Embracing the obvious truth

Posted September 1, 2014 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Our world: Embracing the obvious truth.

 

The moral and ideological divide between Israel and Hamas is so self-evident that the only way to ignore it is by embracing and cultivating ignorance.

 

It isn’t hard to understand the truth about Israel and Hamas.

Four-year-old Daniel Tragerman was murdered on Friday afternoon in his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz by Hamas terrorists.

They shot him with a mortar launched from a school in Gaza’s Zeitoun neighborhood. At the time of the launch, the school was filled with civilians who had fled to the school for shelter.

They fled to the school for shelter because they were forced to vacate their homes.

They were forced to vacate their homes because Hamas terrorists were launching mortars and rockets at Israeli civilian sites, like Daniel Tragerman’s home, from their apartment buildings.

The moral and ideological divide between Israel and Hamas is so self-evident that the only way to ignore it is by embracing and cultivating ignorance.

This week Richard Behar published an in-depth investigative report in Forbes documenting how the US media is doing just that. As Behar demonstrated, the media is collaborating with Hamas in its war against Israel.

Behar cited example after example of how the US media, led by The New York Times have systematically ignored, obfuscated and downplayed Hamas’s war crimes while swallowing whole its bogus statistics and accusations against Israel.

The greatest threat to faux reporters like the New York Times Israel bureau chief Jodi Rudoren and her colleagues are people who refuse to accept their distortions and insist that the truth be told.

The most dangerous of the truth tellers are the non- Jews who stand up for Israel.

This week, former British Labour MP Denis MacShane published an op-ed in Haaretz where he spoke to this point. MacShane argued that for Israel to win the information war being waged against it must cultivate non-Jewish defenders.

In his words, “The British media… is awash with defenders of Hamas and Palestinian resistance. Hardly any are Muslims. In contrast, the prominent journalists – Jonathan Freedland, Daniel Finkelstein, Melanie Phillips, David Aaronovich – who support Israel are, well, Jews.”

MacShane argued that because they are Jews, readers dismiss them.

They “shrug their shoulders and think privately: ‘They would say that, wouldn’t they.”

Israel has an enormous reserve of support among non-Jews. But due to the mainstream media’s commitment to dishonesty and deliberate cultivation of public ignorance and moral blindness in their coverage of Israel, for many, the price of defending Israel is becoming prohibitive.

Israel’s enemies in the West do their best to reinforce this perception.

Consider the case of Jon Voight.

The celebrated Oscar-winning actor is an outspoken champion of Israel. Earlier this month, Voight published an open letter to Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem in Variety where he harshly criticized the Spanish performers for their public statement condemning Israel and siding with Hamas in its war against the Jewish state.

In his words, “I am heartsick that people like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem could incite anti-Semitism all over the world and are oblivious to the damage they have caused.”

Voight was viciously attacked for speaking out.

Last week, two UCLA professors, Mark LeVine and Gil Hochberg, co-authored an article published in The Huffington Post assaulting him for his views and his temerity to suggest that Israel is a moral, embattled democracy fighting genocidal forces committed to its destruction.

The two Jewish academics are supporters of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

The principal aim of the BDS movement is to make it socially unacceptable to support Israel. In 2010 LeVine and Hochberg signed a petition calling for California state universities to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

Online Hollywood commentators, such as Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, opined that Voight, who was nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in Showtime’s Ray Donovan series, was liable to lose his Emmy bid due to his support for Israel.

Hochberg and LeVine’s assault on Voight was a long-winded voyage into the post-Zionist and anti-Zionist literary moonscape. Their principal criticism of Voight was that he refuses to accept this intellectual wasteland’s rejection of the known facts of history.

Voight is not an academic, nor has he ever claimed to be an expert on Middle Eastern history. He is a non-Jewish American concerned about the future of America.

That is why he stands with Israel. Voight recognizes that when Israel is under assault, and its right to defend itself is denied while terrorists are supported, the US is endangered. And so he feels compelled to speak out, regardless of the price.

In his response to the threats to deny him the Emmy due to his support for Israel Voight told USA Today, “I’m not speaking to get awards. I’m speaking because I’m concerned about my grandchildren and the life they’re going to live, and the country they’re coming in to. I want to protect them.”

Another non-Jewish champion of Israel is former US senator and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum. Both during his tenure in the Senate and since, Santorum has spoken out strongly against Iran’s nuclear program, insisting that it is a serious threat not only to Israel, but to the US itself.

Like Voight, Santorum recognizes that the fate of the US is directly tied to the fate of Israel.

For his trenchant support for Israel, and his outspoken concern about Iran’s nuclear program, as well as his support for domestic issues where he has not shied away from taking controversial, inconvenient position, Santorum’s critics have demonized him.

But undaunted, he continues to speak out.

Last week, Santorum led a solidarity mission to Israel. The majority of his colleagues were non-Jewish opinion shapers from Iowa, the first state to hold Republican presidential contests. Santorum explained that his goal in coming to Israel was not simply to show Israelis that the American people support us. It was to build support among Republicans in Iowa for a robust US engagement in foreign affairs based on supporting Israel, fighting America’s enemies and preventing the forces of hatred, like Hamas and Iran, from expanding their power.

Santorum’s chief concern is that weary of foreign policy failures, more and more Republicans are embracing the isolationism most identified with Senator Rand Paul. Paul is currently polling well in Iowa.

Over the weekend Paul referred to Hillary Clinton as “a war hawk,” and said, “I think the American public is coming more and more to where I am.”

Santorum is convinced that if Iowans are educated about the nature of the threats emanating from the region, and of Israel’s singular contribution to the cause of freedom and stability, their position can become the basis for a Republican foreign policy that rejects isolationism and embraces US leadership in world affairs as the only way to secure the US and strengthen its embattled allies.

In other words, like Voight, Santorum’s support for Israel is rooted in his concern about America, and its future. Like Voight, Santorum recognizes that the growing penchant among elite opinion shapers to ignore truth in the pursuit of moral relativism and fake sophistication or isolationism constitutes a danger to America.

This week the New York Times descended to yet another low, reporting as fact totally unsubstantiated accusations by the son of a senior Hamas terrorist that Israel tortured him and used him as a human shield during a brief incarceration.

But it appears that the jig may be winding down.

More and more people are following the lead of men like Voight and Santorum, and insisting that the truth be told.

This week more than 190 Hollywood luminaries followed Voight’s courageous lead and signed a public statement condemning Hamas.

Quin Hillyer, a reporter for National Review who accompanied Santorum on his mission, wrote Monday, “My visit to Israel last week confirmed that Iran and its fellow jihadists have good reason to see Israel and the United States in the same light. Israelis and Americans share the same humane, Western values…

“Israel is an oasis in a desert – in the physical, topographical sense but also metaphorically. It’s an oasis of reason, human decency and justice appropriately grounded in mercy.”

