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Malkin on Obamacare Waiver and there is no free lunch and eventually fewer doctors. (See 1 and 1a below.)
Blockheads and block votes. (See 2 below.)
The U.N's High Commissioner for Human Rights has lost his voice. What's new? (See 3 below.)
Stratfor's analysis of Hamas and why it is prepared to bring war upon itself in Gaza.. (See 4 below.)
Elliot Abrams view as to why Hamas chose to act. (See 4a below.)
Jonathan Tobin discusses implications with Egypt's Treaty. (See 4b below.)
My friend, Jonathan Schanzer, explains why Israel attacked. (See 4c below.)
My friend John Podhoretz believes Mitt still does not get it. (See 5 below.)
Whether he wants to admit it , Obama has a Benghazi problem and it ain't going away any time soon.
One mandate Obama does not acknowledge is that the recent election would like for him to quit lying .(See 6 below.)
Does Obama face the second term curse? (See 6a below.)
How's That Obamacare Waiver Workin' Out for Ya?
Exactly two years ago this week, the Obama administration announced it had issued more than 100 waivers en masse to a select group of companies, unions and other health insurance providers seeking relief from the onerous federal health care law. The Obamacare waiver winner's club now totals 2,000. Where are they now?
Answer: In the same miserable boat as every other unlucky business struggling with the crushing costs and burdens of the mandate.
Among the first and most prominent recipients of the Obamacare waivers for favors were large restaurant chains that provide low-wage, seasonal and part-time workers with low-cost health insurance plans called "mini-med" plans. An estimated 1.7 million workers benefit from such plans. Obamacare forced companies carrying such coverage to raise their minimum limits on coverage to no less than $750,000 annually. Another Obamacare provision forces all employers to spend at least 80 percent to 85 percent of their premium revenue on medical care.
The social justice Democrats' goal was to dictate insurance provider spending not just on coverage amounts, but also on executive salaries, marketing and other costs. The regulation punished companies with mini-med plans whose high administrative costs were due to frequent worker turnover and relatively low spending on claims -- not "greed." Complying with the provision would have meant tens of thousands of low-income workers would lose their benefits altogether.
Darden Restaurants, the Florida-based parent company of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster and other chains, was a member of the Obamacare waiver early bird special. Their get-out-of-Obamacare card helped spare the company's health insurance benefits for nearly 34,000 employees. Breathing a sigh of relief that it would allow chains to continue offering all employees access to affordable health insurance, Darden said in a statement in the fall of 2010 that "the waiver allows us to continue to do that as the various phases of the health care law are implemented."
Fast-forward to 2012. Darden announced last month that it would begin shifting full-time workers to part-time status to save money, cut health costs and circumvent Obamacare's coverage mandate scheduled for full implementation in 2014. The move would reduce full-time employees' hours to less than 30 hours a week; part-time workers are exempt from the insurance mandate. McDonald's, another big Obamacare waiver recipient, is considering the same move.
In fact, a survey of members of the Chain Restaurant Compensation Association (CRCA) conducted last year by Hay Group reported that a whopping 77 percent of "quick serve" restaurant operators said they were considering reducing employee hours to change their status from full-time to part-time. At least one Denny's restaurant franchise owner in Florida is cutting hours and has openly contemplated an Obamacare surcharge. Jimmy John's and Papa John's are also slashing work hours. Applebee's is mulling a freeze on both hiring and expansion.
"There's no such thing as a free lunch" is a race-neutral truth. But economically illiterate Obama supporters have now called for boycotts of these businesses and accused them of vengeful "racism" against the president. Instead of sympathy and gratitude for private businesses trying to do right by their workers, customers and shareholders, the corporate-bashers inundated Twitter this week with profanity-laced condemnations of the restaurant service industry. One protester tweeted: "@Applebees Your CEO is a racist piece of (redacted), he not hiring because Obama was elected...U WILL LOSE CUSTOMERS."
"Red Lobster, Olive Garden (are) using Obama re-election as an excuse to deny employees benefits and living wages," Jon Marquis fumed.
