that needed to be said. It painted a one-sided picture flamboyantly in order to gain publicity and outrage people, because almost everyone loves publicity and Burg loves to outrage people. I only need to see the title to know that Burg is out to create a commotion. Any time you want to get a rise out of people, mention Hitler and the N- people. Any time you want to get Jews really sore, say they are like the N- people.
 
But I would not condemn the book without reading it. As Fox notes, people have the right to do many things. But Fox is not entirely correct. Rights and intellectual integrity are two different things and wisdom and judgement are a different matter entirely. Noam Chomsky could have the temerity to write of criticisms of Daniel Noah Goldhagen, that he hadn't read them, but they are probably correct. The Chomskyites thought that was very clever, but in fact, it exposed the hollowness of the sort of judgements that Chomsky makes. A thesis is correct if it criticizes those with whom Chomsky disagees, according to him. That sort of Jesuitical/Stalinist logic is good for enforcing dogma, but worse than useless for arriving at truth.
 
Everyone insists on their right to an opinion, regardless of their knowledge. Everyone has a right to an opinion about Israel, Iranian nuclear development, global warming, cures for cancer and everything else under the Sun. And they voice their opinions. A poll found that 77% of Americans approved of the U.S. policy regarding Iranian nuclear development. Among the respondents, a significant number admitted that they had heard little or nothing about Iranian nuclear development. That did not prevent them from having an opinion, and sure enough, on average, it was the same as everyone else's opinion.  
 
Not long ago, there was a great furor over the film "Munich," by Steven Spielberg. The passionate outcries  had the look and feel of notices published in Yiddish after Russian pogroms. "Gevalt! They are murdering Jews!"
 
I was certain that Spielberg, who is devoted to the Jewish cause, had somehow been transmogrified into Norman Finkelstein. Then I saw the movie. My impression was that it is good Israel advocacy of the kind that was done in better days: sophisticated, complex and low key. The Israeli hit-men are portrayed as sensitive souls, tortured by their mission, which is nonetheless necessary, and yet looking and hoping for a better way and a better world. In one scene, a hit is called off because the daughter of the intended victim, a young girl, returns home unexpectedly. In another scene, there is a dialogue between an Israeli hit-team member and an Arab. The Israeli is shown to be a humanitarian, laboring under the strain of his work, who only wants peace. The Arab is portrayed as a one-dimensional hateful fanatic. This is not the stuff of anti-Zionist propaganda. In fact, I sent a section of this dialogue to a Palestinian Arab, who labelled it Zionist propaganda. If Spielberg is inhibited from making further films of this genre because of the basting he got for Munich, it would be unfortunate.
 
Burg's case is different. He intentionally wrote as he did in order to annoy, malign and outrage. That much is abundantly clear from the title of the book, even without reading it. When he explains, in interviews, the relatively mild reasoning behind his hair-raising slogans, one gets the impression that his book is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Shakespeare knew who tells such tales.
 
Ami Isseroff 
 
 
By Michael Fox

Nowadays people are obsessed with rights. There is virtually no subset of humanity that does not vociferously claim them. There are women's rights, gay rights, children's rights, fathers' rights, drivers' rights, smokers' rights, prisoners' rights. The contemporary French writer Daniel Pennac is concerned with readers' rights. In "Comme un roman," he confers on book readers 10 inalienable rights. Among the rights Pennac grants you are the right not to read; the right to skip pages; the right to read whatever you like; the right to read wherever you like; the right to reread; and, most important of all, the right not to finish a book. I found one glaring omission: the right to express an opinion about a book you have not read.
 
You would be forgiven for thinking that asserting a right to spout off about a book without reading it is the stuff of satire, the kind of thing that the late Stephen Potter of "One-Upmanship" fame would dream up. Think again. A recent issue of the Times Literary Supplement carried a review of a book entitled "Comment parler des livres que l'on n'a pas lus" - "How to discuss books that one hasn't read." The author of the book, Pierre Bayard, is a professor (what else?) of literature at (where else?) a French university. According to the review, this professor of literature has no appetite for reading and, anyway, the business of teaching literature being an arduous one, he cannot find the time to read. To the simple-minded that may sound like the surgeon who can't bear the sight of blood, but the reviewer asserts that Bayard's project is a serious one.
 
For Bayard, feeling obliged to read a book is a constraint that leads to a lack of openness in our dealings with each other and generates unnecessary feelings of guilt. If I understand him correctly, there is something underhanded about reading a book that you propose to discuss. Anyhow, he explains himself later, in the lucid terms that one expects of a French post-modernist. "In discussing books," he writes, "we are doing far more than exchanging foreign elements in our culture; these are aspects of ourselves that serve, in stressful situations of narcissistic menace, to assure us of our inner coherence." Did you follow that, you at the back?

Embassies have been burned down for less, but I feel respectfully obliged to doubt if the most devastating book critic of modern times, the Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, got through the whole of Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" before sending out his fellow bibliophiles to bring his criticism personally to the attention of the author. Though they failed to find the bashful novelist himself, they were able to serve literature by scragging a publisher and a couple of translators. In his understandable reluctance to confront his critics personally, Rushdie had the consolation that the ayatollah's lethal review did for his book what the words "banned in Boston" did for books of an earlier generation: It did wonders for his sales.
 
I myself have asked my publisher to arrange a fatwa for my forthcoming book. If he finds that beyond him, I would make do with a condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League. They were charitable enough to enrich Mel Gibson; surely they could do as much for a fellow son of the covenant.
 
Deeply pessimistic
 
All this is by way of a lengthy prelude to an admission that I am about to break a rule and discuss a book that I did not finish. I got to page 177 of Avraham Burg's "Victory Over Hitler" before throwing in the towel. The book has acquired an undeserved notoriety thanks to the identity of the author, rather than to any qualities the book may or may not possess. Had all those who have given their opinion of the book read it, its sales would have surpassed those of "The Da Vinci Code," but I believe that I am 177 pages ahead of all but a few of them - most vocal critics having, instead of reading the book, which contains the author's reflections on Zionism and Israeliness, opted to rely on Ari Shavit's lengthy interview with Burg in Haaretz some weeks ago.
 
It is surely a sign of instability that, in the course of writing the book, Burg made a more than cosmetic change to the title: "Hitler's Victory" became "Victory Over Hitler." The former might have been a more honest choice because it is a deeply pessimistic book. Burg doesn't like Israelis very much; he prefers Europeans. Israel is, he believes, a militaristic society unhealthily obsessed with the Holocaust. He likens today's Israel and what he views as its rampant racism to Nazi Germany in the 1930s. He considers that any Israeli who can should get himself a foreign passport. In this respect he practices what he preaches; he has acquired French citizenship and even voted in the recent French presidential elections.
 
Burg is to all intents and purposes a pacifist; the book is imbued with the same woolly universalism that has gripped Europe since it ceased to be worried by external threats to its existence. He believes in passive resistance; he would not have joined the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto, he says. The Gandhi-like image is somewhat tarnished when we are informed that he still enjoys, and has even gone to court to enforce, the generous perks to which he is entitled as a former chairman of the Jewish Agency and speaker of the Knesset. Those who have accused him of spitting into the well from which he has drunk are being unjust; he is still drinking from it.
 
Indeed he is an archetypal Zionist figure. As the son of a now-deceased cabinet minister renowned for his ministerial longevity, Burg was born to the Zionist purple. And he grew up to become the international face of Zionism - chairman of the World Zionist Organization, no less. Although his views render him the polar opposite of the Israeli religious right, he still sports its tribal badge, the knitted skullcap. If Burg had only annoyed the usual suspects, the notoriously prickly Israeli right, no one would have been surprised, but he also succeeded in getting up the noses of the left.
 
In a piece on the Burg affair for The New Yorker entitled "The Apostate," David Remnick (who, incidentally, with his celebrated army of checkers, failed to distinguish between the English words "flouting" and "flaunting") quotes one of the leaders of the Israeli left, the philosopher Avishai Margalit, as saying that for a leader of the Zionist movement to advise Israelis to get another passport for their kids is "like the pope giving sex tips."
 
I feel uncomfortable joining the pack baying for Burg's blood. After all, writing what he wrote required courage and much of what he said needed to be said. But Burg's black picture is a partial picture and a partial picture is a false picture. Moreover, Israelis may be paranoid, but they have real enemies. Pacifism may do no harm in France; in Israel it is the way to national suicide.
 
Now that I have delivered my opinion of it, perhaps I shall finish that book.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Israel Lobby deconstructed

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/israel-lobby-deconstructed.html

Lee Smith does a matter of fact job of deconstructing the Israel Lobby thesis of Walt and Mearsheimer.

The Irrational Obsession

By Lee Smith

Steven Walt and John Mearsheimer laid out the ostensible thesis of The Israel Lobby last year in an article of the same name published in the London Review of Books. They wrote that, "For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel."

This is false. Washington's relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in which we protect the world's largest known reserves of oil to ensure the stability of global markets, has since the mid-1930s been the US's vital regional interest and arguably the most important American interest save homeland security. This fact may be easily impressed upon the intellect of any American who has been in a car, but Walt and Mearsheimer are less interested in the strategic realities of US Middle East policy than in painting in broad strokes the background to events of the last few years. In effect, the authors of The Israel Lobby are trying to explain why the world has gone crazy.

Both scholars are products of the realist school of International Relations theory, which holds that states are self-interested rational actors. With The Israel Lobby, they want to show why the US government went off the rails, especially regarding the invasion of Iraq. From Walt and Mearsheimer's point of view, Saddam Hussein's regime had been contained and posed no immediate threat to the US, and war against an Arab nationalist dictator was a distraction from the war on Islamist terror. Since realism holds that states are rational actors – and even Saddam, though cruel, was not irrational – the only explanation for the US's patently irrational decision to depose him is that some non-state actor must have gummed up the machinery.

Once Walt and Mearsheimer are able to identify the cause for American irrationality – not the Jewish state, but the lobby for the Jewish state – they walk their thesis backward in time to the '67 war when, in their account, this deeply irrational relationship began. But here is one sticking point among many that Walt and Mearsheimer cannot account for: If realism holds that states act rationally in pursuit of their own interests, then how did Washington get away with acting irrationally for forty years? Either Washington has not acted irrationally, or Walt and Mearsheimer's realist model is irrational, or both.

The notion that states are rational actors is grounded in yet another convention – that there is something called an international system and it is based on respect for state sovereignty. Scholars and IR theorists often derive this principle from the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 when treaties concluding the thirty and eighty years wars enshrined ideas like the equality between states, the right to self-determination and non-intervention. Though wars set state interests against each other, the so-called Westphalian system itself is relatively immune to internal challenges to its logic. Indeed, the creation of new states in the aftermath of the First and Second World Wars enhanced the notion of state sovereignty even if many of these newfangled political institutions, like Iraq, did not have the cohesive identity that held together European nation-states. The genuine threat to the international order, as the paranoid worldview contends, comes from non-state actors, like the pope, communism, anarchism and, of course, international Jewry.

