Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Islamist Propaganda in Danish Schools

From the Gatestone Institute, 18 September 2017, by Judith Bergman:

Mette Frederiksen, leader of Denmark’s Social Democratic party, says “When you are a child in Denmark, it is incredibly important that you grow up in Danish culture and Danish everyday life… an independent school based on Islam is not part of the majority culture in Denmark… Nor do I like the lack of equality in schools and these very hateful words against our Jewish minorities.” 
(Image source: News Oresund/Flickr)

The Nord-Vest Private School in Copenhagen, came under investigation by Danish authorities during an unannounced visit after teaching materials were found extolling and encouraging young people to commit jihad. Luqman Pedersen, a Danish convert to Islam, admitted to the authorities that the school wishes to create a parallel Muslim society.

Two former teachers at the Nord-Vest school described how the children at the school spoke of Danes in terms of "them and us". In a school poetry contest, several of the children composed poems that detailed their wish to beat up and break the legs and hands of the "Danish pigs".

"I teach religion, but I was not allowed to teach Christianity. Instead, a visiting imam from Iraq taught Christianity... I could imagine that some of the boys I taught could have been radicalized," a teacher said. The teachers tried to alert both politicians and authorities to some of the problems they had witnessed, but no one would listen.

Follow this link to read the full report.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Vatican Joins the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

From the Middle East Quarterly,  Fall 2017, by Leonard Hammer:

In May 2015, the Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the Palestinian Authority (PA) was signed. With this agreement, the Vatican formally acknowledged the "state of Palestine." A spokesman for the Vatican confirmed, "It's a recognition that the state exists."

...In exchange for the Vatican's formal recognition, the PA agreed to provide a broad gamut of religious benefits, not only for security for the local Catholic population to pursue its religious interests but also for protection of key holy sites, property, and financial interests.

The Israelis, however, objected strongly, saying the agreement would make peace negotiations with the Palestinians more difficult. Michael Freund, former deputy communications director to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, questioned whether the Vatican's agreement was a return to the church's "sordid history of anti-Semitism."

What are the implications of the 2015 agreement? What will it accomplish for each party? And what does it mean for Israel?

With the 2015 Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the Palestinian Authority, the Pope Francis Vatican formally acknowledged the "state of Palestine." The agreement secured protections for the local Catholic population, holy sites, property, and financial interests.

The Vatican's Position.
Prior to the creation of the State of Israel in May 1948, the Holy See refrained from taking sides in the Arab-Jewish conflict, preferring to adhere to its foundational principle of "remaining [a] stranger to all merely temporal conflicts" as provided in the 1929 Lateran treaty. Thus, when the United Nations General Assembly convened on November 29, 1947, to vote on Resolution 181, partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, the Holy See (as a "permanent observer" at the United Nations) did not participate.

Prior to the 1948 creation of the State of Israel, the Holy See refrained from taking sides in the Arab-Jewish conflict.

Of course, the Vatican did not remain aloof to developments in the Holy Land and their possible effects on the future of the Christian holy sites there.  ... the Holy See registered its desire to protect Jerusalem's holy sites (while also seeking an additional international enclave near the Sea of Galilee), underscoring its enthusiastic support for territorial internationalization—what eventually became known as the corpus separatum.  ...while this corpus separatum was never implemented due to the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict and political infighting between interested states, the Holy See remained committed to the idea as the foremost means to safeguarding Christianity's holy sites.

...Pope Paul VI journeyed to the Holy Land to pray for the success of the Second Vatican Council. The council later issued a teaching freeing the Jews from the charge of deicide.

In subsequent decades, the Vatican made few official statements regarding Jerusalem's status, seemingly waiting for more opportune moments to raise the issue...

Israeli scholars sometimes argue that the Catholic Church's policy toward Israel "was fundamentally hostile," but doing so ignores or downplays the deep transformation in the Holy See's attitude that took place toward the Jewish people in the course of the twentieth century. Vatican II fundamentally changed the Holy See's policies toward the Jews and ultimately its policies toward the (Christian and non-Christian) population of the Holy Land. The Nostra Aetate (In Our Times) was one of the Second Vatican Council's (October 28, 1965) final declarations dealing with the relation of the church to non-Christian religions. Regarding the Jews, the document offered new teaching whereby "the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God." Most significantly, it freed the Jews from the charge of deicide because "what happened [to Christ] in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today." The Nostra Aetate served as an important declaration that opened up the possibility for eventual relations with the Jewish state, particularly in recognizing the Jewish people's right to exist and the role of the Vatican in upholding religious freedom.

The Six-Day War of June 1967, in which Israel captured Jerusalem and the West Bank, marked the next significant milestone for the Holy See. During the war, Pope Paul VI pressured Israel to declare Jerusalem an open city under international control, but Israel had already celebrated what it termed the city's reunification. However, Israel immediately provided legal protection for free worship and access to sanctuaries, promised to safeguard the holy sites, and offered to establish official diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The Vatican, however, while effectively discarding its demand for the territorial internationalization of the holy sites and instead focusing on ensuring their internationally guaranteed statute, stuck to its old principle that a formal agreement would not be tenable in the absence of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.[28] It was only after the September 1993 signing of the Declaration of Principles (DOP) by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that the Holy See moved ahead and entered into agreements first with Israel and Jordan, and then with the Palestinians.

Agreements with Israel
The Holy See and Israel signed the Fundamental Agreement in 1993 during John Paul II's papacy. The agreement provided for each side to uphold basic human rights, such as freedom of religion, and to combat discrimination and anti-Semitism.

...Despite the 1993 accord, relations between the Holy See and Israel remain lukewarm at best.

The 1993 accord outlined the broad contours of the mutual understanding, with both sides fully aware that future agreements would deal with specific issues such as legal personality and financial arrangements. Nonetheless, given the lack of an ensuing financial agreement and emerging property issues over important areas, such as the Cenacle located on Mount Zion, relations between the Holy See and Israel remain lukewarm at best.

John Paul II visited Israel in 2000 ... [and] engaged directly with the need to promote dialogue between the three Abrahamic religions.

