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The Tunnel Attack that Triggered Israel’s Ground Incursion in Gaza

In the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, July 17th, prior to a five hour UN –negotiated Humanitarian Pause, the IAF intercepted 13 black clothed terrorists emerging from a tunnel near the Shalom Keren frontier with Gaza. Spotted by an armed IAF drone, they quickly scampered back into their tunnel and were promptly dispatched by missiles.  Calm returned with the onset of the Humanitarian Pause holding to 3PM Israel time when with a roar a barrage of more than 130 rockets rained down from Gaza on Southern and Central Israel signaling the end of the Pause.  At 4:52 PM local time, the IDF announced its limited ground incursion with the express purpose of destroying those Gaza tunnels and underground armories containing upwards of 12,000 rockets and missiles. Israel had flooded Gaza with hundreds of thousands of leaflets announcing that civilians should flee targeted areas.  The ground incursion opened with  strikes by IAF F-16s and both naval and IDF bombardment of targets in Gaza. 80 Percent of Gaza was plunged into darkness with the loss of power.

idf soldier with captured weapons in gaza

IDF Soldier with captured Tunnel attack weapons. Source: Times of Israel.

The New York Times reported:

“We will strike Hamas and we are determined to restore peace to the state of Israel,” the military spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, told reporters in a conference call. “It will progress according to the situation assessment and according to our crafted and designed plan of action to enable us to carry out this mission.”

Israel began to draft 18,000 reservists, adding to 50,000 already mobilized in recent days; Colonel Lerner said the ground forces would include infantry and artillery units, armored and engineer corps, supported by Israel’s “vast intelligence capabilities,” air force and navy.

Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, called the invasion “a dangerous step.”

Israel’s ground incursion in Operation Protective Edge is eerily familiar.  It looks like the continuation of Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009 aborted on President Obama’s inauguration,  January 20, 2009. 22 days passed in that first operation endeavoring to root out Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets hidden in tunnels and underground launching sites by terrorist rocketeers.

Virtually on the heels of Hamas’ takeover following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from northern Gaza in August 2005, those terror rockets fell on the Eshkol region of the Western Negev using homemade Qassem rockets.  Then over the ensuing nine years the deadly barrages swelled to cover the heavily populated central and northern areas including  Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Rockets fell near hotels in the resort area of Eilat on the Red Sea.  Rockets were launched from Lebanon and from Syria on Israel’s North  and the Golan.  But the main threat was the Hamas arsenal in Gaza equipped with locally manufactured M-75, Iranian-supplied longer range Grad, Fajr-5 and Syrian made M-302 rockets with ranges from 10 kilometers to 160 kilometers.  Besides drone, F-16 and helicopter attacks, the only defense against the rain of death from Gaza was the Israeli-developed Iron Dome System.  That was deployed during the eight day Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 with batteries of Tamir anti-rocket missiles. Those Iron Dome batteries have achieved an impressive 90% interception success rate against rockets intended for populated areas in Israel.  The cease fires with Hamas  that Israel brokered  via Egypt in those previous episodes never achieved the complete destruction of the underground tunnels.   We note that IDF says the removal of Hamas leadership is nor an objective in the current ground incursion.

At the start of Operation Protective Edge it was estimated that Gaza held more than 10 to 12,000 rockets and missiles. As of the start of the ground incursion today, the IDF estimated that it hit more than 2,000 targets , while Hamas  had  launched more than 1,300 rockets at Israel.   Those retaliatory actions by the IDF have resulted in an estimated 250 deaths and 2,500 injuries of both terrorist cadres and civilians in Gaza.  Actions  about which the IDF  warned intended targets with cell phone text messages, leaflets and non-explosive missiles knocking on roofs sending occupants scampering.  However, Hamas security was accused of useing human shields, a war crime. As PM Netanyahu said on a Sunday FoxNews Report on July 13th, “Israel defends its people with missiles, while Hamas defends its missiles with its people.” The Israeli toll prior to the ground incursion was one man killed by a mortar attack at the Northern Erez crossing caught while delivering food to IDF troops. There were reported  elderly heart attack deaths  shrapnel and explosive injuries to both Jewish and Bedouin citizens.

Warnings  of incoming rockets was communicated to Israelis by a new means, a Red Alert app downloaded to iPhones and Android equipped cell phones that pinged every time an incoming rocket was detected heading to their intended targets. Several hundred thousand downloads of the Red Alert app signaled  the threat of incoming rocket and missile barrages that occurred over the 10 days preceding today’s ground incursion in Gaza.

This morning I was co-host with Lisa Benson in a recorded interview with both Jon Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Shoshana Bryen of the Jewish Policy Center. That interview concerning the status and actors involved in Operation Protective Edge will air on Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 4PM EDT.  Schanzer drew attention to the IAF interception of terrorists caught emerging from a tunnel close by the Shalom Keren crossing.  When queried about whether Israel might unleash its long awaited ground incursion, Schanzer said “all bets were off” meaning that it was increasingly likely.  Bryen  noted that the  US Senate doubled an appropriation funding the Iron Dome System. She  cautioned that even with a high interception  rate there was no guarantee that the few rockets that got through would not result in casualties and damage; witness the fiery hits on factories and gas stations in Sderot and Ashkelon.   Hamas launched an Iran supplied Ababil drone promptly intercepted by a Patriot missile.

See the thwarted tunnel attack that occurred prior to the IDF ground incursion in Gaza:

The Jewish Week noted these comments from  a former IDF spokesperson about the significance of the tunnel attack:

Despite Israel’s aerial and sea assault against Hamas rocket launchers, command and control centers and other visible targets, Israel was unable to get at the network of tunnels that form a virtual underground city in the 25-mile long Gaza Strip.

That became most pronounced just hours before the cease-fire began when 13 Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip were spotted emerging from a tunnel inside Israel, according to Miri Eisen, the former Israeli government spokesperson during the Second Lebanon War.

“A woman observer saw them come out of the tunnel and when they heard the sound of a UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle], they ran back into the tunnel and the tunnel was attacked,” she said.

“In the last 10 days we have seen Hamas as a paramilitary organization, now we have seen the transition to a full-scale military, firing rockets and trying to attack Israel from the land, sea and air — and underground,” Eisen said in a conference call organized by The Israel Project. “They are trying to attack Israeli communities that are located around the Gaza Strip.”

[…]

Eisen added: “At the end of the day we’re not sure we actually killed the terrorists, but they dropped all their weapons — 15 antitank missiles and personal Kalashnikovs and ammunition.”

She said they were planning to attack a kibbutz and kidnap an Israeli soldier.

Shades of  Galid Schalit , the former IDF soldier  kidnapped during the Second Lebanon War in 2006  and held in captivity by Hamas for five years until released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in October 2011.  One of the demands by Hamas for a cease fire in Operation Protective Edge was the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel who participated in Schalit’s kidnapping.

Ms. Eisen’s comment about who was paying for construction of the tunnels and underground armories of Hamas was the subject of an op ed by Steve Emerson of  The Investigative Project just prior to the Israeli ground incursion,  “Hamas-Israel Cease Fire, its déjà vu all over Again”.

Emerson noted:

What happened to President Obama’s promises to Israel, as part of the November 2012 cease-fire agreement, to stop the flow of missiles to Gaza? In two words: Absolutely nothing. … The Obama administration focused its efforts on getting Israel to lift its blockade on steel and concrete, the two major building components of underground tunnels and storage facilities for munitions, on “humanitarian grounds.” Despite the administration’s much ballyhooed November 2012 “cease-fire” agreement that the Obama White House prided itself in bringing an end to the Israeli-Hamas war, somehow Hamas never got the message: From December 2012 to July 1, 2014, Hamas fired nearly 600 missiles into Israel.

Who funded the building of underground armories by Hamas that triggered the IDF current ground incursion? It is the gas rich wealthy emirate of Qatar who provided  over $400 million to ‘restore’ Gaza following the November 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.  A Qatar noteworthy by its hold on the Administration given its role in filtering arms to Libya to overthrow Qadaffi and into Syria.   Qatar provides a luxurious sanctuary for Hamas leaders and senior Taliban commanders including those released from Guantanamo in exchange for captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

There was scrambling in Cairo with separate meetings PA President Abbas, Israeli and Hamas delegations. The difference this time is Egyptian President el-Sisi overthrew former President Morsi who brokered the November 2012 cease fire to save his Muslim Brothers of Hamas in Gaza. This time Egypt blamed Hamas for perpetrating the current IDF operation which might have the potential of destroying those tunnels and sending Hamas leaders to exile in Qatar.

Pray for the save return of IDF service personnel and success of this phase of Operation Protective Edge destroying the terror rockets  and Tunnels of Hamas in Gaza.

Watch this You Tube video MiSheberach Zahal:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/LJEpLklULs0[/youtube]

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review.

Anti-Israel Protesters Attack Paris Synagogues: Congregants trapped in building as Bastille Day demonstration turns violent

Traditionally French people dance in the streets and fire stations on the eve of the Quatorze Juillet, known in English as Bastille Day. This year, however, anti-Israel demonstrators took control of the monument in the center of the Bastille circle Sunday, brandishing Palestinian flags and cardboard replicas of scimitars and Kassam rockets. Described in AFP releases as a well-mannered demonstration except for a few incidents, it was in fact a hate-fest against Israel and the Jews. “Death to the Jews,” “Murderous Israel,” “One Jew Some Jews All Jews are Terrorists” figured loudly among the slogans hurled by kefiyyeh-clad marchers.

