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The Obama Administration miscalculates in Lebanon

August 30, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C–When Congress withheld U.S. military assistance to the Beirut government after Lebanese Army Forces (LAF) fired into Israel, Iran announced that it would pick up the slack. Tehran already supplies Hezbollah through Syria – a process improved, according to European sources, by a new Iranian agreement with Turkey not to block Hezbollah-bound shipments through its territory. Iran would thus become a supplier to both the Lebanese government and the Lebanese government-approved Hezbollah militia. One of those is considered by the U.S. government to be a terrorist organization. 
 
But such is the fear of Iran in the Obama Administration that State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters never mind what Congress says. “I think that the statements by Iran are expressly the reason why we believe that continuing support to the Lebanese government and the Lebanese military is in our interest…Hezbollah is a fact within Lebanese society and much of our effort in supporting the Lebanese military is in fact the very professionalization that we think helps mitigate that risk.”
 
Crowley appears to be saying U.S. aid to the LAF will enable Lebanon to work against Hezbollah and Iran, and withholding aid would “force” Lebanon to turn to its “enemy” Iran.  Evidence, please, because we find Lebanon to be acting out of weakness or affinity as an ally of Iran right now – in spite of our aid or because of it. There is no Lebanese effort to close the Syria-Lebanon border by which Iran provides increasingly sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah. There is increasing evidence that the LAF warns Hezbollah of UNIFIL activity and shares intelligence and weapons. There was even a report by a generally reliable source that Iranian intelligence and commando operatives visited southern Lebanon in August in the company of the LAF.
 
It is simply an American illusion that when Lebanon (or the Palestinian Authority, for that matter) takes American aid, it accepts American conditions. Crowley said, “We place conditions…and there are similar conditions in terms of how Israel is able to use the assistance we provide them… Nothing that we do is condition-free.” Really?
 
Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr announced that Lebanon would accept no conditions on U.S. military aid that precluded its use against Israel, adding gratuitously or honestly that the LAF soldier who opened fire on the IDF was acting on orders. The Palestinians have similarly asserted that they will use their American military training as they wish, and we believe them.
 
Our greatest concern is that it appears to take only the threat of Tehran to make American officials jump to prop up what it hopes/wishes was a friend, throwing rational assessment to the wind. 
 
The government in Beirut is not a single entity and not an independent one. Hezbollah sits in the Cabinet as well as in the south with its private army. Syria, once ousted by Lebanese democrats who believed in the Bush freedom revolution, is back now – and Syria is being courted assiduously by the Obama Administration even as it solidifies its ties to Tehran and an increasingly Islamist Ankara. We’re sorry for the Lebanese, but we have little hope that its future will be independent, multicultural and/or pro-Western. 
 
The Obama Administration would do well not to supply it – or the Palestinians – with the ability to hurt our real friend and ally, Israel, just because Tehran blusters.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

Iran offers to sell Lebanon arms in wake of U.S. freeze

August 26, 2010 Leave a comment

TEHERAN (WJC)–Iran has said it was prepared to sell weapons to the Lebanon should the government in Beirut seek help to equip its military. On Tuesday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah had proposed to the unity government of Prime Minister Hariri to formally seek military assistance from Tehran, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

In Teheran, Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said that Lebanon “is our friend, and its army is also our friend” and if there was a demand [for arms], “we are ready to help that country and conduct weapons transactions with it.” Nasrallah, whose movement is backed by Iran and Syria, vowed in a televised speech Hezbollah could help secure the aid for the Lebanon’s army, which is still seen as under-equipped compared to the Shiite paramilitary group.

“I vow that Hezbollah will work fervently and capitalize on its friendship with Iran to ensure it helps arm the Lebanese military in any way it can,” Nasrallah said. His call came following a US freeze in military aid to Lebanon in the wake of deadly border clashes between Lebanese and Israeli troops four weeks ago.

A US$ 100 million aid package for the Lebanon’s military was put on hold earlier this month by two leading members of the House of Representatives over concerns the weapons could be used to attack Israel, and that Hezbollah might have influence over the Lebanese army. Nasrallah’s movement is part of Hariri’s governing coalition.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the possibility of Iran selling arms to the Lebanon underscored “the importance both to our national security and the security of the region to continue with our security assistance to the Lebanese army”. He added that a review of the aid program to the Lebanon was under way and that “we hope to conclude that soon, and renew assistance.”

