The Company Obama keeps

The Emir at the White House - there was no shadow of a hint of displeasure

The Emir at the White House – there was no shadow of a hint of displeasure

Show me who your friends are, goes the timeless adage, and I’ll show you who you are. Indeed, judging US president Barak Obama by the company he prefers to keep is very enlightening.

Obama refused to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week and all the president’s men and women outdid each other in heaping scorn on the unwanted guest from Jerusalem. But just a few days earlier the red carpet was rolled out enthusiastically for Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

It appeared as if not enough praise could be heaped on the emir as he visited the White House for the first time since taking over from his father in 2013. Continue reading

America’s Acute Myopia

unnamedAt this point in time we don’t know what sort of nuclear reactor Vladimir Putin had promised his Egyptian host Abdel-Fattah a-Sisi during the Russian president’s visit to Cairo last week. No actual construction is about to start in the immediate future and thus the nature of the project is moot.

Moreover, it’s not the only new reactor planned. Turkey is getting one as is our next door neighbor Jordan. The Saudis too are shopping for nuclear power.

In all instances, including that of oil-glutted Saudi Arabia, the pretext is the need for an energy source. This too is the pro forma excuse of Iran, another major oil-producer. Also cited is scientific research – hardly the forte or focus of any of the aforementioned countries.

Unlike Iran, however, none of the above had vowed to wipe Israel off the map which can theoretically somewhat ease our angst. Continue reading

Respect please!

David Ben-Gurion signs the Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. Moshe Sharett is on the right

David Ben-Gurion signs the Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. Moshe Sharett is on the right

Some democracies – certainly not all – were bequeathed formative documents formulated by prescient founding fathers who deliberately devoted utmost care to address every conceivable future interpretation. The least such seminal documents deserve is special deference from the nations fortunate enough to have inherited them.

They most certainly don’t deserve to be expediently turned into the proverbial rope in a political tug-of-war. Sadly, our Declaration of Independence – doubtless Israel’s most basic and vital text – is being misused in precisely this manner.

It all has to do with the “democratic and Jewish” catchphrase that has gained broad but unsubstantiated acceptance as the Declaration’s bipolar blueprint for the state’s character. Continue reading

Willing Dupes

Cement entering Gaza from Israel last year at the Kerem Shalom Crossing

Cement entering Gaza from Israel last year at the Kerem Shalom Crossing

Hamas, which imperiously rules Gaza, has been named in the latest issue of Forbes Israel as the world’s second-richest terrorist organization. It annually rakes in a billion dollars, outdone only by Islamic State (a.k.a. Da’esh, ISIS, ISIL) which – with an annual income of some two billion dollars – tops the chart of terrorist moneybags.

Hamas’s financial success has by far eclipsed Hezbollah, Taliban and al-Qaida.

IS finances its offensives by selling thousands of barrels of Iraqi oil every day on the black market. Hamas’s chief sources of earnings, according to the exhaustive Forbes report, are accrued from skimming hefty sums off foreign NGO donations and putting the squeeze on ordinary Gazans – the very ones the NGOs are ostensibly seeking to aid. Continue reading

Sedition by Parliamentarians

Moshe German’s car ablaze in Taibe

“I am not a contractor for calming operations,” proclaimed MK Ahmad Tibi (Ta’al) when asked in a host of interviews, following the Kafr Kana shooting and ensuing countrywide riots, what he might do to cool passions.

With in-your-face bluntness Tibi proceeded to do quite the opposite and to pour oil on the flames. In breathless succession he accused the officers who shot 22-year-old Khair-a-din Hamadan of pre-meditated homicide, deliberate execution mafia-style, committing racist murder and altogether being “bloodthirsty animals.”

Shouting down other speakers, Tibi railed and vituperated. He charged that the policemen were out to “intentionally terminate Hamadan” rather than neutralize him when he attacked them with a knife. Tibi belittled Hamadan’s actions as “an understandable expression of anger.”

He insisted on stiff punishment for the individual cops, their commanders and government ministers. Continue reading

Fundamental Perspectives

An Israeli military outpost as seen from South Lebanon, where a Hezbollah flag flutters

An Israeli military outpost as seen from South Lebanon, where a Hezbollah flag flutters

Perceived dangers to our lives and ways of life can be a function of trends – just like everything else in our existence. The latest headline-grabbing focus of fear is Islamic State expansionism. This isn’t a bugbear of negligible proportions.  IS bloodlust and fanatic belligerence are nothing to scoff at.

That said, however, IS isn’t the only threat to the world’s democracies – Israel among them. Neither is it the greatest threat – certainly not to Israel.

Regardless of the repugnance aroused by IS’s sensationalist and lurid beheadings, worse villains abound in our region. Iran with its nuclear ambitions is foremost one, even though the White House is poised to appease Tehran’s ayatollahs without disarming them. Continue reading

Egypt’s disengagement from Gaza

Egypt’s Army demolishes Rafah buildings to create a buffer zone

Egypt’s Army demolishes Rafah buildings to create a buffer zone

Imagine the following: Israel declares its intention to create a buffer zone between itself and the Gaza Strip.

The rationale is trenchant. After the discovery of numerous attack tunnels leading from Gaza into Israeli communities – to say nothing of ambushes, attempted abductions and mortar fire – Israel resolved to clear a swathe of territory from any habitation. This would deny the terrorists cover for their tunnel-digging, ambushes, etc.

It’s no stretch to suppose that immediately upon Israel’s announcement of intentions, the entire international community would explode into a deafening recriminatory uproar. Condemnations and threats would flow in from around the globe. The UN would censure, the US would threaten and the EU would preach.

If Israel would proceed with its plans despite the pandemonium, a horrific terror spate would erupt, rockets would rain on Israeli civilians, Israel would be ostracized, sanctions would ensue and a maelstrom of malevolence would engulf the Jewish state. Continue reading

What Moderation?

Reyhaneh JabbariA young woman – 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari – was hanged last Saturday from the gallows in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Her crime was self-defense.  She struck down an attacker as he attempted to rape her when she was still a teenager in 2007.

President Hassan Rouhani, who won election last year on a purportedly liberal reformist platform, failed to intervene and commute the death sentence imposed back in 2009.

If anything, this tragedy underscores the gaping chasm between the regime’s “make-nice” affectations toward the international community and the unchanging face of the harsh ayatollah rule at home.

Jabbari’s sad story exposes Iranian hypocrisy and double-dealing vis-à-vis the West, which could barely contain its alacrity to ease sanctions on Tehran as soon as Rouhani was sworn in. Continue reading

Anarchic Reality

unnamedFor quite a few hours it was assumed last Wednesday that terrorists had launched the attack from Sinai on IDF troops patrolling, inside Israel, along the border with Egypt. It wasn’t far-fetched conjecture considering that the extremist Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis rushed to claim responsibility. Wounding an Israeli officer and her adjutant was a prestige-booster.

Later, however, it transpired that this was a drug smuggling caper gone wrong. Nonetheless, there is no cause for any sigh of relief here.

The undeniable fact of Sinai’s anarchic reality is that the lines between crime and terrorism are so blurred that they often become altogether indistinguishable. Sinai’s rampaging outlaws dabble in everything indiscriminately. All their diverse illegal pursuits are intrinsically intertwined and mutually beneficial. Continue reading