Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How the worm worked

Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions
By Ed Barnes
Published November 26, 2010
| FoxNews.com
An aerial view of Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz.
In the 20th century, this would have been a job for James Bond.
The mission: Infiltrate the highly advanced, securely guarded enemy headquarters where scientists in the clutches of an evil master are secretly building a weapon that can destroy the world. Then render that weapon harmless and escape undetected.
But in the 21st century, Bond doesn't get the call. Instead, the job is handled by a suave and very sophisticated secret computer worm, a jumble of code called Stuxnet, which in the last year has not only crippled Iran's nuclear program but has caused a major rethinking of computer security around the globe.
Intelligence agencies, computer security companies and the nuclear industry have been trying to analyze the worm since it was discovered in June by a Belarus-based company that was doing business in Iran. And what they've all found, says Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security Department's acting director of national cyber security and communications integration, is a “game changer.”
The construction of the worm was so advanced, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield,” says Ralph Langner, the computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet. Others have called it the first “weaponized” computer virus.
Simply put, Stuxnet is an incredibly advanced, undetectable computer worm that took years to construct and was designed to jump from computer to computer until it found the specific, protected control system that it aimed to destroy: Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.
The target was seemingly impenetrable; for security reasons, it lay several stories underground and was not connected to the World Wide Web. And that meant Stuxnet had to act as sort of a computer cruise missile: As it made its passage through a set of unconnected computers, it had to grow and adapt to security measures and other changes until it reached one that could bring it into the nuclear facility.
When it ultimately found its target, it would have to secretly manipulate it until it was so compromised it ceased normal functions.
And finally, after the job was done, the worm would have to destroy itself without leaving a trace.
That is what we are learning happened at Iran's nuclear facilities -- both at Natanz, which houses the centrifuge arrays used for processing uranium into nuclear fuel, and, to a lesser extent, at Bushehr, Iran's nuclear power plant.
At Natanz, for almost 17 months, Stuxnet quietly worked its way into the system and targeted a specific component -- the frequency converters made by the German equipment manufacturer Siemens that regulated the speed of the spinning centrifuges used to create nuclear fuel. The worm then took control of the speed at which the centrifuges spun, making them turn so fast in a quick burst that they would be damaged but not destroyed. And at the same time, the worm masked that change in speed from being discovered at the centrifuges' control panel.
At Bushehr, meanwhile, a second secret set of codes, which Langner called “digital warheads,” targeted the Russian-built power plant's massive steam turbine.
Here's how it worked, according to experts who have examined the worm:
--The nuclear facility in Iran runs an “air gap” security system, meaning it has no connections to the Web, making it secure from outside penetration. Stuxnet was designed and sent into the area around Iran's Natanz nuclear power plant -- just how may never be known -- to infect a number of computers on the assumption that someone working in the plant would take work home on a flash drive, acquire the worm and then bring it back to the plant.
--Once the worm was inside the plant, the next step was to get the computer system there to trust it and allow it into the system. That was accomplished because the worm contained a “digital certificate” stolen from JMicron, a large company in an industrial park in Taiwan. (When the worm was later discovered it quickly replaced the original digital certificate with another certificate, also stolen from another company, Realtek, a few doors down in the same industrial park in Taiwan.)
--Once allowed entry, the worm contained four “Zero Day” elements in its first target, the Windows 7 operating system that controlled the overall operation of the plant. Zero Day elements are rare and extremely valuable vulnerabilities in a computer system that can be exploited only once. Two of the vulnerabilities were known, but the other two had never been discovered. Experts say no hacker would waste Zero Days in that manner.
--After penetrating the Windows 7 operating system, the code then targeted the “frequency converters” that ran the centrifuges. To do that it used specifications from the manufacturers of the converters. One was Vacon, a Finnish Company, and the other Fararo Paya, an Iranian company. What surprises experts at this step is that the Iranian company was so secret that not even the IAEA knew about it.
--The worm also knew that the complex control system that ran the centrifuges was built by Siemens, the German manufacturer, and -- remarkably -- how that system worked as well and how to mask its activities from it.
--Masking itself from the plant's security and other systems, the worm then ordered the centrifuges to rotate extremely fast, and then to slow down precipitously. This damaged the converter, the centrifuges and the bearings, and it corrupted the uranium in the tubes. It also left Iranian nuclear engineers wondering what was wrong, as computer checks showed no malfunctions in the operating system.
Estimates are that this went on for more than a year, leaving the Iranian program in chaos. And as it did, the worm grew and adapted throughout the system. As new worms entered the system, they would meet and adapt and become increasingly sophisticated.
During this time the worms reported back to two servers that had to be run by intelligence agencies, one in Denmark and one in Malaysia. The servers monitored the worms and were shut down once the worm had infiltrated Natanz. Efforts to find those servers since then have yielded no results.
This went on until June of last year, when a Belarusan company working on the Iranian power plant in Beshehr discovered it in one of its machines. It quickly put out a notice on a Web network monitored by computer security experts around the world. Ordinarily these experts would immediately begin tracing the worm and dissecting it, looking for clues about its origin and other details.
But that didn’t happen, because within minutes all the alert sites came under attack and were inoperative for 24 hours.
“I had to use e-mail to send notices but I couldn’t reach everyone. Whoever made the worm had a full day to eliminate all traces of the worm that might lead us them,” Eric Byers, a computer security expert who has examined the Stuxnet. “No hacker could have done that.”
Experts, including inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, say that, despite Iran's claims to the contrary, the worm was successful in its goal: causing confusion among Iran’s nuclear engineers and disabling their nuclear program.
Because of the secrecy surrounding the Iranian program, no one can be certain of the full extent of the damage. But sources inside Iran and elsewhere say that the Iranian centrifuge program has been operating far below its capacity and that the uranium enrichment program had “stagnated” during the time the worm penetrated the underground facility. Only 4,000 of the 9,000 centrifuges Iran was known to have were put into use. Some suspect that is because of the critical need to replace ones that were damaged.

And the limited number of those in use dwindled to an estimated 3,700 as problems engulfed their operation. IAEA inspectors say the sabotage better explains the slowness of the program, which they had earlier attributed to poor equipment manufacturing and management problems. As Iranians struggled with the setbacks, they began searching for signs of sabotage. From inside Iran there have been unconfirmed reports that the head of the plant was fired shortly after the worm wended its way into the system and began creating technical problems, and that some scientists who were suspected of espionage disappeared or were executed. And counter intelligence agents began monitoring all communications between scientists at the site, creating a climate of fear and paranoia.
Iran has adamantly stated that its nuclear program has not been hit by the bug. But in doing so it has backhandedly confirmed that its nuclear facilities were compromised. When Hamid Alipour, head of the nation’s Information Technology Company, announced in September that 30,000 Iranian computers had been hit by the worm but the nuclear facilities were safe, he added that among those hit were the personal computers of the scientists at the nuclear facilities. Experts say that Natanz and Bushehr could not have escaped the worm if it was in their engineers’ computers.
“We brought it into our lab to study it and even with precautions it spread everywhere at incredible speed,” Byres said.
“The worm was designed not to destroy the plants but to make them ineffective. By changing the rotation speeds, the bearings quickly wear out and the equipment has to be replaced and repaired. The speed changes also impact the quality of the uranium processed in the centrifuges creating technical problems that make the plant ineffective,” he explained.
In other words the worm was designed to allow the Iranian program to continue but never succeed, and never to know why.
One additional impact that can be attributed to the worm, according to David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Studies, is that “the lives of the scientists working in the facility have become a living hell because of counter-intelligence agents brought into the plant” to battle the breach. Ironically, even after its discovery, the worm has succeeded in slowing down Iran's reputed effort to build an atomic weapon. And Langer says that the efforts by the Iranians to cleanse Stuxnet from their system “will probably take another year to complete,” and during that time the plant will not be able to function anywhere normally.

Ahmadinejad: Iran's Nuclear Program Hit by Sabotage - Thomas Erdbrink (Washington Post)
Iran's uranium-enrichment program has been the target of sabotage, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday.
"They had been successful in making problems for a limited number of our centrifuges, with software they had installed in electronic devices," he said.

Hanukkah-the real story and Zionism

Hanukkah in a New Light

Manuel Gold

Ask anyone to tell you how Hanukkah began or why we celebrate this =
festival for eight days and they are sure to repeat the story of how =
Syrian Greeks defiled the Temple, and how, after Judah the Maccabee and =
his brothers recaptured and cleansed it, they found a little jar of oil =
that miraculously burned for eight days. "Did that really happen?" you =
probably wondered as you grew older. Most of us quickly suppressed our =
doubts, after all, where would Hanukkah be without that miracle?

In fact, Hanukkah was observed for 600 years before the "jar of oil" =
story made its first appearance in Jewish literature. The Maccabees =
recaptured and rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 b.c.e. The =
first mention of the "jar of oil" miracle appears in the Babylonian =
Talmud (Shabbat, 21b), which was written down in its final form about =
500 c.e., 664 years later.

Where did the story of the "jar of oil" come from?

More important, why do we celebrate Hanukkah?

Let us go back to the oldest written sources. Forty-four years after the =
first Hanukkah, two books were written about the Maccabean Wars and the =
rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The First Book of Maccabees
The First Book of Maccabees, compiled some time after 120 b.c.e., was =
probably originally written in Hebrew. Today all we have is an early =
Greek translation. Its intended audience was the Jews of the Land of =
Israel. Chapter 4 describes the recapture of the Jerusalem Temple, its =
purification and rededication.

They also made new sacred vessels, and they brought the lamp stand . =
into the Temple. They burned incense on the altar and lit the lights on =
the lamp stand, and the Temple was filled with light.. For eight days =
they celebrated the dedication of the altar. . Then Judah, his brothers =
and the entire community of Israel decreed that the days of rededication =
of the altar should be celebrated with a festival of joy and gladness at =
this same time every year beginning on the 25th of the month of Kislev =
and lasting for eight days. (First Maccabees 4:49-59)

Astonishingly, this most ancient source does not mention the "little jar =
of oil" miracle. Apparently the author knew of no such story. At the =
time, the miracle was the victory itself, that God had enabled the =
Judeans to overcome the far mightier Syrians. This source leaves us with =
some unanswered questions:

Why did they celebrate for eight days? Why did the celebration become a =
permanent festival (Hanukkah)? Where did the "jar of oil" story =
originate? What was the miracle of Hanukkah for our ancestors? What is =
the miracle for us?

