Yair Lapid discusses the Arab and Muslim's genesis of hate. (See 1 below.)
I am now reading David Frum's: "Comeback" It is his prescription of how the Republican Party can wean its way back and away from GW's schizoid management. I use the word "schizoid" because, as Frum points out, GW announced policies that did not accord with his actions, ie. Axis of Evils would not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons and the list continues.
Frum wrote i"Comeback" in order to lay out a program that takes the Republican Party away from the Reagan Era, reshapes its message so it can regain its political footing. He begins with a discussion of demographic trends that are unfavorable for Republicans and then states Republicans must address current voter concerns and move away from past issues which have either been addressed and or resolved or which no longer rate high on the concern list. They must cease defending the indefensible. Frum then argues Republicans must offer effective solutions to these concerns and in convincing ways.
In the matter of education, Frum points out, voters seemingly favor Democrats because they have been convinced more money must be thrown at the problem. In fact, Democrat allegiance to unions and the resulting lack of lack of competitiveness, backed by a slew of statistics support the regressiveness of Democrat solutions which,in fact, do great harm to the very underclass Democrats profess they want to help.
The same is true with respect to health care. Frum believes Democrats want eventually for the government to run health care and he again cites statistics comparing our system versus that in France, Germany, Britain and Canada leaving no doubt that ours is better. However,health care costs are skyrocketing for a variety of reasons, many of which are government and state induced. Furthermore, he demonstrates that while wages of workers have increased, health care costs have eaten more.
Price controls do not work and government monopolies bear hidden costs and result in both poorer delivery and inferior health care. Open competition and moving away from a distorted system is the only solution and Republicans should be foursquare in proposing these type of solutions. Many states mandate everyone have car insurance and the same should go for health insurance purchased from the private sector under competitive conditions.
Frum de-myths Democrat buzz words such as managed health care calling it what it really is - government health monopoly.
What is ironic is every time government intrudes it historically fails or makes the problem worse and yet most liberals offer more of the same as the way out of the problem. I repeat what Phil Gramm always said: "When going in the wrong direction increasing the speed is not the solution."
I still believe if either Clinton or Obama become president the nation, after four years, will be ready to re-embrace Republicans regardless of anything Frum might prescribe.
The situation then could become solutions to problems that will have become even more intractable by having been made worse.
Our possible next Commander in Chief needs a good bit of OJT regarding military matters. (See 2 below.)
Iran gets slapped with more sanctions made out of pasta. But then read 4 which is in accord with what I have been posting. GW's boastful words will prove empty once again and Iran will be allowed to retain its nuclear status for a promise as empty as N Korea's. (See 3 and 4 below.)
Has Obama gone off the charts in suggesting American Arab families are being rounded up and threatened? (See 5 below.)
Olmert pays off Rice and remains confused. Foreign opinions on what Israel should do vary from protecting itself but not reacting precipitously to negotiate with Hamas. Meanwhile,Olmert and company remain as deer in front of car headlights. (See 6 below.)
Rice arrives and spreads the word. (See 7 below.)
Caroline Glick sees Olmert as I do - Sound and Fury Equals Incompetence. (See 8 below.)
1) The Mystery of Hate
by Yair Lapid
Hundreds of years of fighting, six and a half wars, billions of
dollars gone with the wind, tens of thousands of victims, not including
the boy who laid down next to me on the rocky beach of lake Karon in
1982 and we both watched his guts spilling out. The helicopter took him
and until this day I do not know whether he is dead or survived. All
this, and one cannot figure it out.
And its not only what happened but all that did not happen -
hospitals that were never built, universities that were never opened,
roads that were never paved, the three years that were taken from
millions of teenagers for the sake of the army. And despite all the
above, we still do not have the beginning of a clue to the mystery of
where it all started:
Why do they hate us so much?
I am not talking about the Palestinians this time. Their dispute with
us is intimate, focused, and it has a direct effect on their lives.
Without getting into the "which side is right" question, it is obvious
that they have very personal reasons not to stand our presence here. We
all know that eventually this is how it will be solved: in a personal
way, between them and us, with blood sweat and tears that will stain
the pages of the agreement. Until then, it is a war that could at least
be understood, even if no sane person is willing to accept the means
that are used to run it by.
It is the others. Those I cannot understand. Why does Hassan
Nasralla, along with tens of thousands of his supporters, dedicate his
life, his visible talents, his country's destiny, to fight a country he
has never even seen, people he has never really met and an army that he
has no reason to fight?
