Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

“The bluffer isn’t bluffing. He means what he says”

November 29, 2011

Iranian protesters burn the Union Jack outside the British embassy in Tehran today


* An Iranian mob replaces the Union Jack at the British embassy in Iran with an Islamic flag and chants “Death to England” today.

* Former Mossad head Danny Yatom: The outcome of a strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, no matter how destructive, can never be as bad for Israel as an Iran armed with nuclear weapons.

* Former Ha’aretz editor-in-chief: “A too-frank exchange between Obama and Sarkozy, inadvertently caught on microphone, about Netanyahu being a liar has provoked distinctly negligible outrage around the world. But Obama, Sarkozy, and the rest of the world would be profoundly wrong to dismiss Netanyahu’s repeated and consistent admonitions that, in the last resort, he would bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent that nation getting the bomb... It’s not just tactics. The bluffer isn’t bluffing. Let’s hope Obama, Sarkozy and the rest are hearing him loud and clear.”

* Washington Post lead Editorial: “Obama must stop half-measures on Iran. Obama is not even leading from behind on Iran; he is simply behind.”

***

This is a further dispatch on Iran. Last week’s two dispatches on the subject can be read here:

* Aircraft are not the only means at Israel’s disposal

* This may be the most unsurprising sneak attack in history

 

CONTENTS

1. British government condemns storming of embassy in Iran
2. “Iran strike aftermath couldn’t be as bad as nuclear Iran” (By Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 23, 2011)
3. “World must believe Netanyahu on Iran” (By David Landau, Sydney Morning Herald, Nov. 24, 2011)
4. “How to Topple the Ayatollahs” (By Jamsheed Choksy, Wall St. Journal, Nov. 23, 2011)
5. “More half-measures from Obama on Iran” (Editorial, Washington Post, Nov. 22, 2011)


BRITISH GOVERNMENT CONDEMNS STORMING OF EMBASSY IN IRAN

[Note by Tom Gross]

The British government called the storming of the British Embassy in Tehran today “utterly unacceptable,” and demanded that the Iranian government protect British diplomats in the country.

The mainly student protesters stormed the embassy grounds, and a diplomatic residential compound, to protest tough new sanctions on Iran by the British government.

Eyewitnesses said the protesters broke the embassy’s main gate, replaced the Union Jack at the embassy with an Islamic flag and chanted “Death to England”. They also hurled petrol bombs, stones and eggs at the embassy, smashed windows and mishandled a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth II.

***

I attach four articles on Iran below.

In the first, Danny Yatom, who led Israel’s Mossad spy agency in the 1990s, in effect criticizes other senior retired Israeli intelligence officials who have suggested bombing Iran’s nuclear program would be a mistake.

In the second piece below, David Landau (the former far leftist editor of Ha’aretz), writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, says that world leaders may dismiss Netanyahu as a liar, but on the Iranian nuclear question they should definitely believe him.

In the third article Jamsheed Choksy, professor of Iranian studies at Indiana University, argues that Western strikes shouldn’t only target Iran’s nuclear bomb program, but should also target Tehran’s military and paramilitary forces, in order to cripple the regime’s machinery of domestic repression.

In the fourth article, a lead editorial in The Washington Post criticizes what it calls Obama’s “half measures” on Iran.

-- Tom Gross


ARTICLES

YATOM DIFFERS FROM DAGAN

“Iran strike aftermath couldn’t be as bad as nuclear Iran”
By Yaakov Lappin
The Jerusalem Post
November 23, 2011

Former Mossad head Danny Yatom says Israel can’t afford to wonder if Tehran “will go crazy and throw a bomb on us,” says “painful” IDF response would stop rocket fire from Hezbollah and Hamas.

The outcome of a strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, no matter how destructive, can never be as bad for Israel as an Iran armed with nuclear weapons, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom said on Wednesday at a security conference at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

Yatom took up a position that is diametrically opposed to that of former Mossad head Meir Dagan, who sparked significant controversy by stating earlier this year that an attack on Iran would be a foolish move that would lead to a war with an unknown outcome.

“There is a big argument over whether to attack Iran or not,” Yatom said. “The argument is legitimate. Some say Israel will pay a high price, no matter who does the attacking,” Yatom added.

“As difficult a price it may be, and even if those predicting apocalyptic results are correct – and I don’t think they are – this is still not as bad as the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb,” he argued.

Israel can’t afford to find itself in the position of having “to wake up every morning and ask, will they go crazy and throw a bomb on us or not,” Yatom said, adding, “the damage that an Iranian nuclear bomb can cause is so great.”

It is impossible to stake the nation’s security on predictions by those who claim a nuclear Iran can be deterred, and that the Iranian regime would not launch a nuclear attack, he said. Yatom acknowledged that rocket attacks would likely ensue from Lebanon and Gaza following a strike, but added that Israel’s response would be “so painful and crushing that rockets will come to an end.”

He added, “Civilian facilities and infrastructure in Lebanon and Gaza will be hit. Innocent civilians could be hurt. But the barrage of rockets will no longer be falling over our heads.”

The world does not have much time left to act on Iran, the former Mossad head warned, adding that “there is an evaluation that they crossed the red line. They have the knowledge to make the bomb. All that is needed now is the decision to do it... The world has a year, probably less.” He also doubted that sanctions would be effective.

Addressing the option of targeting Iran with covert operations, Yatom said that whether or not Israel was linked to such acts, they “won’t stop Iran. They either will have the bomb or not. I think force will have to be used. I don’t think Israel should lead. This is a world problem... [But] should the world stand on the sidelines, Israel will be fully entitled to use its natural right to self defense.”

 

OBAMA AND SARKOZY SHOULD LISTEN TO BIBI ON IRAN, LOUD AND CLEAR

World must believe Netanyahu on Iran
By David Landau
The Sydney Morning Herald (Opinion)
November 24, 2011

A too-frank exchange between Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy, inadvertently caught on microphone, about Benjamin Netanyahu being a liar has provoked distinctly negligible outrage around the world. Even in Israel, people tended to shrug.

Credibility is not the Prime Minister’s strong suit – witness the hollow ring of his much-trumpeted pronouncement in 2009 that he favours the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Two years have passed, and the direly needed solution has receded.

But Obama, Sarkozy, and the rest of the world would be profoundly wrong to apply the same dismissive scepticism to Netanyahu’s repeated and consistent admonitions that, in the last resort, he would bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent that nation getting the bomb. He means what he says.

He does not want to go down in history as the leader on whose watch a fanatical enemy achieved the means to cow, terrorise and threaten to destroy the Jewish state while the rest of the world stood by and Israel itself did nothing.

Many Israelis, by no means all groupies of Netanyahu, know exactly where he is coming from in this fraught and frightening saga. And they feel the same way he does. They still hope the world collectively will act to neutralise this threat, but if it doesn’t, they believe Israel must use its considerable military power.

A recent poll showed the nation split down the middle over whether Israel should act unilaterally against Iran. It did not show the even wider angst, never far beneath the surface, that keeps ordinary Israelis awake at night as they churn over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chilling threats and the ominous International Atomic Energy Agency’s reports on Iran’s nuclear program. The Iranian president, spewing forth Holocaust denial while threatening another Holocaust, has pressed all the wrong buttons on Israel’s sensitive national psyche.

The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem is not just the place visiting statesmen are required to visit and make appropriately sad and contrite comments. It is still, nearly 70 years on, the raw nerve of the nation, the unhealed scar.

Israel was created from the ashes of Auschwitz. Its primary mission is ‘‘never again’’. That, at any rate, is how millions of Israelis see themselves and their country. A mass subjective perspective can become objective political reality. The world needs to recognise that Netanyahu authentically articulates that perspective and that reality.

Granted, there are many opponents of it, particularly in the Israeli defence establishment. Top generals and intelligence officials stress the inevitable limits of any unilateral Israeli air strikes on Iran. The nuclear facilities are spread around the country. Some are buried deep underground.

The most Israel could achieve might be to damage Tehran’s nuclear program and delay it. But the cost could well be heavy and sustained missile attacks on Israel, not only from Iran but from its much more proximate clients: Hezbollah, the Shiite militia in Lebanon and Hamas, the radical Islamist movement that rules Gaza. Syria, too, long Iran’s ally, might seek respite from its domestic strife by joining the fray against Israel.

Iran, moreover, would doubtless lash out at US forces and shipping in the Gulf, which would immediately precipitate an oil crisis. Israel would be blamed, especially if the Iranian nuclear threat were merely deferred.

Against all that is the calculation, carefully unspoken but present nevertheless, that a unilateral Israeli strike would trigger massive American intervention against Iran’s nuclear program. This could come in response to Iranian retaliation against American targets, or because Washington would have an overwhelming interest in ‘‘finishing the job’’ that Israel began. In the post-Libya climate, France and Britain might well be moved to come in alongside the US.

Against the naysayers, too, is the calculation that goes beyond strategy, the calculation that says to an Israeli prime minister, with 3000 years of Jewish history on his shoulders, that inaction is not an option.

Netanyahu has at his side, as Defence Minister, his former army commander in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit, Ehud Barak. Himself a former prime minister, Barak is now a politician without a party. Most of his Labour colleagues broke away from him, leaving him doomed, say the polls, to terminal oblivion at the next election.

Why, then, does Netanyahu keep him on? Because Barak’s military prowess and authority can counter the naysayers if the fateful decision on Iran needs to be made.

Of course, Netanyahu’s drum-beating is intended to ensure that moment never comes. The fear of Israel going it alone is intended to instill anxiety and urgency into international sanctions against Tehran. Sanctions, rigorously applied, can still work.

Washington is urging its allies, Australia among them, to join in a new round, targeting Iran’s banking and petrochemical industries, as well as its nuclear ambitions. The regime in Tehran is deeply unpopular and may yet implode. Netanyahu’s drum-beating is tactically impeccable.

But it’s not just tactics. The bluffer isn’t bluffing. Let’s hope Obama, Sarkozy and the rest are hearing him loud and clear.

 

HOW TO TOPPLE THE AYATOLLAHS

How to Topple the Ayatollahs
Western strikes should target Tehran’s military and paramilitary forces, crippling the regime’s machinery of domestic repression.
By Prof. Jamsheed k. Choksy
The Wall Street Journal
November 23, 2011

Why, despite the growing danger posed by Iran’s nuclear program, have the United States and other nations restricted themselves to negotiations, economic sanctions and electronic intrusions? None of those tactics has been particularly effective or produced enduring changes.

The main argument against military action is that it would set Iran’s nuclear program back only a few years, and that Tehran would retaliate directly and via surrogates, drawing the U.S. into another unwinnable war. Many fear also that Iranians will rally behind their regime with nationalist fervor, dashing hope of regime change for decades and turning Iran’s largely pro-Western population against the West once again, to the mullahs’ great benefit.

These concerns are based on worst-case scenarios that assume Iran has the resources to rebuild quickly, to retaliate without being thwarted, and to get the average Iranian to rally behind a regime hated for its violent oppression of dissent, stifling social codes, economic failures and isolationist policies. Yet Iran’s government is already weakened by very public infighting between its much disliked ruling factions.

We should not conclude that a nuclear Iran is inevitable. Instead we should think about another way of confronting the threat. The real goal of air strikes should be not only to target Iran’s nuclear facilities but to cripple the ayatollahs’ ability to protect themselves from popular overthrow.

The mass uprisings in 2009 – known as the Green Revolution – have dissipated because few protesters saw any hope of mustering the force necessary to defeat the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Basij paramilitary forces who brutally enforce Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s authority. Yet dissatisfaction and resentment still run deep across all social groups and economic ranks, even among civil-service bureaucrats, rank-and-file military men, and elected officials.

This means Western air strikes should hit other military production facilities and the bases of the IRGC and Basij. A foreign takedown of those enforcers would give Iran’s population the opportunity to rise again. As a popular Tehrani female rapper notes: “No regime can hang on through intimidation and violence. We are ready and waiting. The regime thinks it has put out the fire. We are the burning coals under the ashes.”

The IRGC’s claims that it can retaliate significantly are largely bluster. The Iranian Navy’s fast boats and midget submarines in the Persian Gulf could be eliminated through pinpoint strikes, as could army artillery batteries along the Strait of Hormuz – thereby removing any threat to the region’s maritime trade, including crude oil shipments.

While the nuclear program may not be completely destroyed, sufficient damage will occur so even facilities deep underground would require several years of restoration. Most importantly, once the power of the Basij and the IRGC to enforce the regime’s will upon the people has been seriously compromised, it would not be surprising to see large segments of Iran’s population casting off the theocratic yoke.

The Libyan rebellion’s successful ouster of a 42-year dictatorial elite is but one example of successful regime change. Another is the ongoing attempt by Syrians to end a nearly half-century dictatorship. A few months ago, few would have believed those revolutions would occur. Moreover, an Iranian uprising will be directed against Islamists, not by them. Were Iran’s theocrats gravely weakened or swept away, Iran’s sponsorship of terrorists and dictatorships would come to a halt – making groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and leaders like Bashar al-Assad, Kim Jong Il and Hugo Chávez more vulnerable.

A new Iranian nation would require economic aid and political guidance – from the U.S. and Europe – to develop representational governance. That would be a worthwhile investment. Crucially, even if a post-theocratic Iranian state gradually rebuilds its military and resumes its nuclear program, the weapons would not be in the hands of a regime so hostile to much of the world.

Regime change remains the best option for defusing the ayatollahs’ nuclear threat, and it can best be achieved by the Iranian people themselves. Disabling the theocracy’s machinery of repression would leave it vulnerable to popular revolt. Through such decisive actions, the U.S. and its allies could help Iranians bring the populist uprising of 2009 to a fitting culmination.

 

THE WASHINGTON POST CRITICIZES OBAMA ON IRAN

More half-measures from Obama administration on Iran
Editorial
The Washington Post
November 22, 2011

The Obama administration pledged that Iran would suffer painful consequences for plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and for refusing to freeze its nuclear program. Key European allies and Congress – not to mention Israel – are ready for decisive action. But on Monday the administration unveiled another series of half-steps. Sanctions were toughened on Iran’s oil industry, but there was no move to block its exports. The Iranian banking system was designated “a primary money laundering concern,” a step U.S. officials said could prompt banks and companies around the world to cease doing business with the country. But the administration declined to directly sanction the central bank.

The result is that President Obama is not even leading from behind on Iran; he is simply behind. At the forefront of the Western effort to pressure Tehran is French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who issued a statement Monday calling on the European Union, the United States, Japan, Canada and “other willing countries” to “immediately freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank” and suspend purchases of Iranian oil. France rejects the Obama administration’s view that these steps would cause a counterproductive spike in oil prices. In any case, higher oil prices are preferable to allowing an Iranian bomb – or having to take military action to stop it.

Congress is ahead of Mr. Obama, too. It’s likely that large bipartisan majorities will support legislation mandating sanctions against the central bank; in the Senate’s case it could be attached to the defense authorization bill. Another comprehensive sanctions bill, targeting both Iran and its ally Syria, could be brought to the Senate floor within a couple of weeks.

The administration’s slowness to embrace crippling sanctions is one of several persistent flaws in its Iran policy. Another is its continued insistence on the possibility of “engagement” with a regime that has repeatedly rejected it while plotting murder in Washington. “The United States is committed to engagement,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted Monday. Some European officials say they are concerned by the concessions the administration appears prepared to offer Tehran if there are new talks.

By now it should be obvious that only regime change will stop the Iranian nuclear program. That means, at a minimum, the departure of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has repeatedly blocked efforts by other Iranian leaders to talk to the West. Sanctions that stop Iran from exporting oil and importing gasoline could deal a decisive blow to his dictatorship, which already faced an Arab Spring-like popular revolt two years ago. By holding back on such measures, the Obama administration merely makes it more likely that drastic action, such as a military attack, eventually will be taken by Israel, or forced on the United States.


Aircraft are not the only means at Israel’s disposal

November 22, 2011

* Past operations by Israel, such as the 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Osirak atomic reactor and a similar strike against Syria in 2007, suggest a strategy of one-off pinpoint raids, due both to military limitations and a desire to avoid wider war.

* Israel would be loath to hit Iranian energy assets, like oil production and shipping facilities. This could stoke a spike in oil prices, turning world opinion against Israel while alienating the Iranian dissident movement.

* For much of the last decade, as Iran methodically built its nuclear program, Israel has been assembling a multibillion-dollar array of high-tech weapons that would allow it to jam, blind, and deafen Tehran’s defenses in the case of a pre-emptive aerial strike.

* Israel has developed a weapon capable of mimicking a maintenance cellphone signal that commands a cell network to “sleep,” effectively stopping transmissions.

* In a 2007 attack on a suspected nuclear site at al-Kibar, the Syrian military got a taste of this warfare when Israeli planes “spoofed” the country’s air-defense radars, at first making it appear that no jets were in the sky and then in an instant making the radar believe the sky was filled with hundreds of planes.

* “We are in the initial phase of fighting the Duqu virus,” Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s civil defense organization, told the official IRNA news agency. “The final report on which organizations the virus has spread to and what its impacts are has not been completed yet.”


 

CONTENTS

1. “Blast victim ‘was bomb expert working to hit Israel’” (The Times of London, Nov. 17, 2011)
2. “How will Israel attack Iran?’ (Reuters news agency, Nov. 9, 2011)
3. “Israel’s secret Iran attack plan: electronic warfare” (By Eli Lake, Daily Beast / Newsweek, Nov. 16, 2011)
4. “Iran trains Gazans to operate anti-tank missiles” (By Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 17, 2011)
5. Iran admits second computer virus hit nuke program (Homeland Security News, Nov. 18, 2011)


[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch concerns Iran. It was compiled a few days ago, but delayed because of illness.

It is split in two for space reasons. The other part can be read here: This may be the most unsurprising sneak attack in history.

I attach five articles below.


“AT LEAST 36 REVOLUTIONARY GUARD MEMBERS DIED IN THE EXPLOSION, NOT 17 AS FIRST REPORTED”

Blast victim ‘was bomb expert working to hit Israel’
By Michael Evans and Hugh Tomlinson
The Times of London
November 17. 2011

The explosion that killed an Iranian ballistic missiles expert at a military base on Saturday occurred during testing on a new weapons programme to strike Israel, Tehran claimed yesterday.

