Iran nuke deal is a missed opportunity — and worse

The deal won’t stop Iran from attaining a nuclear bomb, but it will lend the country unearned international legitimacy.

irannegotiations.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxBy: Rafael Barak for The Toronto Star Tue Jul 21 2015

Last week, Canadians woke up to breaking news of a deal reached over Iran’s nuclear program.

To understand why Israel sees this agreement as a threat to global peace and security, let me share with you five key questions:

Does the agreement stop Iran from attaining a nuclear bomb?

No, plain and simple.

Over the years, the international community constructed a robust system of sanctions, squeezing the Iranian economy and bringing the Iranian regime to the negotiating table. The aim was to dismantle Iran’s military nuclear program.

Just as this objective was finally within reach, the negotiators changed their approach. They handed the Iranian regime a dream deal that will quickly end the sanctions, the one form of leverage, while leaving most of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place.

Now Iran is all but guaranteed a nuclear bomb.

Assuming it doesn’t cheat, it can simply wait ten years — continuing to advance its nuclear capabilities — and then quickly become a nuclear superpower with full international legitimacy.

Does the deal stop Iran from cheating?

Again, the answer is no.

The negotiators were initially guided by a strong awareness of Iran’s long history of deceiving the international community — including its clandestine underground enrichment facilities at Fordow and Arak.

What was supposed to be “anywhere, anytime” inspections with just 24 hours’ notice, became a bureaucratic process that can last at least 24 days. Now, even if we learn about Iran’s undeclared sites, the regime has nearly a month to hide the evidence.

This is especially disconcerting for Israel. As a small country, two-thirds the size of Vancouver Island with half our 8.2 million citizens located in the central core, Iran’s ability to build and deliver just one nuclear warhead can mean our total demise.

Will the ayatollahs use the $150 billion of sanction relief to help the Iranian people?

Here, too, the answer is no.

It is not a coincidence that some of the deal’s fiercest opponents are Iranian democracy advocates. Despite the election of President Hassan Rouhani, a so-called “reformer,” these dissidents know that the regime has only upped its oppression of women, political activists, religious minorities, and members of the LGBT community.

Moreover, the world’s experience with North Korea demonstrates that a generous economic package to feed and help the population, including half a million tons of heavy oil, didn’t find its way to the people who need it the most, nor did it stop that country from breaking commitments and going nuclear.

Will the deal succeed in making Iran a regional partner for peace?

Absolutely not.

Iran is playing a direct role in the instability raging across the Middle East — propping up the embattled Assad regime in Syria, building up Hezbollah’s arsenal of over 100,000 missiles aimed at Israel, supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and playing dangerous games in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those who live under this shadow, not just Israel but many Arab countries, stand united against this bad deal that gives international legitimacy and transforms Iran — the region’s main source of instability — from the problem to being a wishful part of the solution.

For Israel, this is a significant game changer that hands the Iranian regime — which was never shy in calling for our annihilation and denying the Holocaust — an exceptional geopolitical asset.

Israel and the Jewish people deeply understand the link between rhetoric and action. We pay close attention to the fact that four days before the announcement of the deal, President Rouhani was leading mobs in the streets of Tehran in chanting “Down with America, Death to Israel.” Two days ago, with the ink on the deal not even dry, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated his regime’s commitment to its allies and to continue its collision course with the West.

Is war the only alternative to this agreement?

Not at all. Diplomacy is always the best option.

The alternative has always been a better deal — one that rolls back Iran’s military nuclear program and links the easing of sanctions to a total change in Iran’s behaviour vis-à-vis Israel, its Arab neighbours, and its own population.

Rafael Barak is the ambassador of Israel to Canada.

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Israel’s people want peace too. Pressure doesn’t help

If progress towards peace has stalled, it is not because the Israeli people have lost the will to make bold decisions. They need constructive international engagement, not criticism.

Palestinian and Israelis light candles for peace in the West Bank. EPA

Palestinian and Israelis light candles for peace in the West Bank. EPA

By Daniel Taub, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK for the Guardian (July) — This month I return to Israel after four years as its ambassador in the UK. I’ve been privileged to witness an extraordinary expansion in our bilateral cooperation, and I’ve also had many conversations about Israel and the prospects for peace. One troubling and recurrent theme has been that the main thing Britain can do to promote peace in the Middle East is to exert pressure on Israel.

On hearing this, I am reminded of the fable of the north wind and the sun. In their competition, the north wind fails to blow the cloak off a passing traveller no matter how hard it blows; yet the sun succeeds, by warming the traveller’s surroundings, and encouraging him to take off the cloak himself.

Recent years have yielded no shortage of wind. Resolutions and boycott campaigns have all attempted to force Israel’s hand. Yet the response by Israel’s people has been emphatic: twice re-electing the government these efforts have sought to censure.

Standard-bearers for the pressure camp routinely claim that a conciliatory approach only reinforces the status quo. But in fact, the Israeli people’s boldest steps towards peace have taken place when the international community has been most receptive to their concerns.

Israel’s historic peace treaty with Egypt was made possible by US guarantees on security and continued oil supply. Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon was premised on the UN’s commitment to deploy peacekeeping forces in the area and prevent terrorist aggression against Israel by Hezbollah. Its disengagement from Gaza followed international assurances that Hamas and other terror groups would be prevented from gaining access to arms via the Sinai.

If progress towards peace has stalled, it is not because the Israeli people have lost the will to make bold decisions. Polls consistently show a majority want a lasting peace with the Palestinians.

Yet those same polls show Israelis are also sceptical about the possibility of realising such a peace. In part this scepticism relates to the ability of the international community to live up to its assurances. UN peacekeepers have not prevented the rearming of Hezbollah and its attacks on northern Israel. Nor has the international community been able to stop the smuggling of weapons to Hamas in Gaza, or, as Israeli intelligence services recently disclosed, its support for Islamic State terrorists in Sinai. Even with regard to reconstruction in Gaza, while Israel has transferred over a million tons of building supplies to date, reconstruction remains hindered by the failure of international donors to meet their aid pledges, and by the internal Palestinian Fatah-Hamas power struggle.

As much as Israelis want peace, when they look at the fate of international assurances in Gaza, Lebanon and elsewhere in the region, they cannot help but ask what is to stop an evacuated West Bank turning into yet another launch pad for attacks against Israel, but this time only miles from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

In a region undergoing such tectonic changes, with ungoverned spaces increasingly dominated by brutal jihadist extremists and Iranian proxies, Israelis are perplexed that the song sung by international voices in relation to their corner of the region remains the same. Israelis have come to recognise that new regional realities must mean new thinking, including embracing opportunities to cooperate with states with which we have never worked before. Yet away from our region, debate on the peace process continues as if Israelis and Palestinians exist in a vacuum.

The value of emulating the sun rather than the wind is not just about recognising the concerns of the Israeli people. It is about seeing the reality that exists today; not the reality of 10 years ago, or of 1948. The resilience of Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan shows how transformative constructive international engagement can be. But the attempt to change the Middle East by brute pressure will only ever be so much hot air.

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Iran’s Rouhani gets his way on nuclear weapons

88ad8d94a59945f5834389217a9e0004-88ad8d94a59945f5834389217a9e0004-0By Yehuda Yaakov for the Boston Globe JULY 20, 2015

For more than a decade I have had the opportunity to be intimately involved with the Iranian crisis. So it’s probably understandable how alarming I find the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran.

The agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran makes far-reaching concessions in all areas meant to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability. It does not adequately limit Iran’s research and development capabilities. It does not exclude to a sufficient degree Iran’s weaponization activity. It does not ensure a tight enough monitoring and verification mechanism.

The deal impairs Israel’s national security. It prominently bears the fingerprints of perhaps the most intriguing Iranian figure of this 13-year crisis: Hassan Rouhani. President of Iran since August 2013, it was Rouhani who originally devised his country’s nuclear negotiating strategy when Tehran’s illicit nuclear activities were uncovered in August 2002. It is Rouhani who shepherded the crisis to the conclusion he always sought.

Rouhani, a long-standing member of the Islamic Republic’s inner circle, has had a career that mirrors the strategic development of his country and indicates a close familiarity with its military nuclear program. The previous highlight of this career was the period between 1989 and 2005, when he led Iran’s National Security Council. During that time — especially from 2003 to 2005 — he repeatedly maneuvered the international community to ensure the program’s advancement. He did this mostly by exploiting his interlocutors’ strong desire to resolve the crisis — and by reaching agreements he would later break.

When Rouhani campaigned for president, his platform was explicitly based on a belief that his strategy had worked, and that Iran would find its way out of sanctions if only he were elected and given the necessary leeway. It is therefore no surprise that within hours of the deal, he tweeted:

[This admin believes in dialogue. I myself headed the very first #nuclear

negotiating team back in 2003–when no sanctions had been imposed.

4:32 AM – 14 Jul 2015]

This was apparently Rouhani’s way of saying: I promised, I delivered.

Indeed, he has.

Rouhani is known not only for his adept handling of nuclear negotiations; among experts, he is also famous for bragging about his success afterwards. So it was in late 2004, when he revealed a dozen or so areas of concrete advancement made in the nuclear program even as Iran was supposed to be fulfilling its negotiated commitments.

It was the same on the day this new agreement was announced, when he publicly made it clear that Iran had achieved the four objectives it set out to attain: advancing its nuclear activities, lifting sanctions, canceling UN Security Council resolutions, and closing the UN’s Iranian nuclear file. In other words, to paraphrase Rouhani, the international community is removing sanctions, while Iran is keeping its nuclear program.

One more word about Rouhani: He’s no pacifist. He hasn’t shied away from expressing public support for Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the lot. He has also threatened Israel, and more than once.

So it was no surprise to see this tweet on the day many in the international community were celebrating the supposed dawn of a new era:

[To our neighbours: Do not be deceived by the propaganda of the

warmongering Zionist regime. #Iran & its power will translate into

your power 5:06 AM – 14 Jul 2015]

Rouhani understands the weight of this “power” and knows all too well what Iran’s military nuclear program is for. He is also aware that nuclear capabilities in Tehran’s hands will undermine regional security in the Middle East.

Israel knows this too.

Iran continues to seek our destruction. We are not bound by this deal with Tehran. Plain and simple.

Yehuda Yaakov is Israel’s consul general to New England.

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Iran nuclear pact: Tale of the scorpion and the frog

kerryiranThe Miami Herald (July 20) — Few residents of the Middle East are unfamiliar with the story of the scorpion and the frog. It was first referred to in the Talmud (Nedarim 41a), the seminal ancient Jewish legal text compiled in the fourth century.

In it, a scorpion desiring to cross a river meets a hungry frog. Unable to swim, the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across the river on his back. In return the scorpion promised the frog that he would provide him with the food he needs from the plentiful hunting ground on the other side. The frog, however, is wary. “If you sting me during the crossing, I will surely drown.” The scorpion then answers the frog with perfect logic: “But if you drown, my dear frog, I will also drown.”

The reassured frog then agrees to allow the scorpion onto his back and he begins the swim. Halfway through the crossing, the scorpion stings the frog, paralyzing him, and the two begin to sink. With his last breaths the stunned frog cried out to the scorpion “Why did you sting me!?” The scorpion angrily retorted “We are both dying because of you! Although you thought I was logical, you should have seenthat I was still a scorpion!!”

This parable comes to mind when Israelis assess the nuclear deal just reached with Iran. The Iranian regime is the foremost sponsor of terrorism in the world, is on a march of conquest in the Middle East, officially denies the Holocaust, flagrantly violates the human rights of its own citizens, is directly involved in the murder of tens of thousands of Syrian civilians, and vows to annihilate the one and only Jewish state. When Iran tries to build nuclear weapons, it must be stopped.

From Israel’s perspective, the negotiations between the world powers and Iran, meant to prevent a Tehran from gaining nuclear weapons have not achieved their vital objective. Quite the opposite, they appear to have paved the path to Iranian nuclear proliferation. Close examination of the agreement with Iran reveals just how dangerous it is:

▪ Iran can now choose between two paths to the bomb, one through violating the agreement and the second, through respecting it. Violating the terms would require overcoming the limited inspection mechanism, which is plausible, since Iran has done this in the past. While respecting the terms would allow Iran to have an unlimited ability to enrich uranium with full international legitimacy after about 10 years. For Iran, waiting a decade to effortlessly achieve its long-standing nuclear goals is not very long at all.

▪ The agreement’s inspection mechanism must provide Iran up to 24 days warning before inspectors can visit newly identified suspicious sites. This is like giving a drug dealer several weeks’ notice before searching his house. The agreement also requires divulging to the Iranians the intelligence information on the basis of which the inspection is requested.

▪ The agreement fails to condition the lifting of the economic sanctions and the other restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program upon any actual change in Iran’s belligerent behavior. The deal does not have a “stick” requiring Iran to cease its regional aggression or its worldwide campaign of terrorism before offering its many economic and nuclear “carrots”.

▪ The agreement provides Iran with hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief, direct investment, oil sales and unfrozen assets. This cash windfall will naturally fund unrepentant Iran’s terrorism and aggression that continue to undermine regional and global stability.

▪ The agreement allows Iran to continue developing advanced centrifuges, which will enable Iran to enrich much more uranium much faster once the deal expires.

▪ Israel is not alone in recognizing the dangers posed by the deal. Iran’s Arab neighbors are no less concerned. When Arab states and Israel agree; it’s worth paying attention.

▪ Arab nations threatened by Tehran’s growing power in the Middle East are likely to seek nuclear parity with Iran, sparking a nuclear arms race in the world’s most volatile region.

While Israel truly appreciates the global efforts made to confront the Iranian threat, and has encouraged them, it now has no choice but to raise its voice in warning. The recent agreement has fallen far short of its goals. Tragically, the savage Iranian scorpion has skillfully convinced the logic-loving Western frog that it’s safe to carry him on its back. It is Israel’s hope that its global allies in the search for peace and stability in the Middle East will urgently realize and address the shortcomings in the Iran nuclear deal before it stings us all.


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Palestinian Authority Education: A Recipe for Hate and Terror

Official Palestinian Authority TV, July 3, 2013

Official Palestinian Authority TV, July 3, 2013

Palestinian Media Watch has prepared a comprehensive report on Palestinian Authority education. It includes chapters on names of schools (dozens named after terrorists), school activities (e.g., visiting homes of terrorists), statements and activities of educators (e.g., presenting murderers as role models and promising a world without Israel), schoolbooks, informal education (children reciting poems on kids’ TV programs: e.g., Jews are monkeys and pigs; Tel Aviv is “occupied Palestine”), and a chapter with examples of honoring Hitler.

