"Could indecision be their downfall?"

compiled by Dee Finney

This was a dream vision.

8-2-08 - I was looking at a map of Israel which was bright yellow.


I was lining up short little fat tubes across the center of the map.  (They looked like miniature salt shakers
and were colored pale yellow)

Over on the right side of Israel (along this line of tubes)  in the center just below  where the name West Bank is and the cities of Jerusalem and Jericho is, were splattered what looked like numerous pepper spots.

A floor hatch door was opened up in the middle of the map, along the center line and two of the pale yellow tubes were put inside the hole below and the floor hatch door closed again.  This was done so that when the map was turned upsidedown and shaken, no pepper would come out of those tubes.

Q. Were those tubes representing bombs?

Meditation:  I asked for more information about my dream about Israel:

I saw a young woman in a party dress.  She held up a glass to me (shaped like a water glass) that was 3/4 full of some kind of orangey/yellow liquid.  She said, "Come and help us celebrate Thanksgiving".

Then I saw a group of people standing around in their pajamas and bathrobes and all of a sudden - the rug was pulled out from under them and they all fell over.

end of visions

Q. When does Israel celebrate some kind of Thanksgiving?  video Israel celebrates 60  video - The Birth of Israel  video - 1948 History of Israel - with
                                                                                                                              subtitles in English  video  May 14, 1948 - in English


Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives at the
presidential office to attend a welcoming ceremony for his
Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in Tehran.
Morteza Nikoubazl / Reuters
When U.S. officials appeal to the Iranian people over the heads of its regime, they like to assume that Tehran's defiance on the nuclear issue reflects only the extremist position of an unrepresentative revolutionary leadership. Plainly, they haven't met Dr. Akbar Etemad, who ran the nuclear program of the Shah's regime, which was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The scientist who first launched Iran's nuclear technology program under a U.S.-backed regime in 1974 today urges the regime that stripped him of his job to reject any international demand that it halt uranium enrichment.
Dr. Etemad told an academic conference in Toronto last weekend, "Iran already stopped nuclear enrichment at the behest of Europe for more than a year [a reference to Tehran's suspension of enrichment between late 2003 and mid-2005, to allow negotiations with the European Union]. And what happened? Nothing."

Iran delivered its response to the latest Western offer on the nuclear issue to E.U. officials in Brussels on Tuesday, and reportedly avoided any mention of a freeze on uranium enrichment. Britain, France and the U.S. have made clear that the consequence of Iran turning down the current offer will be a push for further U.N. sanctions against Tehran.

In an interview with TIME, the Swiss-educated scientist who lives in Paris and heads a group of prominent Iranian exiles that lobby against a military attack on Iran, said the solution to the nuclear standoff lay in re-establishing relations between Washington and Tehran. Although a senior U.S. diplomat joined the European-led delegation that met with Iranian officials in Geneva recently, Iran's response to the nuclear proposal may make it difficult for the Bush Administration to create a diplomatic opening.

Surprising as it may be to hear a member of the Shah's deposed regime support the stance of the Islamic Republic in a confrontation with the West, there is widespread concern among Iran experts that the current Western strategy of demanding that Iran forego the right to enrich uranium has created a diplomatic dead end.

Writing in the International Herald Tribune last week, Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, and analyst Anatol Lieven, argued that insisting Iran give up its right to any uranium enrichment is untenable, and instead suggested that the Western powers base their demands on the rights and limitations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — which would allow the international community "to place a verifiable cap on Iranian enrichment and other nuclear capabilities well short of weaponization."

Dr. Etemad agrees that the NPT, which governs the peaceful pursuit of nuclear energy under the supervision of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, holds the key. "The Americans, when they need the NPT, they talk about it; when they don't need it, they throw it away. You don't do that with an international treaty," he said. Iran is a signatory to the NPT, on the basis of which it is being held accountable by the United Nations Security Council over transparency issues. But the NPT allows signatories the right to enrich uranium, under IAEA supervision, for peaceful purposes. The U.S. and its allies fear that even building a peaceful enrichment capability would allow Iran to covertly produce weapons-grade materiel, and have argued that Tehran's violations of transparency and disclosure requirements of the NPT should mean it has forfeited its right to enrich uranium. But that argument has so far not been embraced by the U.N. or the IAEA, which reports there is "no evidence that Iran was working actively to build nuclear weapons."

Even though Iran's known uranium enrichment activities occur under the scrutiny of IAEA inspectors, the U.S. and its European allies and Israel suspect Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons capability. The charge infuriates Dr. Etemad. "With the Shah, we also came to the conclusion that Iran was in great need of nuclear energy because our population was steadily growing and our gas and oil will run out. That's why even though I was in the old regime, I should be fair to the new regime because they are following the same line. To speak frankly, with its bellicose behavior the West is pushing Iran towards nuclear weapons, even if they don't want them now."