MacShane is right. It is vital for more non-Jews, who refuse to deny the truth that screams out to be told, to stand up to the lies and publicly stand with Israel. It is the job of Israel and Jewish communities throughout the world to empower them by among other things, reducing the power of Israel’s enemies to make them pay a price for their decency.

The writer is the author of The Israeli Solution: A One- State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.

Israel and the U.S.-Qatari Axis

Posted September 1, 2014 by danmillerinpanama
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Israel and the U.S.-Qatari Axis, Front Page Magazine, September 1, 2014

US-Turkey

When considering the geo-political map of the current Middle East, not everything is negative or alarming, at least from an Israeli point of view. Although the Middle East is more splintered today than ever before, Israel’s political and diplomatic isolation in the region has faded. The Middle East is now composed of three main blocs and Israel is a partner with one major bloc, which also happens to be its immediate neighbors, or the inner circle of moderate-Sunni and hitherto pro-American Arab states: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates.  However, what is counter-intuitive is the Obama administration’s choice of partners in the region. It is not the moderate Sunni-Muslim states and Israel that Washington sought out as mediators for a Hamas-Israel cease-fire, but the Muslim Brotherhood bloc of Turkey and Qatar.

David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister and one of the founding fathers of the Jewish State recognized early on that the State of Israel had no chance to develop friendly relations with its neighboring Arab states. Pan-Arab leaders such as Egypt’s president Gamal Abdul Nasser fanned the flames of hatred and revenge against the Jewish state, as did fellow Arab dictators in Syria and elsewhere. As a result, Israel’s leadership sought to develop friendly relations with its outer-circle non-Arab states such as Iran, Ethiopia, and Turkey.

The rise of the Islamic Republic in Iran under Khomeini following the Iranian revolution in 1979, and the departure of the Israel-friendly Shah of Iran ended Israeli-Iranian relations. Iran became the arms supplier of Israel’s Palestinian enemies and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and with its nuclear ambition, it constitutes an existential threat to the Jewish State.

Turkey was the only Muslim state to have a steady and rather friendly relationship with the Jewish state. Until the electoral triumph of the AK Party (Justice and Development Party) in 2002, Israel’s trade and military cooperation with Turkey was significant to both countries. The AK Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan changed all of that. His hostility to Israel intensified with each successive electoral victory. Following his second parliamentary victory in 2007, he began tangling with Israel. In late May 2010, Erdogan gave the green light to a Gaza flotilla headed by the Mavi Marmara. It was a deliberate provocation by Erdogan to break through the Israeli blocade. The subsequent AK victory in the 2011 parliamentary elections increased Erdogan’s arrogance and simultaneously his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic outbursts. His latest 2014 presidential victory and his unmitigated support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood severed the special relations Israel has had with Turkey.

Turkey is, in fact, part of the radical Sunni, pro-Muslim Brotherhood bloc, that includes Qatar and Hamas.

The radical Shia bloc led by Iran, which includes Shiite Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Hezbollah in Lebanon, comprise the third bloc.

The puzzling question is why Washington chose to align itself with the Sunni radical Muslim Brotherhood bloc (Qatar and Turkey), and not with the more moderate bloc led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia? Both the Egyptian regime under President Abdel Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the Saudi royals are upset with the Obama administration. Cairo resents Washington’s support for the deposed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammad Morsi. Washington withheld arms delivery to Egypt because it considered Morsi’s removal illegitimate, albeit, over 30 million Egyptians demanded Morsi’s removal because of his gross mismanagement of the economy, his authoritarian style, his promotion of sectorial Brotherhood ideals and the erosion of civil liberties.

The Saudis resent the Obama administration rapprochement with Iran, and its November 24, 2013 nuclear agreement with Iran signed in Geneva.  Israelis are also uncomfortable with the Geneva Agreement, albeit they are more skeptical than resentful. The U.S. “Red Line” against the Assad regimes use of chemical weapons that was never put into force has added to the Saudis sense of betrayal.  Riyadh blames the U.S. for turning Iraq into an

Iranian Shiite satellite, and abandoning the Sunnis. The Saudis are also upset with Obama’s treatment of el-Sisi’s Egypt, whom they support.

The U.S. administration’s reasoning is hard to understand but for the fact that in 2003 Combat Air Operations Center for the Middle East moved from Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia to Qatar’s Al Udeid airbase near its capital of Doha. Qatar currently serves as the host to major U.S. military facilities. The Al Udeid base and other facilities in Qatar serve as the logistics, command and control, and hub for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations. Al Jazeera (the Qatari regime mouthpiece) reported on July 15, 2014 that “The United States has signed an agreement with Qatar to sell Apache attack helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defense systems valued at $11bn.” Qatar also has the third largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, and is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, benefitting mainly the Europeans.

America stands for more than multi-billion-dollar defense contracts. Its core values include human rights, religious freedom and democracy for all. The 2012 U.S. State Department Country Report on Human Rights in Qatar has concluded that “Inability of citizens to change their government peacefully, restrictions on fundamental civil liberties, and pervasive denial of expatriate workers rights” are just some of the human rights abuses by the Qatari regime. Political parties are not allowed to exist and forced labor is pervasive in Qatar, particularly in the construction and domestic labor sectors. Qatar serves as host to Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the radical Muslim Brotherhood ideologue that the Anti-Defamation League has called “theologian of terror,” and has provided a home base to Khaled Mashal, the Hamas political chief.

Particularly worrisome are the Qatari elites, including the ruling family, who support Al Qaeda and other extremist and violent Islamist groups. Additionally, Qatar’s embrace of Iran as well as Hamas and Hezbollah, deemed by Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states as terrorist organizations, requires a great deal of scrutiny by the U.S.  Reuters reported (March 9, 2014) that “Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of openly funding the Sunni Muslim insurgents (ISIS) his troops are battling in western Anbar province.” Lebanon’s Daily Star (August 14, 2014) quoted Hezbollah’s Chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah as saying “Turkey and Qatar are supporting ISIS (also known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and most recently as the Islamic State.), and I am convinced that Saudi Arabia fears it.”

Qatar, the hub of CENTCOM, and the recipient of top-notch U.S. weaponry, is the same state that enables Hamas’ terror against Israel by providing it with donations to buy its arms from Iran. Therefore, it was a surprise for the Israelis that Secretary of State John Kerry chose to adopt the pro-Hamas track offered by the foreign ministers of Turkey and Qatar. He ignored both the interests of Israel and Egypt who border the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Al-Monitor (July 29, 2014) summed up the divergence of interests between Israel, the U.S’s only democratic and most reliable ally in the region and the U.S.–Qatar axis. “The Israeli leadership estimates that the cease-fire initiative (regarding the Hamas-Israeli war in Gaza-JP) of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responds well to the interests of Qatar, Turkey, Hamas, and its own interests with Qatar – but hardly addresses Israel’s security needs.”