PMW has prepared this report documenting that hate, Antisemitism and honoring of murderers are fundamental elements of PA education, and showing the PA’s central role in undermining peace.


“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

[Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Autobiography (1994)]

Peace begins with education. Palestinian Media Watch has researched the Palestinian Authority’s education to determine to what extent peace is promoted by the structures the PA controls and/or funds. This report reviews the names of Palestinian schools, school activities, and examines public statements by educators and Ministry of Education officials. The report likewise evaluates to what extent PA schoolbooks, educational TV, and a PA-funded children’s magazine promote or undermine peace.

Tragically, the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas is doing exactly what Mandela warned against: The PA is teaching its children to hate. The PA and the politically dominant Fatah movement that is also headed by Abbas, teach Palestinian children through their official communication structures that Jews and Israelis possess inherently evil character traits. Fighting them is therefore said to be heroic and even Allah’s will. Terrorists who have murdered dozens of Israeli civilians are said to be national heroes and Islamic Martyrs.

Common PA hate messages include:

  • Israel has no right to exist
  • Israel will disappear and be replaced by “Palestine”
  • Violence – “armed struggle” – is legitimate to fight Israel
  • Muslims must fight an eternal Islamic war against Israel
  • Killers of Israelis are heroes and role models
  • Martyrdom-death for Allah is the utmost honor

Children recited poems on official PA TV children’s educational programs in recent years with the following messages:

  • Jews are “monkeys and pigs”
  • Jews are “enemies of Allah”
  • Jews are “most evil of creations”
  • Zion is “Satan with a tail”

When children repeat these hate messages they are not corrected by the moderators of the children’s programs, instead TV hosts often give them prominence and even applaud them. When a boy told a PA TV news reporter that he had learned in school to “fight the Jews and kill them” his statement was included in the PA TV evening new report without comment or contradiction. (See Chapter 4.)

Hitler has been honored by some Palestinian schools and a PA-funded educational magazine, and the PA has named dozens of schools after terrorist murderers of civilians and one school was named after a Nazi collaborator and war criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians.

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Why Palestinians Cannot Make Peace with Israel

By Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab-Israeli Muslim, who is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades.

  • Americans and Europeans fail to acknowledge that in order to achieve peace, the leaders must prepare their people for compromise and tolerance. If you want to make peace with Israel, you do not tell your people that the Western Wall has no religious significance to Jews and is, in fact, holy Muslim property. Palestinian Authority leaders who accuse Israel of “war crimes” and “genocide” are certainly not preparing their people for peace. Such allegations serve only to further agitate Palestinians against Israel.
  • If Yasser Arafat was not able to accept the generous offer made by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the 2000 Camp David summit, who is Mahmoud Abbas to make any concessions to Israel? Arafat was quoted then as saying that he rejected the offer because he did not want to end up drinking tea with assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the first Arab leader to sign a peace agreement with Israel.
  • No Palestinian leader has a mandate to reach an everlasting peace agreement with Israel. No leader in Ramallah or the Gaza Strip is authorized to end the conflict with Israel. Any Palestinian who dares to talk about concessions to Israel is quickly denounced as a traitor. Those who believe that whoever succeeds Abbas will be able to make real concessions to Israel are living in an illusion.

The Gatestone Institute (July 22) — There are two main reasons why Palestinians will not sign a real and meaningful peace agreement with Israel — at least not in the foreseeable future.

The first is a total lack of education for peace. The second is related to the absence of a leader who is authorized — or has the guts — to embark on such a risky mission.

Americans and Europeans who keep talking about the need to revive the stalled peace process in the Middle East continue to ignore these two factors. They continue to insist that peace is still possible and that the ball is in Israel’s court.

The Americans and Europeans fail to acknowledge that in order to achieve peace, the leaders must prepare their people for compromise and tolerance.

In fact, it is inaccurate to say merely that Palestinian leaders have failed to prepare their people for peace with Israel. Instead, one should say that the Palestinian leadership has long been inciting its people against Israel to a point where it has become almost impossible to talk about any form of compromise between Israelis and Palestinians.

Since its inception in 1994, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has devoted most of its energies and propaganda to delegitimizing and isolating Israel. Ironically, this incitement continued even as the PA was negotiating with Israel in an attempt to reach a peace agreement.

If you want to make peace with Israel, you do not tell your people every now and then that the Western Wall has no religious significance to Jews and is, in fact, holy Muslim property.

You cannot make peace with Israel if you continue to deny Jewish history or links to the land. Take, for example, what the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi said in response to statements made by President Barack Obama, in which he acknowledged Jewish history. “Once again, he [Obama] has adopted the discourse of Zionist ideology,” she said. “He adopted it when he came to this region, speaking about the Jews’ return to their land, and that this is a Jewish state.”

You will never be able to make peace with Israel if you keep telling your people and the rest of the world that Zionism was created in order to implement the Jewish project of world domination. This is what the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Chile, Imad Nabil Jadaa, said at a conference on Israeli-Palestinian peace in Santiago.

Imad Nabil Jadaa, the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Chile, declared on May 15 that the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (an antisemitic forgery) contains proof of a Jewish plan for world domination. In the same speech, Jadaa declared "there is no Jewish People" and that Palestinians do not recognize the existence of a Jewish people.

Imad Nabil Jadaa, the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Chile, declared on May 15 that the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (an antisemitic forgery) contains proof of a Jewish plan for world domination. In the same speech, Jadaa declared “there is no Jewish People” and that Palestinians do not recognize the existence of a Jewish people.

It will be impossible to make peace with Israel at a time when the Palestinian Authority is telling its people that Jews use wild pigs to drive Palestinian farmers out of their fields and homes in the West Bank. This is what PA President Mahmoud Abbas told a pro-Palestinian conference in Ramallah.

According to the PA, Jews have also used rats to drive Arab residents of the Old City of Jerusalem out of their homes. The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, which reports directly to Abbas’s office, claimed in a dispatch that, “Rats have become an Israeli weapon to displace and expel Arab residents” of the Old City of Jerusalem. The agency reported: “Settlers flood the Old City with rats… they release the rats to increase the suffering of the [Arab] residents and force them to evict their homes and leave the city.”

These messages are being sent to Palestinians not only by Hamas, but also by the Western-funded Palestinian Authority, which happens to be Israel’s “peace partner.” The messages are being sent to Palestinians through the mosques, media and public statements of Palestinian leaders.

This is in addition to the PA’s worldwide campaign to isolate, delegitimize and demonize Israel and Israelis. PA leaders and representatives who continue to accuse Israel of “war crimes” and “genocide” are certainly not preparing their people for peace with Israel. On the contrary, such allegations serve to further agitate Palestinians against Israel.

This is the type of incitement, in fact, that drives more Palestinians into the open arms of the Palestinian Authority’s rivals, first and foremost Hamas. If you keep telling your people that Israel does not want peace and only seeks to destroy the lives of the Palestinians and steal their lands, there is no way that Palestinians would ever accept any form of reconciliation, let alone peace, with Israel.

Yet this is not only about the lack of education for peace or anti-Israel incitement.

