Elliott Abrams: Hamas And The Arab Spring
Another news item reminds us that governing is difficult: “Blame game defers solution to Gaza’s energy crisis,” the Ma’an story says. The difficult relationship between Hamas and Egypt is the culprit, and Egyptian authorities are more concerned about law and order in the Sinai, their own relations with Sinai Bedouin smugglers, and the lawlessness of smuggling through Hamas’s tunnels, than with energy supplies to Gaza.
Perhaps this will change once a new president is elected, but I doubt that Egyptian nationalism and Egypt’s concern about the Sinai will disappear. According to The New York Times, the Egyptian Brotherhood is pressuring Hamas to moderate its extremist views and cooperate with Fatah, which rules in the West Bank. While Hamas might have expected warm support once the Brotherhood came to power in Egypt, the Times story suggests it may not be forthcoming…
FP: All it takes to reverse its circumstances from negative to positive is an attack on Israel either from Sinai or Gaza that forces an Israeli response, which is precisely what I suspect Hamas will do at some low point (see next). That has always been its general strategy whenever it was in deeptrouble, and it always worked. With a West in decline and hostile to Israel and Obama re-elected its effectiveness will prove even greater now. The Arab Islamists’ won’t be able to resist their anti-Semitic instincts.
The newest heroes of the Palestinian cause are not burly young men hurling stones or wielding automatic weapons. They are gaunt adults, wrists in chains, starving themselves inside Israeli prisons.
Each day since April 17, scores of Palestinian prisoners have joined a hunger strike that officials say now counts more than 1,500 participants. And on Thursday, the Palestinian Authority's minister of detainees said that if Israel did not yield to their demands for improved prison conditions, the remaining 3,200 would soon join in.
The two longest-striking prisoners, who have gone without food for 66 days, appeared in wheelchairs before Israel's Supreme Court on Thursday morning, pleading for their release from what is known here as administrative detention -- incarceration without formal charges. One of them, Bilal Diab, 27, fainted during the hearing.
"I am a man who loves life, and I want to live in dignity," the other man, Thaer Halahleh, 33, testified, according to an advocacy group that had a supporter in the courtroom. "No human can accept being in jail for one hour without any charge or reason."
FP: Too bad for the Palestinians that they did not realize they could defeat Israel much faster this way than with terror (although terror was necessary as a starter). But they finally get it and if they adopt these methods Israel should be afraid, very afraid: that’s what the gullible, hostile to Israel West has been waiting for and Israel is likely to lose yet another means of defending itself. There will be more.
Elder of Ziyon: The 140 character pitch for Judaism and the Jewish state
In last night's much heralded debate between Daniel Gordis and Peter Beinart, there was an intriguing question asked at 56:36.
The question was that both of them had written about the tragedy of young American Jews who do not identify with Judaism or with the Jewish state. If they had two minutes to make a pitch for one of them to re-engage with Judaism and Zionism, stuck in the proverbial elevator, what would they say?
Gordis, who is a Conservative rabbi, answered that he wouldn't engage in the conversation at all. Bringing up the famous story of the person who demanded that rabbis Shammai and Hillel teach him the entire Torah while he stands on one foot, Gordis said that he would side with Shammai and refuse to answer - it is a dismissive, loaded question, and one cannot teach the big questions of life in two minutes.
Gordis railed against today's culture where people think that big ideas can be adequately expressed in a text message. He said that if one is serious to know the answer, he'll be happy to spend the months and years necessary to answer the question.
FP: Absolutely right! This is an aspect of the educational failure that is so often criticized by this blog. It’s at the root at Western decline. Even it were repaired tomorrow—and it won’t be—it will take generations to have an impact and the West does not have that much time.
Here’s more evidence of the same failure:
The very first comment, by "Mary in Brighton," was:
Jonathan why do you keep linking us to extremist hate sites ?
Another says that my post is a "far right whitewash."
I see similar comments when my posts are linked to on Reddit.
It's always amusing to see how people who have no ability to counter arguments choose instead to resort to name calling and an attempt to de-legitimize their opponents.
It’s not amusing, it’s sad and of great concern.
Steven A. Cook: The Wages of the Sinai
So if the problem is not necessarily the Israelis, what is it? In a word, Egypt. The reason for Israel’s mobilization is not only because the IDF does not believe that the Egyptian armed forces are up to the task of cleaning up the mess in the Sinai, but the Egyptian military happens to share that view. By all measures, Operation Eagle failed and the Egyptian have no capacity to plan and execute a sustained military effort in the Sinai that would improve the security environment there. As a result, Israeli leaders have clearly determined that if the next rocket to land on Eilat kills someone, they are going to have to deal with the problem themselves. The Israelis have every right to defend themselves, but an Israeli attack on Egypt soil would not end well for anyone. I guarantee it.
