Archive for the ‘Israeli politics’ category

Lapid’s cynical Saudi blunder

May 30, 2017

Lapid’s cynical Saudi blunder, Israel Hayom, Jonathan S. Tobin, May 30, 2017

The point of the transaction is an attempt to preserve the Saudi monarchy from falling victim to radical foes. More importantly, it’s intended to bolster Riyadh against the main threat to both Sunni Arab regimes and Israel: Iran.

That the man who is seen as a serious candidate for prime minister is oblivious to the imperative for Israel to make common cause with the Saudis against an Iranian foe committed to the destruction of both countries is a shocking indictment of Lapid’s strategic vision. Lapid is trying to divide Israel and the United States at a time when former President Barack Obama’s efforts to increase the “daylight” between the countries is being reversed.

The last thing Israel needs right now is to push away Sunni Arabs who have finally realized that the Jewish state is an asset to the region rather than a threat or to pick a fight with Trump.

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It’s hard to beat a man by agreeing with him. That’s why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most credible foe is struggling to find a way to distinguish his own views from those of the man he wishes to replace. Polls show that Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid is the man Netanyahu needs to watch out for in the next election. But after proclaiming earlier this year that a two-state solution must wait another 20 years for the Palestinians to show that they want peace, it’s hard to see how Lapid can possibly gain an edge over the prime minister on the most important issue facing the Jewish state.

That’s why Lapid is attempting to make an issue of Netanyahu’s apparent acceptance of a massive $110 billion arms deal concluded between Saudi Arabia and the Trump administration, without so much as a whisper of protest. In a recent interview, Lapid noted that the entire Israeli security establishment was deeply concerned about the transaction, which will place a wide array of sophisticated weaponry in Saudi hands. In doing so, Lapid is not just trying to goad Netanyahu into a suicidal spat with Trump but also demonstrating how ignorant he is of American Jewish history.

Lapid’s broadside aims to imply that the prime minister is so afraid of U.S. President Donald Trump and so dependent on his good will that he won’t speak up for Israel’s interests. But his main point of concern is that giving such weapon systems to Saudis means they are “one inch away” from falling in the hands of Sunni terrorists.

Perhaps Lapid will get some traction with the charge but for anyone who’s been following the news in the region in recent years, it’s fairly obvious that he’s woefully behind the times. The point of the transaction is an attempt to preserve the Saudi monarchy from falling victim to radical foes. More importantly, it’s intended to bolster Riyadh against the main threat to both Sunni Arab regimes and Israel: Iran.

That the man who is seen as a serious candidate for prime minister is oblivious to the imperative for Israel to make common cause with the Saudis against an Iranian foe committed to the destruction of both countries is a shocking indictment of Lapid’s strategic vision. Lapid is trying to divide Israel and the United States at a time when former President Barack Obama’s efforts to increase the “daylight” between the countries is being reversed.

Lapid is also forgetting an important precedent: In 1981, the Reagan administration wanted to sell five sophisticated AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) airplanes to the Saudis. Like the far larger sale just concluded, the AWACS deal was an effort to shore up the Saudi regime against an Islamist regime in Iran. But since the Saudis were then a key player in the effort to isolate and demonize Israel as well as part of a potential eastern front against it, friends of the Jewish state, led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, denounced the transaction as a blow to Israel’s military qualitative edge. Unfortunately, it was a bitter fight and one the pro-Israel lobby lost ignominiously.

That defeat led AIPAC to reassess its former emphasis on the executive branch and replace it with one that sought to ensure congressional support for Israel regardless of who was in the White House. But while AIPAC licked its wounds and began preparing to win future fights, friends of Israel generally forgot about what happened to the planes they had warned would be so dangerous to place in the hands of the Saudi state.

But, contrary to the predictions of those who worried that the AWACS planes would coordinate attacks on Israel rather than defending Riyadh against Iran or the Soviets, nothing of the kind every happened. The AWACS planes did nothing to harm Israel. Saudi Arabia may be the source of an ocean of anti-Western and anti-Israel propaganda but its leaders were never interested in fighting Israel. Moreover, three decades later, what was once covert security coordination between the Saudis and Israel is now an open secret and the basis upon which Trump’s hopes of an “outside-in” strategy for peace rests.

The Saudis are allies of convenience rather than conviction. It is wise to be skeptical about whether their goodwill extends beyond mutual antipathy for Iran. But the moral of the story is that nations have permanent interests not permanent allies or enemies. The last thing Israel needs right now is to push away Sunni Arabs who have finally realized that the Jewish state is an asset to the region rather than a threat or to pick a fight with Trump. Talking about the Saudis in this manner may have given Lapid a momentary edge but urging a repeat of AIPAC’s historic blunder is no way for him to prove his security chops. On the contrary, it seems to suggest that he is still not ready for power.

Jonathan S. Tobin is the opinion editor of JNS.org and a contributing writer to National Review. Twitter @jonathans_tobin.