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

There’s a pro-Israel ‘BIG RIG’ coming down the highway of public opinion

August 26, 2010 Leave a comment

By Roz Rothstein and Roberta Seid

LOS ANGELES — Anti-Israel activists are now putting all their energy into their Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign (BDS). Their goal is to portray Israel and Israelis as pariahs that should be excluded from all international spheres—diplomatic, political, economic, social, and cultural.
 
Jews have been victims of such policies before.  In the millennia of anti-Semitism in Europe and the Middle East, they have been singled out, demonized, and excluded, as they were, for example, in 13th century England and 1930’s Europe. The Jewish State, too, has experienced such policies since its founding when Arab nations implemented strict exclusion and boycotts against Israel, most of which are still in place. The current global BDS campaign began in 2001 and grew after 2005, when Israel effectively defeated the terrorist campaign known as the Second Intifada. Today, hard core anti-Israel activists around the world are feverishly lobbying artists, universities, churches, retailers, unions, municipalities, and other institutions to adopt BDS.
 
Any public figures, retailers, institutions or organizations that adopt or defer to BDS policies should themselves be boycotted.

They should be boycotted because they advocate destructive rather than constructive, measures. BDS is anti-coexistence, undermines peace efforts, and does nothing to help Palestinians begin state building, improve their lives, or move toward reconciliation.
 
They should be boycotted because BDS policies are fundamentally anti-Semitic even though some of the movement’s advocates are Jews. The campaign uses the propaganda techniques and imagery of classical anti-Semitism now applied not to individual Jews, but to the world’s largest Jewish community and its only Jewish State. Boycott activists strip away all context for Israel’s actions, such as ongoing terrorism and the virulent ideology that propels it, in order to depict Israel as motivated by sheer malice in what are often simply modern blood libels. They obsessively put a microscope on Israel to detect its flaws, and expect it to live up to standards they do not expect of any other nation.  They never call for BDS against nations that do systematically commit war crimes and human rights abuses, such as Ahmadinejad’s Iran, Bashir’s Sudan, Lebanon’s apartheid practices against Palestinians, or Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus and violent repression of its Kurdish minority.
 
They should be boycotted because of their hypocrisy.  Where was the outrage of the boycotters, who claim to be champions of social justice and human rights, when the Palestinian suicide bombing campaign targeted innocent Jewish men, women, and children, and Hamas fired thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israeli communities, murdering toddlers and turning daily life into a lethal game of Russian roulette?  Where were they when Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust even as he called for genocide against Jews?  Where is their protest against the Judeophobic incitement that dominates the Middle East?  Their callous indifference and implicit support of murdering Jews is both morally perverse and anti-Semitic.
 
Above all, they should be boycotted because they endorse the agendas of the dictatorial regimes and radical Islamist groups who share their hatred of the Jewish State and who are also enemies of human rights, social justice values, tolerance, and modernity. These states and groups like Hamas oppress women, persecute religious and other minorities, and oppress their own citizens. Those who adopt BDS should be exposed and pay the price for supporting and enabling the intransigent enemies of humanitarian and liberal values.
 
Boycotting those who comply with BDS means that any university that does not unequivocally denounce campus divestment campaigns should not receive another nickel from donors who care about fairness, the survival of Israel, and modern liberal values.  Recording artists who refuse to perform in Israel should be labeled as extremists for the regressive, anti-Semitic values they endorse. Fair-minded people should stop buying their records and attending their concerts.  Consumers should boycott any retailers who refuse to stock Israeli products, and support the new StandWithUs campaign, “BIG” and “RIG,” acronyms for “Buy Israeli Goods” and “Request Israeli Goods.”
 
It is time to expose the distorted values that drive the BDS movement, and its alliance with the most repressive and dangerous forces in the world today.  It is time to unequivocally say no to this BDS movement and to all who would consider complying with it.