Why do children in Iran, who can not even locate Israel on the map (especially because it is so small), burn its flag in the city center
and offer to commit suicide for its elimination? Why do Egyptian and
Jordanian intellectuals agitate the innocent and helpless against the
peace agreements, even though they know that their failure will push
their countries 20 years back? Why are the Syrians willing to stay a
pathetic and depressed third world country, for the dubious right to
finance terror organizations that will eventually threaten their own
country's existence? Why do they hate us so much in Saudi-Arabia? In
Iraq? In Sudan? What have we done to them? How are we even relevant to
their lives? What do they know about us? Why do they hate us so much in
Afghanistan? They don't have anything to eat there, where do they get
the energy to hate?
This question has so many answers and yet it is a mystery. It is true
that it is a religious matter but even religious people make their
choices. The Koran (along with the Shariaa - the Muslim parallel to the
Jewish Halacha) consists of thousands of laws, why is it that we occupy
them so much?
There are so many countries who gave them much better reasons to be
angry. We did not start the crusades, we did not rule them during the
colonial period, we never tried to convert them. The Mongolians, the
Seljuk, the Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Ottomans, the
British, they all conquered, ruined and plundered the whole region. We
did not even try, so how come we are the enemy?
And if it is identification with their Palestinians brothers then
where are the Saudi Arabian tractors building up the territories that
were evacuated? What happened to the Indonesian delegation building a
school in Gaza strip? Where are the Kuwaiti doctors with their modern
surgical equipment? There are so many ways to love your brothers, why
do they all prefer to help their brothers with hating?
Is it something that we do? Fifteen hundreds years of anti-Semitism
taught us - in the most painful way possible - that there is something
about us that irritates the world. So, we did the thing everyone
wanted: we got up and left. We have established our own tiny little
country, where we can irritate ourselves without interrupting others.
We didn't even ask a lot for it. Israel is spread on a smaller
territory than 1% of the territory of Saudi-Arabia, with no oil, no
minerals, without settling on another existing state's territory. Most
of the cities that were bombed this week were not plundered from
anyone. Nahariya, Afula, and Karmiel did not even exist until we
established them. The other katyusas landed on territories over which
no one ever questioned our right with regards to them. In Haifa there
were Jews already in the 3rd century BC and Tiberias was the place
where the last Sanhedrin sat, so no one can claim we plundered them
However, the hatred continues. As if no other destiny is possible.
Active hatred, poisoned, unstoppable. Last Saturday the president of
Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called again "to act for the vanishing of
Israel"' as if we were bacteria. We got used to it so much that we
don't even ask why.
Israel does not hope and never did for Iran to vanish. As long as
they wanted, we had diplomatic relations with them. We do not have a
common border with them or even any bad memories. And still, they are
willing to confront the whole western world, to risk a commercial
boycott, to hurt their own quality of life, to crush what's left of
their economy and all that for the right to passionately hate us.
I am trying to remember and cannot: have we ever done something to
them? When? How? Why did he say in his speech that "Israel is the main
problem of the Muslim world"? more than a billion people living in the
Muslim world, most of them in horrible conditions. They suffer from
hunger, poverty, ignorance, bloodshed that spreads from Kashmir to
Kurdistan, from dying Darfur to injured Bangladesh. How come we are the
main problem? How exactly are we in their way?
I refuse to accept the argument that claims "that is just the way
they are". They said it about us so many times that we have learned to
accept this - expression. There must be another reason, some dark secret
that because of it, the citizens of South Lebanon allow to rouse the
quiet border, to kidnap the soldiers of an army that has already
retreated from their territory, to turn their country into a wasteland
exactly at the time they finally escaped twenty years of disasters.
We got used to telling ourselves worn expressions - "it's the Iranian
influence", or "Syria is stirring behind the scenes" - but it is just
too easy explanation. Because what about them?
What about their thoughts?
What about their hopes, loves, ambitions and their dreams?
What about their children?
When they send their children to die, does it seem enough for them to
say that it was all worth while just because they hate us so much?
2) Obama's Curious Tale
By Jack Kelly
"I've heard from an Army captain who was head of a rifle platoon -- supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon," Sen. Barack Obama said during his debate with Hillary Clinton Thursday night. "Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq.
"And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier for them to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief."
The comment raised eyebrows among veterans.
Rifle platoons are not commanded by a captain. They are commanded by a lieutenant, usually a second lieutenant.
The heart of Sen. Obama's charge is that the captain's platoon was cannibalized in order to send soldiers to Iraq. The Army does have a program called "cross leveling" where soldiers from units which are not deploying are sent to units which are to bring them up to full strength. But the Army emphatically denies taking soldiers from units which are scheduled to deploy to a combat zone to give them to other units. This would be insane.
"As a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough humvees..."
This is a weird non-sequitur. There is no reason why a shortage of personnel, if it existed, would translate into a shortage of ammunition, or of vehicles.
