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How Fateful are Israel’s Knesset Elections on March 17th?

Sunday, March 15th, the Voice of Israel (VOI) Global Radio System aired a “National Security” program with Executive Producer and host Dan Diker and guests Dr. Harold Rhode former Pentagon Islamic Affairs expert, Distinguished Gatestone Institute Senior Fellow and Bassem Eid Arab correspondent for VOI. Eid is founder of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. The thought provoking title was “Whom Do Radical Islamists Want as Israel’s Next Prime Minister?

This is a must listen program for all those concerned about Israel’s future in the run up to Tuesday’s March 17th Israeli Knesset elections.  Those elections have more than 20 parties competing for 120 seats. It will pit the current ruling coalition Likud government led by PM Benjamin Netanyahu against the Zionist Union headed by MK Yitzhak Herzog and former Justice Minister of Hatnuah, Tzipi Livni. There is also a new emerging factor. A coalition negotiated following the Knesset elections. It could include a Joint Arab List that might secure upwards of 13 to 15 seats. The Joint Arab List electoral results might possibly bolster the Zionist Union led opposition, including the leftist Meretz party, seeking to be given the nod to form a ruling coalition if selected by Israel President Reuven Rivlin. The VOI will have extensive live and extended coverage of these important Israeli Knesset elections on March 17th.

You may register and listen live to the VOI here.

Overarching this Knesset elections were disclosures this weekend of the U.S. Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee addressing complaints by PM Netanyahu of “foreign country involvement.” This is a reference to reports that the U.S. Administration has funded NGOs engaged in possible anti-Netanyahu “anyone but Bibi” vote campaigns among the country’s Arab and urban Jewish voters. The effort involves former Obama Presidential campaign field operations staff headed by Jeremy Bird of 270 Strategies.   Support has come from major Obama Jewish Democratic contributors and possibly State Department funding of NGOs.  Whether the Administration would prefer a new Israeli government whose policies might materially affect the national security and sovereignty of Jewish nation is at question?

This  Ides of March VOI “National Security” program, is a fascinating and elucidating commentary about the  dynamics of the contending forces in the regional  Muslim communities,  both Shia and Sunni, and  views of the US Administration as an unreliable ally. That is reflected in the views of Saudi -backed Al Arabiya  that gave  high marks to PM Netanyahu for standing up to the threat posed by  the Islamic State,  Iran  and proxies Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad  and Hezbollah. As pointed out by Dr. Rhode, Al Arabiya, strongly endorsed Netanyahu’s address before the Joint Meeting of Congress on March 3rd seeking to obtain a better deal to deter Iran from achieving nuclear hegemony in the region. There is also discussion of Egypt’s President Al-Sisi’s emerging role of importance trying to fashion a Sunni regional coalition of forces, the equivalent of a NATO – type organization to confront IS.  Al-Sisi’s New Year’s speech in  Cairo, before Al Azhar and the Awqfar  Ministry,  espoused reform of underlying Qur’anic doctrine  that has returned to the takfir purist form of Islam emblematic of the apocalyptic IS, a self styled Caliphate. A Caliphate that as Dr. Rhode pointed out may have been fostered originally by Shia Mahdist Iran now ironically engaged in combating IS in Iraq.

Rhode and Diker suggested that if a more compliant Israel government was elected on Tuesday that IS and Hamas cells in the West Bank and Hezbollah with Iran on the Golan might foment possible trouble.  Iran, as noted by Diker and Rhode, is rapidly spreading its hegemony threatening the region from Yemen on the Red Sea, across the Arabian Peninsula to the shores of the Persian Gulf and through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast. An Iran whose nuclear quest may have already triggered nuclear proliferation with Saudi Arabia’s disclosure of a recent nuclear development deal with South Korea.  We found fascinating the discussion among Diker, Rhode and Bassem Eid, astute VOI Arab correspondent, on the internal Israel Arab Muslim divide over the question of whether they would support the United Arab List.

Bassem disclosed the previously not well known fact that 60 percent of Israeli Arab Muslims are more likely to vote for Jewish parties as loyal citizens rather than for the Arab list. The Party’s leaders are more concerned about Israel as an ‘apartheid state’.  They have fashioned seditious relations with Ramallah, Gaza, Damascus and even Tehran and all   enemies of Israel. Bassem also noted that the Palestinians view the Likud government and Netanyahu as more reliable with honoring commitments than prior experiences with both Labor and Kadima governments.  Rhode explained that regional Arabs view favorably the Israeli democratic traditions that Arab Muslim citizens enjoy. He told of the impact of that on the Egyptian body guards of the late President Anwar Sadat when he came to Jerusalem in 1977 to give a speech before the Knesset. They noted, he said, the sharp contrast between the quiet respect paid to President Sadat when he spoke and the vigorous debates in the Knesset chamber that followed his address.  The VOI program offers insights into what might occur Tuesday when Israel votes for the 33rd Knesset.  The comments of these American and Israeli experts raise serious questions about the objectives of the US Administration Vis a vis a P5+1 non-binding deal to facilitate Iran’s nuclear hegemony.