The answers to these questions will unfold as we proceed through the =

The Second Book of Maccabees
The Second Book of Maccabees, compiled at about the same time as First =
Maccabees, covers some of the same period but was originally written in =
Greek and clearly was intended for distribution to the Jewish audience =
outside the land of Israel. That community, whose primary language was =
Greek, was concentrated largely in the bustling commercial Mediterranean =
port city of Alexandria in Egypt-The purpose of Second Maccabees is =
clearly stated in the two letters that precede the book, urging the Jews =
of Alexandria to adopt this new festival, which it appears. they were =
slow to accept. The author claims that his source for the history of the =
Maccabean war was a (now lost) larger five-volume history by one Jason =
of Cyrene. Chapter 10:1-8 of Second Maccabees describes the purification =
of the Temple, adding significant information that is not found in First =

Judah the Maccabee and his men, under the Lord's leadership, recaptured =
the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. . After purifying the Temple, they =
made another altar. Then by striking flint they made a new fire and . =
offered sacrifices and incense . lit the lamps. . On the anniversary of =
the very same day on which the Temple had been defiled, the 25th of =
Kislev, they now purified the Temple. They celebrated joyfully for eight =
days, just as on Sukkot, knowing that (a few months before) on Sukkot =
they had (been unable to celebrate at the Temple) and had spent the =
festival (hiding) like wild animals in the mountains and caves. That is =
why they came carrying stalks wreathed with branches-palm fronds-and =
ripe fruit (the lulav and etrog), and sang hymns of praise (Hallel) to =
Him Who had given them the victory that had brought about the =
purification of His Temple. By a vote of the community they decreed that =
the whole Jewish nation should celebrate these festival days every year. =
(Second Maccabees 10:1-8)

This source also omits any mention of the "jar of oil." Instead, it =
unravels part of the mystery for us. We now can understand what happened =
that first Hanukkah over 2,000 years ago (164 b.c.e.). The festival of =
Sukkot was once probably the most important holiday in the Jewish year, =
especially for Jewish farmers. In Jewish sources it is called =
"HeChag"-"The Holiday." Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were not pilgrimage =
festivals and attained the importance they now have only after the =
destruction of the Second Temple (70 c.e.). On Sukkot, however, vast =
numbers of Jews traveled to Jerusalem to give thanks to God for the =
crops they had just harvested. But they were always more concerned about =
the future than the past, about next year's crops, the grains and fruits =
that would sustain them for another year. On Sukkot, the most important =
prayer was the "Prayer for Rain" (Tefilat Geshem)-rain to soften the =
sun-baked soil so that it could be plowed and prepared for the planting =
of seeds, rain to help the seeds germinate, take root and grow during =
their mild winters. They hoped the rains would taper off in the spring =
when the grains were ripe for harvest. Without rain they were lost. =
Thus, the Temple was usually crowded with worshippers on Sukkot as at no =
other time of the year.

When the Maccabees completed the purification of the Temple, they were =
faced with a problem. A few months before, in Tishri, they had been =
unable to pray for rain in the Temple at Sukkot. Pagans had overrun the =
holy shrine for three years, while the Jewish partisans gathered in the =
hills and caves. Now the Temple was theirs again, and their first act =
was to belatedly celebrate Sukkot two months later in Kislev. Praying =
for rain was so important, that it was "better late than never." They =
carried the lulav and etrog, sang the Hallel Psalms as on any Sukkot, =
celebrating for eight days, the length of Sukkot. They participated in =
the Sukkot torchlight processions during which jars of water were =
carried up to the Temple and symbolically poured out onto the altar as =
part of the ritual for rain. The torchlight procession and large golden =
oil lamps burning in the Temple Courtyard lit up the entire city of =
Jerusalem. (Mishnah Sukkah 5:3)

The first eight-day celebration of the Maccabees was a belated Sukkot =
celebration. The following year, the new Festival of Hanukkah borrowed =
some of the rituals of Sukkot from that first celebration-the eight =
days, the recital of Hallel Psalms, the lights brightly glowing (later =
in every home).

The Name of the Festival
What was this new Festival called?

Second Maccabees (chapter one) begins with a letter dated 124 b.c.e. to =
the Jews of Egypt, asking them to observe the Festival of Sukkot in =
Kislev. "From the Jews of Jerusalem and Judea to our brothers in Egypt. =
'Shalom'. May God bless you . (there follow more blessings and an =
allusion to past historical events) and now we ask you to celebrate =
Sukkot in the month of Kislev." (Second Maccabees 1:1-9)

There follows another letter to the Jews of Egypt (Second Maccabees =
1:10-36), purported to be from Judah the Maccabee himself, written in =
164 b.c.e., before the first anniversary of the rededication of the =
Temple. "Since we are about to celebrate the purification of the Temple =
on the 25th of Kislev; we thought it proper to inform you that you too =
may celebrate this Sukkot (in Kislev)." . (Second Maccabees 1:18)

Both of these letters indicate that, for at least forty years, until 124 =
b.c.e., the new festival was called "Sukkot in Kislev," which supports =
the story in Second Maccabees 10, that the first eight-day celebration =
was indeed a delayed Sukkot.

We now know why Hanukkah lasts for eight days, why Hallel Psalms are =
recited and why lights are kindled. Still missing is the "little jar of =

Megillat Ta'anit
Megillat Ta'anit (The Scroll of Days on which Fasting is Forbidden) was =
written sometime during the first century c.e.-two hundred years after =
the Maccabean purification of the Temple. All the holidays on this list, =
most of which commemorate Maccabean victories, have disappeared except =
for two: Hanukkah and Purim. "On the 25th Day of Kislev, Hanukkah =
(begins)-eight days-mourning is forbidden." This is the first occurrence =
of the name "Hanukkah' ("Dedication") for the Maccabean Festival of =
Purification. Other people still called it "Lights." Its original =
connection to a delayed Sukkot seems to have been forgotten. Yet there =
is still no mention of the "little jar of oil."

Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews was completed by Josephus around 94 c.e., 258 =
years after the purification of the Temple. In this history of the =
Jewish people he writes:

So much pleasure did (the Jews) find in the renewal of their customs and =
in unexpectedly obtaining the right to conduct their own service after =
so long a time, that they made a law that their descendants should =
celebrate the restoration of the temple service for eight days. And from =
that time to the present, we observe this festival, which we call the =
festival of lights, giving this name to it, I think, from the fact that =
the right to worship appeared to us at a time when we hardly dared hope =
for it." (Antiquities XII, Loeb Classical Library edition, Volume 7, p. =

Josephus is not sure why the festival is called "Lights," is unclear =
about its exact original nature, and clearly omits any story about a =
"little jar of oil."

Two Prayers
Two ancient prayers, which are recited on Hanukkah, also contain no =
reference to the miracle of a "little jar of oil."

a) "Al Hanissim" (see Gates of Prayer, The New Union Prayer Book, p. 45) =
declares that the miracle of Hanukkah was God's enabling the weak, =
outnumbered righteous to prevail over their powerful evil enemy.

b) "Hanerot Hallalu" (see Gates of Prayer, p. 644) affirms the wonders =
God performed in delivering our ancestors.

Neither of these prayers contains mention of the "little jar of oil." =
The "miracle" of Hanukkah for all these sources is the unexpected =
victory against a mightier foe.

Hanukkah-A Haircut and a Bath
A story is related in the Talmud (Rosh Hashanah, 18b) about an event =
that occurred sometime during the last years or the first century c.e. =
"Once the residents of Lydda declared a fast on Hanukkah. Rabbi Eliezer =
(ben Hyrcanus) returned there and bathed. Rabbi Joshua (ben Hananiah) =
also returned and had his hair cut. (Bathing and haircutting were =
forbidden on fast days.) (Later) they said to the residents (of Lydda). =
"Go now and fast in atonement for having fasted (on Hanukkah)!"

This remarkable passage reveals that some Jews, after the destruction of =
the Temple in 70 c.e., were opposed to the celebration of Hanukkah =
(hence the declaration of a fast), most likely because Hanukkah =
represented the "activist" approach to dealing with one's opponents, =
whether Syria or Rome. The residents of Lydda wanted to play down the =
implied message of Hanukkah and the Maccabees-that, at times, opposition =
to foreign rule is justified, and may even succeed with God's help. =
Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua, both opponents of Rome, and leaders of =
the Academy at Lydda, by their own example (bathing and cutting the =
hair) declared their opposition to the "passivists" who sought to =
eliminate Hanukkah and accept Roman rule. The "activist" approach later =
reached its peak at the time of Rabbi Akiba during the Bar Kochba =
revolt. Activism versus passivism, opposition versus accommodation-these =
two diametrically opposed methods of dealing with hostile foreign =
domination were to divide Jews for the next two thousand years. At =
certain times and in certain places one view would dominate. The =
"activist" could even at times be a "pacifist," employing non-violent =
opposition against an autocratic governing power.

The "passivist" was afraid that even non-violent opposition could bring =
down the wrath of the autocrat, and so almost always sought the road to =
accommodation at any cost.

From the fifth century in Palestine and Babylonia, one or the other of =
these views dominated. The Jews of Palestine, for a variety of reasons, =
continued to find a large number of proponents of activism among the =
population. Often this took the form of subtle literary derogation of =
the oppressor. The Jews of Babylonia, on the other hand, perhaps because =
the ruling authorities often gave them the right to self government, =
mostly favored accommodation-passivism, "the law of the land is the law" =
("deena de'malchuta, deena").

For the Jews of Babylonia, Hanukkah and the story of the victorious =
struggle presented a problem. They feared that their young people would =
be influenced by the model of the Maccabees and become "activist" =
opponents of authority. It was not possible to eliminate Hanukkah; it =
had become firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of the people. But =
the miracle of the Hanukkah story could be changed from one of =
miraculous victory against overwhelming odds, to a miraculous story of a =
"little jar of oil."