Soldiers on a mission carry a basic load of ammunition, typically seven magazines (210 rounds). It's possible to burn through this quite rapidly in a firefight, especially if the soldier lacks fire discipline. Soldiers can run low on ammo until they are resupplied, typically by helicopter, but this has nothing to do with the adequacy of ammunition stocks in theater. There has never been a shortage of ammunition in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
"They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief."
The basic Taliban weapon is the venerable AK-47. Many of our soldiers and Marines prefer it to the M-16 because it is less likely to jam, and has more range and stopping power. A soldier who has run out of ammunition for his weapon in a firefight eagerly would pick up an AK-47 if one were close to hand. But this would be just a temporary expedient. For one thing, it's against the law for conventional U.S. soldiers to carry enemy weapons. More practically, a soldier using the AK-47 as his basic weapon would have serious ammunition resupply problems. The AK-47 and the M-16 are of different calibers. (I doubt Barack Obama knows this.) Our cartridges don't fit into their guns, and their cartridges don't fit into ours. The basic load of ammo a Taliban guerrilla carries is less than what our soldiers carry, both because the AK's 7.62 mm round is heavier and bulkier than the M-16's 5.56 mm round, and because al Qaida is stingier with ammo than we are. The ammunition taken off the dead body of a Taliban guerrilla wouldn't last long.
Units don't deploy to Afghanistan with their organic vehicles. Afghanistan is 8,000 miles from the U.S., in a mountainous region far from seaports. It's hard to ship stuff there. So unnecessary stuff isn't shipped. Units arriving in theater fall in on the equipment that was being used by the units they are replacing.
Even though he's a member of Congress, Sen. Obama seems to be unaware that it is Congress, not the president, which funds the military. If Sen. Obama thinks the military is inadequately supplied, he should take it up with his Democratic colleagues, who routinely cut the president's defense budget requests.
ABC's Jake Tapper tracked down Sen. Obama's captain, who was a lieutenant in the summer of 2003 when his unit was sent to Afghanistan. His unit was understrength (though it was reinforced a couple of months after its arrival in theater). But the captain complained of a shortage of ammo for his heavy machine guns and grenade launchers while training at Fort Drum before deployment, not in Afghanistan. This is a rather different story from the one Sen. Obama told, and a fishy one, because infantry platoons in the 10th Mountain Division are not normally assigned heavy machine guns or Mark 19 grenade launchers.
Sen. Obama should restrict himself to talking about "hope" and "change." Whenever he stumbles into matters of substance, he demonstrates his unfitness for the job he seeks.
3)The UN Security Council imposes third round of sanctions on Iran
Iran is let off lightly
The motion, passed almost unanimously Monday, March 3, for the first time bans trade with Iran in goods with both civilian and military uses because of its refusal to shelve uranium enrichment. It was carried by 14 council members to nil, with Indonesia abstaining.
Iranian sources report the new sanctions are less painful than they sound because Tehran anticipated them well in advance.
They include freezing the assets of about a dozen companies and a dozen individuals with links to Iran's nuclear or ballistic missile programs. Countries are required to "exercise vigilance" and report the travel or transit of those individuals and a travel ban is imposed on several individuals linked to Iran's nuclear effort. All countries must exercise vigilance in entering into new trade commitments with Iran, and authorize inspections of shipments to and from Iran by sea and air that are suspected of carrying prohibited goods.
The State Bank Melli and Bank Saderat are subjected to financial monitoring over suspected links to proliferation activities.
Our Iranian sources point out that the Iranian individuals subject to travel bans have long cut their ties with the West and move around the Persian Gulf and Asia freely under aliases. The two banks have survived existing UN and US sanctions by circumventing the banking systems monitored by Washington.
If anything, Tehran took a sigh of relief Monday for three reasons:
1. This round of sanctions is the Bush administration’s parting shot against Iran before bowing out of office. It marks the dramatic reduction in the penalties faced by Iran since 2007 when a US military option was still on the table.
2. The sanctions are not powerful enough to halt any of Iran’s nuclear and missile projects.
3. Very few Security Council resolutions are ever fully or even partially implemented. This latest round will be no different.
4) Ahmadinejad in Baghdad’s Green Zone
During his 2-day visit to Baghdad, March 2-3, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Iraqi hosts did a good job of ignoring the ubiquitous US military presence in Iraq - except for the Iranian president’s ritual anti-American blast. His welcome by Iraqi president, the Kurdish Jalal Talabani, and Shiite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki was played up as a bilateral event. Contact between the visitors’ retinue and the US military was nil.
Yet in Tehran, Iranian sources report, the president’s excursion into US-occupied territory was counted as a step forward in its seven-month old secret Saudi-mediated dialogue with Washington.
This dialogue has advanced in give-and-take steps on a broad set of issues.
