Friday, June 02, 2017

Arab leaders planned for genocide in Six-Day War

From Ynetnews, 29 May 2017, by Ben-Dror Yemini:

During the 1967 war, Israel seized Egyptian and Jordanian operational documents with clear orders to annihilate the civil population. Nevertheless, different academics are distorting the facts in a bid to turn the Arabs into victims and Israel into an aggressor. Here’s the real story.

More than anything else, the Six-Day War has turned into a rewritten war. A sea of publications deal with what happened at the time. Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt, the revisionists assert, had no ability to fight Israel, and anyway, he had no intention to do so.

It’s true that he made threats. 
It’s true that he sent more and more divisions to Sinai. 
It’s true that he expelled the United Nations observers. 
It’s true that he incited the masses in Arab countries. 
It’s true that the Arab regimes rattled their sabers and prepared for war. 
It’s true that he closed the Straits of Tiran. 
It’s true that Israel was besieged from its southern side. It’s true that this was a serious violation of international law. It’s true that it was a “casus belli” (a case of war).

IDF forces at the Western Wall during Six-Day War. When there is a narrative, who needs facts? (Photo: Bamahane)
IDF forces at the Western Wall during Six-Day War. When there is a narrative, who needs facts? (Photo: Bamahane)

All that doesn’t matter, however, because there is a mega-narrative that obligates the forces of progress to exempt the Arabs from responsibility and point the accusing finger at Israel. And when there is a narrative, who needs facts? After all, according to the mega-narrative, Israel had expansionist plans, so it seized the opportunity. Different scholars are distorting the facts in a bid to turn the Arabs into victims and Israel into an aggressor.

Excuse us for winning
I was a child, an elementary school student. I remember fear, a lot of fear. There were no shelters in the house I lived in. It was clear that there would be bombings, so we dug pits in the yard.

Occasionally, we are reminded of the sound of thunder from Cairo to remind us of the annihilation threats. But in fact, they were much more serious. Both the Arab League and the leaders of all neighboring states announced in an unequivocal manner that the plan was annihilation. I repeat: Annihilation. Arrogant talk? Considering the fact that the Arab and Muslim world was engaged in endless self and mutual massacres, it was pretty clear that what they were doing to themselves—and it’s still going on—they would also do to Israel.

We must remember one thing, therefore: The alternative to victory was annihilation. So excuse us for winning. Because an occupation without an annihilation is preferable to an annihilation without an occupation.

‘Our goal is clear: To wipe Israel off the map’
The Arab states never accepted the State of Israel’s existence, not for a moment. There was no occupation from 1949 to 1967, but a Palestinian state wasn’t established, because the leaders of the Arab world didn’t want another state. They wanted Israel. They didn’t hide their intentions for a minute.

The new stage began in 1964. On the backdrop of a conflict over the water sources, the Arab League convened in Cairo and announced:
“... collective Arab military preparations, when they are completed, will constitute the ultimate practical means for the final liquidation of Israel.”
Two years went by, and then-defense minister Hafez Assad, who went on to become Syria's president, declared:
"Strike the enemy’s settlements, turn them into dust, pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews.” And to erase any doubt, he added: "We are determined to saturate this earth with your (Israeli) blood, to throw you into the sea.”

 Six-Day War. Those who rewrite history are winning
Six-Day War. Those who rewrite history are winning

Nine days before the war broke out, Nasser said:
“The Arab people want to fight. Our basic aim is the destruction of the State of Israel.” Two more days passed before Iraq’s president, Abdul Rahman Arif, joined the threats: “This is our chance…our goal is clear: To wipe Israel off the map.”
Two days before the war broke out, PLO founder and leader Ahmad Shukieri said:
“Whoever survives will stay in Palestine, but in my opinion, no one will remain alive.” 
Yes, that was the atmosphere. Does anyone still seriously think that those were just declarations? Does anyone think that their intention was an enlightened occupation? Does anyone think that there would not have been a mass slaughter like the one Egypt carried out in Yemen and later on in Biafra?