Babylonian Talmud: Why Hanukkah?
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat (21b) (Completed around 500 c.e.)

Why Hanukkah? Our rabbis taught: (in Megillat Ta'anit) "On the 25th day =
of Kislev begin the eight days of Hanukkah on which eulogies (mourning) =
and fasting are forbidden." For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they =
defiled all the oil; and when the Hasmoneans prevailed and defeated =
them, they searched and found only one jar of oil with the official seal =
of the High Priest, but which was only enough for one day's lighting; =
yet a miracle occurred, and they lit the lamp with it for eight days. =
The following year these days were decreed a festival with the recital =
of Hallel Psalms and thanksgiving.

The real question of this text is not "why do we celebrate Hanukkah?" =
but rather "on the authority of what miracle are we permitted to recite =
Hallel Psalms on Hanukkah, a custom usually reserved for biblical, =
God-ordained festivals?" The answer given is the miraculous "jar of =
oil," borrowed from some other tradition or invented for the occasion. =
It served its purpose well. The miracle was now not the victory of =
"activism" but of a "little jar of oil." This successfully defused many =
a budding activist from going astray. "Passivist" peaceful accommodation =
would be preserved.

However, this story was not accepted by Jews everywhere. In Palestine =
300 years later, with its long history of "activism," another =
explanation was given, offering authority for the recital of Hallel.

Palestinian Midrash: Why Hanukkah?
Pesikta Rabbati (Palestinian Midrash completed in the year 847 c.e.)

Why are lights kindled on Hanukkah? When the sons of the Hasmonean High =
Priest were victorious over the Kingdom of Greece-(as predicted) in the =
verse (Zechariah 9:13), "the men of Zion will fight the men of =
Greece"-upon entering the Temple they found eight iron rods (spears?), =
which they thrust (into the ground) and kindled lights in them. And on =
what authority is Hallel recited? Because (one of the Hallel Psalms) =
states "The Lord God has given us light." (Psalm 118:27)

The author is not at all embarrassed by the activism of the Maccabees. =
In fact he even assumes that the Hasmoneans were originally High =
Priests, which is not otherwise confirmed. For this Palestinian, writing =
350 years after the Babylonian story of the jar of oil was "published," =
the authority for reciting Hallel is not the miraculous oil, but rather =
the authority of God, as predicted by two verses from the Bible.

For the next thousand or more years Jews in dire straits in different =
parts of the world usually chose the "passivist" route to accommodation =
and survival. There were many notable exceptions. Now, we are becoming =
more aware of the many Jewish uprisings during the Holocaust.

The State of Israel, this modern miracle, would not have been created if =
not for the return, beginning in the 19th century, of Zionism and its =
restoration of "activism" as a valid Jewish option.

Israel greets WikiLeaks cables as vindication of its Iran policy

Israel greets WikiLeaks cables as vindication of its Iran policy

By Joshua Mitnick

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The latest "document dump" is a coup for Jewish State, giving proof that her Arab neighbors, even those that are sworn enemies, share concerns

JewishWorldReview.com |

JEL AVIV — (TCSM) Wikileaks' publication of US diplomatic cables could have sparked a fresh controversy between Israel and its most important ally after a year of strained relations.

But instead, Wikileaks' release of the documents on Sunday has proved to be something of a public relations coup for Israel: on-the-record confirmation that its Arab neighbors are just as frightened as the Jewish state by a nuclear Iran. The cables confirmed previous anonymous reports that Israel has quiet partners in the region pushing the US to take bolder steps to stop what they consider an existential threat.

"I don't see any damage. Quite the opposite,'' said Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, in an interview with Israel Radio. "Maybe there's an indirect benefit that the truth is coming out, that the entire Middle East, including Arab states, are very fearful from the Iranian nuclear threat, and are calling on the West to be much more aggressive toward Iran.''

Analysts and officials pointed to candid assessments from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt that Iran posed the biggest strategic threat to regional stability. The assessments even stressed the need for considering conventional attacks on Tehran before its nuclear program becomes operational. Other officials pointed to a US diplomatic report in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is compared to Adolf Hitler.

The revelation of regional support for Israel's hard-line approach to Iran was seen as such a boon that Sever Plocker, a columnist for the daily Yediot Ahronot newspaper, quipped, "If the WikiLeaks site did not exist, Israel would have to invent it.''

"The massive leak of American diplomatic telegrams indicates a single picture, sharp and clear," he added. "The entire world, not just Israel, is panicked over the Iranian nuclear program.''

New details about Israel's Iran strategy and relations with Arab neighbors — such as Mossad chief Meir Dagan's plan for regime change in Iran, and repeated Israeli warnings about Tehran's looming nuclear weapons program — were played down by analysts and officials as unsurprising.

But beyond the momentary public relations dividend, one Israeli veteran of diplomacy said the widespread fear of Iran among America's Arab allies does not bode well for the Obama administration's foreign policy — particularly its efforts to engage Iran diplomatically.

"When Obama decided on negotiating with Iran, he was doing exactly the opposite of what the American allies are thinking,'' says Shlomo Avineri, a political science professor at Hebrew University and a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "Obama has made all of his friends nervous, and the Iranians are spitting in his face."

Other observers said the publication of classified US communiques weakens the international standing of Israel's most important ally — a trend that could hamper Arab-Israeli peace mediation efforts and ultimately weaken Israel, which relies heavily on the diplomatic and military weight of the United States.

"The superpower looks weakened,'' says Alon Liel, a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "The fact that the US doesn't look good especially in the Middle East … lowers the chances for Israel to become an integral part of the region.'

J Street organizers are anti-Israel

s not really surprising that J Street co-founder Daniel Levy thinks that Israel’s creation was wrong.

And it’s kind of predictable that JStreet’s new Israel campus organizer Drew Cohen would (a) harbor some really ugly antipathy toward the Jewish State and (b) commit to getting other American Jews to embrace his antipathy. This pattern is in line with the rest of JStreetU, which finally had to drop even the pretense of pro-Israel advocacy because it meshed poorly with their “genocidal anti-Jewish terrorists equal Israeli Jewish victims” moral equivocation.

J Street’s pretty pleased with Cohen’s appointment – see below for the full email he’s passing around on the organization’s behalf – which is kind of weird for a “pro-Israel” organization, given how he’s proud of being an anti-Israel ideologue:

* Here’s him explaining that he “sees his role” as deliberately altering the emphasis that American Jews place on Israeli security concerns, since it’s futile to “wait patiently for Israel to come around.” Elsewhere here’s him indicating that American Jews need to be shown “the truth of what is going on” in Israeli civil society, and no he doesn’t mean “truth” in a positive “let’s tell people about how the Jewish State is a Middle East beacon of human rights” sense.

* Here’s him explaining that he can’t be comfortable unless he’s “with people who I am certain do not espouse Zionism or any form of oppression.”

* Here’s him condemning Operation Cast Lead, an Israeli defensive campaign supported by the far leftwing Meretz party and understood by Egypt and the Arab League, as an “unjust and even criminal” act by which he was “shocked and appalled at the mass destruction.”

* Here’s him snidely passing on a description of Israel’s Gaza Flotilla interdiction, a last-ditch passive option forced by Israel’s having been denied forward defense and active defense, as “a heinous brutality.”

* Here’s him minimizing the danger posed by that Flotilla, which would have detonated Israel’s last chance of blocking Iran’s Gaza proxy, due to it being merely a “mythic threat.”

* Here’s him insisting that Jews who want to reverse Jordan’s gleeful 1948 ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter “are engaged in structural violence against the Palestinian people.”

* Here’s him musing over the “parallels between the issues at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Israeli-Palestinian security barrier” and here’s him rhetorically leveling ghettos and Bethlehem.

There were no Arab Palestinians there

Pleasure Trip in the Holy Land, and it was written by Samuel Langhorne
Clemens (AKA Mark Twain). In 1867 he traveled the length and breadth of
Israel. He did not see here not Palestinians, not overflowing gardens,
not Arab villages, not bustling cities. Nothing. He saw and describes
desolation, swamps, cholera, malaria, sand dunes.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Israel loses in game theory negotiation strategy