Monday, March 16th, this writer and Mike Bates, co-host of Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio 1330 am WEBY will be interviewed by VOI National Security host Dan Diker. That recorded program will address Obama Administration funding via State Department AID and US Jewish moguls involved with OneVoice, V-15 and the Abraham Fund to get out the anti-Bibi vote in Israel. The program will also delve into controversy surrounding Sen. Cotton’s ‘Iran letter’. That controversy has led to revelations suggesting that  the Administration is striving to establish a  rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran  avoiding Congressional review instead  seeking a  nuclear agreement  by the P5+1 at the UN  via a Security Council resolution.  That could result in lifting more than an estimated $70 billion in UN financial sanctions against Iran held in US banks controlled by the US Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control.  Sunday talk show criticism of the Cotton letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran by Secretary of State Kerry and former Secretary Madeleine Albright on CBS’ Face the Nation were contested by Sen. Cotton who drew attention to the precedent of a non verifiable deal made during the Clinton Administration with North Korea that eventuated in the latter’s creating a nuclear stockpile of weapons 12 years later.

Tuesday, VOI host Diker will join Northwest Florida’s talk radio 1330 am WEBY periodic Middle East Round Table co-hosts Bates and Gordon to report first returns from what many consider the fateful 2015 Knesset elections during 4:00 PM CST (5:00 PM EST) segment of “Your Turn”.

Listen Live here.

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

Schaden Freude Alert! Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Rushed to Hospital in Critical Condition

Schaden Freude Alert! This is NOT Purim Shpiel.  Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei rushed to hospital in critical condition. This may be evidence that sometimes Ha Shem does work in less than mysterious ways. The report of Ayatollah Khamenei’s ‘critical condition gives heft to the magnificent address by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s address before a joint meeting of Congress.

Purim-groggerIf confirmed it should bolster support for the real deal that Bibi spoke of – regime change in Tehran. That message should not be lost on President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the rest of the P5+1 intent on cutting a deal with this malevolent apocalyptic Mahdist regime fomenting chaos to awaken the moribund Twelth Imam in the holy well in the holy city of Qom, Iran. We trust that my cioreligiionists last night shook that grogger  (Purim noisemaker) (during the reading of Esther’s Megillah, but substituted Khamenei for Haman. Chag Purim Sameach.

Note  this Israel National News report on this ‘revoltin’ development, Report: Iran’s Supreme Leader Hospitalized in Critical Condition:

Just in time for Purim, the Jewish holiday celebrating the redemption of the Jewish people from plots of genocide in ancient Persia, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was reportedly hospitalized in critical condition on Wednesday.

According to Arab media reports cited by Israel Hayom, Khamenei was urgently brought to a hospital in Tehran after several of his bodily systems had already failed.

The reports add that the 76-year-old supreme leader of the Islamic regime has undergone surgery and remains in critical condition.

Recently it has been reported that he was suffering from prostate cancer which had spread to additional parts of his body, and due to his poor health condition he had largely ceased taking part in public events.

The hospitalization comes just days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed Congress on Tuesday to warn of the existential threat to Israel and the world that Iran poses, urging America to avoid the deal being formed on Iran’s nuclear deal ahead of a March 31 deadline for talks.

Lending some credence to the reports is the fact that Khamenei’s official Twitter account hasn’t been updated since Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday, when he wrote the “US is now facing a #dilemma. It should either stop unlimited services to #Israel or they’ll lose more face in the world.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Admiral “Ace” Lyons: The Threat is not “Radical Islam, it is Islam Itself”

 

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

Netanyahu in Washington: An Eleventh-hour Plea for Sanity by Jerry Gordon and Ilana Freedman

On Tuesday, March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu laid out in an address before a joint meeting of Congress, a compelling rebuttal to the President’s case for the phased deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  He diplomatically paid court to President Obama for supplying both known and secret support for the Jewish nation of Israel.

We didn’t need Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come tell us how big a threat a nuclear enabled Iran will be. Well-informed Americans already know that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons production capability in the hands of an apocalyptic regime , will fan the flames of war in the Middle East and put the entire world at risk.

This is a regime whose rulers are sowing seeds of chaos in preparation for the coming of their messiah, the Twelfth Imam.

Netanyahu’s message to a packed house in a Joint Meeting of Congress was clear, concise, and spelled out starkly the issues and the choices we face.

Watch this C-span Video of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s  address before the Joint Meeting of Congress on March 3, 2015:

An affronted delegation.   Visually absent from the joint meeting were 50 Democrat members of both Chambers, who chose to demonstrate their partisan loyalty to their party and the President. At issue was misplaced sense that the President had been slighted, represented by Netanyahu’s presence before the Joint Meeting  of Congress, because the visit was organized by House Speaker John Boehner without consultation with Obama. That no representative of the Obama administration was present as well showed how petulant partisan politicians, even at the highest levels, can be when faced with what they perceive as slights, real or imagined.

By avoiding the Prime Minister’s speech, they also missed the more than 40 rounds of standing ovations that punctuated his remarks.  More importantly they  failed to observe minimum protocols of courtesy due to a visiting head of state. In this case, when the object of their anger is the head of state of one of America’s closest allies, their lack of courtesy is shameful.

According to reports from reliable sources, the President was “infuriated” by Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. However,  because Netanyahu’s speech was full of praise for Obama and his generous assistance and support of Israel, all Obama could say was that Netanyahu didn’t present anything new or “any viable alternatives”. That became the veritable chorus from his White House spokespersons and in some quarters of the mainstream media. So bitter was the vitriol that one of Netanyahu’s detractors suggested that the Prime Minister’s speech was ‘racist’ because it was critical of America’s first minority President. A group of African American pastors responded by coming out in support of Netanyahu’s speech and went on record in a news conference to disagree with this bizarre comment, promising that they would stand with Israel.