Hussein: No annihilation orders, 'as far as I know'
In order to understand that these were not false statements, it should be noted that in a meeting held after the war between Israel’s Ambassador to London Aharon Remez and British Foreign Secretary George Brown, Remez said that Israel had seized documents of the Jordanian army on operational orders, from May 25 and 26, about two weeks before the war's outbreak, which included orders to exterminate the civil population in the communities that were planned to be occupied as well. They believed at the time that it was indeed going to happen.

It isn’t clear, Remez said at the time, whether Hussein was aware of these orders, but they were very similar to the annihilation orders issued by the Egyptian army. This appears both in Michael Oren’s book about the Six-Day war and in Miriam Joyce’s book about Hussein’s relations with the United States and Britain, as well as in Dr. Moshe Elad’s book (“Core Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”). At first, Hussein rejected the claims about the annihilation orders out of hand, but later added: “As far as I know.”

Clear and simple facts
The days passed. The threats increased. More and more forces were sent to Sinai. More Arab countries joined the war coalition. It’s unclear whether Nasser really wanted a war, Oren wrote in his book. But he and the Arab countries did everything in their power to deteriorate the situation. Nasser’s appetite kept growing, and immediately after blocking the straits, he declared: “If we managed to restore the conditions that existed before 1956 (the Straits of Tiran are blocked), God will surely help us and urge us to restore the situation that existed in 1948.”

The late Yitzhak Rabin, who served as IDF chief of staff at the time, told the government that “it will be a difficult war… There will be many losses.” He estimated that 50,000 people would be killed. And Oren, who had read almost every document that had been declassified, concluded: “The documentation shows that Israel wanted to prevent a war with all its might, and that up to the eve of the battles it tried to stop the war in every possible way—even at a heavy strategic and economic cost for the state.” These are the facts. But those who rewrite history are winning.

The political debate over the Israeli control of the territories has led to a situation in which political opinions disrupt the factual research. The political debate is important. It’s certainly legitimate. But there is no need to rewrite history to justify a political stance. It should be the other way around: 
Facts should influence political views. And the facts are clear and simple: 
The Arab states’ leaders did not only settle for declarations on an expected annihilation, they even prepared operational orders.

Trump’s Air Strike on al-Tanf: No to the Shiite Crescent... HEAR, HEAR!!

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 483, 1 June 2017, by Prof. Hillel Frisch:

image from US DoD - US Central Command Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve

The two recent US air strikes on a Syrian convoy heading to the al-Tanf military base in the southern Syrian Desert a few miles from the Jordanian-Syrian border have major strategic importance. The attack signaled for the first time since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011 that the US would not countenance the reemergence of the Iranian-controlled Shiite crescent that Iran had created through Teheran, Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut after the US exited Iraq in 2010.

The US air strikes on a Syrian convoy heading to al-Tanf military base in the southern Syrian Desert a few miles from the Jordanian-Syrian border scarcely made any front pages in the world media. This was a major oversight. The strikes should have been a major headline, especially as they occurred prior to Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia.

The attack signaled for the first time since the Syrian civil war broke out in the spring of 2011 that the US, under Trump, will not countenance the reemergence of the Iranian-controlled Shiite crescent that Iran had created to connect Teheran, Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut. Iran had taken advantage of the US’s exit from Iraq in 2010 and the outbreak of the Syrian civil war a year later to establish that Shiite crescent.

Technically, the two air strikes were a minor affair. Two fighting F-15 jets struck a convoy of Syrian troops and unidentified pro-Syrian militia members, killing five to fifty of them as well as destroying several vehicles. The US justified the strike on military grounds. The convoy was likely to threaten elite US army troops advising Free Syrian Army-linked forces, who, together with YPG Kurdish forces, have pushed ISIS back to Raqqa, its last major stronghold in Syria.

According to the US army spokesperson, the strike hardly came as a surprise. The Syrians had long known of the 35-mile radius “deconfliction” zone around a former Syrian army base that US special troops use to train their local allies. Syrian forces were aware that they were forbidden to enter that zone.

