|Israel Resource Review
||18th December, 2006
Commentary: Bush's Backbone is Not Broken
Word came out within the last few days (which most if not all of you have already seen) regarding the fact that President Bush is considering putting 30,000 to 50,000 more troops into Iraq, rather than pulling out those already in there and admitting defeat.
Now I share with you additional information with regard to this, from Fred Barnes, who has written an article, "We're Going to Win," in the Weekly Standard. Says Barnes, "Now Bush is ready to gamble his presidency on a last-ditch effort to defeat the Sunni insurgency and establish a sustainable democracy in Iraq. He is prepared to defy the weary wisdom of Washington that it's too late, that the war in Iraq is lost . . . "
All right! Mr. Bush gets it after all, and is not prepared to cave in the face of the recent elections.
Bush, says Barnes, has "tossed aside" the recommendations of Baker's Iraq Study Group. Good news indeed.
All Bush needed was a plan for winning and apparently he is now looking at one that he believes has good possibilities. This is a plan that has been authored by General (ret.) Jack Keane, former vice chief of staff of the army, and Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute. I will not belabor the details of this plan (which can be found at aei.org/publication25292). Sufficient to say here that it calls for the temporary addition of 50,000 troops, focuses on Baghdad, and applies a counterinsurgency approach that it is believed has a good shot at being successful. "We're going to win," says Bush.
It's worth noting here -- and this is very much in line with what Caroline Glick wrote some weeks ago -- that this is similar to an approach that was used very successfully in Vietnam, when the Viet Cong were so well cleared out that the South Vietnamese gov't took control of the country. The Viet Cong subsequently won only because Congress cut off funds in response to the media-generated anti-war attitude. The message here is inescapable and critical, if fairly obvious: Winning requires determination to do so.
Bush hopes to announce this plan in January, after military reviews assure him that this has a reasonable chance of succeeding, and political connections give him reassurance that moderate Democrats will stand back and give him a chance (which he tends to believe they will).
And why does this buoy me so? Because I know how bad pulling out of Iraq would be -- for us here in Israel, for the stability of the Middle East, and for the future of the war on terrorism (which means also for the US). There should be no appeasement, no caving, as these things simply encourage more terrorism.
Additionally, an attitude by the US of standing strong in Iraq promotes encouragement of our standing strong against the terrorists in our backyard: a policy tone is set.
If Baker's report really has been thrown out, this gives additional hope. For he recommended appeasement in a variety of different contexts -- such as giving Syria the Golan so that the Syrians would be helpful in Iraq -- all of them bad and many that would have done us great damage.
What is more, it increases the possibility that the president will be willing to bomb Iran to stop it from going nuclear. I won't even mention here the rumors I'm now hearing in this regard. I'll continue to watch and to listen, and to report.
A delegation of five US senators, headed by John McCain and Joe Lieberman, is here now; they have come following visits to Afghanistan and Iraq. McCain and Lieberman today let Olmert know that they were solidly opposed to the Baker-Hamilton report.
I admit it publicly: totally aside from the fact that I think Baker's ideas are bad news and need to be thoroughly trashed, I take a personal satisfaction in seeing his ideas diminished and the respect he is accorded minimized. Baker is no friend, not to the Jews and not to Israel. He showed this most clearly when he used an obscenity in referring to "the Jews," some years ago. I thoroughly dislike this man and am pleased if he falls on his face.
I will mention here, only very briefly, the information I'm receiving with regard to the Olmert government and the current coalition. Efforts are afoot to see that the days of this coalition are numbered: What is expected to happen is an implosion -- defections from within the camp that would rob the coalition of its necessary majority. More, as I have more . . . It's too soon to know how solid my information is.
Enough good news for one day. Now back to the norm in this part of the world. The situation between Hamas and Fatah is extremely unstable. It's pointless for me to report in any detail, for two hours from now things may have changed again. There have been murders and kidnappings. A ceasefire has been called but is not exactly being scrupulously observed.
-- Tony Blair is in town and has met with Abbas, to whom he pledged full support. At their press conference, Abbas then called upon Olmert to meet with him and make peace. It depends on us, he indicated: there won't be stability within the PA until this is accomplished. If ever there was a ridiculous claim. He wants us, you understand, to accede to something major, like pulling back to the pre-'67 lines, because this would make him look like a hero and he'd gain popularity with the people and win the election. We should do this, you understand, before he has his act together. Guess you can't blame him for trying.