Hassan Firouzabadi, the chief of staff for Iran’s armed forces, dismissed reports that a covert operation by Israel was behind the blast that killed General Hassan Moghaddam, architect of Iran’s missile programme since the 1980s, and at least 35 other members of the Revolutionary Guard.

“This recent incident and blast has no link to Israel or America but was the outcome of research … [which] will deliver a strong smack to the mouth of Israel and its occupying regime,” he said.

Mr. Firouzabadi claimed that the explosion had delayed the “new product” under development at the base by only two weeks, and warned that “Israelis should prepare for explosions throughout Israel”.

He put the death toll in the blast at 17, but a painstaking compilation of reports of funerals in Iranian news agencies over the past few days has suggested the real figure was double this, with 36 names confirmed so far.

The Alghadir base was known to contain a silo for Iran’s Shahab-3 missiles, which have a range of about 1,250 miles, sufficient to hit Israel. Tehran insists the explosion was an accident, while Western reports have suggested that sabotage by Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, was responsible.

Whether the blast was an accident or not, the ruling elite has been devastated by the loss of Mr. Moghaddam, a close confidant of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader.

Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf, the Mayor of Tehran, summed up the desolate mood yesterday, describing the general as “irreplaceable”. He added: “Martyrdom was Hassan’s right, but the news of it was shocking … His efforts and hard work had created such a fear in the heart of the enemies that until today they haven’t had the courage to attack this country.”

The blast at the Alghadir base, south-west of Tehran, was so powerful that it shook windows in the capital 25 miles away.

Israel has not taken credit for the explosion but Israeli politicians have made no effort to disguise their delight at seeing Iran’s missile programme decapitated.

With speculation again mounting over a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, the US Air Force yesterday confirmed that it had taken delivery of a 30,000lb bunker-busting bomb called Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), developed by Boeing.

It will be carried by the B52 and the B2 Stealth bomber and will be capable of destroying 60ft (18m) of concrete, and has been designed to penetrate 200ft underground before exploding.

The Pentagon has contingency plans to use both the US Air Force and the US Navy for strikes in Iran. Robert Gates, former US Defence Secretary, confirmed earlier this year that any operation against Iran would not involve ground troops.

The delivery of the first MOP, dubbed Big Blu, which is more than 20ft long and contains about 5,300lb of explosives, fills an acknowledged gap in the US arsenal of deep-penetration weapons.

After Congress rejected President George W. Bush’s request to develop a bunker-busting weapon with a nuclear warhead, Boeing was asked to develop a conventional weapon capable of breaching potential enemy targets buried deep underground, such as Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons facilities. The B2 will be able to carry two MOPs.

Israel does not possess a bomb with such penetrating capacity, and one American expert, General Charles Wald, former commander of US Central Command Air Forces, said an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities would require about 1,000 flights to be successful.

 

HOW WILL ISRAEL ATTACK IRAN?

How will Israel attack Iran?
Reuters
November 9, 2011

Analysts examine ways Israel could carry out strike against Iran, issue warning: Losing tactical edge of initial sneak attack will make it hard to keep up precision strikes

***

Should the Israelis attack Iran, they would probably focus strikes on select nuclear facilities while trying to avoid killing civilians en masse or crippling the oil sector.

Past operations by Israel, such as the 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Osirak atomic reactor and a similar strike against Syria in 2007, suggest a strategy of one-off pinpoint raids, due both to military limitations and a desire to avoid wider war.

“It (Israel) has the capability to get there, and it has the capability to do serious damage to the Iranian nuclear program,” said Sam Gardiner, a retired US air force colonel who has run war games for various Washington agencies and academic forums.

Israel remains publicly committed to the US-led big power strategy of diplomacy and punitive sanctions to get the Iranians to curb their uranium enrichment and ensure it is for peaceful purposes only.

But the specter of unilateral Israeli strikes resurfaced with the publication on Tuesday of charges by UN inspectors of a possible military dimension to Iran’s nuclear project.

Israel lacks heavy long-range air force bombers, but its advanced F-15 and F-16 warplanes could hit sites in western Iran and further inland with air-to-air refueling and by using stealth technology to overfly hostile Arab nations.

Israel attacked Iraq and Syria before their alleged nuclear weapons projects had yielded fissile material that could end up as toxic debris. Similarly, analysts say, it would try to avoid an Iranian death toll that would fuel public calls for revenge.

CONTROL ESCALATION

A 2009 simulation at the Brookings Institution in Washington theorized that Israel, intent on halting or hobbling what the West suspects is Tehran’s covert quest for the means to make atomic weaponry, would launch a sneak pre-emptive attack on half-a-dozen nuclear sites in Iran.

Israel would not want to risk drawing in Iranian allies like Hezbollah, Hamas or Syria, especially with political upheaval shaking US-aligned Gulf Arabs and Egypt. Israel’s armed forces are geared for brief border wars, not prolonged open conflict.

TERRIFIC OPPORTUNITY

“Israel would most likely begin efforts to control escalation immediately after the strike,” said Gardiner, who posits Iranian retaliation could compel the United States – perhaps by Israeli design – to weigh in with its superior arms.

Facing recrimination from allies like the United States, Israel might argue the strike “created a terrific opportunity for the West to pressure Iran, weaken it, and possibly even undermine the regime”, said the Brookings simulation summary.

Aircraft are not the only means at Israel’s disposal.

It could also launch ballistic Jericho missiles with conventional warheads at Iran, according to a 2009 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Israel’s three German-built Dolphin submarines are believed to be capable of carrying conventional and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. They would have to transit through Egypt’s Suez Canal – as one did in 2009 – to reach the Gulf.

Elite foot soldiers might be deployed to spot targets and possibly launch covert attacks. Far-flying drones could assist in surveillance and possibly drop bombs of their own.

Israel has also been developing “cyber warfare” capabilities and could use this together with other sabotage by Mossad spies on the ground.

BLOWBACK

Israel would be loath to hit Iranian energy assets, like oil production and shipping facilities. This could stoke a spike in oil prices, turning world opinion against Israel while alienating the Iranian dissident movement.

The same would follow a large Iranian death toll, though civilian infrastructure might not be spared.

Gardiner said the Israelis, like the US air force during the Serbia campaign of 1999, might fry Iran’s electricity grids by dropping carbon fibers on its exposed power lines.

“Israel knows that an attack on Iran, no matter how much evidence to show that Iran is on the cusp of acquiring nuclear weapons that could kill large numbers of Israelis if it chooses, would cause an international outcry,” said Richard Kemp, a retired British army colonel who has studied Israeli doctrines.

“It is very much in Israel’s interest to take every possible precaution to make it as precise and effective as possible (and) do everything to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties.”

But escalation might be impossible to avoid.

LOSING TACTICAL EDGE

Should Iran retaliate with Shehab missile launches against Tel Aviv, for example, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would find it hard not to strike back. It would need outside assurances that the Shehab salvoes would stop – say, through a US military enlistment against Iran, or a truce.

After losing the tactical edge of the initial sneak attack, Israeli forces would find it hard to keep up precision strikes.

Iran would be on alert for hostile warplanes, submarines and commandos. Iraq, Turkey or Saudi Arabia – countries which a 2006 study by the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology envisaged Israeli warplanes overflying en route to Iran – would shut down their air space.

The Israeli public would chafe at losing troops and living in bomb shelters. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in rare remarks on such a sensitive subject, said on Tuesday he saw the home front suffering “maybe not even 500 dead”.

In such a situation, Israel might rely increasingly on “stand-off” weaponry such as the Jerichos, which Jane’s missile experts believe are accurate only to around 1,000 yards (meters). This could mean more damage to Iran’s civilian infrastructure, including the lifeblood energy sector.

 

ISRAEL’S SECRET IRAN ATTACK PLAN: ELECTRONIC WARFARE

Israel’s Secret Iran Attack Plan: Electronic Warfare
By Eli Lake
Daily Beast / Newsweek
November 16, 2011

Israel has been building stealthy, multibillion-dollar electronic weapons that could be deployed if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear sites, U.S. intelligence officials tell Eli Lake.

***

For much of the last decade, as Iran methodically built its nuclear program, Israel has been assembling a multibillion-dollar array of high-tech weapons that would allow it to jam, blind, and deafen Tehran’s defenses in the case of a pre-emptive aerial strike.

A U.S. intelligence assessment this summer, described to The Daily Beast by current and former U.S. intelligence officials, concluded that any Israeli attack on hardened nuclear sites in Iran would go far beyond airstrikes from F-15 and F-16 fighter planes and likely include electronic warfare against Iran’s electric grid, Internet, cellphone network, and emergency frequencies for firemen and police officers.

For example, Israel has developed a weapon capable of mimicking a maintenance cellphone signal that commands a cell network to “sleep,” effectively stopping transmissions, officials confirmed. The Israelis also have jammers capable of creating interference within Iran’s emergency frequencies for first responders.

In a 2007 attack on a suspected nuclear site at al-Kibar, the Syrian military got a taste of this warfare when Israeli planes “spoofed” the country’s air-defense radars, at first making it appear that no jets were in the sky and then in an instant making the radar believe the sky was filled with hundreds of planes.

Israel also likely would exploit a vulnerability that U.S. officials detected two years ago in Iran’s big-city electric grids, which are not “air-gapped” – meaning they are connected to the Internet and therefore vulnerable to a Stuxnet-style cyberattack – officials say.

A highly secretive research lab attached to the U.S. joint staff and combatant commands, known as the Joint Warfare Analysis Center (JWAC), discovered the weakness in Iran’s electrical grid in 2009, according to one retired senior military intelligence officer. This source also said the Israelis have the capability to bring a denial-of-service attack to nodes of Iran’s command and control system that rely on the Internet.

Tony Decarbo, the executive officer for JWAC, declined comment for this story. The likely delivery method for the electronic elements of this attack would be an unmanned aerial vehicle the size of a jumbo jet. An earlier version of the bird was called the Heron, the latest version is known as the Eitan. According to the Israeli press, the Eitan can fly for 20 straight hours and carry a payload of one ton. Another version of the drone, however, can fly up to 45 straight hours, according to U.S. and Israeli officials.

Unmanned drones have been an integral part of U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, gathering intelligence and firing missiles at suspected insurgents. But Israel’s fleet has been specially fitted for electronic warfare, according to officials.

“They would have to take out radar and anti-aircraft. They could also attack with missiles and their drone fleet.”

The Eitans and Herons would also likely be working with a special Israeli air force unit known as the Sky Crows, which focuses only on electronic warfare. A 2010 piece in The Jerusalem Post quoted the commander of the electronic warfare unit as saying, “Our objective is to activate our systems and to disrupt and neutralize the enemy’s systems.”

Fred Fleitz, who left his post this year as a Republican senior staffer who focused on Iran at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in his meetings with Israeli defense and intelligence officials, they would always say all options were on the table.

“I think Israel has the capabilities with their air force and mid-air refueling to take on these sites,” said Fleitz, who is now managing editor of Lignet.com. “They would have to take out radar and anti-aircraft. They could also attack with missiles and their drone fleet.”

Whatever Israel ultimately decides to do about Iran’s program, one mission for now is clear. A senior Israeli official told The Daily Beast this month that one important objective of Israel’s political strategy on Iran was to persuade Iranian decision makers that a military strike against their nuclear infrastructure was a very real possibility. “The only known way to stop a nuclear program is to have smashing sanctions with a credible military threat. Libya is the best example of this,” this official said.

At the same time, if past practice is any guide, the Israelis would not likely strike at the same moment that their officials are discussing the prospect in the press. In other words, if Israel is openly discussing a military strike, it is unlikely to be imminent.

But if Israel goes radio silent – like it did in when it attacked a suspected nuclear site in Iraq in 1981 – that may be an early warning sign that a strike is nearing.

When Sam Lewis was U.S. ambassador to Israel during the transition from the Carter to Reagan administrations, he warned the new administration there was a chance then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin might bomb the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq.

“I had given a full alert to the new administration about the dangers,” Lewis recalled in an interview. “We’d been having discussions with the Israelis about how they wanted to stop the project, there was a lot of news and then it all dried up.”

Lewis and his staff had moved on. Then without warning on June 7, 1981, in something called Operation Opera, Israeli jets flew in the dead of night via Jordanian air space and incinerated the nuclear facility that was under construction southeast of Baghdad. “I did feel after the fact that we should have assumed this bombing was going to take place,” Lewis said. “After it was over, I was not surprised, I was annoyed by having been misled by the quiet as it were.”

There may be a lesson for the Obama administration as it tries to calibrate what Israel will do on Iran. Since taking office, the president has made major efforts to avoid any surprises in the relationship with Israel, particularly on the issue of Iran. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for example, tasked their first national security advisers to establish an unprecedented system for regular consultation between the two countries, featuring regular video-teleconferences.

They formed a standing committee on Iran as well, to check the progress of sanctions, share intelligence, and keep both sides informed. Despite all of this, Netanyahu has refused to give any assurance to Obama or his top cabinet advisers that he would inform or ask permission before launching an attack on Iran that would likely spur the Iranians to launch a terrorist attack on the United States or Israel in response, according to U.S. and Israeli officials familiar with these meetings. The Telegraph first reported the tension over the weekend.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “expressed the desire for consultation on any contemplated future Israeli military action, and [Ehud] Barak understood the U.S. position,” said one official familiar with the discussions.

The Israelis may be coy this time around because of the experience of then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In 2007, the Israelis presented what they considered to be rock-solid evidence that Syria was building a covert nuclear facility at al-Kibar. They asked President Bush to bomb the facility, according to the new memoir from Condoleezza Rice.

“The president decided against a strike and suggested a diplomatic course to the Israeli prime minister,” she wrote. “Ehud Olmert thanked us for our input but rejected our advice, and the Israelis then expertly did the job themselves.”

One American close to the current prime minister said, “When Netanyahu came into office, the understanding was they will not make the same mistake that Olmert made and ask for something the president might say no to. Better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”

 

IRAN TRAINS GAZANS TO OPERATE ANTI-TANK MISSILES

Iran trains Gazans to operate anti-tank missiles
IDF believes select group of Palestinian terrorists have undergone extensive military training in Islamic Republic.
By Yaakov Katz
The Jerusalem Post
November 17, 2011

A select group of Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip have undergone extensive military training recently in Iran, turning them into expert operators of sophisticated anti-tank missiles, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The IDF believes that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have obtained several hundred advanced Russian-made antitank missiles – such as the Kornet and the Fagot – which have a range of more than 4 kilometers and are capable of penetrating armored personnel carriers and some IDF tanks.

Terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip had a small number of these missiles ahead of Operation Cast Lead – Israel’s offensive against Hamas in 2009 – but only used them in a handful of known instances.

“They were not trained well then, and as a result, the missiles were not effective,” a senior IDF officer explained this week. “Since then, the groups have significantly increased the stockpile and have also sent specific terrorists to Iran for extensive training where they became anti-tank missile experts.”

The level of expertise was demonstrated earlier this year when Hamas fired a Kornet anti-tank missile at a school bus near Nahal Oz, which killed 16-year-old Daniel Viflic.

The missile was fired from a distance of close to 3 kilometers and the operator had to fire in between the Gaza security fence and electrical cables. “He also had to hit the bus, which was not easily seen on the road,” the officer said, explaining the complexities of the attack as a demonstration of the level of expertise in Gaza.

The anti-tank missiles are obtained by Hamas in several different ways. In some cases, they are purchased directly from Russia by Syria and are then transferred to Hamas or Hezbollah.

In other cases, Hamas operatives buy the weaponry on the black market and then smuggle it into the Gaza Strip via the tunnels it maintains under the Philadelphi Corridor.

“The Gaza Strip is completely different today than what it was almost three years ago,” a senior defense official said. “The amounts of weaponry are significantly higher as well as the type of weaponry and its sophistication.”

In face of the threat, the IDF is moving forward with plans to install the Trophy active protection system on Merkava Mk 4 tanks that are in production ahead of their delivery to the 401st Armored Brigade. Two of the brigade’s battalions have already received the system and the remaining battalion will finish receiving it by the beginning of 2012.

The Trophy system creates a hemispheric protected zone around armored vehicles such as the Merkava tank, which operated prominently in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Using advanced radar, the system is designed to detect and track a threat and counters it with a launched projectile that intercepts the anti-tank missile.

 

ANOTHER COMPUTER VIRUS HIT IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM

Cyber warfare: Duqu mystery deepens as Iran admits infection
Homeland Security News
November 18, 2011

www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20111118-duqu-mystery-deepens-as-iran-admits-infection

Iran recently revealed that the Duqu virus, a possible pre-cursor to a Stuxnet-like attack, has been discovered in its computer network; “We are in the initial phase of fighting the Duqu virus,” said Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s civil defense program

Iran recently revealed that the Duqu virus, a possible pre-cursor to a Stuxnet-like attack, has been discovered in its computer network.

“We are in the initial phase of fighting the Duqu virus,” said Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s civil defense program. “The final report which says which organizations the virus has spread to and what its impacts are has not been completed yet.” Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reported that Iran has developed anti-virus software to combat the virus and according to Jalali, “all the organizations and centers that could be susceptible to being contaminated are being controlled.”

News of Duqu was first released in October by the cybersecurity company Symantec. The virus contains code similar to Stuxnet, the computer worm that reportedly crippled Iran’s nuclear program by attacking industrial control systems used to operate its centrifuges.

Symantec says that while Stuxnet was designed to cause direct damage to Iran’s nuclear program, Duqu is different in that it gathers data that could be used for a future attack. In a report issued last month, the company stated,” Duqu is essentially the precursor to a future Stuxnet-like attack. Instead of being designed to sabotage an industrial control system, the new virus is designed to gain remote access capabilities.”

The virus accomplishes its goal by exploiting a “zero-day vulnerability,” or a previously undiscovered security loophole, in Microsoft Word. It utilizes a separate piece of malware known as a “dropper” to infect computers through a font embedded in a Word document.

Stuxnet utilized four such vulnerabilities, an unprecedented feat which led experts to speculate that the worm was created by hackers with government backing. It is widely believed that Israel’s Mossad as well as the United States military was responsible for the cyberattack.

Further analysis into Duqu reveals that its creators have a sense of humor. According to the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, the e-mail which infected an unnamed company with Duqu in April was sent by a Mr. B. Jason, an apparent reference to the Jason Bourne spy novels by Robert Ludlum.