Consider the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a document that only makes sense in the context of the international order of state sovereignty. The charge that the Jews killed Christ is ahistorical; that is, in the Christian scheme of things it is an accusation applicable at all times, or at least until the resurrection. However, the belief that Jews have dual loyalties arises at a particular historical moment – when political sovereignty is invested in the idea of the state. By definition, a Jew cannot be either loyal or disloyal to, say, the Catholic Church; a Jew can only betray a political body defined primarily by something other than religious belief, like the European nation-state.

Islam, a political order and a revealed religion, accounted for this issue by relegating both Jews and Christians to the status of second-class citizens, dhimmis: Obviously the infidels do not owe their chief loyalty to the commander of the faithful so they will be accorded very limited power or none at all. It is only under the international system that the question arises: What would happen if Jews got power? With loyalty only to the narrow interests of their tribe, Jews would make sure everything turned out well for Jews across the world, no matter how much blood and treasure it costs anyone else as the rational order of states comes crashing down around us all – all except for the Jews.

The key difference between most anti-Semitic tracts of the pre-Holocaust period and The Israel Lobby is Israel itself; after all, Zionism, arises under the same auspices as the Protocols – the international system of state sovereignty. Theodor Herzl believed that once the Jews had a state of their own and the Jews could take their place among nations, the Jewish problem would go away and Jews would become like everyone else. However, as The Israel Lobby shows, the irrational obsession with Israel as the root of all problems in the Middle East and US policy there, the willful misrepresentation of Israeli policies, and holding the Jewish state to standards in war and peace that not even the United States cares to observe, never mind, say, the Islamic Republic of Iran – Herzl on this count at least was wrong. A Jewish state has done nothing to curtail anti-Semitism.

Hence, Zionism's great achievement partakes of the assumption that anti-Semitism will always exist. It gave Jews, for the first time in two thousand years, political and military power as a defense against those who rant about the "International Jew," "Jewish influence," the "Jewish Lobby" and their concomitants solutions to "the Jewish Question." Hitler, it is true, is different from the Iranian president who advocates a "World Without Zionism," but that is because the Jews have a state and an army to protect themselves and not because Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has neither Panzer tanks nor the Luftwaffe at his disposal.

It is curious that Walt and Mearsheimer maintain that the US would have a good relationship with a state like the Islamic Republic of Iran were it not for the Israel lobby and the narrow self-interest of this non-state actor. What makes their belief so odd is not just Tehran's genocidal rhetoric, or that the Iranians have been clear about their intentions towards American interests and allies in the region – US hegemony in the Persian Gulf, threats against the Sunni Arab powers as well as Israel – nor even the fact that Iran has effectively been at war with the US since the '79 revolution. No, rather it is that IRI's project for the Middle East is a direct assault on the theoretical conceit on which Walt and Mearsheimer have built their careers.

In Iraq, Iranian assets are determined to tear Iraq to pieces; in Lebanon, Iran's client Hezbollah has created a state within a state; and in Gaza, the Iranian-funded Hamas has established an Islamic emirate that for now at least puts an end to any ideas about a Palestinian state. Iran is making a very cogent argument through force of arms and oil receipts that the international system of state sovereignty does not suit its rational self-interest. Why are Walt and Mearsheimer blind to the Iranian project for the Middle East? Because of the Israel lobby. The idea of Jewish power has made them irrational.


Lee Smith is a Washington, DC-based writer and visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute. He's a frequent contributor to the Weekly Standard on Middle East issues.


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Tough Questions and poor answer on The Israel Lobby

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/tough-questions-and-poor-answer-on.html

Perhaps the key reply is this one:

 
The critical issue is whether or not we would tell a different story or someone else would tell a different story if they did more extensive interviewing than we did -- and we're confident that would not be the case. We regard the story as basically correct, and doing more interviewing would not alter the story line in any way.

 

Actually, it is unlikely that Mearsheimer and Walt would tell a different story no matter what the facts. They had made up their mind about Israel many years ago. As Mearsheimer says "We regard the story as basically correct" -- despite a mountain of evidence that many of their assertions are completely without foundation. Israel did not urge the United States government to invade Iraq. The United States supports Israel because it is a way to gain leverage over Israel and the Arabs by forcing Israeli concessions of territory. This became a number one priority in the Middle East after the Six Day War.

 
Ami Isseroff

Q & A: Mearsheimer and Walt

Ron Kampeas

JTA's Ron Kampeas recently sat down with scholars Stephen Walt, international affairs professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and John Mearsheimer, political science professor at the University of Chicago, to discuss their controversial new book.


Ron Kampeas, JTA's Washington bureau chief, recently sat down with scholars Stephen Walt, international affairs professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and John Mearsheimer, political science professor at the University of Chicago, to discuss their controversial new book, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." What follows is an edited transcript of the interview.

***

JTA: How does one write a book about the lobby without interviewing the lobbyists and the people lobbied?

WALT: First, we did talk to a number of people who had either been connected with some of these organizations and who had worked on Capitol Hill to make sure the story we were assembling was an accurate one. Second, this is a difficult subject because lots of people won't talk on the record if you do try to interview them and a number of the people we do quote based on other sources were quoted anonymously in those sources as well. Third, there are limits to what any two people can do, and we felt there was such an abundance of evidence already available that we could get a very accurate story of the way these organizations operate. Based on that record, I guess the last point I would make is that the real issue is not the precise research methods we used but rather whether or not the story we told is an accurate one

MEARSHEIMER: The critical issue is whether or not we would tell a different story or someone else would tell a different story if they did more extensive interviewing than we did -- and we're confident that would not be the case. We regard the story as basically correct, and doing more interviewing would not alter the story line in any way.

WALT: One other point -- there is really no disagreement about whether or not there is an influential set of pro-Israel organizations in the United States of America. No serious person questions that. The only question is whether their influence is beneficial to the United States and Israel or whether it's become harmful to the United States and Israel.

MEARSHEIMER: And doing more interviews is not going to answer that question.

***

JTA: What do you say to those who argue that statements from Israeli leaders and Jewish organizations in support of the Iraq war should be understood from the vantage point of having to deal with a Bush administration that was insisting on support for its major initiatives.

WALT: I guess I'm not persuaded by the argument that the Bush administration told them "you're with us or against us and that's the way we do business." Because these organizations were not at all bashful about taking on the Bush administration when they didn't like his calling for a Palestinian state, when he pushed Sharon around, when he tried to push Sharon around about the reoccupation of the West Bank [in April 2002]. It's not to me anyway particularly credible that, you know, Adam Goldman [Bush's first liaison to the Jewish community] told everybody to get on board and they obediently supported the Iraq war [to avoid] a falling-out with the Bush administration.

***

JTA: Last month, Larry Wilkerson, the former policy planning chief at the U.S. State Department and a fierce critic of neconservatives in the Pentagon who backed the Iraq war, said that Israeli leaders expressed concerns beforehand about the invasion.

MEARSHEIMER: What Wilkerson is saying is that the Israelis, when they caught wind of the fact that the United States was thinking about attacking Iraq, in early 2002 went to Washington and told the Americans, the Bush administration in particular, that the real threat was Iran, not Iraq, and they made it clear that they'd prefer we went after Iran and not Iraq. They had no problem with the United States effecting regime change in Iraq and Syria.

Iran was more important. Once it became clear that the United States intended to do Iran and Syria after it handled Iraq, the Israelis quickly bought onto the enterprise and pushed us very hard.

WALT: Former prime ministers wrote op-eds, [Shimon] Peres told reporters that the invasion of Iraq is a must in the fall of 2002. If this is something they didn't want the United States to do, they had lots of ways to try to get the United States not to do it.

Maybe they wouldn't have succeeded, but the point is there's just no evidence that they were ever putting the brakes on. They wanted to make sure that we did not lose sight of the Iran problem while we were focusing on Saddam.

***

JTA: What is the "unifying theme" that defines the Israel lobby?

WALT: Although they differ on certain policy questions such as the desirability of a two-state solution, disagreements between the Zionist Organization of America on one side and say the Israeli Policy Forum on the other side or Americans for Peace Now, virtually all these organizations believe that the United States should support Israel by diplomatic, economic and military support almost independent of what Israel's actions are. So Americans for Peace Now does not advocate making U.S. aid conditioned on an end to settlements. They say that U.S. aid shouldn't be used for settlements, but they don't say we ought to link. They all want to maintain the special relationship; that's the unifying theme.

***

JTA: Why did you simply assert in the book that the pro-Israel lobby is the most powerful foreign interest lobby instead of also examining the activities of influential organizations that deal with Cuba and Taiwan?

MEARSHEIMER: First of all, we do acknowledge that there are other lobbies that identify with other countries. This is a book about one of those particular lobbies, and it's a completely legitimate enterprise to write a book on the Israel lobby or on the China lobby or on the Irish lobby. Why did we decide to write this book? Well, in the wake of 9/11 it became clear to the vast majority of Americans that American policy in the Middle East really mattered, and that it is very important that all of us think very long and hard about what our policy is and what the consequences are of that policy.

In doing research on the Middle East and thinking hard about what's going on in the Middle East, it became readily apparent to us that the lobby had significant influence on shaping that policy and yet no one was willing or hardly anyone was willing to talk about that publicly in the mainstream media. And we thought that it would be a good idea if someone wrote an article or wrote a book that focused on the Middle East and on the lobby's role in formulating the policy, American policy towards that region and asking the all important question of whether or not that policy makes good sense for the United States of America. So that's what drove us to focus on the Israel lobby. It wasn't as if we had any animus to Israel.

WALT: In [two separate assessments by Forbes and National Journal based on interviews with congressional staffers] the Cuban American National Foundation is not the one that comes in at No. 2. AIPAC comes in at No. 2, right behind I think AARP, or maybe it's tied with AARP right up there with the National Rifle Association. So if you go ask people on Capitol Hill who they think the most important lobbies -- you know, you were asking us "why didn't we go talk to people on Capitol Hill" -- guess what, Forbes and the National Journal went and talked to people on Capitol Hill, guess what answer they got? It wasn't the Armenian Americans who are, for their numbers, as Abraham Foxman now knows, a rather potent operation. But it's hard to argue that the United States has done as much for Armenia as it has done for Israel.

***

JTA: Allegations of anti-Semitism, which you have faced from some critics, can be used to intimidate people from criticizing Israel. At the same time, accusing people of conducting a smear campaign simply because they attempt to analyze whether anti-Semitism is at work can also be seen as a way of silencing critics.