It is time for the international community to acknowledge the fact that no Palestinian leader has a mandate to reach an everlasting peace agreement with Israel. That is because no leader in Ramallah or the Gaza Strip is authorized to end the conflict with Israel.

If Yasser Arafat was not able to accept the generous offer made by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the 2000 Camp David summit, who is Mahmoud Abbas to make any form of concession to Israel? Arafat was quoted back them as saying that he rejected the offer because he did not want to end up drinking tea with assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the first Arab leader to sign a peace agreement with Israel.

In many ways, Abbas can only blame himself for the situation he faces today. If you are telling your people that you will never make concessions, how can you ever sign a peace agreement with Israel?

Those who believe that whoever succeeds Abbas will be able to make real concessions to Israel are living in an illusion. It is time to admit that no present or future Palestinian leader is authorized to offer even the slightest concessions to Israel. Any Palestinian who dares to talk about concessions to Israel is quickly denounced as a traitor.

These are the two reasons why the “peace process” in the Middle East will continue to revolve in a vicious cycle. In order to make peace with Israel, you need to prepare your people for peace with Israel. This is something that the Palestinian Authority has failed to do. And that is why we will not see the emergence of a more moderate Palestinian leader in the near future.

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Trusting Iran to stop terrorism is like inviting an arsonist to join the fire brigade

Iran remains one of the world’s most prolific sponsors of terrorism. How can we expect it to stop once they have a nuclear deal?

By Dore Gold for the Telegraph (UK)

Iran's Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile is seen displayed in Tehran during a military parade.

Iran’s Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile is seen displayed in Tehran during a military parade.

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has written an op-ed in the Financial Times which sets forward a distinct sequence for ostensibly resolving the daunting security challenges of the Middle East.

First, the P5+1 – the group of powerful nations negotiating with Iran – should come to a deal over its nuclear program. As a result, he argues, Tehran will “open new horizons” and join “the international battle” against “the increasingly brutal extremism that is engulfing the Middle East.”

The idea that Iran is a partner in the fight against terrorism is not only disingenuous but also absurd. What Zarif is seeking is a leap of faith by his Western readers, who are asked to believe that a country which has been repeatedly identified as the largest state supporter of terrorism in the world will suddenly be altered by an agreement over its nuclear program into an ally against terrorism. He is asking the world to simply trust Iran that this transformation is about to happen.

There is no evidence that the trust Zarif seeks is warranted in any way. Iran operates globally through cells controlled by the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), often backed by operatives of Hizbollah. During the nuclear negotiations, this network has not been reduced in size; it operates in some 30 countries and on five continents – Iranian-backed attacks have taken place in such diverse locations as Argentina, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, India, Thailand and even the United States.

Indeed, in October, 2011, the US uncovered a plot by an IRGC operative to recruit members of a Mexican drug cartel to conduct a mass casualty attack in Washington DC aimed at the Saudi Ambassador to the US. Since that time IRGC activity has only intensified. Yet another Iranian terrorist cell was discovered in Cypus just last month.

Some in the West hope that since Iran is led by a Shiite government it can be recruited in the fight against Sunni extremism, including against the Islamic State (Isil). This analysis often overlooks Iran’s proven willingness to cross the Sunni-Shiite divide to promote Sunni jihadism as well. Just after 9/11, Sunni extremists, including al-Qaeda, fled Afghanistan and sought asylum in Iran. These included Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the future commander of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which eventually became Isil. Iranian backing for Sunni jihadists, with arms and training, has extended to Hamas and Islamic Jihad as well as to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

A nuclear deal is likely only to intensify Iranian support for global terrorism for two reasons. First, the lifting of sanctions on Iran will result in a windfall of cash for the Iranian treasury, which could reach $150 billion in the first year. As Iran decides which Middle Eastern insurgency to back with its IRGC units, it often has to establish priorities because it is operating under clear economic constraints. These constraints will be removed as Iran obtains the wherewithal to fully fund and even expand its terrorist activity worldwide.

Second, in past decades, states supporting terrorism feared retaliatory operations by the West, such as the US attack on Libya in 1986. Deterrence could be created. But if Iran becomes a nuclear threshold state, as a result of its impending agreement with the P5+1, what are the chances that deterrence of this sort will hold? Iran will seek to act with impunity as the terrorism it sponsors acquires a protective nuclear umbrella.

Zarif is the last Iranian official who should talk about rejecting terrorism. Last January, he paid a highly publicized visit to Lebanon and laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh, the mastermind of Hizbollah terrorism, who was responsible for the attacks in the 1980s on American and French forces in Beirut, hijacking civilian aircrafts and taking international hostages.

Winston Churchill has been attributed with the saying that he refused to be impartial between the fire brigade and the fire. To take his distinction a step further, depending on Iran to fight terrorism is like making an arsonist part of the fire brigade. There is no basis for believing this will possibly work. Iran must unequivocally abandon its backing of international terrorism if it ever wants to rejoin the world community.

Dr. Gold is the Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel

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If Hamas is allowed to wage warfare through international courts then Islamic State will be next

A masked member of Hamas carries a model of a rocket as others carry symbolic coffins with Israeli flags during a rally (Reuters)

A masked member of Hamas carries a model of a rocket as others carry symbolic coffins with Israeli flags during a rally

International Business Times (July 14) — Islamic State’s brand of terrorism has recently shocked the world once again, with sickening videos showing the torture, drowning and shooting of prisoners, and an IS-inspired massacre of 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia for which the group proudly claimed responsibility.

No less horrendous is the IS strategy of purposefully blending its fighters within civilian populations, in Iraq and Syria, even using small children as human shields. It has been reported that in Raqqa, Syria, the group is encouraging all men to grow beards in order to make terrorists and civilians look the same.

These tactics create horrendous dilemmas for coalition forces, the UK among them, as they seek to target IS forces and jihadi leaders while trying to protect the lives of the civilians they are hiding behind. Having deliberately created these dilemmas IS has no compunction about accusing the coalition of waging war directly on the Iraqi people.

The allegations are of course ridiculous, but imagine for a moment that someone took them seriously. Imagine that IS hired lawyers to produce a report accusing the UK and the coalition of war crimes. Imagine that IS then presented such a report to the International Criminal Court (ICC), with encouragement from the UN.

This scenario would make a mockery of international institutions, turning them into weapons against democracies trying to defend themselves from terror. In an absurd pincer movement, a terrorist group could attack a state physically with bombs, while at the same time work to undermine its ability to defend itself by legal action in an international tribunal.

What seems like a ludicrous suggestion is actually happening with regard to Hamas and Israel.

Surreally, we see Hamas representatives actively participating in and supporting legal proceedings in The Hague, calling for the prosecution of Israel for war crimes.

In a statement published last week, Hamas was handing out marks to the UN Human Rights Council for its report on Gaza, pointing to its deficiencies and criticising what it deemed as “lack of sufficient warning” prior to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strikes, as well as the targeting of schools and hospitals.

Hamas, it should be recalled, is recognised as a terror organisation by the European Union, the US and here in the UK, and like IS has a gruesome track record of murdering civilians and hiding among them.

It acts in contravention of every possible law of armed conflict, uses UN installations as arms depots, hospitals as sniper positions and schools as rocket launching sites, its HQ is even located in the basement of Gaza’s main hospital.