The Prime Minister’s speech was framed in history.  Israel’s Prime Minister came to inform Americans about the seriousness of the threat represented by a nuclear Iran. He began the body of his speech by placing his remarks in an historical context.

He explained to the Congressional audience that the ancient Jewish Festival of Purim would begin the following evening. The holiday commemorates another Persian government, some 2,500 years ago, when Haman, Vizier to the Persian Emperor Xerxes (also known as Ahasuerus) singled out the entire Jewish population for slaughter.  They were saved by Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordechai, and given permission to defend themselves against the massive pogrom that had been planned against them. Netanyahu then drew the parallel between this ancient plot against the Jews of Persia and the current threats against the Jewish State of Israel by the mullahs of Iran, the current government in the modern-day land of ancient Persia.

Bringing history a bit closer to home, Netanyahu made copious references to the Holocaust.  He introduced, for recognition and applause, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel, who sat in the Speaker’s Box as an honored guest of the Prime Minister and his wife, Sara. Wiesel, who is a personal friend of the President, came nevertheless as Netanyahu’s guest. “Although he has deep affection for the President”, in the words of his friend, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “he didn’t feel saying that the Jewish people face danger would be an offensive message.”

These historical connections, creating links between the ancient threat of a Persian viceroy, the more recent catastrophe of the Holocaust, and the current threats of the apocalyptic reign of Shia Mahdists in Tehran, covered two thousand years of history of the Jewish experience. Today’s threat is hardly less significant. Whether from the Ayatollah Khamenei or the alleged moderates in his government, President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, they, like Haman, are determined to wipe Israel, ‘the Zionist Enterprise” off the map of the world. In the words of Hezbollah’s retired Brig. Gen. Walid Sakariya, the nuclear weapons Iran is developing are intended to “create a balance of terror with Israel” and “finish off the Zionist enterprise.”

Netanyahu also reminded his audience that Israel is the bastion for world Jewry under anti-Semitic assault in the West and throughout the Muslim world. He warned that it would, out of necessity, defend itself against both conventional and non-conventional threats by Iran and its proxies:

This is why — this is why, as a Prime Minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand. But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.

Netanyahu also put in historical context Iran’s continuing war against the West. He referenced Tehran’s secret war against America, Israel, and Jews that began with the Islamic Revolution in 1979 with the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran and the hostage crisis that lasted 444 days, a war that still continues.

He spoke of the hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers and diplomats who were killed by Iranian Quds Force and their proxies, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas in locations like Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, East Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He spoke of the hundreds if not thousands of Jews who were killed in actions across five continents. Witness as examples the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy and 1994 AMIA Jewish Center blasts in Buenos Aires, Argentina and, more recently the bombing of an Israeli tourist bus in Burgas, Bulgaria by Hezbollah operatives.

Netanyahu aptly pointed out that the Iranian Constitution crafted by these Mahdists said that the purpose of the Islamic Revolution was to export Jihad around the world. Unlike the US, he said, which was founded on the promise of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, Iran’s founding documents promised, “Death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad.”

Netanyahu also warned his Congressional audience and those watching live from around the globe that Iran’s apocalyptic version of militant Islam comes from the source and that their current assault against ISIS should not fool us into adopting the ancient Arab maxim, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.  “When it comes to Iran and ISIS,” he said, “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”

Iran as the agent of global jihad.     Among the most egregious of Iran’s involvement in attacks against the US, was the connivance with Al Qaeda in facilitating the training of many of the 9/11 perpetrators by the late Hezbollah terrorist mastermind, Imad Maghniyah.  That was revealed in affidavits by  former Iranian intelligence operatives in the Federal Iran 9/11 links case.

More recently, we have the revelations of collusion between the Shia Iran and Sunni Al Qaeda in e-mails from the treasure trove of information captured by US Navy Seal Team Six during the assassination of the late Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan.

Then there is the evidence of Iran’s Quds Force assisting the launch of ISIS in Syria. This is ironic now that the IRGC is leading Iraqi military forces against ISIS in the attack on the late Saddam Hussein’s birthplace of Tikrit, which was captured by ISIS. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is placed in the precarious and unwelcome position of standing by while Iran expands its reach and forwards its agenda.

Open Source Intelligence as the basis for Netanyahu’s warning.   The heart of Netanyahu’s message was conveyed halfway through his speech. It was based, he said, on information available on many public open sources which he invited his audience to “Google”. This was intended to quell any concerns raised by Obama that he would release classified intelligence that could torpedo negotiations with Iran. Many of the details of the ‘deal’ had already been leaked and were in the public domain. So he continued.

“We’ve been told,” he said, “that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well this is a bad deal, a very bad deal.”  Instead, he pointed out, “this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program; and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That is why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

So why would anyone make this deal? Netanyahu posited this theory: “Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?”

Netanyahu used the petard of Ayatollah Khamenei’s own tweets, echoed by Secretary Kerry in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the future chaos wrought by this worse deal. He said, “My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires.”

The State Department immediately accused him of taking Kerry’s Congressional testimony out of context, but here is Kerry’s own testimony, which makes the point abundantly clear:

Iran’s Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount — 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.

Netanyahu then painted a dystopian vision for the World and the Middle East region, should Iran, already a global sponsor of terrorism, become a nuclear threshold state and open the Pandora’s Box of nuclear proliferation:

Israel’s neighbors — Iran’s neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it’s been given a clear path to the bomb.

