Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Hamas tunnel plots, in detail

Vanity Fair has a long article about Hamas terror tunnels based on extensive interviews with Israeli soldiers who interrogated Hamas members, as well as interviews with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal.


While seemingly low-tech, tunneling requires copious quantities of cash, cement, fuel, and rebar. Fortunately for Hamas, world events conspired to assist in this effort. During the Arab Spring, while Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was busy fighting for his political and personal survival, Hamas built a virtual underground super-highway to the Sinai through which it managed to import an ever-more-sophisticated arsenal, including longer-range rockets, anti-tank guided missiles, and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. By 2012, when Egypt elected Mohammed Morsi (the head of the Muslim Brotherhood—and a Hamas ally), Hamas was riding high. It had significantly expanded the scope and use of what has come to be known as “subterranean Gaza,” even creating a special engineering unit within its Al-Qassam Brigades to handle tunnel excavation.

In addition, Hamas created a secret commando unit, called Nukhba (the “selected ones”), and trained its men to fight and maneuver through the tunnels on foot and on small motorcycles. According to an official in the Shin Bet, which has been interrogating Hamas members who were captured during the fighting, “The offensive tunnels were top secret not only because [Hamas] had spent a fortune building them, but because they understood that once we found out about the project, there would be no turning back.” Hamas detainees have told their Israeli interrogators that they received $300 a month for excavation work and that there were two tiers of laborers. The master tunnelers were supposedly told where in Israel proper their excavation work would end up; such knowledge was not shared with the work-for-hire diggers. As for the Nukhba fighters, the Shin Bet official tells Vanity Fair, “They were an elite force . . . [trained] to execute strategic terrorist attacks. . . . [For the eventual operation, they would be] heavily armed: R.P.G.s, Kalashnikovs, M-16s, hand grenades, and night-vision equipment.” To maximize the element of surprise, they would wear—as can be seen from their own videos—I.D.F. uniforms, including mitznefet, the distinctive helmet covers worn by Israeli soldiers.

...By April, the Shin Bet tells Vanity Fair, Israeli officials firmly believed something big was in the works—and Hamas did nothing to assuage their fears. “The occupation is hysterical and confused in the face of the resistance army’s tunnels,” said Abu Obeida, spokesman for Al-Qassam Brigades. “[B]ut we’re ready for any scenario and we’ll teach the enemy a harsh lesson.”

...Last spring, Hamas was already sensing isolation. Egypt had begun curbing Hamas’s access to everything from cigarettes to guns. And a widely touted merger with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, according to analysts in the region and Israeli security sources, had brought Gazans limited economic benefit. Some observers—in Israel, the Arab world, and the West—perceived Hamas to be on the ropes. Around the same time, intelligence about a pending attack—electronic chatter and word from informants—began setting off alarm bells inside Israel’s stereotypically anxious security establishment.

“Hamas had a plan,” says Lt. Col. Lerner, summarizing on the record what six senior intelligence officials would describe on background. “A simultaneous, coordinated, surprise attack within Israel. They planned to send 200 terrorists armed to the teeth toward civilian populations. This was going to be a coordinated attack. The concept of operations involved 14 offensive tunnels into Israel. With at least 10 men in each tunnel, they would infiltrate and inflict mass casualties.”

As a senior military intelligence official later explained, the anticipated attack was designed with two purposes in mind. “First, get in and massacre people in a village. Pull off something they could show on television. Second, the ability to kidnap soldiers and civilians using the tunnels would give them a great bargaining chip.”

Mishal insists that “the tunnels may have been outwardly called ‘offensive tunnels,’ but in actual fact they are ‘defensive’ ones.’” When pressed to explain why most of the tunnels actually ended up under or near civilian communities or kibbutzim—not military bases—he concedes, “Yes, true. There are Israeli towns adjacent to Gaza. Have any of the tunnels been used to kill any civilian or any of the residents of such towns? No. Never! . . . [Hamas] used them either to strike beyond the back lines of the Israeli army or to raid some military sites . . . This proves that Hamas is only defending itself.”

Reports would later surface that Hamas’s main attack was planned to coincide with the Jewish New Year—Rosh Hashanah—in September 2014. “It may have been,” says a top intelligence official, in his office in the Kirya, Israel’s Pentagon. “But ultimately everything was moved up. Hamas’s grand plan for the tunnels failed because the kidnapping set things in motion before Hamas had everything ready.”

...On July 7, Israeli jets bombed a tunnel that began in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, and exited near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, killing seven members of Hamas, who were trapped inside. To outward observers, it looked as if the casualties may have been incidental. But highly placed government sources tell Vanity Fair they feared these operatives were the first wave. “When the operation started, we expected the mass attack in July,” a senior military intelligence official explains. “We suspected they would hurry up and do it during the air war, before the ground operation.”