-- Olmert, heaven help us, says he is prepared to meet Abbas soon, and wants to discuss release of prisoners. This is his sop, you see. Release of prisoners. Didn't even hear that he will only release them if we get Shalit back. Every day I pray that the current coalition will implode.
-- Hamas says if the US and Israel support Abbas on the matter of early elections, they will start suicide bombings again, in addition to fomenting violence within PA areas.
-- Should there be elections (maybe in March), it's impossible to predict who would come out ahead. Right now polls show them neck and neck.
-- Israel is concerned about increased terrorism not because of the Hamas threats, but because the two factions may use aggression against the "enemy" as a distraction from their desire to go at each other.
-- Jordan, and other neighboring countries as well, have considerable unease that if there is real civil war between Palestinians, it might spill over to their countries. Jordan is at particular risk because so many living in Jordan are Palestinians.
If ever there was a schizoid situation, it's what is going on with Syria right now. On the one hand, Assad is amassing troops near the border with the Golan and threatening to attack, on the other, he is seeking negotiations for peace. The response here is just as confused, with some saying we have nothing to lose by talking to the Syrians (as long as we don't promise them the Golan up front), and others saying we should have nothing to do with them.
My take in a nutshell. First, the Golan is ours and should remain so. Second, there is no real indication that Syria has anything remotely resembling peaceful intentions. Assad is helping to rearm Hezbollah at full speed (as the head of the Mossad just reported), so that war there is predicted soon; he harbors Hamas hardliner Mashaal; and he is working to destabilize Lebanon. He is being isolated right now, and pressure is being placed on him by the US with regard to Lebanon. Why should we make things easier for him by helping him look like a good guy who is seeking peace? This is all he's after.
By the way, I should mention that the would-be president, Senator John Kerry, who thinks the Baker report has it right, visited Syria last week. The White House was not exactly pleased, as this provides credibility to the Assad regime and sends a mixed message.
My thought: Thank G-d Bush is president and not Kerry.
Israeli Intelligence, according to Maariv, says that when PA Prime Minister Haniyeh was in Iran, he was told to keep things quiet for three months at the end of which time there will be cash, military cooperation and more. During the third week of March, which begins the Persian new year, the Iranians say they will have a dramatic announcement that will change the strategic balance in the Middle East.
I will not guess as to what this is about, though there are obvious thoughts that come to mind. This is for Intelligence to know or discover. For the record: I have heard reports that say that three months is a deadline with regard to Iran and nuclear capability, and a number of other reports that say this capability is being delayed for about a year because of technical difficulty they are having.
This posting can be found at: http://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/12/18/posted-december-18-2006.html
Posting: December 16, 2006
On the Holocaust, Holocaust denial, Iran, and related issues . . .
This past week I attended a showing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs of a documentary made in 1991 by the award-winning Dutch film maker Willy Lindwer on the Wansee Conference, which was held in 1941. This was a conference of German Nazi government officials who met at a lavish villa in Berlin to lay plans for the "final solution": the total extermination of the 11 million Jews of Europe, including the UK. (Check http://www.willylindwer.com/ as this important film and others may be available in DVD format.)
A pall of silence fell over the audience that was watching it -- for to see this excellent documentary, which includes rare footage, is to come face to face with consummate evil. And what makes it even more painful is the knowledge that we face similar consummate evil now.
Also this past week, a Holocaust denial conference, organized by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was held in Tehran and attended by Nazis, Nazi-supporters and those of similar ilk. Ahmadinejad delivered the closing speech in which he declared that Israel's days are numbered.
Caroline Glick's analysis of why Ahmadinejad is adopting this devious position is well worth attending to:
He, first of all, strengthens the neo-Nazi movement by making them appear as victims of false accusations. Says Glick, the Neo-Nazi movement in Germany -- "a burgeoning political and social force" -- boasts of its ties to Iran. Seems anti-Semitism is on the rise in Germany.
Perhaps more importantly, the goal is to delegitimize Israel's existence. The argument Ahmadinejad makes is that the Holocaust is a myth that was used to exploit Muslims. According to this argument, Israel was created as a refuge for Jews after what was supposedly the Holocaust, and as a result Muslims have been pushed off "their" land and denied their rights. But if it can be shown that there was no Holocaust, it will follow that the Jews have no right to be on the land and that it is time to rectify the wrong done to the Muslims. Said Iran's Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki, "If the official version of the Holocaust is thrown into doubt, then the identity and nature of Israel will be thrown into doubt."