Agreements with the Palestinians
In response to the 1993 Fundamental Agreement and the 1997 Legal Personality Agreement between the Holy See and Israel, the PLO initially concluded a general Basic Agreement with the Holy See in 2000. The perceived need by the Holy See to protect important holy places (be they in Israel or areas under PA control) and the desire to safeguard Christians as a whole served as the key impetus for engaging the PA. Viewing the PLO-dominated PA as a precursor to a nascent state, the Holy See wanted to ensure it had relations with this entity. Broader issues also led to the Basic Agreement, given the importance of proper treatment of Christians in the PA (and beyond, in the wider Arab world); decreasing Christian population in these territories; sale and control of church land; the potential decrease of the Holy See's influence over local authorities; and emerging cultural gaps between mainly European church leaders and their local believers.

The preamble to the short 2000 agreement with the PLO referred to the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to achieve self-determination under international law, emphasized the need for a just peace, and called on all sides to avoid unilateral actions that alter the status of Jerusalem (along with a veiled reference to the city's internationalization). But the actual articles of the agreement with the PA focused on religious rights and freedoms, the international human right to freedom of conscience and religion, discrimination and equality, the entrenchment of the status quo sites, and general protections for the church and its believers to carry out their traditions and practices, along with financial and legal functions. These were stated in a broad fashion.

The papacy under Pope Francis (2013- ) is proving a more engaged political actor, tackling such issues as climate change, migration, refugees, and homosexuality. Following in the footsteps of Pope Paul VI, Francis is also laboring to conclude the historic reconciliation of the Catholic Church with the Orthodox Church. His pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2014 was thus coordinated with the Ecumenical Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, celebrating fifty years since the meeting in Jerusalem of their predecessors. Furthermore, Pope Francis, in a recent speech in honor of Nostra Aetate, was quoted saying, "There may be political disagreements between governments and on political issues, but the State of Israel has every right to exist in safety and prosperity." Reflecting on accomplishments during 2015, Francis noted diplomatic agreements with Chad and Kuwait and the "agreement signed and ratified with Palestine" that demonstrated how peaceful co-existence between the followers of different religions is possible when religious freedom is recognized and practical cooperation in the pursuit of the common good, in a spirit of respect for the cultural identity of all parties, is effectively guaranteed.

Pope Francis (right) and PA president Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican, May 2015. The Comprehensive Agreement between the Palestinian Authority and the Vatican was a major political boon for the PA. The agreement included criticism of Israel's actions in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The 2015 Comprehensive Agreement signed with the Palestinian Authority was a major political boon for the PA. In return for reiterating support for the two-state solution—the authority's internationally-voiced position since the onset of the Oslo process (as opposed to the denigration of the option to its Palestinian subjects)—the PA obtained not only the Holy See's recognition of the "State of Palestine" but also its criticism of Israel's actions in Jerusalem and the West Bank more generally. The language in the Holy See-Israel 1993 agreement used the term "disputed territories and unsettled borders" to describe the areas under Israeli control (terms generally used by Israel's foreign ministry when discussing the post-1967 situation). By contrast, the 2015 agreement calls for an "equitable solution for the issue of Jerusalem, based on international resolutions," stating that "unilateral decisions and actions altering the specific character and status of Jerusalem are morally and legally unacceptable," mirroring the language of the 2000 Basic Agreement between the Holy See and the PLO.

Significantly enough, the agreement was publicly released—in sharp contrast to the Holy See's general abstention from releasing its agreements with Arab states. This could be because of the Vatican's desire to ensure proper protection for key holy sites and Catholic laity during a difficult time, or because of its wish to prod Israel into further engagement given the years-long stalemate in the peace process. The 2015 agreement is long and comprehensive; availing its text to the public can serve as a potential impetus (and possible blueprint) for Holy See-Israeli negotiations.

The Holy See's End Game
The Holy See has an important goal to provide clear protections for important status quo and other key holy sites as well as members of the church. Thus, it felt compelled to engage Israel and the Palestinians, walking a fine line trying to appease both sides while protecting key interests. This is even more troubling since it constantly shifts as both Israelis and Palestinians jockey for international position, legitimacy, and control....

The Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth. The Vatican seems to want to wrest Christian holy sites from the control of Muslim and Jewish governing authorities with a view toward internationalization.

But different interests are at work when accounting for the Holy See and its relations with Israel and the PA, particularly with respect to Christian holy sites. There seems to be a desire by the Vatican to wrest Christian holy sites from the control of Muslim and Jewish governing authorities with a view toward internationalization and human rights ideals that protect and preserve the Catholic faithful in the area (be they under Israeli or Palestinian control).

The shift in the Holy See's policy ...[involves] the Holy See in local conflicts as evidenced, among other things, by its recognition of Palestine as a state and including language in all three agreements that affects in different ways the status of the post-1967 territories.

Some of the open-ended issues that remain after the 2015 agreement with the Palestinians are just as important as the agreement itself. Unmentioned in the agreement is the matter of conversion from Islam to Christianity, an act punishable by death by Islam. Will the PA tolerate conversion to Christianity? What if there is an Islamist shift in the PA's governmental composition, a rather realistic possibility given the rise of Hamas and other Islamist groups? Is proselytism to be tolerated? The 2015 agreement seems to allow free expression to the Catholic Church without delineating the boundaries. As such, it might serve as a foundation for enhancing protections for Christians in other parts of the Arab world.

The tax concessions also merit further attention. The 2015 agreement calls for a joint commission to address future tax matters between the parties. How the agreement is interpreted and applied can contribute to clarifying the global status of the Catholic Church as a charitable organization.

From an operational standpoint, the PA took upon itself broad obligations to ensure the human rights of an internationally visible religious group. Its compliance with these obligations can go a long way toward entrenching it as a legitimate international actor.