Roz Rothstein is CEO of StandWithUs.  Roberta Seid, PhD is Education Director, StandWithUs.  This article also appeared in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

Palestinian and Israeli visitors ponder business together

August 22, 2010 1 comment

Emad Nuseibeh and Amir Gur-Lavie (Photo: Bonnie Stewart)

By Donald H. Harrison 

Donald H. Harrison

LA MESA, California – Emad Ahmed Fuad Nuseibeh, a major Palestinian grower of vegetables and herbs, and Amir Gur-Lavie, an owner of Zeta, a large distributor of Israeli olive oil, cheerfully agreed to pose together following a dinner at Vine Ripe Market here. Nuseibeh and Gur-Lavie smiled warmly like old friends, whereas, in fact, they had only met a few days before. 

The market and restaurant is part of a chain co-founded by Ali Baba Abdallah, a Palestinian refugee who had lived in Jordan and Lebanon before immigrating in 1982 to the United States, where he built a successful career as a grower and marketer.  

The two men were among a group of Palestinians and Israeli Jews brought together through the combined efforts of the Peres Peace Center in Jaffa, Arab businessman Sam Husseini of Jerusalem, and the Hansen Institute for World Peace at San Diego State University.   They and others met to discuss and to refine an idea that the Peres and Hansen groups have been developing over several years now: creating a blended olive oil made from Israeli and Palestinian olives to be sold as a “peace product” in U.S. stores. 

Ali-Baba Abdallah (Photo: Bonnie Stewart)

 If the project comes to fruition, the new brand may have a ready customer in Abdallah, whose store specializes in foods from the Middle East, both Arab and Jewish.  Abdallah explained that in San Diego there are many immigrant communities who hunger for foods from home, and he makes it his business to satisfy their tastes.  The chance for Arabs and Jews to peacefully mingle together as customers in his store is a side benefit paralleling the joint goals of the Peres Peace Center, the Hansen Institute and Husseini’s Lion Heart business development company, a new partner in the peace consortium. 

As Abdallah had tray after tray of Middle Eastern appetizers, salads and entrees brought to the long table in a patio area alongside his market on Fletcher Parkway, the meeting was one for socializing amid the familiar tastes and aromas of the guests’ Middle Eastern homes.   

The Palestinian and Israeli business people on that day had toured such markets as Ralphs, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Henry’s and now Vine Ripe, to gain an insight into California food consumer tastes.  The tour followed days of lectures and panels at San Diego State University on trends in the American food industry, as well as a visit to the Temecula Olive Oil groves in Aguanga, California.  The group also had some recreational outings together, including the San Diego Zoo, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, La Jolla and on the following day would visit the Star of India at the Embarcadero. 

When the meal was done, Nuseibeh and Gur-Lavie both agreed to share their impressions with this reporter. 

Like the other Palestinians at the meeting, Nuseibeh lives in East Jerusalem, now claimed by Israel  but which could possibly  become the capital of a new Palestinian state, depending on how direct peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials —scheduled to begin next month—settle the volatile question.  Nuseibeh also owns a large farm near Jericho, where he grows various desert produce, and another where he produces herbs sold directly to the U.S. market. 

The San Diego trip “was a great experience for me,” said Nuseibeh.  “We have met great people who in fact are our neighbors but we didn’t know them until we reached here in the States.   I hope that, after knowing them, how they are thinking and what kind of businesses they have, that we can do some business together, in order to cut, or break the obstacles that have prevented us from working together.” 

Asked about creating special olive oils, that might blend Israeli and Palestinian varieties, and maybe even some of Nuseibeh’s herbs, Nuseibeh responded: 

“I think it is a good idea to start a business together, but there are a lot of obstacles, a lot of problems,” that must be resolved first, he said. “We have to do things here in the States, a lot of work, a lot of research, and I don’t think at this moment that we as Israeli and Palestinian business people can  come up with the money.  I hope we can find a source for finance, and I think that with these ideas that we have—to work with good-willed people—we will be able to succeed.” 

The Nuseibeh Agricultural Co. for Marketing and Production (NAMP) has for over a half century exported oranges to the United Kingdom, as well as a variety of citrus and bananas to Jordan and to the Gulf countries.  When exports to Jordan slowed down, Nuseibeh developed herb products, which he sold to the Israeli market.  Initially, sales to the U.S. market went through Israel, but now NAMP is shipping about $1 million annually in herbs directly to the United States. 