Twitter user Daphine Walker sent unhinged, ungrammatical messages to Red Lobster and Olive Garden in all-caps: "I WILL NEVER SPEND ANOTHER CENT ON THIS RACIST COMPANY WHO DOESNT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THEIR EMPLOYEES."
The CEO of Red Lobster and Olive Garden is black. But no matter. Regardless of the actual facts, economic realities and entirely predictable and inevitable consequences of command-and-control government mandates, it's always about identity politics for the Obama grievance mob. In good times and bad, the left never grants waivers from the race card.
Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies" (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
ABC News: Hey, This Doctor Shortage Could "Crash" Obamacare
Just in case the unaffordable price tag and rising costs don't quite do the trick, America's spiraling dearth of doctors will contribute heavily to the collapse of our re-engineered health care system, according to a new study:
The United States will require at least 52,000 more family doctors in the year 2025 to keep up with the growing and increasingly older U.S. population, a new study found. The predictions also reflect the passage of the Affordable Care Act -- a change that will expand health insurance coverage to an additional 38 million Americans. "The health care consumer that values the relationship with a personal physician, particularly in areas already struggling with access to primary care physicians should be aware of potential access challenges that they may face in the future if the production of primary care physicians does not increase," said Dr. Andrew Bazemore, director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Primary Care and co-author of the study published Monday in the Annals of Family Medicine. Stephen Petterson, senior health policy researcher at the Robert Graham Center, said the government should take steps -- and quickly -- to address the problem before it gets out of hand. "There needs to be more primary care incentive programs that give a bonus to physicians who treat Medicaid patients in effort to reduce the compensation gap between specialists and primary care physicians," said Petterson, who co-authored the study with Bazemore.But such changes may be more easily said than done. The problem does not appear to be one of too few doctors in general; in fact, in 2011 a total of 17,364 new doctors emerged from the country's medical schools, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Too few of these doctors, however, choose primary care as a career -- an issue that may be worsening. In a 2008 census by the AAMC and the American Medical Association, researchers found that the number of medical graduates choosing a career in family medicine dropped from 5,746 in 2002 to 4,210 in 2007 -- a drop of nearly 27 percent. "It's pretty tough to convince medical students to go into primary care," said Dr. Lee Green, chair of Family Medicine at the University of Alberta, who was not involved with the study. Green added that he believes this is because currently primary care specialties are not well paid, well treated or respected as compared to subspecialists. "They have to think about their debt," he said. "There are also issues of how physicians are respected and how we portray primary care to medical students." These problems loom even larger considering the aim of the Affordable Care Act to provide all Americans with health insurance -- and with it, more regular contact with a primary care doctor.
A maddening pattern: When the government exacerbates problems, many frustrated observers reflexively call for even more federal intervention to mop up the federally-caused mess. The solution to big government run amok is more government involvement, apparently. And before you object to the premise that Obamacare is responsible for the deterioration of our doctor shortage ("this was already becoming a problem before the law was passed," etc), examine the data, including surveys of American doctors. Come to think of it, beyond the obvious and laudable humanitarian reasons, why would an ambitious young college student pursue a career in medicine when he or she could go to law school and make a fine living suing the daylights out of doctors? Meaningful tort reform was conspicuously omitted from Obamacare, thanks to the efforts of the trial lawyers' lobby -- a deep-pocketed Democratic constituency. This ABC News story, authored by a medical doctor, also describes why Romneycare (yeah, remember that?) is a microcosm of brewing larger-scale problems:
Perhaps the best known example of this approach has been Massachusetts, which since 2006 has mandated that every resident obtain health insurance and those that are below the federal poverty level gain free access to health care. But although the state has the second-highest ratio of primary care physicians to population of any state, they are struggling with access to primary care physicians. Dr. Randy Wexler of The John Glenn Institute of Public Service and Policy said he has concerns that this trend could be reflected nationwide. "Who is going to care for these people?" he said. "We are going to have problems just like Massachusetts. [They] are struggling with access problems; it takes one year to get into a primary care physician. Coverage does not equal access." Some have already proposed solutions to this looming problem. One suggestion is that non-physician medical professionals, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, can pick up the slack. Doctors, however, said his may not be enough to fill the gap.