The real goal behind the attack lies in the reason the Syrian convoy risked penetrating the area. The Syrians and their allies were obviously trying to link up with pro-Iranian militias operating against ISIS around Mosul, the last and crumbling stronghold of ISIS in Iraq.  Syria and its Iranian patron reasoned that as ISIS was responsible for rupturing the Iranian-controlled Shiite crescent in 2014 when it captured Raqqa and Mosul and the vast space in between, the defeat of ISIS had to be a prelude to resurrecting the crescent.

President Trump obviously thought otherwise. Unlike his predecessor, who viewed Iran as part of the solution to lowering the flames in the Middle East, Trump sees Iran as very much part of the problem. That position that is in tandem with that of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Jordan (from where the F-15s might have taken off). All those states view Iran as the major threat by far to their national security.

There could be no better way to express the new American administration’s unity of purpose with its traditional Gulf allies than a military strike to show its commitment to containing the Iranian crescent threat. The timing of the strike was perfect – two days before the president and his entourage landed in Riyadh to sign multibillion-dollar armament deals between the US and Riyadh.

Iran clearly understood the strategic meaning of this otherwise minor military move. Fars, a leading Iranian news agency linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, announced that 3,000 fighters from Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese Shia militia, were being sent to the area “to prepare the Syrian army and its allies for thwarting the US plots in the region and establish security at the Palmyra-Baghdad road.”

The larger impact of the strike was also clear to Russia, the ally of Iran and Syria. Russia’s deputy foreign minister condemned the strike, calling on the US to stick to the original mandate of the multi-state coalition to defeat Sunni Islamic terrorism.

Above all, the strike and its vast regional implications demonstrate that the containment and, possibly, the ultimate defeat of ISIS are hardly likely to enhance the prospects of achieving peace in the area. To the contrary, the rollback of ISIS is only going to intensify the conflict between the various militias on the ground, as well as their national and international sponsors.

Only the promotion – or thwarting – of an Iran-dominated Shiite and heterodox arc, with all its implications for the regional and international balance of power, can catapult a small patch of desert devoid of any natural resources, known hitherto only to local geographers, into an international flashpoint. Commit to memory the name and location of al-Tanf. It is liable to haunt the wider Middle East for years to come.

CUNY invites the vulgar extremist Linda Sarsour to deliver the keynote address to its graduates

From The New English Review, 1 June 2017, by A.J. Caschetta:

vulgar extremist Linda Sarsour

In an era when saying the wrong thing, deemed offensive by someone, can end a career, social justice warriors always seem to get a pass. Few have received more than Linda Sarsour, a Muslim self-styled “feminist” who supports a political system that systematically represses women, celebrates child warriors on social media, and once tweeted of two ideological foes, “I wish I could take away their vaginas – they don’t deserve to be women.” 

The more Sarsour offends, the more she is celebrated. Barack Obama honored her as a Champion of Change. Today she will give the keynote address at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) School of Public Health graduation ceremony.

Sarsour’s endorsement of sharia law and leadership in the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement should have made her an unfit candidate to address graduates of any educational institution even if she weren’t a social media provocateur. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of the women whose vagina Sarsour wants to confiscate, calls her a “fake feminist.” Brigitte Gabriel, the other woman, calls Sarsour a “master manipulator” successfully swaying “the gullible women’s movement.”

Ariel Behar of IPT News wrote that Sarsour specializes in trying “to shut down those who cite her record of celebrating terrorists and advocating radical positions by calling the critics Islamophobes.” Sarsour is also a conspiracy theorist, endorsing, for instance, the bizarre view that failed “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was “a CIA agent.”

Sarsour’s defenders claim that her views stem from anger and “should come as no surprise for a Palestinian-American;” after all what she really opposes is “right-wing Zionism.” Sarsour has said that Zionists – including the vast majority of Jews – can’t be feminists. She didn’t say only “right-wing Zionists” can’t be feminists.

Why would the CUNY want to showcase someone who, as Daniel Pipes documents, has such a “long record of incompetence, extremism, vulgarity, and eccentricity”? 

Dov Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat in the New York Assembly, says “it’s just nuts. It makes no sense. It’s crazy to have this woman be the person who’s going to speak to the students.”   