Ban Ki-moon’s Israel-condemnation addiction

Posted September 1, 2014 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Uncategorized

Ban Ki-moon’s Israel-condemnation addiction, Israel Hayom, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, September 1, 2014

(Unfortunately but not unexpectedly, Ban Ki-moon’s ailment is endemic in the “international community.” Perhaps it is because Israel tries to be and is excessively conciliatory. The Islamic State and other Islamic jihad entities are conciliatory only toward those who support and otherwise encourage them. — DM)

The Middle East is on fire, its flames threatening the continuity of civilization itself. Around the world people looked aghast at the revolting beheading of American journalist James Foley by terrorists of the Islamic State (ISIS). It was followed by the public execution of 18 Palestinians, including two women, by Hamas on charges of collaboration. Executed, without trial, in cold blood.

These acts of barbarism are only the latest examples of the monstrous enemy, radical Islam.

In Iraq and Syria, ISIS is now beheading children and crucifying youths in their genocidal war against Christians, Yazidis, and whomever else is standing in the way of their caliphate.

In Iran, the gay-hating, women-stoning, free-speech-suppressing mullahs continue to fund murderous attacks against Americans and Jews worldwide, threatening Israel with nuclear annihilation.

And in Gaza, bloodthirsty Hamas terrorists fire rockets at Israelis from homes, schools, and mosques while sacrificing Palestinian babies as human shields, and using Palestinian children as slave labor to build terror tunnels in its never-ending genocidal war against the Jews.

But through all this, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continues his addiction to condemnations of Israel, castigating the Middle East’s only democracy as it acts in self-defense against the blood-thirsty Hamas death-cult.

His repeated statements of moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel are an affront to decency. A recent bipartisan letter from U.S. senators to Ban Ki-moon scolded his comparison of the “deliberate terrorist attack on civilians” by Hamas to the “measured response of a nation-state trying to defend its citizens.”

As Israel has waged a fierce war against Hamas to stop the thousands of murderous rockets raining down on its cities, Ban has called Israel’s actions “unjustifiable,” “a moral outrage,” “a criminal act,” “reprehensible,” and “a gross violation of international law.”

Ban called on Israel to demolish its security fence along Judea and Samaria even though he has made no such similar call of his native South Korea to destroy the fence on the 38th parallel that protects his homeland from Pyongyang.

Ban has held Israel accountable for the deaths of Palestinian civilians even when it is clear that Hamas routinely fires rockets from schools, hospitals, mosques, and private homes.

The Washington Post reported on July 31 that the United Nations has found troves of rockets hidden in three of its (Hamas’) schools since the conflict began.

The Post also reported in July that, “during one short-lived lull in rocket fire,” William Booth, the Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief, saw a “group of men” at a mosque in northern Gaza. They said they had returned to clean up glass from shattered windows. “But they could be seen moving small rockets into the mosque.” He also reported that Shifa Hospital in Gaza City had “become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.”

A year ago Ban was not nearly as harsh in condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for waging a chemical attack against his own people, gassing upwards of 1700. Instead, he appealed for unity among world powers and sought more time for the inspectors to complete their work.

Ban’s response to North Korea’s three nuclear tests and threats of a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United State in March of 2013 was similarly tepid, saying merely it was “a challenge for the international community.” While a rogue nation brazenly tests nuclear missiles and intentionally starves its population in a self-inflicted famine, Ban refers to these actions as nothing more than “a serious humanitarian crisis.”

Harsh and condemnatory language is reserved, it seems, solely for Israel.

Ban Ki-moon should focus on investigating real genocides in the Middle East and stop persecuting Israel, the region’s only democracy. The citizens of the world deserve a U.N. chief who can, at the very least, distinguish between right and wrong.

Jihad Comes To Europe

Posted September 1, 2014 by danmillerinpanama
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Jihad Comes To Europe, The Gatestone InstituteGuy Millière, September 1, 2014

(An very powerful article. It brings to mind Britain and Europe during the mid 1930’s when Hitler gained control over Germany’s Government  and  antisemitism became common. Restrictions on German rearmament were lifted while apathetic Britain and Europe disarmed in the interest of the “equality of nations.” Churchill’s The Gathering Storm lays it all out in gruesome detail. We and much of the rest of the “free, democratic and civilized” world are again going down the same suicidal path as we again reject the lessons of history.– DM)

Belgian security services have estimated that the number of European jihadists in Syria may be over 4000.

European leaders have directed their nastiest comments against the Jewish state, none of them has asked why Palestinian organizations in Gaza put their stockpiles of weapons in hospitals, homes, schools and mosques, or their command and control centers at the bottom of large apartment buildings or underneath hospitals. None of them has even said that Hamas is a terrorist organization despite its genocidal charter.

The majority of them are wedded to the idea of redistribution. Their policies are anti-growth, do not afford people any economic opportunity, and are what caused these economic crises in Europe in the first place. The United States seems to be following these thoroughly failed policies as well.

“Europe could not stay the same with a different population in it.” — Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.

Europe is heading towards an increasingly uncertain future. Debates on the impact and dangers of Islam are even less possible today than five years ago. Demographic trends are irrepressibly moving in a direction that is Muslim. Radical Islam in the Middle East and in Europe is rising ever more rapidly, with no one lifting a finger to stop it

****************

A few months before murdering four people at a Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 24th, a French Muslim named Medhi Nemmouche had been released from prison and had already joined the Islamic State (at the time, called ISIS).

Nemmouche had left the Museum unmolested and was identified only by images from surveillance cameras. He was arrested two days later in Marseille during an anti-drug check, where it was discovered that he was about to take a boat to Algeria. He had with him his weapons and a black flag of the Islamic State.

The French police knew exactly who he was. Despite everything, he had not been placed under close surveillance.

Nemmouche will be tried in Belgium, where he faces a sentence of life imprisonment — but life imprisonment in Belgium and France means a maximum of twenty-two years. He will not spend twenty-two years in prison. He will likely earn an early release for good behavior. Almost all prisoners in Belgium and France are released for good behavior. That he is a repeat offender and has been convicted seven times for robbery and assault will not be held against him: in Belgium or France, recidivism is theoretically considered an aggravating circumstance but is almost never taken into account in the judgments issued by courts.

In prison, he will join the company of people who share his ideas, and he will be able to join jihadi networks.

In Belgian and French prisons, a large majority of the inmates are Muslims, many of whom are radical; and jihadi networks are ubiquitous.

When he leaves prison, he will most likely join the Islamic State again, if he wants, and if the Islamic State still exists.