The distinction between nominal "coverage" and actual care was a central argument against Obamacare during the battles of 2009 and 2010. And as we know all too well, Romneycare is essentially a pilot program for the entire nation. It has spiked costs, failed to reduce uncompensated care, and resulted in tax increases. Plus, Massachusetts is plagued by this exact doctor shortage issue -- despite being one of the wealthiest states in the country. In places like Canada, citizens are entitled to universal, "free" coverage, but people languish on waiting lists for care, and sometimes resort to lotteries for the chance sign up with a primary care physician. Now that Obamacare is more or less here to stay, Americans had better get accustomed to rationing and waiting. More cracks in Obamacare's facade will appear as the law is fully implemented over the next two years, ultimately culminting in the program's implosion. Liberals are already making pre-emptive excuses for the White House, asking questions such as, "gosh, is this enterprise just too big for the administration to handle?"
By the end of this week, states must decide whether they will build a health-insurance exchange or leave the task to the federal government. The question is, with as many as 17 states expected to leave it to the feds, can the Obama administration handle the workload. “These are systems that typically take two or three years to build,” says Kevin Walsh, managing director of insurance exchange services at Xerox. “The last time I looked at the calendar, that’s not what we’re working with.” When Walsh meets with state officials deciding whether to build a health exchange, he brings a chart. It outlines how to build the insurance marketplace required under the Affordable Care Act. To call it complex would probably be an understatement...A health exchange’s first task is ensuring that those who are eligible for benefits know about them — right now, research suggests three-quarters have no idea. That suggests a huge outreach challenge — and one the federal government may not be ideally suited to completing. Evidence suggests that it works better when it caters to local markets.
The federal government passed a massive piece of legislation that included a voluminous labyrinth of new regulations -- and they might not get it up and running on schedule? Knock me over with a feather. Perhaps the administration should have considered whether its governing apparatus was "ideally suited" to complete core tasks before locking them into place with a law that personally affects tens of millions of Americans. Basic competence should be a key initial threshold question, no? (For more on federal ineptitude and priorities, read this). Meanwhile, the population remains opposed to Obamacare. While ABC's new poll indicates that public opposition may be slackening a bit, the latest Rasmussen national pollof registered voters (their major polling flaw this fall was their likely voter party ID weighting) continues to show majority support for repeal -- an outcome that even most of last Tuesday's D+6 electorate said they would support. The, er, "good" news is that if and when Obamacare's unsustainability proves to be undeniable, liberals will swoop in with the Statist fix they've been angling for all along:
Obama's JonestownsBy Jack Cashill
At first, the numbers seemed too absurd to be true: did Mitt Romney really receive zero votes in 59 Philadelphia voting districts? Did Barack Obama really outpoll him by a combined 19,605 to 0 votes cast in these 59 districts.
Philadelphia Inquirer, which has no interest in deceiving, the answer is yes. Immediately, one suspects some element of fraud, but fraud isn't the real issue here. Obama was producing nearly comparable numbers in inner-cities throughout America, especially those in contested states. the
Worse than fraud is the process that turned nearly 20,000 black Philadelphians -- and millions of inner-city dwellers throughout the country -- into automatons. Hope does not produce this kind of regimentation. Fear does. In looking at these numbers, in fact, one can begin to see how, 34 years ago this Sunday, in the jungles of Guyana, Jim Jones was able to persuade 918 of his followers, most of them poor and black, to drink their lethal Kool-Aid. Fear can do that.
Not surprisingly, it was while at college -- Indiana U -- that Jim Jones got his first injection of Marx, and he was hooked from the beginning. Given that promoting communism in 1950's Indianapolis held about as much promise as promoting traditional marriage in contemporary San Francisco, Jones took another tack. "I decided how can I demonstrate my Marxism," he would recount years later. "The thought was 'infiltrate the church.'"
In 1955 he and his wife Marceline did just that, opening the Peoples Temple Christian Church in Indianapolis. Here, Jones embarked on a second strategy, this one a proven winner in Communist circles: exploit America's Achilles heel, racial injustice. This he did as well, recruiting hundreds of Christian blacks and then subtly shifting their focus from Jesus to Marx, all the while reinforcing their fear of White America. In 1965, he moved the whole shebang to Ukiah, about 100 miles north of San Francisco up Highway 101.