​The next war: Hizballah tunnels, pocket drones

February 27, 2017

The next war: Hizballah tunnels, pocket drones, DEBKAfile, February 27, 2017

(Until January 20th, Israel had to deal with the anti-Israel Obama administration. Had Israel killed Hamas rather than allowing it to live and recover, U.S. policy toward Israel would have been even worse. Remember the complaints about Israel’s “disproportionate” response to Hamas rockets? With a pro-Israel president in Washingon, it seems reasonable to hope that the “no-winners, no-losers doctrine” military doctrine will quickly atrophy and die. — DM)

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After years of denial, the IDF is now ready to admit that Hizballah has built two kinds of tunnel running from Lebanon under the border into Israel. One type is meant as a pathway for Hizballah Radwan Force commandos to infiltrate northern Israel and seize Galilee villages, in an area up to the Mediterranean town of Nahariya. The other type will be crammed with hundreds of kilos of explosives for remote detonation.

For Israel, this no-winners, no-losers doctrine has saved the radical Palestinian Hamas from ever having to hoist a white flag. It caused the IDF’s two successful anti-terror Gaza wars of Dec.2008-Jan. 2009 and July-Aug. 2006 to be stopped halfway through. The troops were left to cool their heels until the government decided how to proceed. In both conflicts, the troops were ordered to stop fighting in mid-operation and pull back behind the border. Although the second operation managed to halt Hamas’ long rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip and allow Israelis living within range normal lives, Hamas was left in belligerent mode.

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Leaks from the State Comptroller’s report, due out Tuesday, Feb. 28, have sparked a storm of recriminations among the politicians and generals who led the IDF’s 2014 operation, which ended nearly a decade of constant Palestinian rocket fire on southern Israel. The argument centers on how the security cabinet headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the military, led then by defense minister Moshe Yaa’lon and former Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, prepared for and grappled with the threat of terror tunnels. A cabinet member, the hawkish education minister, Naftali Bennett, accuses them of falling down on the job.  They charge him with going after political capital.

DEBKAfile’s military sources take exception to the furious focus on a past war – the post mortem  of any conflict will always pick at faults – when the new menaces staring Israel in the face should be at the forefront of the national discourse.

Some of the most striking examples are noted here:

1. President Bashar Assad has just informed Iran that he is willing to place Syrian territory at the disposal of the Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah for shooting missiles into Israel.

Israel’s policy of non-intervention in Syria’s six-year civil war has therefore become a boomerang. Hizballah has been allowed to relocate a second strategic missile arsenal to the Qalamoun Mountains in Syria, after procuring advanced weapons systems from Iran, and gaining combat skills on the Syrian battlefield. The Shiite terrorist group has learned out to fight alongside a regular big-power military force, such as the Russian army.

It is therefore not surprising to hear Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah bragging confidently about his ability to vanquish Israel.

So what is Israel doing to counter this peril? Not much. From time to time, the IDF mounts an air strike against a weapons arsenal or missile depot in Syria. That has as much effect on the military threat building up in Syria as the tit-for-tat air strikes against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

How was Hizballah allowed to attain a capability for shooting thousands of rockets a day at Israeli cities from two countries? Why were the air strikes staged over Syria not directed against Hizballah’s rocket depots in Lebanon?

Many words have been poured out over the Hamas tunnels from the Gaza Strip., but what about Hizballah’s tunnels from Lebanon? After years of denial, the IDF is now ready to admit that Hizballah has built two kinds of tunnel running from Lebanon under the border into Israel. One type is meant as a pathway for Hizballah Radwan Force commandos to infiltrate northern Israel and seize Galilee villages, in an area up to the Mediterranean town of Nahariya. The other type will be crammed with hundreds of kilos of explosives for remote detonation.

How are Israel’s army strategists addressing this threat?

One answer came a few days ago from Maj. Gen Yoel Strick, commander of the home command, who is about to step into his new appointment as OC Northern Command.

He recently disclosed a plan to evacuate entire locations which are potentially on the front line of a conflict with Hizballah. He is aware of the shock effect on the country, which abides by the national ethos of never retreating before an enemy. But he also argues that the only way the IDF can effectively fight Hizballah invaders and eject them from Israeli soil is to keep civilians out of the way of the battle.

4. On Thursday, Feb. 23, an Israel Air Force fighter knocked down a miniature unmanned flying object over the Mediterranean coast of the Gaza Strip. It is already obvious that drones of one type or another, including the cheap and easily available quadcopter pocket drone, will serve the enemy in any future war, in large numbers.

When scores of pocket drones loaded with explosives are lofted, some may be shot down by Israeli warplanes and air defense systems, but some will escape and drop on target, because they are too small to be detected by the radar of air defense systems like Iron Dome and blown out of the sky.

Nevertheless, Israel can address these dangers, provided its generals embrace a major change of strategy, or doctrine. It is incumbent on the IDF to discard the doctrine which holds that modern wars can never end in a straight victory or defeat. This preconception has ruled the thinking of Israeli generals in the 11 years since the 2006 Lebanon war, although it is alien to the Middle East conflict environment.

Take, for example, the Syrian civil war. The Russian, Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah’s armies have clearly won that war and preserved a victorious Assad in power.

In Yemen, too, the Saudi army and its Gulf allies are fighting to win the war against the Houthi rebels but falling short of victory, notwithstanding their superior Western armaments.

In 2014, the Islamic State beat the Iraqi army and captured vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. The jihadists are still holding onto most of this territory – even against US-backed military efforts three years later. They will do so until they are vanquished on the battlefield.