According to the police, the 7,000 demonstrators (organizers claimed 30,000) began in the northern quartier of Barbès, which has a large African and Maghrebi population, and marched to the Bastille, where they remained for several hours. A small contingent started to attack the police, and was quickly brought under control. At the same time, hundreds of protesters raced up rue de la Roquette—street of the rocket—and surrounded the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue, which is protected by a tall metal gate. Security guards from the SPCJ (Service de Protection de la Communauté Juive), Beitar, and the Jewish Defense League faced assailants reportedly armed with knives, axes, and iron bars.

Five riot policemen stationed in front of the synagogue, where some 200 congregants happened to be attending a prayer service for Israel’s safety, were unable to handle the crowd. It took a half hour for reinforcements to arrive, and another two hours during which law enforcement combed the surrounding streets before members of the congregation were told it was safe to leave. The chief rabbi of Paris, Michel Guggenheim, was at the synagogue during the incident.

Another synagogue, on the rue des Tournelles near the Place des Vosges, was also targeted, though details of that incident have not yet emerged. Two weeks ago I attended a joyful ceremony there for the more than 1,500 French Jews making aliyah this summer, in the presence of Natan and Avital Sharansky, as well as the Israeli ambassador to France andnewly elected chief rabbi of France Haim Korsia.

Jewish radio stations were abuzz Sunday evening and Monday with testimony from people who had been inside the synagogue and statements from Jewish community leaders. Mainstream media coverage, however, focused largely on the 14 Juillet military parade, with the day’s “death to the Jews” chants neatly overlooked.

Roger Cukierman, the president of CRIF, the umbrella organization of French Jews, and Joël Mergui, president of the Consistoire, met with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve yesterday, and asked for an outright ban on anti-Israel demonstrations due to their blatant disregard for law and order.

Local Jewish community leaders have excellent relations with President Francois Hollande’s government, as they did with the previous Sarkozy administration. During the incident at the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue, Jewish leaders were in contact with the Interior Minister, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and the chief of police. No one questions the government’s sincere sympathy for the Jewish community, or its fervent wish to bring a halt to the incidents, which are alienating French Jews and giving France a bad reputation internationally. The problem is that French authorities are overwhelmed, outrun, cornered, and caught in their own contradictions.

Violent demonstrations under various pretexts have taken place in France since the early 2000s. In 2003, participants in a peace march beat up two young men from Hashomer Hatzair, then tried to break into a building in the Marais where more than 100 young Jews were gathered. There were massive, violent anti-Israel rallies during the 2009 conflict between Israel and Hamas. Sunday’s incident, however, signifies a heightened threat against French Jews. Anti-Israel protestors are more heavily armed and more defiant than before.

French Jews, however, are not cringing. They are standing firm and demanding appropriate government measures. Still, there is a sinking feeling that one day soon the doors will not resist, the mob will enter, the intolerable will occur.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Tablet Magazine. The feature photo of the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

“Jews Go Back in the Ovens”, “Nuke Israel”

Episode II: Operation Protective Edge – An Inside Look: Destroy HAMAS.

On today’s powerful show; Jew-Haters assemble all around the world to preach their “religion of peace,” and sing, “from the river to the sea,” as a marching song to destroy Israel.

We look back at past Jew-hatred and hear loving chants like “Jews go back in the ovens.” Barry Shaw runs into a bomb shelter in Netanya. Dr. Martin Sherman explains why the Israeli military policy is illogical and irresponsible. I have some sober words of advice for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The United West and Center for Security Policy present Operation Protective Edge An Inside Look: Destroy HAMAS. This will be a daily show providing analysis, commentary, opinion and activism designed to assist Israel in its’ effort to destroy HAMAS. We will feature leading subject-matter experts with live reporting from the war front in Israel.

A Saba answers his Granddaughter’s Concerns about the Threats to Israel

Earlier today, my granddaughter, Elana Lipkin, wrote me about her concerns about the media’s treatment and threats to Israel in this latest rocket war with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.  ‘Lana, as we call her, won a scholarship last summer from her local Jewish Federation to spend five weeks visiting concentration and death camps in the Czech Republic and Poland before  spending a month in Israel on a National Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) program.  ‘Lana is very active at her family temple frequently serving as a cantorial assistant during Friday evening services given her beautiful singing voice recognized in her high school and regional choral assemblies. She is also a talented dancer. We are very proud of her achievements, a credit to her parents and grandparents.

Elana and a friend donned IDF fatigues and got a taste of what it’s like to train for the IDF at the Gadna training center.

Elana and a friend donned IDF fatigues and got a taste of what it’s like to train for the IDF at the Gadna training center, July 2013.

Last summer, we posted on her prize winning essay and poetry after climbing up the snake path to the top of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea.  (See thisConnecticut Jewish Ledger article “KOLOT-Passing the Torch”). While in Israel, ‘Lana put in a brief training stint in a GADNA (youth battalion) where she learned firsthand what para-military training Israeli youths go through before entering the IDF.  That stint included her familiarization of weapons on a firing range.

The following is an exchange of email between ‘Lana and her Saba (grandfather in Hebrew) that might be used by other concerned supporters of Israel, when their children or grandchildren ask them to explain why this rocket war is happening?   Further, it also illustrates what they can do to support Israeli civilians and IDF service personnel, as well as, keep informed of developments in Operation Preventive Edge.

What follows is the exchange of emails between 17 year old ‘Lana and her Saba.

Lana’s email to Saba:

Hi Saba!

I know it’s fairly early there, but I’m sure you’re up already. The situation in Israel these past few days has really been worrying me. I care about Israel so deeply and it pains me to see it in danger. I am also bothered by the lies the media spreads and the ignorance of those around me regarding what’s actually occurring. I was wondering if you could do two things for me, first of all, I’d love any information you could give to me on the Operation going on right now. Second of all, do you know of anything I could possibly do to help Israel right now?
Thank you so much!

I love you very much and miss you lots, I hope you’re doing well.

-Lana

shabat shalom terrorism will not stop usMy Email to Lana:

Like you I am pained by the bias shown in the media towards the plight of Israel under the daily onslaught of literally hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). These are foreign terrorists groups designated by our State Department and Israel whose charters seek the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.  Hamas is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza. The PIJ is backed by Iran.

As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said:  “No other country lives under such a threat. Israel will not tolerate the firing of rockets on our cities and towns,” Prime Minister Benjamin Neyanyahu. We have therefore significantly expanded our operations against Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza.”

The IDF conducts daily air, naval and artillery attacks against hundreds of target in Gaza to destroy Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets and launching sites while endeavoring to avoid civilian casualties.  Yesterday, cousins of mine and friends in Jerusalem were shocked by one of the longer range rockets that fell nearby in Ma’ale Adumim. Most disturbing were the two rockets fired from Lebanon by terrorist group Hezbollah that landed in northern Israel. That event may have caused Israelis in the north to seek safety in bomb shelters as they did during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.  Much of the Hamas and Hezbollah rockets used against Israel are supplied by Iran or manufactured locally. Your cousin’s United Synagogue Youth (USY) tour group may be prevented from traveling on to Israel from Europe as rockets are ranging on Ben Gurion Airport.

Yesterday, I posted an article on Operation Protective Edge– Is Iran Behind Rocket Blitz on Israel?– and will do more in the coming days. Israel may have to make the momentous decision to go into Gaza to destroy the rocket inventories, launching sites and command infrastructure.  This is a dangerous phase which could result in significant casualties to both civilians and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, as well as IDF forces and even Israeli civilians.
During Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, we wrote extensively about the experience of Zach Rowen – Taylor, a young American lonesome soldier who hailed from California and was among the elite Givati Brigade units that entered urban areas in northern Gaza.  We wrote him in a January 4, 2009, Iconoclast post, “A Proud American Mother of an IDF Soldier”.  I know as a former US Army officer that fighting in urban areas is grueling, dangerous and unfortunate casualties may mount.  But, Israel may have no choice but to do what Zach Rowen-Taylor and his mates in the Givati Brigade had to do in Operation Cast Lead.  Perhaps if Israel had stayed in Gaza in 2009, notwithstanding the inauguration of President Obama, it might have achieved victory against these terrorist groups with their arsenal of rockets. However, the reality was that arsenal was replenished by Iran and terrorist groups in the Sinai using smuggling tunnels below the Egyptian Gaza frontier.

Those smuggling tunnels were only closed off when Egypt’s military overthrew its former President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and Hamas supporter, last year. He was replaced by former Defense Minister and now President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.  He plugged up those smuggling tunnels preventing more weapons from Iran reaching Hamas and the PIJ and possibly stopping the flight of terrorist leaders from Gaza in the current Israeli Operation Preventive Edge.