By 1970, the Peoples Temple had shed all but the illusion of Christianity. "We are not really a church," one of the leaders confided to Debbie Layton, a Jonestown survivor, "but a socialist organization. We must pretend to be a church so we're not taxed by the government."
Layton remembers Jones explaining "how those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought into enlightenment -- socialism." In his own reminisces, Jones called religion "a dark creation" of the oppressed. Salvation would come through other channels. "Free at last, free at last," he led his temple comrades in prayer, "Thank socialism almighty we will be free at last."
Faux Christian that he was, Jones pioneered the "social justice" mission. To be clear, though, he had no real interest in helping black people than do contemporary liberals. They provided his base, his path to power. As in today's Democratic Party, the hierarchy was almost exclusively white and female, many of whom Jones had raped. A sexual progressive, Jones raped his white male followers as well.
Like so many Democrats, Obama among them, Jones worked to aggravate race relations in America, not improve them. To that end, Jones had his people write hateful, racist letters and attribute them to lesser white people. Obama likewise worked to intensify the fears of black America, as he famously did at Hampton University in June 2007, when he reminded his listeners that the Republican administration did "not care about" them or consider them "part of the American family."
By 1973, after aggressive recruiting in black neighborhoods nationwide, the Peoples Temple boasted some 2500 members, most of them in San Francisco. Better still, they voted as if with one voice, Jones'. And not only did they vote en bloc, they rang doorbells and made phone calls and hung posters en bloc. Given their affection for independent thinkers -- and so many of them in one place! -- the city's progressive politicians wooed Jones like a Southern Belle.
From gay icon Harvey Milk to Rosalynn Carter, Jimmy's wife, they all come a courting. "I figured if these people -- if anybody should know, they should know," testified one black survivor as to why he stuck with Jones. After taking as mayor in 1976, San Francisco mayor George Moscone repaid Jones by appointing him to the Human Rights Commission and then to the chairmanship of the San Francisco Housing Authority. That same year, The Los Angeles Times named Jones "the humanitarian of the year."
"In my later years," Jones reflected near the end, "there wasn't a that attended any of my meetings that did not hear me say, at one time, that I was a communist." In the People's Republic of San Francisco that fact bothered almost no politico of consequence. "And that is what is very strange," Jones added, "that all these years I have survived without being exposed." In San Francisco, what was strange was that he even worried about it.
In 1974, Jones leased 3,000 acres of land in a Guyana jungle and began construction of a commune called the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project. Hundreds of his followers were dispatched there to work. What they discovered was a South American gulag equal parts Werner Erhard and Pol Pot.
The buzz about Jonestown persuaded Democrat Congressman Leo Ryan to check the place out. When Jones found out about Ryan's impending visit, he resorted to the ultimate Democrat gambit -- race baiting. He denounced Ryan as someone who had "voted sharply in racist terms and fascist terms" and began rehearsing his people for "White Night," the night when Ryan and other evil white people would come to kill them.
In preparation for visits from outsiders, Jones had earlier issued proclamation #75, "Give your original name when guest is here -- do not use your socialist names such as Lenin, Che Guevara, etc. . . " (87) On his visit Ryan quickly saw through the subterfuge. When he attempted to fly back to civilization with inside dope on the commune, a Jonestown security team murdered him and four others on the runway.
That night Jones put his well-drilled minions through a "White Night" exercise. They had been through this before, drinking the proverbial Kool Aid and surviving. They likely presumed that this was just another test of their loyalty. It wasn't. This time the drink was heavily laced with valium and cyanide. Everyone who drank it died. Those who refused to drink it were injected with it. As to Jones, he shot himself.
Despite the tragedy, Democrats from the president on down have continued to do almost exactly what Jones did and get away with it: embrace minorities, alert a partisan media to the embrace, woo the minorities for their support, reward them for it with Obamaphones and the like but never with real power, scare them with tales of racist whites, promise to protect them from those whites, engineer societies (or school systems) from which there is no escape, and when all goes to hell, as it inevitably does, blame Mitt Romney or some evil "other." In 2012, this strategy would seem to have paid off. Despite record poverty and unemployment, atrocious schools and neighborhoods, all the residents of Obama's Jonestowns voted for him.