In an effort to explain, CUNY Chancellor James B. Millikin released an April 26 statement saying that while the views Sarsour “reportedly” has on Israel are “anathema to the values of higher education,” forgoing a commencement speech by Sarsour “would conflict with the First Amendment and the principles of academic freedom.”

Much the same argument was made by five CUNY professors in a spirited but sophomoric defense of Sarsour’s right to speak at the academic blog InsideHigherEd. Two of the five, Meena Alexander and Rosalind Patchesky, are known for their anti-Israel activism.

But these arguments conflate and grossly misunderstand free speech and academic freedom.Which speakers a university, even a public one, invites to deliver commencement speeches is not a First Amendment issue. This is not a matter of deciding whether to allow this or that student demonstration or campus guest lecture to take place; it’s a formal endorsement, not of what the speaker says, but of the speaker’s qualifications and ability to inspire an audience. Of course Sarsour has a First Amendment right to her anti-Zionism and even to her anti-Semitism. But CUNY does not have a First Amendment obligation to honor her or provide a platform for her.

Academic freedom is another thing entirely. Sarsour is not a CUNY faculty member, or even an academic. Even if she were, her academic freedom would only be violated if Millikin tried to influence the content of her teaching.

Those who cite Columbia University’s hosting of a lecture by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a precedent are missing the point entirely. Having a morbid intellectual curiosity perform live for the benefit of scientific observation is one thing. Inviting one to give parting words of advice to your student body is another thing altogether.

If Millikin really found Sarsour’s support for BDS (no need for the qualifier “reportedly”) “anathema to the values of higher education,” as Chancellor, he could have easily overridden her selection. This is what likely happens all the time in nearly every academic institution when someone suggests a conservative speaker be invited.

The problem, most likely, is that Sarsour received far more faculty support than any conservative who ever made it past the first round of nominations at CUNY.

If university administrators want to wilt under pressure and allow this kind of spectacle to take place, they should at least find the courage not to cite the First Amendment and academic freedom as the reasons.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Ehud Barak: Blatantly Ignoring Danger

From BESA Center Perspectives No. 482, May 31, 2017, by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen:

Ehud Barak, photo by Remy Steinegger, image via World Economic Forum

Former PM Ehud Barak’s arguments in favor of withdrawal from Judea and Samaria undercut Israel’s security and are a departure from the Oslo Accords’ security vision. Israel would be wise to present President Trump with actual facts on this issue [yes to the Rabin outline as based on the principles of his last speech, and no to the Clinton-Barak plan].

US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel seems to have triggered a new campaign over the future of the Jewish people in the land of its forefathers, and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has joined the ranks of those whose hopes for Israeli concessions in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem have been rekindled.

In a piece published in Haaretz last week that sharply criticized author Micah Goodman’s book Catch 67: The Ideologies behind the Disagreements Tearing Israel Apart, Barak sought to weigh in on the question of whether Israel can properly defend itself in the event it withdraws from Judea and Samaria.

Barak’s answer was decisive: Israel’s refusal to separate from the Palestinians and withdraw to the 1967 lines – with certain exceptions for the big settlement blocs – is “a definite threat to the future of the Zionist project,” while the threats that may arise following a withdrawal are “military technical risks.” He was dismissive of the Right’s premise that such territorial concessions are potentially extremely dangerous, arguing that “Israel is the strongest country in the region militarily, strategically and economically and – if we craft our relations with the United States skillfully – also diplomatically.”

According to Barak, if Israel succeeds in navigating the moves it is expected to pursue, it would be able to deal with any military threat that may rear its head.

But history has proven that even superpowers can fail. One needs to look no further than the Russians and the Americans in Afghanistan.

Since the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Israel has a clear point of reference as to the nature of the potential threat a Palestinian state may constitute. By similar logic, one can argue that what happened in the Gaza Strip – i.e., the terrorist threat it poses to the border-adjacent communities – could happen in Judea and Samaria, only this time, it would be the majority of the cities in Israel’s center and coastal plain that would be targeted.

Barak and his supporters promise that the future Palestinian state will be demilitarized. It is worth exploring whether this objective is attainable and to what extent, especially in an age when global arms proliferation is available to the highest bidder, as seen by the unabated arms smuggling to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and given both groups’ increasing domestic weapons production capabilities.

