Tag: Israel

Surviving the New Cold War

As you have probably heard, Yemen has collapsed into chaos. The President we were backing had fled the country and Iran-backed Shia rebels appear to be establishing control. Saudi Arabia is intervening and it looks like Egypt may get involved as well.

All this is a sign of Obama’s failed foreign policy according to … holy crap … Vox?:

Read more… »

Israel and Hamas Again

I’ve been holding back on commentary on the latest Israel-Hamas conflict to see what was going to happen. What’s happening is a war. The latest news is that Hama militants crossed the border into Israeli territory and have fired over 150 rockets into civilian areas. Israel is responding with air strikes. And the sordid mess goes on and on.

There’s a lot of blaming both sides going on. And while I can certainly see the argument against Israel’s response, I don’t think there is anything close to a moral comparison here. This started because three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered, most likely by Hamas. Hamas has denied involvement but supports the idea of kidnappings in general. Shortly after the bodies of the Israeli teens were found, a Palestinian teen was brutally murdered in retaliation. But the Israeli authorities condemned it as an act of terrorism and have already arrested the people responsible.

That’s how you know who the good guys in this situation are. One side acknowledge the other’s right to exist, condemns brutal violence against innocents and tries to deliver justice for its minority Islamic population. The other is a terrorist organization that does not recognize its opponent’s right to exist and has no interest in delivering justice to the people who murdered three innocent young men.

We can debate Israel’s tactics, sure. But let’s not lose sight of which side we should be on.

A Pollard Swap

Rumors are circulating that traitor Jonathan Pollard might be released as part of a Mideast Peace Deal. I don’t think this is a good idea.

First, why should the United States be giving concessions in what amount to a negotiation between Palestine and Israel? Israel is not giving us anything. We’re not the ones saying Israel doesn’t have a right to exist.

Second, I think people need to remember what we are dealing with here.

Among the highly-prized secrets that former officials say Pollard gave away while working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the Navy were technical details of sophisticated U.S. spy satellites; analyses of Soviet missiles systems; and information about eavesdropping equipment used by the NSA to intercept foreign governments’ communications, including all ten volumes of a highly-classified manual known as “the Bible” that spelled out how the United States intercepted Soviet communications.

The extent of his treason was such that when this idea was floated in the mid-90’s, George Tenet threatened to resign. Imagine everything Snowden’s critics think he has revealed to other countries. This is about what Pollard did. That he gave this information to an ally is irrelevant. Israel’s interests are not always ours.

Pollard has been in prison for nearly thirty years. If Obama wanted to release him for humanitarian reasons, I would still oppose it. But to use it as a bargaining chip for the Palestinians? That’s too far.

Wherein I Call for Throwing Israel Under the Bus

We’re watching a typical fake truce in action in the Middle East right now. New rockets are on the way for Hamas and new Israeli settlements are being built further and further east. It’s only a matter of time before the next bloodletting begins.

All of this has led me to question why exactly it’s considered to be “conservative” to support Israel. Let’s acknowledge the fact that the Israelis are underdogs (they’re outnumbered in the Middle East anyway) and they’re pretty badass in their way. It’s certainly natural to respect them, but why in the world do we support them in such a knee-jerk fashion?

Bear with me here. This is an overdue conversation among American conservatives.

What are conservatives getting out of this relationship, specifically; and what is the US getting in general out of our special relationship with Israel? I notice that American conservatives always support Israel to the hilt and talk about what irredeemable monsters the Palestinians are, but it never seems to make a major difference in the Jewish vote. Why exactly do we care more about keeping Israel Jewish than….Jewish people do? Every time there’s an election in this country, American Jews overwhelmingly vote for the Democrat (who is generally less inclined to care about Israel than the Republican candidate). They don’t give a shit. Why do we persist?

As for the US’s interests, the unquestionable support that the US has for Israel is doing nothing much but pitting us against the Arab world (and increasingly, the Turks) for the sake of very little. Is this a good decision to make toward the national interest? Pissing off 400 million+ plus people who control a shitload of oil for the benefit of 6 million people who provide us with no vital resources or anything else, really?