Israel's Conflict as Game Theory
By Prof. Yisrael Aumann
Nobel Prize Laureate
Two men-let us call them Rick and Steve- are put in a small room containing
a suitcase filled with bills totaling $100,000. The owner of the suitcase
announces the following:"I will give you the money in the suitcase under one
condition:you have to negotiate an agreement on how to divide it. That is
the only way I will agree to give you the money."
Rick is a rational person and realizes the golden opportunity that has
fallen his way. He turns to Steve with the obvious suggestion: "You take
half and I'll take half, that way each of us will have $50,000."
To his surprise, Steve frowns at him and says, in a tone that leaves no room
for doubt: "Look here, I don't know what your plans are for the money, but I
don't intend to leave this room with less than $90,000. If you accept that,
fine. If not, we can both go home without any of the money."
Rick can hardly believe his ears. "What has happened to Steve" he asks
himself. "Why should he get 90% of the money and I just 10%?" He decides to
try to convince Steve to accept his view. "Let's be logical," he urges him,
"We are in the same situation, we both want the money. Let's divide the
money equally and both of us will profit."
Steve, however, doesn't seem perturbed by his friend's logic. He listens
attentively, but when Rick is finished he says, even more emphatically than
before: "90-10 or nothing. That is my last offer."
Rick's face turns red with anger. He is about to punch Steve in the nose,
but he steps back. He realizes that Steve is not going to relent, and that
the only way he can leave the room with any money is to give in to him. He
straightens his clothes, takes $10,000 from the suitcase, shakes Steve's
hand and leaves the room humiliated.
This case is called 'The Blackmailer's Paradox" in game theory. The paradox
is that Rick the rational is forced to behave irrationally by definition, in
order to achieve maximum results in the face of the situation that has
evolved. What brings about this bizarre outcome is the fact Steve is sure of
himself and doesn't flinch when making his exorbitant demand. This convinces
Rick that he must give in so as to make the best of the situation.
The Arab-Israeli Conflict
The relationship between Israel and the Arab countries is conducted along
the lines of this paradox. At each stage of negotiation, the Arabs present
impossible, unacceptable starting positions. They act sure of themselves and
as if they totally believe in what they are asking for, and make it clear to
Israel that there is no chance of their backing down.
Invariably, Israel agrees to their blackmailing demands because otherwise
she will leave the room empty handed. The most blatant example of this is
the negotiations with Syria that have been taking place with different
levels of negotiators for years. The Syrians made sure that it was clear
from the beginning that they would not compromise on one millimeter of the
Golan Heights.
The Israeli side, eager to have a peace agreement with Syria, internalized
the Syrian position so well, that the Israeli public is sure that the
starting point for future negotiations with Syria has to include complete
withdrawal from the Golan Heights, this despite its critical strategic
importance in ensuring secure borders for Israel.
The Losing Solution
According to game theory, Israel has to change certain basic perceptions in
order to improve her chances in the negotiations game with the Arabs and win
the long term political struggle:
a. Willingness to forego agreements
Israel's political stand is based on the principle that agreements must be
reached with the Arabs at any price, that the lack of agreements is
untenable. In the Blackmailer's Paradox, Rick's behavior is the result of
his feeling that he must leave the room with some money, no matter how
little. Because Rick cannot imagine himself leaving the room with empty
hands, he is easy prey for Steve, and ends up leaving with a certain amount
of money, but in the role of the humiliated loser. This is similar to the
way Israel handles negotiations, her mental state making her unable to
reject suggestions that do not advance her interests.
b. Taking repetition into account
Game theory relates to onetime situations differently than to situations
that repeat themselves. A situation that repeats itself over any length of
time, creates, paradoxically, strategic parity that leads to cooperation
between the opposing sides. This cooperation occurs when both sides realize
that the game is going to repeat itself, and that since they must weigh the
influence present moves will have on future games, there is a balancing
factor at play.
Rick saw his problem as a onetime event, and behaved accordingly. Had he
told Steve instead that he would not forego the amount he deserves even if
he sustains a total loss, he would have changed the game results for an
indefinite period. It is probably true that he would still have left the
game empty handed, but at the next meeting with Steve, the latter would
remember Rick's original suggestion and would try to reach a compromise.
That is how Israel has to behave, looking at the long term in order to
improve her position in future negotiations, even if it means continuing a
state of war and fore going an agreement.
c. Faith in your opinions
Another element that crates the "Blackmailer's Paradox" is the unwavering
belief of one side in its opinion. Steve exemplifies that. This faith gives
a contender inner confidence in his cause at the start and eventually
convinces his rival as well. The result is that the opposing side wants to
reach an agreement, even at the expense of irrational surrender that is
considerably distanced from his opening position.

Several years ago, I spoke to a senior officer who claimed that Israel must
withdraw from the Golan Heights in the framework of a peace treaty, because
the Golan is holy land to the Syrians and they will never give it up. I
explained to him that first the Syrians convinced themselves that the Golan
is holy land to them, and then proceeded to convince you as well. The
Syrians' unflinching belief that they are in the right convinces us to give
in to their dictates. The only solution to that is for us to believe
unwaveringly in the righteousness of our cause. Only complete faith in our
demands can succeed in convincing our Syrian opponent to take our opinion
into account.
As in all of science, game theory does not take sides in moral and value
judgments. It analyzes strategically the behavior of opposing sides in a
game they play against one another. The State of Israel is in the midst of
one such game opposite its enemies. As in every game, the Arab-Israeli game
involves interests that create the framework of the game and its rules.
Sadly, Israel ignores the basic principles of game theory. If Israel would
be wise enough to behave according to those principles, her political status
and de facto, her security status, would improve substantially.
Copyright Yisrael Aumann

Moderate lies of Palestinians

PA Study on Jerusalem's Western Wall a "Moderate" Outrage - Editorial (New York Post)

* The PA's information ministry this week released an official "study" declaring that the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City - revered for 2,000 years as one of Judaism's holiest sites - isn't Jewish at all. In fact, claims the report by a senior ministry official, it is nothing more than the western wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and has only been a worship site for Jews since World War I - and then, only because of "Muslim tolerance."
* This, it should be noted, isn't coming from Hamas. It emanates from the same "moderate" Palestinians whom President Obama and the rest of the world embrace, make concessions to, and trust with Israel's long-term security. What is contemptible is that those efforts increasingly are being endorsed by the world at large.
* Last month, UNESCO endorsed the PA's demands that Rachel's Tomb outside of Bethlehem - long revered as a Jewish site of worship - not only be removed from Israel's declared historic sites but actually be declared a mosque. Not even Yasser Arafat ever made such a claim until 1996 - and even then, without a shred of historic evidence.
* UNESCO also declared that Israel cannot claim the Cave of the Patriarchs, the traditional burial site of the biblical forebears of the Jewish nation, as a national heritage site.
* The whole point of this ongoing exercise is to erase any Jewish connection with the biblical Land of Israel - with an eye toward negating the modern state of Israel's existence.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nov 30 buy israeli good day

The BIG day-November 30th-- is approaching fast!
On Tuesday, November 30, anti-Israel activists in New York City plan to demonstrate and call for boycotts of stores that sell Israeli products. Their target is Ricky's because it carries Ahava goods. But this action in New York is just one of many. Boycotters have been energetically lobbying other stores across the country to drop Israeli products, from local co-ops to Costco and Trader Joe's.

The pro-Israel, pro-peace community urges you to join a counter campaign. We are making November 30 a BIG (Buy Israeli Goods) Day. Let us show the world that calls for boycotts of even one or two stores will always be met with a much larger counter-movement to buy Israeli goods.

StandWithUs and the America-Israel Chambers of Commerce calls on schools, college campuses, synagogues, community organizations, and individuals to designate Tuesday, November 30, as the day to actively Buy Israeli Goods. Go to your local stores and request Israeli products. Whenever a boycott is called, respond by purchasing the very Israeli goods that are being targeted and let store managers know they should keep them well-stocked on the shelves.

The holiday season is fast approaching. When you go holiday shopping, choose presents from the wonderful array of Israeli-made items, from fine Israeli wines to the high quality Ahava beauty products, Israeli jewelry, shoes and clothing lines, and of course, food. Select Sabra or Tribe hummus, great Israeli wines and Osem cookies to grace your holiday party.

We must defeat the boycotters who advocate destructive instead of constructive measures, who undermine hopes for peaceful co-existence, and whose only goal is to defame, cripple and damage Israel.

We can defeat them if we join together. The very date, November 30th, should encourage us. It comes the day after the 63rd anniversary of the UN Partition Resolution when the effort, against all odds, to restore the Jewish State was endorsed and recognized by the international community. It also comes just as Hannukah is approaching, when we celebrate the Maccabees, who also restored Jewish independence, and who where a few who triumphed over the many. We can do the same, and shine a light on Israel for all people of good will.

On November 30th, go shopping for Israel no matter where you live. Buy for Israel. Buy for peace. Be a big part of this BIG (Buy Israeli Goods) Day.

Shop with friends, and please take pictures or videos of yourself purchasing Israeli products, and send them to us. Make fun entries for youtube, make them positive, fun, and/or funny. Email your photos or links to your videos to big@standwithus.com .
Visit this website: www.BuyIsraelGoods.org --- The website includes a locator so that you can find stores in your area that carry Israeli products. The BIG campaign is a partnership between StandWithUs and the America-Israel Chambers of Commerce and like-minded organizations.

good temporary news on Iran's nuks

Iran's Nuclear Program Reportedly Struggling - Glenn Kessler
Iran's nuclear program has experienced serious problems, including unexplained fluctuations in the performance of the thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium, leading to a temporary shutdown. Speculation immediately centered on the Stuxnet worm, a computer virus that some researchers say was designed to target Iran's centrifuge machines so that they spin out of control.
Olli Heinonen, a former top IAEA official, said Monday that 3,772 centrifuges at the Natanz facility were being fed uranium gas and 5,084 machines were idle. "This indicates that there is a problem," he said. (Washington Post)


Jewish Holy Sites in Israel to become Mosques
By Julie Stahl
CBN News Reporter
Sunday, November 21, 2010
7 Comment(s)

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- A United Nations organization has released a statement declaring two biblical sites in Israel to be mosques.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron were an "integral" part of what it called "occupied Palestine."

"UNESCO is not scientific society. There's a vote of countries to decide designations of different places," former Israeli U.N. ambassador Dore Gold said.

The declaration comes despite historic evidence that Biblical forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs along with their wives.

The site of Rachel's Tomb is believed to be the burial place of the biblical matriarch Rachel, the favored wife of Jacob. Approximately 750,000 mostly Jewish and Christian pilgrims visit and pray at the tomb every year.

Still, Islamic authorities have insisted Jews have no history in either place.

"He read a verse from the Koran saying that Abraham he never been a Jew. He was a Muslim, pure Muslim according to the Koran," one Muslim man said.

Jews are pigs?

British Muslim Schools Teach Saudi Hatred of Jews and Israelis

by Chana Ya'ar
Follow Israel news on Twitter and Facebook.

A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) news program, Panorama, reported Monday night that children in Britain are being taught in a Saudi national curriculum on the weekends to hate Jews, Israelis and homosexuals.

The textbooks being used to teach some 5,000 Muslim children Shari'a law in 40 weekend schools are reportedly using the Saudi Arabia national curriculum. According to the segment "British Schools Muslim Rules," children as young as six years old are being taught that those who do not believe in Islam die in “hellfire.”

Students are asked by one of the textbooks to list the “reprehensible” qualities of Jews, the program reports...

The textbooks include content claiming that some Jews are transformed into pigs and apes, and that Zionists want to establish world domination by Jews.

Jews have no right to Western Wall, PA 'study' says

Jews have no right to Western Wall, PA 'study' says
11/22/2010 18:07

‘Muslim tolerance allowed the Jews to stand in front of it and weep,’ says Information Ministry official.
Talkbacks (65)

The Western Wall belongs to Muslims and is an integral part of Al-Aksa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif (the Islamic term for the Temple Mount complex, meaning the Noble Sanctuary), according to an official paper published on Monday by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information in Ramallah.