For Israel, this no-winners, no-losers doctrine has saved the radical Palestinian Hamas from ever having to hoist a white flag. It caused the IDF’s two successful anti-terror Gaza wars of Dec.2008-Jan. 2009 and July-Aug. 2006 to be stopped halfway through. The troops were left to cool their heels until the government decided how to proceed. In both conflicts, the troops were ordered to stop fighting in mid-operation and pull back behind the border. Although the second operation managed to halt Hamas’ long rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip and allow Israelis living within range normal lives, Hamas was left in belligerent mode.

Because of this doctrine, Hizballah, like Hamas, feels free to build up its arsenal ready for the next war. Iran’s Lebanese proxy watches the IDF withholding action for containing its buildup. Certain that Israeli generals won’t be fighting for victory, Hizballah and Hamas have always felt they were in no danger of being wiped out.

Hamas, therefore, chose the tactic of inflicting maximum damage and casualties on Israel, without fear of major reprisals. Hence, in the early 2000s, the Palestinian terrorists ruling Gaza began shooting primitive Qassam rockets at Israeli civilian locations, moving on over the years to more advanced missiles, followed by terror tunnels and are now building an air force of exploding pocket drones.

If State Comptroller Joseph Shapiro had addressed those present and future threats when he exposed the mishandling of the tunnels of 2014, his report would have served an important security and national purpose. But since he confined himself to determining who said what to whom – and why – his report is just a platform for political bickering.

How Israel Would Become Palestine

February 20, 2017

How Israel Would Become Palestine, The Jewish PressFred Maroun, February 19, 2017

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If Israel annexes the West Bank, the Jewish majority in Israel would be reduced immediately from 75% to between 56% and 57%, and the Arab minority in Israel would double from 21% to between 40% and 41%.

While Jews would retain a clear majority immediately after annexation, the Arabs’ influence on government would increase dramatically. Arab parties have been kept out of every governing coalition in Israel’s history, but the continuation of that practice would be almost impossible when Arabs represent 40% to 41% of the population. It would require that all Jewish parties, from left to right, always agree to work together after every election; sooner or later, that Jewish-only coalition would break up.

There is not much that is uncertain in this common-sense scenario resulting from annexation of the West bank, other than how long it would take to unravel. The end result is that Israel, which would likely be renamed Palestine, would no longer be a Jewish state by any definition of the term.

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The idea of Israel annexing the West Bank was tentatively endorsed by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin who insisted that if this occurred, Palestinians living in the West Bank must be given Israeli citizenship. US President Donald Trump signaled that he is willing to accept a one-state solution, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lack of response to Trump indicates that he is not opposed to it either.

Based on the Jewish Virtual Library, in Israel, as of January 2017, “The Jewish population makes up 6,450,000 (74.8%); 1,796,000 (20.8%) are Arabs; and, those identified as ‘others’ (non-Arab Christians, Baha’i, etc) make up 4.4% of the population (384,000 people)”. Based on the Jerusalem Post, “Current estimates of the West Bank population, according to Israeli, Palestinian and US numbers, put the number of Palestinians at anywhere between 2.7 and 2.9 million.”

If Israel annexes the West Bank, the Jewish majority in Israel would be reduced immediately from 75% to between 56% and 57%, and the Arab minority in Israel would double from 21% to between 40% and 41%.

While Jews would retain a clear majority immediately after annexation, the Arabs’ influence on government would increase dramatically. Arab parties have been kept out of every governing coalition in Israel’s history, but the continuation of that practice would be almost impossible when Arabs represent 40% to 41% of the population. It would require that all Jewish parties, from left to right, always agree to work together after every election; sooner or later, that Jewish-only coalition would break up.

As Arab parties negotiate to be included in governing coalitions, some of their priorities would become government policy. Arab policies that are outright anti-Zionist would be rejected at first, but other priorities would have to be accepted.

One of the first priorities to be demanded by Arab parties is likely to be the immigration into Israel of relatives of Israeli Arab citizens, including some Palestinian refugees residing in Arab countries and some Palestinians residing in Gaza. This would have the effect of further increasing the size of the Arab minority, which would lead to even more Arab clout in the government.

Other Arab demands would have to be met, including immigration of more Palestinian refugees into Israel and the annexation of Gaza. Eventually, Arab parties would be able to govern with little or no Jewish representation. As Arabs control the Israeli government, they would eliminate laws that discriminate against them, including the unlimited Jewish right of return, perhaps even replacing it with an unlimited Palestinian “right of return”.

There is not much that is uncertain in this common-sense scenario resulting from annexation of the West bank, other than how long it would take to unravel. The end result is that Israel, which would likely be renamed Palestine, would no longer be a Jewish state by any definition of the term.

Shock Israeli Poll Finds Only 4% Want a Left-of-Center Prime Minister

January 16, 2017

Shock Israeli Poll Finds Only 4% Want a Left-of-Center Prime Minister, PJ MediaAvner Zarmi, January 16, 2017

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But nowhere is this more obvious than in Israel, as a recent poll sponsored by the Jerusalem Post clearly demonstrates.

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The political Left is in full retreat across most of the world.