"They're going to put y'all back in chains," Joe Biden told a group of African American supporters in August.
Silly us -- we thought it was a gaffe!------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3)Has the High Commissioner for Human Rights gone mute?Israelis do have human rights. The High Commissioner simply does not care
(Communicated by the Permanent Mission of Israel to UN Geneva)
15 November 2012
Since the beginning of 2012, more than 800 rockets were launched from
Hamas-controlled Gaza into Israeli cities, over 200 of them just this the
The lives of one million Israelis are threatened, and daily life in southern
Israel has been severely disrupted. Children do not attend school; civilians
sleep in shelters. Only this morning, three Israeli civilians were killed in
their home in the town of Kiryat Malachi, when a Hamas rocket hit their
building. Others, including a 4-year-old boy, where injured. This has been
the bitter reality of one-seventh of Israel's population for the past years.
This terrorist activity is carried out by Hamas and other terrorist
organizations that operate under Hamas protection.
And yet the High Commissioner has gone mute. Not a word of sympathy, not a
word of concern for the violation of the human rights of Israeli citizens.
Just a ringing silence.
Israelis do have human rights. The High Commissioner simply does not care
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------4) Considering Hamas' Intent in Targeting Tel Aviv
Warning sirens sounded Nov. 15 in Tel Aviv when a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip reportedly landed in the water just south of the city. Both Hamas' armed wing, the Izz al-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for launching rockets targeting Tel Aviv. More attacks aimed at Tel Aviv are likely in store, making an Israeli ground incursion in Gaza highly likely at this point.
Tel Aviv is a redline for the Israelis, one that Hamas and its affiliates are highly conscious of and that they deliberately crossed. This is no longer a series of provocative attacks; Hamas is now engaged in war with Israel. However, Hamas' intentions are far from clear.
Hamas is in a very different position today than it was during the 2008 Israeli incursion into Gaza. The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria and Jordan gave Hamas a strong enough reason to move out from under the wings of Iran and Syria and position itself alongside the Brotherhood, its Islamist parent organization. Hamas' intent was to use the Brotherhood's rise to strengthen its own political legitimacy and end its isolation in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, Hamas' exiled leadership in Damascus scattered throughout the region, while the Gaza-based leadership began to face growing challenges from an increasing number of Salafist-jihadist groups in the region.
Hamas has fluctuated between openly claiming rocket attacks on Israel and calling for truces over the past month. But the Nov. 14 assassinations of top Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari and other senior commanders, along with Israeli strikes aimed at eliminating Hamas' long-range rocket arsenal, demanded a Hamas response. Hamas is now putting those long-range rockets to use and appears prepared to bring the war to Gaza.
An Israeli ground incursion in Gaza would also place tremendous pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Cairo. Egypt's Brotherhood will do what it can to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinians, but it will also be concerned about the outflow of refugees and spillover of violence from Gaza into Sinai, a region that has already witnessed an uptick in Salafist-jihadist activity over the past year. The last thing Egypt's Brotherhood wants is to be seen as complicit with Israel in cracking down on Gaza border crossings as it tries to insulate itself from the violence. However, any leniency by the Brotherhood in managing the Gaza-Sinai border could invite Israeli action on Egyptian soil -- a scenario that neither the Brotherhood nor the Egyptian military is prepared to handle.Engaging Israel in war carries a number of risks for Hamas. Israel will continue to focus on eliminating the group's arsenal of long-range Fajr rockets and the group's senior commanders. A weakening of Hamas' leadership could create additional space for other groups to challenge its authority.
Hamas could be attempting to use this escalation to drive toward a broader understanding with Israel, one that would compel Israel to accept the political authority of Hamas in Gaza and its Muslim Brotherhood affiliates in the region. If this is the case, Israel will target Hamas' long-range Fajr rockets anyway, so Hamas may as well deploy them to raise the political stakes on both sides for an eventual negotiation. However, this would assume that Hamas and its allies are prepared to deny Israel success in its military campaign. Unlike the 2006 confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah, in which Hamas opened up an additional front against Israel, Hezbollah is now greatly preoccupied with trying to defend its position in Lebanon with the Syrian regime in flux. The group's participation in a broader military campaign cannot be guaranteed. Instead, perhaps the most Hamas can realistically seek is to have an Israeli incursion in Gaza more seriously strain the Israeli-Egyptian relationship.