For I don’t know how many months, I have been counseling policymakers to take a “less is more” approach to post-Mubarak Egypt. The Sinai is the one area where the opposite is the case. The peace treaty is a pillar of U.S. policy in the Middle East and as a result, it is incumbent upon Washington to do everything it can to mitigate anything that could result in violence between Egypt and Israel. What’s needed now is a full-court diplomatic press. To start, the Multinational Force Observers (MFO) contingent in the Sinai need to be bolstered politically and Washington should grant it a higher profile in coordinating between Israelis and Egyptians even if the IDF and the Egyptian armed forces already enjoy pretty good military-to-military relations. The MFO, a contingent of 1,656 personnel from 12 different countries, is there to observe the peace treaty and ensure that no one violates its terms. (As an aside, I am glad that no one listened to Donald Rumsfeld in 2002 when he proposed withdrawing U.S. support and personnel from the MFO in the Sinai. Of course, he didn’t know that Mubarak would fall and the durability of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty would be thrown into question.)
If the United States does not wake up to the danger that the Sinai poses and the Israelis are forced to respond to a terrorist attack from the Sinai, the Egypt-Israel peace treaty is over.
FP: Obama came to the presidency with the notion that Israel is a wound for the Arabs that needs to be treated to their satisfaction. While previous American policy was to induce Israeli concessions mostly by enhancing its sense of security and trust in the US perception of security, all Obama’s ME policy has reversed that: his objective is to scare Israel into concessions. This is is entirely consistent with his strategy of realigning the US with the Islamists. The US domestic deterioration and foreign defeats, including two military defeats and increasing anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist atmosphere in the US (including by US Jews), makes it easier for Obama to exploit the perception that Israel is the root of the problem and to refrain from the necessary interventions to support it.
Russia's most senior military officer said Thursday that Moscow would pre-emptively strike and destroy U.S.-led NATO missile defense sites in Eastern Europe if talks with Washington about the developing system continue to stall.
"A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens," Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov said at an international missile defense conference in Moscow attended by senior U.S. and NATO officials.
The threat comes as talks about the missile defense system, which the U.S. and its allies insist is aimed at Iranian missiles, appear to have stalled.
"We have not been able to find mutually acceptable solutions at this point, and the situation is practically at a dead end," Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.
FP: Remind me again, who is the superpower here? Looks like despite Obama’s request to Putin (via Medvedev with open mic) to give him some slack until after the election has not been effective: Putin knows weakness and when it sees it and did what one does with weaklings.
Federal authorities charged 107 doctors, nurses and social workers in seven cities with Medicare fraud Wednesday in a nationwide crackdown on unrelated scams that allegedly billed the taxpayer-funded program of $452 million -- the highest dollar amount in a single Medicare bust in U.S. history.
It was the latest in a string of major arrests in the past two years as authorities have targeted fraud that's believed to cost the government between $60 billion and $90 billion each year. Stopping Medicare's budget from hemorrhaging that money will be key to paying for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
On Wednesday, hundreds of federal agents fanned out around the country, raiding businesses, seizing documents and charging 107 suspects in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Chicago, Tampa, Fla., and Baton Rouge, La.
FP: With all due respect to public welfare and entitlements, it’s the useless wars, Wall Street welfare and fraud that brings the US down.
Israel Matzav: Brilliant: Google street view exposes top secret IDF base
A top secret IDF base in Tel Aviv has been exposed by Google Street View.
Journalist and new media consultant Yossi Dorfman revealed in his blog that a secret Tel Aviv-area base has been fully exposed by Google's new service. The images allow users to see the guard post at the entrance to the base, several soldiers inside it, and vehicles parked in the base with their license plates clearly visible.
A veteran officer who saw the images said their availability on the Internet constitutes security damage for Israel.
"This is a first-rate screw up…much can be learned from these images, and someone in the IDF whose job it is to monitor this issue screwed up here," the officer said.
FP: I knew something like this was going to happen; Israel should have never agreed to this Google program. Ask yourself how many Arab or Iranian or Chinese or Russian army bases will Google manage to approach.
Besides, Google has reached a size, power and arrogance that necessitates serious curtailing. I won’t hold my breath.
Pat Condell on Saudi Arabia (via Israel Matzav)
FP: I love people speak the truth, no matter the consequences.
And here’s another:
Soccer Dad: A father's eye view of Jewish history (via Israel Matzav)
Jeffrey Goldberg's A Peace Legacy for Netanyahu’s Hard-Line Dad? is a bit condescending for my tastes. However, it includes this fascinating observation by Benzion Netanyahu:
The historian Benzion Netanyahu, who died Monday at 102, was sometimes asked to explain the miracle of Jewish survival through millenniums of persecution. Netanyahu – the father of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin – would answer in a way his interlocutors did not at all expect. “The Jews didn’t survive,” he would say. About 1,900 years ago, he would explain, there were about 9 million Jews in a world population of roughly 300 million. Today, there are about 13 million Jews in a world of 7 billion. How is it that the number of Jews has stayed essentially stagnant, even as global population has grown exponentially?
Persecution, he explained, has driven the Jews nearly to extinction. So many murdered, so many forcibly converted to Christianity and Islam, so many choosing the dubious path of assimilation as a defense against hatred and isolation. The Jews of today, he said, are a remnant of a remnant.
FP: I agree with Soccer Dad about Goldberg—he’s sort of Beinartish—but Benzion Netanyahu comment is spot on. In fact, both Goldberg and Beinart themselvev are proof positive of that.