The Israeli Political Class is the Problem

Beyond the Cusp

There is a malaise in Israel. The pale it casts darkens all horizons. There are those who claim they are Zionists; And those who claim they are Nationalist; And there are those hiding behind a title of Zionism and Union with the world. Let’s face it, if you are truly a Zionist, truly a Nationalist then you would hold to the dream, the dream of the great Zionist Nationalists who went before. The ones whose names precede the State of Israel; the ones whose names echo in the minds of those who have the flame within; the giants whose tombs we approached with reverential honor and a small amount of trepidation because we know those graves will ask us what we have done. What can we tell these giants who handed us a State, a Jewish and Zionist State which spread from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. They…

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Islam’s Sword Comes for Christians

Hostility for Christmas was on full display. On Christmas Day, Muslims in Bethlehem, as documented here, set a Christmas tree on fire and greeted the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem with a hail of stones; in Belgium, Muslim “refugees” set fire to a public Christmas tree; in Nigeria, Muslim jihadis attacked churches during Christmas mass and killed at least 16; in the Philippines, on Christmas Eve, Muslim jihadis slaughtered 10 Christians to “make a statement;” in Bangladesh, churches skipped Christmas mass, due to assassination attempts on pastors and death threats against Christians; in Indonesia, churches were on “high alert,” with 150,000 security personnel patrolling; in Iran, Christians celebrating Christmas in homes were arrested; and three Muslim countries — Somalia, Tajikistan, and Brunei — formally banned any Christmas celebrations.

Earlier in December, in the United States, in San Bernardino, California, Mohamed Ahmed Elrawi, 57, a Muslim, pulled out a sword and, saying he would “Die and kill for Allah,” chased his neighbor, Mark Tashamneh a Christian of Jordanian descent. Tashamneh escaped and called police. After they arrested Elrawi on suspicion of attempted murder, they found in his apartment evidence suggesting that he is a “radicalized Muslim.” While police were escorting Elrawi out of his apartment, Elrawi said in Arabic to Tashamneh that he would kill him. “I’m a Christian,” Tashamneh told reporters. “I’m happy … and I believe what I believe. I am not against what he believes, but he apparently has a problem with me and came and threatened me.”

In Uganda, in separate incidents, Muslims slaughtered two Christian leaders with swords. Patrick Ojangole, a 43-year-old Christian father of five, was hacked to death. He had also supported several children whose families had disowned them for leaving Islam. According to Ojangole’s friend, who survived, they had been traveling to their village when they saw Muslim women covered in burqas sitting on the road: “Because it was late in the evening, we thought they needed some help from us, so we stopped, and while we were still talking with them, a man arrived [followed by two more men] … The two women immediately pulled out swords from their burqas and gave them to the men.” One of the three Muslim men reproached Patrick Ojangole’s for refusing to cease his Christian activities. Then the Muslims killed him. “Patrick was a very committed Christian and a hard-working farmer,” said the friend. “From his farm work, he used to support 10 children from Muslim families who had been ostracized by their families.” Ojangole’s five children range in age from seven to sixteen

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Middle East Strategic Outlook, February

The announcement by the IAEA that Iran has fulfilled its obligations according to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has triggered “Implementation Day” and the removal of the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. The JCPOA, however, did not deal with Iran’s ballistic missile program, and the sanctions related to it are still nominally in force. These sanctions are minor and will not have any real effect on the Iranian missile program. The missile program will mature during this period and will include Ghadr missiles with ranges of 1,650-1,950 km, which may be capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The question now is: whither the Iranian nuclear program? After the lifting of sanctions, and taking into account the impracticality of “snap-back” of sanctions, we assess that Iran will now initiate a parallel nuclear program. This will, of course, be far slower than the program that was dismantled by the JCPOA, but it will be realized long before the 10-year target of the JCPOA. One possibility for Iran to continue its nuclear program is through North Korea. The wording of the JCPOA is ambiguous on nuclear Iranian nuclear cooperation with other countries that are not a party to the agreement. North Korea could produce the whole chain of nuclear weapons and put it at Iran’s disposal in return for Iranian funding. North Korea would certainly profit economically from such collaboration and would not risk further sanctions. Such cooperation would be difficult to detect, and even if detected, may not reach the threshold of a material breach of the JCPOA.

The most immediate reward that Iran will receive is the release of frozen Iranian funds ($100-$150 billion). In addition, Iran may now market oil stored offshore in tankers (about 50 billion barrels) and is preparing to increase its production by 500 thousand bpd (from 2.8 million bpd). It is doubtful that Iran can truly increase its production as planned. Even if it does, the addition of Iranian oil is likely to drive prices down even further, counter-balancing much of the potential profit. Sanctions relief also is not a quick fix for the Iranian economy. While it removes legal impediments for investment and business in Iran, the risks that Western companies will face due to residual non-nuclear sanctions (that may be enhanced and enforced by a future American administration), lack of government protection, corruption, and the weakness of the Iranian market cannot be removed by decree. Therefore, European banks and investors may not hurry to invest in Iran at the levels needed to jump-start the Iranian economy after years of sanctions.

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Stop Worrying About Israel: Josef Joffe’s Rebuttal to Ron Rosenbaum’s Lament

To kvetch is as Jewish as guilt-tripping, gefilte fish, and gloom. But the ne plus ultra of Jewish is angst—that sense of dread and foreboding that keeps whispering: “The universe is out to get you.”

Given the Jewish experience of the last 5776 years, this take reflects realism rather than paranoia. Start with the eviction from Eden and the Deluge, which left only Noah’s clan alive. Continue with the Pharaonic slavery and God’s vow in the Desert (Numbers 14) to strike the Children of Israel “with pestilence and disown them.” And so it goes: the Babylonian captivity, Haman, Masada, the destruction of two temples, the dispersal. It is an unending epic of persecution, expulsion and slaughter culminating in the Shoah.

In Fiddler on the Roof, Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye put the existential curse in a nutshell: “I know, I know,” he pleads with the Almighty, “we are Your chosen people. But once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?” Without the gift of irony and gallows humor, Jews might not have made it to 5776, but there isn’t even a sub-atomic particle of this wondrous antidote in Ron Rosenbaum’s “Lamentation for the State of Israel,” published in these pages on Dec. 14, 2015. Here is the gist of his dirge:

I believe the State of Israel may not survive. That its days are numbered. I can hardly bear to say it. … But now the children of Holocaust victims and survivors and the children of those who came to Israel as refugees from pogroms in Islamic lands—now they too, face a future not merely bleak, but perhaps blank, empty, ended.

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