Still Hamas and the PIJ have an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Rockets including longer range rockets supplied by Iran before those tunnels were destroyed by Egypt. That means that this could be Israel’s longest war in Gaza, possibly exceeding the 22 days of Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, just 20 months ago. Hamas and the PIJ have positioned launching sites in schools, office buildings, and even residences using its civilians including children as human shields. Israel goes to great limits to avoid civilian causalities sent text message warnings on cells and even aerial missile “knocks” on roofs of suspected targets warning people to flee.  Fortunately, those dramatic Israel Iron Dome anti-rocket missile interceptions heading to strikes in population centers knock out terror rockets before they reach their targets. They have a 90% success rate.

Remember, Israel is America’s only reliable and democratic ally in the troubled Middle East. The vast majority of Americans support Israel because we share the same Judeo-Christian values.

For information on groups in Israel treating civilians, you might consult the website of American Friends of Magen David Adom.  One of the groups that provide social and other support for IDF soldiers is American Friends of LIBI. You might check out its Facebook page.   To keep abreast of developments in Operation Protective Edge, you might look at the Live blog at The Jerusalem Post.

Your commitment to Israel as a young Zionist is both heartfelt and refreshing among your generation of young American Jews.  You can act as a spokesperson in your community to provide the EMET- the truth about what Israel is facing.  Tonight at Kabbalat Shabbat services pray for the safety of Israel and its defenders the young men and women of the IDF on the frontlines defending this Jewish nation. You met them during your GADNA training last summer in Israel.

I thought the attached graphic sent to me by a colleague and intelligence expert, Ilana Freedman, whose son served in the IDF, might express the feelings of you and countless other Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish, who are supporters of Israel -The Eagle and the Flag.  Israel. It is the most ancient of Hebrew Prayers, the priestly benediction, as you know it.

Kol Hakavod (Outstanding), Ahava (Much Love) v Shabbat shalom (peaceful sabbath).  Am Yisrael Chai! (The People Israel Lives!)

Saba

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Iran Behind the Rocket Blitz on Israel?

Last night, both Ilana Freedman and I briefed the state coordinators of the National Security Communications Strike Team (NSCST) on the strategic development in the latest rocket war on Israel from Gaza.  We were referring to the launch of several Syrian made and Iran supplied Khaibar M-302 rockets with  a range of 150 to 160  kms. Freedman notified the group in the briefing that the rockets launched from Gaza had ranged as far north Zikron Ya’akov 12 miles north of Tel Aviv.  Today, a rocket struck Ma’aleh Adumim where cousins live. That meant that nearly two thirds of Israel’s population, approximately 5 million, were at risk of strikes in the current rocket war by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad  (PIJ).  There are an estimated 10 to 12,000 rockets in possession of these terrorist groups in Gaza.

In March 2014, the Israeli Navy intercepted a Panamanian flagged vessel the Klos-C. The ship 40 of the M-302’s and a large quantity of 120mm mortar rounds and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition for AK-47 and Kalashnikov assault rifles.  They were displayed in the southern port city of Eilat on the Red Sea.  In the NSCST briefing, Lisa Benson noted that Eilat was very close to the Jordanian town of Ma’an where ISIS supporters have battled security forces.  Freedman and I noted that  40 of those M-302 rockets were shipped from Syria to Iran, put aboard the false-flagged  Klos-C, hidden underneath sacks of flour. The ship  sailed out  of a Persian Gulf port down  the Arabian sea to be off loaded at Port Sudan and trucked overland via Egypt and the Sinai into Gaza through smuggling tunnels.

Brig. Gen. (ret.) Uzi Rubin,  Israel ‘s missile defense architect, presented in an Israel Project interview the full capabilities of the Hamas/PIJ rocket inventory and capabilities.  Before its News had this summary drawn from the Yid with Lid blog:

General Rubin explained that Hamas has three families of weapons:

  • Home-made, short-range (10-12km) – mainly crude manufacture -in use for 13 years;
  • ·Factory-made Grad 122mm with 40 km range used to attack Beersheba and Ashdod;
  • Another is the 4-inch M-75 rocket probably designed for the Gaza factions with a range  from 75-80 kilometers. That is the one fired at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Also it seems the missile which landed near Hadera was a Syrian M-302 , with a potential range of  150 – 160 kilometers.

  • They also have tactical mortar bombs to distract  IDF troops  close to Gaza and to hit local villages;
  • After Pillar of Defense (Nov. 2012) it was easier for Hamas to smuggle in weapons via Sinai because Egypt was controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. The materials and machinery for local rocket production was probably also smuggled in. It was an open route. A two-way route;
  • Rockets  were smuggled in from Iran and Syria. Remember the Klos C.  A Ship intercepted by the IDF which was carrying Iranian weapons meant for Gaza;
  • The locally-made rockets M-75s  are well made with components are smuggled in. These are almost factory like but they are not sophisticated. They have the range and the warhead but not the accuracy; and
  • Iron Dome is not the solution for everything. It only targets rockets that will hit populated areas.

Listen to The Israel Project interview with Dr. Rubin on this YouTube video:

The existence of the strategic M-302 rockets was the subject of a UN study released in May 2014 on the Klos-C weapons cargo.  The report proposed to the Security Council sanctions against Iran.  An NBC Report noted, “the Klos-C shipment traveled from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas to the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, and from there in the direction of Port Sudan.” Whether those sanctions might be seriously adopted in the midst of the final days of negotiations by the P5+1 with the Islamic Regime seeking to achieve a final agreement on curtailing Iran’s nuclear program is moot. That leaves Israel to ponder what to do on its own, as the Administration in Washington suggests the myopic view that both sides restrain themselves from further violence.

This is the third day of Operation Protective Edge.  Israel’s Air Force and Navy have undertaken in excess of 500 strikes in Gaza.  It intercepted Hamas commando teams on Zikim Beach near an IDF Base in Israel. Rockets targted Israel’s nuclear Facility at Dimona and an IAF air base.  No Israeli civilian casualties have been incurred, while 53 deaths and  500 injuries have been reported by Hamas spokespersons in Gaza. That umbrella of protection for Israelis is a product of the 90% interception rate for Iron Dome batteries taking down potential rocket strikes against major population centers. This is coupled with the relative inaccuracy of locally made rockets in the Hamas/PIJ inventory.  The low number of Iron Dome interceptions is purposeful, as Israel’s Home Command adopted a strategy learned during Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 to let Hamas/PIJ rockets harmlessly strike unpopulated areas.

Nonetheless, there appears to be resolve in Israel that this time the rocket war and the people behind it must be crushed.   That objective is not without significant costs in both blood and treasure given the difficulty pinpointing targets often hidden in schools, hospitals, office buildings and even homes in Gaza. As reported by Israel Hayom, a senior IAF officer said that they were not in possession of complete target intelligence as rocket launchings have originated in underground or disguised office buildings and even homes.  A BBC  world servicreport gave evidence of that when a barrage of likely Grad rockets erupted adjacent to their offices in Gaza.

Rubin made the point on the Israel Project  interview  that current launches of rockets from Gaza are below that experienced during the eight day Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.  He commented that means that Israel could be in for a longer war than previously experienced. That led to the question of when might Israel launch ground operations in Gaza akin to that of Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009.  Freedman noted that the reserve call up of 40,000+  authorized by the Netanyahu security cabinet might be focused on reinforcing northern and Golan frontier borders and security in Judea and Samaria. Thus, freeing up regular IDF forces for actions in Gaza.  The necessity of ground operations to destroy the infrastructure of rocket inventory, launching sites and removal of Hamas and PIJ leadership was underscored in an Israel Hayom Op-ed by Maj. Gen. (ret.) Uzi DayanHe was  former IDF deputy chief of the general staff and former head of the National Security Council, “Ground operation necessary”. Dayan noted:

The purposes of Operation Protective Edge must be defined precisely: the toppling of the Hamas regime and the elimination of all rockets in Gaza.

Is it possible to defeat a terrorist group? Can these objectives be achieved using military force? The answer to both questions is yes. A terrorist group with a territorial base can be deterred by threatening its hold on that base. The destruction of Hamas governing infrastructure and the targeted killing or expulsion of Hamas leaders are attainable goals.

Will this require a ground operation? Will such an operation involve the loss of troops? Yes and yes. Every military commander knows the challenge is to fulfill the mission and protect soldiers, in that order. Our sensitivity regarding the lives of soldiers is an asset, but when it becomes the main consideration, this undermines the main mission of the IDF — providing security to the citizens of Israel.

[…]

Will we get stuck in the “Gaza mud”? No. But we will stay in the areas we capture to deal a lethal blow to terrorist groups, dismantle the rocket infrastructure and topple the Hamas government.

Hamas and the PIJ current rocket war is not the only threat facing Israel. There is the estimated 60,000 rockets/ missiles in fortified areas of Southern Lebanon held by Hezbollah.  Those fortified positions were designed by Iranian engineers with the aid of North Korean tunneling experts as Freedman has previously pointed out.  Further, the IDF Home Command has to be concerned about an even more formidable missile in Hezbollah’s inventory, the Syrian M-600. It has a range of 250 km sufficient to cover all of Israel and capable of carrying a full range of conventional and non-conventional warheads. That is not lost on Israel’s Home Command, they opened up shelters in the north.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review. The featured photos is of Syrian-made M-302 missiles captured by Israeli Naval commandos on display in Eilat March 2014. Source:  Ariel Schalit/AP.