Certainly, this is obvious in the United States. At present, 33 of the 50 states are governed by Republicans (and one, Alaska, by a fairly conservative independent). Of the twelve most populous states in the union, only one, California, is completely controlled by the Democratic Party. The other eleven are either completely controlled by Republicans or have divided government, including New York, where the state Senate is majority GOP.

This is equally evident across Europe. In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party is a shadow of its former self. The old Liberal Party (now the Liberal-Democratic Party) barely exists, and the Conservatives have a commanding lead in Parliament. The recent government shake-up that resulted in the fall of David Cameron and the rise of Theresa May was a disagreement within the Conservative Party concerning Brexit, an argument which Cameron lost. In France, Socialist President François Hollande is clearly on his way out, and the only real question is whether he’ll be succeeded by the conservative François Fallon or the Populist Marine Le Pen. Similar developments are rocking Germany, the Netherlands, and other European governments.

But nowhere is this more obvious than in Israel, as a recent poll sponsored by the Jerusalem Post clearly demonstrates.

In order to understand the real import of this poll, it is necessary to recount some Israeli history.

Since the founding of Israel in 1948, there have been twenty Knessiyoth (the Hebrew plural of Knesset, Israel’s parliament). Over the years, the number of members has remained stable at 120, but the make-up has changed markedly.

From 1948 to 1977, Israeli politics was completely dominated by the Left. In the first Knesset, parties of the Left (including the Israeli Communist Party) held 74 of the 120 seats. In the second Knesset, elected in 1951, they held 69 seats; in the third Knesset, elected in 1955, they held 70 seats; in the fourth Knesset (1959), they held 81 seats; in the fifth (1961), they held 64 seats; in the sixth (1965), they held 68 seats; in the seventh (1969), they held 66 seats.

In the eighth (December 1973), even after the terrible debacle of the Yom Kippur War, they still held 59 seats, representing the largest single faction in the Knesset.

In 1977, the first political “revolution” (as Israeli television commentators at the time called it) occurred: Likud became the largest faction with 54 seats; the fractured Left still retained 40. Likud continued to dominate until 1984, when the government veered leftward again, and the Leftist contingent had 55 seats. The election of 1988 returned Likud to power at the head of a governing coalition, but parties of the Left still held 53 seats, a balance of power which continued until 1992, when the Left again took power, with 59 seats.

The 1996 election, which saw Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister, was a bit anomalous in that for the first time there was an independent election for prime minister. Despite Netanyahu’s victory, the Left still held the largest faction in the Knesset with 48 seats. The dual elections for the Knesset and premiership continued in 1999, when Ehud Barak succeeded Netanyahu and the Left continued to hold the largest faction in the Knesset with 47 seats.

For the 2003 election, the dual system was scrapped. The head of the largest party was invited to form a coalition again and serve as prime minister. This election saw the rise of Ariel Sharon; the Left’s share of the Knesset stood at 46 seats. In 2006 Sharon was succeeded by Ehud Olmert, and the Left’s share dwindled to 27 seats. In 2009 their faction declined to a mere 20 seats; 2013 saw a rebound to 31 seats; and the most recent election, in 2015, saw them rebound again to 42 seats (this includes the new Joint List, an amalgam of three Arab parties and the old Israeli Communist Party, which has both Jewish and Arab members).

Nonetheless, since 2009 the Likud has been the dominant party and Netanyahu has been the prime minister. Now we arrive at the import of the present poll.

Since the so-called “Zionist Union,” a fusion of the old Labor party and Tzipi Livni’s “Movement” party, is the second largest in the Knesset with 24 seats, you might think that its leader Yitzhak Herzog would be the second most popular candidate for prime minister. You would be wrong.

The poll shows — unsurprisingly — that 39% of the Israeli electorate still consider Netanyahu their best option.

But next in line? Five other politicians who do not belong to the left.

The centrist Ya’ir Lapid has 19%, followed by Naftali Bennett of the Bayith Yehudi party at 13%, followed by Gid‘on Sa‘ar of Likud with 10%, then former Defense Minister Moshe Ya‘alon (also Likud) with 8%, and current Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) with 7%.

Herzog is dead last with 4%, falling below the poll’s margin of error of +/- 4.5%.

Even among those who voted for the left-of-center Zionist Union in 2015, 26% favored Lapid and only 15% supported Herzog.

Oh, how the mighty left has fallen in Israel, and seemingly everywhere else.

Israeli media defects show thru Bibi’s cigar smoke

January 14, 2017

Israeli media defects show thru Bibi’s cigar smoke, DEBKAfile, January 14, 2017

(Might the dislike of Trump by the Israeli left, the intensely negative coverage of Trump by America’s “mainstream media” and the apparent cordiality of the Netanyahu – Trump relationship stimulate the anti-Netanyahu media coverage in Israel — at a critical time when Netanyahu’s attention needs to be devoted to warding off or at least ameliorating Obama’s last efforts to doom Israel?– DM)

The torrent of alleged misdemeanors pouring out day after day against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, across the front pages and prime-time news broadcasts of Israel’s mainstream media, this week developed a new angle: Predictions from the same quarters of a summer election.