Finally, one also must consider the general role of religious leaders in ongoing conflicts. Will the 2015 agreement influence the Holy See's position as an actor in the region? Did it compromise too much at the expense of its relations with Israel, or will this have the opposite effect and bring the Jewish state back to the negotiating table with the Holy See? Indeed, where will church relations with Israel stand after the 2015 agreement given that the two parties are quite close to a financial agreement after years of negotiations? The agreement can serve as a strong signal that a financial arrangement is achievable without the Israelis giving up too much political capital. Israel can also seize on its contours and use them as a blueprint for its ongoing negotiations with the Holy See.

The 2015 agreement thus serves the immediate purposes of the Holy See in its relations with the Palestinians and offers a potential future framework with Israel to reach an accord on important outstanding issues.

Bahrain ruler denounces Arab boycott of Israel

Bahrain national orchestra performs Hatikva at Wiesenthal Center event. Gulf nation's king says subjects free to visit Israel.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa
Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa (Reuters)

King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa of Bahrain condemned the Arab boycott of Israel in Los Angeles, California last week.

King Hamad made the remarks during an event denouncing religious hatred and violence at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in LA.

Bahrain, a kingdom of some 1.5 million people in the Persian Gulf, currently does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

King Hamad also told Simon Wiesenthal Center director Rabbi Abraham Cooper that Bahraini citizens are free to visit Israel as they please.

Rabbi Cooper and his colleague Marvin Hier visited Manama, Bahrain’s capital, earlier this year. Rabbi Cooper saw a church with a large cross, a Hindu temple, and a large mosque in close proximity to each other. He also saw the only synagogue in the Persian Gulf region

According to Rabbi Cooper, no one in Manama paid him a second glance even though he wore his yarmulke, which clearly marked him as a Jew, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“People didn’t give us a second look,” he said. “That impressed me because that says they expect to see scenes like that.”

He said that he was encouraged by King Hamad's softening stance on Israel.
"If I had to predict, I would tell you that the Arab world’s relationship with the state of Israel is going to dramatically change ...[the Bahraini king is] ahead of the pack and smart. It is the way to go, and he’s smart. This is a dinner tonight that’s hosted by a Jewish organization that no one will say is not so pro-Israel.”
Over 400 delegates from many religions and nations attended the event at the Wiesenthal center last week. Jewish delegates mixed with Muslim, Sikh, and Buddhist delegates, and many Muslim countries had delegates in attendance, including, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Kuwait, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The Arab delegates stood as the Bahrain national orchestra performed the Israeli national anthem, 'Hatikva.'

The monarch's comments come just weeks after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared that relations between Israel and the Arab world were better than any other time in Israel's history. The increasing power of Iran and Qatar's sponsorship of terror has united Egypt and the Sunni Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain in a joint effort to contain the two, bringing them closer to Israel.
“What’s happening now with the Arab bloc states has never before happened in our history – even when we signed agreements ...What we have now is greater than anything else during any other period in Israel’s history."

Europe's Syria problem

From After the Ebbing of Warfare in Syria, the Refugee Problem in Europe Will Only Get Worse by Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar* (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Misled by the smokescreen of the war against ISIS, the world failed to notice that Tehran was taking over considerable parts of Syria. The tide turned in Syria in 2015 when the Russians forced Turkey to stop supporting the rebels and ISIS.
  • The Kurds in northeastern Syria will never again agree to be at the mercy of the Arabs, having lived as grade-D citizens until 2011. Hence, it can be assumed that the Kurds will keep their enclave autonomous to a large extent, or be forced to fight the regime for their rights.
  • About half the citizens of Syria - ten million people - have become refugees; half are inside Syria and half outside. It is difficult to foresee a massive return of Syrian refugees from outside. During six years of savage war, large parts of Syrian cities have been reduced to rubble. In most of Syria's cities and towns, the electricity, water, sewage, and communications infrastructure has been partially or completely destroyed. Entire neighborhoods require leveling and rebuilding. Refugees will not agree to exchange their tent in Jordan for a ruin with no infrastructure in devastated Syria.
  • There is another reason the refugees will not return: the Sunni refugees' fear of the country's new landlords, the Shiites. Iran has been transferring Shiite citizens from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan to Syria with the clear intention to change the country's demographic composition from a Sunni to a Shiite majority.
  • The ruling Alawites want to prevent a future uprising, and the sure way to do so is to alter the population's makeup. Hence, they will not allow Sunnis to return to their homes.
  • The new demographic situation in Syria will convince the Sunni refugees that they no longer have anything to return to. They will therefore do all they can to move from Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey to any country in the world that will agree to accept them, preferably in Europe or North America. Instead of a return of refugees after the Syrian "peace," there will likely be a mass flight of more refugees and Sunni citizens.

    *The writer, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center, served for 25 years in IDF military intelligence.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Is "Conflict Management" working?

From Arutz Sheva, 8 Sept 107, by Martin Sherman:

This week, Israel conducted its largest military exercise for almost two decades code named “Or Hadagan” (“the Light of the Grain”), reportedly in honor of the late Meir Dagan, former director of Mossad.

Far reaching shift in threat perception 

The drill, which took place in the north of the country, and involved tens of thousands of troops from all branches of the IDF, was intended to prepare the Israeli military for a possible future confrontation with Hezbollah.

This, in itself, reflects far-reaching changes in the realities on the ground and the resultant shift in Israeli threat perception and hence in the armed forces’ operational focus and strategic outlook  that have taken place since the end of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

Thus, while the Syrian army has been almost totally eroded by six-and-a-half years of civil war; Israel now considers Hezbollah as the primary and most immediate threat, and the Lebanese front, the one of most pressing concern.

In many ways, the recognition of the ascendant threat from Hezbollah comprises a grave indictment of the conduct of the 2006 War—and an admission (at least implicitly) of its gross mismanagement.

This is significant, because the calm that has generally prevailed in the North since 2006 has —despite wide acknowledgment of the disappointing IDF performance in that engagement—led numerous pundits to applaud the deterrent effect that the massive damage inflicted on Lebanon at the time, allegedly produced.  In some cases, this prompted suggestions that a more favorable retrospective assessment of the war and its execution might be called for.

Sadly, there is little to support this benign attitude—and emerging realities serve only to underscore the long term detrimental impact, which  that indecisive encounter—and its subsequent political and strategic ramifications—have had (and are still likely to have) on Israel’s security.