Is it about supporting democracy? Because democracy is essentially bullshit, you know. I’ve never understood why promoting and defending democracy overseas is such a priority for some conservatives. Democracy has made a royal fucking wreck out of the US, after all.

Are we worried about a human rights disaster if Israel is wiped out? That’s a nice moral concern, but the US does a fine job of ignoring such things in countries where the people don’t look like us. Why is any of this our job, anyway? The Palestinians aren’t our enemies or even our problem. Even Hamas isn’t a particular threat to the US. This instinctive desire to root for Israel and curse the Palestinians makes less and less sense to me with every rocket fired and bomb dropped.

Now I’m not going all anti-Zionist here. Israel has every right to exist as a Jewish state. What I can’t wrap my head around is why we think it’s our job to defend them and demand their protection regardless of what (sometimes brutal) steps they take to maintain that status. That Israeli lobbying cash that keeps our elected representatives in thrall isn’t lining any of my pockets. How about you? I think our “leaders” are duping us, truthfully.

Simply put, I’m tired of defending Israel when the rewards are clearly diminishing, if there are any at all. Demographics and political developments among Israel’s neighbors give me a bad feeling that we’re supporting the losing side for no good reason.

It’s perfectly appropriate for us to admire a romantic and embattled people. It’s another thing entirely–and arguably not conservative–to place the ambitions of such a nation above the long-term interests of the United States. I think it’s time for American conservatives to break up this bad romance.

The Palestinian Question

This was almost certainly done to punish Israel:

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a resolution upgrading Palestine to a “non-member observer state,” from a “non-member observer entity.”

Before the vote and in front of the assembly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said this was the body’s “last chance to save the two-state solution.”

He said despite all the violence and Israeli “aggressions” and its “occupation,” Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority have insisted on harmony and have looked at the “U.N. as a beacon of hope.”

“We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a state established years ago, and that is Israel. Rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of a state that must now achieve its independence and that is Palestine,” Abbas said.

Pretty words. But Hamas, who control the Gaza, do not recognize Israel’s right to exist.

The main thing this does is give them access to the International Criminal Court. Does anyone want to be on how long it will before they deluge Israel with accusations of war crimes? About ten seconds? And does anyone doubt what the result of those investigations will be?

Hamas and Israel, Round 47

One piece of news that got lost in the election scramble last week was that rockets starting being fired out of Gaza again. Today, Israel struck back:

Israel on Wednesday launched one of the most ferocious assaults on Gaza since its invasion four years ago, hitting at least 20 targets in aerial attacks that killed the top military commander of Hamas, drew strong condemnation from Egypt and escalated the risks of a new war in the Middle East.

The Israelis coupled the intensity of the airstrikes with the threat of another ground invasion and warnings to all Hamas leaders in Gaza to stay out of sight or risk the same fate as the Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, who was killed in a pinpoint airstrike as he was traveling by car down a Gaza street. “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a Twitter message.

There have also been shots fired at Golan Heights, where Syrian munitions have fallen and provoked Israeli response. A dozen more rockets have been fired out of Gaza today.

We’ll have to see how this goes. But it’s not looking good. With both Egypt and Syria unstable, a war against Israel could be just what their leaders think the doctor ordered. I would not be surprised if we move a carrier or two into position just in case.

Romney Culture

Mitt Romney said this the other day:

In the speech, Mr. Romney mentioned books that had influenced his thinking about nations — particularly “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” by David S. Landes, which, he said, argues that culture is the defining factor in determining the success of a society.

“Culture makes all the difference,” Mr. Romney said. “And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.”

He added, “As you come here and you see the G.D.P. per capita, for instance, in Israel, which is about $21,000, and compare that with the G.D.P. per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States.”

The remarks, which vastly understated the disparities between the societies, drew a swift rejoinder from Palestinian leaders. In an interview with The Associated Press, Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, called Mr. Romney’s remarks racist.

Romney is trying to walk back the comments. And the Left is screaming about his racism. But I think people are missing the forest for the trees here.