“The Forces at Play” in the Palestinian Authority

‘Avenge’, ‘cycle’, ‘retaliation’, ‘disproportionate’.  Most media scripts of recent days could have been written by machines.  Three Israeli teenagers have been murdered, callously and ruthlessly.  Their abductions were barely covered by most of the non-Israeli press during the weeks in which they were missing.  But now that they have been confirmed dead the Western press really knows what to do and how to cover it.

As with the United Nations, and other international bodies, the story appears to start not when an outrage is perpetrated against Israelis but rather when Israel is thought to be considering a ‘response’.  So ‘calm’ was urged upon Israel by the UN while options were being ‘weighed up’.

And then we enter the period of ‘backlash’.

Unconnected to events in the West Bank, in recent days Israel has struck sites in the Gaza responsible for the ongoing barrage of rockets being fired into Southern Israel.  Does anyone other than Israel get accused of ‘pounding’ an enemy even when the action is targeted precision strikes?  Everything to do with Israel’s wars for security and survival is portrayed in this way.  And those in the West who are sanguine about this treatment when it is meted out to Israel need to reflect that this is the same situation in which they will find themselves when the time comes.

In the meantime, as we go through the latest replay of an endless media story it is all too easy to ignore the bigger movements which are going on behind this.  As we have often said here at HJS, the erasure of borders, the clarification of old alliances and revived fundamentalist hatreds are the real movements going on underneath the Middle East and North Africa region during this period.  And the events of recent days give a deep reminder of Israel’s long-term territorial questions.  ISIS – or the ‘Islamic State’ as it is now more simply known – is not only causing the Saudi Arabian army to mass on its own Iraqi border, but is attempting next to erase the borders of Jordan.  This should be a moment for specific clarity in a regional mess.

If the Palestinian Authority wants to achieve a state then it must show that its state would be law-abiding and peaceful.  In doing a unity deal with Hamas earlier this year, Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah showed that they were more interested in terror and annihilation than they were in peace. Fatah has tried to draw comparisons with the tragic murder of a Palestinian youth this week in Jerusalem to paint the Israeli government into a race to the bottom about which community should be more outraged. But this is nonsensical. Even if the worst fears are realised and extremist Israelis are found to have committed this act, the Israeli state cannot be held responsible for the acts of vigilantes. But the Palestinian Authority certainly can be for the behaviour of a constituent part of its leadership. And since Hamas is to blame for the killings of the Israeli teenagers, what does Fatah’s refusal to uncouple from it tell us?

Would a Hamas-Fatah state in the West Bank be a barrier to ISIS and ISIS-like organisations?  Or would it be a sponge for it?  Would it withstand the forces of the region or would it fall in step with them?  Given the responses of the Palestinian leadership in recent days, we have had an opportunity to stare into the future.  People often say that the window is closing on the two-state solution.  Unless something changes, this will become an inevitable conclusion.

What will Israel do with ISIS on its Doorstep?

ISIS Flags at Gaza Funeral

ISIS Flags at Funeral in Gaza.

Yesterday, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) declared a Caliphate to be ruled under Sharia in the lands it has conquered in Syria and Iraq.   Jerusalem-based Dan Diker on yesterday’s Lisa Benson Show, on the Salem Radio Network was in the midst of a discussion with Mudar Zahran about the ISIS threat with “Jordan in its gunsight”, listen here.   He commented that the announcement should be viewed as a political statement to Al Qaeda and its leader Ayman al Zawihiri.

Zahran noted that  Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had morphed into ISIS.  AQI  founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a Jordanian from Zarqa who became self indoctrinated, joined Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 1990’s and  ran his own Jihadi training center. He established brutal barbaric assaults in Iraq in 2005 engaging against US military and contractors,  and Shia Iraqis that set a precedent for ISIS.  al-Zarqawi was killed in a 2006 USAF -F16a  bombing attack at a targeted safe house in Iraq.

The ISIS declaration was also a statement to other Sunni terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, Hamas.  The Algemeiner reported  ISIS flags were flying this weekend on pickup trucks in Gaza for a funeral an indication that it was operating there.   Conquering large swaths of terrain, looting upwards of a billion dollars worth of  money and gold, capturing US supplied Humvees and Blackhawk helicopters abandoned by a corrupt and incompetent Iraqi Army have morphed ISIS into an Islamic State with its own army.

ISIS is more than just a political threat elsewhere in the sectarian turmoil of the Middle East. That was recognized in comments by  New York Rep. Pete King  onABC’s This Week that President Obama should be “very  very aggressive” about ISIS.  He was most immediately concerned about protecting our Embassy in Baghdad with  500 US security troops.  There are also 300 US military advisors engaged in assessing what to do with a divided Shiite- dominated al Maliki government in Iraq. A government whose military is now  supported by drones of Iran’s Quds Force gathering intelligence on ISIS forces near the capital of Baghdad.

King was also concerned about the estimated 100 American jihadis reported to be fighting with ISIS. ISIS has enticed them with English language  weekly and annual reports and videos.    My co-host on yesterday program, Lisa Benson,  commented off –line about the plethora of such sophisticated ISIS social media that is published daily.  That brought back memories of the campaign  2008 endeavoring to get Google to shut down Al Qaeda jihadist training sites.

The Administration for its part looks like the proverbial deer frozen in the headlights of ISIS.  Last week, It floated  the belated idea of funding $500 million to train “moderate” rebel fighters in the Syrian civil war. A civil war  that looks increasingly like a stalemate between ISIS and  the Assad forces are  backed by Hezbollah and Iran’s Quds Force with support from Putin’s Russia.  That Administration proposal may be more than a day late and a dollar short.  We had reports in mid-June from Der Spiegel and other sources that the some CIA-trained rebel fighters in Jordan  opted to join ISIS given its stunning successes.

As Diker pointed out on Sunday’s Lisa  Benson  Show the makeup of the anti-Assad  rebels  according to a Times of Israel report may control 95 percent on the Syrian side of the Golan Height. He, said, “we can see Hezbollah flags flying”.  Then he noted that the balance might be Al Nusrah, the official Al Qaeda anti-Assad contingent that increasingly has seen their fighters opt to join the “successful” ISIS.

ISIS Flags in Ma’an, Jordan

I asked Zahran, who is pro-Israel and promotes the view that Jordan is Palestine, about the peculiar circumstances  behind  last Thursday’s Jordanian Security Court decision acquitting  Al Qaeda preacher, Abu Qatada.   Abu Qatada had been extradited from the UK  for preaching incitement and allegedly raising funds for terrorist causes. The Jordanian court had dismissed one charge based on a failed 1999 plot to attack an American School in Amman. The second charge of plotting terrorism against Israel targets has yet to be heard.  Last month on May 28, 2014, the Jordanian Security Court had sentenced 11 allegedly involved in an  2012  Al Qaeda plot to attack both British and US Embassies in Amman.  Zahran drew attention to the nearly six decade dalliance with the Islamic Action front, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, by the Hashemite Kingdom under the late King Hussein and now his son, King Abdullah II.   Zahran noted that the IAF, Muslim Brotherhood which is largely Bedouin, is the strongest organized Islamist group in Jordan. He drew attention to the daily pitched battles in  the southern town of Ma’an  between  Jordanian security forces and  local tribal supporters  of the IAF flying ISIS flags. Ma’an is located  less than three kilometers from Israel’s frontier.  The headline in a Washington Post report on the turmoil in Ma’an read, “Jordan fears homegrown ISIS more than invasion from Iraq”.

The security of Jordan as a buffer state, as  Diker pointed out is foremost on the agenda of Israel ‘s national security. We note the comments in The Times of Israel  by  former  Israeli  security cabinet strategic advisor Gen. Yaakov Amidror,  who  said that Israel should bolster the defense of Jordan against the ISIS onslaught.  At the Institute of National Security Studies  (INSS) of Tel Aviv University, yesterday Israeli PM Netanyahu underlined these security issues.     He talked about support for an Independent Kurdistan and completing a security fence along Israel’s eastern frontier from the Golan to Eilat.  Netanyahu said:

The forces of fanatical Islam are already knocking on our door” and  Israel needs to be proactive to bolster its defense against enemy infiltration.

“The first thing that we need to do is to build a security fence on our eastern border, and to build it gradually all the way from Eilat to merge with the security fence that we’ve been building over the last two years in the Golan Heights,” he said. “That fence does not hermetically prevent infiltration; it doesn’t prevent shooting through the fence as we saw tragically just a week ago; it doesn’t prevent barrages of missiles over it, or the digging of tunnels underneath it. But it does narrow down dramatically that permeatio on Israel’s border.”

Israel will not cede the Jordan Valley approaches, much sought after by Secretary of Kerry and the US facilitator in bi-lateral discussions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, former US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk.  Diker pointed out Indyk’s announced return to the Washington-based Brookings Institution indicative of the US failure to achieve a final status agreement with the unified Palestinian government of Fatah with Hamas.  Diker cited the abduction of three Israel youths, including one American, by Hamas the prime suspects sought in the massive Operation Brother’s Keeper as evidence that no security for Israel could have emerged from the US facilitated negotiations. Unfortunately, the bodies of the three youths were recovered by the IDF, today amidst grief for their families and sorrow expressed by many Israelis and Americans.