Nemmouche’s path resembles that of another French Muslim, Mohamed Merah, who killed three French soldiers and four Jews in the Southwest of France in March, 2012. Merah, like Nemmouche, had also served several sentences in prison and had joined Islamic organizations, although in Afghanistan, not Syria. He, too, came back ready to kill, and he killed.

The French police also knew who Mohamed Merah was. And he was also not placed under close surveillance.

The main difference between Merah and Nemmouche is that Merah chose to die in a police shootout. Because of the way he died, Merah became a hero for many young European Muslims.

At the time of the Merah case, against all evidence, the French government had put forward the “lone wolf” theory and officially dismissed the idea of jihad, although there were arrests in Islamist circles.

When Nemmouche was arrested, the French Interior Minister used more courageous words: he spoke of “jihadi networks” and of “problems” in the French prison system. He added that 700 French youths were in training camps in Syria, and could come back at any moment. The Belgian authorities used similar words.

These mentions of jihad and “problems” in the prisons were steps in the right direction. The problem is that there will almost certainly be no further steps.

Gilles de Kerchove, the EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator, recently said that there are, in fact, more than 700 French Muslims presently waging jihad in Syria. Available data show that there are also many Belgian Muslims, and many Muslims going to Syria from the rest of Europe. Belgian security services have estimated that the number of European jihadists in Syria may be over 4,000. Entire European fighting units seems to have been created.

The leaders of the French and Belgian do not have any real ways of implementing and managing better security or keeping track of suspects — even those likely to take action. These leaders do not even try to restore order in prisons. Government leaders currently preside over financially battered countries, mired in sclerosis, stagnation, wretchedly controlled immigration, and the perverse effects of redistributive social welfare systems that only multiply the poor and destroy jobs — the side effects of multiculturalism. They have neither the will nor the resources to cope with all the costs that would be involved.

They know that if they tried to do something, they would soon be faced with riots in the (mostly Muslim) “no-go zones” scattered throughout the outskirts of most cities.

They know that they would have to hire thousands of police and to consider using the army.

666French politicians fear mass riots in the violence-prone suburban “no go zones” that surround major cities. In this photo, a car burns in Sèvres, France, during the 2005 riots. (Source: WikiMedia Commons)

They know that they would soon face extremely reluctant and extremely hostile judges: judges in Belgium and France are permanent and irremovable civil servants, and the majority of them are wedded to economic ideas based on the redistribution of wealth. Their policies are anti-growth, do not afford people any economic opportunity, and are what created these crises in Europe in the first place. The United States seems to be following these thoroughly failed policies as well. The main union of magistrates in France, “Syndicat de la magistrature”, is close to a neo-communist organization, “le Front de Gauche”.

The governments’ leaders know that they would have to confront “anti-racist” organizations fully dedicated to the fight against “Islamophobia”: powerful and well financed Islamic lobbies, imams in key mosques, and most journalists in the mainstream media.

The governments’ leaders also know that they would have to run the risk of losing elections. In the major cities of Belgium and France, the Muslim vote has an increasing weight. Brussels, the city where Medhi Nemmouche murdered, is now 30% Muslim. Roubaix, the city where he was born, is 60% Muslim. The number of cities where the Muslim population is a majority continues to rise.

The governments’ leaders know that what is happening in France and Belgium can be found to varying degrees in all European countries, and that the problem that overwhelms them is really a European problem.

Government leaders in all major European countries know that hundreds of well-trained European jihadists are in Syria and that some of them will return. They do not ignore that some are already back in Europe and that attacks are likely. They do not ignore that if European jihadists are in the hundreds, those who support jihadism in Europe are probably in the tens of thousands. In recent demonstrations in support of the “Palestinian cause” all over Europe, flags of Hamas, Hizbullah and the Islamic State were abundant, and slogans explicit.

Governments in all major European countries do not ignore that many of the countries they lead are in financial dire straits, faced with sclerosis, stagnation, wretchedly controlled immigration, policies that retard economic growth, and the results of multiculturalism.

They do not ignore that many prisons in Europe are jihadi hotbeds, and that (mostly Muslim) no-go zones are proliferating.

They do not ignore that risks of riots are very real, and that judges under the influence of ideas that for a hundred years have been proven not to work — in Russia, Cuba and everywhere — nevertheless still serve everywhere in Europe.

They cannot ignore the existence in every European country of “anti-racist” organizations and Islamic lobbies, imams and journalists, almost exactly similar to those which exist in France and Belgium.

They cannot ignore the growing weight of Muslim votes in many parts of Europe.

They can break up some networks, thwart some attacks, symbolically strip some jihadists of their citizenship.

They know they are largely hostage to a situation they no longer control.

Their attitude is dictated by the fear of being confronted with more serious problems than murders: some European counter-terrorism services say that a Mumbai-style armed attack in Europe is possible, even probable.

The attitude of governments can be defined by a word often used to describe the attitude of Daladier and Chamberlain in 1938: appeasement.

The victims of Merah and Nemmouche were Jews. European politicians say they are ready to protect Jews living in Europe, but they are scared of offending those who attack Jews. They enunciate verbal condemnations of “anti-Semitism”, but they deliberately ignore the Islamic nature of almost all anti-Semitic acts in Europe today.

European politicians see that those who commit anti-Semitic acts closely associate hatred of Jews and hatred of Israel. They seem to think that if they say that “what happen in the Middle East has to stay in the Middle East”, that it will. They deludedly seem to think that if they harshly criticize Israel while saying that the Jews of Europe have nothing to do with Israel, they will avoid outbursts that are even worse. They seem unable to see that social media exist and that what happens in the Middle East does not stay in the Middle East. It leads them to make implicit distinctions between “good” European Jews who see nothing, hear nothing, shut their mouths and behave as “genuine European citizens”, and “bad” European Jews who dare to speak of Islamic hatred, express sympathy for Israel and behave as “troublemakers.”

Articles denouncing “bad” Jews may be found in major newspapers and magazines. Christophe Barbier, director of the French weekly L’Express recently wrote that French Jews who are worried about the rise of Islamic anti-Semitic acts are “paranoid”. He added, a bit surreally, that those Jews who leave France are “traitors” and followers of “Beelzebub”. In another article in the same magazine, French Jewish organizations were recentlyaccused of playing an important part in the rise of anti-Semitism in France by being “too close to Israel”. Does anyone ever get criticized for being “too close” to North Korea, Russia or Iran?

Since the beginning of the Gaza conflict, European leaders have directed their nastiest remarks against the Jewish State. None of them has asked why Palestinian organizations in Gaza put their stockpiles of weapons in hospitals, homes, schools and mosques, or their command and control centers at the bottom of large apartment buildings or underneath hospitals. None of them has even said that Hamas is a terrorist organization, despite its genocidal charter. Faced with the horrors in northern Iraq, only three European countries — France, the United Kingdom, and Germany — decided to provide limited humanitarian aid and deliver military supplies to Kurdish forces. The other countries cautiously abstained.