First, the Palestinian Authority correctly notes that Israel has had a trade embargo, economic restrictions and occupation. That’s all true and is having an absolutely devastating effect. However, Israel is not the only country that is making life difficult for Palestine. None of the Arab nations are lifting a finger to help Palestine. Jordan and Egypt, specifically, have massively contributed to the problem by closing borders (and in Jordan’s case, shooting people during Black September). Iran, Hussein’s Iraq and Syria have specifically supported radical elements, making the place even more difficult to govern. And we can not sit here and pretend that the Palestinians themselves have not contributed to their own sorrows. Hamas controlled much of Palestine for a while and their supposed reconciliation with the Authority has stalled.

So, yes, the condition of Palestine is something that was done to them. But the people who did it were, at least in part, their fellow Arabs and, at least in part, themselves.

Moreover, I don’t think you can really ignore Romney’s general point. Israel has a far greater per capita income ($28-31,000) than Egypt ($6,000), Jordan ($6,000), Syria ($5,000) or Iraq ($4,000 now and about the same before the wars), nations they have not attacked or embargoed. The only nations in that region that come anywhere close to Israel’s success are Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which also happen to sit on massive lakes of oil. Were it not for the oil, they would be in a worse situation, probably no better off that Syria.

I don’t see how you can possibly look at the region and not conclude, as Mitt Romney has, that Israel’s culture has something to do with the stark difference, not between them and Palestine but between them and everyone. It is the only real democracy in the region, the only country that has a real economy as opposed to an oiligarchy, the only country that has gender equality, the only country that has a semblance of human rights and the only country that has built a real 21st century industrial base.

And that’s the point. Romney wasn’t running down Palestinian culture as much as he was praising Israeli culture. The comparisons to Chile and the US make that abundantly clear. What he was talking about — and what any sensible person would agree with — is that poverty is the natural state of man. The only way out is accountable government, free markets and a good work ethic. We know at least the first two, in the Middle East, are unique to Israel.

Murder on the Nuclear Express

Green Greenwald has a great point about the recent assassination of another Iranian nuclear scientist. He compares the reaction to the actual assassination of Iranian scientists to the reaction to Glenn Reynold’s suggestion of same:

What’s most remarkable here is to compare the boisterous, furious denunciations of the mere suggestion by a blogger on the Internet that Iranian scientists be killed, versus the relative silence in the face of its actually being done in real life, now that the corpses of murdered Iranian scientists are beginning to pile up. Does anyone doubt that some combination of the two nations completely obsessed with Iran’s nuclear program — Israel and the U.S. — are responsible? (U.S. officials deny involvement while pointing the finger at Israel, whose officials will not comment but “smile” when asked; the CIA has “targeted” Iran’s scientists in the past, several of whom have disappeared only to end up in U.S. custody, including one who “resurfaced in the United States after defecting to the CIA in return for a large sum of money”). At the very least, there has been no denunciation from any Obama officials of whoever it might be carrying out such acts.

I actually don’t think we’re behind this. I wouldn’t put it past Obama, but I’m very doubtful. Everyone seem to think it’s Israel and I will admit they’re the most likely candidate. But the Saudis and Iraqis have no interest in a nuclear Iraq. Neither do India or Pakistan.

But I do know that if a Republican were President, the demands for a special investigation would be long and loud. It’s obscene how the Left falls on real or perceived War on Terror excess when it’s their guy doing it.

Curious what you guys think about this, however. Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was not a terrorist or a military figure; he was a scientist with a family. Is the killing justified? Is it an act of war? Is it an act of terrorism, as Greenwald claims?

Update: More here. I do want to re-iterate what I’ve said before: I think all of this is merely delaying the inevitable. Iran, even if the current regime is toppled, will never accept not being a nuclear power. Not when they’re surrounded by other nuclear powers. Staving off the inevitable isn’t a bad thing — maybe we can push the nuclear day past the Mullahs’ expiration date. But it is still just staving off the inevitable. Iran will be a nuclear power one day. The debate is not about whether we can prevent it but what means we are willing to use to delay that day of reckoning.