The joint meeting in San Diego with Israeli agriculturalists was not limited to olives, Nuseibeh said.  

“We are thinking of ways to combine the Israeli produce and the Palestinian produce,” and to devise “new ideas in order to work together for their benefit and our benefit,” he said.  “At the end, it is business.  So we are trying hard to find new things, new ideas.  It may not be in olives, or vegetables, or herbs; maybe it is a new idea that could succeed.” 

Indicating other Palestinians and Israelis seated at the table,  Nuseibeh added:  “Everyone has their own experience. Some of us have experience in marketing or in finding finance; others have experience in growing and having good, high quality produce, and so the thing is we have to find something that can work in order to succeed in this.” 

Whatever products are eventually developed, Nuseibeh said the meetings are a harbinger of what real peace between Israelis and Palestinians might mean.  “We need it for both of us, the Israelis and the Palestinians,” he declared.  It is a need, it is a must.  And when we are doing this, maybe it is a small step, but everyone profits, the Israelis and the Palestinians.  You are going toward the same light at the end of the tunnel.  Maybe what we are doing is a small step, but at the end, Palestinians and Israelis are people who want to reach that same light and to get to the end of this mess we have.  It might help, this thing we are doing. We are not going against anyone.  The peace process is going on; maybe it (the San Diego meeting) is a mile out of the million, but it is a mile.” 

Gur-Lavie is the owner of Zeta in the Galilean town of Mitzpe Hila – known throughout Israel as the hometown of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who has been held in captivity for several years by the Hamas government in Gaza.  Besides owning the company which produces three million bottles a year of olive oil, Gur-Lavie serves on a committee with Shalit’s parents trying to keep the issue of ending Shalit’s captivity before the world. 

About the San Diego meetings, Gur-Lavie said: “I don’t know what will be the result, but the main goal we have already reached.  It was wonderful. We (Palestinians and Israelis) had the possibility to sit together and to think together, and anyhow we have new friends, and we hope also to have new products for the grocery market.  We need to find the way to do it.  I am sure that we will find the way to do something—perhaps small, perhaps big—but actually the biggest thing, we already have done. 

Bentzi Elisha, who is the chief executive officer of Zeta, added.  “Sometimes we have to come to the States to find that we can be together and talk about everything, and laugh about the same things – really, because we became friends.” 

The Hansen Institute has been quietly bringing Arabs and Israelis together—even in the absence of diplomatic relations between their countries – since the time following the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.  

Bonnie Stewart, the executive director, has witnessed a process many times in which the Arabs and Israelis first regarded each other with suspicion and had to air out some of their political differences before getting down to business discussions. 

Not so this meeting, commented Gur-Lavie.  “We had heard this would happen… but we didn’t feel that, even at the airport.  We started with friendship.   Look, we also talk very openly about the problems. We know we can’t avoid the problems but we think that with friendship we are able to talk about it … We know that is from business that maybe we will be able to make the peace sooner. If we wait for the conflict to be solved, and then talk about business, maybe it will take 100 years.” 

While creating a peace product is a relatively new idea, Gur-Lavie said that his company has been bottling both Israeli and Palestinian olive oils for years.  Noting that his company recently won four Gold Medals in an international olive oil competition, he expressed confidence that something “unique and of a very high quality” eventually can be created and marketed. 

Both Gur-Lavie and Nuseibeh had praise for San Diego State and the Hansen Institute specifically, and for San Diego generally. 

Said the Israeli of San Diego: “It is a very nice and pleasant place to be.  I have been in many places in America, but such a nice hospitality!  All the Americans we are with from the Hansen Institute and the University are doing an excellent job.  They believe that it is important to help us bring the peace, and I really just want to say thank you.” 

Nuseibeh concurred, saying: “People in the Middle East know Americans in two or three things, in their bullets, in their bombs that say ‘made in the U.S.A.,’  and in their vetoes in the U.N.  They don’t know the people, but this time and my last visit to the U.S., I met a lot of people and I found something else.  I found people  who want to help, people…who need to know how they can make the people in front of them as happy as they are…. If someone here is convinced by a cause, he will devote his life, money, fortune and time to the cause.  And it doesn’t matter how much effort it will take.   There are many people in the Middle East who do not know the Americans well; they should see the people, the American people.” 