The paper, which has been presented as a “study,” was prepared by Al-Mutawakel Taha, a senior official with the ministry, to “refute” Jews’ claims to the Western Wall.

PA slams NIS 85 million Kotel development project
'Abbas didn't agree to let Israel control Kotel'

In the past, PA leaders and officials have also denied Jewish rights to the Wall, insisting that the Temple Mount never stood in the area.

The new document claims that the Western Wall, or Al- Buraq Wall, as it is known to Muslims, constitutes Waqf property owned by an Algerian- Moroccan Muslim family.

It claims there isn’t one stone in the wall that belongs to the era of King Solomon.

The “study” also contends that the path next to the Western Wall was never a public road, but was established only for the use of Muslims living in the area or making their way toward the mosques on the Temple Mount.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jerusalem Post-Obama trashes US Israel relations

Mon, Nov 22, 2010 15 Kislev, 5771

Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski Editors Notes: Didn’t we use to be on the same side?
11/19/2010 12:47

Before we can even get to grips with the complexities of dealing with the Palestinians, we find ourselves head-to-head with Washington.
Talkbacks (72)
Earlier this month, in an op-ed for The New York Times marking the 15th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, former US president Bill Clinton told the tie story. Again. The story, often repeated, that shows a Rabin so focused on the important things of life, so “utterly without pretense” as Clinton put it, that he never quite came to terms with this merely decorative article of clothing.

“True to form, two weeks before his assassination,” Clinton wrote of Rabin, “he arrived in Washington at a black-tie event without the black tie. We borrowed one for him, and I still smile whenever I think about straightening it for him...”

The affection with which he retells the tie story is emblematic of Clinton’s tone in all of his writings and musings on Rabin. The president quite plainly adored our late prime minister – admired him, respected him, empathized with him, regarded him as a role model. As he wrote in the Times, loved him.

There is nothing comparably affectionate in George W. Bush’s new memoir about Ariel Sharon – the prime minister with whom Clinton’s presidential successor worked for crucial periods. But there is evidence of respect, admiration and a meeting of minds.

Bush recalls his first visit to Israel in 1998, and the helicopter tour he took with Sharon – “a bull of a man... who had served in all of Israel’s wars.” Sharon’s proud, “gruff” airborne commentary that day, his familiarity with “every inch of the land,” his observation that “Here our country was only nine miles wide,” undoubtedly shaped some of the then-Texas governor’s fundamental thinking on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The tour with Sharon, which constituted his “most striking memory” of that debut trip to the Holy Land, left Bush, as he writes, “struck by Israel’s vulnerability in a hostile neighborhood.”

Tellingly, too, Bush notes, it is with Sharon he speaks by telephone immediately before his first post-September 11 cabinet meeting – “a leader who understood what it meant to fight terror.”

Recognizing the personal and professional dimensions of these relationships between recent American presidents and Israeli prime ministers serves, bitterly, to underline how strikingly the climate – and, one fears, the essence – of our bilateral ties has chilled of late. The Clinton-Rabin alliance and, albeit to a much lesser personal extent, the Bush-Sharon interaction, were true partnerships in which all manner of fundamental shared values and interests were safely assumed, and served as the basis from which heartfelt mutual concern and commitment flowed. These were leadership pairings of profound trust, and of profound benefit to both countries.

Today, there is little echo of these personal meetings of minds to be found in the relationship between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The notion that they loathe each other is almost certainly incorrect. For a start, loathing would require a passion it is unlikely either can muster for the other.

A more reasonable assessment is that, on a personal level, they get along okay, without any of the particular respect, admiration, never mind love, of the Clinton- Rabin team.

Much more troubling, however, is the growing sense in these past few weeks that the shared interests and values that constituted the basis for those earlier, heartfelt personal relationships is crumbling. As our two leaderships have haggled (and that, unfortunately, is the only word for it) over the terms of a new settlement freeze, our alliance seems to be shriveling into a cold, adversarial contest.

In the past, guiding the American-Israel approach to peacemaking with the Palestinians was a wealth of shared goodwill and historical precedent. We were partners, trying together to find the balance of carrots and sticks, to perfect the framework, that would finally draw the immensely, sometimes violently reluctant Palestinians into reducing their maximalist demands to viable terms we all could live with.

US-Israel relations were not an uninterrupted love fest down the decades. The Clinton- Rabin connection was exceptional. Some of the leadership pairings really did take a strong dislike to each other. There were always arguments and disagreements and stark policy differences.

But implicit in the partnership, underpinning it, was recognition of the fact that the Jewish state was revived in 1948 because its leadership unhappily accepted a partition of British Mandatory Palestine that left the most resonant places in Jewish history outside our sovereign borders, while an intended Arab entity was not established because the Arab leaderships preferred to try and strangle Israel. Implicit, too, was the fact that Israel, the world’s only Jewish state and the region’s only democracy, had been forced to fight war after war for its survival in the face of implacable enemies bent on its destruction, to endure unprecedented terrorist onslaughts, and to overcome relentless attempts at economic boycott and diplomatic sanction.

It was recognized that the territory Israel’s critics now asserted lay at the heart of the conflict – territory to which Israel has an incontrovertible historic claim, and which Israel captured when forced into war – was not even held by Israel between 1948 and 1967. Rather, that very territory was the launching point of Arab efforts to destroy the country.

Also implicit in the partnership was the awareness that, while some Israeli governments are more reluctant than others to trade land for peace, no Israeli government has balked at that equation when a credible, dependable Arab peace partner made an appearance. In fact, in recent years, all Israeli governments have shown a readiness to embrace that equation even when the ostensible Palestinian peace partner has fallen some distance short of credibility and dependability.

TODAY, THOUGH, that history, those fundamentals, that peacemaking context seem at risk of being forgotten.

Negotiating with the Palestinians has proven extraordinarily frustrating these past two decades – their leadership to date has been frequently disingenuous, often murderous and serially rejectionist. But we insist on trying afresh, because we need an accommodation to retain a Jewish, democratic Israel. We do not want to have to live by the sword. We nurture the faint hope that, along with its undoubted desire for statehood, the current Palestinian leadership can yet be persuaded of the virtues of reconciliation ­ the benefits of a future, as Clinton put it in his Times op-ed, ³where cooperation triumphs over conflict."

But now, before we can even get to grips with the complexities of negotiating with the Palestinians, we find ourselves head-to-head with Washington, locked in tense negotiating sessions where previously we were often locked in step. Instead of working together to identify areas of leverage, pressure points and incentives for the Palestinians, we are looking for those same opportunities and vulnerabilities in each other.

Last Thursday in New York, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their respective advisory teams sat together for seven hours to try to find an agreed path toward resuming Israeli-Palestinian direct talks. The very fact of this marathon session, the news that our two sides had worked intensively for seven hours, was deemed by most analysts to be a good thing, evidence of substantive progress.

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, what seems to have been overlooked here is that these were negotiations between Israel and the United States, not Israel and the Palestinians. These were negotiations, that is, between two parties that, until not very long ago, used to sit on the same side of the table - ­ figuring out how best to entice the recalcitrant Palestinians toward peace. Now we are sitting across the table from each other. And the Palestinians, the people who used to be on the other side of the table, the people who walked out of the direct talks two months ago ­ just as they have ultimately walked away from every serious Israeli peace offer ­ are not even in the room. They are proceeding sedately toward statehood, with growing confidence that they can attain independence without the necessity of reconciliation.

MEANWHILE, FOR all the presumed wisdom of the various interlocutors, the ideas that are emerging from this alarming new Israel-American negotiating construct sound frankly ridiculous.

The "incentives" America is said to be offering Israel include the promise of a one-year US veto on Palestinian unilateralist actions toward statehood in the UN Security Council. Why on earth would that constitute an incentive? Why would the US, our partner, ever want to sanction a unilateral process that by definition resolves none of the core issues in dispute between us and the Palestinians?

Similarly, we are reportedly being promised various security guarantees that would reduce the military risk to Israel posed by a Palestinian state? Again, why would these be offered as an incentive, when surely it is a profound American interest that its sole dependable ally in this vicious region be secure?

Why, for that matter, would our prime minister be seeking to extract more and better such "incentives" ­ to compel the administration into explicitly committing itself to all kinds of pledges and actions which, until now, we reasonably assumed would be forthcoming anyway should the need arise.

And why are these and other gifts, gestures, promises and guarantees being offered in the first place? In the service of an attempted 90-day freeze on settlement expansion, a second one-time-only freeze after the previous 10-month moratorium predictably failed to enable the finalizing of a peace accord. Does anybody honestly anticipate, after 17 years of Palestinian duplicity and evasion, that three months will yield a deal?

Worse, if nobody actually harbors any such expectation, and the ³best² we can hope for, as is being hinted, is major progress on just one core issue, that of the borders between Israel and "Palestine," why is that deemed potentially beneficial either? For surely, central to any viable accord is the refinement of the "land for peace" equation into the more specific "land for refugees" bargain.

If Israel is to ultimately partner the Palestinians to sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza, abandoning our hold on Judea and Samaria, then the Palestinians' side of the deal must be to abandon their demand for a "right of return" for their refugees and descendants to Israel. They will have to give up on the dream of overwhelming the Jewish state by weight of numbers, and belatedly integrate all their people into their new country, just as we integrated all of our scattered people into ours. A deal on borders alone would see Israel making its most wrenching concession, without the vital quid pro quo of the Palestinians making theirs.

IN A healthy American-Israel relationship, the type that plainly prevailed until not too long ago, the US would not have turned the settlement issue into what it has become, an appallingly counterproductive precondition for Palestinian consent to so much as talk to us. The US would have recognized that Israel has already dismantled the settlements in Gaza and a handful in northern Samaria, and has presented a series of peace proposals that would involve dismantling most of the settlements elsewhere in the West Bank.