The most prominent is Iran’s nuclear program. The third round of UN Security Council sanctions imposed Monday, March 3, banning trade with Iran did not really bother Tehran. The penalties were predicted and anticipated. Iran’s rulers can live with a motion which they see as the Bush administration’s parting shot in the dispute over the uranium enrichment issue. Not surprisingly Israel was not satisfied.
But mostly they are looking ahead to the next US president and their objective is clear: the cementing of the incumbent White House position on the North Korean nuclear weapons status as a convention which its next tenant will apply to Iran. This in rough terms means accepting a Tehran guarantee to freeze its uranium enrichment process, its nuclear bomb program and nuclear-capable ballistic missile project, without demanding their dismantlement.
This outline would be deemed in Tehran a positive basis for a nuclear deal with Washington. Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hinted broadly at its acceptability when he chose Feb. 26, the day the New York Philharmonic Orchestra played in Pyongyang, for some pointed nuclear remarks.
What does the Bush administration expect from Tehran?
According to our Washington sources, George W. Bush is keen to hand his successor a relatively stable Iraq where the violence spiral sustains its downward curve. The US president accordingly stopped direct US military action against pro-Iranian Shiite “special groups,” in the expectation that Tehran will use its influence to keep Iraq on a relatively even keel for the remainder of his term in office.
The quid pro quo runs like this: Tehran is bidding for an understanding with Washington on its nuclear program, while the US is after Iran’s help to preserve the status quo in Iraq.
Iran has two powerful resources for delivering the goods:
1. An extensive clandestine intelligence and military infrastructure across Iraq that will obey Tehran’s orders to pull in its horns.
2. Tehran’s hand on the spigot of the flow of weapons, money and extra-powerful roadside bombs to the different anti-US insurgent groups.
Military sources in Iraq report that this flow has been slowed at times but never allowed to dry up. Up until the fall of 2007, pro-Iranian groups received a sufficiency of war materiel to mount attacks on US forces. Today, it is down to a trickle, just enough for the Revolutionary Guards to keep their hand in with those militias.
The third key issue dominating the US-Iranian dialogue is southern Iraq and its oil. This is also pivotal for Iran’s bilateral relations with Iraq.
Ahmadinejad’s hosts in Baghdad have to live with the realization that their guest has more clout with the Shiites of southern Iraq than the Maliki government.
Tehran’s dominance of southern Iraq has three focii:
The shrine-cities of Karbala and Najef and the oil port of Basra. Iran and the radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr at the head of his Mehdi Army militia divide control of these three cities between them.
If the central government wants any say in southern Iraq, it must stay on good terms with both its rival masters.
During his last visit to Tehran at the end of last year, prime minister al-Maliki signed an agreement to lay a pipeline taking Iraqi oil to Iranian refineries in Abadan. This was a bid to link southern Iraq’s oil to the Iranian oil fields and installations on the eastern bank of the Shatt al-Arb opposite Basra. The Americans, who control and defend the southern oil fields, let the agreement go through, although they are in competition against Iran in Central Asia and Turkey. The Bush administration is reconciled to including southern Iraq and its oil fields in the overall package of Iraq understandings with Tehran.
This package the White House is willing to hand over to the next president as long as the status quo is preserved in that part of Iraq too.
5) Obama: Arab-American Families Being Rounded Up?
By Lance Fairchok
"If there is an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney, it threatens my civil liberties. It is that fundamental belief, I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper, it is that fundamental belief that makes this country work."
- Senator Barack Obama
In a televised twelve-second campaign spot aired in Texas, Senator Obama gives a stirring speech to a standing ovation. It is the predictable litany of American faults he will miraculously correct: literacy, expensive prescription drugs and insufficient civil liberties. However, he seems particularly concerned for Arab-Americans. "If there is an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney, it threatens my civil liberties."
This was an astonishing statement, an infuriating statement and a statement that speaks volumes to Obama's ideology.
Arab-American families being rounded up would not only threaten all our civil liberties, it would raise such a universal outcry, it could not long endure. Even the suggestion it could occur is a profound insult to our nation and our citizenry. It is an image of the gulag, the death camp, the dictatorship, and so inappropriate in any discussion about America, it is beneath our contempt.
Perhaps the Senator is carried away by his remarkable political ascendancy and so emboldened by the lack of critical comment in the press, he believes he can say anything. Perhaps he believes he has so mesmerized us with his oratory that we will not catch the inference of his words. Perhaps he really believes that we are that kind of country, that our people do not cherish civil liberty sufficiently to defend it for all citizens.
This despicable image of innocent families imprisoned and the ethnic cleansing it suggests is a theme the radical left nurtures. It is by design intended to portray an unjust and intolerant people, it was no error, no misstatement. It elicits moral outrage with false assumptions, endlessly repeating those assumptions until believed. It is behind the exaggeration of everything the U.S. does in the war on terror or against Islamic extremism. It is behind the hysteria over the Patriot Act.