“To defeat, not deter…”

But changing threat perception was not the only major shift in military thinking associated with the drill.  For the reported definition of its objectives seem to indicate an emerging awareness that the approach adopted over the last few decades has been both dysfunctional and detrimental.

...veteran commentator Israel Harel wrote:
“For many years, including (or especially) the Second Lebanon War, the IDF did not truly aspire, as an army going to war must aspire, to defeat the enemy once and for all, in other words to neutralize its capacity to further endanger the lives of Israel’s citizens, soldiers and infrastructure.This time the military commentators wrote and broadcast, the “intention” is clear: to finish the enemy.”

... Amos Harel (not to be confused with previously-mentioned Israel Harel):
 “Military says it will no longer settle for deterring Hezbollah, which replaced Syria as No. 1 threat on Israel's borders. The objective [of the “Or Hadagan” drill] is to defeat Hezbollah. This time the talk is not of inflicting significant harm to Hezbollah, to deter it, or to quash its desire to fight until the next round of violence.” 
Conflict management

The conceptual paradigm that forms the basis of the IDF’s aversion to victory-oriented strategies is the idea of “conflict management”. One of the prime proponents of this approach has been the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University.

A synopsis  of “months of debate in BESA seminar rooms”  published about a year ago, reported that a consensus  had emerged among the center’s experts that “Conflict management is currently the least-worst option”, and that it  “is wiser for Israel to defer action than to take steps that threaten to make a bad situation worse”.

Arguably, one of the most explicit advocates for the idea of conflict management is Prof. Efraim Inbar, formerly BESA’s longstanding director, who declared: “Israel’s recent governments are left, willy- nilly, with a de facto conflict-management approach, without foreclosing any options.” He conceded that: “there are costs to this wait and- see approach”, but counselled “…this was the approach favored by David Ben-Gurion. He believed in buying time to build a stronger state and in hanging on until opponents yield their radical goals …”

In a 2014 policy paper entitled “Mowing the Grass in Gaza” and coauthored with Eitan Shamir, he set out the essence of this conflict management approach as it pertained to Hamas in Gaza:  “Israel is acting in accordance with a “mowing the grass” strategy. After a period of military restraint, Israel is acting to severely punish Hamas for its aggressive behavior, and degrading its military capabilities…The use of force… is not intended to attain impossible political goals, but rather is a long-term strategy of attrition designed primarily to debilitate the enemy capabilities”.

Clearly, this prescription has failed dismally both with regard to  Hamas and Hezbollah, neither of whom have had their capabilities “debilitated”, nor have forgone their “radical goals.”

After all, not only is there any sign of either of these organizations moderating their radical rejectionist approach towards Israel, but the periods of inter-bellum calm have been consistently used by both to dramatically upgrade their capabilities.

Thus, when Israel left Gaza (2005), the range of the Palestinian rockets was barely 5 km., and the explosive charge they carried about 5 kg. Now their missiles have a range of over 100 km. and warheads of around 100 kg.

When Israel left Gaza, only the sparse population in its immediate proximity was threatened by missiles. Now well over 5 million Israelis, well beyond Tel Aviv, are menaced by them. To this alarming tally, add the massive array of attack tunnels that Hamas was able to develop since the evacuation while Israel was “mowing the lawn”, making any suggestion that its capabilities have been “debilitated” utterly ludicrous.

This is even more so  in the case of Hezbollah, who, since 2006, has reportedly increased its then-already formidable arsenal in South Lebanon, abandoned to them, courtesy of the hasty 2000 unilateral IDF withdrawal mandated by Ehud Barak, tenfold—to anywhere between 100,000 to 150,000!

Moreover, the improvement has not only been in the quantity of the missiles trained on Israel’s population centers, as well other civilian and military targets, but in the accuracy and the explosive charges of the war-heads. Likewise, the ranks of its fighters has more than doubled, and their operational capabilities greatly enhanced, among other things, due to the combat experience acquired through their participation in the Syrian Civil War.

Mistaking “regrouping” for “deterrence”

In light of all these daunting developments, it is clear that successive bouts of limited fighting have done little to deter either Hamas or Hezbollah in the sense of breaking their will to engage in battle. Rather, after every round, they have been forced to regroup, redeploy and rearm—only to  re-emerge spoiling for a fight, ever bolder, with ever-greater (indeed, once inconceivable) capabilities.

In this regard, a far from implausible claim could be made that it was not the consequences of the 2006 war that dissuaded Hezbollah from entering the fighting in 2014 to support Hamas against the IDF during Operation Protective Edge. Rather the fact that the organization was bogged down in the Syrian civil war, propping up their patron Bashar Assad—a fortuitous outcome that cannot really be ascribed to the efficacy of Israeli deterrence policy.

Accordingly, it is difficult to refute the recent cocky taunts of Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, that “Every time an Israeli official refers to Hezbollah's growing power, he admits Israeli defeat in the summer of 2006”.  Well, at least if not defeat, denial of victory.

Indeed, just how appallingly the Second Lebanon War was conducted can be judged by the fact that, according to Israeli estimates, the number of missiles liable to rain down on Israel in any future confrontation with Hezbollah is somewhere between 1000 to 1500 a day—ten times that which fell in the previous war, and which kept millions of Israelis huddling in shelters for weeks on end.  Now imagine an assault ten-fold larger, factoring in the greater accuracy and greater explosive power of the missiles today—coupled with a possible auxiliary attack from Gaza…

These are the bitter fruits that conflict management has produced.

There but for the grace of God…

Against this grim backdrop in Lebanon, the developing realities in Syria must be taken into consideration: The deployment of Russian forces and the growing dominance of the Iranian presence in the country.

If the ominous developments in Lebanon can, in large measure, be ascribed to the flaccid policies of the Olmert government; in Syria, they are due  to those of the Obama administration.

The former,  shackled to its political doctrine of territorial concession and compromise, could not take the necessary and timely action to bring Hezbollah to its knees in a humiliating defeat—and end the fighting with a white flag of surrender over the Hezbollah positions and Hezbollah combatants being led into Israeli captivity.

