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March 4, 2010: Facing Facts

June 1, 2010

I had hoped to begin this posting with “good stuff”: cheerful news about Israel that can make us all smile and feel proud.  It’s happening, and you can read about it below.  Ultimately, however, I decided to begin with the “heavy stuff” because it has such considerable important.

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Jonathan Spyer, who is senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, has written a piece about Bashar Assad, president of Syria. He describes a meeting held in Damascus last week, at which Assad, Ahmedinejad of Iran, Khaled Mashaal of Hamas, and Hezbollah General-Secretary Hassan Nasrallah, among terrorist notables, were present.     

It has long been maintained in Washington, he says, and echoed within certain quarters here, that Assad is the “weak link” in the “resistance bloc.”  The argument has been that Assad is participating because of pragmatics, not ideology, and that given the right incentives, he might be lured away.  This is the rationale behind the current US policy of courting Assad, which is not proving to be exactly a rousing success: 

Undersecretary of State William Burns recently visited Damascus, but was firmly rebuffed in his attempts to discuss Syrian support for insurgents in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Palestinian terror groups, most notably Hamas.

Then following the announcement that the US would return an ambassador to Damascus, the meeting of terror heads was held in the city.  A rather openly defiant act.  

Charging full steam ahead in spite of this, the US has announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is considering a visit to the area, even while Syria is upping its support for Hezbollah by supplying increasingly  sophisticated equipment. (As we’re talking about advanced surface-to-surface missiles and antitank systems this  is a bone chiller all by itself — see more following.)

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US policy makers seem to be totally tone deaf when it comes to sensing the situation.  Or, perhaps they believe, a la the Obama mindset, that continuing to reach out anyway will ultimately change things.

And here we come to the core of the matter.  Spyer says that “the brazenness and fervor of Syria’s current stance of defiance” can be explained by current Syrian perceptions:

“…the Syrians believe that a profound restructuring of the balance of power is under way in the Middle East – to the benefit of the Iran-led bloc. This restructuring is being made possible because of the supposed long-term weakening of the US in the region.

“This enables the aggressive, Islamist regime in Teheran to fill the vacuum. It also renders feasible policy options – such as direct confrontation with Israel – which in the 1990s seemed to have vanished forever.”  (emphasis added)

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=170183

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This is very, very serious business. 

Barack Obama and his team, with their ill-conceived, appeasement-oriented, “every-state-is-equal-and-the-US-can’t-dictate-to-others” approach, are generating severe problems in this part of the world.

The man who began his term by promising hope is generating disaster.

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If Syria sees the situation this way, so, surely, does Turkey, which is increasingly problematic in its approach. 

And, of greatest significance, so does Iran.  There is no reason for its leaders to fear the US, which slobbers over itself trying to generate “dialogue,” gives voice to possible sanctions that will never be supported by a meaningful bloc within the international community, and lets it be known that it does not want military action.

Obama understands (or chooses to understand) nothing about deterrence, or the power of effective military muscle flexing — backed-up, of course by serious intent. 

Daniel Pipes wrote about this in a slightly different context some weeks ago. The only way for the president of the US to redeem himself — and save the day — would be by attacking Iran. 

But as things stand now, it all falls to us to deal with it: The increasing aggressiveness of our neighbors, and the possibility of hitting Iran. 

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I have been feeling the winds of war growing stronger, as the PA ratchets up its violence and its threats.  The four months of indirect talks, which are doomed to fail, are not likely to change this — but rather to increase the anger and frustration, and provide the “rationale” for violence.  

But what may be coming from Arab enclaves of Judea and Samaria would be nothing compared to what may be coming from the north.

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David Schenker and Matthew Levitt, both of the Washington Institute — Levitt serves as the director of the Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence — have written an article touching on subjects related to those addressed by Spyer:

It is two years since Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah was assassinated in Damascus, and as it is assumed that Israel was responsible, Nasrallah has been seeking retaliation.  Several attempts have been stymied.