If the heavily biased media were counting on the police to produce hard evidence to support their charges, they were premature. No evidence of criminal conduct has yet come to light, despite leaked innuendo to favored reporters. Police investigators continue to dig hard, spurred on by the insatiable media appetite for sensational “revelations.”

Known for his penchant for the good things of life, Netanyahu’s fondness for Cuban cigars, paid for by good, very rich, friends, is no crime; nor is imbibing expensive champagne in their company – even if both are provided as gifts in lavish quantities.

Equally, even in democratic countries, politicians are not accused of criminal activity when they engage senior newspersons in hush-hush, give-and-take swaps of favors. It is pretty much par for the course.

However, Netanyahu’s secret conversations two years ago with his arch foe, Arnon Mozes, the publisher and editor of the wide-circulation tabloid Yediot Aharonot, are being branded by the media as “extremely serious.” According to tape recordings leaked from the same police investigation, the deal on the table was this: Mozes offered to tone down his paper’s virulent campaign against the prime minister. Netanyahu would in turn “arrange” to cut down the circulation of the free tabloid Israel Today, which was established by the Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson as a platform for the prime minister to counter the systematic media campaigns against him.

Mozes was – and still is – in serious financial trouble: his paper can’t’ stand up to the competition by Israel Today. But the bargain he hoped for was unlikely to take off for three reasons:

1. The prime minister doesn’t own Israel Today. The paper’s editorial and business staff is not compelled to obey him – only the proprietor. So if Netanyahu did indeed strike a deal with Mozes, which is not proved, he would have been selling a favor that was not his to sell, and liable to be sued, if by anyone, by the real owner.

2.  According to the recordings, Netanyahu repeated that he needed to discuss the issue with Adelson. It sounded as though the prime minister was willing to consider a deal, but deferred to the owner for the final word. He even suggested that it might be possible to persuade Adelson to buy Yediot from Mozes and merge it with Israel Today.

3. Yet in their daily “revelations” on this affair, senior reporters doggedly maintain that Netanyahu calls the shots in the free tabloid. They refuse to back down from the picture they have built up in one false report after another that Netanyahu dictates editorial policy at Israel Today.

What would they say if Adelson got fed up with Netanyahu and decided to turn the paper against him? He is perfectly free to switch the paper’s editorial support to whomsoever he chooses without consulting the prime minister.

Therefore the firestorm around the “Netanyahu affair” is focusing increasingly on the pack of attackers snapping at his heels. The publications which hammer at his culpability are being exposed themselves as far from being practitioners of the neutral, honest, professional, ethical and honest standards they preach for others.

It is common knowledge in the industry that, for years now, the leading news media have habitually sold out to various political and financial interests. The names of the pens, editors and publishers for hire are known to their colleagues.

But the general public is clearly in on the secret. They know which paper or reporter is the hired mouthpiece of a politician or business interest. They are not fooled by the sanctimonious protestations of “values” and “ideals” by the pundits and columnists promoting government critics.

Rather than being scandalized by Bibi’s ways – which are no secret –many have given up reading newspapers and following TV and radio news programs – and not just because they prefer the Internet. Stacks of newspapers on offer for free at cafes, supermarkets, or gas stations are left untouched.

The paucity of readers is countered by a large print to jack up advertising rates. In a flagrant breach of ethics, some newspapers deceitfully hide advertising plugs in regular editorial content, while TV “consumer” programs may be “sponsored” for pay, without informing the public that the “advice” on offer is tainted. In some magazines, cover stories are on sale to the highest bidders, as are prominent interviews in other media.

Certainly, not a few professional journalists who plied their trade honestly have quit the media and given up writing in disgust. The Press Council, which was founded originally as an independent forum for adjudicating on matters of ethics, has held silent in the face of flagrant violationsfor the past 11 years — ever since the appointment of retired high court judge Dalia Dorner as its head – and slept soundly when the Israeli communications media descended to the pits.

Opposition rivals seeking to topple Israel’s third-term prime minister have found a ready bludgeon, the corrupt mainstream media which is more than willing to push its ferocious onslaught on Netanyahu, confident that he can be railroaded into throwing in the towel – either by stepping down or calling an early election.

Netanyahu has so far shown no sign of weakness. He insists that the charges against him are trumped up and he will outlive them all.

The IDF’s New Social Contract

January 6, 2017

The IDF’s New Social Contract, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, January 6, 2016

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Azaria is the first victim of a General Staff that has decided to cease serving as the people’s army and serve instead as B’Tselem’s army. The call now spreading through the Knesset for Azaria to receive a presidential pardon, while certainly reasonable and desirable, will likely fail to bring about his freedom. For a pardon request to reach President Reuven Rivlin’s desk, it first needs to be stamped by Eisenkot.

A pardon for Azaria would go some way toward repairing the damage the General Staff has done to its relationship with the public. But from Eisenkot’s behavior this week, it is apparent that he feels no need and has no interest in repairing that damage.

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Sgt. Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter Wednesday for shooting a terrorist in Hebron last March, is a symptom of what may be the most dangerous threat to Israeli society today.

Azaria, a combat medic from the Kfir Brigade, arrived at the scene of an attack where two terrorists had just stabbed his comrades. One of the terrorists was killed, the other was wounded and lying on the ground, his knife less than a meter away from him.