Deceased three Israeli abductees likely slain by Hamas suspects. From left: INaftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, in three undated family photos. Credit Image by Reuters

Netanyahu’s  INSS remarks reflect the deep concerns about the stability of Jordan rife with more than 1.4 million Syrian refuges, and a million Iraqis. There are an estimated 1.5 million  Arabs Refugees of Palestinian origin.  Jordan’s population of 7.9  million is based on CIA Factbook estimates.  Note the last census was taken in 2004.  Then there is the  accommodation of Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist support growing in the country’s Bedouin population . They feel aggrieved about  the lack economic participation and high unemployment amid  alleged  corruption charges against the ruling autocratic Hashemite King and family.

Umm al Fahm, Israel protests by Islamic Movement, June 27, 2014.

Netanyahu also recognized internal threats to Israel’s  security at yesterday’s cabinet meeting.  He announced that  he would move to outlaw the Northern Branch of the Islamist movement, whose leader, Sheikh  Read Salah,  has proposed to establish  a Caliphate on the Temple Mount.  In October 2013, we wrote in the Iconoclast  post about Israeli Arab adherents of Sheik Salah joining up with anti-Assad Al Qaeda rebel forces in Syria.   Last Friday, there were rallies organized by  Salah and his Islamist adherents in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm protesting the raids by the IDF in Operation Brother’ s Keeper denying Hamas abduction of the three slain  youths.  Rock throwing by protesters was broken up Israeli riot police with tear gas and sound bombs. Netanyahu noted:

[The northern Branch of the Islamist Movement] constantly preaches against the State of Israel and its people. [The Islamist Movement ] publicly identify with terrorist organizations such as Hamas. Therefore, I directed the relevant authorities to consider declaring the northern branch of the Islamic Movement as an illegal organization. This would give the security authorities significant tools in the struggle against the  movement.”

In May 2014, Netanyahu had been thwarted in such a move against the northern branch of the Islamist Movement by the Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of Hatnua, because these enemies of the Jewish State are citizens. They are represented in Israel’s Knesset by Arab parties, espousing pro Palestinian positions verging on sedition.

Israel knows what it has to do with ISIS on its doorstep and fellow travelers inside. The question is the resolve of Jerusalem to take the hard steps. Israel’s friends in the US Congress are urging the Administration to undertake actions to protect its only reliable ally and interests in the region.   The ISIS Caliphate’s declaration means that Israel will have to defend itself from jihadis both inside and on its doorstep.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Why I support Israel

And why you should too.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/HHC8KC5cLs8[/youtube]

 

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IDF Raids Seek an American and Two Israelis Allegedly Abducted by Hamas

Saturday night, the IDF and Shin Bet arrested more than 80 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad activists in Hebron in the disputed territories. This is in connection with the abduction of three youths, one American and two Israelis. The IDF has committed a paratroop brigade to the operation sealing off the area of the abduction. The IDF and Israel’s General Security Service (Shin Bet) launched a massive manhunt last Thursday for the alleged Hamas abductors of 16 year old American Naftali Frenkel and two Israelis, Gilad Shaar, 16 and Eyal Yifrach, 19. They were allegedly abducted while hitchhiking home from religious school in the Gush Etzion bloc between Bethlehem and Hebron.  According to a Washington Post report, one of the abductees got off a cell call saying, “we’ve been kidnapped”.

Hamas is believed to be behind their abduction.  At a Sunday Cabinet meeting, Israeli PM Netanyahu said:

Those who perpetrated the abduction of our youths were members of Hamas; the same Hamas that Abu Mazen (Abbas) made a unity government with. This has severe repercussions.

The WaPo report cited Israeli American Naftali Bennett, economics minister in the Netanyahu ruling coalition, saying: “We will respond with an iron fist to terror.”  Thousands of Israeli prayed for the safe return of the three youths at the Kotel, Western Wall, of the Temple in Jerusalem. The National Council of Young Israel in New York issued a call for a Prayer Service for the safe return outside the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan on Monday, June 16th. The announcement used the Twitter hashtag, #BringBackOurBoys.

Hamas issued a statement praising the abduction.   According to an updated report by The Daily Mail, Senior Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri in Gaza called the accusation by PM Netanyahu “silly”. Really?   While cooperating with the Palestinian security service, Israel also relies on their own resources in the West Bank to identify the abductors and the possible location of the three teens. This despite PA senior official Hanan Ashrawi cited  by The Daily Mail saying , “this is something we have no information on”.  However, what can you expect from the Palestinian unity government with Hamas.  Its Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah acknowledges that it has no control over Gaza.

Secretary of State Kerry issued a statement today saying:

The United States strongly condemns the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers and calls for their immediate release. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. We hope for their quick and safe return home. We continue to offer our full support for Israel in its search for the missing teens, and we have encouraged full cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services. We understand that cooperation is ongoing.

We are still seeking details on the parties responsible for this despicable terrorist act, although many indications point to Hamas’ involvement. As we gather this information, we reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past.

Three Israelis? Frankel is a US citizen. The Daily Mail noted Frankel’s mother’s   public message to her son that reflected the concerns of many Israelis and Americans:

Mommy and Daddy and your brothers love you until the end of the world and you should know that the people of Israel are doing all they can to bring you back home.

Israelis and Americans are more than concerned about the fate of three abductees given prior occurrences, including former IDF Sgt. Gilad Shalit snatched during a cross border raid in 2006 and released in an exchange for more than 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in 2011.

Then there is the case of 13 year old Israeli American Koby Mandell and Israeli Yosef Ishran abducted and murdered while on a hike in the disputed territories near the Israeli settlement of Tekoa in May 2001. Mandell’s family had made Aliyah to Israel in the mid-1990’s. The US Congress passed the Koby Mandell Act in 2004 that authorized the Justice Department to arrest foreigners, including Palestinians, who had murdered Americans overseas.  The Koby Mandell Foundation was established in his memory to provide bereavement counseling to the parents and widows of terrorist victims.

In 2012, 52 members of Congress signed a letter sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) urging the Department of Justice’s Office for Justice of Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OJVOT), which was formed in 2005, to implement The Koby Mandell Act.  Sarah Stern of EMET said that the letter was to “ensure that the investigation and prosecution of terrorist attacks against American citizens overseas remain a high priority within the Department of Justice.”  Z Street, of which this writer is a board member, was one of several sponsors of the EMET letter to prod Attorney General Holder to recognize the responsibilities of OJVOT.

Sherri Mandell in a Jerusalem Post oped during the EMET 2012 campaign cited the dismal OJVOT track record since the law’s enactment in 2004:

The OJVOT is supposed to investigate, apprehend, indict, extradite and punish terrorists. At least 54 American citizens have been killed, and 83 wounded here in Israel. Neither the OJVOT nor the Department of Justice has done anything to enforce American law in these cases. The only terrorist prosecuted under the law was the killer of a Christian missionary in Indonesia. I’m happy that the killers were prosecuted, but still one wonders. Why is there no communication, investigation, prosecution, or indictment here in Israel? The OJVOT is supposed to protect us. Instead it neglects us.

We sincerely hope the massive IDF-Shin Bet dragnet can free American Naftali Frenkel, Israelis Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and capture their abductors. In view of the abject failure of the US government to pursue justice for the families of the US victims in Israel and the disputed territories, we trust the Israeli government can bring these perpetrators to justice.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Pope Francis: “Tear down this Wall” around the Vatican

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” – Matthew 7:20

vatican wall close up

Detail of a small section of the wall surrounding the Vatican.

The Israeli security barrier certainly causes much contention. Despite the enormous length and breadth of China’s Great Wall, Israel’s protective shield is much debated. Although Saudi Arabia’s $700 million electrified wall is grander, Israel’s is more maligned. Thailand’s 75 km barrier with Malaysia was also constructed to protect against Muslims, yet Israel’s is more vilified. Even though more walls exist in the United Kingdom to separate Protestants from Catholics, Pope Francis Xavier finds Israel’s more attention-worthy. Neither does this pope mention the massive walls around the Vatican (photo at right), yet the surrounding Italians are peaceful, charming and friendly.

And how about when Pope Francis endorsed redistribution of wealth? Did he ever consider returning to Israel all the Jewish artifacts that had been pillaged by Roman soldiers over the centuries and are now concealed in the Vatican’s vast treasure caves?

The pope never once acknowledged that Israeli lives – Jewish, Christian, and Muslim – have been saved by the security barricade. Rather, by comparing Israel’s safeguard that keeps terrorists from murdering Israelis to the Warsaw Ghetto walls that imprisoned a captured and tormented Jewish people until they were put to death,  he validated the Islamic terrorists.

The wall prevents the Palestinians from fulfilling the Qur’anic decree of killing those who will not convert to Islam. It may also be a creative outlet for the illiterate, unschooled, and otherwise-idle youths who have no other method of venting their regime-driven frustration and anger. However, having just read that Hamas pays youths to riot with stones on the Temple Mount, acting out at the wall may be another profitable source of income.

nonie_darwish

Nonie Darwish

As Nonie Darwish explains in Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Muslims resent the Jews’ having accomplished more in 66 years than their brethren have in 1400, and they experience shame of false prestige for taking ownership of invention and creativity from the vanquished.  Therefore, rather than compete in a modern world of ideas, Islam prefers to sacrifice generations of women and children to destroy Israel.  Islam is not a religion, but an Arab imperialism and protectionist tool to preserve their supremacist Arab culture. To this end, Islamists created Sharia and jihad, from which they grant themselves to defame, intimidate, lie, terrorize, kill, and wage war.