And many of these neighbors say they’ll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won’t change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that’s supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.

This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.

If anyone thinks — if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we’ll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.

Netanyahu drew attention to the looming threat of Iran’s missile program and military nuclear developments, excluded from the proposed Memorandum of Understanding  being word smithed in Geneva by Secretary Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif:

The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught — caught twice, not once, twice — operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn’t even know existed.

And by the way, if Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.

Iran’s Ongoing Progress Despite Negotiations.   To buttress Netanyahu concerns about Iran’s nuclear military applications and ICBM program, we have just heard from reliable sources that the Islamic Republic has achieved a technical breakthrough – the miniaturization of nuclear warheads – through technical support from both China and North Korea so that nuclear warheads will be able to be installed on their slender Shahab missiles.

Less certain is whether experiments with nuclear triggers have succeeded, given several explosions that have occurred at the Lavizan sites near Tehran and at Parchin, the military explosives test center. If this report is separately confirmed it means that Iran would have the ability to load ICBMs with nuclear warheads.

If tests conducted in Caspian Sea by Iran and the purchase of container-launched missiles from Russia are an indication may provide the capability to deploy small yield nuclear detonations off the American coasts. Those could produce an Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, possibly disabling our less-than-secure power grid sending the country hurtling back to the pre-industrial age.

Even as the negotiations continue, the media ran a story about how Iran conducted cruise tetst attacks against a mock US aircraft carrier. Less covered but also last week, Iran launched a cruise missile from a submarine in the Persian Gulf. The missile has a range of 150 nautical miles and was designed to destroy a US carrier. So even as they sit at the negotiating table, the Iranians rattle their sabers and clearly demonstrate their animus.

Netanyahu’s Plan.   Contrary to Obama’s comment that there was ‘nothing new’, Netanyahu was clear in firmly stating that the lifting of sanctions and restrictions must be justified by Iranian action in three areas:

  • Stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East;
  • Stop supporting terrorism around the world; and,
  • Stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.

Netanyahu’s plan was clear. Marco Rubio summed it up nicely:  “Iran can have an economy, or it can have nuclear weapons. But it can’t have both.”

A closing thought from the Bible.  Netanyahu concluded his address by pointing to the frieze of Moses high on the wall opposite from where he stood surrounding the House chamber.  He recited and translated from the Hebrew Moses’ instructions in his final address to the ancient Hebrews about to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land:

Before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.”

My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.

A warning to be heeded.  Netanyahu’s message in his address to Congress is not lost on Israelis and the preponderance of Americans, who view Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon as a clear and present damage to the world.  At issue is whether the Administration’s obsession with an agreement with Iran at all cost has blinded them to the consequences of a deal that would allow Iran to become a nuclear power.

This is not the time for peevishness. No insults were intended and none should be interpreted. Netanyahu’s visit and his speech were timely – a last minute call for clarity and resolve against an implacable enemy masquerading as a negotiating partner.

There are many who fervently believe that any negotiations with Iran will lead us dangerously close to a nuclear precipice.  Perhaps,  Netanyahu’s comments before Congress where prescient. Apparently, Iran has rejected  the proposed phased deal placing negotiations in Geneva at an impasse.

Netanyahu’s ultimate message is clear:  Iran’s nuclear clock is rocketing towards midnight. Can we stop it in time or will our own Munich in Geneva lead us into a nuclear doomsday scenario that, once begun, no one will be able to stop?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Before Joint Meeting of Congress with Speaker John Boehner on left and Senate President Pro-temp Sen. Orrin Hatch on right on March 3, 2015.

Netanyahu Addresses Iran Nuclear Threat at AIPAC — Obama Administration Criticizes

An audience of 16,000 at the AIPAC Washington Policy Conference enthusiastically welcomed Israeli PM Netanyahu’s appearance, today.  Netanyahu’s speech was a prelude to his appearance before a joint Session of Congress tomorrow at 10:45AM EST. It will be televised by Fox-News and C-SPAN.  Fox will have commentary from a panel both prior to and following Netanyahu’s Congressional speech.  The Voice of Israel will broadcast it live via the internet with following commentary.

Some likened today’s remarks as a warm up to the main event on Tuesday, March 3rd. For many of us his AIPAC Conference remarks today were punctuated by his eloquent Churchillian cadences. Other lines echoed Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s 1938 Tish B’Av “Ihr Kommt” (they’re coming) speech to Jews in Poland warning them of their impending destruction during Hitler’s Final Solution, the Holocaust. Other lines were  reminiscent of Churchill’s caustic Parliamentary remarks on the Munich 1938 appeasement by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and  French Premier Eduard Daladier acceding to Hitler’s demand that Czech President Eduard Benes unilaterally cede Sudetenland thus dismembering Czechoslovakia. All while Chamberlain waved that scrap of paper upon arrival at Heston aerodrome saying that he had achieved “peace for our times”. That imagery was captured in Netanyahu’s lavish praise heaped on Czech President Zeman who was on the dais at the AIPAC conference. Netanyahu thanked Zeman for the country’s enduring support for Zionism espoused by Czech Republic founder Thomas Masyrk and the material support the Czechs provided post WWII to Israel during the 1948-1949 War for Independence. That was captured in Netanyahu’s reference in his speech to the Czech rifle he trained with as an IDF Sayeret Matkal member.