Hamas considered the men who died in the tunnel bombing to be among its most elite, warning publicly, “The enemy will pay a tremendous price.” The next day, all hell broke loose, with Hamas firing some 150 rockets. Over the next 10 days, Hamas would send some 1,500 more, while the Israeli air force and navy would pound sites in Gaza with little letup.

...Once the I.D.F. entered Gaza, dodging R.P.G.s and fire from heavy machine guns, says Alian, they came to a harsh realization: “Entire houses were rigged to explode and collapse on our soldiers. There were all sorts of explosive devices. Some [were set to be] triggered by cell phones and other remote controls. Others were pressure activated and hidden under ordinary looking house tiles.” His cohort, Sergeant Rafi (whose last name has also been withheld for security reasons), concurs, “We went to many houses and found tunnels inside houses, outside houses, defensive tunnels, offensive tunnels. They spent years planning for this.”

Golani’s mission was to destroy what intelligence officials believed were four particularly lethal tunnels that began in the Gaza Strip town of Shejaiya and ended a stone’s throw from Israeli kibbutzim. Shejaiya had long been Hamas’s first line of defense and Israel’s efforts to warn its 100,000 residents to flee only reinforced its symbolic and strategic importance in Hamas’s eyes. “In this war,” claims Alian, “the biggest fight, the hardest battle, was for control of that neighborhood.”

I.D.F. soldiers in Shejaiya and elsewhere quickly came to understand that tactical tunnels presented as imminent a threat as the strategic cross-border variety they were sent to find. On August 1—two weeks into Israel’s ground campaign—Lieutenant Matan (who offers only his first name) was in the Gaza town of Rafah, when he and his fellow soldiers heard shots, he says in his first interview about the incident. Tracing those sounds to a nearby guard post, a tunnel opening was discovered. He and another soldier clambered down three meters, descending into the darkness. After firing some warning rounds, he stopped in the dank passageway, only to find portions of a bloodied uniform belonging to a 23-year-old lieutenant named Hadar Goldin, later determined to have been killed and his body kidnapped, according to the I.D.F. spokesperson’s office. (Goldin, unbeknownst to his abductors, turned out to have been a relative of Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon.) “The Hamas operatives were like ghosts—honestly, like ghosts,” recalls Golani’s Sgt. Rafi. “If they wanted to shoot, they came out of a tunnel, shot, and ducked back into the tunnel.”

Gilad Sha’er, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrah may have indirectly saved hundreds of Israeli lives.

(h/t YMedad)

US strikes kill a far higher percentage of civilians than Israel's

From The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

As the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan hits 400, research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism finds that fewer than 4% of the people killed have been identified by available records as named members of al Qaeda. This calls in to question US Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim last year that only “confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level” were fired at.

The Bureau’s Naming the Dead project has gathered the names and, where possible, the details of people killed by CIA drones in Pakistan since June 2004. On October 11 an attack brought the total number of drone strikes in Pakistan up to 400.

The names of the dead have been collected over a year of research in and outside Pakistan, using a multitude of sources. These include both Pakistani government records leaked to the Bureau, and hundreds of open source reports in English, Pashtun and Urdu.

Naming the Dead has also drawn on field investigations conducted by the Bureau’s researchers in Pakistan and other organisations, including Amnesty International, Reprieve and the Centre for Civilians in Conflict.

Only 704 of the 2,379 dead have been identified, and only 295 of these were reported to be members of some kind of armed group. Few corroborating details were available for those who were just described as militants. More than a third of them were not designated a rank, and almost 30% are not even linked to a specific group. Only 84 are identified as members of al Qaeda – less than 4% of the total number of people killed.

These findings “demonstrate the continuing complete lack of transparency surrounding US drone operations,” said Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher for Amnesty International.

Pakistan drone strike
deaths in numbers
Total killed2,379
Total named as militants295
Total named as al Qaeda84
Total named704

When asked for a comment on the Bureau’s investigation, US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that strikes were only carried out when there was “near-certainty” that no civilians would be killed.

“The death of innocent civilians is something that the U.S. Government seeks to avoid if at all possible. In those rare instances in which it appears non-combatants may have been killed or injured, after-action reviews have been conducted to determine why, and to ensure that we are taking the most effective steps to minimise such risk to non-combatants in the future,” said Hayden.

The Obama administration’s stated legal justification for such strikes is based partly on the right to self-defence in response to an imminent threat. This has proved controversial as leaked documents show the US believes determining if a terrorist is an imminent threat “does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on US persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”
The article is clearly biased against the US, as the 4% figure in the headline cherry-picks only known Al Qaeda members against a large population of unknown victims. A more fair number based on these statistics is that 41% of those identified are militants of some sort - 295 out of 704.