As divorced from truth as it is, it is found everywhere in the propaganda of the left, from the Bush-Hitler signs, to the fabrications of American military wrongdoing in the press, to the invented Islamophobia in our populace. It is the motivation behind Michael Moore, Code Pink, MoveOn.Org and George Soros. It is unfortunately the message the media aids and abets.
This moral contrariness gives us American "progressives" embracing dictators and terrorists such as Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Iran's Ahmedinejhad and Syria's Bashar al Assad. It finds equivalence between defending America and Al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorism. It believes malevolent evil can actually be stopped with dialogue and compromise. It gravitates to a miserable "better red than dead" nihilism that allows no pride or faith in America. It excuses our enemies and indicts everything American. It is the impenitent legacy of the Carter and Clinton administrations. It is illogical and irrational and a road to failure and catastrophe.
"I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper, it is that fundamental belief that makes this country work." Yet, he also says that our country does not work, that we need change. Even as he wraps this contradiction in biblical allusion and positive words like "Hope" and "Change We Can Believe In" his underlying belief system surfaces in clues overlooked by his handlers.
The bleak fantasy of Arab-American families interred for being Arabs and, of course, for being Muslim is very plausible to the radicals that help write his speeches. Senator Obama holds a wretched America in his heart, a country he has no pride in nor wishes to preserve. If his vision starts from failure, where will it end? There is no truth in his words, just as there is no substance. One may speak well, but still speak lies. An Obama presidency would be a disaster.
6) Instead of acting to defeat Hamas, the Olmert team had apparently opted to unwittingly turn the IDF into the "red team" in military training exercises for Hamas.
The Olmert team appears to remain clueless regarding concrete specific
actions it would like the Egyptians to carry out (for example, bulldoze a
sterile zone of several kilometers deep on the Gaza-Egypt border) and
instead waits for someone else to come up with ideas for Israel to react
The Palestinian Authority is expecting US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice to provide it with a "face-saving device" that will allow it to return
to negotiations with Israel, according to assessments in Jerusalem on the
eve of Rice's visit.
Rice is scheduled to arrive at noon Tuesday, after spending some five hours
in Egypt. The prevalent feeling in Jerusalem is that despite the recent
flare-up in Gaza, her discussions in Cairo will focus on securing an
agreement between Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas regarding the
border situation. Such an agreement, according to this assessment, would be
the incentive to get the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating
PA President Mahmoud Abbas suspended talks with Israel on Sunday because of
the fighting in the Gaza Strip.
According to official assessments in Jerusalem, the PA does not want to call
off the negotiations, if for no other reason than continuing talks is the
only card it holds.
"Without the negotiations, the Palestinian Authority doesn't have anything,"
one senior government official said. "The fact is that the international
community pledged billions of dollars to them in Paris because of [the PA's]
commitment to Annapolis and negotiations. If they stop the negotiations,
they will lose that international support, and without that, they have
nothing - they don't have Gaza, and they barely have control of the West
According to this official, the IDF's surprise pullout from Gaza on Monday
was timed to coincide with Rice's visit, in order to give her an opportunity
to try to work out some kind of border agreement.
When Rice's visit was first planned several weeks ago, it was expected to
focus on two main issues: coming up with some kind of security regimen on
the Gaza-Egypt border following the breach there in January, and pushing the
diplomatic process with the Palestinians forward.
The intensified fighting in Gaza, however, threatened to change the focus of
her talks completely.
"The fact that we stopped the military action allows her to go back to the
original aims, to address an agreement on Rafah," the official said.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, at a meeting with the foreign diplomatic corps
in Jerusalem Monday, stressed that the IDF leaving Gaza Monday morning did
not mean that Israel's actions there were over.
Indeed, Livni - who also met Monday with visiting EU foreign policy chief
Javier Solana - indicated that the military operation's goals were not only
to stop the rocket fire, but - even more importantly - to halt Hamas's arms
buildup and weaken its hold on Gaza.
Livni said that any decision the government took on how to deal with Gaza
would be based on the following objectives: providing security for Israeli
citizens, harming Hamas militarily, and hurting the organization
"Those who control Gaza are responsible for what happens there. We will not
play by their rules, we will change the game whereby they decide when to
attack, when to stop and for how long... We will decide when to stop our
actions. That the soldiers left Gaza today... is not the end of our activity
terror in Gaza, which will continue," she said.
The security cabinet is expected to meet Wednesday and discuss the army's
overall objectives in the Strip.