A cameraman from the foreign-funded, Israeli- registered anti-Israel pressure group B’Tselem filmed Azaria removing his helmet and shooting the wounded terrorist. According to the military judges, the film was the centerpiece of the case against him.

The day of the incident, the General Staff reacted to the B’Tselem film with utter hysteria. Led by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s generals competed to see who could condemn Azaria most harshly.

For the public, though, the issue wasn’t so cut and dry. Certainly Azaria didn’t act like a model soldier. It was clear, for instance, that he acted without proper authority and that his action was not permitted under the rules of engagement then in effect in Hebron.

But unlike the IDF’s senior leadership, the public believed that the fact that it was B’Tselem that produced the film meant that it had to be viewed with a grain of salt.

The name “B’Tselem” was seared into the public’s consciousness as an organization hostile to Israel and dedicated to causing it harm with the publication of the UN’s Goldstone Commission Report in 2009. Among the Israeli-registered groups that provided materials to the biased UN commission charged with finding Israel guilty of war crimes during the course of Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in late 2008 and early 2009, B’Tselem made the greatest contribution.

The Goldstone Report cited B’Tselem as the source for its slanderous “findings” 56 times.

After the UN published the Goldstone Report, Michael Posner, the US assistant secretary of state for human rights, visited Israel and met with Jessica Montell, B’Tselem’s executive director at the time.

The US Embassy’s official report of their meeting was published by WikiLeaks.

During their meeting, Montell told Posner that her group’s goal in providing the Goldstone Commission with materials was to force the government to pay a heavy price for its decision to fight Hamas, by criminalizing Israel in the court of world opinion.

As B’Tselem saw it, Israel needed to come to the point where it would consider whether it could “afford another operation like this.”

Montell explained that from B’Tselem’s perspective the root of the problem with Israel is the Israeli public. The public is the source of Israel’s bad behavior, according to B’Tselem, because it “had zero tolerance for IDF killed.” As far as the public is concerned, she said, harm to Palestinian civilians is preferable to harm to IDF soldiers.

Since, in B’Tselem’s view, the public’s commitment to the lives of its soldiers meant that it would not constitute a “moral check on war,” and check the bellicosity of IDF commanders, it fell to B’Tselem to make the IDF brass and the government care more about world opinion than they care about what the public thinks.

The public’s condemnation of B’Tselem after its role in compiling the Goldstone Commission’s libelous accusations against the IDF was made public made no impression whatsoever on the group.

Following Operation Protective Edge in 2014, B’Tselem’s materials were cited 67 times by the report of the biased UN commission put together to slander Israel.

In 2007, B’Tselem launched its “Camera Program.”

The camera initiative involved providing video cameras to B’Tselem employees and volunteers in Judea and Samaria in order to document the actions of Israeli security forces and civilians in the areas.

In many cases, the videos B’Tselem produced distorted reality for the purpose of criminalizing both groups.

For instance, in 2011, B’Tselem gave a film to Ynet’s Elior Cohen that purported to show Israeli police brutally arresting a young Palestinian boy and preventing his mother from coming to the police station with him.

But as CAMERA showed at the time, B’Tselem’s portrayal of events was fanciful at best. In all likelihood, the event was staged by the B’Tselem photographer.

At the outset of the film the boy is unseen as he throws rocks at a police van. The boy is first seen as he runs toward the B’Tselem camerawoman. For her part, the camerawoman screams at the police and identifies herself as from B’Tselem.

The police are shown asking the boy’s mother repeatedly to join them in the car. As she stands poised to enter the vehicle, a Palestinian man is shown telling her in Arabic not to go.

In July 2016, B’Tselem released a film taken in Hebron during an attempted stabbing attack by a female Palestinian terrorist against Israel police at a security checkpoint outside the Cave of the Patriarchs.

The police reported that the terrorist tried to stab a policewoman who was checking her in an inspection room. Another policewoman shot and killed her.

B’Tselem claimed that its film proved that the female terrorist was shot for no reason. But the fact is that it does no such thing. As NGO Monitor noted, the B’Tselem film neither contradicts nor proves the police’s version of events.

Over the years, the public’s growing awareness of B’Tselem’s unwavering hostility went hand in hand with its growing distress over what was perceived as the IDF’s willingness to sacrifice the safety of troops to prevent it from receiving bad press.

For instance, in 2012, a film went viral on social media that showed a platoon of combat engineers fleeing from a mob of Palestinians attacking with rocks, Molotov cocktails and slingshots.

When questioned by reporters, the soldiers said that they had repeatedly asked their battalion commander for permission to use force to disperse the crowd and they were repeatedly denied permission.

Retreat was their only option.

In 2015, another film went viral showing a group of Palestinian women hitting and screaming at a soldier trying to arrest one of them for throwing rocks at his platoon. He did nothing as he absorbed the blows. And no harm came to the women who assaulted him.

Along with the films, came stories that soldiers on leave told their friends and family about the IDF’s rules of engagement. The tales were always the same. The rules of engagement are so restrictive that all initiative is placed in the hands of the enemy. Not only can terrorists attack at will. They can flee afterward and expect that no harm will come to them, because what is most important, the soldiers explain, is to ensure that IDF maintains its reputation as the most moral army in the world.