The latest comparable numbers from the Gaza war show that 49.8% of those identified (435 out of  874) were militants.

I am not saying that the US is not justified in targeting Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists with drones. They are. I am saying that given the much larger geographic area being targeted, the lack of the pressures of making split second decisions in an active war environment, and the lack of an imminent threat from most of these terrorists,  the US record of accidentally killing civilians is far worse than Israel's.

Which makes any American criticism of Israel's actions in Gaza more than hypocritical.

(h/t Jack)

10/21 Links Pt1: The Western Enablers of Abbas’s Incitement; Lacking a plan, Abbas opts for rhetoric

From Ian:

The Western Enablers of Abbas’s Incitement
It’s a toss-up as to which part is more ridiculous: the fact that they wouldn’t even say where half of the money goes or that they pretended half the cash would go toward reconstruction. In all likelihood, half will be earmarked for rockets and the other half for terror tunnels, though it’s always unclear how much money the terrorist funders of Qatar will seek to add to the pot above and beyond their conference pledge.
What does this have to do with Abbas’s incitement? Quite a bit, actually. The competition between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah/PA is generally a race to the bottom. Until there is a sea change in the culture of the Palestinian polity, appealing to the Palestinian public’s attraction to “resistance” against Israel will always be a key battleground between the two governing factions.
Hamas may have lost its summer war against Israel, but it scored a few key victories. Chief among those victories was the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s temporary flight ban imposed on Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport. Ben-Gurion is the country’s gateway to the outside world, and banning flights to it isolates Israel physically from the international community (not to mention the global Jewish community). For that ban to have come from the United States was especially dispiriting.
And why was that ban enacted? Because of a Hamas rocket that escaped Israeli missile defense systems and landed about a mile outside of the airport. Hamas showed the Palestinians that all of Abbas’s bad-faith negotiating is basically a delaying tactic that enables the further deterioration of Israeli-European relations but amounts to a slow bleed of public opinion. Meanwhile Hamas, the resisters, can shut down the Israeli economy and its contact with the outside world with a few rockets.
Hamas gets results, in other words, though they may come at a high price. Abbas does not spill enough Jewish blood and he does not put enough fear into the hearts of Israeli civilians to compare favorably to the genocidal murderers of Hamas. Therefore, he has to step up his game. If the international community were to do the right thing and isolate Hamas while refusing to fund the next war on Israel, Abbas could plausibly have the space to do something other than incite holy war. But they won’t do the right thing, and Abbas predictably resorts to terror and incitement. I hope the humanitarians of Washington and Brussels are proud of themselves.
Lacking a plan, Abbas opts for rhetoric
The Palestinian president has been speaking in increasingly belligerent tones in recent weeks, accusing Israel of committing "genocide" in Gaza and calling on Palestinians to defend a contested Jerusalem holy site "by any means."
The heightened rhetoric is a departure for the normally staid Mahmoud Abbas — and an apparent sign of desperation as he tries to halt a slide in his own popularity following this summer's war between Israel and the Islamic militant Hamas in Gaza.
Abbas has staked his decade-long presidency on the pursuit of an independent Palestinian state through negotiations with Israel. But he seems out of ideas after another failed round of talks that collapsed in April, a war that boosted the popularity of the rival Hamas, and a bumpy attempt to win new recognition at the United Nations.
Fiery rhetoric is an easy way to appeal to his public at a time when many Palestinians believe Israel is not serious about negotiating a partition deal that would end half a century of Israeli military occupation.
Yet Abbas has also carefully avoided any steps that would irreversibly harm his relationship with Israel.
Arab States Pressure Abbas to Avoid UN Bid
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced last month he would appeal to the U.N. General Assembly and then to the Security Council in a new effort to establish a Palestinian state. The announcement angered officials in Washington and Israel, who see this as a unilateral action and counterproductive to the peace process.
Qais Abdul Karim, an official in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told the arab48 website that not only Israel and the U.S., but also “some Arab states” put pressure on Abbas to prevent him from the appealing. Similar comments were made by Saleh Rafat, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in an interview to Voice of Palestine radio station.
Palestinian commentators also criticized Abbas’s plan. Various commentators said Abbas’s statements contradict the Palestinian national position. “He talks a lot and does little,” they explained.
Pat Condell: Boo Hoo Palestine (h/t Sergio)

For the THIRD time, UNRWA engages in a coverup of its hate

In 2012, I discovered and reported that UNRWA school websites in Gaza included the promotion of terrorism and martyrdom:

Here's part of an essay that was on one school's site:

...You who sees what is happening to the Muslim Ummah everywhere .. I see the daily violations of the Muslims .. O of rending his heart when you hear the news of Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries of the Jihad .. you who wish to join the ranks of the Mujahideen and Jihad with them against the Jews and the Crusaders .. you who want to jihad hard but you can not ..
And a poem:
Palestine should know I adore madness
Jaffa, I should know I'll come back to it
Let him know it's the crazy sons of Zion
With their thought of raping Palestine
The land of Canaan will be only to those who love her
Those who are occupied by people who do not
The land of Isra and Mi'raj cradle of the prophets
The land of jihad and martyrdom
Shortly after I wrote about this, UNRWA silently took down all the individual school websites in Gaza. But they didn't acknowledge doing anything wrong.

Last week, I reported that the UNRWA "human rights" school website included explicit antisemitism (a copy of the document can be seen here):

The Jews in the sixth and seventh centuries promoted social corruption (1981: 39), and the claim that they are God's chosen people demonstrates that the Jews did not know anything about human rights.
A short time later, UNRWA took down the entire website. No explanations, no apologies - just another coverup.

Yesterday, I exposed that the last remaining Arabic UNRWA school website said to students that they should clean their schools, quoting a hadith that said that Muslims should be clean - unlike Jews. (Archives here and here.)

Less than a day later, UNRWA again removed the entire website. Again, no explanations or apologies. No indication that the topics being taught in UNRWA schools are any less hateful and bigoted than they were yesterday and last week and three years ago.

There are no longer any UNRWA school websites in Gaza, since every one I found contained hate. But there is no indication whatsoever that UNRWA has done anything to fix the problem.

A UN organization that gets nearly a billion dollars a year from the world's nations is teaching hundreds of thousands of students hate and jihad, and when confronted with proof using its own websites, it engages in a massive cover-up.

I spent a fair amount of time yesterday tweeting most of the news correspondents who cover the UN about this issue. While I did see some pageload activity showing that some clearly read my exposés, so far I have heard nothing from them asking for more details or any indication that they are working on stories.

If you are as outraged by this hate that is pushed by UNRWA, here is your chance to do something about it.

The UN Correspondents Association directory is here. Email to the reporters for your favorite news outlets and ask them to cover this story.

Here is the contact information for UNRWA spokepeople:
Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile:+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724

The UN contacts are here. Email or call them.

Tweet to UNRWA's commissioner general.

Contact your representatives and political leaders and ask them to comment on this. Forward this to news sites. Tweet and email to reporters and pundits, asking for comment or demanding answers.

All the proof is here and can be independently verified. There is a pattern of hate being taught at UNRWA schools and a pattern of cover-ups to try to hide that same hate. Demand answers and action, from the UN - and from the reporters who don't want to do their jobs.

In Arabic, Muslims freely admit that the Quran is antisemitic

In August, I gave the highlights of an article from a Dubai newspaper called "The Qualities of Jews in the Quran."

To summarize, here were the attributes of Jews described in the Quran according to Muslims themselves from that article:

  1. Jews steal money
  2. Jews use usury to enrich themselves and impoverish non-Jews
  3. Jews don't care about human life
  4. Jews are cowards, hiding behind fortified walls
  5. Jews betray all agreements and covenants
  6. Jews distort words of holy books
  7. Jews are killers of prophets and other fine people
  8. Jews want to extinguish the light of Allah
  9. Jews bring corruption to the lands they are in

Now, an entirely new article with the identical title has been published in Felesteen. The list is different, too, although it does overlap.

So here is the Palestinian Arab list of the qualities of Jews:

  1. Jews have knowledge of the truth but they conceal it among themselves and give bad advice to others so they can profit.
  2. Jews are miserly
  3. Jews obtain other people's money unjustly, using usury and fraud and deception
  4. Jews are cowards, hiding behind fortified cities and building walls and living in ghettos
  5. Jews insist on doing sin
  6. Jews circumvent things that are forbidden
  7. Jews are foolish

Both articles back up these lists with specific citations of Quranic verses.

These are not coming from anti-Islam sites. These are not some apologetics written in English to pretend that the Quran is not antisemitic. These are two independent articles, written two months and a thousand miles apart, by two different Muslim scholars for Muslim audiences, meant to describe factually how the Quran thinks of Jews - and how Muslims are supposed to think of Jews.

The topic of Muslim antisemitism is minimized and swept under the rug in mainstream Western media, or it is attributed to hate for Israel. But these articles prove that Jew-hatred is baked into the source texts of Islam, and Muslims are quite open about this among themselves.