WALT: I have yet to see much evidence that some people have been shy about playing the anti-Semitism card. We make it abundantly clear that not only do we condemn the most virulent forms of anti-Semitism, but we also condemn anything that is likely to limit the ability of Jews and anybody else in the United States to participate fully and actively in political and social life. The most mild and polite forms of stereotyping we also condemn; we think that Jewish Americans and all other Americans should be able to represent their views openly and use, express and manifest them. We condemn anything that gets in the way of that, and we certainly condemn anything that limits free speech and the expression of views. We made it very clear when we discussed anti-Semitism, we condemned all of its manifestations.

What we want to have is an open discussion of American interests and American policy in the Middle East and all the different factors that make that up. One of the nice things about writing the book is that we can keep the attention on substance, we can have that discussion, and we're going to learn from it, we're going to learn from our substantive critics, they're going to explain things that might be slightly different than what we thought they were. We're going to learn over time. We can't learn collectively as a society if we can't have an open discussion, and if we can't we're more likely to do stupid things that are bad for us and bad for Israel, too.

 

***

JTA: Professor Walt, do you regret that at an event in August 2006 organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, you said that Jews who previously served as U.S. diplomats, including Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk, "have attachments that shape how they think about the Middle East and how they think about American policy in that region?"

WALT: I think many Americans of many different backgrounds have attachments for other societies that are based on their ethnic origins or their own personal experiences, like living overseas when they're in high school, and those affinities or attachments are going to shape how think of different parts of the world. And I think that's wonderful; I have no problem with that whatsoever. We are a melting pot society, where lots of people have attachments; and, by the way, as you know, in the United States of America you can be a dual citizen, dual citizenship in both countries, and we don't assume that someone who's a dual citizen has no feelings whatsoever for the other country in which they are a citizen.

And it's perfectly OK for that person to then advocate policies that they think are good for the United States and good for the other society, too. This is just a fact of life in America and it's perfectly OK. But it's also OK for us to point out that individuals have multiple loyalties and to also argue that those multiple loyalties may fog up their view of what's in the American interest. It's complicated.

***

JTA: In any way, have you purposely overstated your argument in an effort to land a political blow against pro-Israel organizations?


WALT: We actually have no animus at all toward Israel or toward the organizations in the lobby. This is not some kind of crusade that we launched ourselves because we want to take down a set of organizations. We say in the conclusion, one of the things we hope will happen is that there's more open discussion of the issue, which would be good, and second we hope that some groups and organizations that we think are advocating polices that are in everybody's best interests become more influential -- not that we're trying to destroy these groups or organization organizationss or even suggest that what they do is illegitimate. We just think that they have been advocating a set of policies that are not good for us and not good for Israel, and people can disagree with us, but it wasn't motivated by an anger or hostility. We're scholars; we're not part of any political movement, OK? We're just trying to write a book that's as accurate as possible.


Continued (Permanent Link)

The Israel Lobby - a map of another place

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/israel-lobby-map-of-another-place.html

Here is an unusually thoughtful and thorough commentary about the Israel Lobby thesis of Mearsheimer and Walt.
Mearsheimer and Walt:
Getting the Israel lobby wrong
Published: 09/11/2007

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Covering Israel, its relationship with the United States and the influential lobby that straddles the two often requires the basic skills and instincts of a reporter on the neighborhood beat.

With that in mind, I approached "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," the new book by scholars John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, as I would a map of my neighborhood drawn up by an urban planning critic who has a known bias against gentrification.

You know it will emphasize blight and ignore greenery to the point of unfairness, but you're interested anyway because you might learn something, confront a discomfiting truth or two and get an idea of how to make things better.

Imagine the surprise, then, with the map laid out on the table, you see unrecognizable quadrants describing nonexistent dungeons and moonscapes. Is this guy on drugs, you might wonder.

Sitting across from Mearsheimer, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, and Walt, an international affairs professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, in the lobby of the Madison Hotel in Washington, I recognized that these guys are not on drugs. But why did they make up stuff?

Clearly this was not going to be a routine book tour interview, so I tried to make that understood from the outset. I explained to the authors that I was not going to settle for the usual "How did you get your ideas?" sort of questions because their ideas seemed so strikingly wrong.

Others have called the Walt-Mearsheimer writings borderline anti-Semitic. I don't think so, but their fantastic claims -- particularly about Israel, the lobby's role in the lead-up to the Iraq war and the creation of the Bush administration hostility to Syria -- demand answers.

First let me emphasize that just as "The Israel Lobby" is severely flawed on many counts, the book has its strong points and weak points that merit less than a tidal wave of condemnation. For starters, the chapter outlining who and what constitutes the pro-Israel lobby and how these combined forces exercise their influence in Washington is a useful consolidation of reporting by others.

The chapters on what the authors describe as Israel's dwindling moral standing and decreasing strategic values to the United States invite plenty of disagreement on several fronts, but the authors do ask some hard and helpful questions about how the lobby functions and whether more discussion on Middle East policy matters would be useful.

The chapter on Israel's dealings with the Palestinians is certainly one-sided, omitting or downplaying crucial information that would provide uninformed and unbiased readers with a balanced picture, but at least the arguments put forth by Mearsheimer and Walt are grounded in an existing Palestinian and pro-Palestinian narrative.

It is on the subject of the Iraq war -- specifically the effort to assign blame to Jerusalem and Jewish organizations -- that the authors go off the rails. Take this assertion: "There is considerable evidence that Israel and pro-Israel groups -- especially the neoconservatives -- played important roles in the decision to invade."

The first problem with the contention is in its phrasing, conflating the neoconservative agenda entirely with that of Israel and the pro-Israel lobby. Certainly the neoconservative movement is pro-Israel, but that's not its sum.

On this question I asked Mearsheimer and Walt particularly about their focus on Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defense secretary who was an architect of the war. In making the case that Wolfowitz was thinking Israel when he argued for an Iraq invasion, they cite The Jerusalem Post and the Forward quoting AIPAC members as saying Wolfowitz is pro-Israel.

Second-hand quotes from interests vested in the idea of a pro-Israel polity do not constitute evidence either of his pro-Israel leanings or how such feelings influenced his support for the war. I pointed out to the authors that AIPAC reflexively brands every civil servant in this town above the rank of driver as "enthusiastically pro-Israel."

Why, I wondered, no mention of Wolfowitz's many writings on the general idea of pre-emptive action, his efforts as the lead U.S. official shepherding democracy into the Philippines and Indonesia in the 1980s?

And what about his 2003 endorsement of the Geneva agreements positing Israel's return to pre-1967 lines, made explicitly because he believed the Israel-Palestinian issue had to be solved if Iraq was to succeed? (To say the lobby was less than enthusiastic about the Geneva agreements would be an understatement.)

Were these not more germane to understanding his commitment to war with Iraq than rumors of his commitment to Israel?

In response to my questions about the neoconservative case for war, Mearsheimer responded: "We're not making the argument that they were monomaniacal, that the United States had to invade Iraq for Israeli benefits."

Yet absent other evidence of the Bush administration's commitment to invade Iraq, that is exactly how their book comes across. The writers assemble quotes from leaders in Jerusalem to show that while Israel "did not initiate the campaign for war against Iraq," it "did join forces with the neoconservatives to help sell the war to the Bush administration and the American people."

All of the quotes offered up by the authors postdate the May 1, 2002 scene described in the opening of "Hubris," the best-selling account of the Iraq war by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, when President Bush says of Saddam Hussein, "I'm going to kick his m-----f-----g ass all over the Mideast."

And there is an abundance of evidence dating back to the days following Sept. 11, 2001 that it was Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney directing the push to invade Iraq. Bush's former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil has even suggested that confronting Iraq seemed to be on the minds of the president and vice president from the first days of the Bush administration.

In fact, the idea that Israel joined with neoconservatives to "sell" Bush on Iraq posits an inversion of how Washington operates -- especially under this administration. Bush's proxies made it clear to Jewish leaders -- and just about everyone else -- in the first days of the administration that the tradition of joining forces on areas of agreement and agreeing to disagree on all else was null: You either signed on with the whole Bush agenda or you were frozen out.

And so, as 2002 wore into 2003, every interest group in this town that needed access to an immensely popular president -- the media, the Democrats and, yes, Jewish and pro-Israel groups -- signed on more or less to the White House policy that arched over all others: invading Iraq.

The authors weren't buying.

"I guess I'm not persuaded by the argument that the Bush administration told them, 'You're with us or against us and that's the way we do business,' " Walt said. "Because these organizations were not at all bashful about taking on the Bush administration when they didn't like his calling for a Palestinian state, when he pushed Sharon around, when he tried to push Sharon around about the reoccupation of the West Bank."

I tried to make the case to the authors that risking White House alienation to lobby for one's direct interest -- in this case Israel -- was one thing; risking this agenda by opposing the president's overall foreign policy was quite another.

A few days later, Ira Forman of the National Jewish Democratic Council would offer a much more eloquent formulation in an essay in The New York Jewish Week. In rejecting the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis on pro-Israel responsibility for the Iraq war, Forman wrote: "As soon as a minority community tries to extend its organizational power to other public policy arenas, its power to affect policy is significantly reduced, as it must compete with other powerful interest groups."

The authors don't let anything get in the way of their theory, devolving at times into obfuscation and outright falsehood. Israel was "enthusiastic" about the first Persian Gulf War, they wrote, in an effort to explain why its leaders signed on to this one. In fact, many Israeli officials complained to their American counterparts that Israel's deterrence had been gravely damaged by having to sit on its hands in the face of Iraqi Scud missile attacks as others dealt with Saddam. But noting Israel's belief in the deterrence value of dealing with threats by itself would undercut the thesis that it pushed for the U.S. invasion this time around.

Mearsheimer and Walt assert that even Jewish liberals were enthused about the war. They quote Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Reform Movement's Religious Action Center, as saying that "the Jewish community would want to see a forceful resolution to the threat that Saddam Hussein poses."

Aside from the fact that what Saperstein told Salon magazine in September 2002 was clearly descriptive, not prescriptive, the quote begs the question of why authors able to research deeply enough to write that Saperstein is "known for his liberal views" were unable to uncover Saperstein and the Reform movement's endorsement of congressional efforts in early 2003 to force Bush to seek re-approval for war before invading. These legislative efforts were seen as attempts to head off an invasion.

No mention is made of the Bush administration's hard sell of the Iraq war to Jewish leaders and Jewish Democrats in Congress. Cheney made a presentation to Jewish lawmakers -- reported by JTA and others -- that included what turned out to be unfounded reports of missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction pointed at Israel.

No mention is made of solidly pro-Israel Jewish Democrats who were opposed to the war at the time -- U.S. Reps. Bob Filner of California and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois stand out. U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) led efforts to force Bush to seek reauthorization of the war.

"Never mind" also characterizes the authors' response to my questions about the recent revelation by Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's planning chief at the State Department and a fierce critic of the Pentagon neoconservatives who pushed for war, that prior to the invasion, Israeli leaders made it clear that they thought Iran was the real threat and Iraq was a distraction.

