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

Another Tack: Before the Chickenshit Hit the Fan

Obama and Sarkozy in Cannes: No hint of an apology ever came from either Washington or Paris

Obama and Sarkozy in Cannes: No hint of an apology ever came from either Washington or Paris

Gosh darn! Smack dab on the eve of a midterm election, US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to almost sort-of say sorry for reported name-calling in high Administration places – ‘chickenshit’ comes to mind.

A morsel of humble pie, after all, is prescribed when one’s party suspects its headliners may have offended voters at the close of a crucial campaign.

So, is everything now peachy keen in our world all over again?

Maybe, if this were the only memorable outburst and if Obama’s administration were as forgiving as it imperiously decrees Israel must be. Trouble is, though, that there was loads of loathing even before the chickenshit hit the fan.  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

Another Tack: Zissel means Sweetie

Last photo of little Zissel at the Western Wall, a short time before her murder

Last photo of little Zissel at the Western Wall, a short time before her murder

Oftentimes what is barely mentioned – if at all – by the world’s media is (or ought to be) as thought-provoking as what the talking heads focus on with undisguised relish.

The fetching face of three-months-old Chaya Zissel Braun, for example, was missing from front pages around the globe and it was never featured on any foreign TV news outlets. She was murdered (as was 22-year-old student Karen Yemima Mosquera) last week by an Arab terrorist who homicidally rammed his vehicle into a crowd of passengers waiting at a light rail stop. But to observers abroad this amounted to dog bites man.

Uninteresting. Been there. Heard that before. Jewish whines. Who cares?

Newsroom groupthink doesn’t only trickle down to conformist reporters on the scene who quickly figure out what the chiefs want to hear and what they shouldn’t be bothered with. The signals from atop the journalistic hierarchy also determine for news-consumers what constitutes news and what does not.

Media linchpins put together the current-events agenda and they shape mass awareness. Perforce they dictate public opinion. What doesn’t pass through their selective filter will forever remain esoteric knowledge – even in these days of social networking on the World Wide Web. 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

Another Tack: The 14th Century in Washington

Medieval manuscript showing Jews burned at the stake in Flanders according to the popular antidote to the Black Death

Medieval manuscript showing Jews burned at the stake in Flanders according to the popular antidote to the Black Death

In all fairness, it’s not just the Obama Administration which is fond of insinuating that somehow Israel is to blame for all that ails the Mideast. This has been the underlying theme of the US State Department since Israel’s birth in 1948.

The variations in the stance vis-à-vis Israel derive from the intensity of antipathy – the subtlety and sophistication of the tone in which it’s expressed. Given its strident hectoring, the Obama Administration is doubtless America’s least-subtle and least-sophisticated ever.

While past presidents and their secretaries of state took greater pains to pretend not to side with glaring Arab anti-Israel falsehoods, such niceties are all but absent from Barack Obama’s and John Kerry’s rhetoric.  Anti-Israel idioms and calumnies are repeated by them as an obvious and infallible politically-correct gospel.

And thus Kerry had the colossal gall last week – significantly at a White House ceremony for the Muslim fest of Eid al-Adha – to claim no less that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (i.e. the Jewish state’s struggle for survival) bolsters the mass appeal of Islamic State radicalism.

Hardly knocking Israelis for a loop, the State Department’s spokeswoman later accused us of getting it all wrong.  In deadpan delivery she insisted that Kerry “did not make a linkage between Israel and the growth of ISIL [Islamic State]. Period.”

But her boss’s words speak for themselves and belie her assertion. Continue reading

Judicial Imperialism

On the sidewalks of south Tel Aviv

On the sidewalks of south Tel Aviv

The High Court of Justice has dealt Israeli democracy a grievous blow this week when for the second time in a year it nixed the notion of detaining illegal infiltrators and struck down Knesset legislation on the matter.

The operative upshot is that 2000 detainees will soon be back on the crime-ridden streets of south Tel Aviv – which has been turned into a festering lawless African enclave – exacerbating the already dreadful plight of its Israeli residents.
Worse yet, it means that all Africans have now been told that if they only manage to sneak into the Jewish state, they’d become legally invulnerable despite having willfully broken Israeli law by their illegal entry. This is a potent message.

Continue reading

Another Tack: Hey Diddle, Fatah and the Fiddle

if we only pay up, the cat will ably strum jolly tunes on its fiddle [Arthur Rackham’s illustration, 1913]

if we only pay up, the cat will ably strum jolly tunes on its fiddle [Arthur Rackham’s illustration, 1913]

In her authoritative clipped cadences, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni admonishes those of us who refuse to sweeten Ramallah figurehead Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah cohorts with “daring initiatives.” She sternly disapproves of Israelis who “are not willing to pay the price of a diplomatic arrangement.”

We might of course nitpick and wonder whether a diplomatic arrangement is in fact attainable. And if so, we might further press and inquire why such arrangement hadn’t already been attained.

We might point out that the moderation Livni ascribes to Abbas connotes goodwill and that a minimal supply thereof should have facilitated some arrangement long ago – long before the advent on our scene of Hamas’s religious bad-guys. Secular enemies, as per Livni’s idiosyncratic political lexicon, aren’t quite enemies – certainly not extremists or terrorists.

So why then the absence of peace? Are we to understand that she pins the blame on Israel’s supposed small-minded stinginess?

We could ask in what gospel it’s written that diplomatic arrangements (which are hardly irrevocable) must be purchased with hard territorial and strategic currency (which cannot thereafter be recovered). But since in her world Livni writes the rules, this question is unlikely to be answered. Continue reading