A few days ago, British PM David Cameron expressed concern that the Islamic State could become strong enough to “target people on the streets of Britain”, but added that he was not considering military intervention. That the man who savagely beheaded James Foley on camera spoke with an East London accent prompted British authorities to search for his identity: the beheading was immediately considered a criminal case, not a barbaric act of war.

The murder of Lee Rigby, on May 22, 2013, was considered a simple criminal case: the judge who sentenced the two killers said that the “extremist views” they both expressed during the trial were a “betrayal of Islam”. In the European media, the Islamic State is now defined as a “terrorist organization”, never as an Islamic organization. Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti recently said that “the Islamic State is the enemy of Islam”. Many European newspapers immediately ran headlines obediently repeating what he said. In mainstream European newspapers, Hamas is never defined as Islamic or even terrorist; and is called a “resistance movement”.

European Jews perceive the smell in the air, and many of them are packing their bags. Seeing that journalists may call them “traitors” and followers of “Beelzebub” does not inspire them to change their minds.

Europeans who are neither Jewish nor Muslim perceive that the situation is rapidly becoming extremely unsafe and unstable. They also feel, with good reason, that their political leaders are not telling the truth.

Recent polls show that in almost every European country, a large majority of the people is pessimistic, expects the worst, and feels a deep lack of trust in politicians, governmental institutions and the media. Recent polls also show that in most European countries, an even larger majority of the people rejects and loathes Islam. Xenophobic parties are on the rise.

In Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, published in 2009, Christopher Caldwell noted that “Europe could not stay the same with a different population in it”. He added that any debate in Europe on the impact and dangers of Islam is impossible because “violent Islamists intimidate and threaten”. He also added that the demographic trends and the rise of radical Islam in the Middle East do not indicate that the situation will improve. Five years later, it is clear that he was right.

Europe is heading towards an increasingly uncertain future. Debates on the impact and dangers of Islam are even less possible today than five years ago. Demographic trends are irrepressibly moving in a direction that is Muslim. Radical Islam in the Middle East and in Europe is rising ever more rapidly, with no one lifting a finger to stop it.

Israel downed a drone over Golan after it was identified as a Hizballah Ababil 2

Posted September 1, 2014 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Israel downed a drone over Golan after it was identified as a Hizballah Ababil 2.

DEBKAfie’s military sources report exclusively that the UAV, shot down Sunday Aug. 31 by an Israeli Patriot battery over Quneitra on the Golan, was launched by Hizballah – not Syria as initially reported. The Iran-made Ababail 2 was on a photography and intelligence-gathering mission over the Golan battleground where the Syrian army and rebels have been fighting for control off the Quneitra crossing between Syria and Israel.

Our sources add that Hizballah launched the unmanned aerial vehicle from a Syrian air base attached to Damascus international airfield, where Hizballah keeps a fleet of Ababil 2 drones transferred from Lebanon.

When the IDF picked up the drone on course for Quneitra, the information was flashed to top Israel government and military decision-makers, who decided on the spot that the Golan military situation was messy enough without a new complicating factor entering the fray. And so it was decided to shoot it down.

Arrayed against Syrian troops on this sliver of land, are at least five insurgent groups, the largest of which is the Syria Revolutionaries Front. Another is the Syrian Al Qaeda offshoot, the Nusra Front. Around 1,100 troops of the UN Disengagement Observer Force are responsible to policing the buffer zone between Syria and Israel that runs through Quneitra.
The Fijian contingent’s 44 members, who were abducted Thursday, Aug. 28 by Al Qaeda, are being held in an unknown location as hostages for a ransom that has not been published.
Our military and intelligence sources reveal that, shortly before the abduction, various intelligence watchers spotted a number of Hizballah officers who had arrived on the scene. It was generally estimated in Israel that the Lebanese Shiites were not planning to join the fighting, but had come out of concern that Syrian rebels would manage to drive Syrian troops out of Quneitra and its surrounding villages, and then break through to the Syrian villages on the Hermon and the Chabaa Farms on the Western slopes of the Hermon range. From there, the way would be open for the Syrian insurgents to reach southern Lebanon and mount another front against Hizballah from the rear.

The Druze villages on the Syrian slopes of the Hermon are loyal to Bashar Assad and appear to be preparing to resist the rebel advance should it take place.
HIzballah sent its drone to bring back firsthand information on the state of play in the struggle for Quneitra, as well as on Israel’s military deployment just across the border. That was one reason for sending an Israeli Patriot into action to down the aircraft. Furthermore, Israel stood by last Thursday, when Syrian warplanes came overhead and bombed rebel positions in the Quneitra crossing, although this was in breach of the 40-year old accord for the separation zone’s demilitarization.

At the same time, Jerusalem relayed a strong warning to Damascus against any recurrence. Next time, Israel would shoot down any intruders. It was therefore important for the IDF to make good on that warning and down the Hizballah drone for the sake of deterrence.

US calls on Israel to reverse planned West Bank land appropriation

Posted September 1, 2014 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Uncategorized

US calls on Israel to reverse planned West Bank land appropriation, Times of IsraelLazar Berman and Stuart Winer, September 1, 2014

West BankA panoramic view of the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The US has called for Israel to cancel its plan to appropriate about 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank, close to the spot where three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped in June.

“We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity,” a US official told Reuters. “ This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes… is counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians.”

“We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” the official said in Washington.

Earlier Sunday, the Palestinian Authority decried Israel’s announcement, with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called for diplomatic action against Israel.

“The Israeli government is committing various crimes against the Palestinian people and their occupied land,” he told AFP.

“The international community should hold Israel accountable as soon as possible for its crimes and raids against our people in Gaza and the ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the announcement would cause the situation in the region to deteriorate further, and added that settlements in general are illegal, Israel Radio reported.

The military announced the move on Sunday.

“On the instructions of the political echelon… 4,000 dunams at (the settlement of) Gvaot is declared as state land,” the army department charged with administering civil affairs in occupied territory said. Concerned parties have 45 days to appeal, it said.

Critics said the move to expropriate the land near Gvaot in the Gush Etzion region, south of Jerusalem, was “a stab in the back” of the Palestinian leadership.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major-General Yoav Mordechai said that the move comes “as the continuation of the political leadership’s directives given at the end of Operation Brother’s Keeper.”

The Israeli army declared that there was no claim of Palestinian ownership on the land in question, the Ynet news site reported.

Israel accused Hamas of being behind the June 12 abduction and killing of Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19. The three were last seen at a hitchhiking post outside the settlement of Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion south of Jerusalem.

The abduction sparked Operation Brother’s Keeper, a massive search to locate the teenagers and a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, with hundreds arrested. The bodies of the three teens were found near Hebron on June 30, and a number of Israeli hardliners set up unauthorized West Bank outposts in response.