Netanyahu paid copious respects to AIPAC officials,  noted “no disrespect to President Obama”, and  pledged fealty to the long enduring bi-partisan US relations with ally Israel.  An Israel, as he pointed out, that shared common Western values of freedom, liberty, civil and human rights for the Jewish nation’s citizens. He noted as one example prominent women jurists on its High Court and as CEOs of Israeli companies.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10_40_03 AM

Screen shot of  Global Map of Iran Terror used by  PM Netanyahu at 2015 AIPAC. For a larger view click on the map.

He spoke clearly about why he was in Washington:

The purpose of my address to Congress tomorrow is to speak up about a potential deal with Iran that could threaten the survival of Israel. Iran is the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Look at that graph. Look at that map. And you see on the wall, it shows Iran training, arming, dispatching terrorists on five continents. Iran envelopes the entire world with its tentacles of terror. This is what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons. Imagine what Iran would do with nuclear weapons.

And this same Iran vows to annihilate Israel. If it develops nuclear weapons, it would have the means to achieve that goal. We must not let that happen.

And as prime minister of Israel, I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there’s still time to avert them. For 2,000 years, my people, the Jewish people, were stateless, defenseless, voiceless. We were utterly powerless against our enemies who swore to destroy us. We suffered relentless persecution and horrific attacks. We could never speak on our own behalf, and we could not defend ourselves.

Well, no more, no more.

The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us, those days are over. Today in our sovereign state of Israel, we defend ourselves. And being able to defend ourselves, we ally with others, most importantly, the United States of America, to defend our common civilization against common threats.

In our part of the world and increasingly, in every part of the world, no one makes alliances with the weak. You seek out those who have strength, those who have resolve, those who have the determination to fight for themselves. That’s how alliances are formed.

Watch this C-span video of Israeli PM Netanyahu’s remarks at the 2015 AIPAC Conference.

U.S. UN Ambassador Power, speaking at AIPAC today, accorded respect for the enduring US-Israel alliance.   She also said that the Administration would stop Iran from achieving a nuclear breakthrough:

            The United States of America will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, Period.

We believe diplomacy is the preferred route to secure our shared aim. But if diplomacy fails, we know the stakes of a nuclear-armed Iran as well as everyone here. We will not let it happen. There will never be a sunset on America’s commitment to Israel’s security. Never.

 However, she tossed a barb at both Netanyahu and House Speaker Boehner for engaging in partisan politics with her remarks:

This partnership should never be politicized, and it cannot and will not be tarnished or broken. Debating the merits of a deal with Iran is legitimate. Politicizing that process is not. The stakes are too high for that.

 For her appearance as an Administration senior official, she received a standing ovation from the 16,000 attendees at the Washington Convention Center site of the Conference.

Watch this C-Span video of US UN Ambassador Power’s remarks at the 2015 AIPAC conference.

More of the same followed from another Administration senior official, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, when she mounted the podium at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to deliver her remarks.  Rice appeared to be toeing the Administration line saying, “sound bites won’t stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”  Rice essentially denied the possibility of ending Iran’s nuclear enrichment saying:

[ getting Iran to] forego its domestic enrichment capacity entirely… as desirable as that would be … is neither realistic nor achievable. The plain fact is no one can make Iran unlearn the scientific and nuclear expertise it already possesses.

She cautioned that it wasn’t a “viable negotiating position” to attempt to block Iran from using its nuclear capacity for domestic energy reasons.

Now I want to be very clear: a bad deal is worse than no deal,

We have Israel’s back come hell or high water.

Given Iran’s support for terrorism, the risk of a nuclear arms race in the region, and the danger to the entire global non-proliferation regime, Iran with a nuclear weapon would not just be a threat to Israel, it’s also an unacceptable threat to the United States of America.

Given Iran’s support for terrorism, the risk of a nuclear arms race in the region, and the danger to the entire global non-proliferation regime, Iran with a nuclear weapon would not just be a threat to Israel, it’s also an unacceptable threat to the United States of America.

We have Israel’s back come hell or high water.

On sanctions, Rice made it abundantly clear why the Administration opposed any new legislation, saying:

We cannot let a totally unachievable ideal stand in the way of a good deal [with Iran]. Sanctions, have never stopped Iran from advancing its [nuclear] program. New sanctions would blow up the talks, divide the international community, and cause the U.S. to be blamed for causing negotiations with Iran to fail.

Not unlike Power, Rice received a standing ovation ironically for policies that she opposes. Note what blog Twitchy reported:

The highlight of her speech was undoubtedly the standing ovation she received for acknowledging the desire for a complete halt to Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. The look on her face while waiting for the cheers to die down so she could add “but” and finish her sentence: priceless.

Watch this You Tube video of the AIPAC audience applauding her and her befuddled expression:

That effectively shot down the faint hopes of many of the 16,000 in the Convention Center.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), co-author of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 with new sanctions, stormed up to the podium at AIPAC to rebut Rice.  He said:

Iran needs to understand that there are consequences to an impasse and those consequences are additional consequential sanctions.

As long as I have an ounce of fight left in me… Iran will never have a pathway to a weapon.

It will never threaten Israel or its neighbors, and it will never be in a position to star a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Not on my watch.

Secretary of State Kerry, speaking from Geneva, Switzerland  earlier today in the midst of   discussions with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, voiced  concerns that ‘leaks’ by Israel might jeopardize the phased deal.  Kerry said:

We are concerned by reports that suggest selective details of the ongoing negotiations will be discussed publicly in the coming days. Doing so would make it more difficult to reach the goal that Israel and others say they share in order to get to a good deal. Israel’s security is absolutely at the forefront of all of our minds, but frankly so is the security of all of the other countries in the region. So is our security.