"We need to attack [Hamas's] infrastructure, the places where weapons are
made and the terrorists themselves. But that's not enough. Anyone who wants
to solve the terrorist problem from Gaza needs to prevent Hamas's buildup,"
Livni alluded to the fact that the results of Israel's actions in Gaza would
have wider ramifications, echoing the position of Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin,
head of military intelligence, who said at Sunday's cabinet meeting that
Iran, Syria and Hizbullah were carefully watching the situation in Gaza.
"No one has an interest in Hamas's success expect for Iran, Syria and
Hizbullah," Livni said. "Its success is not a matter of reality, but also
one of perception."
Livni added that the regional players could not accept a spin of a Hamas
victory - not Abbas, not Israel, and not the moderate Arab states.
In Washington, meanwhile, a State Department official said the US "wants to
see negotiations resume, and we believe it's important that the parties
continue to try to work through the Annapolis process to achieve the results
that they've committed themselves to."
The official said Rice would be making it clear that Hamas must stop the
rocket attacks, which hurt the Palestinian people as well as Israelis.
Earlier Monday, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the US would use
the visit to stress the decision that is now facing the Palestinians.
"We have a clear message: The Palestinian people have a choice to make. It's
a choice between terrorism, or a choice between a political solution that
leads to a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with
Israel," he said.
He also had harsh words for Hamas, whom he blamed for the fighting. "The
number one thing that has to happen is that Hamas has got to stop targeting
Israeli citizens with rockets," he said.
When asked if Israel's response to the Gaza rocket fire had been
disproportionate in the eyes of the US, Johndroe responded, "We obviously
don't want any innocent civilians to lose their lives, but I think that
started with these rockets that have been fired from Gaza into Israel,
recently killing and injuring Israeli citizens in some of their bigger
He described the situation as being "escalated" by Hamas to "firing larger
rockets longer-range and killing people. That's got to stop," he aid.
Livni, meanwhile, said before her meeting with Solana that "these were not
easy days for Israeli citizens. Israel is in the midst of a struggle against
terrorism and will continue in this war against terror."
The foreign minister said that Israel expected the international community
to support its war against terror and "show determination" in delegitimizing
terrorist organizations, first and foremost - Hamas.
Livni's comments came even as Italy's foreign minister called on Israel to
negotiate with Hamas to bring about a cease-fire.
7) Rice arrives in Israel in bid to renew peace talks
By Barak Ravid
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Israel on Tuesday after saying she hoped to salvage peace talks that Palestinians suspended in protest of an Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip.
Rice said Hamas is trying to wreck chances for the peace process, after holding talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo on a stopover before heading to Israel that aimed to calm Arab ire over the operation.
Israel launched an offensive into the Gaza Strip to stop rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups on nearby Israeli cities, but the assault prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to suspend negotiations.
"There has to be an active peace process that can withstand the efforts of rejectionists to keep peace from being made, the people who are firing rockets do not want peace," Rice told reporters in Cairo. "They sow instability, that is what Hamas is doing."
"Hamas is doing what might be expected, which is using rocket attacks on Israel to arrest a peace process in which they have nothing to gain," Rice said.
"Negotiations ought to resume as soon as possible," she said, adding that any lengthy suspension of talks handed victory to Hamas, which seized control of Gaza last June and whose stepped up rocket attacks into Israel preceded the latest offensive.
Rice's first meeting in Cairo was with Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, followed by talks with President Hosni Mubarak.
Experts say Rice faces an uphill battle to revive the peace talks -launched to much fanfare last November, in Annapolis, Maryland with the goal of getting a Palestinian statehood deal before the Bush administration's term ends in January 2009.
"I continue to believe that they can get to a deal by the end of the year if everybody has got the will to do it," said Rice, adding implementation of a deal would take a lot longer.
She dismissed sceptics who have predicted the Annapolis process will fail without including Hamas and that U.S. attempts to isolate Gaza will ultimately backfire.
"It is going to have its ups and downs. There will be good days and bad days and even good weeks and bad weeks. I am going to talk to the parties about staying focused on what needs to be done here," she said.
Rice added the stop in Egypt to her itinerary only in the past few days. Government sources said Rice would be discussing the border during her visits to Egypt, Israel and the PA.
In her talks with Israeli leaders, Rice is expected once again to raise Egypt's request to increase the number of its soldiers on the border by 750.
Rice is also expected to seek Israel's response to the plan to reopen the Rafah crossing into Egypt, and to Fayyad's plan to transfer control of the crossings between Gaza and Israel to the PA.
Olmert to tell Rice: Israel wants to renew talks
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was set to tell Rice on Tuesday that Israel wants to renew talks with the PA quickly.
Rice, who is due to arrive in Israel on Tuesday afternoon, will head directly for Ramallah for talks with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. She will later dine in Jerusalem with Olmert. Rice will meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Tuesday.