The latest proposal from the Western powers hoped to break the deadlock by retreating from its demand that Iran shut down its enrichment activities as a precondition for talks. Instead, the new proposal suggests that Iran simply refrain from expanding its current enrichment program for six weeks, during which time the U.N. Security Council would refrain from imposing new sanctions. And in that "freeze-for-freeze" interim, the two sides would negotiate a more comprehensive deal. But there's no sign thus far that Tehran is prepared to accept even that proposal.

"The Europeans say stop enrichment and we'll talk, but the Iranians already did that and nothing happened," said Dr. Etemad. "At the time of the Shah, we signed contracts with both France and Germany and even then they didn't deliver. If I were in the current regime, I wouldn't trust the West. They don't even give Iran civilian airplane parts, which is costing hundreds of lives; why should they believe that they will give them enriched uranium?" If that's the position of a liberal critic of the regime, it's likely that the stance of the current Iranian leadership on the nuclear issue enjoys widespread support among Iranians.

To be sure, many Iranians also fear the consequences of continued defiance. "What if this hard line means war?" asked daytime-mechanic, nighttime-taxi driver Bahram, 24, in Tehran recently, echoing concerns heard from a number of ordinary Iranians.

"For years now, they are threatening us with an attack," Dr. Etemad said, adding, "This is humiliating. We are not ants," referring to an Esquire interview with Admiral William Fallon about Iran back in March, in which he is reported to have said, "These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them."

"If you're weak, they attack you," says the scientist. "If you're not weak, they won't attack you. We have to be a strong country and end these humiliating threats. And being strong means not listening to the foreigners."



The Iranian Chess Game Continues

William O. Beeman | August 6, 2008

Editor: Erik Leaver

Foreign Policy In Focus

Diplomacy between Iran and the United States has entered the opening gambit stage and Iran appears to be winning at this point.

The game began on July 19, when Iranian nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili met with European negotiators with an American diplomat, Under Secretary of State William J. Burns, present for the first time at such a meeting since the Iranian hostage crisis.

The presence of William J. Burns riled many anti-Iranian forces resulting in a flurry of pronouncements and articles about American "capitulation" to Iran. The recriminations continued. Even now, on August 5, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a notorious anti-Iran detractor, wrote a fulminating article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "While Diplomats Dither, Iran Builds Nukes."

The Bush administration clearly found itself in a difficult situation, needing to placate hawks like Bolton and Vice-President Dick Cheney while seeming to allow diplomacy to have a chance, so they made the talks not about substance, but about power – which side could compel the other to toe the line.

So the Bush administration started with a big lie. At the time of the July meeting the press and the State Department announced that Iran had a two-week deadline to respond to the European proposals, (the exact details of which remain secret, but which are presumed to include an extensive basket of technology, economic, and trade incentives).

There was no such deadline. It appears to have been a fiction. However, this falsehood gave Washington and the press the opportunity on August 2 to announce that Iran had "rejected" the deadline. The New York Times went so far as to call it an "informal deadline," a head-scratching concept.

Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki was reported by Agence France Press to have said, "The language of deadline-setting is not understandable to us. We gave them our response within a month as we said we would, now they have to reply to us."

Even the State Department itself had to back down from the fictional deadline. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack threatened further sanctions if Iran did not respond on Wednesday, July 30. But he had changed his tune on Saturday, August 2, the putative deadline. "I didn't count the days. It's coming up soon," he said. And when asked when Washington would pull incentives off the table designed to persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program, said "there is no indication of that.

So little happened at the July 19 meeting, it could hardly be called a diplomatic encounter. In fact, Iran has been pursuing a productive diplomatic course. Rather than responding to deadlines and ultimatums, Iran has steadily put forward proposals for resolving its differences with the European and American governments over its nuclear energy program. It is clear that Iran will not give up its "inalienable right" to peaceful development of nuclear energy, as enshrined in Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which it (but not India, Pakistan or Israel) is a signatory. It seeks other means, short of suspending uranium enrichment, to assure the world that it has no active nuclear weapons program.

Iran's proposal for negotiations presented to the European Nations is titled "The Modality For Comprehensive Negotiations" and sets out three stages of proceedings:

Preliminary Talks. Overall determination of the negotiating timetable.

Start of Talks. Actions against Iran would be suspended and common ground matters would be discussed.

Negotiations. Actual negotiating stage which the Iranians envision should last two months, but could be extended by mutual consent.

Iran does not agree in this document to suspend uranium enrichment. The document states in the negotiation stage that determinations regarding Iran's compliance with the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty would be "concluded in the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] and fully and completely returned to the Agency [The International Atomic Energy Agency]."

This is a reasonable blueprint for forward negotiations, and it represents a real diplomatic effort on Iran’s part. By contrast, the United States seems to have acted with a combination of bluff and muscle, and has gotten nowhere for their efforts.

This has not stopped the United States and its European allies for calling on August 4 for more sanctions based on Iran's violation of the "informal deadline." This is an astonishing exercise in diplomatic audacity – calling for punishment where there could be no violation, there being no mutual agreement of the conditions under which actions would be declared a violation. Unfortunately, the political climate against Iran being what it is, such an unwarranted bellicose move will likely go unquestioned.

Except by Iran.