In a healthy American-Israel relationship, the US would not have calculatedly inflated the unfortunate Ramat Shlomo dispute into a full-scale public bust up, complete with scorching denunciation of Israel by Hillary Clinton, who publicly described the dismally timed announcement of the building plans, during Vice President Biden's visit in March, as "insulting" and whose spokesman went so far as to declare in her name that it sent "a deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship."

This public humbling of Israel told the Arab world that our alliance was far from the oft-asserted unshakeable and unbreakable, thus fueling our enemies' hopes that Israel can yet be fatally weakened, and it undermined Israelis' vital faith in the US as our ultra-dependable guarantor when we calculate the risks we dare take for peace.

In a healthy American-Israeli relationship, our prime minister would volunteer an open-ended freeze on the expansion of settlements outside those areas we anticipate retaining under a permanent accord. This would underline to the Palestinians and the international community Israel's genuine commitment to compromise and potentially ease the negotiating process. It would also demonstrate pragmatic self-interest. For why would the prime minister want to allocate further resources, and mislead more Israelis into making their homes, in areas where his declared support for Palestinian statehood will necessitate an eventual withdrawal?

In a healthy American-Israeli relationship, that freeze, freely offered, without demands for spurious "incentives," would be welcomed effusively by Washington, accurately presented as evidence of Israel¹s fierce imperative to reach an accommodation. It would be utilized to help ensure the US-supported and US-financed Palestinian leadership not only came to the negotiating table, but stayed there until it internalized its obligation to accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state's existence and to champion conciliatory positions to its public.

As things stand, Palestinians are all too often imbibing, including via the PA's own media, an unmodified message of Israel as a nation born in sin, whose soldiers indiscriminately attack its people. Israel is depicted as a transient entity that is illegitimate within any borders, no matter how constricted. Our towns and cities are frequently misrepresented on PA television as Palestinian towns and cities. We are portrayed as a nation that, according to Na'aman Shahrour ­ the guest speaker at this month's PA Ministry of Culture political conference in Tulkarm, held on the 93rd anniversary of the "cursed" Balfour Declaration ­ was created so that Britain and Europe could be "rid of this burden called the Jews... even at the expense of a different nation." In such an atmosphere, no peace effort can take hold.

In a healthy American-Israeli relationship, finally, we would be working, on the same side of the table, to ensure that nothing distracted us from our critical joint focus on thwarting the would-be nuclear Iran. Here, too, it would worryingly seem, our red lines are being drawn in very different places.

Of all the dire potential consequences of our shifting partnership ­ of the sorry drift since the days when an American president was working with an Israeli prime minister he loved, in a climate of instinctive cooperation ­ there is none more dangerous than a dilution of the shared imperative to thwart Teheran's opportunistic, ruthless and genocidal regime.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Catestrophic Freeze deal

Worse-case (political) scenarios assessed
By Caroline B. Glick
Jewish World Review
November 19, 2010 / 12 Kislev, 5771

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must have given Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu quite a reception. Otherwise it is hard to understand what possessed him to accept the deal he accepted when he met with her last week.
Under the deal, Netanyahu agreed to retroactively extend the Jewish construction ban ended on September 24 and to carry it forward an additional 90 days.

Clinton's demand was, "not one more brick" for Jews, meaning, no Jew will be allowed to lay even one more brick on a home he is lawfully building even as the US funds massive Palestinian construction projects. The magnitude of this discriminatory infringement on the property rights of law abiding citizens is breathtaking.

The 90 day freeze is supposed to usher in a period of intense negotiations between Israel and Fatah. But those negotiations will not get off the ground because PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas has no interest in talking, and will never accept any peace offer made by Israel.

But the Obama administration doesn't care. They aren't worried about the Palestinians accepting a deal. What they want are more Israeli land surrenders. And Clinton convinced him to agree that the next round of negotiations will be devoted strictly to a discussion of the breadth and depth of Israeli land surrenders.

The Palestinians won't have to recognize that Israel has a right to exist. They won't have to dismantle terrorist organizations. They won't have to stop teaching their children to aspire to become suicide bombers. They won't even have to stop their negotiations towards reconciling with Hamas.

Netanyahu claims that the Americans agreed to continue respecting Jewish property rights in Jerusalem. The Obama administration has refused to confirm this claim. Yet rather than use the US demurral as a justification for walking away from a bad deal, reports indicate that Netanyahu told his lawyers to figure out fancy wording to hide the American refusal.

Netanyahu boasts that he received three major payoffs from Obama in exchange for his agreement to ban Jewish construction and discuss land surrenders with a negotiating partner that refuses to peacefully coexist with the Jewish state. First, he claims that Obama agreed not to renew his demand that Jews be denied their property rights. Second, he says the administration agreed to sell Israel twenty more F-35s. Finally, he says Obama agreed to wait a year before signing onto anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council.

The first payoff is nothing more than the foreign policy equivalent of buying the same dead horse twice. Obama led Netanyahu to believe he had set aside his demand that Jews be denied property rights last November, when Netanyahu announced the first construction freeze. Yet Obama repeated his demands even before the last freeze ended. Obama has no credibility on this issue. Demonstrating this, Obama is now refusing to put this pledge in writing

The F-35 deal is simply bizarre. Israel needs the F-35 to defend against enemies like Iran. Yet the administration claims that its agreement to sell Israel the F-35s is contingent on Israel signing a peace deal with the Palestinians. In other words, the Obama administration is now giving the PLO power to veto American military assistance to Israel by continuing to say no to peace.

More than anything, the F-35 payoff exposes the degree to which Obama holds Israel in contempt. This is a President who is fighting Congress tooth and nail to pass a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The administration argues that the arms are necessary to enable Saudi Arabia to deter Iran from attacking it. That would be the same Saudi Arabia that despite its massive arsenal, has never had the courage or the competence to fight its own battles.

On the other hand there is Israel — the US's most reliable, courageous, and competent strategic ally in the region, and even more a target of Iranian aggression than Saudi Arabia. Rather than arm Israel with all the means it requires to fight Iran, the Obama administration is downgrading military assistance by conditioning its sale of the F-35s on an Israeli agreement to commit strategic suicide by surrendering its defensible borders and capital city to its sworn enemies.

Finally there is the administration's pledge to support Israel at the UN for a year. What this pledge actually means is that a year from now, the Obama administration will present the deal as an excuse to abandon what has been the policy of every US administration since Lyndon Johnson and stop blocking anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council.

According to sources close to Netanyahu, it is his fear of US abandonment at the Security Council that has convinced him to capitulate so profoundly to an administration so weak that it couldn't even get South Korea to sign a free trade agreement with it. What most concerns Netanyahu these days is that the US will fail to block a Palestinian bid to have the Security Council recognize a Palestinian state in all of Judea and Samaria and in large swathes of Jerusalem even if the Palestinians refuse to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Since this is what Netanyahu fears the most, it is important to consider what is at stake. While harsh, the truth is not as bad as he thinks it is.

If the Security Council recognizes a Palestinian state in all of Judea and Samaria, in Jerusalem and Gaza it would be a diplomatic blow to Israel. But it would only be a symbolic step. The situation on the ground would remain unchanged.

What is more problematic is what might happen in the wake of such a resolution. The worst case scenario would be for the Security Council to pass a subsequent resolution deploying forces to Judea and Samaria to fight the IDF.

Given the political maelstrom such an effective US declaration of war against Israel would cause him domestically, it is very unlikely that Obama would support such a resolution. He would have to veto it despite the fact that Samantha Power, who holds the UN portfolio on Obama's National Security Council called in the past for US forces to be deployed to Judea and Samaria to fight the IDF.

The other two possibilities are that Israel will become the target of economic sanctions and that Israeli citizens who live beyond the 1949 armistice lines or who have served in the IDF will risk arrest on war crimes charges if we travel abroad. The purpose of such sanctions would be to strangle Israel slowly, in a manner reminiscent of the economic and political warfare that brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa.

In both these cases as well, it is unlikely that Obama will risk the domestic outcry that administration support for such resolutions would provoke. And even if he enabled such resolutions to pass, the US Congress would likely block US participation in enforcing them. This is not to say that Israel should ignore the threat. But such hostile action is best deterred by working quietly with Israel's allies in the US to point out the dangers of a runaway UN campaign against a fellow democracy.

At the same time, these threats of economic and legal warfare should sound familiar, because they are already being implemented against Israel. The Palestinians do not need a new UN Security Council resolution to advance their political and economic war against Israel. They just need the EU. And they have the EU.

The PLO has already convinced several EU member states to establish unofficial trade boycotts of Israel as well as military and academic boycotts of Israel. Israel has been required to remove goods produced beyond the 1949 armistice lines from its free trade agreements with Europe.

The legal war is also well under way. Today no senior military commander or politician is able to travel to Britain for fear of arrest under trumped up war crimes allegations. Israeli officials have been similarly threatened in Spain and elsewhere.

The Palestinian Authority has filed war crimes complaints against Israeli leaders with the International Criminal Court at the Hague. It has done this despite the fact that the Rome Statute which governs the ICC only applies to states and the PA is not a state. Europe's love for international institutions, and readiness to endorse nearly any diplomatic assault on Israel, has blunted European criticism of this perversion of law just is it has convinced the Europeans to support various UN bodies' unlawful campaigns against the Jewish state.

Clearly, a Security Council resolution is not required for the Palestinians to engage in the sort of activities that Netanyahu has just capitulated to the Obama administration to block.

What all this shows is not that Netanyahu is wrong to fear such a resolution, but that a resolution will be a symptom of an already existing problem and blocking it will not end the problem. Pathetically, despite the fact that this campaign has been building for more than a decade, to date Netanyahu's only strategy for dealing with it is to beg Obama for short-term protection. Obviously, this is not constructive.

An alternative strategy would be based on a three pronged approach. First, Israel must attack the source of the problem — Europe. Israel should begin making European nations pay a price for engaging in political and economic warfare against Israel. For instance, Israel should suspend the issuance of diplomatic visas to British officials while it "studies" the British universal jurisdiction statute. It should also pass a law permitting the filing of universal jurisdiction claims in Israel against citizens of states that allow Israelis to be sued, and quietly encourage its supporters to file war crimes complaints for the kinds of acts claimed to be criminal when done by Israel, such as Indian support for Indian settlements in Goa and Russian support for Russian settlements in the Kuril Islands. This would not only point out the double standard applied to Israeli communities, it would compel the British to amend their obnoxious law.