The Etzion settlement council welcomed Sunday’s announcement, and said it was the prelude to expansion of the current Gvaot settlement.

It “paves the way for the new city of Gvaot,” a statement said.

“The goal of the murderers of those three youths was to sow fear among us, to disrupt our daily lives and to call into doubt our right to the land,” it said. “Our response is to strengthen settlement.”

Yariv Oppenheimer, the head of dovish group Peace Now, strongly criticized the move and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of having no real diplomatic plan.

“The expropriation is a stab in the back for [Palestinian leader] Mahmoud Abbas and the moderates in the Palestinian Authority, proving again that violence delivers Israeli concessions while nonviolence results in settlement expansion,” Oppenheimer said. “The Israeli government has once again proven that Netanyahu has no diplomatic horizon.”

The Gvaot settlement is currently home to a number of families and a winery.

Mordechai explained that the legality of changing the land’s status was fully reviewed before approval was given.

1700302-51-e1402748838431-635x357 The three murdered teens, from left to right: Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel (photo credit: Courtesy)

“The process was enabled after a detailed check by the Blue Line Team of the Civil Administration,” he said, referring to the special group of legal experts and surveyors tasked with reviewing and defining the exact locations of land Israel has appropriated in the West Bank.

“The decision to appropriate 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) and make them state land is unprecedented and changes the reality in the region of the Etzion Bloc,” Oppenheimer said, adding that there has not been such a large land seizure since the 1980s.

Peace Now official Hagit Ofran told AFP that the legal basis for such land confiscation was an 1858 ruling by the region’s Ottoman rulers.

 

Egypt under Al-Sisi: His Toughest Challenge is his Most Challenging Opportunity

Posted September 1, 2014 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Uncategorized

Egypt under Al-Sisi: His Toughest Challenge is his Most Challenging Opportunity, Middle East Forum/Diplomatist Magazine, Dr. Raymond Sposk, August 2014

(A helpful summary and analysis. — DM)

569

Hosni Mubarak and his driver arrive at an intersection. The driver asks his boss, “Which way, ya rayyis. (Mr. President)?” Instead of answering his question, Mubarak asks him, “Which way did Nasser turn?” The driver replies, “Always to the Left, ya rayyis.” “And which way did Sadat go?” “Always to the Right, ya rayyis.” “DON’T MOVE!” shouts Mubarak.

The critics have included US President Barack Obama, who has promoted supposedly ‘moderate’ Islamists such as the MB, reaching out to them as early as his 2009 ‘address to the Islamic world’ from Cairo. Yet despite deceptively liberal rhetoric, they are in fact part of the global jihad – at the expense of secular liberals in the Arab Spring. Many senior Republicans as well as Democrats in Congress are also still furious over the removal of the MB and the subsequent crackdown, leading to an almost complete freeze in the annual $1.3-$1.6 billion in mostly military aid to Egypt post-Morsi.

This has infuriated millions of Egyptians, who bitterly recall Obama’s heedless increase in aid to Morsi’s regime when it reached the height of its tyranny. They are equally angry that Obama and key Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have demanded that Morsi and the MB be allowed back into government, even as it wages a terrorist war against the state and society. Nor is there any guarantee the Islamists would accept to share power, or not seek revenge should they see a chance to exact it.

If we do not help him, and should he fail because we – like the hapless Mubarak – simply refuse to move, then the next time the joke will be on us all.

***********

That famous joke from Mubarak’s long, ultimately aborted rule, in which he tries through timidity to escape the fate of his two bold predecessors – Gamal Abdel-Nasser, who died a humiliated, if still-idolised, failure in 1970, and Anwar Sadat, murdered in 1981 on the anniversary of his great military victory of 1973 – illustrates very well the remarkable difference (so far) between the nation’s controversial but wildly popular new president, former defence minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, and all three of these men, to whom al-Sisi is often compared.

The overwhelming election of the strong-willed but mysterious field marshal in May as Egypt’s sixth president marks a truly historic moment, in a land where history itself is almost a cliché. The ancient nation on the Nile and its charismatic new leader, inaugurated on June 8, confront a number of both old and new challenges and opportunities as well. The toughest challenge – and the most challenging opportunity – facing al-Sisi is to establish security after three years of mostly uncreative chaos, as the Middle East explodes in bloodshed, from Iraq to Syria, and from Israel to Gaza. Moreover, he must do this while completing a successful transition to something more than just resembling democracy, with a much greater space for civil society and individual liberty, despite his own widespread cult of the personality – a first for the country after five millennia of mostly highly-centralised, pharaonic-style rule. Only then can he hope to accomplish the comparatively mundane but essential task of restoring the barely-recovering post-revolution 2.0 economy, fuelled with a quick infusion of $12 billion in cash from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after al-Sisi overthrew their enemy, former President Mohamed Morsi, the hardline leader of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), a year ago, following the largest demonstrations in human history.

Al-Sisi hopes to accomplish this by coaxing back foreign investors and tourists frightened off by three years of chaos following three decades of mostly relative calm – with the exception of an Islamist terrorist insurgency that claimed a thousand lives in the 1990s – under Mubarak. The economy will remain stuck in low gear or even go back into reverse if the slowly-escalating civil war does not end – with al-Sisi’s victory – soon.

How Egypt – the largest Arab country, America’s second most important ally in the Middle East after Israel, and a major player in Africa as well that sits astride the Suez Canal – under al-Sisi deals with this situation is crucial not only for its own growth and stability, but also for that of the region and the world beyond.

Piety, Loyalty and National Security

A quiet, little-known staff officer who had served as head of military intelligence under Mubarak, al-Sisi was appointed minister of defence in August 2012 by President Mohamed Morsi, who became Egypt’s first elected president (in a close and non-transparent vote) that June. Morsi, also Egypt’s first Islamist president, who is thought to have favoured al-Sisi for his piety and apparent affinity for the MB, alienated the majority of Egyptians by declaring himself above the Constitution, working with fellow Muslim extremists, at home and abroad, while rapidly seeking to establish a thoroughly dictatorial one-party state.

570Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, right, meets Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Cairo, July 2012.

Morsi raised convicted terrorists to high positions and showered others with honours, covertly cooperated with them in their war against Israel and the Egyptian Army in Sinai, called for the release of two major al-Qaida (AQ)-connected terrorists in US custody (a cause on which he worked with Muhammad al-Zawahiri, brother of AQ’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri), freed convicted Islamist killers at home, seemed willing to give up disputed lands near the Sudanese border to the Islamist government in Khartoum and to be about to declare jihad against the Assad regime in Damascus. All these offended al-Sisi’s traditional sense of Egyptian nationalism, which obviously outweighed his reputed Islamism.