Additionally in one of the virus’ strings of code is the phrase “Copyright 2003 Showtime Inc. All rights reserved. Dexter Regular version 1.00. Dexter is a registered trademark of Showtime Inc.” Dexter Regular is the name of the font used to exploit targeted systems. Dexter is a television series about a CSI doctor who is also a serial killer.

Iran has claimed that Duqu is the third piece of malware to strike the country. In April, Iranian officials said they had detected a virus, dubbed “Stars,” in its networks.

Kaspersky believes that Stars might actually be a product of Duqu. Just prior to the Iranian announcement, an unnamed company was contaminated with Duqu through an infected e-mail.

According to Alexander Gostev, the head of the Global Research and Analysis team at Kaspersky, “most probably, the Iranians found a keylogger module that had been loaded onto a system,” he wrote. “It’s possible that the Iranian specialists found just the keylogger, while the main Duqu module and the dropper (including the documents that contained the then-unknown vulnerability) may have gone undetected.”

Symantec believes that attacks using Duqu may have begun as early as December 2010.

Subsequent research into the virus by Kaspersky found discovered drivers in the Duqu code compiled as far back as 2007.

“If this information is correct, then the authors of Duqu must have been working on this project for over four years!” said Gostev.


This may be the most unsurprising sneak attack in history

* A weird but wonderful feature of Israeli democracy is that even fateful decisions about national security – like whether to carry out a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities – are publicly debated and covered in the press as if they were questions about road building or water rates, complete with vote counts in the cabinet and speculation about political motives.

* For Khomeinists only one adversary counts: America. And, since the United States is believed to be in terminal decline, there is no need for Tehran to fear American threats or respond to Obama’s offers. All it need do is wait until Americans realize they have no future in the Middle East and acknowledge Iran as the regional “superpower.”

* Mutual misunderstanding has often been the cause of conflict and war. In the case of Iran and the United States, that misunderstanding seems to be especially acute.

* “The former Director of the IAEA Mohammed El Baradei (below) has minimized the risks for years. In 2005 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for ‘his efforts against the atomic bomb.’ It is time to take away the Nobel Prize from the one who lied on the Iranian nuclear program.”

[Egypt’s ruling Military council is considering naming El Baradei as Cairo’s new prime minister following the resignation this morning of Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharif.]

 

CONTENTS

1. “For Israel, a tough call on attacking Iran” (By Jackson Diehl, Washington Post, Nov. 13, 2011)
2. “Panetta reassures Iran it has little to worry about” (By Jonathan Tobin, Commentary, Nov. 11, 2011)
3. “Why Iran doesn’t fear Bam” (By Amir Taheri, New York Post, Nov. 10, 2011)
4. “Hundreds of N. Korean nuclear and missile experts working in Iran” (Yonhap News, South Korea, Nov. 13, 2011)
5. “Remove the Nobel Prize from the one who lied about the Iranian nuclear program” (By Fiamma Nirenstein, Il Giornale, Nov. 10, 2011)


[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch concerns Iran. It was compiled a few days ago, but delayed because of illness.

It is split in two for space reasons. The other part can be read here: Aircraft are not the only means at Israel’s disposal

Among the writers of articles included in today’s dispatches, the following are subscribers to this email list:

Leading Iran expert Amir Taheri; Vice President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian parliament Fiamma Nirenstein; Deputy Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Jackson Diehl; Jonathan Tobin, the online editor of Commentary; Eli Lake, the National Security Correspondent for The Daily Beast / Newsweek; and Yaakov Katz, the military and defense correspondent of the Jerusalem Post.


FOR ISRAEL, A TOUGH CALL ON ATTACKING IRAN

For Israel, a tough call on attacking Iran
By Jackson Diehl
The Washington Post
November 13, 2011

A weird but wonderful feature of Israeli democracy is that even fateful decisions about national security – like whether to carry out a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities – are publicly debated and covered in the press as if they were questions about road building or water rates, complete with vote counts in the cabinet and speculation about political motives.

For more than two weeks now, mullahs in Tehran, generals in Washington and anyone else with an Internet connection has been able to read detailed accounts of attempts by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to convince their military chiefs and coalition partners that an Israeli strike is both feasible and necessary. Bitter closed-door debates have been chronicled; op-ed pages have been filled with the arguments, pro and con. There’s even been polling: Forty-one percent of Israelis were reported to favor an attack vs. 39 percent who were opposed.

If it happens, this may be the most unsurprising sneak attack in history. Reports that Israel is on the verge of bombing Iran have been appearing regularly since at least 2008. It’s tempting to dismiss the latest flurry as political noise or orchestrated leaks, aimed at focusing Western attention on the need for tougher sanctions against Iran, or at drowning out the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations.

That’s probably part of it. But it is also, in Israel, a genuine dilemma – and one in which the calculus looks very different than it does in Washington. “This is a serious debate,” said Shai Feldman, an Israeli expert on nuclear security who made a presentation on the subject at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy last week. “And it’s a tough call.”

It’s worth going through some of the key decision factors cited by Feldman and how they look to Israelis. Start with a threshold question: How much time is there to stop an Iranian bomb? In Washington, the typical answer depends on a projection of how long it would take Iran to finish a weapon and put it on a missile; or perhaps, how long Tehran might need to enrich a sufficient amount of uranium to bomb-grade. Estimates range from 62 days, in the case of uranium enrichment, to several years, for completing a deliverable bomb.

Israelis consider another timeline: How long before Iran finishes installing enrichment equipment at its new Fordow facility, which is buried under a mountain near the city of Qom? That plant is a far more difficult target for airstrikes than the buildings in Natanz, where most of the 4.9 tons of enriched uranium Iran has fabricated is now stored. And the latest report from U.N. inspectors suggests that Fordow will be open soon: Centrifuges have been set up, power has been connected and a first delivery of uranium has been made.

A second consideration is whether an Iran with a bomb could be deterred from using it. Many in Washington, with its half-century experience of the Cold War, suspect that it could be – and U.S. policy since the Bush administration has quietly aimed at setting up a deterrence structure, through such measures as providing air defense missiles to U.S. Persian Gulf allies.

But most Israelis, with the Holocaust in mind, judge it differently: The religious motivations of Iranian rulers, they argue, mean Tehran might be willing to accept even devastating civilian casualties in exchange for wiping out the Jewish state.

The regional fallout from an Israeli attack might be the biggest negative factor. Israelis expect that thousands of missiles might be fired at their cities by Iran’s clients in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, while U.S. forces might be attacked in Afghanistan, Iraq or in the Persian Gulf. But while the Pentagon worries about managing a fight on multiple fronts, Israeli leaders think they could handle their threat. Barak predicted last week that Israel would suffer fewer than 500 civilian casualties.

The most interesting calculations of all concern U.S-Israeli relations. The rupture of the U.S.-Israeli alliance arguably would be as large a blow to Israel’s security as Iran completing a bomb – and a unilateral attack might just risk that. The Pentagon might suspend what is now close cooperation; in Congress and in public opinion, Israel might be blamed for any U.S. casualties in Iranian counterattacks. I’ve always supposed that there will be no Israeli attack without a green light from Washington.

Israel, however, has a history of ignoring U.S. opinion at moments like this. It struck nuclear reactors in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007 with no American go-ahead. In both cases, there was no serious damage to relations – and, for that matter, no regional reaction.

Iran, almost certainly, would be a very different case. That’s why most of Israel’s military and intelligence chiefs oppose action. But Netanyahu and Barak seem to be arguing the other side. And, for better or for worse, you can read all about it in the Israeli press.

 

“THE NETANYAHU GOVERNMENT MUST BE FORGIVEN FOR BELIEVING THEY ARE NOW CLEARLY ON THEIR OWN”

Panetta reassures Iran it has little to worry about
By Jonathan S. Tobin
Contentions (Commentary magazine)
November 11, 2011

If the leaders of the Iranian regime were worried about Jeffrey Goldberg’s prediction that Barack Obama would confound the world and launch a U.S. military strike designed to save Israel from nuclear destruction, they can now calm down. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made it crystal clear at a Pentagon news conference yesterday he has no intention of supporting an American attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Echoing remarks uttered by his predecessor Robert Gates, Panetta said a U.S. strike would only deal a temporary setback to the Iranians and emphasized his fear that the “unintended consequences” of an American offensive would negatively impact the position of U.S. forces elsewhere in the region.

Panetta’s fears about conflict with Iran are reasonable. We don’t know whether it will be possible to completely eradicate their nuclear facilities (though a U.S. campaign would have a much greater chance of success than one conducted solely by Israel) and war with Iran could set off a series of other struggles around the region which would, at best, be messy, and at worst, be disastrous. But by publicly throwing cold water on the idea the United States is ready and able to militarily squash Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Panetta has sent a dangerous signal to Tehran that the Pentagon intends to veto any use of force against them. Combined with Russia’s pledge to block any further sanctions on Iran, the statement should leave the Khameini/Ahmadinejad regime feeling entirely secure as they push ahead to the moment when they can announce their first successful nuclear test.

For several years, leading voices in the Pentagon have sought to dampen any interest in attacking Iran. Part of it can be put down to the natural reluctance of military leaders to actually use the forces at their disposal. Part can also be attributed to a very understandable worry about launching a new war while the old ones in Iraq and Afghanistan were still raging. But it also reflects a sense by many in Washington that a nuclear Iran can be contained without too much bother. Israel’s fears of an existential threat to its existence and the equally profound worries of Arab countries about the prospect of a nuclear-fueled Iranian hegemony over the region just don’t resonate with those who, like many in Europe, fear a fight to stop the ayatollahs from getting the bomb more than they fear Iranian nukes.

But whatever the motivation, what Panetta has done with his statement is to alert the Iranians to the fact that the United States has no intention of doing anything but talk about stopping the Islamist nuclear threat. This comes as no surprise to Iran, because its leaders have long since pegged President Obama as a weakling whom they needn’t worry about. A year of the administration’s comic attempts at “engagement” followed by two more of unsuccessful attempts to forge an international coalition in favor of tough sanctions aimed at Iran have taught the ayatollahs to discount any possibility that Obama will take action against them.

It was bad enough the Iranians already believed this to be true, but by speaking out publicly in this manner in an effort to stop any speculation about Washington still considering the possibility of the use of force, Panetta has given them a guarantee they have nothing to fear from the United States.

Panetta is also sending a message to Israel. Going back to the George W. Bush administration, the U.S. has refused to give the Israelis a green light to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities. By speaking of “unintended consequences,” there’s little doubt Panetta is seeking to repeat that signal. While Jerusalem may still hold onto some hope that the U.S. will eventually change its mind when presented with an imminent Iranian threat, the Netanyahu government must be forgiven for believing they are now clearly on their own.

 

WHY IRAN DOESN’T FEAR OBAMA

Why Iran doesn’t fear Bam
By Amir Taheri
The New York Post
November 10, 2011

As expected, the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran’s clandestine nuclear-weapons program has revealed, once again, that the Islamic Republic is determined to ignore international law and the threat of military action.

Many factors may be behind Tehran’s behavior – most notably, a misreading of the Obama administration’s intentions and America’s ability to impose its will on Iran if necessary.

Iran’s official media have long claimed that President Obama has sent two letters to Iranian “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei. But until yesterday, there had been little information about Obama’s attempts at charming the mullahs with his magic prose.

Now an editorial in Kayhan, a daily Tehran newspaper run by the office of the “Supreme Guide,” has revealed what it describes as “America’s demands” from the Islamic Republic. Since Khamenei has refused to write back to Obama, the editorial can be regarded as his reply.

The paper lists five demands:

* Refrain from action that might disrupt the flow of OPEC’s oil to world markets.

* Stop the campaign to topple the monarchy in Saudi Arabia.

* Stop supporting movements opposed to the Israel-Palestine peace process, and accept Israel’s right to exist.

* Accept the US military presence in Muslim countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

* Don’t support groups that try to create Islamist regimes in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen.

Khamenei’s reply to Obama can be summed up in one phrase: Take a walk!

The editorial asserts that the US is in “global retreat” and that the American military are “scared” of confrontation with Iran. “It is interesting that while the White House, the State Department and the FBI are conducting the campaign of threats against Iran, the American security and military organizations have remained quiet,” Kayhan notes.

The silence of “the head of the Pentagon, the CIA, the [Joint] Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Adviser” indicates that the US “military-security” establishment fears the Islamic Republic. As a sign of that fear, the paper claims that these days the US fleet in the Persian Gulf “promptly answers any question put by the Iranian Central Command.”

“It is true,” the editorial continues, “Iran is America’s No. 1 challenger. But it is also true that the United States’ principal concern today is to reach an accommodation with Iran.” Washington now has “a strong adversary that cannot be deterred,” the paper muses.

It makes it clear that Khamenei wants total victory and is confident of securing it without endangering his hold on power.

While hardly mentioning Israel, the editorial makes clear that its destruction as a Jewish state remains a high priority of Khomeinism and its Arab clients. Convinced that Israel is in no position to attack Iran on its own, Kayhan makes no mention of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent threat of military action.

For Khomeinists only one adversary counts: America.

And, since the United States is believed to be in terminal decline, there is no need for Tehran to fear American threats or respond to Obama’s offers. All it need do is wait until Americans realize they have no future in the Middle East and acknowledge Iran as the regional “superpower.”

The editorial reveals a deep misreading at the highest level of Iranian leadership of the situation and the United States’ interests and capabilities.

Khamenei’s analysis is that the US would simply sit back and watch as Iran becomes a nuclear power, wipes Israel off the map, imposes the rule of the “Supreme Guide” from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and uses Middle East oil as a weapon in global jihad against the Infidel.

Khamenei is also mistaken in his understanding of the “American psychology.” Americans may be reluctant warriors and natural dealmakers – but, when forced to fight, they are not the cowards that Khamenei believes.

Mutual misunderstanding has often been the cause of conflict and war. In the case of Iran and the United States, that misunderstanding seems to be especially acute.

 

HUNDREDS OF N. KOREAN NUCLEAR AND MISSILE EXPERTS WORKING IN IRAN

Source: Hundreds of N. Korean nuclear and missile experts working in Iran
By Kim Kwang-tae
Yonhap News (South Korea)
November 13, 2011

english.yonhapnews.co.kr

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) -- Hundreds of North Korean nuclear and missile experts have been collaborating with their Iranian counterparts in more than 10 locations across the Islamic state, a diplomatic source said Sunday.

The revelation lends credence to long-held suspicions that North Korea was helping Iran with a secret nuclear and missile program.

 

REMOVE THE NOBEL PRIZE FROM THE ONE WHO LIED ON THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM

And now take away the Nobel Prize from the one who lied on the Iranian nuclear program
By Fiamma Nirenstein
Il Giornale
November 10, 2011

(Translated from Italian)

The former Director of the IAEA El Baradei has minimized the risks for years. In 2005 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for “his efforts against the atomic bomb.”

There is a hero and a terrible villain in the story of the hottest potato the whole world has been trying to handle since World War II: the 25-page report submitted by the International Agency for Atomic Energy: technical, icy, precise, confirming the intention – and between the lines – the success of Iran in pursuing the atomic bomb. Yes, the atomic bomb, that is allegedly about to be experimented in ad hoc facilities which – as the text reads – are hardly designed for poultry farming or for anything else. And the nuclear warheads for Shihab 3 missiles: this is the real nature of this program – explained without flustering by the report – and it is not atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

The hero is a Japanese, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano: notwithstanding the pressures from China and Russia – and notwithstanding who knows what steps Iran may take – he was as brave as a lion in presenting to the world what instead had been concealed, downplayed and minimized by his predecessor, Mohammed El Baradei, in the same role, from 1997 to 2009.

El Baradei had a nice group of technicians to study the situation in Iran. And they reported to him who decided what to use and what to select. And he did select a lot, even if everybody already knew the truth. Actually, the intelligence agencies from half of the world (including the Arab ones) gave him information that proved reliable when compared to the facts on the ground. It was well known – as Amano’s report plainly reveals – that up to 2003, the uranium enrichment preparatory work took place in various sites and that they received assistance from very important providers, such as Russia and China. And that, after the Ayatollahs’ regime had tried to cover it up by masking it as a civilian effort, this activity was increasingly pushed underground. But this was no secret to anybody, it was just a pretence to ignore its objectives, not to understand why these plants were being built so secretly and with the help of so many foreign technicians.

This work appears to be more clearly designed for war purposes. Amano says it, El Baradei did not reveal it even if he had all the elements to do so. And yet, surprise, surprise, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 “for his effort in preventing the use of nuclear energy for war purposes”. The well-meaning ideological approach of the Nobel Organizations made many mistakes, but now they have committed a blunder. El Baradei has obliged the world to face today a nightmare that could have been avoided if the IAEA had timely certified that a crazy, Islamist, extremist, anti-Western, anti-Semitic Iran was preparing an atomic bomb that can now be built in a very short time (some say it takes one year to build up a whole arsenal, some say two.... but two bombs, a trifle, can already be built today for most experts). And that he was experimenting warheads that are able to hit not only Jerusalem, but also the European capitals. And so, in addition to the categorical imperative to act contained in Amano’s report, (that at least the USA and Europe should act blocking the Iranian bank through sanctions, by ignoring Russia and China) we would like to make a sensible humble proposal to the Nobel Prize Organizers: if you want to save your face before future generations, at least take his Nobel Prize back.

Today, El Baradei is the candidate for the Egyptian Presidency. And as an enlightened layman, he couldn’t help but establishing a relationship with the Muslim Brothers and stating that the relationship with Israel is to be reviewed. However he has also been recently abandoned by his constituency. Maybe they realize the damage he did to his Country: Egypt is the main Sunni country in the area and Iran, Shiite, has only recently attached to it its amicable attention, thus hoping to expand his hegemony in the area. But this is unlikely to last. Egyptians too will not be pleased to see Iran turn nuclear.


The Guardian acknowledges a degree of anti-Semitism

November 11, 2011

AUDREY HEPBURN WOULD NOT BE PLEASED

Film star Audrey Hepburn said that witnessing the Jewish children in her class being deported, when she was a child in Nazi-occupied Holland, was a defining moment of her life.

She would be horrified by the comparison of her to a Palestinian terrorist in The Guardian.

 

“SUCH HEADLINES AND REPORTING SHOULD NEVER HAVE APPEARED IN THE FIRST PLACE”

The Guardian acknowledges a degree of anti-Semitism
By Tom Gross
The Commentator
November 10, 2011

The Guardian made an unusual admission this week. In a piece titled “On averting accusations of anti-Semitism,” the paper’s Readers’ Editor, Chris Elliott, acknowledged (or at least partly acknowledged) that The Guardian had a problem with anti-Semitism.