The second thing Israel should do is empower its supporters abroad by actively discrediting the UN, the International Criminal Court and advocates of boycotts and divestiture from Israel. There is ample grassroots support in the US for actions against the ICC whose statute places US servicemen and political leaders in its crosshairs and against the UN whose members seek to curtail US sovereignty and power.

Finally, Israel must actively pursue deeper economic and diplomatic ties with Asian nations like India, China, Japan and South Korea. Enhancing relations with these states should be a top Israelii priority. Such a project would diminish Europe's capacity to harm Israel's economy and reduce Israeli reliance on the US at the Security Council.

Netanyahu made a horrible deal with Clinton. Leaders like Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon have acted as patriots by actively opposing it. It is true that the Obama administration could help us if it wanted to. But it doesn't want to. Happily, Israel has the power to help itself, if it dares.

Near East Report New Congress Most Pro Israel ever

New members of Congress have expressed their support for a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.
Article photo 2
The House’s current makeup is 240 Republicans and 190 Democrats, with five races (all involving Democratic incumbents) still undecided as of this writing.
112th Congress Expected to be Most
Pro-Israel Ever

Despite the many changes brought about by the 2010 midterm elections, the incoming 112th Congress is expected to be the most pro-Israel Congress ever. Many of Israel’s strongest supporters were reelected.

Sixteen new senators have been elected to the 112th Congress. Republicans have picked up a net gain of six seats in the upper chamber. The newly-elected Senate consists of 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans and 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats (Sens. Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders).

AIPAC lay leaders and staff have established relationships with every new senator, and have received position papers on U.S. Middle East policy from all of the freshmen-to-be. In those papers, the new members of Congress express their support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. Many also emphasize the danger of Iran’s nuclear program and other issues important to U.S. policy in the region.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The real truth from Arab journalist

Abu Toameh: What the Western Media Misses

November 12th, 2010 at 8:26 am Arsen Ostrovsky

A few days ago, I was fortunate to attend a talk by Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh in Jerusalem.

Toameh gave an incredibly wide ranging talk about the peace process, the double standards rife in the West and the media when it comes to coverage of the Middle East and his perspective as a Muslim Arab of Palestinian descent living in Israel (and you thought you had identity issues!).

Toameh has been working as a journalist for almost 30 years now, covering Palestinian affairs, focusing predominantly on the West Bank and Gaza, including for the Palestinian press under the PLO and for various international media outlets in the US and Europe. He is currently at the Jerusalem Post writing on Palestinian issues. Toameh is also an Israeli citizen living in Jerusalem. In other words, he is aptly qualified to comment on the issues of his discussion.

However, if you expected Toameh to jump on the anti-Israel bandwagon with the familiar cries that Israel is an un-democratic apartheid state responsible for all that is wrong including the bubonic plague or to have a single-minded focus on the occupation, you would have been sorely disappointed.

Instead, he spoke openly, courageously and in his words, said it “as it is”. Asked what he thought was the essence of the conflict, Toameh said it was not about money or even settlements, as many so-called pundits often imply, as a precursor to blaming Israel. Rather, his answer was very simple: “This conflict is about Israel’s very existence in this part of the world.”

But before you get any conclusions, Toameh is not a card-carrying Zionist or as somebody once asked him “when did you get on the Israel lobby payroll”. In his own words, he says:

“I’m not pro-Israel, I’m not pro-Palestinian and I’m not pro-American. But as a journalist, I’m pro the facts and pro the truth.”

Here are some of Toameh’s illuminating comments:

I asked Toameh how, as an Arab Muslim Israeli, he responds to accusations that Israel is an apartheid state.

His response:

“Israel is not an apartheid state. But there are problems and some discrimination with the Arab minority inside Israel. If Israel were an apartheid state, I, for example, would not be allowed to work for a Jewish newspaper or live in a Jewish neighborhood or own a home. The real apartheid is in Lebanon, where there is a law that bans Palestinians from working in over 50 professions. Can you imagine if the Knesset passed a law banning Arabs from working even in one profession? The real apartheid is also in many Arab and Muslim nations, like Kuwait, where my Palestinian uncle, who has been living there for 35 years, is banned from buying a house. The law of Israel does not distinguish between a Jew and an Arab.”

As for the uniqueness of the Israeli media in the middle East, Toameh added:

“Israel is a free and open country with a democracy, that respects the freedom of the media. You can basically write any anti-Israel story and still walk in downtown Jerusalem or Tel Aviv without having to worry about your safety. Anyone can be a journalist in Israel.”

Toameh says he finds it ironic that as an Arab Muslim living in this part of the world, the only place he can express himself freely is in a ‘Jewish newspaper’, noting that:

“We don’t have a free media in the Palestinian area, we didn’t have one when I was working there in the late 70’s and early 80’s, we didn’t have one when the PLO came here after the signing of the Oslo accords and we still don’t have one under Fatah and Hamas.”

But what about the media’s need for an anti-Israeli angle on stories? Toameh says that when he tried to alert many of his foreign colleagues that Palestinians were dying because of an internal power struggle or gross corruption by Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, their reflex response was:

Where’s the anti-Israel angle to the story? Give us an anti-occupation story. Make our lives much easier. An Arab killing an Arab, that’s not a story for us.

Toameh notes that the same foreign journalists would then ask him: “Are you on the payroll of the Israel lobby?” “Do they [the Jews] pay you to say these things against Arafat and the PLO?” Toameh’s response to them:

“What do the Jews have to do with this? I’m telling you what the Palestinians are saying about there being corruption in the Palestinian Authority. I’m even telling you that the PA is saying that the PA is corrupt.

“It is a sad reflection on the state of society, and in particular, the media industry, that not only are they not sufficiently concerned or outraged at the death of Arabs by Arabs (which coincidentally has claimed many more lives than the Israel – Palestinian conflict), but that they will only muster even an iota of concern if they can put in an ‘anti-Israel’ angle.”

On the proposed loyalty oath as well, Toameh offered a pragmatic response: “I have no problem with it because it applies equally to both Jews and non-Jews alike.”

One of the biggest and most intractable sticking points has consistently been the Palestinian demand for a right of return, which Israel will not agree to because it would mean the death knell of Israel as a Jewish state.

However, Toameh offers a very simple and pragmatic three stage solution, where the Palestinian refugees could:

1. Go to the future Palestinian state;

2. Resettle elsewhere, including other Arab states; and

3. Be offered compensation.

Most tellingly though, and in a statement seldom ever heard from Arabs (or the West), Toameh then asked: “And what about Jewish refugees that were forced to flee Arab nations”, suggesting that the issue of Jewish refugees must also be part of any future solution.

Focusing on the problem from Arab dictatorships and their insistence on inciting their people against Israel, Toameh says that we have a problem in the West in failing to believe what people tell us.

“If Hamas say they want to destroy you, you have no reason not to believe them. And if Ahmadinejad says he wants to destroy you, there’s no need to start analyzing what he means by that. Stop fooling ourselves, and if anyone thinks that Hamas will ever recognize Israel’s right to exist, you’re also living in an illusion. Take it from their mouth directly…the PLO however is different – they will tell you one thing in English and then another in Arabic.”

On the subject of Arab dictatorship, Toameh says:

“Arab dictators survive by constantly blaming the misery of their people on Jews and the West and never accepting responsibility for anything. And by inciting against Israel and the West, you divert attention from problems at home. Why? Because you always need to make sure that your people are busy hating someone else. If they’re not hating Israel and the West, they might wake up one day and come to you, and God forbid, demand reform and democracy.”

The crux of the message is:

“If you keep inciting your people, then they ask ‘well, why are we then making peace with the Jews?’ We should be killing them as Hamas is saying’.”

So what does Toameh think about Mahmoud Abbas, the PA President?

“Abbas is corrupt, discredited, weak and does not have much power. He is reliant on Israel, whose presence in the West Bank is ironically the only reason he has managed to stay in power.”

And if Israel withdrew to the 1967 borders as demanded by Abbas and the PLO:

“Abbas will collapse and Hamas will take over the West Bank in less than a day. If I were Israel, I would not give Abbas one inch of land in the West Bank – not for ideological reasons, but to avoid a situation where Hamas and others would take over the area.”

When we asked him how best to defeat the extremists, radicals and terrorists like Hamas and Hizbullah, Toameh answered:

“The first and most important thing is you go to the Arab governments and tell them, “Stop the incitement that’s feeding these radicals and driving people into their hands.” Sometimes there’s no difference between what is written about Israel and the Jews in the papers in Egypt and Saudi Arabia with what is written by Hamas.”

Noting again the billions of dollars in aid provided by the US and EU to various Arab dictatorships, Toameh says: In other words, and even more clearly, they should tell them: “Stop calling for my death with my money.”

I asked Toameh about what steps were needed to move forward. According to him, the answer is “very simple” and involves the following steps:

1) The Palestinians must start investing money (provided to them mainly by the US and EU) for the welfare of their people instead of incitement. Then dismantle all militias, establish a free press and democratic institutions, end the infighting, insist on good governance and speak with one voice so at least we know who we’re talking to. And then, he suggests, they should go speak with Israel and see what it has to offer them.

2) Deal with the enemies of peace – if you weaken the enemies of peace, like Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, the moderates will rise and start speaking out. But as long as Iran is breathing down the neck and threatening, together with Hamas and Hizbullah, who are threatening to kill anyone who makes concessions, no moderate Arab will ever dare sign an agreement with Israel. Toameh says:

“I don’t even rule out military action against any of them because this is the only language these guys understand. Talking to them and appeasing them is even more dangerous.”

3) “We can’t move forward when you don’t have a clear, strong, reliable and credible partner on the Palestinian side” says Toameh. According to him: “Abbas is not a partner. He and Fayaad might be nice guys with good intentions – but they cannot deliver. So the PA are not partners because they cannot deliver and Hamas are not partners because they don’t want to be partners.”