 Kerry made a  brief appearance at the UN Human Rights Commission today in Geneva voicing concerns  about the panel’s  pre-occupation with isolating Israel, saying:

We will oppose any effort by any group or participant in the U.N. system to arbitrarily and regularly delegitimize or isolate, Israel. No country should be free from scrutiny on human rights, but no country should be subjected to unfair or unfounded bias.

President Obama in a Reuters interview several hours after Netanyahu’s speech at AIPAC expressed the view that the current discord would not seriously disrupt relations with Israel. Nevertheless he harshly criticized Netanyahu’s refrain about a bad deal emerging from the bi-lateral diplomatic discussions with Iran. He suggested the emerging 10 year deal with verifications was:

Far more effective in controlling their nuclear program than any military action we could take, any military action Israel could take and far more effective than sanctions will be.

He then took exception to Netanyahu’s criticism of the 2013 interim agreement with Iran:

Netanyahu made all sorts of claims. This was going to be a terrible deal. This was going to result in Iran getting $50 billion worth of relief. Iran would not abide by the agreement. None of that has come true. It has turned out that in fact, during this period we’ve seen Iran not advance its program. In many ways, it’s rolled back elements of its program.

Watch this video of the Reuters interview with President Obama on March 2, 2015.

The Administration still hasn’t fully understood the import of the Gallup poll of Americans, 84% of whom expressed distrust of Iran, while 77% believed Iran should be denied becoming a nuclear threshold state.  As one audience member said at a presentation in Northwest Florida, Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon was a threat not only to Israel, but America as well.

An expectant Israel and the world awaits Netanyahu’s address before a joint session of Congress tomorrow.

Listen to this Voice of Israel Sound Cloud of Netanyahu’s speech at AIPAC.  The full text of Netanyahu’s AIPAC remarks can be found in this release by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

RELATED ARTICLE: Iran says it rejects Obama’s demand for 10-year nuclear work halt

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu at AIPAC Washington Policy Conference taken on March 2, 2015. Source: GPO/Amos Ben Gershom.

Obama’s Phased Nuclear Deal with Iran: Kicking the bomb down the road?

This column is co-authored with Ilana Freedman who is a veteran intelligence analyst and specialist in counter-terrorism. Ilana is Editor of FreedmanReport.com.

When we posted late Monday night, February 23, 2015, on breaking news about the phased deal resulting from bilateral discussions between U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, we knew from our sources that more shoes would be likely to drop. Last night we received information from these reliable sources on the extent to which the Administration had strayed from its original mandate. The information was:

  • Secretary of State John Kerry is poised to sign a secret Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the U.S. and Iran that was completed by negotiators on Saturday, February 14.
  • The State Department has received a decision from Eric Holder’s Department of Justice that the MoU does not require approval by the U.S. Senate in the Constitutionally defined process of Advise and Consent for treaties between the United States and other nations, and that therefore Congress will not be consulted.
  • The agreement does not cover the subject of inspections, removing the requirements of having inspections at any of the sites covered by the memorandum.
  • The agreement will allow Iran to have 10,000 enhanced centrifuges that will increase their nuclear program capacity by upwards of 50%.
  • Of the 10,000 centrifuges allotted, all of Iran’s 6,000 existing centrifuges will be converted to the enhanced, next generation versions. The conversion can begin immediately after the agreement is signed. This will enable Iran to achieve a nuclear threshold state in less than two years. The balance of 4,000 centrifuges will, according to our sources, be supplied by Russia.
Alireza Jafarzadeh Deputy Director of Natioal Council of Reskistance of Iran National Press Club  @-24-15 Source AFP

Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director, Washington Office of NCRI, National Press Club, Feb. 24, 2015.

It is not known whether other Iranian nuclear sites will likewise fall under this inspection exemption, including military test sites like Parchin and the secret parallel Lavizan site, which was disclosed in Washington on Tuesday, February 24th by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in a National Press Club briefing. At the NPC briefing, Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director of the NCRI’s Washington D.C. office, reported on a secret test site which has been previously identified in reports of the Washington, D.C. based, Institute for Science and International Security.

“Despite the Iranian regime’s claims that all of its enrichment activities are transparent … it has in fact been engaged in research and development with advanced centrifuges at a secret nuclear site called Lavizan-3,” he said.  Jafarzadeh said the site was hidden in a military base in the northeastern suburbs of Tehran.

According to the presentation, the complex was described as a facility 164 feet underground. The Lavizan-3 site was apparently constructed between 2004 and 2008 and has underground labs connected by a tunnel, and lead-lined doors to seal out radiation leaks.  The facility itself is heavily shielded from radiation and insulated against noise and radiation leaks to avoid detection.

“Since 2008, the Iranian regime has secretly engaged in research and uranium enrichment with advanced… centrifuge machines at this site,” Jafarzadeh said.

The NCRI called the existence of the site “a clear violation” of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as UN resolutions and an interim November 2013 deal struck with the P5+1 group, he said.

When asked about the NCRI findings at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the bi-lateral discussions with Iran, Secretary Kerry commented:

That U.S. officials knew of charges related to the site prior to this week, but that “it has not been revealed yet as a nuclear facility.”