The paper likes to think of itself as a bastion of liberalism, fairness and anti-racism, and most Guardian staff would probably acknowledge that anti-Semitism is one of, if not the, most deadly forms of racism in history.

“Guardian reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant about the language they use when writing about Jews or Israel,” wrote Elliott.

He added that Guardian writers should have avoided “references [this year] to Israel/US ‘global domination’ and the term ‘slavish’ to describe the US relationship with Israel; and, in an article on a lost tribe of Mallorcan Jews, what I regarded as a gratuitous reference to ‘the island’s wealthier families’.”

However, Elliot added, “I don’t believe their appearance in The Guardian was the result of deliberate acts of anti-Semitism: they were inadvertent.”

I worked with Elliot in another context earlier this year and found him to be a fair-minded editor. But, being very much a “Guardian man,” he may not fully realise that the examples he cites in his piece are only the tip of the iceberg. The coverage of Israel in The Guardian and other British and European newspapers is all too often tinged with anti-Semitism.

Perhaps more damaging than the overt examples of The Guardian’s anti-Semitism that Elliot provides, is the paper’s long track record of being at or near the forefront of efforts to demonize the Jewish state: its decades’ long policy of greatly exaggerating any wrongdoing by Israel while ignoring, downplaying or even romanticizing attacks on her.

So, for example, while The Guardian has run highly provocative and unfair headlines such as “Netanyahu turns to Nazi language,” (July 10, 2009) or “Israel simply has no right to exist” (Jan. 3, 2001) and while its writers have used very insulting terms such as “proto-fascist” (Feb. 12, 2009) to describe the Israeli cabinet, the paper takes a very different approach to those who have murdered Israelis.

It ran a front page article, for instance, describing Yasser Arafat (known to many as the “father of international airline terrorism”) as “cuddly” and “erotic,” adding that “the stubble on his cheeks was silky not prickly. It smelt of Johnson’s Baby Powder” (Nov. 12, 2004).

Hamas master terrorist Nizar Rayan, who directed suicide bombers (including his own son) to murder and injure dozens of Israeli civilians, and who described Jews as a “cursed people” whom Allah changed into “apes and pigs,” was portrayed in The Guardian as someone who was “highly regarded” and “considered a hero” (Jan. 3, 2009).

The paper’s deputy editor Katharine Viner (best-known for co-writing the propaganda play “My Name Is Rachel Corrie,” and twice named as British Newspaper Magazine Editor of the Year), wrote in The Guardian about Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled, who hijacked and then blew up TWA Flight 840:

“The gun held in fragile hands, the shiny hair wrapped in a keffiah, the delicate Audrey Hepburn face refusing to meet your eye.”

I don’t think the families of Khaled’s many victims would have compared her to Audrey Hepburn.

When The Guardian does report on anti-Semitism, it often “balances” this with coverage that is highly insensitive to Jews. For example, when marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, The Guardian published a lead editorial, titled “Holocaust Memorial Day: Eternal memory” with an accompanying commentary by former Oxford University professor Terry Eagleton, in which he justified suicide bombing “in Israel” and likened suicide bombers to their victims. (Unsurprisingly, the piece was reprinted the following day in the Saudi paper Arab News and appeared on radical Moslem websites.)

Taken singly these examples may not denote anti-Semitism, but collectively they amount to a pattern that comes close to doing so.

Indeed it is not surprising that, with its skewered, often inflammatory reporting on Israel, The Guardian has become the paper of choice not just for liberals, but for anti-Semites to leave comments at the foot of articles on its website.

Israel should by all means be criticised. Indeed Israel as a democracy welcomes criticism. The Israeli media is one of the most self-critical in the world. It scrutinizes Israeli society, including its security forces, to a much greater extent than any British paper has scrutinized the conduct of the British military in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere; or the New York Times has scrutinized the conduct of America’s armed forces in Afghanistan.

The Guardian should not hold Israel up to impossibly high standards. It is no good publishing blatantly untrue headlines replete with historic anti-Semitic motifs (such as “Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs”) even when the paper later changed the headline online, citing “a serious editing error.” (“Corrections and Clarifications,” The Guardian, Dec. 22, 2009.)

Such headlines and reporting should never have appeared in the first place.

(Tom Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph.)

 

Yasser Arafat (known to many as the “father of international airline terrorism”) was “cuddly” and “erotic,” according to The Guardian, which added “The stubble on his cheeks was silky not prickly. It smelt of Johnson’s Baby Powder”.

 

* You can comment on this article here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. You first have to press “Like” on that page.

* And also here: http://www.thecommentator.com/article/624/the_guardian_acknowledges_a_degree_of_anti_semitism

There will be no dispatches next week.


America’s dilemma in the Mideast: should it promote democracy or stability?

November 09, 2011

* The Guardian readers’ editor: “Guardian reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant about the language they use when writing about Jews or Israel.”

* The Guardian readers’ editor: Guardian reporters should have avoided “references to Israel/US ‘global domination’ and the term ‘slavish’ to describe the U.S. relationship with Israel; and, in an article on a lost tribe of Mallorcan Jews, what I regarded as a gratuitous reference to ‘the island’s wealthier families’”.

* Tom Gross: The examples cited by The Guardian readers’ editor are just the tip of the iceberg concerning the way The Guardian and other British and European newspapers’ coverage of Israel is all too often tinged with anti-Semitism.

[UPDATE: There is also now a follow-up article on this subject, here: The Guardian acknowledges a degree of anti-Semitism.]



* Daniel Pipes: “The Arab upheavals of 2011 have inspired wildly inconsistent Western responses. How, for example, can one justify abiding the suppression of dissidents in Bahrain while celebrating dissidents in Egypt? Or protect Libyan rebels from government attacks but not their Syrian counterparts? Or oppose Islamists taking over in Yemen but not in Tunisia? Such ad hockery reflects something deeper than incompetence: the difficulty of devising a constructive policy toward a region where, other than in a few outliers (Cyprus, Israel, and Iran), populations are predominantly hostile to the West.”

* “A year ago, Western policymakers could survey the region and note with satisfaction that they enjoyed reasonable working relations with all the governments of Arabic-speaking countries, excepting Syria. The picture was not pretty but functional: Cold War dangers had been thwarted, Islamist ones mostly held off.”

* “Summing up the West’s policy dilemma vis-à-vis the Middle East:
• Democracy pleases us but brings hostile elements to power.
• Tyranny betrays our principles but leaves pliable rulers in power.”


* Efraim Karsh: “Finnish Foreign Minister Tuomioja has done it again. “No apartheid state is justified or sustainable,” he told a panel discussion about Israel in Helsinki last week… As the longest-serving foreign minister in Finland’s history (2000-2007, 2011-present) one would have expected Tuomioja to show greater familiarity with the facts. For one thing, all Israeli prime ministers over the past two decades – from Rabin and Peres to Sharon and Netanyahu – have unequivocally endorsed the two-state solution, whereas all Palestinian leaders have rejected this solution, refusing to allow a single Jew to live in a prospective Palestinian state.”

* “Following the completion of the Hebron redeployment in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza have not lived under Israeli occupation; rather, they have been under the jurisdiction of the PA. But a person like Tuomioja wouldn’t be bothered with such facts. Time and again, he has allowed his anti-Israel animosity to get the better of him. In an infamous 2001 interview, he compared Israel’s policy to Palestinians… to the Nazi persecution of European Jewry.”

* Israel’s offshore gas reserves poised to rise substantially in the near future.

* Unreported, rockets from Gaza continue to be fired into Israel almost daily (the most recent being yesterday evening while Israelis were eating dinner).

 

CONTENTS

1. Yet again, The Economist’s coverage of Israel is shameful
2. “On averting accusations of anti-Semitism” (By Chris Elliott, Guardian, Nov. 6, 2011)
3. “Friendless in the Middle East” (By Daniel Pipes, National Review, Nov. 8, 2011)
4. “Iran now top threat to U.S. says military official” (Reuters, Nov. 4, 2011)
5. “Finnish delusions” (By Efraim Karsh, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 7, 2011)
6. “Israel’s offshore gas reserves poised to rise” (Oil and Gas Journal, Nov. 2011)
7. “China to expand English language TV service” (Financial Times, Nov. 8, 2011)


YET AGAIN, THE ECONOMIST’S COVERAGE OF ISRAEL IS SHAMEFUL

I attach six articles on a variety of topics. (Three of the writers, Chris Elliott of The Guardian, Daniel Pipes, and Professor Efraim Karsh of King’s College London, are subscribers to this list.)

I have not included an article on Israeli Bedouin from the current edition of The Economist magazine. That the article was filled with incredibly sloppy reporting mixed with anti-Israel invective (leading one Economist reader to post a comment accusing Israel of planning a “final solution”) was bad enough, but why did The Economist caption it Palestine in the heading? Is the Negev now part of Palestine?

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

“I DON’T BELIEVE THEIR APPEARANCE IN THE GUARDIAN WAS THE RESULT OF DELIBERATE ACTS OF ANTISEMITISM: THEY WERE INADVERTENT”

The readers’ editor on… averting accusations of anti-Semitism
Guardian reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant about the language they use when writing about Jews or Israel
By Chris Elliott
The Guardian
November 6, 2011

The Guardian has always had a strong commitment to reporting on the Middle East. That means a lot of news reporting, as well as comment and analysis, on the Israel-Palestine situation. It is one of the world’s most contested conflicts, in which thousands of people have died or have been displaced. As a newspaper the Guardian has been critical of all sides, but it is seen as being especially critical of the Israeli government and its actions. And that has led to complaints that the Guardian, in print or online, is carrying material that either lapses into language resonant of anti-Semitism or is, by its nature, anti-Semitic.

It also leads to the much more rare allegation of Islamophobia. In this column I intend to address the former rather than the latter, because recently there has been a preponderance of such complaints.

This is not a fresh concern. It is a particularly sensitive issue for a core of the Guardian’s Jewish readers because CP Scott held strong Zionist sympathies, as did WP Crozier, who came after him as editor. In the Guardian’s archives is a letter of thanks from the first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, thanking Scott for his help in securing the Balfour declaration, the 1917 statement by the British government approving the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine.

A shift in attitudes came after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, as Daphna Baram outlines in her book Disenchantment: The Guardian and Israel, published in 2004. So, it’s not new. But there has been an increase in complaints of anti-Semitism within the last few months.

As the web has widened the debate, so it has also enabled more opportunities for articles and comments to be questioned. Individuals and organisations monitoring the Guardian’s coverage examine the language in articles – and the comments posted underneath them online – as closely as the facts.

For anti-Semitism can be subtle as well as obvious. Three times in the last nine months I have upheld complaints against language within articles that I agreed could be read as anti-Semitic. The words were replaced and the articles footnoted to reflect the fact. These included references to Israel/US “global domination” and the term “slavish” to describe the US relationship with Israel; and, in an article on a lost tribe of Mallorcan Jews, what I regarded as a gratuitous reference to “the island’s wealthier families”.

Two weeks ago a columnist used the term “the chosen” in an item on the release of Gilad Shalit, which brought more than 40 complaints to the Guardian, and an apology from the columnist the following week. “Chosenness”, in Jewish theology, tends to refer to the sense in which Jews are “burdened” by religious responsibilities; it has never meant that the Jews are better than anyone else. Historically it has been anti-Semites, not Jews, who have read “chosen” as code for Jewish supremacism.

One reader wrote of the column: “The despicable anti-Semitic tone of this rant is beyond reason or decency.”

An important feature of the Guardian online is that the comment threads are post-moderated: a team of moderators check almost half a million comments a month posted on the site for language that breaches the community guidelines across a whole range of issues – not just anti-Semitism. They are experienced in spotting the kind of language long associated with anti-Semitic tropes such as Jews having too much power and control, or being clannish and secretive, or the role of Jews in finance and the media.

Newspapers have to be aware that some examples involve coded references. They need to ask themselves, for example, if the word Zionist is being used as a synonym for Jew.

I have been careful to say that these examples may be read as anti-Semitic because I don’t believe their appearance in the Guardian was the result of deliberate acts of anti-Semitism: they were inadvertent. But that does not lessen the injury to some readers or to our reputation. The Guardian should not be oppressed by criticism – some of the language used by our critics is abusive and intimidatory – or retreat into self-censorship. But reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant to ensure our voice in the debate is not diminished because our reputation has been tarnished.

 

AMERICA’S DILEMMA IN THE REGION: SHOULD IT PROMOTE DEMOCRACY OR STABILITY?

Friendless in the Middle East
Our dilemma in the region: Do we promote democracy or stability?
By Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
November 8, 2011

The Arab upheavals of 2011 have inspired wildly inconsistent Western responses. How, for example, can one justify abiding the suppression of dissidents in Bahrain while celebrating dissidents in Egypt? Or protect Libyan rebels from government attacks but not their Syrian counterparts? Or oppose Islamists taking over in Yemen but not in Tunisia?

Such ad hockery reflects something deeper than incompetence: the difficulty of devising a constructive policy toward a region where, other than in a few outliers (Cyprus, Israel, and Iran), populations are predominantly hostile to the West. Friends are few, powerless, and with dim prospects of taking control. Democracy therefore translates into hostile relations with unfriendly governments.

Both the first wave of elections in 2005 and the second wave, just begun in Tunisia, confirm that, given a free choice, a majority of Middle Easterners vote for Islamists. Dynamic, culturally authentic, and ostensibly democratic, Islamists advance a body of uniquely vibrant political ideas and constitute the only Muslim political movement of consequence.

But Islamism is the third totalitarian ideology (following fascism and Communism). Preposterously, it proposes a medieval code to deal with the challenges of modern life. Retrograde and aggressive, it denigrates non-Muslims, oppresses women, and justifies force to spread Muslim rule. Middle Eastern democracy threatens not just the West’s security but also its civilization.

That explains why Western leaders (with the brief exception of George W. Bush) shy away from promoting democracy in the Muslim Middle East.

In contrast, the region’s unelected presidents, kings, and emirs pose a lesser threat to the West. With Moammar Qaddafi long ago chastened by American power and Saddam Hussein removed by American-led forces, the egomaniacs were gone by 2003 and surviving strongmen largely accepted the status quo. They asked for little more than to be allowed quietly to repress their populations and noisily to enjoy their privileges.

A year ago, Western policymakers could survey the region and note with satisfaction that they enjoyed reasonable working relations with all the governments of Arabic-speaking countries, excepting Syria. The picture was not pretty but functional: Cold War dangers had been thwarted, Islamist ones mostly held off.

Greedy and cruel tyrants, however, present two problems to the West. By focusing on personal priorities to the detriment of national interests, they lay the groundwork for further problems, from terrorism to separatism to revolution, and by repressing their subjects, they offend the sensibilities of Westerners. How can those who promote freedom, individualism, and the rule of law condone oppression?

In the Middle East, full tyranny has dominated since about 1970, when rulers learned how to insulate themselves against the prior generation’s coups d’état. Hafez al-Assad, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Hosni Mubarak, and the Algerian regime demonstrated with rare flamboyance the nature of full-blown stasis.

Then, last December, a butterfly flapped its wings in the small Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid (population: 40,000), when a policewoman slapped a fruit vendor. The response toppled three tyrants in eleven months, with two more in serious jeopardy.

Summing up the West’s policy dilemma vis-à-vis the Middle East:

• Democracy pleases us but brings hostile elements to power.

• Tyranny betrays our principles but leaves pliable rulers in power.

As interest conflicts with principle, consistency goes out the window. Policy wavers between Scylla and Charybdis. Western chanceries focus on sui generis concerns: security interests (the U.S. Fifth Fleet stationed in Bahrain), commercial interests (oil in Saudi Arabia), geography (Libya is ideal for Europe-based air sorties), the neighbors (the Turkish role in Syria), or staving off disaster (a prospect in Yemen). Little wonder policy is a mess.

Policy guidelines are needed; here follows my suggested triad:

Aim to improve the behavior of tyrants whose lack of ideology or ambition makes them pliable. They will take the easiest road, so join together to pressure them to open up.

Always oppose Islamists, whether al-Qaeda types as in Yemen or the suave and “moderate” ones in Tunisia. They represent the enemy. When tempted otherwise, ask yourself whether cooperation with “moderate” Nazis in the 1930s would have been a good idea.

Help the liberal, secular, and modern elements – those who in the first place stirred up the upheavals of 2011. Assist them eventually to come to power, so that they can salvage the politically sick Middle East from its predicament and move it in a democratic and free direction.

 

IRAN NOW TOP THREAT TO U.S. SAYS MILITARY OFFICIAL

Iran now top threat to U.S. says military official
By Phil Stewart in Washington, Fredrik Dahl in Vienna; editing by Mohammad Zargham
Reuters
November 4, 2011

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran is the biggest threat to the United States and its allies in the Middle East, surpassing al Qaeda, which is down but not out, a senior military official said on Friday.

“The biggest threat to the United States and to our interests and to our friends, I might add, has come into focus and it’s Iran,” said the official, addressing a forum in Washington.

Next week, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, is expected to release a report that includes evidence of Iranian nuclear research which makes little sense if not weapons related, Western diplomats said.

However, the official said he did not believe Iran wanted to provoke a conflict and added he did not know if the Islamic state had decided to build a nuclear weapon.

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and that it is enriching uranium to power reactors for electricity generation.

“I don’t know that the Iranians have made the decision to make a nuclear weapon,” the official said.

Reporters were allowed to cover the event on condition that the senior military official not be identified.

“Al Qaeda is not out, but it’s down,” the official said. He added that al Qaeda had also been largely marginalized by Arab Spring uprisings that have shown change is possible without resorting to the group’s “medieval practices.”

The United States, the European Union and others have imposed numerous rounds of economic sanctions on Tehran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment program.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday said he agreed on the need to keep “unprecedented pressure” on Iran. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday stricter sanctions were the key to reining in Iran’s nuclear program.

But it is far from clear whether China and Russia, members of the U.N. Security Council, would agree to significantly tighten trade and financial sanctions on Tehran.

At the Pentagon, spokesman George Little said the United States remained focused on leveraging diplomatic and economic pressure against Iran.

“We remain very concerned about their intentions with respect to their nuclear program,” Little told reporters.