Yet it would like to play in all fields, to have its cake and eat it too: It acts like a terror group in Gaza, murdering its opponents and amassing arms instead of building homes, yet goes to great pains (including a new English website and twitter feed) to present a respectable face abroad, as if it were an NGO concerned with human rights and a peaceful solution to Gaza’s problems.

Make no mistake, Hamas’ interest in using the international bodies concerned with human rights and international law should set alarm bells ringing. Its motive for seeking to target Israel in these fora is clear: to gain a tactical advantage on the battlefield during the next fight, while placing Israel’s military and political leaders at the risk of legal action.

Last week the Human Rights Council in Geneva, a body with an alarming track record of discrimination against Israel (it has passed more resolutions condemning Israel than all other countries combined) passed a resolution designed to put wind in the sails of this initiative.

Though directed against Israel, any democracy confronting the threat of terrorism should be wary of this campaign. When the instruments of law and justice become weapons in the hands of terrorist groups, the security of the family of nations is at stake.

If Israel is not protected from lawfare, then Britain and other Western democracies will fall victim to it soon after.

The author is spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London.

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Israeli ambassador: The four major problems with the Iran deal

By Ron Dermer who is Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the nation in a televised speech after a nuclear agreement was announced in Vienna. (AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the nation in a televised speech after a nuclear agreement was announced in Vienna. (AP)

The Washington Post (July 15) — Israel has long been concerned that the “P5+1” powers would negotiate a bad deal with Iran. But the deal announced today in Vienna is breathtaking in its concessions to an Iranian regime that is the foremost sponsor of terror in the world, is on a march of conquest in the Middle East, is responsible for the murder and maiming of thousands of U.S. soldiers, and vows and works to annihilate the one and only Jewish state.

There are four major problems with this deal. First, it leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure. This is not the hoped for “dismantle for dismantle” deal, in which the sanctions regime would be dismantled in exchange for the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear-weapons making capability. Rather, this deal leaves Iran’s nuclear capabilities essentially intact (the conversion of the Arak heavy-water facility being the notable exception). In fact, this deal allows Iran to improve those capabilities by conducting research and development on advanced centrifuges and building intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose sole purpose is to carry nuclear warheads.

To keep Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions in check over the next decade, the P5+1 countries — the five U.N. Security Council members plus Germany — are relying on intelligence and inspectors. Here, the historical record does not bode well. The United States and Israel have two of the finest intelligence agencies in the world. But it was years before either knew that Iran had secret facilities at Natanz and Fordow .

As for inspections, Iran has been deceiving the International Atomic Energy Agency for years and has consistently refused to come clean about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program — a commitment that Iran has once again been permitted to dodge before signing this agreement.

Given this history of deception, it is particularly disturbing that the promised “anytime, anywhere” inspections regime has degenerated into what has been aptly described as “sometime, somewhere” inspections.

The second problem with this deal is that the restrictions being placed on Iran’s nuclear program are only temporary, with the most important restrictions expiring in 10 years.

There is no linkage whatsoever between the removal of these restrictions and Iran’s behavior. In 10 years, Iran could be even more aggressive toward its neighbors, sponsor even more terrorism around the globe and work even harder to destroy Israel, and the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program would still be automatically removed.

A much more dangerous Iran would then legally be allowed to build a massive uranium enrichment program that would place it just weeks away from having the fissile material for an entire nuclear arsenal. As President Obama himself has admitted, the breakout time would then be “almost down to zero.”

That is why this deal does not block Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb. It paves it. By agreeing to temporary restrictions on its nuclear program today, Iran has cleared its path to many nuclear bombs tomorrow. Iran won’t have to sneak into or break into the nuclear club. Under this deal, it could simply decide to walk in.

That leads to the third problem with the deal. Because states throughout our region know that the deal paves Iran’s path to the bomb, a number of them will race to get nuclear weapons of their own. The most dangerous region on earth would get infinitely more dangerous. Nuclear terrorism and nuclear war would become far more likely. In fact, if someone wanted to eviscerate the global nuclear nonproliferation regime, this deal is definitely a great place to start.

Finally, the deal transfers to the Iranian regime’s coffers $150 billion that is now frozen in foreign bank accounts. Iran has a $300 billion to $400 billion economy. A $150 billion cash bonanza for the regime is the equivalent of $8 trillion flowing into the U.S. treasury.

Those funds are unlikely to be spent on new cancer research centers in Tehran or on funding a GI bill for returning members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Instead, tens of billions are likely to flow to the Shiite militias in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and other Iranian terror proxies in the region.

Billions more will go to strengthening Iran’s global terror network, which it has used to perpetrate terror attacks on five continents in more than 30 cities, from Buenos Aires to Burgas, Bulgaria, to Bangkok.

Rather than force Iran to face the hard choice of guns or butter, this deal will enable it to have more dangerous guns, more lethal rockets, more sophisticated drones and more destructive cybercapabilities. Removing the arms embargo on Iran magnifies this problem by orders of magnitude.

Any one of these problems would be sufficient to make this a bad deal. But all four make this deal a disaster of historic proportions.

Israel has the most to gain if the Iranian nuclear issue is peacefully resolved. But this deal does not resolve the issue. It makes things much worse, increasing the chances of conventional war with Iran and its terror proxies today and dramatically increasing the chances of a nuclear-armed Iran and a nuclearized Middle East tomorrow.

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For some Palestinians in East Jerusalem, a pragmatic ‘Israelification’

More East Jerusalem Palestinians are taking Israeli citizenship, learning Hebrew, and living in Jewish neighborhoods. But does that affect their identity?

919288_1_0706-east-jerusalem_standardChristian Science Monitor (July 11) — More Palestinians from east Jerusalem are becoming Israeli citizens. Suha, a young Palestinian lawyer who passed the Israeli bar, said, “A lot of people are applying for it. Even people you would never expect: like sheikhs with beards. The lawyers that I work with all have it….Eventually I’m going to do it.”

Ever since Israel conquered and immediately annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, the city’s hundreds of thousands of Palestinian residents resisted the Israeli system, even as their blue residency cards afforded them Israeli social benefits and freedom of movement. That meant preferring the status of permanent resident to full Israeli citizenship. In recent years, however, there have been hundreds of applicants for citizenship every year when once there were almost none.

Palestinians are also increasingly moving into Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Sari Saeed, a hairdresser, now lives in the Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev because it’s cheaper than in neighboring Beit Haninah. “Renting here solves a lot of problems,” she says. “I am quite happy here and it’s very close to work.” The neighborhood of French Hill, just next to Hebrew University, also has been popular with Arabs in recent years. “It’s been uneventful,” says Yossi Klein Halevi, an American-born Israeli writer, referring to the influx of Arab families who have moved into his building.