Besides Nuseibeh and Sam Husseini, other members of the Palestinian delegation included Abdel Muti Qutob, whose businesses include agriculture produce in the Auja region near Jericho, as well as real estate development elsewhere; and Rami Assali, financial and administrative manager for Search for Common Ground, a non-governmental agency in Jerusalem.

Israelis in addition to Gur-Lavi and Elisha included Ofer Ensher, managing director of Hefer Systems & Controls, which is a large company in the fields of water and waste water processes; and the following staff members of the Peres Center for Peace: Roi Dai, the finance director; Oren Blonder, director,  and Moran Diment, manager, in the agriculture, water and environment department. 

Numerous Americans interacted with the two delegations.  Among those who participated in seminars with them were  Stewart, the director of the Hansen Institute; Sanford Ehrlich, Qualcomm Executive Director of Entrepreneurship at SDSU’s Entrepreneurial Management Center (EMC);  Alex DeNoble, chair of the Management department of SDSU’s College of Business Administration;  Bernard Schroeder, director of EMC programs; Evan Schlessinger, president of the Springboard Company, which helps bring new products and innovations to market,  and Marvin Spira, president of Marketing Consultants, International, which specializes in the marketing of food products. 

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.

Intimidation persuades many Arabs to never cross the party line

August 21, 2010 Leave a comment

By Bruce S. Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker

PHILADELPHIA — Heartwarming words from Sarah Shiha, a student at Ain Shams University in Cairo: “Apart from the political issues, we are humans. I respect your religion, you respect mine.”

Her next comment, on Israel, sounded more robotic than humane: “What we see is that we had a land, and that people came and took this land. Now they want to stay here, and every day they are killing more and more of our siblings.”

Shiha is among 20 students from Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon who participated in a five-week program sponsored by the U.S. State Department to learn how religious pluralism is among America’s great strengths, according to an article in The Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia.

It seems that Shiha and her associates could have been a tad more diplomatic, especially since her inflammatory comment might be read by thousands of American Jews. She could have easily sidestepped the question by insisting she needed to learn more about the Israeli/Arabic conflict, couldn’t she? She might have faced more than verbal disdain back home. She might be murdered by her own people.

In the Middle East, free speech can carry a fatal price. Arabs have murdered their own who were suspected of collaborating with Israel, and Arab leaders who suggested or acted upon peaceful existence with Israel. Remember Anwar el-Sadat?

Yasser Arafat indicated that he feared a comparable fate if he assented to the peace plan offered during the Camp David summit 10 years ago. In his book “The Missing Peace,” Dennis Ross (then President Clinton’s Middle East envoy) relates a conversation in which Arafat asked then secretary of state Madeleine Albright if she wanted to attend his funeral. This comment came out of left field, but why else would he say this?

Arafat’s comment could invite some sarcastic responses – such as, his funeral was long overdue. I think his top motive for rejecting the plan was fear that other Arabs would kill him because they refused to accept any peace settlement.

It is clear that many Arabs keep silent because they fear retaliation. Of course, it is impossible to determine how many Arabs really loathe Israel and those who follow the script to protect themselves and their families.

Examples do abound. Before returning to his current prime minister post, Benjamin Netanyahu was asked by a television interviewer to identify Arab businesspeople with whom he communicates; he refused because, he said, it would jeopardize their lives. I recently read a report of an Arab man who saved Jews during World War II and told them to say nothing about his help. Israeli leaders claim that Arabs who sold land to Jews denied doing so because they could be harmed.

Some months ago, a native Iranian on a German sports team refused to play against an Israeli team. He did not offer this as a reason, but he still had family in Iran who could be endangered by his participation in that game.
 

The Arab and Muslim world is tightly controlled in parts. Putting Israel aside, ordinary Arabs and Muslims must worry about violent feuds between families and tribes, honor killings of women and conflicts with the ruling class. On Aug. 8, an Iranian attorney fled to Norway after he defended a woman who faced being stoned to death because she allegedly committed adultery. An Afghan couple were stoned to death, on Taliban orders, because they allegedly cheated on his wife and her family-chosen fiance.