Rice's visit had been planned to gauge progress on the peace process after President George W. Bush's recent visit to the region. But in light of events in the Gaza Strip, Rice is expected to work toward getting the talks back on track.
Olmert, who is said to have been disappointed in the PA announcement on the suspension of negotiations, will reportedly ask Rice to urge the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who visited Israel
Monday, proposed that the Israelis open a dialogue with Egypt and the PA as soon as possible toward clinching a "package deal" on Gaza.
He said an overall agreement of this type could include new security arrangements on the Philadelphi route, the reopening of the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, a solution to the matter of the Israel-Gaza crossings and an attempt to reach a cease-fire with Hamas through Egyptian mediation.
Solana also said that such a dialogue should not be conducted in a way that would be "an achievement for Hamas."
In light of recent calls by some European countries to immediately open the Gaza Strip crossings, Livni told Solana that Europe should not take any action that could be construed as a victory for Hamas. Livni gave a briefing to foreign ambassadors on Monday, telling them that when talking about "collective punishment" it should be remembered that Sderot and Ashkelon are also experiencing collective punishment.
8) Sound and fury signifying incompetence
By Caroline B. Glick
On Sunday, Palestinian terror forces maintained their rocket and missile offensive against Israel, shooting 40 rockets, including upgraded Katyusha missiles at Sderot, Ashkelon, Netivot and surrounding areas. Whereas in 2005, 25,000 Israelis lived within Palestinian rocket and missile range from Gaza, the past week has shown that the number has expanded at least tenfold since then. Monday morning, the limited IDF ground component that was deployed in Gaza on Saturday abruptly suspended operations and pulled out. The pullout came just hours after senior IDF officials announced that the forces in Gaza were about to be augmented by additional forces and Defense Minister Ehud Barak told senior military commanders, "The time has come for action. Hamas is responsible and will pay a price."
IT IS obvious that in suspending Operation "Hot Winter" in Gaza, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government essentially crumpled in the face of pressure from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush. Sunday night the White House issued a press release demanding that Israel end its operations in Gaza and return to the negotiating table with Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas.
FOR THEIR part, Abbas and his Fatah underlings have been outspoken in their support for Hamas's missile and rocket offensive against Israel. Sunday they organized joint Fatah-Hamas rallies in Hebron and Ramallah where rioters called for Israel's destruction, burned Israeli and American flags and then attacked IDF patrols and the security fence.
Truth be told, the US may have done Israel a favor preventing the escalation of operations. This is not because an offensive against Hamas's Iranian built war machine in Gaza is not vital. This is so because Operation "Hot Winter" was bereft of operational logic. Its strategic ends were unclear and, to the extent they were enunciated at all by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Barak, they bore no connection to the operations on the ground which were so limited in scope that they were incapable of achieving any long-term objective.
In one form or another, Olmert, Livni and Barak all said that the goal of Operation Hot Winter was to end the Palestinians' missile and rocket campaign against the Western Negev generally and against Ashkelon in particular. They intimated as well that the strategic objective of the campaign was to overthrow the Hamas regime in Gaza, and reinstall a Fatah government. Beyond that they said that they sought to kill or capture Hamas's leadership.
But the Olmert-Livni-Barak government gave the IDF insufficient tools to achieve these grandiose plans. They only allowed the IDF to deploy one infantry brigade and two partial tank battalions. They refused to expand the operation to a divisional sized force, which would still have been too small to achieve any significant or long-lasting results. The limited geographical scope of the IDF operation - in a 2-3 kilometer zone in northern Gaza - had no impact of Hamas's ability to continue to shoot off rockets and missiles whose ranges run from 5-25 kilometers. In short, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government enunciated operational and strategic objectives that it clearly had no intention of achieving.
TODAY THE Gaza Strip is a terror state run by an Iranian proxy. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in September 2005, Hamas and its terror partners in Fatah and Islamic Jihad have built terror armies along the model of Hizbullah. Hamas forces have received training in Iran, Syria and Lebanon. They have built up formidable arsenals of Katyusha and Kassam rockets as well as anti-tank missiles. And, according to Fatah and other sources, they have been augmented not only by Iranian, Syrian and Hizbullah operatives. Al-Qaida has also built up a presence in the area.
This combined force successfully overwhelmed Egyptian forces along Gaza's border with Egypt in January. Its current capacity has rendered extensive portions of southern Israel exposed to missile and mortar attacks. And unless it is routed militarily, its capabilities will only grow.