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Disregarding Reality, Yet Again: The Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry Report

Gaza City during an Israeli air strike, July 9, 2014. Photo: AFP

Gaza City during an Israeli air strike, July 9, 2014. Photo: AFP

Institute for National Security Studies (July 9)

  • The report by the Commission of Inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine the 2014 Gaza war concludes that Israel’s military operations violated the laws of armed conflict and expressed concern regarding the possible commission of war crimes. The report reflects a clear lack of consideration of the actual realities of warfare, drawing conclusions based on pronouncements that are factually and legally dubious.
  • During the war, the IDF fought against armed groups that employed an intentional strategy of systematic violation of the laws of armed conflict. Yet the report examines Israel’s actions in a detached and one-sided manner, without relating to the actions of its adversaries.
  • Numerous civilian casualties resulting from attacks on targets located in populated areas do not necessarily mean that the attack was disproportionate and therefore illegal. The commission’s analysis assumes the existence of some alternative course of action that was not followed. However, beyond the provision of warnings and the use of weapons that were as precise as possible, how could the extensive harm to civilians have been prevented, except by refraining from attack altogether?
  • But how – without these attacks – could Hamas have been prevented from continuing to fire at Israeli citizens? In the absence of answers to these questions, the commission’s assertions remain accusations with no basis in reality.
  • Based on Israel’s failure to issue significant indictments for acts of warfare, the commission concluded that “impunity prevails across the board” for violations of international law. This reflects a baseless assumption that the absence of indictments for war crimes is indicative of a cover-up, rather than indicative of the fact that war crimes were either not committed or could not be proven on a criminal level.

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Hamas Supporting Islamic State in Sinai in Order to Renew Arms Smuggling to Gaza

Smoke rises in Egypt's North Sinai as seen from the border of southern Gaza Strip with Egypt July 1, 2015.  REUTERS

Smoke rises in Egypt’s North Sinai as seen from the border of southern Gaza Strip with Egypt July 1, 2015. REUTERS

Reuters (July 9) — Israel accused Hamas on Tuesday of supporting last week’s assaults by Islamic State affiliates on Egyptian forces in the Sinai in hope of freeing up arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip.

The remarks followed Israeli allegations that Hamas members provided training and medical treatment for the Sinai insurgents – charges dismissed by the Palestinian Islamist group as a bid to further fray its troubled ties with Cairo.

Egypt said more than 100 insurgents and 17 of its soldiers were killed in Wednesday’s simultaneous assaults, carried out against military checkpoints around the North Sinai towns of Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah. Islamic State’s Egypt affiliate, Sinai Province, took credit for the attacks.

Rafah straddles the border between Egypt and Gaza and had long seen smuggling to the Hamas-controlled enclave. But Cairo has been cracking down on such activity and deems Hamas a threat to Egyptian interests.

An Israeli intelligence colonel responsible for monitoring the borders with Egypt and Gaza told Israel Radio on Tuesday that Hamas, short of weaponry after its war against Israel last year, supported the Islamic State in Sinai with the “objective of opening up a conduit” for renewed smuggling. “Why was it so very important for them (Hamas) to develop the connection with Sinai Province (IS in Sinai)? Because they need the raw materials that would enable the military build-up in Gaza.”

On Friday, Egyptian military sources said there was evidence that individuals from Hamas had participated in the recent Sinai battles. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Tuesday: “Hamas is fighting ISIS (Islamic State) in the Strip, but on the other side there is cooperation between Hamas elements from Gaza and ISIS in Sinai.”

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What’s Israel supposed to do? Ask the UN for help?

Hirsh_Top_WEB-1024x719National Post — Hamas, the gang that controls the Gaza Strip and hopes to destroy Israel, makes war in its own peculiar way.

It conducts a terror campaign by randomly sending unguided missiles across the border, traumatizing the civilian population. Rather than using its payments from Iran to feed its own people, it spends a fortune digging tunnels under the border to Israel, infiltrating the country from beneath the ground. It places artillery on top of apartment buildings and beside schools, so that Israel’s attempts to destroy the artillery will kill as many Palestinians as possible. Hamas built a military command centre underneath Shifa hospital, which Israel built for the Gaza population.

Having counted the dead, Hamas announces the fatal casualties, attempting to shame Israel for mass killing. This is an original form of propaganda warfare, suicide-by-proxy.

If someone attempts to arrange a cease-fire between the combatants, Hamas at first refuses to co-operate, then finally signs on and accepts praise for its peace policy. Eventually, it breaks the cease-fire. Between wars Israel maintains a permanent one-sided cease-fire, having no reason to attack Gaza; in 2005 it closed its Gaza settlements and removed its military forces from the Strip. Hamas can always re-start the war, arousing the ire of their soldiers by complaining about Israel’s enforcement of Gaza’s borders. The borders are shut to keep Hamas from importing arms but Hamas depicts it as hard-hearted retaliation.

On Monday a UN committee passed judgement on last summer’s 50-day Hamas-Israel war with a document The New York Times described in a headline: “UN Report on Gaza Finds Evidence of War Crimes by Israel and by Palestinian Militants.”

That headline, and the story describing it, were true, in a way, and also not true. The report, from a committee headed by an American judge, Mary McGowan Davis, said that both sides made war in ways that could amount to war crimes. But there wasn’t much context to give that statement meaning. News stories on the Davis committee didn’t say much about who started the war (Hamas) and didn’t make any fuss about who turned civilians into shields by placing military establishments among families (Hamas).

Israel quarrelled with the report’s conclusions but Hamas said that it could be used as evidence in a prosecution of Israel at the International Criminal Court. Hamas had no complaints about the Davis charges. The recriminations against Israel were duly delivered, and that made the process a success. All over the world, those disposed to dislike Israel no doubt found this one more reason to justify their feelings and their demand that the West boycott Israeli products, scholars and artists.

Davis acknowledged that Hamas fired rockets at civilians from within civilian areas but concluded that Israel should have been more careful about harming non-combatants. Israel resented the criticism — “flawed and biased,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — because it takes pride in the attempt of its soldiers to avoid civilian casualties.

The Israel Defense Forces have a strict code of ethics dealing with the protection of civilians in combat zones. In Gaza the IDF dropped leaflets and made phone calls asking civilians to leave the battlefield. Judge Davis said in an interview that she wanted to make a strong statement against “the use of explosive weapons in densely populated neighbourhoods. It is not OK to drop a one-ton bomb in the middle of a neighbourhood.”

She didn’t say what Israel should do the next time unguided missiles fired from a housing complex begin falling on Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Call the UN?

Few of us understand the unique role of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Every time the Committee meets, the agenda lists Israel as an item, in case it has committed some infraction not otherwise covered in the meeting. No other country appears on every agenda. Israel is also unique in having its own UN-assigned Special Rapporteur to investigate alleged violations. In the Committee’s nine-year life, it has condemned Israel’s actions on 61 occasions, more than all other countries combined. The non-Israel condemnations listed by UN Watch as “Rest of World Combined” total 55. Syria occupies second place, with 15. Countries not so far condemned by the Human Rights Committee include China, Cuba, Iraq, Russia and Yemen.

The name “Human Rights Committee” provides a smokescreen of bogus good intentions, declaring to the innocent that the UN is helping protect all of us. Millions of people who are unaware of its record have no doubt gathered from the latest report that Israel is as worthy of rebuke as Hamas. In treating Hamas and Israel as equivalent, Judge Davis has blackened the name of the UN and its many offshoots. This one might more accurately call itself the United Nations Committee on Defaming Israel.

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Islamists only want one thing. We cannot appease them

Like the old Leninists, Isil truly believes only it can defeat the conspiracy that runs the world. There is no possible common ground

 The bearers of this flag will not surrender or negotiate Photo: AP

The bearers of this flag will not surrender or negotiate Photo: AP

The Telegraph (July 6) — David Cameron calls Isil an “existential threat” to the Western way of life. On the face of it, that seems ridiculous. How could a bunch of relatively poor, ill-armed fanatics and psychopaths conceivably topple what remains the most dominant civilisation since the Roman Empire?