The latter, unshackled from a traditional view of American national interest, created a vacuum into which Russia and Iran inserted themselves. Of course, the Iranian activity in Syria (and elsewhere) has been greatly facilitated by the appallingly naïve (or is that nefarious?) agreement orchestrated by the Obama administration in July 2015 over Tehran’s nuclear program, which greatly empowered the Iranian theocracy, enriched it economically and entrenched it politically.

One of the many menacing aspects of this is that the strong Iranian presence in Syria will allow the deployment of its proxies—including Hezbollah—along the border in the Golan, effectively increasing the length of the front along which Israel will have to confront such forces in any future military encounter.

All this should cause us to shudder with dread at the thought that, had the “enlightened” voices of moderation, reason and understanding of the “Other”, carried the day, and Israel had withdrawn from the Golan, all these perils would be perched on the heights overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the city of Tiberias and much of northern Israel.There but for the grace of God…

Backing away vs. backing into confrontations

For several years now I have been warning against clear and present dangers inherent in conflict management—cautioning that it is little more than “kicking the can down the road” into a risk fraught future.  I expressed growing concern that by adopting a policy of avoiding confrontations. which Israel could win, the government  may well back the nation  into a confrontation so severe that it may not—or only do so at devastating cost.

Now, faced with a prospect of thousands of rockets (many accurate and high explosive) being launched daily against Israel  along two possible fronts – an extended one in the north and one in the south; faced with the threat of an array of yet to be discovered terror tunnels—both in the north and the south; with these forces operating under the auspices of near-by Iranian troops and with the possibly inhibiting presence of Russia in the region,  we can only hope that such a crucial confrontation is not upon us.

But  should such a conflict erupt, our fervent wish must  be that the  IDF is not tempted to attempt to “manage” it, but be true to the declared aims of the “Or Hadagan” drill--and strive for unequivocal victory in it.

Al Jazeera: Blood Libels, Defamation and Lies

Jews and other Israel supporters around the world work for the IDF in the same manner as fighters in the Syrian civil war: committing war crimes, both as volunteers and paid mercenaries on behalf of the Jewish state.


That’s the underlying message of an Al Jazeera “documentary” (it’s actually closer to a work of fiction) that skews context, overtly mistranslates statements, and even repeats outright lies in order to create this illusion.

Outright lies from the Ukraine
The documentary begins with Elena Zakusilo, a Ukrainian Jewish woman who claimed on a local television game show that she served in a combat role in the IDF, including being forced by the IDF to murder innocent children: a form of blood libel that has served as an excuse for violence against Jews throughout history.

The IDF and Ukrainian security services investigated: It turns out the woman had blatantly lied. In fact, the show’s producers had scripted her entire speech in a ploy to increase ratings, even though they apparently knew that Zakusilo’s role in the IDF had been low ranking, administrative and non-combat.

Al Jazeera then misleads audiences with a segment on an unrelated group called “Caliber 3,” a private firm that mostly trains civilian security contractors who work with the Israeli police. Caliber 3 also offers basic self-defense classes for private individuals, a minority of their work.

Yet Al Jazeera portrayed Caliber-3  as a military unit, and its civilian self-defense classes as a military activity. It’s like saying a person who takes a CPR class at the hospital is a surgeon. It’s just simply untrue...

Not just bad journalism: defamation.
...In these cases, volunteers were indeed portrayed falsely in a manner that definitely harmed their reputations and produced hostility against them. In short, Al Jazeera’s documentary isn’t just bad journalism, it is defamation: at least a civil, and possibly even a criminal offense.

To this end, the documentary includes offhand references to Brits who illegally fight for Islamic State (ISIS) and discusses two British nationals who were convicted and sentenced to prison for activities in the civil war in Syria.

Al Jazeera then indicates that Grete Kvelland Skaara and other Norwegian volunteers may have acted improperly or even violated their country’s laws: they accomplish this by blatantly mistranslating a statement from a local mayor Arvid Grundekjøn:
I have served in the Norwegian defense, so I can’t wear the uniform of another country.
HonestReporting obtained a correct translation, and learned what Grundekjøn had actually said:
For me who has served in the Norwegian defense, it seems strange to wear uniform for another country…but I will not criticize Grete Kvelland Skaara for helping the Israeli military.
…dozens of armies recruit volunteer soldiers, including Great Britain, the US, France, Spain, Denmark, the UAE, New Zealand and Serbia [and some] accept non-military volunteers, like Britain’s Army Cadets.

Once a reader sees past the outright lies, mistranslations and misleading editing, it becomes clear that Israel’s volunteer and recruiting programs are not only legal and ethical, but similar to the practices of most countries in the Western world.

The Israel Defense Forces
The IDF’s code of ethics states in part:
The IDF and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity. Every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position. IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property.
The IDF is a modern, professional army with a high dedication to ethics in warfare and to upholding international laws.  It is therefore utterly absurd to even imply a comparison between the IDF and groups such as Syrian rebels or Islamic State (ISIS).

It is equally absurd to accuse international Israel supporters of improper or even criminal behavior for activities that are both legal and common in countries around the world.

It is for this very reason that in order to make its case, Al Jazeera relies on dramatic music, misleading editing, mistranslations and outright lies.

What happens next?
Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) has been considering whether to become the latest in a long line of countries to remove Al Jazeera’s local news bureau for committing incitement to violence. Incitement is not legal in any country, including in those that value free speech.

As part of this process the GPO recently revoked press credentials of one particularly problematic Al Jazeera journalist: Elias Karam. Yet even though Karam described his work as “resistance to the occupation” (effectively admitting that it is not actually journalism) the GPO nonetheless is now leaning in favor of reinstating his credentials.

However, Al Jazeera is now putting Jews, and Israel supporters around the world in direct personal danger through an act of illegal defamation. Perhaps the GPO should indeed move forward with their original plans: both for Karam and for the entire Al Jazeera bureau.

Defamation and incitement to violence is not “journalism” and it is not “free speech.”

It is just plain wrong.