"What Wilkerson is saying is that the Israelis, when they caught wind of the fact that the United States was thinking about attacking Iraq, in early 2002 went to Washington and told the Americans, the Bush administration in particular, that the real threat was Iran, not Iraq, and they made it clear that they'd prefer we went after Iran and not Iraq," Mearsheimer said in our interview. "Once it became clear that the United States intended to do Iran and Syria after it handled Iraq, the Israelis quickly bought into the enterprise and pushed us very hard."

But who was the "us" being pushed if the Israelis were being pushed by the Bush administration?

It is one thing for the authors to omit telling details that would undermine their theory. When it comes to America's Syrian policy, however, they omit whole trends.

Mearsheimer and Walt ignore Israel's panic, reported by JTA and others, in late 2005 when it became clear that elements in the Bush administration were seeking regime change in Syria as "transformative." Israeli officials strove to make clear that it had outlined all post-regime scenarios and none of them were good.

Bush's fury with the Syrians for undermining the single Middle Eastern success of his pro-democracy policy, Lebanon's "Cedar Revolution" -- repeated in dozens of White House statements -- gets no mention in the Mearsheimer-Walt book. In fact, the only time the authors cite the successful ouster of Syrian occupation forces is when arguing that Israel's policies are inviting their return.

Similarly, the authors correctly describe Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), a Jewish Democrat, as "pro-Israel" and as driving efforts to isolate Syria. But they never mention the substantial Lebanese American community he answers to in his Bronx district.

It is fair to ask why so much hay should be made over three chapters -- on Iraq, Syria and Lebanon -- in a book with eight more, plus a substantial introduction and conclusion.

The authors say they are not anti-Semitic -- Walt's eloquent, impassioned condemnation of all its manifestations in our interview leads me to take them at their word. But anti-Semitism would be the consequence should it become common currency that Jewish and pro-Israel interests are controlling U.S. foreign policy in general, and especially a war that increasingly is seen as this century's first major fiasco.

While not anti-Semitic, the authors clearly wish for a pristine foreign policy community bereft somehow of the interests that define the to and fro of American political life. It's "OK," Walt said, for such interests to "advocate policies that they think are good for the United States and good for the other society, too. This is just a fact of life in America."

But then he adds: "It's also OK for us to point out that individuals have multiple loyalties and to also argue that those multiple loyalties may fog up their view of what's in the American interest. It's complicated."

Not really: What he's arguing is that some interests are more equal than others. And what appears to be clouded -- especially in ascribing without evidence an excessive pro-Israel interest to the likes of Paul Wolfowitz -- is how the authors understand what it means to be Jewish in America.

This matters because how Jews, Israel, the pro-Israel lobby and the U.S. government interact is critically important and is begging for a little light.

Unfortunately that tale was not forthcoming from authors who abjured original research.

"The critical issue is whether or not we would tell a different story or someone else would tell a different story if they did more extensive interviewing than we did," Mearsheimer said. "And we're confident that would not be the case. We regard the story as basically correct, and doing more interviewing would not alter the story line in any way."

Yet such research would have led them to learn that it was not AIPAC but congressional Republicans who during last year's Lebanon war undercut the efforts by Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), then the minority leader of the U.S. House of Represenatives, to include a line in a pro-Israel resolution urging "all sides to protect innocent civilian life."

It would have led them to report that it was White House pressure, in part, that pushed Israel in April to distance itself for a week or so from Pelosi's efforts to assure Syria that Israel did not want war.

In early 2005 Silvan Shalom, then the Israeli foreign minister, met with Hebrew-speaking reporters after his first meeting with Condoleezza Rice in her new capacity as U.S. secretary of state. Shalom made it clear that he had expected Rice not to emulate her predecessor, Colin Powell, by pressing too hard on Israel's settlement policy.

Instead, Rice dressed him down on settlement expansion and the failure to remove unauthorized outposts.
"The Americans really are concerned about settlements," Shalom said with amazement.

Whatever one thinks of the settlement enterprise, this should not have been news. And the failure to understand the screamingly obvious was Shalom's failure, to be sure, and that of his Israeli advisers. But it was also a failure of the pro-Israel lobby, which claims to warn Israel -- albeit behind closed doors -- when it is transgressing perceived American interests.

How such a breakdown in communications now characterizes the U.S.-Israel relationship would make a really good book – and help launch an important discussion. "The Israel Lobby" is not that book. And all Walt and Mearsheimer have achieved with their massive diversion based on unfounded accusations of overly broad Jewish influence is to help those who want to shut down that discussion.

As our interview neared an end, I bounced a theory off them: Could it be that they were consciously overstating their arguments for political purposes -- in other words, were they essentially "swift-boating" the pro-Israel lobby?

"You can argue that we got the subject, we got the story wrong, that our interpretation is incorrect, that we didn't look at the right sources, but that's not swift-boating, that's just making mistakes," Mearsheimer said, referring to the 2004 attacks on the Vietnam War record of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) that helped sink his presidential bid and later were revealed as largely unsubstantiated.

"We don't accept that the book was full of mistakes," he said. "This is not to say there are zero mistakes in this book -- nobody can write a book or an article, nobody, and not make a mistake or two. It just goes with the territory. This book is not riddled with errors, although we're going to be charged with sloppy scholarship."

Ron Kampeas is JTA's Washington bureau chief.


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Madonna in Israel for Kabbalah conference

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/madonna-in-israel-for-kabbalah.html

 
Actually, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are in Israel for the same purpose, according to Time Magazine, but they didn't rate headlines in Ha'aretz.
 
According to the article, "The singer has taken the Hebrew name Esther, and has been seen wearing a red thread on her wrist to ward off the evil eye."
 
Esther was the non-Jewish name of the heroine of the Purim story. Her Hebrew name was Hadassah. The name Esther is probably derived from the pagan godess, Ishtar.
 
And the article tells us, "Madonna was raised a Roman Catholic, but she has become a follower of Jewish mysticism in recent years, raising the ire of many Orthodox Jews who see the adoption of Kabbalah by non-Jewish pop figures as an abomination."
 
Why, oh why, do Jews insist on pushing non-Jews away if they support us, for any reason?
 
Ami Isseroff
 
.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Charter school Allowed to teach Hebrew

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/charter-school-allowed-to-teach-hebrew.html

We are glad to see that common sense prevailed.
 
 
Course correction: Hebrew is back in
The charter school may teach about the Jewish faith, but must stop short of advocacy.
Associated Press
Published September 12, 2007 
 
FORT LAUDERDALE - A charter school may resume teaching in Hebrew, three weeks after the lessons were halted over concerns the Jewish faith was seeping into public classrooms, the school board voted Tuesday.
 
Broward County board members said close monitoring of the country's first Hebrew-language charter school still is necessary, but that its administrators had cleared up major concerns.
 
The school district will work with the Ben Gamla Charter School in Hollywood to create training programs for teachers and board members to ensure the separation of church and state, said superintendent James Notter. Lesson plans will be submitted monthly for district review.
 
The school may teach about the Jewish faith, but cannot advocate it. Hebrew instruction is to resume Monday.
 
"We never considered crossing that line," said school founder Peter Deutsch, a former Democratic congressman.
 
Ben Gamla's roughly 400 students in kindergarten through eighth grades follow the state curriculum, but also are to take a Hebrew language course. One of their core subjects - math or physical education, for example - is also to be taught bilingually.
 
The school taught Hebrew for only three days before classes were halted last month. Since then, they have used the time allotted for language instruction to teach Israeli geography and Jewish history and culture.
 
Michael Gerson, a Coral Springs man whose 6-year-old daughter Julia goes to Ben Gamla, said he felt the debate helped strengthen the curriculum. He said he was glad his daughter would begin learning Hebrew again just after the start of the Jewish New Year.
 
"That's all we wanted," he said. "We didn't want them to teach them religion."
 
Deutsch plans additional Ben Gamla locations in South Florida and in New York and Los Angeles. The school takes its name from a Jewish high priest.
 
[Last modified September 12, 2007, 00:25:28]


Continued (Permanent Link)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad interviewed on UK TV Channel 4.

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/mahmoud-ahmadinejad-interviewed-on-uk.html

Video: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad interviewed on UK TV Channel 4. He has interesting things to say about the Holocaust.

 


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The Jewish problem in America

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/jewish-problem-in-america.html

Yair Sheleg reviews the problems and progress of the North American Jewish community over the past year and the centrality of Israel to American Jewish life.
 
Sheleg believes that the existential threat posed by Iran eclipsed the question of assimilation and intermarriage at the Jewish People Planning Policy Institute (JPPPI) in Jerusalem two months ago. The ascendancy of the survival issue is bad news for those who advocate Israeli centrality, claims Sheleg, since the major threat is the threat to Israel by Iranian nuclear weapons.  
 
Sheleg's thesis has one major flaw. Following the conference, one did not get the impression that alarm at assimilation is flagging. The question of centrality of Israel certainly did come up, but the arguments against centrality didn't seem to have much to do with fear of Iranian nuclear attack. The objections to the centrality of Israel were mostly those of Jews who were interested in assimilating, or worried about spending too much money on Israel rather than concentrating on charities "at home." 
 
It is quite true that, as several studies have found,  interest of Jewish young people in Israel is flagging, but this is a long term trend that is associated with assimilation, rather than being related to the perceived existential threat of Iran. The good news is the persistent evidence that programs like the Taglit Birthright program can reverse the lack of interest in Israel. More creative solutions like this, to bring young people to Israel in masses, must be found. If only the money were available, Israel could offer a free one year university education to all qualified applicants, or set up work-study programs in various fields.
 
The rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States, is also mentioned in Sheleg's article. But it sneaks in under the guise of the "Israel Lobby." In Europe at least, it is much easier to see the anti-Semitism for what it is. The Israel Lobby libel, on the other hand, threatens to drive Jewish support away from Israel, on the dubious premise that if only Jews "keep a low profile" they can avoid the consequences of anti-Semitism.    
 
Ami Isseroff


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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thomas Friedman: Iraq Through China's Lens

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/thomas-friedman-iraq-through-chinas.html

Thomas Friedman: Iraq Through China's Lens

 
Something is out of balance with America today. Looking at the world from here, it is hard not to feel that China has spent the last six years training for the Olympics while we've spent ourselves into debt on iPods and Al Qaeda.

After 9/11, we tried to effect change in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world by trying to build a progressive government in Baghdad. There was, I believed, a strategic and moral logic for that.

But the strategy failed, for a million different reasons, and now it is time to recognize that and focus on how we insulate ourselves from the instability of that world — by having a real energy policy, for starters — how we protect our security interests there in more sustainable ways and how we get back to developing our own house.

By now it should be clear that Iraq is going to be what it is going to be. We've never had sufficient troops there to shape Iraq in our own image. We simply can't go on betting so many American soldiers and resources that Iraqis will one day learn to live together on their own — without either having to be bludgeoned by Saddam or baby-sat by us.