Iran's intentions must also be examined. For Iran and the regime of Bashar al Assad in Syria, the Israeli military campaign in Gaza is a welcome distraction from the conflict in Syria. Iran also benefits from having Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and smaller groups acting against Israel. Hamas' relationship with Iran has become strained this past year, and their goals may not be fully in sync, but Tehran can still derive significant use from having Hamas apply military pressure on Israel while the Iranians attempt to maintain their position in the Levant.
Hamas' decision to target Tel Aviv with rockets was not made lightly. There are a number of risks entailed with provoking Israel into another ground incursion in Gaza. The questions moving forward are what else Hamas has done to prepare for this eventuality and whether the group has what it takes to both maintain its position in Gaza and drive Israel toward a truce. The current situation in Gaza suggests that Hamas' goals are quite ambitious. Israel must now decide how far it will need to go in eliminating the militants' capabilities to launch Fajr rockets from Gaza.
Posted on November 15, 2012
by Elliott Abrams
There is a conflict now between Israel and Hamas because Hamas insisted on starting one.
After relatively few rocket and mortar strikes into Israel in 2010 and 2011, Hamas increased the numbers strikingly this year, and finally fired more than 100 into Israel this past weekend. This was a deliberate effort by Hamas to elicit an Israeli response, for it was obvious that as the numbers grew any Israeli government would have to protect its population. One must assume that if Israel had not responded to the hundred rockets last weekend, Hamas would have upped the ante even more until it got what it wanted.
The question is why. Why did Hamas want to provoke an Israeli attack?
I would offer two theories. First, in recent months the Palestinian Authority under Hamas’s enemies in Fatah has been doing better than has Hamas. While the PA has been and remains short of cash, its initiative at the UN to raise itself to “non-member state” status looks like it will succeed. Meanwhile, Hamas has been forced to leave its long-time headquarters in Damascus, and the advent of a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt has done nothing for Hamas. The border is still largely closed and worse yet for Hamas the Egyptians are destroying the smuggling tunnels that bring Hamas income and bring Gazans goods. So Hamas may have wanted to get back to center stage, reminding people that while the PA talks, it acts. The events of the last few days have, as Hamas must have liked, pushed the PA to the margins and made it seem irrelevant.
Second, Hamas commits acts of terror because it is a terrorist organization. By this I mean that no Hamas leader glories in collecting garbage in Gaza, or even in receiving the Emir of Qatar’s money when he visits. The glory comes in fighting, and killing–but since the last round with the Israelis in January 2009 Hamas has not only been very careful. It has also restrained other terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad from firing into Israel. This situation cannot be attractive to Hamas’s leaders, and they know they risk losing the loyalty of many young men in Gaza to other more active groups if it goes on for too long. So, they have decided to provoke a conflict.
Now the question is how big a conflict they want. Do they wish to provoke an Israeli ground attack? We will know the answer very soon. It would be easy to for Hamas leaders to say they have shown they have longer range rockets and missiles now, have terrified Israelis, have killed Israelis, and this round can end. If they continue to fire at Tel Aviv and other locations in Central Israel, this will suggest that the Israelis cannot find and eliminate all these longer range rockets using only air power. In that case they may go in on the ground to find and eliminate the rest.
The choice is largely that of Hamas. Its leaders deliberately provoked this conflict, once again treating Gazan civilians as nothing more than useful victims. Israel would prefer to avoid entering Gaza in the ground, and would prefer to end this round of exchanges. So far, it seems Hamas’s leaders want to keep it going.
4b)The Threat to the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty
By Jonathan Tobin
Given the brazen nature of Hamas's decision to provoke the latest round fighting in and around Gaza, it's difficult for Israel's critics to claim that it was not justified in seeking to halt a barrage that sent more than 150 missiles into the south of the country. Nor could they claim with a straight face that Ahmed al-Jabari, the head of Hamas's so-called military wing and a man responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and murders, is an innocent victim after the Israel Defense Forces took out his car in a deft targeted attack.