“But in terms of the instruments of national power that we’re currently employing, the focus is on diplomatic and economic,” Little said.

Last month the United States accused Iran of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, an allegation Tehran denied.

There has been a surge of speculation in Israeli media this week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to secure Cabinet consensus for an attack on Iranian nuclear installations.

Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 and launched a similar sortie against Syria in 2007, precedents lending weight to its veiled threats to take similar action on Iran if foreign pressure fails to curb its nuclear program.

Iran has warned that it will respond to any attacks by hitting Israel and U.S. interests in the Gulf. Analysts say Tehran could retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz, the waterway where about 40 percent of all traded oil passes.

 

“ISRAEL HAS NO RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE”

Finnish delusions
By Efraim Karsh
The Jerusalem Post
November 7, 2011

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja has done it again. No sooner did this 1960s radical ease himself back into the foreign minister’s seat after four years in the opposition than he unveiled again his anti- Israel prejudice.

“No apartheid state is justified or sustainable,” he told a panel discussion in Helsinki last week. “If you are occupying areas inhabited by... Palestinians who do not have the same rights as the Israelis in Israel, that is apartheid.... I think that the majority in Israel has also realized this, but they have been unable to provide a leadership that [can] move forward on the two-state solution, on the Palestinian problem.”

As the longest-serving foreign minister in Finland’s history (2000-2007, 2011-present) one would have expected Tuomioja to show greater familiarity with the facts. For one thing, all Israeli prime ministers over the past two decades – from Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres to Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu – have unequivocally endorsed the two-state solution, whereas all Palestinian leaders have rejected this solution, refusing to allow a single Jew to live in a prospective Palestinian state. For another, Israel’s “occupation” of the populated areas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip ended in the mid-1990s.

The declaration of principles signed on the White House lawn in 1993 by the PLO and the Israeli government provided for Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a transitional period, during which Israel and the Palestinians would negotiate a permanent peace settlement. By May 1994, Israel had completed its withdrawal from Gaza (apart from a small stretch of territory containing settlements in the south of the Strip, which was vacated in 2005) and the Jericho area of the West Bank. On July 1, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat made his triumphant entry into Gaza.

On September 28, 1995, despite Arafat’s abysmal failure to clamp down on terrorist activities in the territories now under his control, the two parties signed an interim agreement, and by the end of the year Israeli forces had been withdrawn from the West Bank’s populated areas, with the exception of Hebron (where redeployment was completed in early 1997). On January 20, 1996, elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council were held, and shortly afterward, both the Israeli civil administration and the military government were dissolved.

The geographical scope of these withdrawals was relatively limited; the surrendered land amounted to some 30 percent of the West Bank’s overall territory. But its impact on the Palestinian population was nothing short of revolutionary. In one fell swoop, Israel relinquished control over virtually all of the West Bank’s 1.4 million residents. Since that time, nearly 60% of them – in the Jericho area and in the seven main cities of Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Kalkilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron – have lived entirely under Palestinian jurisdiction. Another 40% live in towns, villages, refugee camps and hamlets where the Palestinian Authority exercises civil authority but where, in line with the Oslo accords, Israel has maintained “overriding responsibility for security.”

In short, since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the Hebron redeployment in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have not lived under Israeli occupation; rather, they have been under the jurisdiction of the Arafat-led PA.

But a person like Tuomioja wouldn’t be bothered with such facts as far as the Jewish state is concerned. Time and again, he has allowed his anti-Israel animosity to get the better of him. In an infamous 2001 interview, he compared Israel’s attempts to protect its citizens from the savage terror war launched by Arafat’s PA in September 2000 to the Nazi persecution of European Jewry: “It is quite shocking that some implement the same kind of policy toward the Palestinians which they themselves were victims of in the 1930s.”

Ignoring criticism of this comparison, which subsequently became an integral component of the EU’s working definition of anti-Semitism, he told the same Finnish magazine four years later that he “could have avoided many unnecessary reactions with a different wording, but the matter itself has not changed in any way.”

Nor, for that matter, does Tuomioja seem to believe that the Jewish state has any right to self-defense. In 2003, he used the apartheid metaphor to denounce the erection of the security fence, which has done more than any other single factor to slash the tidal wave of Palestinian terrorism, though Finland has long had a similar fence along its border with the Soviet Union/Russia. When Israel responded to years of Gaza rocket attacks on its towns and villages by unleashing Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, Tuomioja, now chairman of the Parliament Grand Committee, condemned this supposed disproportionate use of force. When IDF commandos killed eight Islamist militants in violent clashes on board a Turkish ship trying to break the naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza in June 2009, he demanded that “trade and other ties with Israel should be linked to Israel’s regard for international law and commitment to the peace process.”

One could have dismissed Tuomioja’s musings as a desperate ploy by an aging politician to regain his luster after the highly successful term of his predecessor – the charismatic Alexander Stubb, 22 years his junior – had Finland not been aggressively campaigning for the rotating Security Council seat for the 2013-2014 term. Next time Abbas touts his Jew-free revanchist state to the council, he is likely to find an eager collaborator.

 

ISRAEL’S OFFSHORE GAS RESERVES POISED TO RISE SUBSTANTIALLY IN THE NEAR FUTURE

Israel’s offshore gas reserves poised to rise
Oil and Gas Journal
November 2011

www.ogj.com/content/ogj/en/articles/2011/11/israels-offshore-gas-reserves-poised-to-rise.html

Israel’s reserves of natural gas, now under development in the country’s Mediterranean offshore, are poised to rise substantially in the near future, according to a senior government official.

“Israel’s potential gas discoveries stand at 1,000 billion cu m,” said Israel Natural Gas Authority Director-General Yehosua Stern, adding that Israel’s proven gas reserves amount to 300 bcm, most of it in the offshore Tamar field.

However, Stern told delegates at a conference on energy and the environment that the reserves figure is expected to rise by a further 453 bcm after production tests are completed at Leviathan field.

Stern also told conference delegates that he expects an additional 550 bcm of gas to be discovered in Israeli economic waters, which eventually will bring the country’s total reserves to 1,300 bcm.

“In 2014-15 there will be an additional entry from Tamar to Israel in the Ashkelon region,” said Stern, who also noted that “an additional supplier will come into the Israeli gas market around 2016-17.”

Stern’s remarks coincided with reports that Dolphin 1 partners Noble Energy Inc., Delek Group Ltd., and Ratio Oil Exploration LP found “clear signs” of gas at the Dolphin 1 exploratory well in the Hanna license.

The Jerusalem Post reported that preliminary results found 550 bcf of gas in the Hanna license, and that the gas-bearing strata are in the Tamar sands at a depth of 4,440 m in 1,560 m of water 110 km west of Haifa.

Noble Energy owns 39.66% of Hanna, Delek Group units Avner Oil & Gas LP and Delek Drilling LP each own 22.67%, and Ratio owns 15%.

Stern’s remarks follow statements by other government officials who said Israel and neighboring Cyprus stand ready to cooperate on a joint project to tap potentially huge offshore gas deposits.

“We can cooperate in generating this newfound energy, and use it for the benefit of the entire region,” said Israel’s President Shimon Peres, who added that the two countries have “substantial economic cooperation potential” with the discovery of gas in the Mediterranean.

Houston’s Noble Energy Co., which discovered the gas offshore Israel, is also exploring offshore Cyprus and is confident that the Leviathan field extends into Cypriot waters– a discovery that is changing how the region is viewed.

“What we’re seeing now is a redrawing of the strategic terrain in the eastern Mediterranean,” said James Ker-Lindsay, a specialist in Turkey and Cyprus at the London School of Economics.

Focus on the region’s hydrocarbons picked up in 2010 when the US Geological Survey said that the Levant basin, which covers waters off Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Cyprus, contains 122 tcf of gas and as much as 4 billion bbl of oil.

 

CHINA TO EXPAND ENGLISH LANGUAGE TV SERVICE FROM WASHINGTON

China to expand English language TV service
By Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles and Kathrin Hille in Beijing
Financial Times
November 8, 2011

China’s state-owned broadcaster has launched an aggressive international push to extend the country’s influence, opening a new headquarters in Washington that will broadcast English-language programming from the heart of the US capital.

China Central Television, which produces the ruling Communist party’s news shows and other propaganda programmes, is constructing a studio in Washington which will serve as its US broadcasting centre. It aims to begin broadcasting from the site by the middle of 2012 and produce up to six hours of original programming a day, according to people familiar with the plans.

CCTV has also built a studio facility in Nairobi, from where it will broadcast its English-language channel in Africa, and plans to open a broadcasting centre in Europe, according to several people briefed on the plans.

“They have a very ambitious plan to increase distribution of their English language channel,” said one person familiar with the broadcaster’s expansion strategy. “But they don’t want to go public with their plans until they’re ready.” CCTV did not respond to questions about the global expansion.

The push comes as the ruling Communist party counters what it sees as the negative image of China spread by Western media.

“The big four Western news agencies dominate about 80 per cent of the news flow, and if China wants to strengthen its soft power it must speak through its own media,” said Dong Tiance, a journalism professor at Jinan University. “The strengthening of international broadcasting allows the world to understand us more thoroughly and increases our influence.”

CCTV has leased 36,000 sq ft at 1099 New York Avenue – three city blocks from Bloomberg’s offices in the city – and is hiring local staff to work at the facility.

The company is working to increase distribution of its English language channel in the US and has been searching for a high-profile figure to be the face of the channel, much in the same way that Al Jazeera, the Arab-centric news channel, used Sir David Frost, when it launched in 2006. CCTV is following the model established by Al Jazeera and is expanding globally, part of Beijing’s untiring efforts to build ‘soft power’ more in line with its growing political and economic weight in the world.

Its English channel is currently available in a limited number of US homes via cable and satellite providers, such as Dish Network, in areas where there are concentrated Chinese populations. However, the company is keen to increase the size of its US audience.

Taking CCTV global could prove to be a big challenge for the broadcaster. It has been revamping its staid news programming, which tend to parrot party propaganda slogans and have become a laughing stock among many younger viewers accustomed to internet media and entertainment.

“Our past practice of strongly emphasising our achievements maybe didn’t yield ideal results,” Prof Dong said.


Two unrepentant murderers fall for each other... (& Get ready for a long winter)

November 03, 2011

The Arafats in happier days


* Omar Ghraieb: “He was from Fatah and she was from Hamas, the two rival Palestinian movements. They were both serving multiple life sentences. They had participated in killings – she for her role in a Jerusalem restaurant bombing, he in connection with the killing of an Israeli. As lovers go they could not have been more star crossed, yet Nezar and Ahlam Al Tammimi met, fell in love, got engaged and finally married while they were sitting in Israeli jails. Both were among some 450 Palestinian prisoners swapped for Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit last week.”

* Tom Gross adds: Tammimi is one of the worst terrorists of recent years, proudly taking responsibility for her key role in the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem which killed 16 Israelis (including 12 children) and injured 150. (Contrast Israel’s allowing prisoners to meet and marry, with Gilad Shalit’s treatment in Gaza.)

* Bret Stephens: “I am not in the least bit worried about the Muslim Brotherhoods in Jordan or Egypt hijacking the future,” confided New York Times columnist Tom Friedman... Added his colleague Nicholas Kristof: “I agree that the Muslim Brotherhood would not be a good ruler of Egypt, but that point of view also seems to be shared by most Egyptians.” What reassurance. Nine months on, the Islamist Nahda party has swept to victory in Tunisia, the one Arab state in which secularist values were said to be irreversibly fixed. Libya’s new interim leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, came to office promising “the Islamic religion as the core of our new government”; as a first order of business, he promises to revoke the Gadhafi regime’s ban on polygamy since “the law is contrary to Shariah and must be stopped.” Later this month, Islamist candidates – some of them Muslim Brothers, others even more religiously extreme – will likely sweep Egypt’s parliamentary elections. It doesn’t stop there…”

* Forbes magazine: “Checked bag fees [in the U.S.] have turned many air travelers into Mary Poppins, with carry-on bags that can be jam-packed with a week’s worth of clothing, toiletries, electronics, reading material, an umbrella and a spoon full of sugar – and still fit in an overhead bin (with some shoving). Overhead bins weren’t designed with a plane full of Poppins in mind (since she has traditionally had other means of air travel), so the space always runs out, meaning annoyances for passenger who have to shove their things under the seat in front of them or check their bags at the gate. The jam-packed bags ares also annoying for TSA officers. These bags are so densely packed that imaging machines can’t properly see through them.”

 

CONTENTS

1. Tunisia issues arrest warrant for Suha Arafat
2. Newest UNESCO member 6th worse place in world for perceived press freedom
3. “Why Islamists are winning” (By Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 1, 2011)
4. “Behind bars, two Palestinians find love, marriage” (By Omar Ghraieb, Media Line, Oct. 27, 2011)
5. “Netanyahu’s folly” (By Deroy Murdock, National Review, Oct. 28, 2011)
6. “Airlines’ checked-bag fees are bad for security, says TSA chief” (Forbes, Oct. 31, 2011)


TUNISIA ISSUES ARREST WARRANT FOR SUHA ARAFAT

[Note by Tom Gross]

On many occasions during the 1990s, I drew attention to the corruption of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and his extravagant wife Suha, who financed her lavish lifestyle with funds supplied by Western governments as “humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people”.

I was bitterly criticized by some Western commentators for drawing attention to this, and I was accused of “undermining the peace process” for pointing out Arafat’s undemocratic ways.

Now, last weekend the Tunisian authorities issued an arrest warrant for Suha Arafat (who moved back to Tunisia following Yasser Arafat’s death in 1994), accusing her of several counts of corruption over the last two decades.

 

NEWEST UNESCO MEMBER IS THE 6TH WORST PLACE IN WORLD FOR PERCEIVED PRESS FREEDOM

The Palestinian Authority (which as Palestine has just been given a round of applause by the UN cultural and educational body UNESCO) ranks as the 6th worst place in world for press freedom, according to a new survey by Gallup, released today, November 3, 2011.

Question: Do the media in this country have a lot of freedom or not?

Yes No Don’t Know
27% 72% 00% Chad
28% 48% 24% Haiti
29% 47% 24% Armenia
30% 45% 25% Belarus
32% 64% 04% Mauritania
34% 55% 10% Palestinian Territories

Many Western media, such as The New York Times which again this week claimed that freedom is under assault for Israelis within Israel, have next to nothing to say about the situation for Palestinians under Palestinian rule.

***

I attach four pieces below. Two of the writers, Bret Stephens and Deroy Murdock, are subscribers to this email list, as are several of the people cited in these articles, including New York Times columnists Tom Friedman and Nicholas Kristof and Mideast scholar Bernard Lewis

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

“GET READY FOR A LONG ISLAMIST WINTER”

Why Islamists are winning
When secular politics fail, Islamism is the last big idea standing.
By Bret Stephens
Wall Street Journal
November 1, 2011

“This is not an Islamic Revolution.”

So opined Olivier Roy, arguably Europe’s foremost authority on political Islam, in an essay published days after Hosni Mubarak was forced from power in February. “Look at those involved in the uprisings, and it is clear that we are dealing with a post-Islamist generation,” he wrote. “This is not to say that the demonstrators are secular; but they are operating in a secular political space, and they do not see in Islam an ideology capable of creating a better world.”

Mr. Roy wasn’t alone in the sangfroid department. “I am not in the least bit worried about the Muslim Brotherhoods in Jordan or Egypt hijacking the future,” confided New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, with the caveat that their secular opponents would need some time to organize. Added his colleague Nicholas Kristof in a dispatch from Cairo: “I agree that the Muslim Brotherhood would not be a good ruler of Egypt, but that point of view also seems to be shared by most Egyptians.”

What reassurance. Nine months on, the Islamist Nahda party has swept to victory in Tunisia, the one Arab state in which secularist values were said to be irreversibly fixed. Libya’s new interim leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, came to office promising “the Islamic religion as the core of our new government”; as a first order of business, he promises to revoke the Gadhafi regime’s ban on polygamy since “the law is contrary to Shariah and must be stopped.” Later this month, Islamist candidates – some of them Muslim Brothers, others even more religiously extreme – will likely sweep Egypt’s parliamentary elections.

It doesn’t stop there. Hezbollah has effectively ruled Lebanon since it forced the collapse of a pro-Western government in January. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s Islamist prime minister, cruised to a third term in parliamentary elections in June. Hamas, winner in the last vote held by the Palestinian Authority in 2006, would almost certainly win again if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dared put his government to an electoral test.

When secular politics fail, Islamism is the last big idea standing.

Why have Islamists been the main beneficiaries of Muslim democracy? None of the usual explanations really suffices. Islamists are said to be the unintended beneficiaries of the repression they endured under autocratic secular regimes. True up to a point. But why then have their secular opponents in places like Egypt been steadily losing ground since the Mubarak regime fell by the wayside? Alternatively, we are told that secular values never had the chance to sink deep roots in Muslim-majority countries. Also true up to a point. But how then Tunisia or Turkey – to say nothing of the Palestinians, who until the early 1990s were often described as the most secularized Arab society?

Closer to the mark is Mideast scholar Bernard Lewis, who noted in an April interview with the Journal that “freedom” is fairly novel as a political concept in the Arab world. “In the Muslim tradition,” Mr. Lewis noted, “justice is the standard” of good government – and the very thing the ancien regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya so flagrantly traduced. Little wonder, then, that Mr. Erdogan’s AK party stands for “Justice and Development,” the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s new party is “Freedom and Justice” and, further afield, the leading Islamist party in Indonesia calls itself “Prosperous Justice.”

Still, the Islamists’ claim to “justice” goes only so far to account for their electoral successes. There is also the comprehensive failure of the Muslim world’s secular movements to provide a better form of politics.

The national-socialist brew imported from Europe in the 1940s by Michel Aflaq became the Baathist tyrannies of present-day Syria and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Pan-Arabism’s appeal faded well before the death of its principal champion, Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Socialism failed Algeria; Gadhafi’s “Third Universal Theory” failed Libya. French-style laïcité descended into kleptocracy in Tunisia and quasi-military control in Turkey. Periodic attempts at market liberalization yielded dividends in places like Bahrain and Dubai but were never joined by political liberalization and were often shot through with cronyism.

That sour history leaves Islamism as the last big idea standing – and standing at a moment when tens of millions of young Muslims find themselves undereducated, semi- or unemployed, and uniquely receptive to a world view with deep historic roots and heroic ambitions.

What does its future hold?