The West must stop pretending that somehow Muslims are only anti-Zionist. Muslims are taught to denigrate and hate Jews. Antisemitism isn't an anomaly among Muslims; it is regarded as a religious obligation!

Abbas files official complaint to the UN - about a car accident

From Times of Israel:
The Palestinians are accusing an Israeli settler of running over two schoolgirls, killing one of them, and speeding away.

Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour said in a letter Monday to the UN Security Council that the two girls got off a school bus in the West Bank town of Sinjil on Sunday and were hit while walking to their mothers across the street. He said Inas Khalil, 5, died several hours later and Nilin Asfour, 8, is in critical condition.

Residents of the Palestinian town accused the driver, 29, of the Yitzhar settlement, of deliberately hitting the girls.

The driver told police he did not stop after striking the girls because he feared for his life due to the crowd that had gathered around the injured girls, according to Ynet. He stopped in the nearest Jewish community, Ofra, where he reported the accident and turned himself in.

Israel Police said a preliminary investigation showed that the incident was an accident, according to Ynet.
This story, saying that the young girl was "martyred," was all over Palestinian media yesterday.

There is no doubt that her death is a tragedy. But here's some context that the media is of course too lazy to research.

In 2013, there were 7827 traffic accidents in the West Bank, resulting in 136 deaths (a sharp increase from the 114 Arab deaths in 2012 and 104 in 2011.)

Jews take up less than 20% of the population over the Green Line in Judea and Samaria. Even given the relative separation between the two populations, we can assume that most fatalities occur at high speeds, meaning on highways which Jews and Arabs share, so one would expect that certainly over 10% of those deaths would be from Jews. If Jews were delibrately targeting Arabs, the number would be much higher. Yet we do not hear about nearly that many deaths.

On the other hand, here is footage from the summer of an Arab driver deliberately aiming his car at a group of Jewish women and girls hitchhiking in Gush Etzion:

A little more context: Here's what happens to Jewish drivers if they happen to enter the wrong Arab neighborhood:

Once again, Arabs are projecting on Jews what they do - joyfully - themselves.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sovereign states do hasbara all the time (J. E. Dyer)

Last week, Mida magazine published a provocative essay by Noga Arbell called "Sovereign States Don't Do Hasbara."


When the Israeli Prime Minister got up in the United Nations and asked "In what moral universe does genocide include warning the enemy's civilian population to get out of harm's way?", he made a number of embarrassing rhetorical mistakes, especially when one recalls that Binyamin Netanyahu is considered a virtuoso in the field. He repeated the absurd accusation of genocide to an audience which included those who may not have heard it, and by even referring to it, gave it validity.

...Worst of all, he is effectively asking permission. He places himself at the judgment of his audience. Even if the crowd itself were on his side, this is nevertheless a fundamentally flawed approach. It grants the crowd power no self-respecting state would grant it. Whether Netanyahu appeals to his citizens or judges, he should be placing before them a fait accompli and not a murky vote. The right of Israel to defend itself should not even be up for debate. To take it off the agenda, Israel needs to do a very simple rhetorical move: take it off the agenda. The idea is so absurd it's not even worth addressing.

...Sovereign states don't ask permission. They don't spend all their time justifying themselves or asking for sympathy. They know they're right. Their right to exist, the right of their citizens to life, freedom and happiness are so obvious to them that they do not feel the need to have these confirmed by their neighbors and allies. Sometimes, when they really cross the line in defending those rights, they ask forgiveness. But even then, usually they don't.

...Netanyahu's speech is a shining example of a fundamental flaw in Israeli hasbara: it doesn't stop apologizing and ask for support. It doesn't stop asking permission. Other heads of state used the UN platform to tell other countries what to do. If we were a normal country, our Prime Minister would point to his audience with an accusatory finger and say "you did this!" He would accuse the "moderate" Palestinian leadership of giving its children over to Hamas with their never-ending recalcitrance.

...Our real problem is not anti-Semitism, the Muslim or even the settlements. Our real problem is our desire to be loved. By arguing that Israel is a small country surrounded by enemies and in need of allies we neglect the fact they need us no less than we need them. Just to show how desperate we are to be liked, as opposed to any other country on earth, we see the virulent criticism against our country as something positive to be listened to and absorbed. As though there is truly "constructive criticism" in the messy and Machiavellian world of international politics.

...After the Six Day War (in other words, right after the infamous "occupation"), we were admired the world over. Now we're just repeatedly used. We sullied the victory – not the Arab states, not anti-Semitism and not even "Peace Now". Israel. The Israeli leadership which keeps begging for the world to "recognize Israel's right to exist" are helping to cause horrific damage to Israel throughout the world.