This was the context in which Azaria killed the wounded terrorist.

Although the headlines relate to Azaria, and his family members have become familiar faces on the news, the fact is the reason the Azaria affair was the biggest story of the year is that it really has very little to do with him.

There are three forces driving the story.

First of course, there is B’Tselem.

B’Tselem’s produced the film to advance its goal of obliging Israel’s national leadership, including the IDF brass, to care more about “world opinion” than about the opinion of Israeli citizens.

Second then, is the pubic that cares more about the lives of IDF soldiers than about what the world thinks of it.

Finally, there is the IDF General Staff that is being forced to pick which side it stands with.

Since Israel was established nearly 70 years ago, the relationship between the IDF and the public has been based on an often unstated social contract.

From the public’s side, Israel’s citizens agree to serve in the IDF and risk their lives in its service.

Moreover, they agree to allow their children to serve in the military and to be placed in harm’s way.

From the IDF’s side, the commanders agree to view the lives of their soldiers as sacrosanct, and certainly as more precious than the lives of the enemy and the enemies’ society.

The third side is the General Staff. In the years leading up to the Azaria affair the generals were already showing disturbing signs of forgetting their contract with the public.

The films of fleeing soldiers and the rules of engagement weren’t the only signs of our military leadership’s estrangement.

There were also the promotions given to radical lawyers to serve in key positions in the Military Advocate-General’s unit, and the red carpet treatment given to radical leftist groups like B’Tselem that were dedicated to criminalizing soldiers and commanders.

Since the shooting in Hebron, the General Staff’s treatment of the public has become even more disdainful.

Ya’alon and Eisenkot and his generals have repeatedly offended the public with comparisons of “IDF values” with alleged processes of barbarization, Nazification and ISIS-ization of the public by the likes of Azaria and his supporters.

If there was a specific moment where the military brass abandoned its compact with society once and for all, it came on Tuesday, the day before the military court convicted Azaria of manslaughter. In a speech that day, Eisenkot insisted that IDF soldiers are not “our children.” They are grownups and they are required to obey the orders they receive.

By making this statement the day before the verdict in a case that pitted society against the General Staff, which sided with B’Tselem, Eisenkot told us that the General Staff no longer feels itself obligated by a sacred compact with the people of Israel.

Azaria is the first victim of a General Staff that has decided to cease serving as the people’s army and serve instead as B’Tselem’s army. The call now spreading through the Knesset for Azaria to receive a presidential pardon, while certainly reasonable and desirable, will likely fail to bring about his freedom. For a pardon request to reach President Reuven Rivlin’s desk, it first needs to be stamped by Eisenkot.

A pardon for Azaria would go some way toward repairing the damage the General Staff has done to its relationship with the public. But from Eisenkot’s behavior this week, it is apparent that he feels no need and has no interest in repairing that damage.

As a result, it is likely that Azaria will spend years behind bars for killing the enemy.

Moreover, if nothing forces Eisenkot and his generals to their senses, Azaria will neither be the last nor the greatest victim of their betrayal of the public’s trust.

The PLO’s Zero-Sum Game

January 3, 2017

The PLO’s Zero-Sum Game, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, January 3, 2017

(Please see also, Fatah Honors Islamist Terrorists For 52nd Anniversary. – DM)

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Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

The time has come for the government to move ahead boldly. In their post-Obama, post-2334 state, the Israeli Left and its American Jewish supporters are in no position to stop the government from doing what needs to be done. But, if the government fails to act now, when the Democrats return in two or four years, the opportunity now upon us may be lost forever as the PLO comes back to win its zerosum game against Israel.

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Since its inception in the late 1970s, the Israeli peace movement has been based on one thing: hope.

Members of the peace movement hoped the PLO’s war with Israel could be resolved through compromise. Proponents of peace with the PLO hoped that Yasser Arafat and his terrorist minions weren’t truly committed to Israel’s destruction.

The two-state formula was based on the hope that Israel could reach an accommodation with the PLO. To wit, in exchange for parts of Judea and Samaria and Gaza (no one was talking about Jerusalem), Israeli peaceniks, who over time came to encompass all factions of the Left in Israel, hoped the PLO would bury the hatchet, build a state, or federate with Jordan, and that would be that.

In 1992, the peace camp took over the government. Under the leadership of then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then foreign minister Shimon Peres, hope became the basis for Israel’s national security strategy. That strategy was followed by every Israeli government since. The basic idea was clear enough. In exchange for land and guns and legitimacy, Arafat and his goons would be domesticated.

The peace camp’s hope was never based on evidence. Indeed, it flew in the face of the PLO’s track record. By the time the Israeli peaceniks began negotiating with Arafat and his deputies in the late 1980s, the PLO had already controlled two autonomous areas. In both Jordan and Lebanon, Arafat and his terrorists transformed peaceful areas into bases for global terrorism and launching points for massacres of Israelis and of victims from Africa to Europe to the Americas.

The secret of the PLO’s success was that it didn’t simply kill people. It combined murder with political warfare. The PLO’s political war had two goals. First, it aimed to make killing Jews politically acceptable a mere generation after the Holocaust.