Iranian nukes and politics

“Unexpectedly” – man that word sure as hell seems to be abused by the LSM since Obama won the WH – we are told by the IAEA that The Iranians will soon have a nuke thanks to help from ex-Soviet scientists right as everyone is talking about Israel doing the world’s dirty work for it, yet again, I should add. It seems Iran has solved whatever issue was holding them back and will soon have nukes. Of course, back in 2007, when people realized that nothing short of a military option was going to stop the apocalyptic fucking freaks in Teheran that want that bomb, the same IAEA put out a report telling us all Iran had completely stopped trying to build one.

At the time most of us that knew better said that that asshole El Baradei was playing a dangerous political game – this report came out to help the democrats prevent President Bush from doing something about this problem, other than tell us how cool the Iranian thugocracy is and that we could talk them off the ledge like Obama has been – by obviously lying about what Iran was doing explicitly to prevent any action by the US military. And while that asshole is still at it, it is now obvious that the IAEA can no longer deny that Iran, not only has rebuffed the “come hither” advances from Community-Organizer-in-Chief, but has been working hard enough at its bomb project such that Iran now will soon have a bomb. That is, again, unless Israel does the dirty work of stopping that. It now looks to me that the pacifists and collectivists won this battle, and Iran will now go nuclear. Joy.

Yes, But At What Cost?

Open up a dictionary and look up the phrase “underdog”, and you will see a map of Israel. That plucky group of nomads that God called “stiff necked”, no doubt a term of endearment but given with a sigh of resolution, has given the world new meanings to resiliency and determination. If you use a cell or smart phone, there are well over a dozen Israeli patents in your hand. Israel ranks fourth in the world in scientific activity as measured by the number of scientific publications per million citizens. And some of the indigenous population ain’t too bad to look at.

But for a nation that has stridently maintained a policy of not negotiating with terrorist, they have not only waggled on this (circuitously keeping their hands clean by allowing intermediaries to do the negotiating for them) but even when they are complicit, they are really really bad at it:

In an elaborate prisoner exchange that could roil Middle East politics, an Israeli soldier held for more than five years by the militant Palestinian group Hamas was swapped on Tuesday for hundreds of Palestinians who have languished in Israeli jails, all them freed to jubilant welcomes tinged with bitterness and grief.

Buses transporting the Palestinian prisoners — the first group of what will eventually be more than 1,000 — made their way into Egypt and from there to the West Bank and Gaza Strip where jubilant relatives and celebrations awaited.

1,027 prisoners Hamas prisoners to be exact, many of these the absolutes dregs, murderers, and terrorists imprisoned for years, but now free.

After 6 years in captivity (and looking like an Auschwitz refuge at release) Gilad Shalit has become a national hero, so temporarily there will be much celebration.

It should be noted that because in Israel military service is compulsory and it’s heightened awareness of its national and religious values (every citizen is a warrior and a bulwark to its survival) they have a history of paying exorbitant out of whack prices for it’s citizens. The Jabril Agreement of 1985 was as equally lopsided (1,150 to 3), and in 1998 they released 65 Hezbollah prisoners in exchange for the remains of one dead Israeli soldier.

The question of whether the exchange would lead to more abductions of Israeli soldiers hung in the air on Tuesday for both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I think this qualifies for a collective ,”No shit, Sherlock”. I think it is great that they value their soldiers so highly, but to think that releasing 1100 Jew haters, many with a history of murdering other Jews, will not down the road result in further Israeli deaths, I keep thinking about that river in Egypt. Equally damaging to the resulting violence that will occur down the road, is the precedent set, not only of negotiating with terrorists, but negotiating badly. I think we need to send some of our SEIU negotiators over there to show them how its done, they manage extract huge concessions and giving up little in return, now that is major league negotiating.

The affect of this type of behavior is clear and historical. We saw it with the Somali pirates, who serendipitously found out that piracy pays a hundred times better then drug dealing or gun running, so now we have more piracy. Ditto here, where this ransom to Hamas will no doubt encourage more Jew haters to engage in kidnapping.

Since the Israeli prisons are now empty, the next ransom demand for a kidnapped soldier will probably be money, the Somali’s can provide consulting services in that area. It seems like such a long time ago when the Jews gave to the US, on it’s bicentennial day of celebration, and all freedom loving nations the great lesson in the proper way to deal with evil in the world.