In my last posting I registered moral outrage at the fact that the residents of Mitzpe Avichai, including children and babies, were pushed out of their homes — a total of 9 temporary structures in this fledging neighborhood in Kiryat Arba — in the middle of the night, into a freezing rain, so that the homes might be destroyed.
Today I have additional factual information:
According to a Hevron lawyer, the hill on which Mitzpe Avichai was established is not private land, but state (i.e., Israeli) land. We are not dealing here with a question of privately owned land that is challenged as possibly belonging to a Palestinian Arab. This area is part of Kiryat Arba (a Jewish community immediately adjacent to Hevron) but official permission has not been granted for Jews to establish homes there. Thus, technically, the state is within its rights to remove the people who had established themselves there.
Aside from the fact that this does not remotely justify removing people at 3 AM, the point was made by my legal contact that the state was under no compunction to remove the residents. They could just as easily have allowed them to stay.
In simple terms, then, we are looking at a political act: left-wing muscle flexing is how I see it. Call it, if you will, “Look world, how tough we are with ‘illegal’ outposts.”
This left-wing attitude is the flip side of the Jewish determination to build there:
According to a reliable and very well connected source in Kiryat Arba, the Jews of the area saw the government refusal to grant them permission to establish a new neighborhood in existing Kiryat Arba as a part of a silent freeze that has been in place in Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu — acceding to the demands of Obama — established a temporary 10-month freeze on new building in communities in Judea and Samaria that ran through September 2010 When asked to renew that freeze to appease Abbas, the prime minster refused. Formally.
But it has been noted that starts for new Judea and Samaria construction have been few, and that building has been slow. This has been seen as an unacknowledged “freeze in practice.”
At the very heart of the matter here is the right of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria. Why shouldn’t we establish a residential neighborhood in an area that has already been determined to be part of Kiryat Arba? they asked. And that’s exactly what they did — begin a new neighborhood. Ten times, in fact. Ten times it has been taken down.
The evicted families, who have been taken in by permanent residents of Kiryat Arba, have vowed to build yet again, and at least two new families have said they would join them. But at present this is not possible, as the IDF has cordoned off this neighborhood, dubbing it a closed security area. Security?
There had been reports that the police used Arabs to do the evacuation, but my source tells me that this was not quite the case: What he says is that the police did the evacuation of the residents, but they relied upon Muslims to carry out the belongings before the temporary homes were leveled. From among those belongings, he reports, jewelry was stolen.
As I indicated above, nine temporary homes were dismantled. But there was a tenth building that was also taken down — reportedly, without a warrant to do so. This was the beit knesset — the synagogue; the torah scroll and siddurim (prayer books) are in the hands of the Jewish community.
Switching gears… How’s this for a crazy situation:
At the end of last week, Time magazine, citing “Western intelligence sources,” said that the Mossad was responsible for the recent car bombing assassination of Iranian scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan — just as the Mossad, training and supporting Iranians, had been responsible for the last three assassinations of Iranian scientists.
At the very same time, Iran has claimed that it has “credible documents that prove the terror attack was planned, supervised and supported by the CIA.”
Meanwhile Victoria Nuland, State Department spokeswoman, has declared that, “The United States strongly condemns this act of violence,” a statement which I see as particularly stupid and which Republican presidential candidate hopeful Rick Santorum has roundly criticized. The US, said Nuland, “categorically denies any involvement in the killing.”
Secretary of State Clinton delivered precisely the same message: “I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran.”
Precisely what is it that the US is afraid of?
Meanwhile, Foreign Policy magazine, which hit the newsstands on Friday, says that Mossad operatives, carrying dollars and US passports in order to pass as CIA agents, last year recruited members of Jundallah, which the magazine says is a “Pakistani-based Sunni extremist organization,” to assassinate key Iranians.
This last is a bit much for me. There has been considerable speculation that the Mossad is working with Iranian rebels intent on bringing down the current regime — in fact, evidence has been cited indicating that these rebels, with or without the Mossad, have been more directly involved than was imagined for some time. But a Pakistani-based extremist organization?
Meanwhile, the news is that Obama and company are growing increasingly nervous about the possibility of an Israeli hit on Iran. If it’s going to happen, it’s got to happen before long.
Obama has been warning Netanyahu about the “serious consequences” of a hit. (What about the serious consequences of not hitting Iran?) Panetta and others have been sent here seeking reassurances that we would give sanctions more time.
But, not only has the Israeli response been non-committal, Israeli officials have let it be known that there is disappointment with the way the US has approached the Iranian situation. Most recently, while Congress pushed for firm action on Iranian bank sanctions, Obama failed to follow through.
With regard to this, see: “Obama’s Sanctions on Iran May Be Paper Tiger – Obama’s new ‘tough sanctions’ on Iran include a waiver allowing him to let other countries play for time before punishing Iran.”
What is more, Netanyahu has now said in an interview that:
“For the first time, I see Iran wobble under the sanctions that have been adopted and especially under the threat of strong sanctions on their central bank. If these sanctions are coupled with a clear statement by the international community, led by the US, [regarding intention] to act militarily to stop Iran if sanctions fail, Iran may consider not going through the pain. There’s no point gritting your teeth if you’re going to be stopped anyway.”
In other words, the US is blowing it by not being tough enough.
Whatever my discontents with Netanyahu in other respects (and I’ll come back to this in my next posting), I accord him his due here. He has been warning about the dangers of a nuclear Iran for a very long time. That the world should suddenly grow uneasy about what we might do — what we perhaps must do unilaterally because the world has reneged on its responsibility — is precisely as it should be. Let them squirm.
At any rate, the US is now considering various scenarios in terms of retaliation against the US, should Israel hit Iran. And here we have the likely answer to my question, above, regarding what the US is afraid of.
At any rate, the Americans are strengthening their presence in this part of the world in a variety of ways:
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the US has 15,000 troops in Kuwait and has moved a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf area. Additionally, it has been transferring arms to Gulf allies such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and has been strategically positioning aircraft.
In the midst of all of this, the US and Israel were due in May to have the largest war game ever held. To that end, US military personnel have been coming into Israel — reportedly some nine thousand were expected, including airmen, technicians, and intelligence personnel. There had been speculation that — beyond the scheduled joint operation — this would become part of the US preparation for responding to Iran.
But just today it was announced that the joint maneuvers would not be held because of “budgetary restrictions” — almost certainly a signal of US-Israel tensions. What happens to the US troops that are already here, and whether more will come (for yet-to-be-scheduled games later this year) are questions I cannot answer.
US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, is due here in Israel this week, at which time he will discuss the Iranian issue.
Let me end with this very brief YouTube about IDF operations in 14 countries over the years that have saved lives, provided needed care and more. Just a very brief glimpse at something that is an enormous source of pride:
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.