Addressing the issue of whether there was a clear and credible partner on the Israeli side, Toameh said:

“I don’t care who is in government in Israel. There is a partner. And my partner is the Jewish people. Why? Because a majority of Jews have already accepted a two-state solution. I see a majority of Jews who don’t care anymore about Gaza. I see a majority of Jews who want to disengage from the Palestinians. I see a majority of Jews over the last 15 years marching toward moderation and pragmatism. I don’t know today of one Jewish mother that wants to send her son back to the streets of Ramallah or Gaza. I don’t know of one Jew who wants to control the lives of the Palestinians and run their education and health system. Sadly though, while the Jewish public has been marching towards pragmatism and realism and moderation, on the Arab side the message remains no, no and no.”

In an incredibly candid address, for me perhaps the most defining statement Toameh made was when I asked him: Would you rather continue living as a member of a minority in Israel or move to another Arab country? Toameh’s response was simple, honest, and telling:

“Israel is a free and open democratic country. I enjoy living here and I would rather live as a second-class citizen in Israel, even though I’m not, than a first-class citizen in any Arab country.”

In a world where it’s all too easy to turn a blind eye to courage, Khaled Abu Toameh is a welcome breath of fresh air. A man, deeply committed to peace, who is seen as a traitor by many and who bravely continues to put his own life on the line each day, Toameh perhaps says it best himself:

“I’m not pro-Israel, I’m not pro-Palestinian and I’m not pro-American. But as a journalist, I’m pro the facts and pro the truth.”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

US supporting terror

# According to the Congressional Research Service, the PA is the largest recipient of foreign assistance in the world. According to Bloomberg, it received $1.2 billion in 2009 and will receive $1.8 billion by the end of the year.
# Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is expected to become the chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee in the next Congress, responded to an announced expansion of U.S. aid to the PA: "It is deeply disturbing that the administration is continuing to bail out the Palestinian leadership when they continue to fail to meet their commitments, under international agreements and requirements outlined in U.S. law, including dismantling the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, combating corruption, stopping anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement and recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state."
# It is impossible to prevent U.S. budgetary assistance to the PA from financing Hamas. Each month Fayyad transfers funds to Hamas-controlled Gaza to pay the salaries of PA employees there, in contravention of U.S. and international law which prohibits assistance to areas controlled by terrorists.

when anti-Israel is antisemitism

U.S. Denounces "Obsession with Condemning Israel"
Hannah Rosenthal, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, told a conference on "Combating Anti-Semitism" in Ottawa, Canada, on Nov. 8: "Opposition to a policy by the State of Israel morphs into anti-Semitism easily and often. We record huge increases in anti-Semitism whenever there is activity in the Middle East. This form of anti-Semitism is more difficult for many to identify - but if all Jews are held responsible for the decisions of the sovereign State of Israel, when governments call upon and intimidate their Jewish communities to condemn Israeli actions, when academics from Israel are boycotted - this is not objecting to a policy - this is anti-Semitism."
"Our State Department uses Natan Sharansky's framework for identifying when someone or a government crosses the line - when Israel is demonized, when Israel is held to different standards than the rest of the countries, and when Israel is delegitimized. These cases are not disagreements with a policy of Israel, this is anti-Semitism. The U.S. is often the only "no" vote in international bodies who seem to have an obsession with condemning Israel." (U.S. State Department)

Just in time for Hanukah-more oil than Saudi?

The Great Israeli Oil Rush
Rock of ages: Can Israel turn its shale into energy independence?
Rock of ages: Can Israel turn its shale into energy independence?

Howard Jonas’ financial dream team–Lord Jacob Rothschild came on board this week–sees Saudi-level potential.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Jonathan Mark
Associate Editor

Golda Meir often told the old Jewish joke (though hardly thinking it funny), why did Moses shlep us for 40 years to the one place in the Middle East without oil?

Now, from Golda to black gold, an oil rush is on, with some of the top businessmen in the world betting big money on Israeli oil, and the only laugh may be the last laugh.

Howard Jonas, a major philanthropist and founder of IDT, once primarily known for its telecom business, told The Jewish Week, “We believe that under Israel is more oil than under Saudi Arabia. There may be as much as half a trillion barrels. The Saudis have 260 [billion barrels]; Israel definitely has at least 300, and might have as much as [500].”

Meanwhile, Jonas has put together an investment dream team. This week, media magnate Rupert Murdoch and Lord Jacob Rothschild, of the famous banking family, have placed their high stack of chips in front of Jonas. Earlier this year, the hedge fund legend, and another major Jewish philanthropist, Michael Steinhardt, joined as an investor and chairman of IDT’s spin-off, Israel Energy Initiatives (the Israeli wing of IDT’s Genie Energy division).
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Skeptics say this group is tilting at windmills, but look long enough and those windmills are looking like oil drills.

Jonas has for several years been attempting to extract oil from shale on U.S. government land in Colorado, working a 10-year lease because that’s how long it can take. In 2008, Jonas, who has developed various projects in Israel over the years, was granted a license by the Israeli government to explore and develop a shale reservoir of 238 square kilometers under the Shfela Basin. Under Israeli law, the state would receive royalties from IEI. Aside from delays stemming from persistent challenges from environmentalists, IEI is ready to go. “We’re waiting for the final permit,” says Jonas, “so we can start heating the ground and getting the oil.”

The oil, however, is not liquid but in shale, and “oil shale has broken many hearts,” writes BusinessWeek of the Israel project. The process of turning rock-solid shale into liquid is costly, lengthy and difficult, not to mention that it might, according to critics, lead to excessive gas emissions, scenic defacement, damage to the water table, and overall leave parts of the environment messier than the mess left by the Cat in the Hat before the Cat’s eventual and impeccable cleanup.

Israel’s Union for Environmental Defense has gone to court to stop Jonas. But it is precisely Israel’s defense — Israel’s economic and military defense, and energy independence — that is motivating the Jonas team every bit as much as their business sense.

Jonas, an Orthodox Zionist, sees the project as a perfect storm of doing well by doing good. But one doesn’t have to be Orthodox or Zionist to agree. The hunger for not just Israeli but American energy independence, with its global political ramifications not to mention potential oil profits, has led MarketWatch to determine that 92 percent of market observers are now “bullish” on the Newark, N.J.-based IDT, whose stock had fizzled to just 66 cents per share before taking off like a Roman candle, as confidence in the oil project spread. IDT’s price now stands at $20.22, 20 times higher than its 52-week low.

Some of the “enthusiasm” for the Israel project is based on IDT’s handling of its “oil experiment in Western Colorado,” writes BusinessWeek. Other confidence in Israel’s energy potential has come (unrelated to IEI) from a recent natural gas find within Israel’s territorial waters in the Mediterranean, reports Bloomberg, a 30 trillion cubic-feet reservoir, double the gas reserves of the United Kingdom and enough to support exports to Europe and Asia.

Jonas said he first began thinking about the Israel oil project “about four years ago. While working with the shale in Colorado, which is the largest shale deposit, I learned that the second-biggest deposit was in Israel. And it’s something I always wanted to do.”

He’s prepared to be patient. “Commercial production,” Jonas says, “is probably 11 or 12 years away, a decade the soonest.”

It is common knowledge that the major oil companies have shied away from Israel because of pressure from the Arab boycott and the close relationships between the oil executives and Arab leaders. And yet, the French oil giant, Total, has now invested with Jonas, and joining Genie’s advisory board in September were such “mainstream” oil veterans as Harold Vinegar, former chief scientist of Royal Dutch Oil, and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who also served as CEO of Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oilfield services corporations.

Nevertheless, it is the religious Zionists, such as Jonas and Christian Zionist groups, who have been in the vanguard of Israel’s oil exploration.

Christian Zionist groups have been citing biblical verses that they say refer to vast oil reserves beneath the Promised Land, adding that Israel’s energy independence and success is a prelude to Ezekiel’s scenario for the final Redemption, among other prophecies.

John Brown, founder and chairman of Zion Oil & Gas, a primarily Christian group exploring Israel’s energy potential, told Charisma, a Christian publication, “If they [Israel] become an oil producer tomorrow… [it] will bring an economic opportunity that will be unparalleled. ... Israel has a unique place in history where God is going to do a lot for the Jewish people.”

By contrast, Jonas, while often acting with a religious and spiritual imperative, professionally and personally, doesn’t speak with the apocalyptic urgency of the Christian Zionist oilmen.

Jonas nevertheless points out that some of best people working for him are Christians who have been “heroic” in their desire to help Israel, a similar phenomenon, Jonas said, to the Jews and non-Jews who brought their expertise to Israel in its fight for survival and birth in 1948. At that time, there were those such as Col. Mickey Marcus, a Jewish West Point graduate, later dramatized by Kirk Douglas in the film “Cast A Giant Shadow,” who helped organize Israel’s army before dying in Israel’s service.

Jonas gives the example of Vinegar and Scott Nguyen, both top scientists at Shell, “who moved to Israel to work on the project.” Vinegar and his wife, who are at an age and time in life when “they want to be together,” said Jonas, decided to live in Israel “where they don’t speak the language, and where they don’t have all their friends, but she feels that he’s a hero, and he should do this for the Jewish people.”

Jonas paused, adding that one of his top men, Fred Carl, recently died of a heart attack. “He was the former head of experiments of Shell’s field operations; a real gnarled Marine, a very devout Catholic guy, in his 60s, who gave up everything, including his position at Shell, to move to Israel and help the Jewish people get this oil out.

“Fred decided, while he was in Israel, that he was going to visit all the churches in Israel,” said Jonas. “He visited more than 40. We weren’t paying him big money; he just wanted to have a part of this great undertaking that was going to free the world of Arab oil. To me, he died in the service of Israel.

“These guys are all heroes,” added Jonas.

If Jonas, Steinhardt, Rothschild and the rest are able to turn Israel’s underground shale into an oil reserve the size of Saudi Arabia’s, thereby changing the geopolitical and economic balance of the Middle East, they’ll be heroes, too, giving Israel a gift beyond all their prior philanthropy combined.

And that Moses fellow, maybe he knew what he was doing.