Sovereign states don't ask permission, and Israel – as opposed to many other countries – has nothing to apologize for.
I received a very interesting response to this by J.E. Dyer, of The Optimistic Conservative blog and  Liberty Unyielding:

Actually, sovereign states do hasbara all the time.

When Netanyahu speaks to the UN, I don’t hear him asking anyone for permission. I hear him stating Israel’s interests, intentions, and policies. He most definitely should NOT switch to accusing and haranguing the UNGA as his mode of communication. That’s what the irresponsible and non-statesmanlike do (cf. Mahmoud Abbas, Hugo Chavez, pick your Iranian president from the last 35 years).

Netanyahu is behaving like a statesman, on what students of international relations are pleased to call the “Westphalian” model. That adjective is serviceable enough, even if it has its problems on the margins. Part of being a modern nation-state – an integral, inherent part – is exhorting your fellow nation-states on the matter of your interests and policies. The whole discipline of diplomacy is as much about representing your own interests and positive attributes as it is about persuading others to do things.

Tolerance and peace among the nations isn’t about everyone angling to appear blameless (a terribly sophomoric perspective, on life as well as international relations), it’s about everyone recognizing that all nations have their own interests and will be advancing them. We can stew in resentments and make them the centerpiece of our relations – or not. Not is the better course. I admire and commend Netanyahu and his government for being very consistent in that regard.

In fact, Netanyahu has been a standout as a statesman over the last five years, in a dithering and confused world. One of the first things he did was send Lieberman out to knock on doors and bring gifts to Asia and Latin America. He’s been leveraging technology and energy for all they’re worth to build up relations with other nations – beyond the U.S., beyond Europe and the Middle East – as a way of broadening Israel’s base of global connections. I believe the outreach he inaugurated in 2009 made a real difference when the Arab Spring hit. His government had cultivated the connections and was a known quantity in Russia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe, the nearby regions that had to absorb big shocks from the Arab Spring. The outreach also provides a general and broadly-motivated context for developing more specialized geographic links, which facilitate intelligence, and military and special operations, where Israel needs them.

In my judgment, it has been Bibi’s record as a predictably responsible, disciplined Westphalian statesman that has given Israel the freedom to do what she had to in November 2012 and June-July 2014 in Gaza. He articulates Israel’s interests and purposes, he does what he says he will, and he doesn’t exceed the expectations he knows he has created in regional stakeholders, like Egypt and Jordan.

The Pax Americana has made us all sloppy in our thinking about these things. America, as a hyperpower (France’s term for it), was at liberty for nearly a quarter century to act carefully, or not, depending on who was in the Oval Office. Even then, America actually did hasbara 365 days a year, and so did the other nations – but people’s eyes missed that because there was little effective pushback from the lesser powers. Hasbara wasn’t a difference-maker during those years. We are reentering a time when it will be, and I for one think Israel is blessed to have Netanyahu doing hasbara. In fact, with Obama in the White House, America’s hasbara today is in bad shape, while Israel’s is much better.

One final thought. The U.S. doesn’t call it hasbara, but people in our foreign service and our senior military ranks get regular training in the concept. It’s conceptualized systematically as pertaining to one or more of the “elements of national power”: diplomatic, informational, military, and economic. And here’s the final thought: American trainees are told that one principle supersedes all others in our “hasbara,” and that is that it must be based on truth.

Often, priorities make it unimportant to catalogue ALL truths, in every situation. There is not always a point in complaining, regardless of how factual the complaints may be. But after identifying our interests and policies, we have to represent them on the basis of truth, and not on untruths or anti-factual fancies. It’s a moral obligation to the American people to do this. I submit that Israel holds herself to the same obligation. And surveying the nations, I see very few others of which that can be said.

10/20 Links Pt2: Non-Islamic anti-Semitism in Europe; European Left turns back peace process

From Ian:

Non-Islamic anti-Semitism in Europe
The wave of modern anti-Semitism across Europe in July and August revealed a dangerous amalgamation of left-wing, Islamic-animated, and right-wing extremist Jew-hatred.
Mainstream Europeans remained largely indifferent to contemporary anti-Semitism, namely, the hatred of the Jewish State surrounding Israel's Operation Protective Edge. The firebombing of a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, along with protestors at mass rallies calling to "Gas the Jews" prompted scant outrage in German society.
"There is a startling indifference in the German public to the current display of anti-Semitism," said Samuel Salzborn, a leading expert on anti-Semitism at the University of Göttingen in Lower Saxony, in early August. The pressing question is, how can one explain Europe's robust tolerance of Jew-hatred?
This essay will begin by describing the social-psychological mechanism, in response to the Holocaust, driving non-Islamic anti-Semitism among Europeans. (h/t MtTB)
Myth of How the West Was “Saving Jews” and the European Reconquista
This seems absurd and illogical: Europe faces the threat of a total Islamization, the French will become an ethnic minority in their own country by the year 2049 and Germans around the same time. Muslim immigrants planning terrorist attacks are caught practically on a daily basis in all countries of Europe – and in spite of all this, Europeans support Arabs against Israel and are more worried over Israel building ten houses in its capital of Jerusalem then over Muslims building thousands of mosques in all European capitals, from Berlin to Lisbon.
However, quoting Zvi Mazel again: “An Italian politician recently told me, ‘Europe has resigned to its fate. It does not want to fight terrorism and is not even trying to stem the tide of Islamism, which is about to flood it. You are left alone, my friend.’”
Europe moves by inertia, and nobody wants to think about what will happen tomorrow. It is easier and more comfortable for aging Europe to go on thinking along the traditional lines: all evil comes from Jews, they crucified Jesus, they control all media and finances, they… they… they… And fighting against this “Jewish evil” becomes a main task for globalists and anti-globalists, for democrats and conservatives, for donkeys and elephants, for the defenders of the rights of gays, lesbians, rare species of birds, butterflies, roaches, bed bugs… My apologies if I forgot someone.
History is already dragging Europe to the slaughterhouse. Their entire civilization is under attack, and the attackers do not even hide their plan to destroy it all and place the “Banner of the Prophet” over the ruins– yet Europeans go on fighting “the Jews”.
European Left turns back Israel-Palestine peace process
All well-meaning people hope that the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors can be settled peacefully, if not ending in a paradise of inner tranquility. Regrettably, leftist political groups in European countries are damaging that hope in two ways. They ignore the belligerent statements as well as the actions of Palestinians.
In addition, by supporting unilateral actions by Palestinians, they repudiate formal international agreements made over the years, calling for an end to the Israeli-Arab conflict by negotiations. The peace process is not helped by breakage of international understandings.
The British House of Commons – which this week approved a non-binding resolution, moved by left-wing members of the Labour Party in Parliament, calling for the recognition of a state of Palestine by a vote of 274 to 12, though most of the Conservative party abstained – did not appear to understand this.
They perceived themselves as making a small but symbolic step and a gesture for common humanity, but in effect, they ignored the fact that significant parts of the Palestinian population and leadership do not recognize the State of Israel and would not allow that state to exist if they had the power.

It finally happened: Arabs blaming Jews for the weather

We Zionists often sarcastically say that the Arabs blame the Jews for the most absurd events, like natural disasters and the weather. Yet no matter how hard we try to come up with satirical examples, real life always seems to catch up.

Palestinian "experts" are saying that the amount of Israeli air raids and the resulting tiny particles that went into the air will affect the weather in much of the region, including Gaza, the West Bank, the "occupied territories" (meaning Israel,) West and South Jordan and parts of the Sinai.

Palestine Today interviewed Professor Mohammed Abu Safed, professor of physical geography at Al-Najah University, who predicted that the amount of fumes and gunpowder over the atmosphere of the Gaza Strip "resulting from the use of internationally prohibited weapons" suspended in the atmosphere over the areas of the Gaza Strip, and will result in an increase in rainfall over the region.

He said that the gases will contribute to the formation of a "condensation nucleus to form clouds," and that those fumes stored in the atmosphere will increase the chances of forming raindrops, thereby increasing the level of rainfall in the region.

It just so happens that there were major thunderstorms Sunday in Israel and Gaza. Thanks, IDF!

UNRWA site, quoting hadith, says Jews are dirty (UPDATE)

UNRWA has now removed practically all of its websites associated with Gaza schools, after I exposed their extremism, Jew-hatred and lies.

They removed the sites stealthily, without any public statement. There has been no apology for their lies and propaganda, no explanation on how they were discovered to be teaching lessons that are entirely opposing the UN's and UNRWA's own published ideals and standards. They even removed their website dedicated to teaching human rights to Gaza children rather than fix the problem.

There is only one site left in the UNRWA Gaza schools Internet domain sch.unrwa.ps - this one. It is dedicated to providing materials for teaching children "initiative, respect and discipline."

And it also includes Jew-hatred!

On two separate occasions, in 2013 and 2014, UNRWA schools in Gaza held initiatives to clean up the schools, with kids volunteering with the cleanup. Nothing wrong with that, right?

However, in both those cases, UNRWA backed up the desire to clean up the schools by quoting a Hadith that says "You must clean your courtyards and do not follow in the footsteps of the Jews" - who keep themselves unclean.