Optimists say it need not be a reprise of Iran; that it could look more like Turkey; that the term “moderate Islamist” isn’t an oxymoron, at least in a relative sense. Then again, Turkey’s domestic and foreign policies inspire little confidence that moderate Islamism will be anything other than moderately repressive and moderately radical. As for Iran, signs of its own long-awaited turn toward moderation are as fleeting as the Yeti’s footsteps in drifting snow.

The good news is that after 31 years most Iranians have grown sick of Islam always being the answer, and the collapse of the regime awaits only the next ripe opportunity. The bad news is that a similar time-frame may be in store for the rest of the Muslim world, until it too becomes disenchanted with Islamist promises. Get ready for a long winter.

 

TWO MURDERERS FALL FOR EACH OTHER...

Behind bars, two Palestinians find love, marriage
By Omar Ghraieb
The Media Line
October 27, 2011

He is Fatah, she is Hamas; they were both freed in last week’s prisoner swap

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – He was from Fatah and she was from Hamas, the two rival Palestinian movements. They were both serving multiple life sentences. They had participated in killings – she for her role in a Jerusalem restaurant bombing, he in connection with the killing of an Israeli.

As lovers go they could not have been more star crossed, yet Nezar and Ahlam Al Tammimi met, fell in love, got engaged and finally married while they were sitting in Israeli jails. Both were among some 450 Palestinian prisoners swapped for Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit last week.

“Nobody believes me when I say that I never ever lost hope. I always saw the light at the end of the tunnel and now I am free,” Ahlam, 31, declares.

Married behind bars, the two now plan a big wedding – as soon as they can finally see each other. They don’t know when that will happen: Under the conditions of their release, Nezar was returned to his home the West Bank while Ahlam was flown to her family in Jordan.

Ahlam was born in 1980 to a Palestinian family that moved from Palestine to Jordan in 1967. Ahlam has two brothers and four sisters. Recalling Ahlam’s childhood, her brother Fakhr Al Tammimi said: “Ahlam was a rebellious child with a strong personality. She never took the easy way and always thought out of the box. My sister had Palestine in her heart and always wanted to go back there.”

In 1998, Ahlam began studying media and journalism at Birzeit University in Ramallah. In September 2000, as the Second intifada erupted, Ahlam felt like she had to do something. During her university years, Ahlam was working for Al-Milad magazine and Al-Istiqlal television station, both local media outlets, because she believed in working and studying at the same time.

“I met a fellow Palestinian in the university who inspired me, it turned out he was a member of Hamas. I expressed my desire to join them. He told me he has to ask his superior because Ezzeldin Al-Qassam brigades have no female members. After a few days, he came with an approval, which made me the first female Ezzeldin Al-Qassam brigade member,” Ahlam explains.

Ahlam helped Ezz Al Din Al Massri, 20, to blow himself up in Sabarro restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001, which killed 16 Israelis and injured 150. Her role had been to choose the location and secure transportation to reach that location. Not long after, she was arrested.

Israeli security forces stormed Ahlam’s house at 3:00 a.m. They handcuffed her, blindfolded her and dragged her into interrogation. She was sentenced to do 16 life sentences for her deed.

“Israeli police used both mental and physical torture on me to admit my role in the operation but it wasn’t important because my fellow members had already confessed about my role,” Ahlam shared. During that time, Ahlam and her family were mourning the loss of their mother. “Aside from the mental and physical torture, I was also going tough times because of my mother’s death. Things were harder and darker.”

“I was placed in solitary confinement many times, sometimes for a reason and sometimes for no reason. The cell is so small and dark with dark walls and built underground. It’s just like being jailed in a tomb. If I hadn’t of turned to God, praying and Qura’an, I would have lost my mind.” Ahlam recalls.

“Let me share with you a funny story, I was sentenced with an extra year to my 16 lifetimes because I had a fight with an Israeli female prison guard. This incident kept me laughing for days, as if I would care less about an extra year added to my jail time of 1,548 years.” Ahlam says laughing.

Ahlam wasn’t veiled before jail, but she began to wear the hijab in jail and also got her first Palestinian identification card while in Jail.

Ahlam heard about Nezar Al Tammimi, her relative, 38, who was jailed in 1993 during his university years. He was also studying in Birzeit back then. He was sentenced to life in prison for belonging to a Fatah cell responsible of kidnapping and killing an Israeli in the Jewish community of Beit El near Ramallah. Ahlam admired him. Ahlam actually visited Nezar in jail before she was jailed herself. The spark of mutual admiration that they felt back then developed over time into love.

Ahlam and Nezar started exchanging letters while in jail. “Each letter would take a month to reach Nezar and another month to get his response back. I would place the letter in the mail and send it to my family. My family would send it to Nezar’s family. Nezar’s family would send it to him.”

“Nezar would go through the same process to send me a letter. Our letters were so precious, they took so much time and they were our only means of communication. We would share experiences, express our love and share our virtual dreams of being and living together after our marriage,” Ahlam says with a broad smile and a sparkle in her eyes.

The two were not only separated by bars but by membership in rival movements. After briefly sharing control of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas fought each other for control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and have failed to patch up their differences despite a declaration of national unity last spring.

On an August day in 2005, Nezar’s fellow inmates threw him a party to celebrate his engagement to Ahlam. Simultaneously, Ahlam celebrated a party in parallel with her inmates. After that, their one and only meeting came in March 2010, when they were both summoned by the Israeli intelligence to be questioned about the relationship between them and their future plans.

“After exchanging letters and falling in love we both decided to get engaged even if we were both jailed for life,” she recounts.

Their fathers arranged the documents and sent them copies of the marriage contract in jail. Nezar sent his wife wedding rings but the Israeli prison administration confiscated them all, she says.

“Initially, it was purely a familial attachment ungoverned by factional politics even though our link is a practical demonstration of the factions’ call for Palestinian unity,” Ahlam told Uruknet.info, a Middle East website. “As Nezar and I have been united by this engagement we hope to be a beautiful demonstration to the factions of the unity that is possible, God willing, through comprehensive reconciliation.”

With the release of the Palestinian prisoners October 18, Nezar was sent to Nabi Saleh, his hometown in the West Bank where he was welcomed as both a hero and bridegroom.

But Ahlam, denied entry to the West Bank as a condition for her release, says she was obligated to fly to Jordan to join her family. The couple met briefly at Cairo Airport’s Sheraton Hotel on their way to their final destinations.

Arriving in Jordan, Ahlam says she was overwhelmed when large numbers of family, friends and fans came to Amman’s Queen Alya airport to welcome her. “I only met my family twice during my 10 years of jail time, which made me drown in despair sometimes. I missed them so much.

Meeting my father and the rest of the family means the world to me,” Ahlam says in tears.

Ahlam says she already feels rejuvenated by being reunited with her family. “There is a whole new generation in my family that I missed out on. Photographs and names have turned into people that I am eager to know,” Ahlam adds happily.

Ahlam’s dream now is to settle down after a huge wedding that reunites her with her husband Nezar. “All I dream about now is to live with Nezar, settling down and raising our future children.”

According to Ahlam, Plan A is Nezar’s trip to Jordan so they can hold a real wedding there and live together. If Nezar is denied access to Jordan, then Plan B is for both Ahlam and Nezar to request permission to visit Gaza and settle there with the support of the Palestinian Authority and Gaza’s Hamas government.

Ahlam is trying her best to acquaint herself with all the new technology that has become available during the years she was imprisoned, including means to communicate with Nezar till they reunite. “I was told that we can cam-chat with each other using motion picture and voice both at the same time, whatever that means,” Ahlam adds with a laugh, “It certainly sounds like a cooler way to communicate than the mobile telephone.”

 

(This is a follow-up to previous dispatches on this list, including this one which Deroy Murdock links to in his article at NRO.)

THE TERRORIST SWAP WAS A DISPROPORTIONATE AND LIKELY DEADLY DECISION

Netanyahu’s Folly
The terrorist swap was a disproportionate and likely deadly decision.
By Deroy Murdock
National Review Online
October 28, 2011

www.nationalreview.com/articles/print/281510

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, previously counted among the toughest leaders in the civilized world, has become softer than the secretary general of the United Nations. Netanyahu recently ransomed a kidnapped Israeli soldier whom Hamas had held hostage since 2006. The price for Sgt. Gilad Shalit’s freedom? Israel will free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Many are hardened terrorists with Israeli and even American blood on their hands. This colossal breach of justice for these victims injects this toxic population back into society. Some of them almost certainly will express their gratitude with machine guns and dynamite.

The first wave of 477 prisoners swapped for Shalit includes at least three terrorists who have slaughtered Americans.

Ahlam Tamimi conspired to attack a Sbarro restaurant on Aug. 9, 2001. This Jerusalem suicide bombing killed 16 – including Passaic, N.J.’s Shoshana Greenbaum, 31 – and wounded 130 more.

Now carefree in Jordan, despite 16 life sentences, Tamimi has no regrets.

“It was a calculated act, performed with conviction and faith in Allah,” she told a Hamas website. “Jihad warriors are always ready to die as martyrs, to be arrested – or to succeed. I managed to overcome the barrier of prison and was released. Why should I repent?”

Abd al-Hadi Rafa Ghanim of Islamic Jihad grabbed the wheel of a Jerusalem-bound bus and steered it into a ravine in 1989, killing eleven (including Philadelphia’s Rita Susan Levin, 39) and injuring 27. Ghanim was serving 16 life sentences.

Ibrahim Muhammad Yunus Dar Musa received 17 years for, among other things, helping to murder Detroit native Dr. David Applebaum, 51, and his daughter, Nava, 20, on her wedding eve. Five others were killed and at least 50 wounded in the Sept. 9, 2003, suicide bombing at Jerusalem’s Café Hillel.

Abd al-Aziz Yussuf Mustafa Salehi famously waved his bloody hands from the window of a Ramallah police station, in which he and other members of a mob fatally flogged and killed Israeli reservists Vadim Norzhich and Yosef Avrahami. These October 2000 murders earned Salehi a life sentence.

Maedh Waal Taleb Abu Sharakh, Majdi Muhammad Ahmed Amr, and Fadi Muhammad Ibrahim al-Jaaba of Hamas planned the March 5, 2003, suicide bombing of Haifa’s bus 37, killing 17 and wounding 53. These murderers received 19, 19, and 18 life sentences respectively.

Nasir Sami Abd al-Razzaq Ali al Nasser-Yataima planned the Passover 2002 suicide bombing that killed 30 and wounded 140 at Netanya’s Park Hotel, earning him 29 life terms, plus 20 years.

In addition to the 469 other prisoners released on October 18, Israel soon will free yet another 550 dangerous characters – all to rescue one Israeli soldier.

With all due respect and sympathy for Sergeant Shalit, this was a stupid, disproportionate, and likely deadly decision.

As Nadav Shragai wrote in Jerusalem Viewpoints, an estimated 50 percent of terrorists in previous Israeli prisoner swaps and “goodwill gestures” subsequently executed, plotted, or supported terror assaults. In fact, Israel previously had freed participants in the aforementioned Passover massacre and Café Hillel bombing. Israeli officials twice had discharged Ramez Sali Abu Salmim. He eventually blew himself up in Café Hillel.

In October 2010, the U.S.-Israeli Almagor Terror Victims Association counted at least 30 attacks involving Islamic extremists liberated by Israel’s government. Almagor reports that 177 people (pictured above) have been murdered, and many others injured, in attacks that Israel could have prevented simply by keeping these savages caged.

While Israel now has complicated its own anti-terrorist vigilance, America cannot rest either. Some of these freed killers will remain in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, from which they can attack Israelis. That would be bad enough.

Some of the more adventurous terrorists, however, might use their new and undeserved freedom to target Americans. Why not teach Israel’s chief benefactor and staunchest ally a lesson by, say, blasting a U.S. bank branch elsewhere in the Middle East – or beyond? No American embassy, hotel, military base, or bar full of laughing, singing U.S. tourists is any safer for Netanyahu’s folly – from London to Lima.

And why not bomb Americans in Long Island or Los Angeles? A quick flight from, say, Cairo through Frankfurt to Mexico City, and then over the well-trampled route across America’s wide-open southern frontier (or via the even more vulnerable northern border), and jihad in America can become a reality for any of these hundreds of dedicated terrorists whom Israel has escorted right onto the street.

Also, Netanyahu idiotically has fixed the terrorist-soldier exchange rate at approximately 1,000 to one. With 3,997 Palestinians still in custody as of August 31, not counting the 1,027 swap beneficiaries, Hamas needs to kidnap just four Israeli soldiers in order to demand freedom for all of its detained comrades. My friend Jacob Laksin reports in FrontPageMag.com that Palestinians in Gaza already have begun to chant: “The people want a new Gilad!”

Ironically, President Obama, whom many consider soft on terrorism, has deployed drones and Navy SEALS overseas to blow major terrorists into splinters, due process be damned. (Hooray for that!) In contrast, Netanyahu – approximately the Ronald Reagan of Israel – liberates thousands of Islamic-extremist killers, like a one-man Israeli ACLU.

Netanyahu totally ignores these wise words:

“Do not release jailed terrorists. . . . Prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are caught, their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such [prisoner-exchange] demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the kind of terrorist blackmail they are supposed to defuse.” [Bold in original.]

This sound advice was offered by none other than . . . Benjamin Netanyahu on page 144 of his 1995 book Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism.

Israel urgently needs something far closer to the Obama model. Rather than “punish” terrorist killers with meaningless multiple life sentences, Israel should give them the death penalty – good and hard. Terrorists neither can be demanded, nor exchanged, nor kill again, while dead. Israel should execute this filth, cremate them, and then dump their ashes into the Mediterranean. They no longer will bother anyone, save for a few unfortunate fish that will deserve apologies for having to swim amid such retched refuse.

 

DON’T FORGET YOUR TOOTHPASTE

Airlines’ checked-bag fees are bad for security, says TSA chief
By Kashmir Hill
Forbes magazine (USA)
October 31, 2011

Checked bag fees have turned many air travelers into Mary Poppins, with carry-on bags that can be jam-packed with a week’s worth of clothing, toiletries, electronics, reading material, an umbrella and a spoon full of sugar – and still fit in an overhead bin (with some shoving). Overhead bins weren’t designed with a plane full of Poppins in mind (since she has traditionally had other means of air travel), so the space always runs out, meaning annoyances for passenger who have to shove their things under the seat in front of them or check their bags at the gate. The jam-packed bags ares also annoying for TSA officers, said TSA chief John Pistole at a speech for defense lawyers on Friday. These bags are so densely packed that imaging machines can’t properly see through them.

“It’s harder to inspect what’s in there,” said Pistole, who was introduced to the group as the holder of the “toughest, most thankless, least understood job in America.” “When you hear about things getting through security, that’s part of the reason why.”

This is not the first time that airlines’ checked-bag fees have been raised as a troublesome issue for airline security. Earlier this year, the U.S Travel Association suggested that the government force airlines to make the first checked bag a freebie in order to reduce the number of bags that need to be screened in security lines and make the process go faster.

“There’s always opinions about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” said Pistole, whose agency, which will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary on November 19th, seems to draw more negative attention than a passenger with the same name as someone on the No-Fly list.

Pistole’s talk at the annual DRI conference was on the “evolution and future of the TSA” from the good old pre-9/11 days of metal detectors – “ You probably remember nostalgically being able to walk out to the gate and meet your friends or family,” said Pistole – to the current state of airport security, including whole-body imaging scanners and intimate touching by TSA officers rather than loved ones. As for what the future holds, Pistole said the distant future holds the possibility of liquid screens that might allow us to carry wine and perfume on planes. For the immediate future, the agency is testing out less intensive security screens that the rest of us might one day enjoy, as long as we’re willing to volunteer more information about ourselves in advance of flying.

The TSA began running the “PreCheck” pilot this month at four airports (Miami, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Detroit). Frequent fliers with Delta and American Airlines can go through a pre-check, and be pre-screened using TSA watchlists. If they’re found to be low-risk travelers, they’re allowed to go to dedicated security lanes where they get to keep on their jackets, shoes, and belts, and can keep their liquids in their bags. Pistole said they’ve had 40,000 people go through since the beginning of the month and that they’ve “had success with it.” The reason Delta and American scored the pilot partnership is because their systems are compatible TSA’s Secure Flight system, said Pistole.

Other changes TSA is embracing: showing a generic body when performing “naked scans” and allowing kids to keep their shoes on and not be patted down. Pistole admitted that it was a hassle for parents to take their kids’ shoes off. “And given their size, you can’t put much explosive material in their shoes anyway,” he added.

Taking a cue from Israel, the TSA is also trying to be more chatty. “[Israeli airport security officers] engage people in conversation,” said Pistole. “For a few months now, we’ve been having officers at Boston Logan and now Detroit engage the person, make conversation and see how they respond. Do they make eye contact? Do they seem nervous?”

“I’m trying to build a system that has more com men sense and rationality that enhances security by allowing us to focus on the higher risks,” said Pistole. And hopefully, it will be a system that involves less full-body touching.


UK, US, Israel “step up plans for Iran attack amid fresh nuclear fears”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz nuclear facility

This dispatch concerns Iran’s nuclear program.

 

CONTENTS

1. Have non-military actions now been exhausted?
2. “UK military steps up plans for Iran attack amid fresh nuclear fears” (Guardian, Nov. 3, 2011)
3. “Netanyahu seeks cabinet support for Israeli strike on Iran” (Daily Telegraph, Nov. 3, 2011)
4. “China’s Iranian gambit” (By Michael Singh and J. Newmyer Deal, Foreign Policy, Oct. 31, 2011)


HAVE NON-MILITARY ACTIONS NOW BEEN EXHAUSTED?

[Note by Tom Gross]

There are renewed press reports concerning Iran’s nuclear program, and the threat it poses. The articles below from today’s print editions of The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph first appeared on their websites yesterday evening.

For many years, U.S., British, German, Israeli and other intelligence agencies have used various methods in an attempt to stop or slow down Iran’s nuclear program. It seems that these have been exhausted and more decisive measures may now be required before it is too late.

***

Among the dispatches outlining some of these previous successful efforts to slow down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, please see this dispatch.

***

And among other previous dispatches on the Iranian nuclear issue, please see:

* “Nuke could wipe Israel out in seconds”; “Saudis give nod to Israeli raid on Iran”
* “Why Israel will bomb Iran” (& “The myth of meaningful Iranian retaliation”)
* “Obama, and the world, in 2012, after he fails to deal with Iran”
* Mossad’s hidden successes against Iran so far – but they are not enough

I attach three articles below.