So either we get help or get out. That is, if President Bush believes staying in Iraq can still make a difference, then he needs to muster some allies because the American people are not going to sustain alone — nor should they — a long-shot bet that something decent can still be built in Baghdad.

If the president can't get help, then he has to initiate a phased withdrawal: now. Because the opportunity cost this war is exacting on our country and its ability to focus on anything else is out of all proportion to what might still be achieved in Iraq by our staying, with too few troops and too few friends.

Iraqis can add. The surge has brought more calm to Iraq largely because the mainstream Iraqi Sunnis finally calculated that they have lost and that both the pro-Al Qaeda Iraqi Sunnis and the radical Shiites are more of a threat to them than the Americans they had been shooting at.

The minute we start withdrawing, all Iraqis will carefully calculate their interests. They may decide that they want more blood baths, but there is just as much likelihood that they will eventually find equilibrium.


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Israeli air incursion: Israel attacked missile batteries in Syria

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/israeli-air-incursion-israel-attacked.html

Among the many theories about the Israeli strike in Syria, this one has a ring of versimilitude:
'IAF attacked missile batteries; Assad advisors pushing for retaliation'
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 12, 2007
Advisors to Syrian President Bashar Assad are pressuring him to respond to the alleged IAF attack by "landing a blow to an Israeli target," The Kuwaiti daily Al-Jareeda reported Wednesday.

According to the report, Israel targeted long-range missile batteries that were brought to Syria from Iran.

The report said that five IAF fighter jets carried out the attack.

Again, there is no reason offered as to why Israel is keeping mum about the strike. They did not do so in the past. The most logical explanation is that the target was a Russian-manned radar or missile installation or perhaps an electronic listening post, like the one that did so much damage in the recent Lebanon war. That would be a good reason for Israel to keep silent about the target. Russian-manned radar would make a crucial difference in any war with Syria, since it would provide the air-defense umbrella that would allow Syrian aircraft to operate over Israel. Russians would probably not allow the Syrians to man the most advanced systems. The actual function of the radar may have been intended to protect Russian ports on the Mediterranean, but in a war, it could be used to provide missile cover.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 


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What the Israeli air strike in Syria was about: Yet another theory

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/what-israeli-air-strike-in-syria-was.html

The Israeli air incursion or strike in Syria has provoked wide speculation. The only real fact reported thus far is that the Turks found empty fuel tanks jettisoned by one or more aircraft. Jerusalem Post, following CNN, reported that Israel had attacked "Iranian targets" in Syria and added ground troops to the story.  A New York Times report fleshes out that story, but also offers delicious hints about nuclear targets in Syria.
 
 
A Defense Department official said Israeli jets had struck at least one target in northeastern Syria last Thursday, but the official said it was still unclear exactly what the jets hit and the extent of the bombing damage.....

Officials in Washington said that the most likely targets of the raid were weapons caches that Israel's government believes Iran has been sending the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah through Syria. Iran and Syria are Hezbollah's primary benefactors, and American intelligence officials say a steady flow of munitions from Iran runs through Syria and into Lebanon....

One Bush administration official said Israel had recently carried out reconnaissance flights over Syria, taking pictures of possible nuclear installations that Israeli officials believed might have been supplied with material from North Korea. The administration official said Israeli officials believed that North Korea might be unloading some of its nuclear material on Syria.

"The Israelis think North Korea is selling to Iran and Syria what little they have left," the official said. He said it was unclear whether the Israeli strike had produced any evidence that might validate that belief.

Both theories have the same drawback. If Israel had evidence of a nuclear installation, or if Israel was hitting Iranian arms supplies, one would think the Israeli government would be very happy to supply reconnaisance photos to justify the incursion. Proof of Syrian/Iranian arms supplies to Hezbollah would not be good for Syria, nor would proof that they are developing a clandestine nuclear program.  
 
Ami Isseroff
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel: The Seventh Year problem

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/israel-seventh-year-problem.html

Today marks the beginning of a Shmita (Sabbatical) year. When the first Jewish settlers returned to the land over a century ago, they were soon faced by the problem of the Shmita - the seventh year in which fields are supposed to lie fallow according to Jewish law.
 
For the farmers of the Bilu, this would have meant starvation, but extremist rabbis insisted on it. A compromise was adopted: a symbolic sale of the land to non-Jews. Now however, orthodox extremists have objected to this arrangement. The chief rabbinate would no longer allow it. In fact, the IDF has been forced to purchase food from the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip!
 
Instead of the chief rabbinate, the controversial rabbi Ovadia Yosef came to the rescue with common sense, and hosted the symbolic "sale." It remains to be seen if the food grown in this way will be certified kosher.
 
Far be it from me to attack someone's religion. If their religion tells them to starve to death, that is their affair. But it seems to me that they have no right to condemn others to that fate. Judaism will not be advanced by forcing people to choose between starvation and apostasy. Certain religions made converts by muliplying loaves and fishes, but I have not heard of any that made converts by forcing people to starve.
 
Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The 'Israel Lobby' Myth

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/israel-lobby-myth.html

George P. Shultz's  rebuttal of the Israel Lobby libel is about as good as they get in my opinion. It attacks the basis of the libel, rather than trying to nibble away at each of the fabrications that are used to bolster it. However, the people who support the idea that U.S. policy is controlled by the Jews, are not interested in reasoned argument. What is somewhat discouraging, is that there are so many of them.
 
The 'Israel Lobby' Myth
By George P. Shultz
Posted September 9, 2007
Israel is a free, democratic, open, and relentlessly self-analytical place. To hear harsh criticism of Israel's policies and leaders, listen to the Israelis. So questioning Israel for its actions is legitimate, but lies are something else. Throughout human history, they have been used not only to vilify but to establish a basis for cruel and inhuman acts. The catalog of lies about Jews is long and astonishingly crude, matched only by the suffering that has followed their promulgation.

Defaming the Jews by disputing their rightful place among the peoples of the world has been a long-running, well-documented, and disgraceful series of episodes across history. Again and again a time has come when legitimate criticism slips across an invisible line into what might be called the "badlands," a place where those who should be regarded as worthy adversaries in debate are turned into scapegoats, targets, all-purpose objects of blame.
In America, we protect all speech, even the most hurtful lies. We allow a virtual free-for-all by which laws are adopted, enforced, and interpreted. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent yearly to influence this process; thousands of groups vie for influence. Among these are Jewish groups that have come under renewed criticism for being part of an all-powerful "Israel lobby," most notably in a book published this week by Profs. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer.
Jewish groups are influential. They also largely agree that the United States should support Israel. But the notion that they have anything like a uniform agenda and that U.S. policy in Israel and the Middle East is the result of this influence is simply wrong.
One choice.
 
Some critics seem overly impressed with the way of thinking that says to itself, "Since there is a huge Arab Islamic world out there with all the oil, and it is opposed to this tiny little Israel with no natural resources, then realistically the United States has to be on the Arab side and against Israel on every issue, and since this isn't the case, there must be some underhanded Jewish plot at work." This is a conspiracy theory, pure and simple.
 
Another tried and true method for damaging the well-being and security of the Jewish people and the State of Israel is a dangerously false analogy. Witness former President Jimmy Carter's book Palestine--Peace Not Apartheid. Here the association on the one hand is between Israel's existentially threatened position and the measures it has taken to protect its population from terrorist attacks, driven by an ideology bent on the complete eradication of the State of Israel, and, on the other, the racist oppression of South Africa's black population by the white Boer regime.

The tendency of mind that lies behind such repulsive analogies remains and is reinforced by the former president's views, spread across his book, which come down on the anti-Israel side of every case. These false analogies stir up and lend legitimacy to more widely based movements that take the same dangerous direction.

Anyone who thinks that Jewish groups constitute a homogeneous "lobby" ought to spend some time dealing with them. For example, my decision to open a dialogue with Yasser Arafat after he met certain conditions evoked a wide spectrum of responses from the government of Israel, its political parties, and American Jewish groups who weighed in on one side or the other. Other examples in which the United States rejected Israel's view of an issue, or the view of the American Jewish community, include the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and President Reagan's decision to go to the cemetery at Bitburg, Germany.

 
The United States supports Israel not because of favoritism based on political pressure or influence but because the American people, and their leaders, say that supporting Israel is politically sound and morally just.

We are a great nation. Mostly, we make good decisions. We are not babes in the woods. We act in our own interests. And when we mistakenly conclude from time to time--as we will--that an action or policy is in America's interest, we must take responsibility for the mistake.
 
So, on every level, those who blame Israel and its Jewish supporters for U.S. policies they do not support are wrong. They are wrong because, to begin with, support for Israel is in our best interests. They are also wrong because Israel and its supporters have the right to try to influence U.S. policy. And they are wrong because the U.S. government is responsible for the policies it adopts, not any other state or any of the myriad lobbies and groups that battle daily-- sometimes with lies -- to win America's support.
George Shultz was secretary of state from 1982 to 1989. This is excerpted from his introduction to The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control by Abraham Foxman (Palgrave Macmillan).


Continued (Permanent Link)

A solution to the mysterious IAF foray into Syria?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/solution-to-mysterious-iaf-foray-into.html

Is this the reason for the IAF attack?

'IAF and ground troops attacked Iranian targets in Syria'

Sep. 11, 2007

Israel's alleged incursion into Syrian skies last week included a strike on what was likely to have been Iranian arms transferred to the country, CNN reported on Tuesday afternoon. According to the news network, a ground operation was also part of the overall foray. Neither Jerusalem nor Damascus has confirmed the report.

CNN claimed that the operation was largely aerial but also had comprised of ground components, left "a great hole in the desert." Although CNN did not cite a specific source, the network gave credence to "US government officials." The report said the IAF targets were likely to be weaponry delivered by Syria which was intended for the use of Hizbullah.

Keeping with its policy of not commenting on the alleged flyover of Syrian territory, senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office refused to comment on the CNN report.

Further, the report said the US was pleased with the alleged sortie, which it said, sent a "clear message" to the region.

Earlier Tuesday, a planned visit by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Moallem to Saudi Arabia has been cancelled, Israel Radio reported.

Syrian sources told the Hizbullah owned TV station Al Manar that "a visit was never planned, and therefore its cancellation makes no sense."

Reportedly, the Syrian foreign minister was expected to give King Abdullah in Jeddah a missive from the Syrian president.

It was unclear whether Moallem was invited by Saudi Arabia and the invitation was withdrawn, or whether Syria initiated a meeting with the Persian Gulf state.

On Sunday, Moallem visited Turkey where he presented "evidence" of the alleged IAF foray; the planned visit to Riyadh - flatly denied by Damascus - could have been planned for a similar purpose.

Saudi Arabian-Syrian relations cooled off since the Second Lebanon War, when the Saudis condemned Hizbullah, backed by Syria, for hijacking IDF soldiers - the event that led Israel to retaliate.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli - Palestinian framework agreement leaked

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/israeli-palestinian-framework-agreement.html

The Maan news service is showing a Hebrew document that it claims is the draft framework agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and an English translation of that document.