“It is a facility that we are well aware of, which is on a list of facilities we have,” the Secretary of State said during a Capitol Hill budget hearing on Wednesday morning. “I’m not going to go into greater detail. . . .But these things are obviously going to have to be resolved as we go forward.”

Rep. Brad Sherman, ranking Democrat on the House Affairs Committee replied to Kerry:

 “The MEK sometimes gives us accurate information.”

“They are the ones that told the world about the Iranian nuclear program,” Mr. Sherman said. “They now say that there’s a secret facility at Lavizan-3.”

A credible independent expert monitoring Iran’s nuclear program raised questions about the NCRI findings.  David Albright of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Science and International Security commented in a USA Today article, February 27, 2015:

“The basic story raises questions about its authenticity. They may have answers but the questions raise further doubts,” Albright said. “The claims are so controversial that any manipulated evidence casts doubt on the whole story.”

The matter of possible violations of the P5+1 interim agreements, the lack of inspections of military applications facilities like Parchin, the Arak heavy water reactor and the Lavizan-3  site near Tehran underlines the evidence of Iran’s  retention of significant uranium enrichment  centrifuge capabilities under the suggested 10 year phase deal the Administration announced  earlier this week.  It begs the question of why any enrichment capabilities are provided to Iran under the proposed arrangement, given that the principal use of centrifuges is for enrichment of uranium into fissile materials for bomb making.

That was a point made by Dan Diker, executive producer of the Voice of Israel “National Security” program during a Middle East Round Table discussion on 1330am WEBY Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio, “Your Turn” with co-hosts Mike BatesJerry Gordon of the NER and Shoshana Bryen , senior director  of the Washington, D.C. based Jewish Policy Center.

Diker of the VOI noted:

The notion that Iran would be able to enrich any uranium is completely unacceptable.  The civilian nuclear programs around the world hosted by Canada and other western countries have nothing to do with centrifuges.  They are just not part of the nuclear file.  Many countries want to have peaceful civilian nuclear power.  The notion that the Iranians would claim that they need centrifuges to produce peaceful nuclear power is an absurdity.  The fact that the P5+1 have allowed any uranium to be enriched is an extremely dangerous proposition.  That is the message that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to bring to the American people and by extension to the world community.

As to why President Obama and Secretary Kerry would sanction the phased program, Bryen of the JPC suggested:

“[The President’s] thinking appears to be that ten years from now the Mullahs will have fallen, young Iranian democrats will have taken over, and it will be OK.  The big piece of this that he missed is that the Mullahs only represent one part of the Iranian body politic and that is the religious part. Iran is also Persian and Persians are empire-oriented.  Even if we get rid of the Mullahs, even if we get rid of the religious basis for governance in Iran and we have secular people, secular people in Persia believe in a Persian Empire. If we kick this can down the road ten years and the Mullahs are gone, Obama thinks that will be a good thing. I’m not sure that’s true.”

Listen to the February 24, 21015 1330am WEBY Middle East Round Table discussion on the Iranian nuclear program: Segment 1Segment 2Segment 3Segment 4.

An article based on the 1330am WEBY Round Table program will be published in the March 2015, NER.

The WEBY panel will also be heard on a separate Voice of Israel “National Security” program, Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 1PM Israel Standard Time ( 6:00 AM EST in the U.S.).  A sound cloud of that VOI broadcast will also be available on March 1st.

Iran’s provocative activities during the so-called Great Prophet-9 maneuvers this week raised questions about the untimely demonstrations of force directed at the US Fifth Fleet presence in the Persian Gulf. The first episode was the destruction by Iranian cruise missiles on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 launched at a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier as a target near the international oil/gas choke point, the Straits of Hormuz, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.  Watch the video, here.

Then on Friday, February 27, 2015, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy announced the successful launch of a cruise missile from a submerged Ghadir midget-submarine with a range of 150 miles. Watch the video, here.   Sepah news service quoted Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, commander of IRGC-N saying:

The new weapon would be critical in any future naval war against the U.S.

“The new weapon will have a very decisive role in adding our naval power in confronting threats,” he was quoted as stating in Sepah News.

Iran’s latest operations in the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz raises many questions. Why mount exercises in which a mock US aircraft carrier is destroyed by the Iranian navy? Or launch cruise missiles designed to take out a US naval destroyer just as the US is about to give them everything they want without a shot fired?  It may be a show of arrogance, a finger in the eye of the Obama administration (which it believes to be weak and foolish), or a move beyond the MoU into a new level of saber rattling to show its neighbors the seriousness of its ambitions. Or it might be all three, a typical multi-dimensional Persian chess play by the IRGC.

What the US must learn – and fast – is that this is not an enemy one can toy with. As in most Middle East politics, the weak are despised and the game goes to the powerful. As the secrets of Obama’s secret negotiations are revealed (or leaked), and the truth comes out about our feckless policies of negotiations and appeasement, the outcome is likely to be devastating for the region and the world.  Iran revels in its possible conquest of American might and moves a giant step closer to achieving its nuclear ambitions with America’s assistance – and blessings.