But the naysayers are claiming that in opting to defend Israeli citizens and hopefully making it more difficult for Hamas to resume its terrorist offensive, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is effectively destroying his nation's peace treaty with Egypt.
That's the conceit of this New York Times article that depicts Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi as being forced into a difficult position by Israel. He is, we are told, trying to maintain the peace treaty in order to appease Western aid donors like the United States, but is still obligated by Egyptian public opinion to denounce Israel. The implication of all this is that if the treaty, which is despised by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and extremely unpopular with the Egyptian public, is scrapped, it will be because Netanyahu has chosen to be provocative.
While it is true that the treaty is in peril, placing the blame for this on Israel is so divorced from reality it's hard to know where to start to debunk this idea. Morsi is no victim in this scenario. If Egypt's people are clamoring for the spilling of Israeli blood, it is, in no small measure, because his Islamist party has done its best to promote hatred of Israel and Jews to an extent that few in the West appreciate.
As the Times rightly points out, hatred for Israel is the one factor that seems to unite all elements of Egyptian society. Yet to claim that this is because of the "occupation" or the ill treatment of Palestinians is to misread the problem. Egypt is a country where anti-Semitic incitement is a regular element of popular culture and mainstream political discourse. The visceral hate isn't about where Israel's borders should be drawn or specific grievances but the result of decades of incitement against Jews.
The absurdity of Egypt's response to Hamas's missile firings that provoked Israel's counter-attack shouldn't be ignored. After all, Cairo's response wasn't a pusillanimous call for both sides to exercise restraint but an implicit endorsement of Hamas's right to rain down hundreds of deadly rockets deliberately aimed at Israel's civilian population.
The idea that Israel should refrain from defending its citizens against indiscriminate missile attacks across an internationally recognized border in order to appease Egyptian public opinion is so morally corrupt that it is barely worth spending the time to refute it. But the main point to take away from this discussion is that Egyptian attitudes toward Israel stem from that country's deep-seated prejudices, not a rational evaluation of Netanyahu's policies.
The notion that the treaty's survival depends on Israel's quiet acceptance of a steady diet of terror attacks is pure fiction.
The Egypt-Israel peace treaty was not a gift from Egypt to Israel. If anything, it was gift to Egypt from Israel and the United States in that it allowed Cairo to opt out of a costly conflict that it had tired of and rewarded it with an annual bribe in the form of billions of dollars of American taxpayer cash. For decades the Mubarak regime profited from the treaty, but compensated for its heresy against Arab nationalist ideology by allowing anti-Semitism to thrive in the country's media and popular culture.
Morsi and the Egyptian army are uneasy bedfellows in the current government, but both know that an outright repudiation of the treaty would be a costly error. Since relations with Israel were already ice cold under Mubarak, it has been difficult for the Muslim Brotherhood government to find ways to make them even colder. Morsi is appeasing domestic opinion by recalling his ambassador to Israel and publicly backing Hamas. But he is also being careful not to allow the Gaza terrorist group — which is formally allied with Morsi's political party — to compromise his freedom of action. Thus, he has not re-opened the terrorist smuggling tunnels from the Sinai into Gaza.
If the day comes when Morsi decides he doesn't need American money anymore, you can bet he may cancel the treaty with Israel even if his country's military is petrified at the thought of being forced to face off against the IDF. Which is why the preservation of a treaty whose main contemporary purpose is to serve as a rationale for U.S. aid to Egypt isn't likely to be affected by anything Israel does in Gaza. The real threat to the treaty comes from a culture of Jew hatred, not Israeli self-defense.
Jonathan Schanzer: Why Israel attacked Gaza
In a surgical air strike on Wednesday, Israel eliminated the terrorist leader who masterminded the capture of Israeli soldier Gilat Shalit in 2006.
Yesterday’s attack killed Ahmed Jabari, a top leader of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, more commonly known as the armed wing of Hamas. Israel released a video of the strike, showing a direct hit on Jabari’s car as it rolled down a Gaza street, only to explode into a ball of flames. The action was arguably Israel’s highest-profile targeted assassination since it killed Hezbollah’s senior military chief Imad Mughniyeh in a car bombing in Damascus in 2008.