There are substantive differences between the Hebrew original and the MAAN translation. Some of the main ones are given in this corrected translation. This is not a declaration of principles, but a MODEL for a declaration of principles. A document of this TYPE ["mehasug hazeh"] must be reached by the time of the international conference, but this is not the document.

Here is a corrected translation of some of the major points:

Introduction: "The Israeli leadership and the PLO leadership must enter immediately a procedure (move) which once completed will lead to the establishment of two states - Israel and Palestine, to formulate a decument of principles and to reach understandings OF THE TYPE detailed below."

"1. Israel will end the occupation of the West Bank within an agreed period of time. The withdrawal and evacuation of settlements will be carried out gradually and in several stages. Each evacuated area will be turned over to the Palestinian Authority which will enforce law and order in it. The existence of a regime in Gaza that is willing to be part of the part process will make it possible to realize Israel's vision that Gaza and the West Bank form a single state unit."

....

Conclusion:

A document that will be based on principles OF THE ABOVE TYPE must be concluded prior to the international meeting in November, exhibited during the course of it, and anchored in the international declarations that follow it.

Immediately after the international meeting, IN PARALLEL with negotiations on attaining a detailed agreement, Israel shall commence withdrawal of forces and evacuation of settlements from areas in the West Bank. The completion of the stages of evacuation shall be done in parallel with the completion of the negotiations.

 

The Maannews translation is below.

Ami Isseroff  

 

 8 point declaration of principles being thrashed out by Israelis and Palestinians before autumn summit

Date: 11 / 09 / 2007 Bethlehem - Ma'an - Exclusive - Ma'an News Agency has received from an Israeli source exclusive copy, written in Hebrew, of the points which are being crystallized as a declaration of principles between Israel and the PLO before the autumn summit, expected to be held in November in Washington.

The following is an exact translation of the 1 page document:

"The Israeli leadership and the PLO leadership must immediately get involved in an operation which once completed will lead to the establishment of two states - Israel and Palestine. Relying on a basic declaration of principles and understandings as follows:

1. Israel to ends its occupation of the West Bank in a given period of time. Gradual withdrawal and evacuation of Israeli settlements. Each evacuated area will be turned over to the Palestinian Authority where law and order will prevail. And law and order will be established in Gaza as part of the process which will enable Israel to see the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as one political entity.

2. An unarmed Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. The specific details of the borders will be determined according to security needs, demographic developments and humanitarian requirements. This will pave the way to for an equal territorial exchange. Israel will keep some settlement blocs and maintain geographic contiguity in Palestine and horizons for economic prosperity.

3. There will be two capitals in Jerusalem, one for Israel and one for Palestine. The Israeli neighbourhoods will be under Israeli sovereignty and the Arab neighbourhoods under Palestinian sovereignty. There will be cooperation between both authorities which will allow for better administration of people's lives.

4. Special arrangements will be prepared to secure access to Holy places for all religions. A special administrative authority will be established to organise access of both people to Holy places in the Old City of Jerusalem.

5. Palestine to be declared a national homeland for the Palestinian people and Israel to be declared a national homeland for the Jewish people.

6. A just solution to be agreed on for the problem of the Palestinian refugees with recognition of their suffering and understanding of their individual right within the framework of a comprehensive solution.

7. Both sides to declare the end of conflict and endeavour to gain public support as much as possible and both sides to do their best to cooperate against any aspect of terrorism and violence from either of the two states against the other.

8. Both sides to consider this agreement as being in accordance with the principles of the peace initiative proposed by the Arab League. Both will call the Arab League to positive steps towards full implementation of that initiative. They will also call on the international community and the International Quartet to intervene and provide aid in different ways to push the agreement forward.

This declaration must be agreed on by both the Israeli and Palestinian sides before the US-sponsored autumn peace summit. It will then be proposed and documented as international resolutions, the statement read.

After the autumn peace summit reaches a detailed agreement Israeli will start to withdraw and start to evacuate settlements in the West Bank and complete the negotiation process and gradually implement what has been agreed, the statement added.

 

 


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Palestinian Qassams wound 69 IDF troops

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/palestinian-qassams-wound-69-idf-troops.html

Reports of the number of soldiers hurt by the Qassam rocket strike at the IDF base near Kibbutz Zikkim this morning vary: Hamas hails rocket strike that wounds 66 IDF troops states Ha'aretz, but others give different numbers. The strike was hailed by the Hamas, who called it a "victory from God," but it was supposedly carried out by the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees.
 
The riddle is, how can Israel conclude a serious peace agreement with Mahmoud Abbas, as he asks, if he doesn't control Gaza. The theory is, that concluding at least a framework agreement will empower Abbas and the Fatah to retrieve the situation in Gaza. In theory it might work. In practice, it is going to be difficult to get political support for Israeli concessions while in effect, Abbas cannot offer anything, because he doesn't control security in Gaza at all, and his hold in the West Bank is also theoretical.  The value of the deal for Israel is disentanglement from the occupation and European and possibly Arab support, important in the confrontation with Iran. The dangers are all too obvious.
 
Israel is doing the usual retaliatory raids, that are just enough to get everyone mad at us, but not enough to stop the rockets. They only seem to demonstrate Israeli powerlessness. IDF seems to be vetoing a larger operation, on the grounds that tension with Syria might lead to a two front engagement. Does anyone remember the Six Day War?

Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Olmert may be under Criminal investigation - or not

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/olmert-may-be-under-criminal.html

 
State Attorney Eran Shendar indicated Monday night that he believed Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz should order a criminal investigation of two affairs involving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's term of office as Minister of
Industry and Commerce under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The cases include the investment center affair, where Olmert is suspected of giving favorable treatment to his close friend and former law partner, Uri Messer, and the case of the Small and Medium Business Authority, where he is suspected of making political appointments. Mazuz must decide whether to order police to launch a criminal investigation into these two matters.
 

We should note that there have been several such allegations against different Prime Ministers, including Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak. Until now, they never resulted in prosecution. It is anyone's guess whether there was really no case, or the Attorney General decided he had a case that couldn't be proven against a battery of high-powered lawyers, or whether there was a real cover-up.
 
Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

What Israel Lobby?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/what-israel-lobby.html

Arab Lobby anyone? Jeff Robbins confesses:
 
 Not long after Sept. 11, 2001, I received a call from a major defense contractor asking for a favor. I was serving as president of the Boston chapter of the World Affairs Council, a national organization that debates foreign policy, and the defense contractor was one of the Council's principal sponsors.
The Saudi Arabian government was sponsoring a national public relations campaign to cultivate American public opinion, and was sending Saudi emissaries around the country to make the case that Saudi Arabia was a tolerant, moderate nation worthy of American support. Would the Council organize a forum of Boston's community leaders so
that the Saudis could make their case?
While this was patently no more than a Saudi lobbying effort, we organized the forum, and it was well-attended by precisely the slice of Boston's political and corporate elite that the Saudis and their defense contractor benefactor had hoped for. The Saudis maintained that their Kingdom should be regarded as a promoter of Middle East peace, and that the abundant evidence that Saudi Arabia was in fact promoting a virulent brand of extremist Islam should be discounted.

Saudi Arabia paid for the trip of its emissaries to Boston, for the Washington, D.C.-based public relations and lobbying company which organized the trip, and for the Boston public relations and lobbying company that handled the Boston part of the visit. And it drew upon the resources and relationships of the defense contractor, which sells hundreds of millions of dollars of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, to support and orchestrate its public relations effort.

The billions in petrodollars Arab states spend in the U.S. for defense, construction, engineering and consulting contracts position them nicely to win friends in high places, and friends are what they have. That is true all over the world, is true in this country, and has been true for quite some time. As U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull noted 60 years ago, "The oil of Saudi Arabia constitutes one of the world's great prizes." His successor, Edward Stettinius, opposed the creation of a Jewish state in the Middle East, stating "It would seriously prejudice our ability to afford protection to American interests, economic and commercial . . . throughout the area."
The Saudis and their allies have not been shy about supplementing their considerable leverage in the U.S. by targeting expenditures to affect the debate over Middle East policy by funding think tanks, Middle East studies programs, advocacy groups, community centers and other institutions.

To take one obvious example, just last year Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal donated $20 million each to Harvard and Georgetown Universities for programs in Islamic studies. Prince Alwaleed, chairman of a Riyadh-based conglomerate, is the fellow whose $10 million donation to the Twin Towers Fund following the Sept. 11 attacks was rejected by then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani after the Saudi Prince suggested that the U.S. "re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinians."
Georgetown and Harvard had no apparent qualms about accepting Prince Alwaleed's money. The director of Georgetown's newly-renamed Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center rejected any suggestion that the Saudi magnate was attempting to use Saudi oil wealth to influence American policy in the Middle East. "There is nothing wrong with [Prince Alwaleed] expressing his opinion on American foreign policy," he said. "Clearly, it was done in a constructive way."


What Robbins forgot to mention, is that a far more potent Arab lobby consists of the Aramco oil company and various U.S. petroleum firms. Add to that the voices of the largish U.S. diplomatic corps deployed in Arab countries, and professional U.S.  racists like Tanya Hsu, and you have a very potent mix.
 
Ami Isseroff 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israeli Star Gate - "A team" Episode Really Happened (it seems)

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/israeli-star-gate-team-episode-really.html

Chalk one up for the home team. Gotta tell it like it happens, but sometimes it is pretty confusing. First we reported here about an Israeli commando operation that could be turned into a TV script - IDF soldiers  dressed up as Hamas Oozlebarts kidnapped a big Hamas honcho from under the noses of the Hamas and brought him back to Israel. Here's how it looked from the Palestinian side:

"A special Zionist force wearing Executive Force uniform entered George street in eastern Rafah in a civilian Subaru car and then headed towards the Sufa crossing" with Israel, Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said in a statement.
 
A different report stated:
 
According to another report quoted by Israel Radio, the car travelled to Dahaniyeh airport in Gaza and an IAF chopper took the man from there.

 
But then Israeli sources denied the story. Too bad, we thought.
 
But now, we have confirmation that the caper, or one more or less like it, really took place:
 

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, partially lifting an official veil of secrecy over the Friday night kidnapping of senior Hamas commander Mahawesh al-Qadi, said Monday that the Hamas Executive Force officer is a bargaining chip in the effort to free captive IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit.
 
The IDF and Israeli officials have refused to comment on Palestinian accounts of the kidnapping, in which undercover Israeli soldiers, dressed in the uniform used by the Executive Force, reportedly lured Qadi out of his car by having one of their members pose as an old man needing help at the side of a rural road. The soldiers, waiting in a Subaru in a grove on the outskirts of Rafah, then allegedly bundled him into the car and drove to the nearby Dahaniya airfield from which witnesses said he was flown by IAF helicopter to an unknown destination.
 