When on June 30, 2013, more than 30 million demonstrators peacefully took to the streets to demand Morsi’s removal, al-Sisi issued an ultimatum for both sides to meet and resolve their differences within 48 hours. Morsi refused to talk with the Opposition, and on July 3, al-Sisi, evidently placing loyalty to nation over the man who promoted him, took action. Arresting the president and his entourage, he appointed a transitional government of technocrats headed by the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as mandated by the Constitution, all as laid out in al-Sisi’s roadmap to a return to democracy.

The public euphoria at being rid of Morsi was soon marred by an anti-Christian pogrom launched by the MB and their Salafi allies (who wrongly blamed that community for their downfall) and a bloody campaign of bombings and shootings against both security forces and civilians that to date has claimed nearly 2,000 lives. In response to this violence, the interim government and the largely independent judiciary officially labelled the MB as a terrorist organisation and even banned its Palestinian branch, Hamas, for taking part in it.

The resulting crackdown on supposedly ‘peaceful’ MB demonstrations (which have often been riddled with armed sympathisers acting as agents provocateure), and an intensified war with Islamist terrorist groups along the sensitive Israel border in Sinai that began in Mubarak’s waning years, have drawn howls of protest against al-Sisi’s alleged indifference to human rights and crushing of dissent.

The critics have included US President Barack Obama, who has promoted supposedly ‘moderate’ Islamists such as the MB, reaching out to them as early as his 2009 ‘address to the Islamic world’ from Cairo. Yet despite deceptively liberal rhetoric, they are in fact part of the global jihad – at the expense of secular liberals in the Arab Spring. Many senior Republicans as well as Democrats in Congress are also still furious over the removal of the MB and the subsequent crackdown, leading to an almost complete freeze in the annual $1.3-$1.6 billion in mostly military aid to Egypt post-Morsi.

This has infuriated millions of Egyptians, who bitterly recall Obama’s heedless increase in aid to Morsi’s regime when it reached the height of its tyranny. They are equally angry that Obama and key Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have demanded that Morsi and the MB be allowed back into government, even as it wages a terrorist war against the state and society. Nor is there any guarantee the Islamists would accept to share power, or not seek revenge should they see a chance to exact it.

Since Morsi’s overthrow, there have indeed been abuses, including the alleged ‘disappearing’ of opposition members, the banning of unauthorised demonstrations; the charging of professors and liberal activists with improbable offenses; the handing out of mass death sentences for more than a thousand persons after perfunctory trials for murder and pillage (automatically voided when the condemned are apprehended); failing to stand for the national anthem and the burning of the nation’s flag have been outlawed; and the TV programme of ‘Egypt’s Jon Stewart,’ political satirist Bassem Youssef, has been cancelled due to anonymous threats against his person.

The greatest uproar so far has been over long prison sentences handed out to three journalists from Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based TV network that tends to support the MB, for allegedly materially aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, now officially listed as a terrorist organisation, based on dubious evidence. While al-Sisi initially refused to comment, he said, out of respect for the independence of the judiciary, he told the Egyptian newspaper Almasry Alyoum on July 7, “I wish they were deported after their arrest, instead of being put on trial,” raising speculation that he would pardon them if they fail to win release on appeal.

This really is his greatest opportunity to silence his critics—not by jailing them, but by pardoning activists and journalists whom the courts have clearly treated unfairly. And, when the new parliament is voted into office later this year, he should press for new, less draconian laws that better protect freedom of speech and assembly, which allow anyone to demonstrate peacefully, but which still deal decisively with those who commit violence against the state and society.

Meanwhile, the stunning advance this summer of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is no doubt thrilling to the Jihadis fighting against Egypt under al-Sisi. The very example of their rapid, unexpected success could fire up terrorist recruiting – as well as fighting – all over the region, further destabilising regimes already struggling to regain their balance after the upheavals of the Arab Spring.

Indeed, in late July, what were first described as smugglers, but are now thought to be Islamists, ambushed an Egyptian outpost on the Libyan border, killing 21 – shortly after Cairo warned of a dangerous build-up of terrorist forces in that area. The government fears that these groups seek to link up with others in Sinai and around the country to form a common insurgency, leading to an Islamic State in Egypt.

Gaza War Could Weaken Hamas: Mediation Could Boost al-Sisi

Complicating al-Sisi’s struggle against the Islamists is the current fighting in Gaza, in which Hamas – former darling of the Egyptian masses who had cheered its suicide bombings against the Jews for decades, now outlawed and widely reviled for its role in the civil war to restore its parent organisation, the MB, the power – is pitted once again against the much-demonised Israel.

Adding further complexity is that Egypt’s traditional role as mediator between the various Palestinian factions and Israel is undercut by the hostility between Hamas and al-Sisi, whereas the last great Hamas missile offensive against Israel, in November 2012, was ended through the mediation of its close ally, Morsi.

The current conflict started with the kidnapping/murder of three Israeli teenagers (a Palestinian teen was subsequently kidnapped and killed, for which Israel arrested three Jewish suspects) by Hamas activists, followed by a campaign of indiscriminate rocket fire over 80 percent of Israel proper, and commando attacks via tunnels inside Israel. Though Egyptian officials (and the local media) use the ritual rhetoric about “Israeli aggression” for public consumption, this time, the passion is lacking–especially after 170,000 deaths in the last three years in Syria, and many thousands more in Iraq and the region as a whole.

In reality, al-Sisi – who had already stepped up security cooperation with the Jewish state to a level exceeding that which had existed even under Mubarak – along with many Egyptians, is discreetly content, at least to some degree, to see Israel thrash their common enemy.

In Cairo’s calculation, Iranian-funded (and armed) Hamas – which is now also competing and perhaps even collaborating with IS, whose black flags had lately been flown at funerals in Gaza – is as great a threat to itself as to Israel. In reality, it is all the same war.

Yet the inevitable civilian deaths resulting from Hamas’ use of its population as human shields, by placing its weapons and command and control centres in and under schools, hospitals and apartment buildings, could make al-Sisi’s stance against Hamas, and even his insistence that Egypt continue to honour the peace treaty, more difficult to sustain if the fighting goes on much longer. This is despite the extraordinary measures – including advance warning by leaflets, phone calls and texts messages, and the initial use of dummy bombs to give civilians a chance to escape – taken by Israel to limit these deaths as much as possible.

Early on, al-Sisi proposed a ceasefire, quickly accepted by Israel and endorsed by the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League – but repeatedly rejected by Hamas, primarily because it would not lift the blockade against Gaza maintained by both Israel and Egypt for reasons of terrorism prevention since 2007, and which neither can afford to end now.

But for Hamas, which knows that the blockade will remain in place so long as it or its Islamist allies continue to control Gaza (where it rules with an iron fist that a recent poll shows has made it unpopular with seventy percent of the people), the real issue is not what the proposal says, but that it came from al-Sisi. Instead, Hamas insists that his enemies and its own key regional benefactors, Qatar and Turkey, be given the lead in any negotiations, backed by the Obama administration – which, after all, had supported the MB in Egypt and is full of Hamas sympathisers to boot.