In physical terms, they can’t (yet). We in the West have much more money, many more weapons (though here in Britain, we have been doing our best to weaken ourselves militarily) and greatly superior technology. While Islamist fanatics can murder 30 British tourists on a North African beach, we can probably intercept enough of them here to keep their activities below a certain level.

But consider the Tunisian effect. “Only” 38 people died, but each death spreads its stain. First, it traumatises the survivors, the victims’ families and even the nation – hence our minute’s silence yesterday. Next, it wounds the host country. The moderate, hospitable Muslim feels endangered; the extremist feels empowered. The entire tourist industry is hit; Western money disappears, Western links are weakened.

The West’s behaviour towards Islamism in general has resembled that of tourists. More than any other mass occupation, tourism is subject to fear. Its object is peaceful relaxation. If your chosen resort suddenly becomes the scene of violence, you try to get the first plane home. You know little about the source of the trouble: you just want to escape. For far too long, we in the West have done too much for a quiet life. Fear has worked, which is why terrorism is so called.

In the early years after September 11 2001, I found myself embroiled in numerous arguments with British politicians, senior police officers and “securocrats” who put forward these fear-based arguments. These atrocities happened in America, they said, because the US was too big and “provocative”: it wouldn’t happen among “our” Muslims. The answer, they went on, was to placate Muslims by praising their peaceful intentions, punishing “Islamophobia” and empowering their “community leaders”, often with government money. They were almost uncritical about Muslim leaders – their denunciations of Jews or homosexuals, their subordination of women, their calls for sharia – so long as they did not perpetrate violence.

As editor of this newspaper at the time, I was approached to sign a “pledge to British Muslims”, and was in the minority who refused. The topsy-turvy idea was that the non-Muslim majority should apologise to those from whose ranks terrorism was coming. There was even a semi-successful attempt by the Muslim Council of Britain to ban the phrase “Islamic terrorism” from the media.

This approach took a knock after 7/7, when some of “our” Muslims, mostly from Leeds, blew up themselves and others – 52 dead in all – in the Tube and on a London bus. But still most of our public authorities and media pressed on, trying to be nicer and nicer. To our collective shame, all main British media outlets refused to publish the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, although they were utterly harmless by any normal British standard. We even tried to pass a sort of blasphemy law criminalising those who insulted Islam.

Time has worked against this craven approach. Nowadays, it is more likely to be Russell Brand (see yesterday’s outburst), not a politician, who blames the slaughter at Sousse on our foreign policy. Given the overwhelming evidence that the young men who kill are usually run by cells and almost always inspired by web incitements, there is much less talk of “lone wolves”. Few now believe that we can concede our way out of trouble. As Tony Blair, who is working on another of his essays on the subject, is formulating it, the appeasement of the unappeasable is, by definition, pointless.

Islamism is unappeasable because it is a doctrine, not a set of demands. Like Marxism-Leninism (whose methods it imitates), it purports to prove that a conspiracy runs the world. The anti-Muslim capitalist forces – America, Britain, the Jews – and the “hypocrites”, the corrupt regimes that run so many Muslim states, conspire to prevent the true Islamic state arising. In this crazy but coherent account, it becomes possible to believe, as millions of Muslims apparently do, that it was the Jews who bombed the World Trade Centre.

Colonialism, the Islamist story runs, is not dead. The humiliation of Muslims is part of its continuing purpose. The modern nation state has no legitimacy and divides Muslims. The only just form of rule is the restoration of the caliphate which the West destroyed. The role of devout Muslims, like the “leading rule of the party” in Leninism, is to be the vanguard.

From this, two things follow. The first is that Islamism, though not the same thing as Islam itself, will have a strong pull on discontented Muslims. It allows grievance to brandish the scimitar of righteousness. It is really a political doctrine about power, but its pseudo-holiness drags in believers. This means that the extremists are, to use another Blair phrase, part of “a spectrum not a fringe”.

The second is that the distinction between violent and non-violent extremism is merely operational. Islamists feel morally free to achieve their aims peacefully or violently, publicly or secretly, whichever suits. They follow a revolutionary doctrine, so there are no moderates. Islamism is declaredly determined to overthrow our way of life. Recent years prove its determination is matched by actions almost every day, almost everywhere. Like the Bolsheviks between 1905 and 1917, Islamists have moved fast from ranting to ruling, and they preach their creed globally. The phrase “existential threat” fits.

This is what Mr Cameron understands. In the Coalition, he was actively resisted by his own appointed minister, Sayeed Warsi, and by his partners, the Liberal Democrats. He was passively resisted by the more Arabist side of his party and by many government institutions – the Foreign Office, most senior police officers, many educational establishments, some in the various counter-terrorist agencies. On its website, as this column reminds readers from time to time, the Security Service, MI5, insists that it does not investigate “subversion”, as it did in the Cold War. Yesterday afternoon, it posted a new sentence anxiously emphasising that the Security Service Act of 1989 had created a “much more clearly defined function” which keeps it out of all this mucky stuff.

Officialdom remains uncomfortable with that word “subversion”. But it will have to get used to the word “entryism”, which will appear in the Government’s forthcoming counter-extremism strategy. Now, with his overall majority, the Prime Minister is unexpectedly free, and fired up. He will soon say more about how the transmission of a little-challenged “narrative” of hatred drives frustrated young men to violence even when it does not explicitly incite them to kill. It is not paranoid to say that there is a deadly enemy within, and not intolerant to want to defeat it.

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The U.N.’s Gaza Report Is Flawed and Dangerous

Afghan_082By Richard Kemp, a retired British Army colonel, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan.

The New York Times (July 1) — As a British officer who had more than his share of fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans, it pains me greatly to see words and actions from the United Nations that can only provoke further violence and loss of life. The United Nations Human Rights Council report on last summer’s conflict in Gaza, prepared by Judge Mary McGowan Davis, and published on Monday, will do just that.

The report starts by attributing responsibility for the conflict to Israel’s “protracted occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” as well as the blockade of Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza 10 years ago. In 2007 it imposed a selective blockade only in response to attacks by Hamas and the import of munitions and military matériel from Iran. The conflict last summer, which began with a dramatic escalation in rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, was a continuation of Hamas’s war of aggression.

In an unusual concession, the report suggests that Hamas may have been guilty of war crimes, but it still legitimizes Hamas’s rocket and tunnel attacks and even sympathizes with the geographical challenges in launching rockets at Israeli civilians: “Gaza’s small size and its population density make it particularly difficult for armed groups always to comply” with the requirement not to launch attacks from civilian areas.

There is no such sympathy for Israel. Judge Davis accuses the Israel Defense Forces of “serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” Yet no evidence is put forward to substantiate these accusations. It is as though the drafters of the report believe that any civilian death in war must be illegal.

Referring to cases in which Israeli attacks killed civilians in residential areas, Judge Davis says that in the absence of contrary information available to her commission, there are strong indications that the attacks were disproportionate, and therefore war crimes. But all we get is speculation and the presumption of guilt.