Unlike Mughniyeh, who was one of Hezbollah’s founding fathers, Jabari rose to prominence in Hamas through a process of elimination — literally. The Israelis killed Qassam Brigades leader Salah Shehadeh in 2002. A few months later, another Israeli operation seriously wounded his successor, Mohammed Deif, leaving Jabari, widely known in Hamas circles as the “Chief of Staff” or the “General,” next in line.
During his tenure, Jabari was credited with “professionalizing” Hamas’ paramilitary operations. He presided over the organization’s shift away from suicide bombings (largely prompted by Israel’s building of a separation barrier) to increasingly deadly rocket attacks that have reached deeper and deeper into Israel’s heartland. He was also an architect of Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, during which the group waged a short but bloody war against its rival Fatah faction.
But Jabari is perhaps best known for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. The otherwise elusive terrorist even allowed himself to be photographed in October 2011 when he delivered Shalit into Egyptian custody. It was as if he were taking a victory lap. His picture was soon ubiquitous on Gaza streets, in celebration of what was deemed one of Hamas’ most successful operations.
With Jabari gone, Hamas must now fill a considerable void, and this should create some disarray within the movement. This may have been one of Israel’s objectives.
It is still unclear whether the Israelis’ Operation Cloud Pillar will target other senior leaders, but the Israelis have in the past led decapitation campaigns with deadly efficiency. In an effort to weaken Hamas during the second Intifada, in 2004, Israel targeted Hamas founder and spiritual guide Sheikh Ahmed Yassin with a helicopter strike in Gaza. Shortly thereafter, the Israelis assassinated Yassin’s successor, Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, in another surgical helicopter strike. Several months later, Ismail Abu Shabab, who had been Hamas’s third-most senior leader, met a similar fate.
One failed Israeli target during that campaign was Mahmoud al-Zahar, who is credited with coordinating the 2007 takeover of Gaza, and now serves as a political representative for the movement in Cairo. As fate would have it, Zahar’s brother Ahmad was reportedly riding alongside Jabari yesterday when the Israelis incinerated his car. It is unclear why the two men were together.
After the wave of targeted assassinations in 2004, The New York Times speculated that the campaign only enhanced “the popularity of Hamas on the street.” Yet it also appeared to achieve its intended objective: Hamas’ leadership fell into a period of disarray.
And Hamas is reeling again now. After leaving its headquarters in Syria because of the ongoing carnage there, and after losing Iran’s patronage due to the international sanctions placed on the Islamic Republic’s illicit nuclear activities, Hamas has been forced to seek new support.
Qatar, Turkey and, to a lesser extent, Egypt, have contributed to a political rehabilitation effort, designed to reintegrate Hamas into an emerging Muslim Brotherhood political order in the Middle East. This reorientation has brought about a crisis of leadership, however. Long-time political leader Khaled Meshal appears to be stepping down, while the roles of other figures, including Jabari, have been in flux.
But sowing disarray was not Israel’s primary objective here. The Israelis needed to respond to a series of rocket attacks in recent days, including a guided missile attack on an Israeli jeep that wounded four soldiers. Deterrence is a critical component of Israeli military doctrine.
The most compelling factor, however, may have been escalating Israeli concerns over the ordnance Hamas was stockpiling. Israel reportedly hit several key weapons caches in Gaza yesterday, including some that included the deadly Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets, which have powerful payloads and ranges long enough to strike Israeli population centers.
Interestingly, last month the Israelis are believed to have carried out a raid on an Iranian weapons factory deep inside Sudan. Sensitive security sources indicated that “game-changing” rockets — the kind that could cause untold harm to Israel’s civilian population — were what prompted that daring attack into enemy territory.
The Gaza operation appears to be part two of that raid: A concerted effort to take out as many long-range rockets as possible, with the added benefit of eliminating those who procured them.
Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Repeating his losing message
It is often said of those who lose elections that (to paraphrase Shakespeare) nothing so becomes them as the leaving of the contest — when they make a gracious concession, talk of the greatness of our system, then exit the stage.