They remain a mostly harshly ruled, severely frustrated and angry third-world people whose only real achievements have been destruction and conquest of productive and intellectually superior civilizations, which they then reduce to their original 7th century mentality. Inspired by a brutal warlord, murderer, slave trader, pedophile, rapist, and looter, these people may kill to leave their earthly troubles for heavenly sexual bliss or secure the credit they covet by appropriating others and calling them Muslims or Palestinians. Such is the case with Moses, Christopher Columbus, Albert Einstein, and now, Jesus.

This pope seemed prepared with an assault on Jesus’ Jewish heritage and language. Replacement terminology includes Jesus for Yeshu; Mary for Miriam; Israelites for Jews; now there is Palestine, a name that never existed in Jesus’ lifetime.

While the debate may continue, an expanding circle of scholars has rejected the common notion about Aramaic.  They are now convinced that the language Jesus used to teach his talmidim (disciples) was Hebrew, not Aramaic.

There is a growing conviction that Hebrew was also the language in which the original “Life of Jesus” was first conveyed. Christian scholars working in cooperation with Jewish scholars in Jerusalem have been among the first to develop the evidence for this theory.  Further, while the Christian New Testament contains some Aramaic place names and quotes, Hebrew, not Aramaic or Koine Greek, lay behind the composition of the Gospel of Matthew. Hebrew also vastly dominated the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Pope Francis welcomed being photographed, first, as sympathetically touching the wall of antisemitic scrawls and, second, in front a picture of Jesus swaddled in a terrorist kafiyyah, a repulsive depiction that he accepted. How many more changes might the public expect? And if, as suggested in the Vatican newspaper, Pope Francis Xavier may be compared to St. Francis Xavier, there may yet be another connection.

Saint Francis Xavier was born in the Basque kingdom of Navarre in 1506, soon after the 1492 Expulsion of the Jews from Spain. In 1516, the Spanish invaders confiscated his family’s lands and demolished their castle’s protective wall and gates, and they were surrounded by war for 18 years. This was a time when Jews spoke Basque and followed native customs.  They were permitted to own real estate, cultivate their own land, and ultimately became successful. While their knowledge, ability and industry won them respect and influence, their increased wealth triggered Christian jealousy and provoked the clergy’s hatred. Jews were forced to live apart, although “protected,” and obliged to take positions of money lending in order to pay the excessive taxes imposed upon them.

When Francis Xavier later befriended St. Ignatius of Loyola in university, they turned to Catholic missionary service, and made vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and the conversion of Muslims in the Middle East.  Together they travelled to India, Indonesia, Japan, and Borneo and converted 30,000 people, more than any other since St. Paul. Francis dispatched the holy Inquisition to Goa, Portuguese-controlled India, which targeted the Christianos Nuevos, Iberian Jews and Muslims who had been forcibly converted during the medieval era. Francis is said to have died before the atrocities began, but is believed to have assisted in the first Auto-da-fé (public penance and burning at the stake), in Portugal in September 1540.

More people are killed by Islamists each year than in all 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition combined.

Did Pope Francis pander to the Muslims to resume St. Francis’s vow to convert Muslims to Christianity? Was he wooing the Muslims or was he lured into a propaganda trap?  Perhaps this was to be another Munich Betrayal – deliver the Jews to the Muslims in exchange for mercy for Catholics. It has also been reported that Pope Francis Xavier intends to change the Vatican constitution.

Where have we heard this before? If we cannot identify his purpose now, then by his fruits shall we know him.

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Iraqi Jewish Archive Stay Extended

Jewish Immigrants from Iraq leaving Lod Airport in 1951

When we interviewed Dr. Harold Rhode, the savior of the Iraqi Jewish archives, he told the story of how he had found them in the water-logged basement of the late Saddam Hussein Mukhabarat in Baghdad in 2003 and arranged for recovery and restoration by the National Archives and Records Agency (NARA) in Washington, DC. In July 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority reached an agreement under international law with the Iraq interim government for return of the restored Jewish archives. We noted:

1815 copy of mystical Zohar source Drew Angere for New York Times

1815 copy of mystical Zohar. Source: Drew Angere for New York Times

An agreement that is controversial as Rhode and others contend that the Hussein’s Mukhabarat stole the property from the Jewish community and that it rightfully should be returned to the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center in Israel. The Iraqi government contends that the archives may contain important historical information of the origins of the country.

A report by JNS,org today brought a reprieve by the government of Iraq for exhibit of these Iraqi Jewish archives,  “Iraqi Jewish Archive’s U.S. exhibition extended”.

The JNS.org article cited an exchange of letters by the Iraq Ambassador in Washington saying:

Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily said in a statement Wednesday that Iraq “has authorized me to extend the period which the exhibit may remain in the United States.” The exhibit “has led to an increase of understanding between Iraq and United States and a greater recognition of the diverse heritage of Iraq,” he said.

“We look forward to completing the technical aspects of this extension with the Government of the United States within the coming days. Items which were among the material brought to the United States that are not part of the exhibit will return to Iraq in the very near future, as originally agreed,” said Faily.

Following the close of the exhibit in early January 2014, of the archives at the NARA Lawrence F. O’Brien gallery in Washington, DC, it was sent to New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage for an exhibit.

The JNS.org  report noted the comments of representatives of both the Orthodox Union and the American Jewish Committee regarding the ultimate status of the Iraqi Jewish Archives:

The Orthodox Union (OU) welcomed Faily’s announcement of the exhibit’s extension, but said its work on the issue of the archive’s final destination isn’t done.

“The historical and religious value of the Iraqi Jewish Archive materials compel us to ensure that the archive should remain in the United States where it will be easily accessible to all, particularly the Iraqi Jewish community now living in diaspora around the world,” said Nathan Diament, OU’s executive director for public policy. “We will continue to advocate for an appropriate long-term solution for these materials.”

Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international Jewish affairs, said, “Extending the exhibit’s schedule and making it available to other American communities will benefit all who have interest in the history of Iraq’s Jews.”

Dr. Rhode in our NER interview expressed his views as to the ultimate disposition of these restored archives:

The American government considered the archives as property which belonged to Iraq and therefore the International law it has to be returned. However, this was really property stolen by the previous Iraqi governments from the Jews who fled the country, mostly in 1950-51.

The problem is most of this is private property. These were holy books that belonged to individuals. They never belonged to the Iraqi government. When, for example, Iraqi Jews had a Torah made, if you moved to another synagogue, the Torah moved with you. In 1950/51 when most of the Jews left they were not allowed to take this material with them. They were only allowed to take basically a suitcase of clothes, if that, and so the Jews were forced against their wishes to leave the material behind.

If this is private property it belongs to the Jews.  If it can’t be identified then it becomes the property of the exiled Iraqi Jewish community. 85% of the exiled Iraqi Jews and their descendants live in Israel.  As exiled Jews from the Muslim world they property was expropriated.  They have no access to their material.

We had suggested that the Iraqi Jewish Archives should instead be transferred to the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Museum in Israel to be placed on permanent exhibit there.  A significant portion of Iraqi Jews had settled in Israel after their expulsion from Iran in the early 1950’s.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Who is Sabotaging Israeli-US Intelligence Collaboration?

Jeff Stein, the Spy Talk columnist for the resurrected Newsweek let loose with accusations of Israeli intelligence industrial espionage in the US as the cause of the holdup in the visa waiver program for Israeli visitors.  That does not square with the facts of the enduring 29 year relations and contributions between the two allies. That was a reference to the pledge made by Israel not to engage in espionage following the conviction of American spy for Israel, Jonathan Pollard.  Subsequent there were more bizarre allegations from Stein at Newsweek. This time it was about an episode involving former Vice President Gore during a trip to Israel.  Allegedly, a Secret Service agent found a Mossad operative hiding in an air shaft listening to conversations.

That raised statements from former Mossad director, Danny Yatom, in a Times of Israel (TOI) report this weekend  suggesting that was ‘delusional.’ He said Israel’s spy agency had less intrusive means of monitoring conversations.  Former Israeli military intelligence chief, Maj. Gen Amos Yadlin,   commented  in another TOI  article, “Israel does not spy on the US “, further suggesting the  Newsweek reports were “unreliable” and sources  “questionable”.  Israel’s Strategic Minister, Yuval Steinitz asked the obvious question was “Someone was trying to sabotage relations?”   Moreover, he was going to investigate this during discussions with the Administration this coming week in Washington, DC.

Who is Newsweek’s Jeff Stein?

Stein who wrote these questionable stories contended in a comment to an Algemeiner account alleging anti-Semitic intent and anti-Israel bias in the Newsweek report that he was neither.  Stein has an interesting background.  Born in Philadelphia and raised in New England, he is a graduate of Boston University who took a Master’s in Chinese History at the University of California at Berkeley. He was  in Army Intelligence during the Vietnam era serving there for a year in 1968 to 1969 and awarded a Bronze Star.