The report is characterized by a lack of understanding of warfare. That is hardly surprising. Judge Davis admitted, when I testified before her in February, that the commission, though investigating a war, had no military expertise. Perhaps that is why no attempt has been made to judge Israeli military operations against the practices of other armies. Without such international benchmarks, the report’s findings are meaningless.

The commission could have listened to Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said last November that the I.D.F. had taken extraordinary measures to try to limit civilian casualties. Or to a group of 11 senior military officers from seven nations, including the United States, Germany, Spain and Australia, who also investigated the Gaza conflict recently. I was a member of that group, and our report, made available to Judge Davis, said: “None of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the I.D.F. last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population.”

The report acknowledges that Israel took steps to warn of imminent attacks but suggests more should have been done to minimize civilian casualties. Yet it offers no opinion about what additional measures Israel could have taken. It even criticizes Israel for using harmless explosive devices — the “knock on the roof” — as a final warning to evacuate targeted buildings, suggesting that it created confusion. No other country uses roof-knocks, a munition developed by Israel as part of a series of I.D.F. warning procedures, including text messages, phone calls and leaflet drops, that are known to have saved many Palestinian lives.

Judge Davis suggests that the I.D.F.’s use of air, tank and artillery fire in populated areas may constitute a war crime and recommends further international legal restrictions on their use. Yet these same systems were used extensively by American and British forces in similar circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are often vital in saving the lives of our own soldiers, and their curtailment would jeopardize military effectiveness while handing an advantage to our enemies.

The I.D.F. is not perfect. In the heat of battle and under stress its commanders and soldiers undoubtedly made mistakes. Weapons malfunctioned, intelligence was sometimes wrong and, as with all armies, it has some bad soldiers. Unnecessary deaths resulted, and these should be investigated and the individuals brought to trial if criminal culpability is suspected.

The reason so many civilians died in Gaza last summer was not Israeli tactics or policy. It was Hamas’s strategy. Hamas deliberately positioned its fighters and munitions in civilian areas, knowing that Israel would have no choice but to attack them and that civilian casualties would result. Unable to inflict existential harm on Israel by military means, Hamas sought to cause large numbers of casualties among its own people in order to bring international condemnation and unbearable diplomatic pressure against Israel.

Judge Davis’s report is rife with contradictions. She acknowledges that Israeli military precautions saved lives, yet without foundation accuses “decision makers at the highest levels of the government of Israel” of a policy of deliberately killing civilians. Incredibly, she “regrets” that her commission was unable to verify the use of civilian buildings by “Palestinian armed groups,” yet elsewhere acknowledges Hamas’s widespread use of protected locations, including United Nations schools.

Most worrying, Judge Davis claims to be “fully aware of the need for Israel to address its security concerns” while demanding that it “lift, immediately and unconditionally, the blockade on Gaza.” Along with the report’s endorsement of Hamas’s anti-Israel narrative, this dangerous recommendation would undoubtedly lead to further bloodshed in both Israel and Gaza.

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Islamic State Militants Launch Major Assault in Egypt’s Sinai

The Washington Post (July 2) — Militants linked with the Islamic State unleashed a wave of attacks on the military in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, briefly seizing key checkpoints. As many as 70 soldiers and civilians were killed in one of the most sophisticated attacks on the Egyptian army in decades. Throughout the day, militants were perched on rooftops in Sheikh Zuweid, a town of 60,000, firing on security installations.

The attack came just two days after Egypt’s top prosecutor was assassinated in a bombing in the capital, Cairo.

egyptSianiAttacks-2300The insurgency in Sinai has grown since Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. In November, one of the area’s strongest militant groups pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Zack Gold, a visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said of the militants who now call themselves the “Sinai Province” of the Islamic State: “This isn’t one of their regular hit-and-run attacks. They seem to be setting up for the longer haul.” However, “the [Egyptian] military is more cohesive [than in Iraq] and has more firepower.”

In June, an Islamic State spokesman called for a “month of fire” during the Muslim holy period of Ramadan, urging supporters to carry out attacks against nonbelievers around the globe. Since then, operations by the group’s affiliates or suspected sympathizers have shaken France, Kuwait and Tunisia.

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U.S. Congress Passes Landmark Anti-BDS Law

Obama to sign off on bill making rejection of Israel boycott a key objective in trade talks with EU; WJC hails ‘major defeat for BDS’

“The recent wave of boycotts originating in Europe… demands a robust response from the United States. This is that response,” said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). “If you want free trade with the United States, you can’t boycott Israel.”

5719898403_a1559ae8b2_b1-635x357The Times of Israel (June 25) — After weeks of legislative drama, a trade bill containing provisions opposing the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel cleared its final legislative hurdle Wednesday afternoon. The anti-BDS language, passed as part of the controversial Trade Promotion Authority legislation, is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama, who had pushed Congress to pass the trade bill as soon as possible.

Two amendments opposing BDS in Europe – one sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin and Republican Sen. Rob Portman and the other by Republican Representative Peter Roskam and Democratic Representative Juan Vargas – were included in a trade authorization package that was considered must-pass legislation for the administration.

The president needed Congress’s vote to authorize him to negotiate trade deals with so-called “fast-track authority,” but ten days ago House Democrats turned on the president and defeated a key portion of the trade deal package.

After quick legislative maneuvering last week, House Republicans passed the authorization part of the bill – the part that the president needed most urgently and that Republicans tend to support – and then passed the revised House version back to the Senate for approval. On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate gave the controversial legislation its final approval, sending trade authorization to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

The anti-BDS provisions in the trade authorization were directed toward free trade talks between the US and the European Union. The provisions require US negotiators to make rejection of BDS a principal trade objective in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations with the European Union. These guidelines, sponsors hope, will discourage European governments from participating in BDS activities by leveraging the incentive of free trade with the US.

“Today, for the first time in nearly four decades, Congress sent legislation to the President’s desk to combat efforts to isolate and delegitimize the State of Israel,” wrote Roskam in a statement released shortly after the Senate vote. “The recent wave of boycotts originating in Europe, including French telecom company Orange’s decision last week to sever ties with Israel, demands a robust response from the United States. This is that response. The bipartisan TPA provisions I authored are simple: if you want free trade with the United States, you can’t boycott Israel.”

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The Palestinian Leadership’s Regression in the Peace Process

By Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (July 1)

Dr. Saeb Erekat

Dr. Saeb Erekat

Dr. Saeb Erekat, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and head of the Palestinian negotiating team, published a new position paper on June 18 that includes a set of recommendations for the Palestinian leadership.

The document outlines a Palestinian strategy for a diplomatic struggle with Israel. Its main points include:

  • Annulling the PLO’s recognition of Israel
  • A diplomatic campaign to recruit international support to coerce an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines
  • Insisting on the “right of return” of Palestinian “refugees” along with their descendants
  • Rejection of any proposals for a temporary or partial settlement with Israel
  • A legal battle against Israel in the international arena aimed at constraining Israel’s ability to defend itself against Palestinian terror
  • Strategic cooperation with Hamas and Islamic Jihad by integrating them into the PLO’s institutions
  • The waging of an all-out “peaceful popular struggle” against Israel (defined by Palestinian leadership as local terror attacks

The document reflects the old Palestinian strategy of “stages,” which regards an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders as affording an improved posture to continue the struggle.

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Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radicalIslam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a co-founder of the OrientResearch Group Ltd.