Israel has limited options to contend with the present and growing threat. For the Olmert-Livni-Barak government, the easiest solution would be to have someone else fight Hamas and its allies for Israel. But no such proxy force exists. Both the Americans and the Olmert-Livni-Barak government operate under the assumption that Fatah is a reasonable proxy. But experience has shown that this is not the case. From September 2005 when Israel withdrew its forces until June 2007 when Hamas ousted Fatah from power, Abbas and his US-trained forces did nothing to curb Hamas's growing power or limit Iran's growing control over Hamas. Confronted by Hamas forces last June, Fatah forces cut and ran rather than fight and those who remained were largely integrated into Hamas's burgeoning army. Since June, Fatah has shown no willingness to confront Hamas. And over the past week of Hamas's escalated missile offensive, Fatah stood foursquare with Hamas against Israel.
THEN TOO, the notion that an international force could be deployed in Gaza to protect Israel from the growing terror army at its doorstep similarly lacks credibility. At no time has any international force - whatever its composition - ever been interested or capable of defending Israel against Arab terror or military offensives - whether from Gaza, from Lebanon or indeed from Egypt or Syria. And there is no reason to believe that this historic state of affairs will change significantly in the future.
In the absence of proxies, Israel has two options going forward. First, it can incapacitate Hamas and second it can try to deter Hamas. To incapacitate Hamas, Israel must launch an operation aimed at cutting off Hamas's logisitical supply lines through the border with Egypt. It must fight Hamas forces on the ground with the aim of defeating them, and it must kill or capture Hamas's senior and mid-level leadership. Given that like Hizbullah, Hamas and its state-sponsors will seek to regenerate any diminished capacities by rearming and promoting new leaders, these operations must be continuous. Consequently, to incapacitate Hamas, and so secure southern Israel, Israel requires a continuous military presence in the Gaza Strip.
The Olmert-Livni-Barak government has repeatedly rejected the redeployment of IDF forces to Gaza for any significant length of time. But they have never been called on to explain why the current state of affairs, in which an Iranian-proxy army with al-Qaida components is permitted to grow in close proximity to its civilian centers is preferable to such a long-term military presence in Gaza.
AS TO deterrence, it is unclear that it is possible to embrace deterrence as a strategy without first establishing a continuous military presence in Gaza. To succeed, deterrence must be based upon a credible threat to exact a cost for aggression that Hamas is unwilling to pay. In sending its leadership to ground while encouraging Gazans to confront IDF forces and "martyr" themselves, Hamas made clear that it views the sacrifice of its leadership as an unacceptable cost for its aggression. And yet, without forces on the ground in Gaza, the IDF lacks the intelligence necessary to conduct a wide-scale and successful assault on Hamas's leaders. So today, Israel lacks the capacity to base its operations in Gaza on a deterrence model.
There is an additional option which the government seems interested in adopting which is to conduct a new offensive every so often, when attacks foment a public outcry for action. It is far from clear though that this option is less costly either militarily or politically than maintaining a continuous presence in Gaza. Given Hamas's continuously expanding capabilities, each such operation will exact a large cost in the lives of IDF soldiers who will be required to repeatedly fight their way into Gaza. Moreover, each time Israel returns to Gaza it faces renewed international condemnation for taking action. A continuous presence in Gaza would not incur such costs. Both Rice and the Olmert-Livni-Barak government argue that a renewed military presence in Gaza is a poor option because it would render negotiations towards the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza, Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem non-viable. But then, if those negotiations were successful, they would lead to the imposition of a Fatah-Hamas terror state which would not only not protect southern Israel from missile and rocket attack, it would expose central Israel to similar aggression.
It is unclear then, why the strategic aim they seek to achieve would leave Israel better off than an operation aimed at incapacitating Palestinian-Iranian terror forces and safeguarding Israeli territory from attack.
OTHER VOICES argue that a continuous Israeli presence along the Gaza-Egypt border would make it impossible for Israel to completely disengage from Gaza by enabling the Palestinians to link up with Egypt instead of Israel for electricity and other supplies. Israel, they claim, would still be perceived as responsible for Gaza and for the welfare of its Hamas-supporting population. These voices fail to ask a simple question: In whose eyes would Israel be considered responsible for Gaza's population?
The issue of Israel's responsibility under international law for the welfare of Gazans is an open one. Israel is not obligated to advance the aims of the Palestinians by accepting such responsibility. Beyond that, whether foreign governments perceive Israel as responsible for Gaza is not something that Israel can determine. The most it can do is seek to divest others of such a perception by explaining why it is not responsible for the welfare of Gaza's population.
By sending insufficient forces willy-nilly into Gaza over the weekend while conducting aerial bombings of empty buildings, Olmert, Livni and Barak showed that they have learned none of the lessons of the Second Lebanon War. Indeed, Barak showed that he has learned nothing from his experience as prime minister at the start of the Palestinian terror war in September 2000, when he responded to the lynching of Israeli reservists in Ramallah by bombing empty buildings and making empty threats to Yasser Arafat while begging him to take the Temple Mount.
How long will this unacceptable state of affairs be allowed to continue?