He started out his journalistic career reporting for NPR and worked on fledgling news papers   founding The Washington Weekly in 1981, which went defunct in 1984.  A year later he joined UPI where he ultimately became deputy foreign editor. He authored his first book, The Vietnam Fact Book in 1987. His 1992 Green Beret book, Murder in Wartime caught the attention of reviewers who cited it as the best military morality tale since The Caine Mutiny.  In the 1990’s he began writing for Salon.com exposing the links between Ringling Bros Circus and an ex- CIA official, Clair George.  In 2000, he co-authored  Saddam’s Bomb-maker with  Khidhir Hamza, who headed the late Iraqi dictator’s nuclear program. That book caught a wave of attention. Following 9/11 he was hired in 2002 by Congressional Quarterly to head CQ Homeland Security.  He started the Spy Talk column and blog while at CQ in 2005 moving on in 2009 to continue Spy Talk at the Washington Post.  Along the way he was several articles  about both counter-terrorism officials and the head of the  US House Intelligence Committee   lacking  an appreciation  of Sunni versus Shiite doctrine and Al Qaeda in the Middle East. In 2009 he revealed wire taps of former House Intelligence member Rep. Jane Harman regarding her efforts to aid two former AIPAC officials whose case was subsequently dismissed by a Federal judge for wrongful prosecution. The incident spotlighted NSA warrant-less eavesdropping.  Stein joined the re-constituted Newsweek as contributing editor in December 2013.   See Stein’s Spy Talk columns at Newsweek, here.

The Bizarre Entanglement of Newsweek’s owners at the International Business Times

Newsweek was acquired by International Business Times (IBT) in 2013.  The IBT  founded in 2005 by French American Etienne Uzac  and Jonathan Davis, is the subject of a dossier article in the May/June 2014 edition of Mother Jones“Whose Behind Newsweek” .   There are accusations of  the multi-lingual publication group  principals backed by a shadowy Korean Christian cultist, the Rev. David Jang. Jang founder of Olivet University in San Francisco is alleged in the Mother Jones article  to  have provided funding for IBT.   Further, it is and is alleged  he has  deep involvement in the publication group’s editorial and business management, including sweat shop operations using illegal aliens.  Notwithstanding these allegations by Mother Jones, IBT has hired a credible group of editors with recognized experience at the New York Times:

Newsweek‘s new editor in chief, Jim Impoco  is formerly of the New York TimesPortfolio, and Reuters,. Under IBT’s ownership, Impoco has attracted an experienced and well-respected crew of journalists.  On March 4, IBT also announced that Peter Goodman, an award-winning former New York Times economics correspondent and business editor at the Huffington Post, would take over as IBT’s editor in chief.

Mother Jones extensive investigations of IBT and Jang’s Olivet movement revealed the latter’s influence and bizarre cultist beliefs:

According to the Times, Uzac and Davis said “Jang had no financial stake in IBT or influence on the business.” But the pair acknowledged to Mother Jonesthat Jang has provided “advice” to IBT. And while there’s no evidence Jang controlled editorial matters, internal documents show him routinely weighing in on a wide range of business decisions, from personnel and business strategy to typography.

Jang sees Community-affiliated media organizations, including IBT, as an essential part of his mission to build the kingdom of God on Earth. He has said that media companies affiliated with the Community are part of a new Noah’s ark designed to save the world from a biblical flood of information.

Ex-CIA Official Paul Pillar’s Anti-Israel Smear Campaign

As we posted in our  prior Iconoclast report, we found Stein’s allegations lacking credibility. Subsequent reports by him verge on the bizarre. Yadlin’s questioning of sources is reflected in emerging information on a public source cited by Stein, ex-CIA Near East and South Asian analyst, Paul R. Pillar. Pillar left the agency in 2004 during the period when former Florida Congressman, Porter J. Goss was Director from 2004 to 2006 under President George W. Bush.   Pillar was one of the authors of the 2003 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that was leaked to the New York Times in the waning days of the 2004 Presidential campaign. It used by the Kerry campaign to accuse Bush of ignoring intelligence community warnings about a “failed policy” in the Iraq War. Ken Timmerman in his 2007 book, Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender  cited Jack Wheeler, a intelligence community insider, calling out Pillar for leading a band of “rogue weasels driving a CIA war… to secure Bush’s defeat”.  According to Timmerman Pillar’s views on terrorism post 9/11 were published in a Brookings Institution monograph, Terrorism and U.S. Foreign PolicyHis views reflected earlier assessments suggesting that state sponsorship of terrorism was passé and that non state actors like al Qaeda  should be treated  as the equivalent of  a communicable disease.  Pillar completely missed the “stupendous growth of al Qaeda”, its relations with the late Saddam Hussein and the Islamic regime in Iran.  Myopically, Pillar never understood Osama bin Laden and the Muslim Brotherhood derived Jihad doctrine.  Pillar believed  there was the equivalent of an iron wall between Sunni and Shiite extremists.  Richard Perle is cited by Timmerman saying that Pillar’s  pre-Iraq war briefing in January 2003 was “the worst in 25 years, couldn’t answer questions, and was clueless about what was going on in Iraq.”  Timmerman quotes the observation by John Hinderecker saying, ” Recent events indicate that the CIA might even be willing to compromise the effectiveness of its own covert operations, if by doing so it can damage the Bush Administration.”

By coincidence Hinderecker, a CIA veteran who also knew Pillar produced evidence of the rabid anti-Israel positions of Pillar in a Powerline report this weekend calling him, “an anti-Israel smear agent”.  Hinderecker cites a piece in The National Interest by Pillar attacking gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson called “The Sheldon Primary”. Pillar wrote:

For this man who will likely have such enormous influence on who will be the Republican presidential nominee, the Republican Party isn’t even his first love among political parties. That would be the Likud party. Adelson’s money also plays a very big role in Israeli politics, much of it in subsidizing a free-distribution newspaper, Israel HaYom, which has the largest circulation of any daily newspaper in Israel and functions as a cheerleader for Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud.

Nor is the United States Adelson’s first love among countries. He has said that when he performed military service as a young man it “unfortunately” was in a U.S. uniform rather than an Israeli one. He has expressed the wish that his son become a sniper in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Hinderecker’s comment on Pillar’s attack against Adelson:

Reading Paul Pillar’s smear of Sheldon Adelson saddened me. Paul, when I knew him, was as honest, as intelligent, and as idealistic as anyone of my acquaintance. Forty-odd years later, is this what liberalism has come to? A dead end where its best representatives have nothing substantive to offer, but can only smear Republican campaign donors? Where formerly brilliant minds labor to justify a claimed equivalence between the Democrats’ “white primaries” of the 1930s and a Republican donor trying to find a good presidential candidate to support?

Ex-CIA covert officer, who goes by the nom de guerre, “Cowboy”, had this assessment of Pillar:

Paul Pillar is a well known anti-American, leftist and anti-Israeli nutcase.  Even by CIA/State Dept bureaucracy standards.  Not surprising, probably, that he links up with similar folks.

The Outstanding Question; who is behind this smear campaign?

Against this background, we can appreciate why former Israeli intelligence heads and Netanyahu government officials in Jerusalem are concerned about what is behind Newsweek launching this smear campaign.  The allegations of skulduggery in Israeli intelligence collaboration with the US are doubtful. These stories come amidst efforts by the Obama Administration, especially Secretary of State Kerry, endeavoring to pin the blame on Israel for ‘torpedoing’ the Final Status talks with the Palestinian Authority, newly united with terrorist group Hamas.

My ex-CIA colleague, Cowboy, observed: “clearly they are cats paws for O’s anti-Israel campaign.”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Report: Rising al-Qaeda presence in Sinai Peninsula is a growing threat to Egypt and Israel

Al Qaeda training manual found in Afghanistan in 2001. Photo courtesy of the the US Department of Defense.

A new Henry Jackson Society report – Terror in the Sinai – provides the first statistical analysis of its kind on the evolution of the terrorist threat in the Sinai since the Egyptian revolution three years ago.

Terror in the Sinai, launched today by the Henry Jackson Society, examines the terrorist threat coming from the Sinai Peninsula. The report assesses the presence of al-Qaeda and its ideology in the Sinai, emerging ties between Salafi-jihadist groups and local Bedouins, and the successes and failures of the Egyptian army’s recent military efforts in confronting the threat. It finds strong indications of an influx of foreign fighters and weapons into the Sinai and a threat against the Egyptian state and Israel that is more co-ordinated and sophisticated than ever before.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Rate of attacks: Mohamed Morsi’s removal from power in mid-2013 sparked a fifteen-fold increase in militant attacks. During the first three months of 2014, the rate of attacks has risen six-fold in comparison to the same period last year.
  • Type of attacks: Attacks launched from the Sinai are becoming more organized and sophisticated, with groups increasingly using the peninsula as a launchpad to target the Egyptian mainland. Groups are also increasingly favouring al-Qaeda-style methods: so far in 2014, bombings have overtaken shootings as the most common type of attack (rising from 18% in 2013 to 54% during the first three months of 2014).
  • Location of Attacks: 20% of attacks attributed to groups active in the Sinai have taken place in Cairo this year (up from 2% in 2013). As 2014 progresses, bomb attacks are increasingly likely to take place in Cairo and other major cities in Egypt.
  • Al-Qaeda’s presence in the Sinai: Militant groups in the Sinai appear to be increasingly adopting al-Qaeda ideology. There are also strong indications that al-Qaeda central (AQ), Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) are attempting to make inroads into the peninsula.
  • Foreign fighters: Individuals from Yemen, Somalia, the Sudan, Algeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Afghanistan are reported to have travelled to the Sinai in order to join armed groups.
  • Arms: Weapons are believed to be falling into the hands of militant groups in the Sinai through smuggling routes from Libya, the Sudan, the Gaza Strip and Iran. Moreover, Hamas reportedly operates warehouses, rocket-production facilities and factories in the peninsula.
  • Threat to Israel: Since 2010, groups operating in the peninsula have targeted Israel at least 19 times, including a group named the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, which stated that its obligation from God is to attack Jews as “unbelievers”. Additionally, ongoing attacks to the natural-gas pipeline connecting Israel to Egypt have cost an estimated $166 million.
  • Bedouin-jihadist ties: The government’s deteriorating relationship with the Sinai’s Bedouin tribes appears to be increasing the overlap between Bedouin youths and Salafi-jihadist ideology and activity.
  • Military action: The Egyptian army’s recent military operations in the Sinai – despite its claims of successful arrests and killings of militants – do not appear to have effectively curbed the terrorist threat in the peninsula.