Those familiar with the Middle East attest that roughly half of Turkish and Iranian citizens are sensible people who yearn for more moderate leaders. Egyptian businesspersons worked well with their Israeli counterparts, and Turks in the military oppose their ultra-religious regime. 

Tom Friedman of The New York Times reported on a Gazan woman whose son’s life was saved by a Jewish physician at an Israeli hospital. Now she wants her son to blow up…er, grow up…to become a suicide bomber. Consider that she must return home to face not only her neighbors but also Hamas, which has the power to make life miserable for her.

It is most annoying that American Muslims readily complain of bigotry, yet are less consistent in condemning Islamic-related violence – especially when Israelis are victimized. Muslim society in America appears to be closeted and hard to figure out.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the driving force behind the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, dodged a radio reporter’s question as to whether he concurred with the State Department’s designation of Hamas as a terrorist group, The New York Jewish Week reported.

Said Rauf: “I’m not a politician. I try to avoid the issues. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question…I’m a bridge builder. I define my work as a bridge builder…I will not allow anybody to put me in a position where I am seen by any party in the world as an adversary or as an enemy.”

Far from an exercise in clarity.

It is strange that free speech exists on two levels in our own country – one standard for most of us and a self-imposed standard for a stifled and bewildering minority.

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Ticker is the Philadelphia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World
 He may be contacted via bticker@comcast.net

Peace talks 10 years ago led to an Intifada

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The announcement has been made that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abu Mazen will come to Washington for “face to face negotiations.” It is worth remembering that precisely 10 years ago President Clinton invited then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat to a summit at Camp David.

Mr. Barak was bringing a very far-reaching proposal – so much so that in fact that he wasn’t sure he could sell to the Israeli public if Arafat accepted it. But after what appeared to be an ill-planned and hasty IDF departure from the Lebanese “Security Zone,” he hoped to bring home an agreement with the Palestinians. 
 
In a moment of wisdom, or at least of extreme practicality, Yasser Arafat tried mightily to get out of attending. It wasn’t the right time, he said. He objected to holding a meeting of the principals (Clinton, Barak and himself) when there was no guarantee of success. The time to hold a summit, he opined, was when everything had already been done, and it hadn’t been done.  And he was, for once, right.
 
The crucial issues in 2000 were:

Jerusalem; The Palestinian demand for a “right of return” for refugees and their descendants to places in Israel from which the original refugees claim to have come; Territorial compromise, and; Agreement on the legitimacy of Israel’s sovereignty in the region, which was also called an “end to the war” and termination of future claims.

The result of the failure at Camp David was the so-called “second intifada,” the Palestinian war against Israel. For the next three years, Israelis were subjected to suicide bombings in buses and in cafes and other acts of violence, including the shooting of an infant in her father’s arms, the massacre of patrons in a Jerusalem pizza parlor, the murder of two toddlers in their beds, the death of a pregnant woman who had been the only child of Holocaust survivors, and a car bombing that killed worshippers at a Passover Seder. Israeli children ride public buses to school; many parents sent siblings on separate buses. More than 1,000 Israelis died (the equivalent of 42,000 Americans) and thousands more were maimed both physically and psychologically.  
 
Israel ended the Palestinian war by going to the sources of terrorist organization and operation – by entering Palestinian cities and retaking security control of the West Bank (it is worth remembering that the war promulgated not from Gaza by Hamas, but by the “relatively moderate” PLO). The IDF took the war to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Orient House in Jerusalem, and built the security fence.
 
Terrorism emanating from the West Bank dropped precipitously, not because the Palestinians stopped trying, but because the Israelis got better at prevention. Only after that, after Arafat’s death, and after the bloody Palestinian civil war that evicted Fatah leadership from Gaza, did Israelis and Palestinians on the West Bank come to a relatively constructive modus vivendi based on Fatah’s fear of Hamas and Israel’s belief that economic progress for the Palestinians would lower the appeal of radicalism.
 