At the same time, Hezbollah “has been preparing for a conventional fight against Israel by stockpiling weapons in the south in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

“…To complement its upgraded arsenal, Hezbollah recently spelled out a new, more aggressive military posture toward Israel.

“Since the 2006 war, rumors have persisted that the group would cross the border and ‘take the fighting to Israel’ in the next conflict. During his February 16, speech, Nasrallah offered a new vision of strategic parity with Israel, if not an advanced conception of the organization’s longstanding ‘balance of terror’ strategy…

“Deriding Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system as a ‘science fiction movie,’ Nasrallah upped the ante by pledging to go toe-to-toe with Israel in the next campaign…
 
“…If Hezbollah succeeds in avenging Mughniyah by striking an Israeli target – whether on the border or abroad – it could set off another round of fighting similar to that of 2006. This time, however, other actors could well enter the fray. If one takes Damascus at its word, Syria may decide to participate in the next Israeli-Hezbollah war, a development that could spark a region-wide conflagration.

“At the moment, Hezbollah may be keeping its powder dry on orders from Teheran, in anticipation of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Still, avenging Mughniyah is a key priority for the group, and its success or failure in meeting this goal could be the difference between the current status quo and a regional war.”

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=170155

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Please, my American friends, I ask you to contact your representatives in Congress. 

Tell them that the United States, whether it opts to be or not, is a player on the world stage, and that what the US does now can have enormous ramifications in the Middle East.  Explain — briefly and succinctly — that a tough American stance is what is desperately needed now.  That attempts to be “friendly” are viewed only as weakness by Muslim and Arab governments, and that this perception of a weak America emboldens the terrorist axis and those who are the enemies of peace and freedom.

By fax (which is best) or e-mail, also provide them with the URL for the Spyer article, which explains it all very potently:

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=170183

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For your Congresspersons: 

http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml

 

For your Senators: 

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

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“The Good News Corner”

Israel is advanced in the field of medical clowning. There are several programs here for training people to clown for hospital patients — especially for sick kids.  These programs are designed for the therapeutic effect the clowning has on the patients, which can be quite remarkable.  Here we have a delightful video about one such program:

http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/international/2009/12/28/vital.signs.medical.clowning.cnn.html
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From journalist Matthew Kalman (with thanks to Bunny S.), an article about Israel as eco-pioneer:

“It grows food in sand, powers homes from the sun and this year launches the world’s finest city-wide electric car system. So how has war-torn Israel become such an eco-pioneer?

“By the end of this year the world’s first all-electric car network will be up and running in one of the most unlikely settings. The cars built by Renault-Nissan need a network of re-charging points and battery changing stations and these are being set up in Denmark, Hawaii, California, Canada and Australia.

“But the first place to host a national electric car network will be one that has almost permanently been at war with its neighbors since its inception. This is Israel, which invented the original technology and is home to Better Place, the company that came up with the idea.

“’Israel will be the first country in the world with this new technology. Jerusalem will be the first city,’ says Better Place boss Shai Agassi, who recently unveiled Israel’s first car charging points.”

For the entire article:   http://express.lineone.net/features/view/152662
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I’ve been writing about the Machpelah (Cave of the Patriarchs) and Hevron.  Here I provide a more detailed history and explanation of the significance to the Jewish people of the Machpelah, written by David Wilder, who is a Hevron spokesman.  His article is entitled “Past the Seventh Step.” I mentioned recently that for 700 years, when the Machpelah was under Muslim Mamaluk control, non-Muslims (both Jews and Christians) were not allowed into the edifice.  In point of fact, they weren’t allowed past the seventh step leading to it, and it was from there that many pious Jews prayed over the years.  Thank Heaven, we’ve moved way past that now:

http://www.hebron.com/english/article.php?id=634

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http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2010/6/1/march-4-2010-facing-facts.html

 

 

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