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

UK MILITARY STEPS UP PLANS FOR IRAN ATTACK AMID FRESH NUCLEAR FEARS

UK military steps up plans for Iran attack amid fresh nuclear fears
British officials consider contingency options to back up a possible US action as fears mount over Tehran’s capability
By Nick Hopkins
The Guardian
November 3, 2011

Britain’s armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran’s nuclear enrichment programme, the Guardian has learned.

The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.

In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.

They also believe the US would ask permission to launch attacks from Diego Garcia, the British Indian ocean territory, which the Americans have used previously for conflicts in the Middle East.

The Guardian has spoken to a number of Whitehall and defence officials over recent weeks who said Iran was once again becoming the focus of diplomatic concern after the revolution in Libya.

They made clear that Barack Obama, has no wish to embark on a new and provocative military venture before next November’s presidential election.

But they warned the calculations could change because of mounting anxiety over intelligence gathered by western agencies, and the more belligerent posture that Iran appears to have been taking.

Hawks in the US are likely to seize on next week’s report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is expected to provide fresh evidence of a possible nuclear weapons programme in Iran.

The Guardian has been told that the IAEA’s bulletin could be “a game changer” which will provide unprecedented details of the research and experiments being undertaken by the regime.

One senior Whitehall official said Iran had proved “surprisingly resilient” in the face of sanctions, and sophisticated attempts by the west to cripple its nuclear enrichment programme had been less successful than first thought.

He said Iran appeared to be “newly aggressive, and we are not quite sure why”, citing three recent assassination plots on foreign soil that the intelligence agencies say were coordinated by elements in Tehran.

In addition to that, officials now believe Iran has restored all the capability it lost in a sophisticated cyber-attack last year.The Stuxnet computer worm, thought to have been engineered by the Americans and Israelis, sabotaged many of the centrifuges the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.

Up to half of Iran’s centrifuges were disabled by Stuxnet or were thought too unreliable to work, but diplomats believe this capability has now been recovered, and the IAEA believes it may even be increasing.

Ministers have also been told that the Iranians have been moving some more efficient centrifuges into the heavily-fortified military base dug beneath a mountain near the city of Qom.

The concern is that the centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium for use in weapons, are now so well protected within the site that missile strikes may not be able to reach them. The senior Whitehall source said the Iranians appeared to be shielding “material and capability” inside the base.

Another Whitehall official, with knowledge of Britain’s military planning, said that within the next 12 months Iran may have hidden all the material it needs to continue a covert weapons programme inside fortified bunkers. He said this had necessitated the UK’s planning being taken to a new level.

“Beyond [12 months], we couldn’t be sure our missiles could reach them,” the source said. “So the window is closing, and the UK needs to do some sensible forward planning. The US could do this on their own but they won’t.

“So we need to anticipate being asked to contribute. We had thought this would wait until after the US election next year, but now we are not so sure.

“President Obama has a big decision to make in the coming months because he won’t want to do anything just before an election.”

Another source added there was “no acceleration towards military action by the US, but that could change”. Next spring could be a key decision-making period, the source said. The MoD has a specific team considering the military options against Iran.

The Guardian has been told that planners expect any campaign to be predominantly waged from the air, with some naval involvement, using missiles such as the Tomahawks, which have a range of 800 miles (1,287 km). There are no plans for a ground invasion, but “a small number of special forces” may be needed on the ground, too.

The RAF could also provide air-to-air refuelling and some surveillance capability, should they be required. British officials say any assistance would be cosmetic: the US could act on its own but would prefer not to.

An MoD spokesman said: “The British government believes that a dual track strategy of pressure and engagement is the best approach to address the threat from Iran’s nuclear programme and avoid regional conflict. We want a negotiated solution – but all options should be kept on the table.”

The MoD says there are no hard and fast blueprints for conflict but insiders concede that preparations there and at the Foreign Office have been under way for some time.

One official said: “I think that it is fair to say that the MoD is constantly making plans for all manner of international situations. Some areas are of more concern than others. “It is not beyond the realms of possibility that people at the MoD are thinking about what we might do should something happen on Iran. It is quite likely that there will be people in the building who have thought about what we would do if commanders came to us and asked us if we could support the US. The context for that is straightforward contingency planning.”

Washington has been warned by Israel against leaving any military action until it is too late.

Western intelligence agencies say Israel will demand that the US act if it believes its own military cannot launch successful attacks to stall Iran’s nuclear programme. A source said the “Israelis want to believe that they can take this stuff out”, and will continue to agitate for military action if Iran continues to play hide and seek.

It is estimated that Iran, which has consistently said it is interested only in developing a civilian nuclear energy programme, already has enough enriched uranium for between two and four nuclear weapons.

Experts believe it could be another two years before Tehran has a ballistic missile delivery system.

British officials admit to being perplexed by what they regard as Iran’s new aggressiveness, saying that they have been shown convincing evidence that Iran was behind the murder of a Saudi diplomat in Karachi in May, as well as the audacious plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, which was uncovered last month.

“There is a clear dotted line from Tehran to the plot in Washington,” said one.

Earlier this year, the IAEA reported that it had evidence Tehran had conducted work on a highly sophisticated nuclear triggering technology that could only be used for setting off a nuclear device.

It also said it was “increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military-related organisations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”

Last year, the UN security council imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran to try to deter Tehran from pursuing any nuclear ambitions.

At the weekend, the New York Times reported that the US was looking to build up its military presence in the region, with one eye on Iran.

According to the paper, the US is considering sending more naval warships to the area, and is seeking to expand military ties with the six countries in the Gulf Co-operation Council: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

 

NETANYAHU SEEKS CABINET SUPPORT FOR ISRAELI STRIKE ON IRAN

Benjamin Netanyahu seeks cabinet support for Israeli strike on Iran
The Daily Telegraph (London)
November 3, 2011

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/8864696/Benjamin-Netanyahu-seeks-cabinet-support-for-Israeli-strike-on-Iran.html

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, is seeking cabinet support for a military strike on Iran, Haaretz newspaper has reported after days of speculation on plans for such an attack.

The report, citing a senior Israeli official, said Mr Netanyahu was working with Ehud Barak, the defence minister, to win support from sceptical members of the cabinet who oppose attacking Iranian nuclear facilities.

Israel test-fired a ballistic missile from a military base in central Israel on Wednesday, Israel Radio said.

The report said the launch was carried out from the Palmachim facility. It quoted a Defence Ministry statement as saying the launch was aimed at testing the missile’s propulsion system. Israel has Jericho missiles widely believed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The reports of Mr Netanyahu pushing for a military strike on Iran came after days of renewed public discussion among Israeli commentators about the possibility that the Jewish state would take unilateral military action against Iran.

Haaretz said that Mr Netanyahu and Mr Barak had already scored a significant win by convincing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to throw his support behind a strike.

But the newspaper cited the senior Israeli official as saying there was still “a small advantage” in the cabinet for those opposed to an attack.

Among those still opposed, Haaretz said, are interior minister Eli Yishai of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, intelligence minister Dan Meridor, strategic affairs minister and Netanyahu confidant Moshe Yaalon, and finance minister Yuval Steinitz.

Media reports say any strike is also opposed by army chief Benny Gantz, the head of Israel’s intelligence agency Tamir Pardo, the chief of military intelligence Aviv Kochavi and the head of Israel’s domestic intelligence agency Yoram Cohen.

Iran is on alert and will “punish” any Israeli strike against it, its armed forces chief of staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi, warned later on Wednesday.

“We consider any threat - even those with low probability and distant - as a definite threat. We are on full alert,” he said, quoted by Fars news agency.

“With the right equipment, we are ready to punish them and make them regret (committing) any mistake,” he said.

On Monday, Mr Barak was forced to deny media reports that he and Netanyahu had already decided to launch an attack against Iran over the opposition of military and intelligence chiefs.

“It doesn’t take a great genius to understand that in 2011 in Israel, two people cannot decide to act by themselves,” he said.

“There are at the ministry of defence and the prime minister’s office thousands of pages of minutes of the discussions that have been had in the presence of dozens of officials and ministers,” he added.

On Tuesday, Mr Barak appeared to suggest in remarks to parliament that Israel could be forced to act alone against Iran.

“A situation could be created in the Middle East in which Israel must defend its vital interests in an independent fashion, without necessarily having to reply on other forces, regional or otherwise,” he said.

Haaretz said no decision had yet been taken on any military strike, and that a November 8 report from the International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear watchdog would have a “decisive effect” on the decision-making process.

The newspaper also cited Western experts as saying any attack on Iran during the winter would be almost impossible because of thick cloud cover, raising questions about when any military action might be launched.

Israel has consistently warned all options remain on the table when it comes to Iran’s nuclear programme, which the Jewish state and much of the international community believe masks a drive for nuclear weapons.

Iran denies those charges and says its nuclear programme is for civilian energy purposes only.

The renewed speculation about a potential attack on Iran, including public debate about the wisdom of any strike, was strongly criticised by several Israeli ministers, who called the discussion irresponsible.

Justice minister Dan Meridor, speaking to Israeli daily Maariv, called the public debate “nothing less than a scandal.”

“Not every issue is a matter for public debate,” he warned. “The public elected a government to make decisions about things like this in secret. The public’s right to know does not include the debate about classified matters like this.”

 

CHINA’S IRANIAN GAMBIT

China’s Iranian Gambit
Beijing is using the Islamic Republic to foil American interests in the Middle East. It’s time we wised up to this dangerous game.
By Michael Singh and Jacqueline Newmyer Deal
Foreign Policy magazine
October 31, 2011

(Michael Singh who served on President Bush’s National Security Council staff from 2005 to 2008, is a subscriber to this email list.)

The elections in Tunisia and the dramatic demise of former Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi have pushed the allegations of an Iran-sponsored plot to assassinate the Saudi envoy to Washington on U.S. soil from the headlines. But countering Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon and exploit the tumult in the Arab world for its own gain is vital to securing U.S. interests in a rapidly changing Middle East, and remains an urgent priority of U.S. diplomacy around the world.

Inevitably, efforts to isolate Iran will refocus Washington and Europe’s attention on Beijing. Past attempts to persuade China to support new measures against Tehran – or even robust enforcement of existing ones – have met with little success, in large part due to a misunderstanding of Chinese motivations. Whereas Washington tends to see Beijing as torn between conflicting priorities, Chinese strategists see the Islamic Republic as a potential partner in their strategic rivalry with the United States. Unless Beijing can be convinced that the costs of obstructing U.S. efforts on Iran outweigh the benefits of doing so, the Chinese will be of little help. Shifting China’s calculus in this manner ultimately requires that the United States develop a credible military option to neutralize Iran’s nuclear-weapons aims.

For three decades, U.S. diplomats have failed to secure real Chinese cooperation in their efforts to prevent Iran from going nuclear. Although Beijing has formally supported U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions against Iran since 2005, it has at the same time actively undermined those measures by watering them down in council deliberations and then implementing them only weakly and unevenly. According to the Washington Post, a senior U.S. official handed over to his Chinese counterparts in October 2010 a “significant list” of Chinese firms thought to be aiding Iranian proliferation in violation of U.N. sanctions.

The effects are pernicious. Increasing Chinese trade with Iran – projected to reach $40 billion in 2011, up from $30 billion last year, according to the Chinese ambassador to Iran – eases the pressure on Tehran and provides the Iranian regime with revenue, expertise, and other resources. It also leads to howls of protest by European and Asian firms that have curtailed their business with Iran only to see it backfilled by Chinese competitors.

Chinese trade with Iran is driven in large part by Beijing’s growing need for energy imports, and its desire to secure them by participating in oil and gas exploration, development, and other “upstream” activities of its overseas energy suppliers. Indeed, from a security perspective, Iran’s geographic position is unique – it is the only Gulf supplier that China can reach by both pipelines and sea routes. This diversification of supply lines helps reassure those in Beijing who most fear a foreign interdiction campaign or blockade that would cut China off from its energy supplies.

But the Chinese-Iranian love affair is not all about oil and gas. China has also provided Iran with substantial strategic and military assistance, through official and non-official channels. China provided critical support to the development of Iran’s nuclear program during the 1980s and 1990s and emerged in the 1980s as one of Iran’s principal arms suppliers, with transfers including cruise missile and ballistic-missile capabilities. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the value of these transfers reached more than $3.6 billion during those decades.

This support has continued and, in certain areas, seems to have expanded. For instance, news reports that arms from Tehran have found their way into the hands of militants in Iraq and Afghanistan mention not only Chinese-made anti-ship cruise missiles, but also sniper rifles, armor-piercing rounds, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft missiles and guns, mines, and other components for explosive devices. In a February op-ed, retired Adm. James Lyons, a former head of U.S. Pacific Fleet, wrote of the probable transfer from China to Iran of passive radar technology that could contribute to Iran’s recently announced anti-ship ballistic-missile program. According to Iranian media outlets, the same week as Admiral Lyons’s op-ed appeared, Maj. Gen. Wang Pufeng of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences was meeting with Iran’s defense attaché in Beijing to express China’s desire for expanded military ties.

Perhaps most alarming are the continuing allegations of Chinese support for Iran’s nuclear program. Earlier this year, China moved to block the release of a U.N. report that described suspected Chinese involvement in the transfer to Iran of aluminum powder used as a solid propellant for nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Last week, China joined Russia in pressing the IAEA not to release damning information on Iranian military nuclear research. And last year, media sources covered the sale by Chinese firms of high-quality carbon fibers that would help Iran build better centrifuges.

China’s reluctance to pressure Iran is no secret in Washington. The conventional wisdom holds that Chinese policy is the result of a dilemma – Beijing, so the logic goes, is caught in a conflict between its interest in secure energy supplies and its interest in good relations with the United States and global nonproliferation. Writing in English-language outlets, Chinese foreign-policy intellectuals such as Wang Jisi have echoed this line. From the perspective of China’s Communist Party leadership, on which all Chinese scholars depend for their travel visas and permission to publish, it makes good sense to spread this notion in the hopes of eliciting more active American attempts at diplomatic persuasion or economic incentives.

This strategy has to some extent succeeded, as prescriptions for solving this “dilemma” rely heavily on carrots such as granting China official prestigious visits and greater inclusion in diplomatic deliberations. For example, Erica Downs and Suzanne Maloney argued recently in Foreign Affairs that the United States should “elevat[e] the bilateral diplomatic dialogue” and “ensure clear communication” with Beijing about sanctions.

In reality, however, such efforts by Washington appear to yield little. For years, a parade of high-level U.S. envoys – from State Department nonproliferation advisor Bob Einhorn to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to President Barack Obama himself – have trekked to Beijing on Iran-related missions, only to come up short. The truth is that it is China, not the United States, that has been reluctant to engage on Iran – Beijing has frequently declined to send high-level envoys to meetings of the so-called “P5+1” powers, choosing instead to send its nearest ambassador, or be absent entirely. China hardly seems eager for more dialogue on Iran.

The image of Beijing as a “reluctant partner” on Iran reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of China’s motivations. If China truly faced the dilemma described above, its nuclear and strategic assistance to Iran would make little sense. Rather than using its clout as one of Iran’s largest energy customers and vendors-of-last-resort to secure Iranian compliance with U.N. Security Council and nonproliferation norms, Beijing appears to fuel the very behavior that is most provocative to the United States and its allies – behavior that could destabilize the Middle East. Furthermore, other U.S. allies – Japan and South Korea, for example – have continued to obtain sizeable energy supplies from Iran while actively supporting the international sanctions regime.

The reality is that China – quite unlike Japan and South Korea – considers the United States its chief rival for influence in the Middle East and beyond. Viewed through this lens, Beijing’s policies toward Iran and the United States are not in conflict, as many analysts suggest, but are entirely compatible. The United States may see China as a key partner in isolating Iran, but China sees Iran as a potential partner in countering U.S. power.

China’s strategic thinking is laid out clearly in Chinese-language publications aimed at Beijing’s political and military elites. This literature differs significantly in tone and content from those produced for foreign consumption. For example, defense analyst Maj. Gen. Zhang Shiping, who is often described in the Chinese press as a “researcher” within China’s Academy of Military Sciences, argued in China’s Sea Power, an important 1998 book that was re-published in 2009 for the 60th anniversary of the Chinese navy, that Iran was a potentially desirable location for a Chinese military base in the Middle East.

Zhang’s sentiment has been echoed by other high-ranking Chinese military officers – including Dai Xu, an outspoken Chinese Air Force colonel and Yin Zhuo, a Chinese rear admiral – in discussions of how China can counter the perceived threat posed by democratic rivals like India and the United States and protect its interests in the face of American power projection in the Gulf and across the Pacific.

From this perspective, securing Chinese cooperation with U.S. efforts to pressure Iran is hardly the matter of a few good meetings. The cultivation of Iran’s security establishment and top-level leadership provides China with a strategically placed, regionally powerful client that can frustrate U.S. aims in a region where China seeks greater influence. For China, Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons may be a negative development, but it is preferable to a reorientation toward the West.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s penalties imposed on Chinese sanctions-defying entities have sought to force Chinese firms to choose between their U.S. business and their relatively smaller trade with Iran. However, this approach has not worked because, ironically, the United States, unlike China with America, truly does face a conflict between its Iran and China policies.

Beijing has good reason to doubt that the Obama administration would ever seriously jeopardize the U.S.-Chinese economic relationship, which has grown larger despite deep disagreements over not just Iran but also Taiwan, North Korea, the East and South China Seas, Tibet, and human rights. The Obama administration’s latest sanctions on foreign entities involved in the Iranian energy sector has likewise given Chinese firms a pass.

U.S. officials, most recently Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, have asserted that sanctions have led China to suspend new energy investments in Iran. This data point does not tell the full story, however: Existing China-Iran projects continue apace, and Chinese imports of oil from Iran increased 40 percent in January to August of 2011 compared with the same period the previous year. It seems that Beijing has been able to write off any diplomatic tensions caused by its business in Iran as an inevitable – and to date, largely low-cost – feature of the U.S.-China rivalry.