In accepting President Obama’s summons, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abu Mazen know they will, necessarily, be discussing the same four issues that were on the table in 2000. So, as President Obama pushes Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abu Mazen, the questions are:

If Yasser Arafat could not accept any compromise then, why would President Obama think Abu Mazen, whose legitimate term of office ended in January 2009 and who controls far less territory and far fewer Palestinians, can compromise? 

What will the President do if the talks fail and increased violence is again the result?
 
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Bryen is senior director for security policy for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Since Sept. 21, 2008, Waxie Sanitary Supply has sponsored her column in San Diego Jewish World in memory of Morris Wax, who had been a national board member of JINSA.

Recent attacks underscore security concerns for the West Bank

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

 ‘Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them volley’d and thunder’d; Storm’d at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred.’ – from The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


By Bruce S. Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker

 PHILADELPHIA–Gaza rockets from the south of them, a Sinai rocket from the southeast of them and an OK Corral-style shootout from the north of them.

These days, Israel’s multiple conflicts resemble the aforementioned passage in The Charge of the Light Brigade. Where is Errol Flynn when we need him?

 Israel endured a two-front war at this time four years ago, and in recent months it has contended with attacks on four fronts, by my count – the blockade incident on the high seas, Gaza, southern Lebanon and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty three decades ago, yet Egypt cannot control terrorists operating on its lands.

Meanwhile, President Obama and others pine for the day when Israel hands over the West Bank to the Palestinians so they can, supposedly, live happily ever after. Many in the pro-Israel camp believe that the Arabs will never be happy until all of Israel is, well, no longer Israel.

Foes of a Palestinian state have said that Israel does not need another front. The most worrisome concern over a Palestinian state is Israel’s security. The border between Israel and the West Bank is much longer than its other borders, and Israel proper is directly vulnerable to attack.

Israeli leaders have said that Ben Gurion International Airport is within range of the West Bank. Security must be directly addressed before Israel considers further negotiations about the West Bank. It has not been adequately addressed.

Some protective measures have been taken. Construction of a security barrier along the border has eliminated terrorist attacks that were rampant up to five years ago. A strong Palestinian security force has been built. The West Bank has been much calmer. Still, none of these developments, even combined, guarantee that Israel will be safe from attack if a Palestinian state is established.

Events of recent weeks underscore security concerns. Israel withdrew all troops and settlers from the Sinai Peninsula three decades ago; all troops from Lebanon in 2000; and all troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005. After Yasser Arafat rejected a peace plan in 2000, the Palestinians started a war that led to fierce fighting in Gaza and the West Bank and terrorist attacks in Israel proper. The Gaza evacuation was followed by thousands of rocket attacks into Sderot and other sections of southern Israel.

My educated guess in 2005 was that the Gaza evacuation would produce some aggression, but Israel could manage it. I was wrong.

Beyond rocket attacks, Israel fought a two-front war against terrorists in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, and again in Hamas-controlled Gaza in December 2009. More worrisome is the build-up of weapons in Gaza and Lebanon to be used for future assaults against Israel.

Last month, Gaza terrorists broke a long lull firing rockets that struck the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon and Sapir College near the border, The New York Times reported.

Then Monday, Aug. 2: A barrage of missiles fired from the Sinai Peninsula struck both the resort city Eilat in Israel and neighboring Aqaba in Jordan, where a taxi driver was killed. Egypt subsequently admitted that they were fired from Sinai, ostensibly under Egyptian control.

The following day, Lebanese soldiers – possibly influenced by Hezbollah – fired at Israeli soldiers tending a fence within Israel territory. United Nations peacekeepers declared that the Lebanese were entirely at fault.

It should be no surprise if someone – perhaps Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – was conspiring to provoke Israel to engage in yet another war.

With all this on Israel’s plate, Israeli leaders are still willing to enter negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Fortunately, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised security concerns.

What might that entail? Possibly Israel can evacuate the more isolated settlements while maintaining a strong military presence. However, that military presence would be trimmed somewhat because the troops would not need to worry about protecting the settlements.

Maybe that will not be necessary, but I for one do not want to be wrong again.

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Ticker is Philadelphia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World.  He may be contacted via bticker@comcast.net