Second, the PLO devoted great resources to wooing the Israeli and Western Left. It sought to convince a sufficient core of leftists that the PLO wasn’t really committed to its goal of eradicating Israel. It actually was a peace movement in terrorist disguise.

Arafat and his deputies whispered in the ears of their gullible Israeli “partners” that they weren’t an implacable foe. They were partners for peace just waiting to be convinced that they could make a deal.

The success of both political warfare strategies has been on prominent display of late. On December 23, the ambassadors of state members of the UN Security Council broke out in spontaneous applause after they unanimously passed Resolution 2334, which declares Israel an outlaw state populated by criminals and bereft of all rights to its capital and its historic heartland.

A week later, the PLO’s largest terrorist faction Fatah celebrated its founding day. The largest celebration this year reportedly took place in Bethlehem.

Fatah was actually founded in 1958. But Arafat chose December 31, 1964 as its founding day because that was the day his terrorists carried out their first terrorist attack against Israel.

In Bethlehem Saturday, thousands of Palestinian youths – starting at the age of four or five – marked the day with a march through town.

This was no ticker tape parade.

In classic PLO fashion, the young people – including the preschoolers – were clad in military uniforms and had their faces covered with sheets. They marched through the streets behind banners sporting the images of Fatah terrorists like mass murderer Dalal Mughrabi and pledged to complete their heroes’ mission.

The message of the spectacle was straightforward enough. Fatah remains utterly committed to eradicating Israel through terrorism and war.

Covering the march for the Israeli media was Channel 2’s far-left correspondent Ohad Hemo. In a manner comprehensible only to true believers, Hemo stared at the march and saw a reason for restored hope for peace.

Speaking to masked grand masters, without a tinge of embarrassment, Hemo asked if they supported the two-state solution.

Lo and behold, as they marched behind banners of Mughrabi, who led the PLO terrorist cell that massacred 38 Israelis including 13 children in 1978, Hemo’s minders told him that indeed, they support a two-state solution!

Hemo was exultant.

Even with its chokehold on the media and its control of the judicial system and state prosecution, the Israeli Left would have never been successful in maintaining this murderous joke without outside help.

And that’s where the American Jewish establishment came in.

For more than 20 years, led by AIPAC, the American Jewish establishment has insisted that the two-state solution is the only option. That is, empty faith in a terrorist organization fully committed to Israel’s destruction is the only acceptable policy for Republicans and Democrats alike to follow in respect to Israel.

For 23 years, despite the ever increasing dubiousness of Republican leaders and a few Democratic lawmakers, the consensus view was maintained.

The Jewish community’s slavish devotion to the PLO stemmed from two sources. First, by insisting that the PLO is a credible force, the American Jewish community has been able to keep peace in its ranks, which are populated overwhelmingly by leftists.

Second, by promoting a policy at odds with reality, communal leaders have been able to pretend that there is no qualitative distinction between Democratic and Republican support for Israel. This claim, which has become downright implausible during President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, is vital for enabling American Jews to pretend that Israel is a voting issue for them and that they aren’t simply motivated by their leftist world views.

It would appear that the jig is up on this position.

Obama’s lame-duck war against Israel and the rise of anti-Jewish forces in the Democratic Party led by Rep. Keith Ellison make it practically impossible to continue to claim that the Democratic Party is a home for pro-Israel forces in America.

On the other hand, President-elect Donald Trump’s full-throated support for Israel and promotion of advisers who openly oppose a PLO state has opened the door for Republican lawmakers to abandon their half-hearted support for the PLO. Beginning this month, they may very well begin ending US recognition of the PLO and cut off taxpayer funds to its terrorism-cultivating autonomy in Judea and Samaria.

In this state of affairs, American Jewish groups will either support Trump and the Republicans or lose their ability to influence events. In either case, for at least the next two years, they have lost their capacity to support the Israeli Left in a significant way.

This is important for Israel to understand because the clock is ticking. Obama’s onslaught has made clear that the Democratic Party no longer supports Israel. Like the PLO, Obama and his advisers view the PLO’s conflict with Israel as a zero-sum game and they have cast their lots with the terrorists against the Jewish state.

It is to be expected that under the leadership of former president Obama and Ellison the Democrats will expand the openness of their hostility to Israel.

Under these circumstance, Israel has but two years – until the mid-term congressional elections when the Democrats may be empowered in Congress – to decide what it wants to do with Judea and Samaria.

Last week the government signaled that its first step will be to apply Israeli law to Ma’ale Adumim. A bill to this effect is expected to be brought before the government shortly after Obama leaves office.

While a good first move, our leaders must recognize that it needs to be quickly followed up by additional administrative changes. The goal of those additional steps is to dismantle the military government which administers Area C – 60% of Judea and Samaria – by 2019 and transfer full administrative responsibility for the area, which includes Israel’s border with Jordan and all the Israeli communities of Judea and Samaria, to the government.

The time has come for the government to move ahead boldly. In their post-Obama, post-2334 state, the Israeli Left and its American Jewish supporters are in no position to stop the government from doing what needs to be done. But, if the government fails to act now, when the Democrats return in two or four years, the opportunity now upon us may be lost forever as the PLO comes back to win its zerosum game against Israel.