Although diplomatic cajoling won’t make much headway, Washington does have ways to induce Beijing to reassess its approach to Iran. Exercising these options, however, requires taking a step that the Obama administration has so far avoided: establishing a credible military threat to Iran. CCP strategists who judge Chinese interests as being well-served by current U.S.-Iran tensions would not make the same calculation in light of a credible U.S. threat to disarm the Iranian regime. Such a scenario would threaten China’s oil supplies and increase its energy costs, and could threaten Iran’s China-friendly regime. The United States need not dismiss or downplay the very real risks that would accompany conflict with Iran, but it must persuade Beijing and Tehran alike that this option is the alternative to full compliance with international sanctions.

Making this threat credible would not be a trivial feat, especially in the context of U.S. defense budget cuts and growing Iranian military preparedness. Iran’s nuclear program is growing increasingly advanced as well as difficult to strike – as demonstrated by the revelation in 2009 of a new enrichment facility under development underneath a mountain near Qom. On the other hand, Iran’s currently limited retaliatory options will only improve – especially given the precision strike capabilities that Iran has been developing – with Chinese assistance. Chinese strategists are careful students of U.S. military capabilities and movements, and convincing them of the credibility of the U.S. military option will be less costly now than it will be in the future.

The good news is that China’s position can be adjusted. There is no structural bond guaranteeing Beijing’s support for Tehran. The key to winning this geopolitical chess match is to recognize that China’s devotion to its own interests will trump any friendship with Iran. Only by presenting a challenge to those interests is Washington likely to divert Beijing from its current approach, which has done much to increase China’s access to energy supplies, boost its influence in a strategic region, and frustrate American ambitions in the Middle East.


A (guilty?) Goldstone rises to Israel’s defense (and in The New York Times)

November 01, 2011

From the Jordanian paper, Ad-Dustur, April 7, 2011. (The writing in Arabic reads “Goldstone Report”.)

 

Goldstone today:

* “The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes, rather than promotes, peace and harmony.”

* “In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome statute.”

* “South Africa’s enforced racial separation was intended to permanently benefit the white minority, to the detriment of other races. By contrast, Israel has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, and is calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters.”

* “Israeli Arabs – 20 percent of Israel’s population – vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.”

Judge Richard Goldstone

 

CONTENTS

1. As old as Karl Marx himself
2. “Israel and the apartheid slander” (By Richard Goldstone, New York Times, Nov. 1, 2011)
3. “Anti-Semitism is the new black” (By Rob Marchant, New Statesman, Oct. 28, 2011)
4. “The BBC airbrushes out Palestinian terror attacks – again” (By Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, Oct. 29, 2011)
5. “German firm fires model for praising Gaddafis” (Associated Press, Nov. 1, 2011)


AS OLD AS KARL MARX HIMSELF

[Note by Tom Gross]

The leading international jurist, Judge Richard Goldstone, has done a great deal of harm to Israel in recent years -- perhaps in a more damaging way than anyone else (particularly considering he played up his Jewish background when doing so). Israeli president Shimon Peres even accused Goldstone of “legitimizing terrorism” against Israeli Jews. So too, to a lesser extent, has The New York Times with its distorted reporting about Israel and sometimes slanderous op-eds.

Today’s comment piece by Judge Goldstone, which The New York Times agreed to publish, therefore comes as a welcome surprise. (Goldstone’s previous editorial in April, in which he began to backtrack on the findings of his own 2009 UN Goldstone report, was published in The Washington Post after the Times had reportedly turned it down.)

The points Goldstone makes in his article today have been made many times before, not least on this website and dispatch list, but the fact that Goldstone states them in a clear and concise way for New York Times readers is significant and I suggest you read his piece in full.

Goldstone’s op-ed also serves as a direct refutation of the stance of those political organizations that masquerade as “human rights groups” such as Human Rights Watch (of which Goldstone was formerly a board member), Amnesty International (which last month was accused of outright anti-Semitism in relation to its statements on the Gilad Shalit-terrorist swap deal) and even Israeli groups such as B’Tselem, whose director Jessica Montell has said that Israel is “worse than apartheid in South Africa.”

Goldstone was the subject of these anti-Semitic cartoons earlier this year following his Washington Post comment piece going back on his own UN Goldstone report. You can scroll down here to see them.

***

After that, I attach three other articles of interest.

The first of these, titled “Anti-Semitism is the new black,” criticizes the anti-Zionist left for using anti-Semitism to further its arguments. It is published on the website of the British leftist magazine The New Statesman, which has been particularly bad in stirring up animosity toward Israel in recent years, as I have noted many times in these dispatches, so the publication of this new piece also comes as a welcome surprise.

However, those who are not on the left may be surprised by writer Rob Marchant’s assertion:

“But there’s a new twist on the ideological catwalk. We can visualize far-right thugs indulging in this kind of thing but somehow we don’t expect it from our comrades on the supposedly liberal-left.”

Leftist anti-Semitism (including that by leftists of Jewish origin) is, of course, as old as Karl Marx himself.

-- Tom Gross


Among many previous dispatches on this website on the Goldstone report, please see:

* Goldstone’s remarkable about-face (April 3, 2011)
* Dachau survivor asks Goldstone: How dare you? (& Peres: Goldstone “legitimized terrorism”) (Sept. 21, 2009)

 

(You can comment on this dispatch here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. You first have to press “Like” on that page.)

(Thank you to all those writers who have made use of and linked to this dispatch, such as Ronald Radosh at Pajamas media.)

(I would also kindly request that all those news sites, including some major newspapers, that have copied some of my paragraphs above verbatim, in running news items about this story, kindly link to or credit my site in future.)

 

FULL ARTICLES

ISRAEL AND THE APARTHEID SLANDER

Israel and the Apartheid Slander
By Richard J. Goldstone
The New York Times
November 1, 2011

www.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/opinion/israel-and-the-apartheid-slander.html

THE Palestinian Authority’s request for full United Nations membership has put hope for any two-state solution under increasing pressure. The need for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians has never been greater. So it is important to separate legitimate criticism of Israel from assaults that aim to isolate, demonize and delegitimize it.

One particularly pernicious and enduring canard that is surfacing again is that Israel pursues “apartheid” policies. In Cape Town starting on Saturday, a London-based nongovernmental organization called the Russell Tribunal on Palestine will hold a “hearing” on whether Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. It is not a “tribunal.” The “evidence” is going to be one-sided and the members of the “jury” are critics whose harsh views of Israel are well known.

While “apartheid” can have broader meaning, its use is meant to evoke the situation in pre-1994 South Africa. It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations.

I know all too well the cruelty of South Africa’s abhorrent apartheid system, under which human beings characterized as black had no rights to vote, hold political office, use “white” toilets or beaches, marry whites, live in whites-only areas or even be there without a “pass.” Blacks critically injured in car accidents were left to bleed to death if there was no “black” ambulance to rush them to a “black” hospital. “White” hospitals were prohibited from saving their lives.

In assessing the accusation that Israel pursues apartheid policies, which are by definition primarily about race or ethnicity, it is important first to distinguish between the situations in Israel, where Arabs are citizens, and in West Bank areas that remain under Israeli control in the absence of a peace agreement.

In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: “Inhumane acts ... committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Israeli Arabs – 20 percent of Israel’s population – vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.

To be sure, there is more de facto separation between Jewish and Arab populations than Israelis should accept. Much of it is chosen by the communities themselves. Some results from discrimination. But it is not apartheid, which consciously enshrines separation as an ideal. In Israel, equal rights are the law, the aspiration and the ideal; inequities are often successfully challenged in court.

The situation in the West Bank is more complex. But here too there is no intent to maintain “an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group.” This is a critical distinction, even if Israel acts oppressively toward Palestinians there. South Africa’s enforced racial separation was intended to permanently benefit the white minority, to the detriment of other races. By contrast, Israel has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, and is calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters.

But until there is a two-state peace, or at least as long as Israel’s citizens remain under threat of attacks from the West Bank and Gaza, Israel will see roadblocks and similar measures as necessary for self-defense, even as Palestinians feel oppressed. As things stand, attacks from one side are met by counterattacks from the other. And the deep disputes, claims and counterclaims are only hardened when the offensive analogy of “apartheid” is invoked.

Those seeking to promote the myth of Israeli apartheid often point to clashes between heavily armed Israeli soldiers and stone-throwing Palestinians in the West Bank, or the building of what they call an “apartheid wall” and disparate treatment on West Bank roads. While such images may appear to invite a superficial comparison, it is disingenuous to use them to distort the reality. The security barrier was built to stop unrelenting terrorist attacks; while it has inflicted great hardship in places, the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the state in many cases to reroute it to minimize unreasonable hardship. Road restrictions get more intrusive after violent attacks and are ameliorated when the threat is reduced.

Of course, the Palestinian people have national aspirations and human rights that all must respect. But those who conflate the situations in Israel and the West Bank and liken both to the old South Africa do a disservice to all who hope for justice and peace.

Jewish-Arab relations in Israel and the West Bank cannot be simplified to a narrative of Jewish discrimination. There is hostility and suspicion on both sides. Israel, unique among democracies, has been in a state of war with many of its neighbors who refuse to accept its existence. Even some Israeli Arabs, because they are citizens of Israel, have at times come under suspicion from other Arabs as a result of that longstanding enmity.

The mutual recognition and protection of the human dignity of all people is indispensable to bringing an end to hatred and anger. The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes, rather than promotes, peace and harmony.

(Richard J. Goldstone, a former justice of the South African Constitutional Court, led the United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict of 2008-9.)

 

ANTI-SEMITISM IS THE NEW BLACK

Tom Gross adds: In order to see all the links that Rob Marchant refers to is his article, it is worth reading it online here.

Anti-Semitism is the new black
By Rob Marchant
The New Statesman (blog)
October 28, 2011

The union movement is giving succour to the oldest form of racism.
Fashion designer John Galliano leaves in a car after he stood trial for anti-Semitic insults in a Paris court

Fashion designer John Galliano leaves in a car after he stood trial for anti-Semitic insults in a Paris court, 22 June 2011. Credit: Getty Images

Oh, how fashionable it is all becoming. A month ago, enfant terrible designer John Galliano was fined over an anti-Semitic tirade at a Paris restaurant. But his drug-addled ramblings were just the latest signs of a wider trend.

There are numerous recent incidents – ranging from an unpleasant flavour of anti-Israeli activism to straightforward racism – that should sound alarm bells for the liberals among us. For example, take the odd promotion of renowned Jewish conspiracy theorist Gilad Atzmon’s book on the Times’ website. Or the “ugly” barracking of Israeli musicians during a London concert for the heinous crime of, er, being Israeli. Or a racist incident involving a Jewish student at St Andrews University.

But there’s a new twist on the ideological catwalk. We can visualise far-right thugs indulging in this kind of thing but somehow we don’t expect it from our comrades on the supposedly liberal-left.

And I am afraid that the final two incidents referred to above, and others beside, are connected with a small knot of campaigners purporting to further the cause of the Palestinian people. They go by the name of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). Not only was the St Andrew’s student a member of the Scottish PSC but it was then the PSC who condemned the conviction, according to Stephen Pollard writing in the Daily Telegraph.

If you need a primer on the PSC let’s start here. This is the organisation that invited Raed Salah - accused by a Jerusalem court of anti-Semitism - to speak at the Houses of Parliament. Its defence? Jaw-droppingly – as the London Evening Standard reported – it was because “he denied completely he was an anti-Semite” (despite views expressed in this video and others attributed to him here). Salah is now likely to be deported following a tribunal ruling reached earlier this week.

Moreover the PSC has members who have been quoted making troubling and making conspiracy-fuelled attacks about the role of Jews and the state of Israel (see this list on the dubious activities of ten separate local branches). And it was one of the PSC’s close union allies, UCU, which decided to reject any formal definition of anti-Semitism, so as not to limit its pronouncements against Israel, and which now has its Jewish members leaving in droves.

Meanwhile, it was Viva Palestina, a group linked to PSC, whose organiser Carole Swords, was caught on camera shouting “go back to Russia” at a man outside the Israeli cosmetics store Ahava in Covent Garden and who was later arrested – in a separate incident – for using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

And which mainstream group is unthinkingly giving succour to this new vogue? Step forward, Britain’s trade unions, once the reliable ballast of the Labour right, who are increasingly being influenced, in their wilder conference pronouncements at least, by the far left.

So much so that the Trades Union Congress recently tried to break links with their counterpart in Israel, Hisradut, a largely progressive grouping which has sought to cultivate links with their Palestinian brethren. Observer columnist and a defender of unions, Nick Cohen, cancelled his speaking date at a TUC rally in protest at what he calls a “foul smell in Britain’s unions”.

While they also operate on Labour’s fringes, the far left knows that the TUC’s resolution-based democracy presents a far better opportunity to effect action because if a resolution is passed it becomes policy; even if that resolution is the work of a small number of nutty, but well organised, activists.

The TUC needs to wake up and challenge the toxic effect of its association with the PSC. (There is an honourable exception to this near-universal backing for the PSC – the union Community backs the non-partisan Tulip, which reaches out to both sides).

Last weekend, there was a scheduled PSC-organised trade union conference,. I’d like to think that this was because the unions involved finally saw sense but find myself believing the reason given by the PSC – namely, the TUC was too busy preparing for the 30 November day of action. The accompanying statement states that, in supporting the PSC, “the TUC has voted to . . . oppose racism”. Have these people no sense of irony?

Yet the worst culprit of all, in the propagation of this twisted fashion, is us. You and me. We of the Labour Party and the labour movement, because we are content to sit back and let it happen.

It blights our society, it hurts the Palestinian cause and, in the end, the latent toxicity of the PSC and their fellow-travellers will damage us on the left, too. Tolerance of the viewpoints of a broad church is fine. But this fashionable tolerance of racism, in imagined support of a cause, is unacceptable and must not go unchallenged.

(Rob Marchant is a political commentator and former Labour Party manager who blogs at The Centre Left.)

 

THE BBC AIRBRUSHES OUT PALESTINIAN TERROR ATTACKS – AGAIN

The BBC airbrushes out Palestinian terror attacks – again
By Melanie Phillips
The Daily Mail (blog)
October 29, 2011

During the past 24 hours, Israel has been under sustained rocket attack from Gaza. Some 35 rockets and mortar shells were fired deep into the country, killing one man in Ashkelon and injuring four other people elsewhere. In Ashdod, vehicles were set on fire and a school –fortunately empty – was hit. The rocket barrage followed an IDF strike on Gaza which killed five members of Islamic Jihad - and which itself was targeted at the IJ terrorist cell responsible for launching a Grad rocket that exploded in Ashdod last Wednesday.

This, however, is how BBC News has reported the past day’s events on its website:

Militants killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza

“‘Five Palestinian militants have been killed in a number of Israeli air strikes on the south of the Gaza Strip. The violence is the most serious since a major prisoner exchange deal earlier this month between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that governs in Gaza.

“The militants were killed at an Islamic Jihad training site in Rafah in the south of the strip. Doctors say at least 10 other people were injured in the strike. The Israeli air force has confirmed it carried out the attack. It said the militants were preparing to launch rockets into Israel.

“An Israeli army spokesman confirmed to the AFP news agency that aircraft had attacked other sites. A statement said the Israeli military had “attacked three terrorist sites in the Gaza Strip as well as an arms factory in the south of the territory”.

“ ...The violence comes less than two weeks after a major prisoner exchange which saw about 500 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails in a swap for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Some of those released were Islamic Jihad members.

“A further 500 Palestinian prisoners are due to be freed as part of the deal later this year. BBC Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison says an escalation in violence could jeopardise those releases.”

[Melanie Phillips continues] No mention of the Palestinian rocket attack on Ashdod last Wednesday. No mention of the 35 rocket attacks on Israel during the past day, nor the Israeli killed in Ashkelon. Instead, the BBC has given the false impression on its website that the Israelis initiated the attacks – and the only casualties it reported were Palestinian.

This website report was timed as ‘last updated’ at 1412 on Saturday. But even on the midnight Radio Four news bulletin just now there was still no mention of the rocket attacks on Israel over the past day, nor the murdered Israeli, nor of last Wednesday’s Grad attack - merely a vague and weaselly reference to Israel accusing the Palestinians of ‘carrying out recent rocket attacks’.

This reporting is simply disgraceful and inexcusable. Such selective manipulation of the facts and consequent misrepresentation of cause and effect reverses victim and aggressor in the Middle East, serves the cause of Arab propaganda and foments public hatred of Israel, all with untold consequences around the world.

As has been observed for years, the BBC’s reporting on Israel is out of control. The BBC is clearly incapable of putting its own house in order; its abuse of journalism on this most sensitive of issues is now so egregious that it is surely a matter that should be raised in Parliament.

 

GERMAN FIRM FIRES MODEL FOR PRAISING GADDAFIS

German firm fires model for praising Gadhafis
By Juergen Baetz
Associated Press
November 1, 2011

BERLIN (AP) — A German company has canceled a major advertising contract with an Italian-American model after she described her passionate relationship with Moammar Gadhafi's son Muatassim and praised his family.

Telecommunications firm Telefonica Germany and its subsidiary Alice will stop working with 23-year-old model Vanessa Hessler and remove her face from its website within hours, spokesman Albert Fetsch said Monday.

"Vanessa Hessler has failed to distance herself from her comments on the conflict in Libya," Fetsch said.

Hessler had been the company's advertising face for years, and giant posters featuring the model were a fixture in many German cities.

Hessler told the Italian magazine Diva e Donna that for four years she had been dating Muatassim Gahafi — who was captured and killed in Libya alongside his father this month.

"I didn't have any contact with him since the uprising broke out, but our relationship was one of passion," she was quoted as saying by the magazine. "The Gadhafi family is not as they are being depicted, they are normal people."

The model-turned-actress also said that she was crying for Libya, adding that the rebels are "people who don't know what they're doing."

Talks between Telefonica and Hessler's agency did not yield a solution because Hessler stood by her comments, said Fetsch. "We and our clients have no comprehension for what she said."

Her face will be successively removed from all Alice PR material, he added. Telefonica Germany is a subsidiary of Spain's Telefonica S.A.

In August, Talitha van Zon, another model and ex-girlfriend of Muatassim Gadhafi, was evacuated from Libya to Malta. She then said that their three-month relationship had ended years ago but that they remained friends.

In comments to Britain's Telegraph newspaper, van Zon recounted details of her seven-year friendship with Muatassim, including trips to Monaco and St. Bart's, the Caribbean haven for the chic, luxury hotels and gifts of Louis Vuitton bags.