Qadi is also a senior operative in Hamas' military wing. He is believed to have been closely involved in the June, 2006 kidnapping of Shalit during a Hamas-led attack on an IDF post within Israel and adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
 
Message for Americans and others: "Asymmetric" warfare doesn't have to be so asymmetric. There is no reason to throw up our hands and decide that terrorists are "invincible." Local knowledge, training, planning and ingenuity can work for the good guys too.
 
Message for the Hamas and Hezbollah - Not every encounter with the IDF will be like the Lebanon war of 2006.
 
I love it when a good plan comes together. Don't you?
 
Ami Isseroff 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Public Service - Beware of lethal fabricated "Johns Hopkins" hoax letter

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/public-service-beware-of-lethal.html

This note has nothing to do with Israel or the Middle East. It is offered as a public service. Numerous Web logs have posted the letter below, which purports to give "health" advice from Johns Hopkins. This letter can literally murder people if they take its advice. It is an extreme example of what happens when information with no provenance is given publicity.
 
Never post anything at your Web sites or blog, or forward any letter that does not come with a URL or is signed, or that you have checked in some way to ensure that it is factual.
 
The letter below advises cancer patients to avoid chemotherapy!!! This advice can and will kill people. It is like advising heart patients to smoke and work out with weights without supervision.
 
This letter is a dangerous, malicious and vicious hoax.
The mail does not come from Johns Hopkins - any child should be able to see that the "medical advice" it offers is mostly nonsense.  
Please do not ever forward any email information that comes without a URL, without checking the Web to find out if it is a hoax. How many people got this "childish" prank letter and will die because they follow its instructions?
Chemotherapy saves lives.
 
The letter states:
 
15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, unforgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.
 
Sending hoax letters is a disease of the mind only. Whoever invented this hoax was certainly enjoying themselves, and trying to peddle quack remedies too. Murder for fun and profit. 
 
List owners should reject such messages. Bloggers must never post them. If you get any messages that are not signed, check the web to see if they are hoaxes. If they are hoaxes, like the letter below, be sure to inform the person who sent you the letter, and all others who received it.
 
If you see a hoax in a Web log, you know what to think of the author of that Web log.
 
If this hoax letter is published as a true account in your Web log, you are aiding and abetting in murder.
 
Ami Isseroff 

******** TEXT OF HOAX LETTER ******* 
Released from John Hopkins: Some good healthy information for
everyone.....from a leading source of Healthcare Information!

AFTER YEARS OF TELLING PEOPLE CHEMOTHERAPY IS THE ONLY WAY TO TRY (TRY THE
KEY WORD) AND ELIMINATE CANCER, JOHN HOPKINS IS FINALLY STARTING TO TELL YOU
THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE WAY. ?

Cancer Update from John Hopkins

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime

3 When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5 To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.
***** ATTENTION - THIS LETTER IS A HOAX -- INFORMATION IN IT IS DANGEROUS AND MISLEADING *****
 
**** THIS INFORMATION WAS NEVER ISSUED BY JOHNS HOPKINS *****

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs
etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8 Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.
 
[*** Above statement is not true ******]

9 When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.
[*** Above statement is true, but steps are taken to prevent such infections and complications]
10 Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.
[*** To do that, you would have to stop eating entirely *****]

CANCER CELLS FEED ON:

a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal,Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts.. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in colour. Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.
 
[*** The above is nonsense ****]

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soya milk cancer cells are being starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains,seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment.About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live
enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts)and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).
[***There is no evidence that any of the above can cure or prevent cancer, but it is a healthy diet.**** ]
e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.
 
[*** No evidence exists linking abstinence from coffee, tea or any other food and cure of cancer]

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines become putrified and leads to more toxic buildup.
 
[*** The above is certainly babble *****]

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence,Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the body's own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, unforgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.
[ *** The above is sound advice, but it won't cure cancer without conventional therapy ****]

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.
[*** Nonsense - Cancer cells are fast growing and fast metabolizing cells- they need oxygen. If they don't need oxygen, why do they need sugar? How would they burn the sugar without oxygen?? ]

(PLEASE FORWARD IT TO PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT)
[All hoax letters tell you "please forward..."]
....


Continued (Permanent Link)

Neo-Nazi New immigrants in Petah Tikva

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/neo-nazi-new-immigrants-in-petah-tikva.html

The thing about the Neo-Nazi cell in Petah Tikva, the unbelievable failure, is that we have all known about the problem for years, but the government and the police did nothing. These non-Halachically  Jewish (Halacha is Jewish religious law) neo-Nazis are an interesting psychological phenomenon, since the Nazis would have classified them as Jews. If they were ever to get to power, their first act should have have been to kill themselves. Woody Allen could make a great movie about this.
 
Now people insist that Israel must change the Law of Return. It won't do to just blame it on Law of Return. It is an opportune time to push a favorite cause of the religious lobby: to abandon those who are not Halachic Jews to their fate in the Diaspora. However, it won't really solve the problem of poor education. The Neo-Nazis didn't become such because their Jewish grandparent was of the wrong sex, but because of poor education. There might be a few hundred of these scum out of 250,000 Jews who are not Halachic Jews, but who were admitted to Israel as Jews under the Law of Return. Among the Halachic Jews there are other people with equally sick political ideas. Perhaps it is more in order to make some reasonable test of political loyalty before admitting anyone as a citizen. Having Norman ("Holocaust Industry") Finkelstein as a citizen of Israel would not be much better than having these people, would it? But then again, if Finkelstein or these people were facing death abroad because they are Jewish, would we deny them shelter?
 
The brilliant Israeli police, having failed to do anything about the problem for years, now set about to throw the book at the offenders. They were chagrined to discover that there is no law against having a picture of Hitler in your house, and now presumably some brilliant legislator will want to make one. Thereafter, every Israeli with an encyclopedia or a history book may be liable to spend time in jail for having a picture of Hitler in their house.  
 
Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Irish boycott: Literature and politics

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/irish-boycott-literature-and-politics.html

Tom Carew of Safra-Vesaifa (No Surrender Ne pararan ) sent this charming explication of the Irish trade union boycott, inspired by the article of  Kevin Myers which originally appeared in the Irish Independent.
 
The tendency in  Irish use of language that Myers identifies here, and the contrast with the Jewish  Talmudic orientation, recalls a comment on RTE Radio 1 by Dr. Mary Henry, the former Trininty College Senator, after the Dec 15, 1993, Downing Street Declaration, in effect that there was to her, a Cork-born Protestant, a very alien quality to that mandarin-drafted inter-govermental document, signed by Albert Reynolds and John Major, in its systematically obscure use of language, which was to cloak conflicts with vague and unintelligible terminology, not reveal them, and to bury real differences by avoiding verbal distinctions, what later became known as * creative ambiguity *, and in contrast the Protestant tendency, attributed by her to their strong and ingrained respect for the biblical text, was to be very limited and meticulous in their use of language.

 The stark linguistic contrast between that visionary, declamatory Platonist, Hume [ RC grandson of a Scottish Presbyterian mason]  and the pragmatic, forensic  Aristotelian  Trimble [ grandson of a Cavan Presbyterian RIC/RUC officer], also echoes this. And Haughey, unlike Bertie, clearly belonged to the former camp.

This orientation also suggests to me the stark contrast between Beckett's austere and increasing minimalism, and Joyce's orotund and increasing logorrhoea, or between the sparse style of Presbyterian churches, against the ornate and intricate Baroque of some Roman cathedrals.

The linguistic counterpart of High Church * bells and smells * is to adorn, not commit, to impress, not convert.

And the dilution among a trendy media/cultural/academic elite, of 19th Century Marxism by other ersatz, unverifiable, ideological confections, such as *feminism*,  post-modernism, pacificism,  and multi-culturalism, allows intellectually and morally bankrupt ICTU bureaucrats to hide their increasing nakedness and irrelevance, not to mention ineffectiveness,  behind such uncritical *progressive * PC-posturing.

Tom
An original and admirable analysis, the poetic truth of which will stand regardless of my niggling analytic objections. "since feeling is first, who pays any attention to the syntax of things, will never wholly kiss kiss you" wrote the poet, ee cummings.
 
Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

The Weizmann Institute's 'Blue Planet' program recognized by UNESCO

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/weizmann-institutes-blue-planet-program.html

The Weizmann Institute's 'Blue Planet' program recognized by UNESCO

A curriculum package for middle school students written by Weizmann Institute scientists on the link between man and the environment, has won recognition by UNESCO as a worldwide model in environmental studies

(Communicated by the Weizmann Institute Publications and Media Relation Department)

Blue Planet, a curriculum package for middle school students written by Weizmann Institute scientists on the link between man and the environment, has won recognition by UNESCO as a worldwide model in environmental studies. This international organization is promoting and financing the translation of this program into various different languages, as well as its distribution throughout schools worldwide.

 

The book Blue Planet was launched by UNESCO's Deputy Assistant Prof. Andras Szollosi-Nagy, Director of the Division of Water Sciences; Weizmann Institute Vice President of Resource Development Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph; Prof. Nir Orion from the Science Education Department, who developed the program together with his former student Dr. Orit Ben-Zvi Assaraf; and the Weizmann Institute's Prof. Dan Yakir, Head of the Environmental Sciences and Energy Research Department.

 

The program focuses particularly on the water cycle in the Earth's ecosystems, and is intended for use as an effective learning tool through its wide and systematic approach, including various activities, experiments and field work that will help develop students' thinking skills and understanding.

 

The ceremony was held in the EcoSphere - a unique educational glass-enclosed geodesic dome located at the Weizmann Institute's Clore Garden of Science, where a Spanish version of the book was presented to the UNESCO representative. In the near future, the authors of the book plan to visit Latin America where they will help teachers implement this educational program into their own curriculums. The book will then be translated into Chinese and three other languages.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Kevin Myers on the Irish Trade Union boycott of Israel

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/kevin-myers-on-irish-trade-union.html

Who knows if it is all true? It should be. It is more about literature and the use of language, which has a different sort of truth, than about facts.  
 
Ami Isseroff


Irish Independent

September 7, 2007 Friday
 
Last July, that very silly organisation, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions voted in July to boycott Israel. Which is why earlier this week Dr. Zion Ivonry, the unlucky Israeli diplomat who has the colossal misfortune to be his country's Ambassador to Ireland, met ICTU officials, to discuss their brainless vote.

What poor Zion cannot possibly understand is that ICTU doesn't actually mean a proper boycott. If he were to take a screwdriver to the average ICTU laptop, he would certainly find Israeli-made semi-conductors there, and of course, ICTU medical cabinets are full of Israeli-made pharmaceuticals. Better still, ICTU intends to do nothing whatsoever about these inconvenient realities.

Infantile

As the ambassador has probably learnt already, unlike Israelis, Irish people actually don't mean what they say, or say what they mean. For we tend to use words like Arabs do, as a pose and a dramatic statement, not as a literal and analysable declaration of the truth.