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

Iran/ North Korean Nuclear & ICBM Development Precludes a P5+1 Agreement

Reuel Marc Gerecht, Senior Fellow of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies published a book review in Friday’s Wall Street Journal by former Pentagon official, Matthew Kroenig, A Time to AttackThe Looming Iranian Nuclear ThreatMatthew Kroenig is an Associate Professor and International Relations Field Chair in the Department of Government at Georgetown University. Kroenig, who served under former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, presents a thesis that the only way to stop the Islamic regime in Tehran from achieving nuclear hegemony is for the US, not Israel, to bomb several key facilities in Iran. The suggested targets are the centrifuge enrichment centers at Fordow and Natanz, the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan, and the plutonium producing heavy water reactor at Arak.

timetoattackbookcoverWhy? Because as Gerecht relates, the sanctions regime has not deterred Iran from investing over $100 billion in the project to achieve nuclear hegemony replete with the means of delivery. Further, as he points out in his review, the US has the means to seriously cripple those facilities with 30,000 pound bunker busting deep penetrating bombs. The hoped for Stuxnet malworm and other cyber warfare is past. Gerecht notes in his review, they have only “gummed up” the whirling centrifuges enriching weapons grade uranium. Neither does he believe that targeted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, allegedly by Mossad, has put a dent in Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear capability. Given that the current P5+1 discussions with Iran seeking to perfect a final agreement with a deadline of July 20th, Gerecht makes this prediction:

Next month in Vienna, Iran and the P5+1 world powers will extend the interim agreement they struck six months ago on Iran’s nuclear program. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold a press conference, offering both sides solemn praise for finding common ground. All the while, through this tough compromise and historic collaboration, the Islamic Republic’s 9,000 spinning centrifuges will keep on enriching uranium; the other 10,000 installed centrifuges won’t be dismantled. Eventually these centrifuges, or thousands of new-and-improved ones, will be able to produce bomb-grade fuel.

Kroenig cautions:

Why would anyone believe that we would fight a nuclear war with Iran if we didn’t even have the stomach for a conventional war with a nonnuclear Iran?

Gericht’s conclusion from his review of Kroenig’s, A Time to Attack:

Mr. Kroenig readily admits that there will be costs for preventive military action. Tehran will likely respond with terrorism, directly or through proxies. But Mr. Kroenig contends that those costs are much lower than allowing Iran to go nuclear. Whether or not he’s right, we will soon find out.

Watch this May 12, 2014  C-SPAN Book TV discussion with Prof. Kroenig about A Time to Attack.

Problem is that the Obama Administration failed to foster regime change in Iran in the fraudulent elections of June 2009. Israel and many others concerned over Iran’s rising hegemony in the Middle East believe that America doesn’t have the will and the unity to undertake what Kroenig suggests. Just look at the President latest tracking poll numbers; less than 37% of American thinks that he is pursuing foreign policies protecting our nation’s interests.

Claudia Rosett in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal  published an op ed, Iran Could Outsource Its Nuclear –Weapons Program to North Korea. Rosett commented:

The pieces have long been in place for nuclear collaboration between the two countries. North Korea and Iran are close allies, drawn together by decades of weapons deals and mutual hatred of America and its freedoms. Weapons-hungry Iran has oil; oil-hungry North Korea makes weapons. North Korea has been supplying increasingly sophisticated missiles and missile technology to Iran since the 1980s, when North Korea hosted visits by Hasan Rouhani (now Iran’s president) and Ali Khamenei (Iran’s supreme leader since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989).

In the March edition of the NER, we published a piece entitled, Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea?  We wrote:

The UN nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA has no access to North Korean nuclear facilities. These developments corroborate the assessment of private intelligence and national security analyst Ilana Freedman. See The Freedman Report on January 31st, “A Friendlier Iran? Or Have They Just Moved Their Nukes to North Korea?

Rosett in the WSJ op ed lays out the case for what the NER article demonstrated was a plausible means of evading sanctions. The evidence for that we noted was North Korean/ Iranian cooperation with Assad’s Syria creating a plutonium reactor on the Euphrates at Al Kibar destroyed by Israel’s Air Force in September 2007. We drew attention to Iranian/ North Korean joint development of large rocket boosters sufficient to loft nuclear MIRV warheads and the likelihood that Iran might have that capability within a few years. In June 2014, The Algemeiner reported an Iranian official announcing that it possessed a 5,000 kilometer (approximately 3,125 miles) range missile that could hit the strategic base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean:

“In the event of a mistake on the part of the United States, their bases in Bahrain and (Diego) Garcia will not be safe from Iranian missiles,” said an Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Majatba Dhualnuri.

Kroenig wrote in his book:

Iran is building ICBMs No country on Earth, not even the United States, mounts conventional warheads on ICBMs. Traditionally, ICBMs have had one purpose: to deliver nuclear warheads thousands of miles away. If Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, then why does it have such a robust ICBM development program?

The clock is ticking on  P5+1 and Iran endeavoring to reach an agreement by July 20th. Five days of talks in Vienna ended yesterday. They will reconvene on July 2nd and may or may not conclude with an agreement on July 20th.  The Wall Street Journal in a report on those negotiations contrasted the views of US Negotiator, Deputy Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, with those of Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.  It noted that the talks ended without a joint statement. Sherman said: “We are at a very crucial moment in these negotiations. Our Conversations this week have been very tough but constructive.”  Zarif commented that only a deal could emerge if the US backed away from what he termed were “excessive demands.” “I advised them to think more seriously and to be realistic and to look for a solution.” Translated that means, we are poles apart. Meanwhile those centrifuges at Fordow and Natanz keep whirling enriching uranium while Iranian/ North Korean joint ICBM and MIRV development continue.  If we were bettors, we’d put even money on Gericht’s prediction: no agreement by July 20th or even six months hence.

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