This is an argument that must be dealt with seriously, for there are Leftists in many quarters who are already on the way to painting Israel as not legitimate.
Aside from the obvious fact that the Holocaust did take place, I must note with absolute clarity for the record that the justification for our existence as a State here is not the Holocaust but the fact that this is our land.
The Jewish presence on the Land has been continuous: There were Jews here for the almost 2,000 years between the Second Exile in 73 CE and the founding of the State in 1948. During those years, this area (which came to be known as Palestine) was never established as a nation for any other people -- it served only as an appendage to one conquering empire or another. And in the course of 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been only a Jewish capital; since the late 1800s, Jews have again constituted a majority in Jerusalem. The First Zionist Congress was called by Theodor Herzl in Basel in 1897. Jewish pioneers came here to settle the land in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Balfour Declaration, which was an official recognition by the government of Britain of the Jewish right to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine took place in 1917; the League of Nation assignment to Britain of the Mandate for Palestinian, which charged Britain with securing a national homeland for the Jewish people, was made in 1922. None of this had anything to do with the Holocaust.
It is also important to note another historical fact that is not often recognized: There are links between the Arabs and the Nazis going back to the Nazi era in Germany. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini incited against the Jews here in the 1920s and 1930s, and spurred the horrendous massacre in Hebron in 1929. When the Nazis came to power, the Mufti found his natural allies and worked closely with them. This same Mufti was the mentor of Yassar Arafat, who called him "uncle."
It is not incidental that the current president of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, was a close deputy of Arafat for many many years, and in his doctoral thesis also denied the Holocaust.
What goes around comes around . . .
It made news last week that one Khaled Mahameed, an Israeli Arab attorney in Nazareth who has set up a Holocaust museum of sorts in his office, tried to attend the Holocaust deniers' conference but was denied entry to Tehran. "Ah," generally went the response, "here we have a good guy, and he's been closed out."
But the story is more complex than this. Turns out that along with information about the Holocaust, Mahameed shows photos of Palestinian refugees. ADL charges that he is abusing the memory of the Holocaust by comparing it with what Israelis do to Palestinians.
Turning to the Palestinians: PA President Mahmoud Abbas has done it. Sort of. He announced in a speech in Ramallah today that he would be pushing up the date for parliamentary and presidential elections. He did not, however, actually set a date, and he left the door open for Hamas to establish a government of technocrats, which would render early elections unnecessary. What he has done already is establish a new Fatah lineup, though the names have not been announced yet.
Not exactly unexpectedly, Hamas has responded with anger. "This is a real coup," said Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar; thousands of Hamas supporters took to the streets.
Abbas's announcement simply exacerbates Hamas-Fatah tensions, which had already intensified in recent days. When PA Prime Minister Haniyeh returned from his visit to Tehran last week (during which time, according to my best information, he did not attend the Holocaust denial conference), he came back via Egypt with $35 million in suitcases.
Israel, I am happy to report, blocked his ability to carry that money through the Rafah crossing and it is still in Egypt. Ultimately Haniyeh got through the crossing, but there was a major altercation. Hamas supporters, furious at the blocking of Haniyeh, took over the crossing by force and Fatah security personnel at the scene responded. When there was sufficient quiet so that it was assumed Haniyeh could proceed (without the money), his convoy was attacked by Fatah people in what was presumably an assassination attempt; his bodyguard was killed and his son wounded.
Most maddening is the notion -- promoted on the left right here in Israel and broadly internationally -- that, in the unlikely event that Abbas should come out on top here, it would mean a defeat for terrorism. Abbas and his Fatah party are knee deep in terrorism, and it is this that I will deal with in coming days. It is not a matter of terrorism vs. no terrorism, truly wanting a two-state solution vs. wanting to eliminate Israel. It is a matter of style and approach, with differing opinions as to how to best represent Palestinian Arab interests.
Hamas and Fatah both want to eradicate Israel. This is the bottom line. Condoleezza Rice can rush to give Abbas assistance because he will made a "peace process" possible. But it is still the bottom line.
This posting can be found at: http://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/12/16/posted-december-16-2006.html
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