Lithuania confronts its Holocaust History

From Politico, 30 Aug 2017, by BENAS GERDZIUNAS:

Attempts to lift the fog of war are met with accusations of rewriting patriotic history, but that hasn’t stopped some from trying to confront the country’s complicity.

A Soviet-built memorial sits adjacent to a World War I-era fort where thousands of Jews from Lithuania and elsewhere were executed. The monument was originally dedicated to the murdered “citizens of the Soviet Union.”

VILNIUS — The Soviets swept through Lithuania in 1940. The Nazis did the same in 1941, only to be pushed back once again by the Soviets in 1944. In the turmoil of shifting frontlines, Lithuania’s interim rulers gambled, collaborating with the Nazis in the hope of post-war independence.

They failed, and 80 percent of Lithuanian Jews, the Litvaks, were murdered during the first six months of Nazi occupation. And after the war, the Soviets stayed.

Five decades of atrocities followed. Some 5-10 percent of Lithuanians were exiled to Siberia, more than 50,000 perishing in the inhospitable Russian hinterland; many of these victims were also Jewish.

Lithuania’s painful post-war history became the nucleus of patriotic resistance to Moscow’s post-Cold War posturing, as the Kremlin repeatedly described Baltic independence as “illegal.”

It has also overshadowed any effort to confront the country’s own demons — or to acknowledge the complicity of many of Lithuania’s lionized resistance fighters in crimes against humanity.

In the years following Lithuanian independence in 1991, a succession of governments have offered a narrative of history connecting the modern state to the World War II effort to win independence at the cost of collaboration.

...Textbooks in Lithuanian schools offer only fleeting mentions of the Litvaks, an integral part of Lithuanian society for more than 500 years. And the history of the Holocaust moves swiftly on to the stories of the many Lithuanians who saved Jews.

The failure to cast a critical look back at its past has played into the hands of Russian propagandists, who have seized on the opportunity to accuse the Baltic state of ongoing “fascism” — propaganda that was deployed to devastating effect in Ukraine during Russia’s seizure of Crimea.

...“A large percentage of teachers educated during the Soviet occupation have a problem telling the truth,” says Richard Schofield, who heads the NGO Litvak Photography Center and travels to Lithuanian schools for education projects.

“Everybody knows thousands of Litvaks were exiled to Siberia under Stalin,” he adds, “and everybody knows there were ethnic Lithuanians in the KGB arresting and murdering their own people.” But few know the history of what happened during the country’s brief alliance with the Nazis.

“The same history teachers are more often than not relieved when I tell their students that the Holocaust didn’t happen because the Jews were communists,” he says. “It seems to me that almost everyone wants the truth to be told, but nobody has the courage to tell it.”

...Slowly, efforts to document and disseminate knowledge about the Holocaust are bearing fruit, as a growing number of Lithuanians acknowledge their country’s troubling history.

“The Soviet generation has a strange sense of anti-Semitism ingrained in them, whereas the new generation simply doesn’t know the history,” says Marius Janulevicius, a literature teacher who produced a Holocaust documentary, “The Forgotten,” together with a small group of students from the school where he works. “So, it’s important to start with them.”

Lithuania remains one of the most prejudiced countries in the EU. Any effort to tackle the history of the Holocaust can only accelerate the belated post-Soviet reawakening....

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Maybe NOT "two states"?

An article in WSJ, 25 August 2017, by Rory Jones, suggests that the realization may be dawning that the "two state solution" may not be the way to resolve the century-old Arab rejection of the Jewish state.

From that article:

Jared Kushner Wraps Up ‘Productive’ Middle East Talks
The president’s son-in-law met with regional leaders in moves to revive peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians

Jared Kushner in a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday. PHOTO: OSAMA FALAH/PPO HANDOUT/GETTY IMAGES

.... Mr. Trump has shifted from a long-held U.S. policy of supporting a two-state solution, saying he would instead support a plan on which both Israelis and Palestinians agreed.

But Palestinian officials have said they won’t join peace talks that don’t hold the possibility of an independent state. And Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition government is reluctant to enter negotiations for a Palestinian state that critics say would pose a risk to Israel’s security.

Arab states back a Saudi Arabia-led initiative that advocates the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in return offering Israel diplomatic ties with its neighbors. Mr. Kushner met this week with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who issued a statement in support of peace talks but didn’t reaffirm his country’s commitment to the proposal.

The White House said it encourages the support and engagement of Arab states in the effort to unite Israelis and Palestinians.

...The Trump administration has said supporting Palestinian statehood would bias negotiations.

Mr. Abbas again threatened to consider dissolving the Palestinian Authority—the administration that governs millions of Palestinians in the West Bank—if the U.S. is unwilling to support a two-state solution to the conflict, Palestinian media reported this week.

Palestinian officials have said maintaining the Palestinian Authority without the potential for statehood prolongs what they believe is a system of discrimination of rights between Palestinians and Israelis.

The Original Nakba: The Division of “TransJordan”

From FirstOneThrough, 15 August 2017:

This year marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917 which endorsed “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People.” The declaration became the basis for the League of Nations (precursor to the United Nations) to endorse the Palestine Mandate which clearly articulated the history and rights of Jews to a reconstituted national homeland in the area now commonly thought of as Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.
Article 25 of the Mandate allowed the administrator (Britain) to change the contours of the reestablished Jewish homeland.
“In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 1516 and 18.”
On September 23, 1922, the League of Nations adopted the suggestion of the British to divide the territory in two, in a document called the “Transjordan Memorandum.” That memorandum stripped away any mention of Jewish history in the land, facilitating the emigration of Jews to Palestine or the creation of a Jewish homeland in the area east of the Jordan River.
The memorandum also facilitated a complete abrogation of key components of Article 25 of the Palestine Mandate that allowed such separation: that “no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 1516 and 18.” Those provisions specifically enumerated non-discrimination clauses that were to be kept in place in the new TransJordan:
Article 15:
The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.
The right of each community to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language, while conforming to such educational requirements of a general nature as the Administration may impose, shall not be denied or impaired.
Article 16:
The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government. Subject to such supervision, no measures shall be taken in Palestine to obstruct or interfere with the enterprise of such bodies or to discriminate against any representative or member of them on the ground of his religion or nationality.
Article 18:
The Mandatory shall see that there is no discrimination in Palestine against the nationals of any State Member of the League of Nations (including companies incorporated under its laws) as compared with those of the Mandatory or of any foreign State in matters concerning taxation, commerce or navigation, the exercise of industries or professions, or in the treatment of merchant vessels or civil aircraft. Similarly, there shall be no discrimination in Palestine against goods originating in or destined for any of the said States, and there shall be freedom of transit under equitable conditions across the mandated area.
Subject as aforesaid and to the other provisions of this mandate, the Administration of Palestine may, on the advice of the Mandatory, impose such taxes and customs duties as it may consider necessary, and take such steps as it may think best to promote the development of the natural resources of the country and to safeguard the interests of the population. It may also, on the advice of the Mandatory, conclude a special customs agreement with any State the territory of which in 1914 was wholly included in Asiatic Turkey or Arabia.”
International law was clear that any division of the territory would ensure that no discrimination of any kind be allowed on the basis of religion.
But that is exactly what Transjordan/Jordan became: an anti-Semitic country established by the United Nations which prohibits Jews in a variety of areas.
No Citizenship
Consider Jordan’s Nationality Law of 1954:
“Article 3:
The following shall be deemed to be Jordanian nationals:
Any person who, not being Jewish, possessed Palestinian nationality before 15 May 1948 and was a regular resident in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan between 20 December 1949 and 16 February 1954;”
Can you think of anything more explicitly anti-Semitic than a law that specifically separates Jews from others and bans them from becoming citizens?
No Land Purchases
Jordan prohibited Jews from buying any land in the area that had been part of the Palestine Mandate in an edict, Law No. (40) of 1953 Concerning the Leasing and Selling of Immovable Properties from Foreigners, as amended by Law No. (12) of 1960; and  Law No. (2) of 1962.
Jordan has continued along this path even post its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
In March 2016, the Jordanian government singled out Israelis as being banned from buying or renting property around the city of Petra. No other country is subject to such provision.

The League of Nations considered at the outset of its endorsement of a Jewish national home in 1920 and 1922 that perhaps the contours of such homeland should exclude the land east of the Jordan River. But international law has – and continues to fail – in two major respects:
  • In JORDAN: The provision (Article 25) to cut the eastern part of the Mandate (and ONLY the eastern part) from the Jewish homeland specifically did not allow the discrimination against Jews from buying land or obtaining citizenship there;
  • In the WEST BANK: All of the land west of the Jordan River was allocated for a Jewish homeland, and obviously with full legal authorization for Jews to purchase homes and obtain citizenship, despite calls by the current Palestinian Authority leadership to have a Jew-free country
The division of the Palestine Mandate in September 1922 to create Jordan was a disgraceful tragedy which denied Jewish history and rights east of the Jordan River. Despite this, people have attempted to expand upon Article 25 almost a century later to divide the land WEST of the Jordan River in an identical course of anti-Semitic charges that the West Bank should not have a single Jew.
The Palestinian Arabs coined the term “Nakba” (catastrophe) for the founding of the Jewish State on just a part of the Palestine Mandate on May 15, 1948. However, the original Nakba happened 26 years earlier, when the British gutted the essence of international law set out in the Palestine Mandate: for all of the land west of the Jordan River to be the Jewish homeland, and the land east of the river to have full legal rights for Jewish worship, land ownership and citizenship.
Remarkably, the Jewish Nakba of September 23, 1922 is seeking a second coming.

Israel's Potential Perils in Pictures

From Newsmax, 24 Aug 2017By Martin Sherman:

The view of Tel Aviv from inside a potential Palestine state.

For decades the “two-state” paradigm — which calls for the establishment for an independent Palestinian state to be established in Judea-Samaria (a.k.a the “West Bank”) which fell to Israeli forces in the 1967 Six Day War — has dominated the discourse of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Opponents of this idea have often warned of the dire dangers that that such an outcome would herald for Israel, however many in the general public have little notion of how potentially perilous a Palestinian state would be for Israel.
(Photo Credit: Mycolors/Dreamstime)
These dire dangers that are graphically illustrated in the following series of photographs taken from sites inside the territory designated for any future Palestinian state.
They demonstrate, dramatically, how vulnerable and exposed Israel would appear through the binoculars of a Palestinian “intelligence officer” (a.k.a. a terrorist).
Greater Tel Aviv Skyline as Seen From a Potential Palestinian State
(Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
The clearly visible Azrieli Towers complex is an iconic feature of the central Tel Aviv skyline. They house a three-story shopping mall and recreation area, a thirteen-floor luxury hotel, and numerous prestigious commercial companies, including many of the country’s leading law firms. And, oh yes, it is adjacent to the compound (known as “Camp Rabin,” named after the late Yitzhak Rabin) that comprises Israel’s Defense Ministry and the headquarters of the IDF General Staff.
(Aviv Tower from a potential Palestine state - Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
The Aviv Tower, located in the bustling vicinity of the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange (adjacent to Tel Aviv) is the tallest building in Israel. It's surrounded by popular restaurants, cafes, commercial enterprises and recreational facilities. The Akirov Towers, in North Tel Aviv, houses the former apartment of Ehud Barak, underscoring the stunning fact that there is a line of sight between the residence of the former Defense Minister and a potential Palestinian state!
Ben Gurion Airport — Through Binoculars of a Palestinian “Intelligence Officer”
(Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
Main Terminal and Runway at Ben Gurion Airport as seen from a potential Palestinian state: This shot underscores just how utterly exposed Israel’s only international airport would be to any hostile elements (renegade or otherwise), deployed on the hills overlooking the main terminal and runway.
(Terminal - Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
For those familiar with Ben Gurion airport, the long inclined corridor connecting the passport control stations with the large duty free area is clearly visible from well within a potential Palestinian state.
A tempting target: The unnerving sight of a plane clearly visible taking off on the main runway — hopelessly exposed to any nefarious forces in the nearby hills inside a potential Palestinian state.
(Ben Gurion runway - Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
Israel’s Vulnerable Power Generating Facilities as Seen From a Potential Palestinian State
(Hadera - Photo Credit Yohar Gal)
The Orot-Rabin power station, near Hadera (named after the late Yitzhak Rabin): The plant is currently Israel's largest power station with almost 20 percent of the Israel Electric Corporation's total generating capacity. It is adjacent to Caesarea, a very upmarket locality, home to many of Israel’s rich and famous, including current PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
(The Orot-Rabin Power Station at sunset - Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
(Reading power station - Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
The Reading power station supplies electricity to the Greater Tel Aviv district. The plant is located close to Tel Aviv port, Sde Dov airport and the upmarket neighborhoods of North Tel Aviv and Ramat Aviv, where Tel Aviv University is located. Taken from the vicinity of the Palestinian village of Rantis, visible in the foreground.
Terror Tunnels and Transportation
(Route 6, The Trans Israel Highway - Photo Credit: Israel Institute for Strategic Studies)
Taken near the Palestinian-Arab city of Qalquilaya, a hot bed of terror in the past, this drone shot underscores the grave danger to traffic on the Trans-Israel highway (Route 6), connecting the North of the country with the South. In light of the threat of terror tunnels, mortar fire, and rocket attacks emanating from Gaza, little imagination is required to visualize the consequences of evacuating areas abutting one of Israel’s major transportation arteries. For a more detailed explanation click here.
Pictures Worth Thousands of Words
These photos convey the stark, clear and present dangers a Palestinian state would pose to Israel, its urban centers, its vulnerable airport, its major traffic routes as well as its vital infrastructure installations — all of which will be in range of weapons, now being used against it from other territories transferred to Arab control.
Indeed, given the abysmal consequences of past Israeli withdrawals, whenever Israel has relinquished land, it has — sooner or later — become a platform from which to launch attacks against it, who can fault the opponents of the two-state prescription for their grave concern?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hamas Is Restoring Its Alliance with Iran