The other approach, which Barak utterly dismisses as an unfounded right-wing view, argues that establishing and maintaining Palestinian demilitarization is essential if Israel is to maintain its ongoing security efforts and a thriving civilian presence throughout Judea and Samaria.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that rightists have a mixed set of ideologies, as Barak claims. That does not change the fact that the need for strategic depth on Israel’s narrow coastline was not the Right’s brainchild.

In his 1978 book And Now Tomorrow, then-Labor party leader Shimon Peres wrote,
“If a separate Palestinian state is established, it will be armed to the teeth. It will also have bases for the most extreme terrorist forces and they will be equipped with anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles that will endanger not only passersby but every plane and helicopter flying in Israel’s skies and every vehicle traveling on the main highways of the coastal plain. … The main problem is not agreeing on demilitarization, but upholding such an agreement in practice.”
Know thy place
Like many of those supporting the notion of withdrawal, Barak has based his arguments on the fact that many in the defense establishment share his views. While the numbers may be in his favor, what does it really mean? Galileo taught us that progress depends on open and critical scientific thinking. Arguing that one’s view is akin to scientific truth simply because it is the majority opinion belongs in a church or the rabbinical establishment. Neither Albert Einstein nor Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman had the support of the scientific community in the early days of their research.

We now have the opportunity to validate the expertise professed by these defense officials when they address strategic questions. Early in the 1948 War of Independence, during a situation assessment with the IDF’s General Staff, then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion stated that “we will adhere to the experts’ advice on the technical issues, but the experts will not have the final say on everything – that is up to the people’s representatives. It is not up to the experts to decide whether to wage war or not, and whether to defend the Negev or not.”

The same is true of the question of Israel’s future in Judea and Samaria. Experts are welcome to express their opinion, but one must remember that when it comes to this issue they are not politically impartial professionals, and unlike on technical matters, the experts are not familiar with the ins and outs of strategic issues.

In his Haaretz piece, Barak defends his support as prime minister in 2000 for a two-state solution as outlined by then-US President Bill Clinton.
But there is a fundamental difference between what Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agreed to in the 1993 Oslo Accords and the Clinton plan.

In his last Knesset speech, delivered on Oct. 5, 1995, Rabin underscored four guiding principles: 

  1. “We aspire to establish the State of Israel as a Jewish state with at least 80% of its population Jewish”; 
  2. “first and foremost, a united Jerusalem, including [the suburbs of] Maaleh Adumim and Givat Ze’ev, as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty”; 
  3. “for Israel’s security, the border will be drawn in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest interpretation of this term”; 
  4. touching on the Palestinian political entity that will be established alongside Israel, west of the Jordan River, “This entity will be less than a state and will independently manage the lives of the Palestinians under its rule.”

In contrast, Clinton’s plan, which both Barak and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to, leads to the division of Jerusalem and to Israel’s abandoning its broad hold on the Jordan Valley, which is a true departure from Rabin’s views that demanded the latter be interpreted in the broadest possible way.

In his pattern of binary thinking, Barak described Israel’s decision-making junctures as requiring the leadership to choose one of two paths: withdrawal from Judea and Samaria or deterioration into an apartheid state. But as the main articles of the Oslo Accords have been implemented, how can anyone seriously suggest that our continued control of another people is akin to apartheid? The completion of the Israeli withdrawal from areas A and B in Judea and Samaria in 1996 and the 2005 disengagement from Gaza are proof that our rule over another people has ended.

About 90% of the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria has been under the Palestinian Authority’s rule since the mid-1990s and Gaza’s population has been under Hamas rule since 2007. Therefore, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict currently focuses on the Jerusalem area and Area C in Judea and Samaria. Rabin argued that Israeli control in these areas – all the settlements, military bases, main highways, and the vital area leading to the Jordan Valley – was the minimum necessary to preserve defensible Israeli borders.

In view of Trump’s aspiration to “reach a deal” between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel would be wise to express a position that enjoys broad national consensus: yes to the Rabin outline as based on the principles of his last speech, and no to the Clinton-Barak plan.