Yes, UNRWA school sites are saying that Jews are dirty.

There are quite a few hadiths that extol the virtues of cleanliness. UNRWA employees choose the one that is antisemitic.

This is besides the fact that UNRWA is not supposed to be teaching or promoting Islam in its schools. Remember, there are some remaining Christians in Gaza. UNRWA's educational vision includes "upholding human values and religious tolerance." Yet UNRWA hires Quran teachers. UNRWA schools have Quran memorization competitions. Many Arabic UNRWA school documents include the Islamic introduction "In the name of Allah the merciful.."

Within a week, expect these links to be gone as well, and for UNRWA's leaders to pretend that it never happened. Just like they did this past week.

UPDATE: The site was also silently taken down, again without UNRWA admitting that it has a problem.

10/20 Links Pt1: Hamas Chief's Daughter Treated in Israeli Hospital; Gaza aid conference was a charade

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: What The "Two State Solution" Has to Do with the Rise of Islamic Extremism: Zero
The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution." This is the last thing they had in mind.
The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join the Islamic State [IS] are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The only solution the Islamic State believes in is a Sunni Islamic Caliphate where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.
What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. Unlike Kerry, Sunni scholars fully understand that the Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.
Will Mahmoud Abbas Reject Israeli Protection?
Palestinian officials have generally been silent about security cooperation with Israel. They are loath to acknowledge how important it is for the survival of the Palestinian Authority [PA], and fear that critics, especially Hamas, will consider it "collaboration with the enemy."
"You smuggle weapons, explosives and cash to the West Bank, not for the fight with Israel, but for a coup against the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli intelligence chief visited me two weeks ago and told me about the [Hamas] group they arrested that was planning for a coup... We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me." — Mahmoud Abbas, PA President, to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader.
According to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, if the IDF leaves the West Bank, Hamas will take over, and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State would operate there.
In recent months, Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel. If Abbas becomes another Arafat, it could be the Israeli side that loses interest in security cooperation.
Israeli Hospital Confirms: We Treated Hamas Chief Haniyeh’s Daughter
In one of several such known cases, an Israeli hospital on Sunday acknowledged that it had recently provided medical treatment to a family member of Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, Israel’s NRG News reported.
The daughter of Gaza Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, was transferred to Israel for several days of medical treatment in Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, after suffering complications from routine treatment in a Gaza hospital, Israeli officials confirmed.
Haniyeh’s daughter is one of 13 children. Hospital officials declined to offer details of her status or medical condition, saying only that “She is only one of more than a thousand patients from the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian territories, hospitalized each year for treatment here.” (h/t Bob Knot)
The Gaza aid conference was kind of a charade. Here’s why
The Palestinian government had asked for $4 billion (despite having earlier estimated the total cost of reconstruction to be over $8 billion), so it was with great fanfare that the higher figure was announced. Foreign cabinet secretaries wrung one another’s hands — and of course, that of the host of the event, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi — and profusely thanked each other for their generosity.
But headline figures are deceiving. This conference, like others of its kind, was largely a charade. Take a closer look at the numbers and it’s clear that some creative accounting is giving the impression of a job well done.
For starters, much of the $5.4 billion was not actually earmarked for Gaza reconstruction. Many countries included in their contributions money they had already allotted to Palestine, including the West Bank, since the beginning of the year under normal aid programming.
In other words, a good amount of the aid is not new money intended for Gaza. Much of Sunday’s conference represented a re-announcement of money that’s already been given. Of the $5.4 billion announced by Brende, only $2.4 billion-$2.7 billion is going to Gaza reconstruction. It remains unclear how much of that is new and how much is money already spent.

Aw, I didn't know Iran cared so much about Israel!

I had missed this story from last week:
Iran’s deputy foreign minister reportedly said on Saturday that his country has exchanged messages with the US about the fight against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Syria and Iraq.

Hossein Amir Abdollahian was quoted by Iranian media, in what would be a rare confirmation of Iran-US discussions over Isis, as saying Iran had warned Washington that Israel would be at risk should the US and its allies seek to topple the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, while fighting the extremist group.
How hilarious is that? The regime that dedicates a huge amount of media bandwidth to calling for Israel's destruction - and that arms terror groups in Lebanon and Gaza with rockets aimed at Israeli civilians - is suddenly concerned about Israel's security!

If Assad falls, no matter who takes over, Iran's influence in the region plummets. Hezbollah's grip on Lebanon would be also loosen. No matter how bad ISIS is, Iran is a much more dangerous long term threat (and its de facto takeover of Yemen through the Shiite Houthis in recent weeks shows its expansionist desires.)

This little episode also reveals that Iran believes its own propaganda, that Israel drives US policy.