Oren Kessler, Henry Jackson Society Research Fellow and co-author of the report, said:

“Salafi-jihadist militant groups – some of whom appear to include fighters from abroad – are increasingly using the peninsula as a key base of operations. With Egypt’s elections approachingattacks against political and military figures on the Egyptian mainland – as well as cross-border strikes against Israel – pose a greater threat than ever before.”

Mohannad Sabry, a Cairo-based journalist, said:

“Terror in the Sinai shows that Egypt’s terrorist threat is not going away anytime soon, rather, it is poised to grow far beyond its current state. Thoughtful and nuanced analysis is therefore urgently needed for decision-makers to effectively confront and contain the ongoing crisis. This report is an invaluable contribution to that effort.”

Terror in the Sinai [full page]

For a larger view click on the infographic.

‘Terror in the Sinai’ is available to download here.

HJS’s work on terrorism and Egypt includes:

  • Terrorism and Islamism in the MENA Region, March 2014, available here
  • The Presumption of Innocence: Difficulties in Bringing Suspected Terrorists to Trial, Robin Simcox, December 2013, available here
  • Al-Qaeda’s Global Footprint: An Assessment of Al-Qaeda’s Strength Today, Robin Simcox, September 2013, available here
  • Al-Qaeda in the United States – A Complete Analysis of Terrorism Offenses, February 2013, Emily Dyer and Robin Simcox, available here

RELATED STORY: Judicial Watch: DHS may have special “hands off” terrorist list​

Holocaust Memorial Day and the Pathetic Palestinians

AA - Palestinians

Children waving PLO banner.

“The demands, conditions, stipulations, and decisions pouring out of Mahmoud Abbas’s office in the last month or so have persuaded everyone concerned that the Palestinian’s mind is in a total muddle,” opined an April 24 Israeli-based news-wire Debka File. It reported that Israel’s Prime Minister, Binjamin Netanyahu, had broken off peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), also known as Fatah, after Abbas, its leader, had announced Fatah would unite with Hamas, another Palestinian group with which it had been at odds since 2007.

Confusing? You’re not alone. As Debka File put it, “No one in Jerusalem or Washington can figure out what he wants. And even his closest aides believe that he doesn’t know his own mind and are afraid of what he may dream up next.”

As Israel commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day which began at sundown on Sunday, Abbas grabbed international headlines by declaring that the Holocaust was the “most heinous” modern crime, but seemed to equate what happened to Europe’s Jews during World War II with Palestinians today who, he said, “suffer from injustice, oppression, and are denied freedom and peace…” The fact that they and the Arab League have refused for over six decades to accept Israel’s right to exist went unmentioned. Now that’s chutzpah!

“In Gaza City, meanwhile,” reported Debka File, “his Fatah and the rival Hamas celebrated their umpteenth unity pack in nine years, although not a single clause of any of the foregoing documents was ever implemented.”

If the Palestinians as a whole and the two organizations that self-identify as representing them seem unable to function in a rational fashion, that is a fair conclusion.

This is what the Israelis have been dealing with before and ever since Yasser Arafat created the Palestinian Authority in 1959 directing it until his death in 2004. Its original purpose was the destruction of Israel, but Arafat modified that on occasion to give the impression of legitimacy and to seek ways to return Israel to its original borders in 1948 and later 1964. In 1987 he launched a prolonged Palestinian uprising known as the Intifada, killing many Israelis. And you wonder why Israel has built high walls and fences in some areas?

Hamas is closer to Arafat’s original goal, having been openly dedicated to the destruction of Israel since its formation in 1987 during the Intifada. It is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and has controlled Gaza since June 2007, having forcibly driven out Fatah representatives. It has been deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. since 1997, as does the European Union, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, but not by Iran, Turkey, and China. In 2005 Israel turned over the Gaza strip to the Palestinians as a gesture of peace which has been rewarded by constant rocketing launched from there ever since.

Sarah Stern, the founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) said on April 25 that “Since September 13, 1993, the Palestinian Authority has been playing a double, duplicitous and highly dangerous game of ‘good cop/bad cop.’ While the Palestinian Authority ended their diplomatic isolation in the community of nations by signings Oslo, Wye, the Roadmap for Middle East Peace, and all subsequent agreements, they have used their enhanced diplomatic status to wage a nonphysical war against Israel through systematic campaigns of distortion and dehumanization of Israel and the Jew in the international court of public opinion.”

EMET condemned the Palestinian Authority for supporting terrorism against Israel “regularly applauding suicide bombers and calling on children to become martyrs…it is time to stop giving American’s taxpayer dollars, to the tune of more than $600 million a year, to the PA.”

One has to ask why Secretary of State John Kerry has wasted months trying to secure peace between the Palestinian Authority and Israel when the former has never demonstrated any real effort to engage in peace beyond the formalities of treaties it has routinely ignored. The announcement that it would join with Hamas is testimony to its dedication to destroying Israel in its quest to declare control of the disputed area. Since 1948, Israel has been a sovereign state. All previous efforts by the U.S. have ended in failure.

Lately, the PA, designated a United Nations “observer”, has been applying for membership to 15 UN bodies. The UN has demonstrated its support for the PA for years, even annually celebrating a day devoted to the Palestinian “refugees”, the oldest such “refugee” group in history, due in large part by the refusal of Arab nations to extend citizenship to them. The UN has maintained UNRWA, its Relief and Works Agency, since 1948 when Israel was attacked and defeated its neighbors. In subsequent wars it expanded its borders to include the Golan Heights and the West Bank.

If the Fatah-Hamas unity effort is successful, it will further isolate the Palestinians who have few, if any, friends left in the Middle East and it renders the United Nations, presumably devoted to peace, as pathetic as the Palestinians.

The restraint that the Israelis have demonstrated over the past 66 years has been quite extraordinary. They are not, however, going to accept several generations of Palestinians to “return” into their nation where many have never lived since 1948.

The Palestinians have not given Israel any reason to have any confidence in what they say publicly for world consumption and the latest “unity” announcement at least confirms their bad intentions. In addition to Hamas, the Iranian pawn, Hezbollah, composed largely of Palestinians, gives Israel even less reason to regard them as anything than enemies.

And while this goes on, the Israelis must make plans to respond to the failure of the U.S. effort to get Iran to stop enriching uranium to make their own nuclear weapons. When it is declared dead, they will have no other option than to attack Iranian facilities.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry calls Israel an “apartheid state” — Sen. Ted Cruz calls for him to go

Today the Emergency Committee for Israel released the following statement on Secretary of State John Kerry’s use of the term “apartheid state” to threaten Israel:

On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry raised the specter of Israel as an “apartheid state.” Even Barack Obama condemned the use of this term when running for president in 2008.

Yet this was no gaffe. Secretary Kerry’s musings on the Jewish state’s dire future have become a regular feature of his public remarks. His latest prediction follows other statements in recent months that have in effect threatened Israel — never the Palestinians — with a list of disasters should his diplomatic efforts fail: violence, isolation, delegitimization, boycotts — and now “apartheid.”

It is no longer enough for the White House to clean up after the messes John Kerry has made. It is time for John Kerry to step down as Secretary of State, or for President Obama to fire him. And it would go a long way toward repairing the damage Kerry has done if his predecessor as Secretary of State, who is the likely Democratic Party nominee for president, explained why this kind of rhetoric had no place in her State Department and why it will have no place in her presidential campaign.

The Daily Beast reported:

The secretary of state said that if Israel doesn’t make peace soon, it could become ‘an apartheid state,’ like the old South Africa. Jewish leaders are fuming over the comparison.

If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming “an apartheid state,” Secretary of State John Kerry told a room of influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting Friday.

Senior American officials have rarely, if ever, used the term “apartheid” in reference to Israel, and President Obama has previously rejected the idea that the word should apply to the Jewish state. Kerry’s use of the loaded term is already rankling Jewish leaders in America—and it could attract unwanted attention in Israel, as well.

Read more.

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[youtube]http://youtu.be/YzgMUj_D2XM[/youtube]