That is why Cairo twice refused to host US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had wanted to insert Qatar and Turkey, each of which has damaged relations with Egypt through their attempts to restore Morsi – into the crisis. For their part, in order to drive Egypt out of the game, both Doha and Ankara are cynically urging Hamas to stick to its guns over the blockade before agreeing to a lasting halt to the fighting.

Despite intensive efforts behind the scenes, they failed to cut out al-Sisi. After three days in Cairo, Kerry, along with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, called for a week-long pause in hostilities to deal with humanitarian needs and to allow space for more serious talks among all the powers to follow. On July 25, the Israeli Security Cabinet voted unanimously to reject that proposal, as it would have completely lifted the blockade, allowing Hamas to freely re-arm and rebuild its military infrastructure. Yet it would not have allowed the IDF to continue its search for tunnels, of which it had found an increasing number in recent days. Worse, it seemed to put democratic Israel on the same footing as Hamas, listed as a terrorist organisation by the US, the European Union, Canada, Japan and others. Israeli officials were appalled by what they saw as outright betrayal by chief diplomat of their most important ally – which at the same time, ‘tunnelled under the Egyptian initiative,’ as one of them put it.

As David Horovitz, editor of The Times of Israel, railed in a column on July 27:

And Kerry didn’t let up after unleashing his dreadful proposal. Following Friday’s fiasco, he jetted off to Paris and, quite extraordinarily, convened further consultations dominated by countries that overtly wish to do Israel harm. He met with his counterparts from Turkey, whose Hamas-backing leadership has lately accused Israel of attempting genocide in Gaza and compared (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu to Hitler, and with Qatar, Hamas’s funder in chief, directly accused by president Shimon Peres last week of financing Hamas’s rockets and tunnels. Staggeringly, he did not bring Israel, Egypt, or the PA to his Paris sessions.

Later that day, a 12-hour humanitarian pause was in place, without a halt in the search for more tunnels—the first of a series of several temporary truces agreed by both parties, each of them promptly broken by Hamas. At the UN Security Council, Jordan introduced a resolution calling for an end to hostilities and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza – which predictably went nowhere.

Several days later, the killing of 21 Palestinians, mainly children, in a UN-run school, initially blamed on Israeli artillery fire, but which may have been caused by a Hamas rocket, led to sharp rebukes from White House officials and a call from Obama for Israel to immediately stop its offensive. Following the immediate collapse just ninety minutes into a 72 hour truce on August 1, when Hamas launched an attack on Israeli troops from a tunnel, killing three (including a soldier originally thought to have been kidnapped), Obama placed the blame squarely on Hamas.

Yet a series of key Democratic Party figures, from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others, have been speaking warmly of Hamas or else rationalising its actions, amid much talk that if this recognised terrorist group should cease to rule Gaza, it would be replaced by something far worse, like ISIS–suggesting talking points that probably came from the White House. More than likely, Obama’s backing of the MB in the region is based on a similar rationale.

At the time of writing, Kerry and Ban Ki-moon did manage to broker a deal between Egypt, Hamas and the PA to start discussions in Cairo toward amore permanent ceasefire. The Palestinian delegation would arrive without Hamas, which would join some time later. Israel chose not to send anyone, having lost faith that Hamas would keep its word in any agreement. Netanyahu then reportedly advised Obama, via the US ambassador in Tel Aviv, not to ‘second-guess’ him on Hamas again.

Meanwhile, al-Sisi declined a belated invitation to an unprecedented summit of 50 African leaders in Washington on August 4-6, perhaps due to diplomatic duties over Gaza–or perhaps out of pique with Obama. More likely, it was both.

Though it will clearly take time, should al-Sisi succeed, without fatal concessions, in preserving Egypt’s lead role as a mediator between Hamas and Israel – whose existence Hamas has pledged never to recognize – that will strengthen his hand, both at home and abroad. If he fails, it could seriously bolster the fanatics’ cause.

And should the US be seen as behind that failure, it could be the final blow to the thirty-five year alliance with Washington, which has teetered on the brink since the move against Morsi. Angry over America’s continued cut-off of most its annual package of $1.6 billion in mostly military aid; al-Sisi has already concluded an unprecedented $2 billion arms deal with Russia.

Egypt is also now in a previously-unthinkable informal alliance with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates: not only against the MB and Hamas, but also against Iran. These traditionally staunch American allies are all now alarmed at the Obama administration’s seeming desperation to reach a rapprochement with their common enemy in Tehran–which also funds and arms Hamas and possibly the MB and its allies in the anti-al-Sisi insurgency.

Should its relationship with Egypt collapse completely, the US could lose its favoured access to the Suez Canal, vital security cooperation against terrorism, and the peace between Egypt and Israel that has prevailed for so long.

Surviving the Sandstorms of War and Change

In these ever-evolving sandstorms of war and change, should Hamas eventually win the PR battle against Israel and his regime, will al-Sisi survive? Or will he be able to sustain the wave of anti-Islamist sentiment that has led him from the barracks to the presidential palace, and put Hamas and its fellow radicals on the path to ultimate defeat?

It is, in fact, the Islamists’ strategy to try to gradually destroy al-Sisi’s legitimacy by driving him into a pattern of worse and worse repression, while striking again and again with bloody mayhem against the economy. This also mirrors their strategy of driving Israel into wars that it cannot afford not to wage militarily, yet, they hope, are harder and harder to win politically.

So far the on-going campaign of public bombings, shootings and attempted assassinations has only driven the majority of Egyptians further behind al-Sisi. Yet he would be wise (as well as humane) to avoid the trap of striking out too blindly, as the military regime has been doing so disastrously since 1952. His remarks about the Al-Jazeera case may indicate he is aware of the need to break that pattern at last.

Al-Sisi is also aware of an equally critical element in this strategy – to challenge the Islamists’ narrative in order to undermine their claim to religious legitimacy.On June 30, the first anniversary of the immense demonstrations against Morsi, he declared that ‘Egypt had saved Islam from extremism,’ and repeated a call to ‘correct the religious discourse’ in order to wrest Islam, and the nation, away from the terrorists. Does this mean he would correct the anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, anti-Western, anti-female and anti-gay elements that are too often a part of it?

Only time will tell. For the moment, we should encourage him in that struggle, and recognise that his war against the Islamists – who aim to impose their brutal ideology not only upon Egypt, but upon the world – is just as much our own as well. This is actually our challenge – and our opportunity – as much as al-Sisi’s.

If we do not help him, and should he fail because we – like the hapless Mubarak – simply refuse to move, then the next time the joke will be on us all.


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