The traditions of Talmudic scholarship incline Israelis to use language precisely. So if Israelis voted to boycott something, they would then boycott it, energetically and systematically, at whatever cost to themselves.

But an Irish vote to boycott something doesn't mean people are actually expected to "boycott" anything. It simply is an infantile way of expressing disapproval, a petulant stamp of the foot. No one actually has to do anything which might cause them any discomfort. The ICTU vote to boycott Israeli goods is wind and piss and vainglorious hypocrisy.

And this last characteristic, vainglorious hypocrisy, is perhaps one of the most defining of all Irish characteristics, the loud statement of a Consensually Agreed Piety, which is accompanied by absolutely no personal intention whatsoever to bring that piety about.

The greatest CAP of Irish life is that Ireland should be an Irish-speaking society; but what most individuals actually mean by this is that other people should go the trouble of learning the language, and then speaking it, not they themselves. Another common CAP, which we can read from most newspaper columnists, is that the US is primarily responsible for the woes of the world. And naturally, a further CAP is that Israel alone is the cause of the problems in the Middle East, and that the solution is in Israeli hands.

Solution

And here, for once, the CAP has a point. The solution to the Middle East tragedy is in Israeli hands, or rather, feet. If the Jews of Israel were good enough to walk into the Mediterranean and drown, that would certainly be a "solution" to the "problem". One might even say a final solution.

But short of that act of mass suicide, there's not much that the Israelis can do with the various Palestinian movements, all of which use every concession as a bargaining basis for further concessions, meanwhile rejoicing in suicide attacks on Jewish targets. Israel cannot give the Palestinians what they actually want, and which they usually conceal behind the persiflage of diplomacy; and that is the end of the Israeli state, and the eviction of all those inconvenient Jews.

Now, as it happens, I have always thought a great injustice was done to the indigenous peoples (who only came to be called "Palestinians" in more recent times: "Palestine" was an administrative term, not the home of a distinctive identity) with the formation of Israel. However, that was long ago, and there's nothing we can do about it now, any more than we can restore the confiscated lands of the Germans who were evicted from Poland,the Baltic states and Czechoslovakia in 1945-46. Nor can the Great Lakes be returned to theHurons, or Mississippi to the Choctaws.

But contrast and consider. The remaining Arab -- or if you like, Palestinian -- population of Israel has full civil rights and elects Arabs to the Knesset. However, the descendants of the 900,000 Arabs who fled the new state of Israel now number five million, most of them living in squalid refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, where they have no rights whatever.

Why? Because these Arab states made no attempt whatever to assimilate their so-called Arab brothers.

Moreover, who has been killing more Palestinians recently, Lebanon or Israel? But when did you hear anyone denouncing Lebanon for its human rights abuses?

And of course, ICTU would never call for a boycott of even Iran, which is in the middle of a wave of public executions (nearly 200 so far) and floggings (thousands). And nor would that preposterous confection, Aosdana, ever even contemplate a cultural boycott of Iran, as it did of Israel, last April.

Why is this? Well, it is actually an unintended compliment. Consensually Agreed Pieties are usually determined by expectations, and no-one expects any kind of virtue from most Middle East states. But people do expect virtue from Israel and the US. So when ICTU calls for a boycott of Israeli goods, it's actually saying (in its own stupid way, and without realising it, of course) that Israel can be made more decent by pressure and suasion.

Who would ever make such a ridiculous claim about Hamas, or the PLO, or indeed about any Arab state? They are all beyond redemption.




Continued (Permanent Link)

Action-Series scripted IDF raid didn't happen - Maybe

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/action-series-scripted-idf-raid-didnt.html

Oh well, it seems that the great operation we saw reported earlier  maybe didn't happen.
 
IDF denies capturing top Hamas member
Rebecca Anna Stoil , THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 8, 2007

The IDF denied involvement Saturday night in what Palestinians claimed was an Israeli capture of a senior Hamas operative involved in the kidnapping of IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit.

If the Palestinian reports are true, Israeli forces penetrated deep into the heart of Rafah late Friday night to nab Mohawah al-Qadi, a senior member of the Hamas's armed wing and a commander in the Executive Force.

Although the IDF denied responsibility for the operation and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) refused to comment whatsoever on the operation, Hamas said it took place over two kilometers beyond the Gaza security fence and in an area known to be a hotbed of Hamas gunmen.

"A special Zionist force wearing Executive Force uniforms entered GeorgeStreet in eastern Rafah in a civilian Subaru car and then headed towards the Sufa crossing" with Israel, Hamas's armed wing, the Izzadine al-Kassam Brigades, said in a statement.
...
 
If it never happened, what happened to Mohawah al-Qadi?? Even if it never happened, it would make a pretty good movie script.
 
Ami Isseroff


Continued (Permanent Link)

JCPA: Anatomy of Syrian-Israeli Tensions: A Background Analysis

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/09/jcpa-anatomy-of-syrian-israeli-tensions.html

 

Jerusalem Issue Brief

Institute for Contemporary Affairs

founded jointly at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

with the Wechsler Family Foundation

 

Vol. 7, No. 14    7 September 2007

 

 

Anatomy of Syrian-Israeli Tensions: A Background Analysis

 

Jerusalem Center Strategic Affairs Unit

 

 

  • Syria served as a primary conduit for the build-up of Iranian-backed Hizbullah prior to the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War in July 2006. Damascus supplied the majority of the heavy-payload rockets Hizbullah fired at Israel.

 

  • The Syrian-Israeli military balance has been characterized by a gross asymmetry in Syria's favor in standing active-service formations along the Syrian-Israeli border. In October 1973, Israel was forced to repel a massive Syrian ground assault with only 177 tanks against a total Syrian force of 1,400 tanks, providing an advantage for Syrian armor of more than eight to one.

 

  • Syria has undertaken a massive military build-up over the past few years, focusing primarily on Scud (B, C, and D) heavy rockets and chemical warheads. Syria has become a regional superpower in chemical weaponry. 

 

  • Russia is providing state-of-the-art weaponry and military technology to Syria, and is reopening a Russian naval base on the Syrian coast. Additionally, Iran's huge petrodollar-driven financing capability has played a major role in Syrian weapons procurement.

 

  • Syria's destabilizing role in the region was underscored by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., former U.S. Commander in Iraq, who confirmed that Syria has acted as a primary line of supply for weaponry and volunteers that continue to stream unfettered over the Syrian-Iraqi border to support the Iraqi insurgency against U.S. and coalition forces.

 

  • One of Syria's prime motivations in its current military behavior is to free itself of international pressure in the context of its continuing involvement in destabilizing Lebanon and with regard to its suspected main role in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

 

 

Syrian Rockets Hit Northern Israel in the Second Lebanon War

 

The report of Israeli air force activity over northeastern Syria along the Turkish-Syrian border on September 6 comes in the context of disturbing trends in Syrian military behavior. Syria served as a primary conduit for the build-up of Iranian-backed Hizbullah prior to the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War in July 2006. Damascus supplied the majority of the heavy-payload rockets Hizbullah fired at Israel, including, 220mm rockets and 302mm rockets.1 Syrian-supplied rocket warheads usually contained anti-personnel munitio ns - a mixture of lethal explosives and steel balls or fragments.

 

Syria has also increased the tempo of its military exercises and has removed roadblocks that existed for years between Damascus and the city of Kuneitra in the Golan Heights that is adjacent to its front line with Israel.

 

Historically, the Syrian-Israeli military balance has been characterized by a gross asymmetry in Syria's favor in standing active-service formations along the Syrian-Israeli border. While Syria maintains its army on battle-ready status, the bulk of the Israeli army is organized around army reserve units that are only mobilized in the event of an imminent attack. For example, in October 1973, Israel was forced to repel a massive Syrian ground assault with only 177 tanks against a total Syrian force of 1,400 tanks that stretched back from the Golan Heights to Damascus, providing an ad vantage for Syrian armor of more than eight to one.

 

 

Key Factors in Syrian Behavior

 

At present, Syria's behavior is a function of the following factors:

 

  1. The Syrian perception that it has a realistic military option against Israel based on their view of Hizbullah's successes in last summer's war.

 

  1. Syria's continued sponsorship of radical Palestinian Islamic terror groups including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and other Jihadi organizations.

 

  1. A massive Syrian military build-up focusing primarily on Scud (B, C, and D) heavy rockets and chemical warheads, with a massive commensurate increase in military spending over the past few years. The Syrian armament build-up in recent years has included a major investment in chemical weaponry, in which Syria has become a regional superpower. It is important to stress that Damascus' strategic decision to build up its military arsenal preceded the U.S. decision to provide advanced military weaponry to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

 

  1. Syria has also increased the tempo of its military exercises, and has enhanced its infrastructure on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

 

Syria's recent military build-up is all the more destabilizing in view of the decision by Russia to upgrade its influence in the region by providing state-of-the-art Russian weaponry and military technology, and to reopen a Russian naval base on the Syrian coast. Additionally, Iran's huge petrodollar-driven financing capability has played a major role in Syrian weapons procurement.

 

 

Syria's Destabilizing Role in the Region

 

Current Syrian-Israeli tensions are also punctuated by the additional Syrian strategic need to free itself of international pressure in the context of its continuing involvement in destabilizing Lebanon, as well as Damascus' interest in shaking off international pressure stemming from Syria's suspected main role in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

 

Syria's destabilizing role in the region was underscored by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., former U.S. Commander in Iraq, who confirmed that Syria has acted as a primary line of supply for weaponry and volunteers that continue to stream unfettered over the Syrian-Iraqi border to support the Iraqi insurgency against U.S. and coalition forces.2 At this sensitive juncture, it is in the interests of both Syria and Israel to prevent further deterioration of the situation.

 

*     *     *

 

Notes

 1.  Uzi Rubin, "Hisbullah's Rocket Campaign Against Northern Israel: A Preliminary Report," Jerusalem Issue Brief, Volume 6, Number 10, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, August 31, 2006, http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=1&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=443&PID=0&IID=443&TTL=Hizballah's_Rocket_Campaign_Against_Northern_Israel:_A_Preliminary_Report.
2. Thomas E. Ricks, "General: Iraqi Insurgents Directed from Syria," Washington Post, December 17, 2004, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A5886-2004Dec16?language=printer.
  
  
 

 

This Jerusalem Issue Brief is available online at:

http://www.jcpa.org

 

Dore Gold, Publisher; Yaacov Amidror, ICA Chairman; Dan Diker, ICA Director; Mark Ami-El, Managing Editor. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Registered Amuta), 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-561-9281, Fax. 972-2-561-9112, Email: jcpa@netvision.net.il. In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 5800 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, MD 21215; Tel. 410-664-5222; Fax 410-664-1228. Website: www.jcpa.org. © Copyright. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

 

The Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA) is dedicated

to providing a forum for Israeli policy discussion and debate.

 

 

 


Continued (Permanent Link)


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