From JCPA, 17 August 2017, by Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi:

The renewed alliance with Hamas will enable Iran to strengthen its zones of influence along Israel’s borders, including within the West Bank where Hamas and Islamic Jihad give it a foothold.

During the first week of August 2017, a delegation from the Hamas Political Bureau visited Iran. The Islamic movement said the visit meant that the sides were opening a “new page” in their relations.

The delegation was led by Izzat al-Rishk, a senior Hamas official, and included Salah al-Aruri, senior Hamas leader and founding commander of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades; Zaher Jabarin, Hamas military commander; Osama Hamdan, top representative of Hamas in Lebanon; and Hamas’ representative in Tehran, Khaled al-Kadoummi.

The delegation met with senior Iranian officials including: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif; Chairman of the Parliament Ali Larijani; Senior Adviser to the Supreme Leader in International Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati; Chairman of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations Kamal Kharazi; and Special Assistant of the Chairman of the Parliament for International Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif with Hamas’ delegation to Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif confirms the importance of the relationship with Hamas’ delegation to Tehran.

Iranian-Hamas relations suffered a setback during the civil war in Syria. At first, the Hamas leaders tried to tread carefully between the Shiite-Alawite axis led by Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah and the Sunni mujahideen organizations. However, as the bloody war dragged on and the Shiite-Alawite axis racked up failures, tensions grew between Iran and Hamas as the former demanded that the Palestinian organization clearly take its side. Hamas was forced to move its offices from Damascus and make use of the infrastructure it had built in Turkey.  

Now, again, the Iranian regime is telling the Hamas leadership in no uncertain terms that the Islamic movement must make a “correct” strategic decision, consistent with the changing balance of power in the Middle East, and align with Iran, which has become a regional superpower. Its hegemonic status now grounded in the Shiite crescent, which includes Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon, Iran is leading the ongoing struggle against Israel.3 In his meeting with Izzat al-Rishk, Parliament Chairman Larijani said that Hamas must draw conclusions from the Middle Eastern developments in recent years, particularly those in Iraq and Syria.4

What Hamas Seeks
During the visit, the Hamas officials presented the following positions:

  • Hamas has an interest in fortifying its relations with Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, and Islamic Jihad based on the common denominator of fighting Israel.
  • Iran provides its support for the anti-Israeli struggle both to Shiite organizations like Hizbullah and to Sunni organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The fact that Iran is waging a campaign against Sunni Muslim forces in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and other Middle Eastern countries does not – Hamas implied – preclude aligning with it.
  • The basis for Iran’s relations with the Islamic umma [community] in general is the struggle against Israel, the “common enemy.” The threat posed by Israel does not stop at the geographic borders of Palestine; its hatred for humanity and the chaos it sows affect all of the “Arab and Islamic homeland.”
  • Hamas does not interfere in others’ affairs and does not want Palestine to fall prey to disagreements between the countries of the region; instead its goal is to enlist all elements to support the Palestinian issue. 
  • By joining the Iranian axis, Hamas reveals its leadership’s order of priority now that Ismail Haniyeh is at the helm. Liberating Palestine takes precedence over the blood-drenched Middle Eastern battles between the Shiite and Sunni axis. Hamas is distancing itself from Saudi Arabia, which regards Iran as a tangible military threat to the Sunni states. Hamas estimates that allying with Tehran can help it fulfill its strategic objectives of taking control of the Palestinian national movement and “liberating Palestine.”

The Hamas leadership views Iran as a rising regional power that is making gains in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, as well as Yemen, with a growing military force based on a local arms industry, purchases of advanced weaponry from Russia, and the nuclear project.

The entrenchment of the Shiite crescent under direct Iranian hegemony could threaten the stability of the Hashemite regime in Jordan, where the demographic majority is decidedly Palestinian. The Hamas leadership assesses that, in a scenario where Iran makes an effort to undermine Abdullah’s regime, being aligned with Iran will give Hamas an advantage.

From Iran’s standpoint, the renewed alliance with Hamas will enable it to strengthen its zones of influence along Israel’s borders, including within the West Bank where Hamas and Islamic Jihad give it a foothold.