Iran had its own gambits in mind to retain control of the process. After the accusations and the threats by the European and U.S. consortium, they countered with a grim reminder that they could close the Strait of Hormuz, through which two-thirds of OPEC crude oil passes. They tested some new conventional missiles. Then they announced that they would indeed answer the European proposals – but in their own time and on their own timetable, according to their own agenda. They were clearly working through their own negotiation plan step by step, catching the United States off guard, and throwing everyone in Washington off their game, leaving them to continue their slow burn.

The question is whether, out of frustration or pique, the  impatient Washington  detractors will upset the table.

Foreign Policy In Focus contributor William O. Beeman is professor and chair of the department of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He is president of the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association and the author, most recently, of The "Great Satan" vs. the "Mad Mullahs": How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other.


Israel mulls military option for Iran nukes

By STEVEN GUTKIN, Associated Press Writer



Israel is building up its strike capabilities amid growing anxiety over

Iran's nuclear ambitions and appears confident that a military attack would cripple Tehran's atomic program, even if it can't destroy it.

Such talk could be more threat than reality. However, Iran's refusal to accept Western conditions is worrying Israel as is the perception that Washington now prefers diplomacy over confrontation with Tehran.

The Jewish state has purchased 90 F-16I fighter planes that can carry enough fuel to reach Iran, and will receive 11 more by the end of next year. It has bought two new Dolphin submarines from Germany reportedly capable of firing nuclear-armed warheads — in addition to the three it already has.

And this summer it carried out air maneuvers in the Mediterranean that touched off an international debate over whether they were a "dress rehearsal" for an imminent attack, a stern warning to Iran or a just a way to get allies to step up the pressure on Tehran to stop building nukes.

According to foreign media reports, Israeli intelligence is active inside Iranian territory. Israel's military censor, who can impose a range of legal sanctions against journalists operating in the country, does not permit publication of details of such information in news reports written from Israel.

The issue of Iran's nuclear program took on new urgency this week after U.S. officials rejected Tehran's response to an incentives package aimed at getting it to stop sensitive nuclear activity — setting the stage for a fourth round of international sanctions against the country.

Israel, itself an undeclared nuclear power, sees an atomic bomb in Iranian hands as a direct threat to its existence.

Israel believes Tehran will have enriched enough uranium for a nuclear bomb by next year or 2010 at the latest. The United States has trimmed its estimate that Iran is several years or as much as a decade away from being able to field a bomb, but has not been precise about a timetable. In general U.S. officials think Iran isn't as close to a bomb as Israel claims, but are concerned that Iran is working faster than anticipated to add centrifuges, the workhorses of uranium enrichment.

"If Israeli, U.S., or European intelligence gets proof that Iran has succeeded in developing nuclear weapons technology, then Israel will respond in a manner reflecting the existential threat posed by such a weapon," said Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, speaking at a policy forum in Washington last week.

"Israel takes (Iranian President) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements regarding its destruction seriously. Israel cannot risk another Holocaust," Mofaz said.

The Iranian leader has in the past called for Israel's elimination, though his exact remarks have been disputed. Some translators say he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," while others say a better translation would be "vanish from the pages of time" — implying Israel would disappear on its own rather than be destroyed.

Iran insists its uranium enrichment is meant only for electricity generation, not a bomb — an assertion that most Western nations see as disingenuous.

Israeli policymakers and experts have been debating for quite some time whether it would even be possible for Israel to take out Iran's nuclear program. The mission would be far more complicated than a 1981 Israeli raid that destroyed Iraq's partially built Osirak nuclear reactor, or an Israeli raid last year on what U.S. intelligence officials said was another unfinished nuclear facility in Syria.

In Iran, multiple atomic installations are scattered throughout the country, some underground or bored into mountains — unlike the Iraqi and Syrian installations, which were single aboveground complexes.

Still, the Syria action seemed to indicate that Israel would also be willing to use force preemptively against Iran.

"For Israel this is not a target that cannot be achieved," said Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, former head of Israel's army intelligence.

However, it's unlikely Israel would carry out an attack without approval from the United States.

Recent signs that Washington may be moving away from a military option — including a proposal to open a low-level U.S. diplomatic office in Tehran and a recent decision to allow a senior U.S. diplomat to participate alongside Iran in international talks in Geneva — are not sitting very well with Israel.

That may help explain recent visits to Jerusalem by Mike McConnell, the U.S. director of national intelligence, and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, each of whom delivered a message to Israel that it does not have a green light to attack Iran at this time.

Senior Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they do not wish to appear at odds with their most important ally, said they were concerned about a possible softening of the U.S. stance toward Iran.

Apparently to allay Israeli concerns, Bush administration officials last week assured visiting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that the U.S. has not ruled out the possibility of a military strike on Iran. And the U.S., aware of Israel's high anxiety over Iran's nukes, is also hooking Israel up to an advanced missile detection system known as X-Band to guard against any future attack by Iran, said a senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions over the issue have not been made public.

With sanctions and diplomacy still the international community's preferred method to get Iran to stop building the bomb, an Israeli strike does not appear imminent.

If it did attack, however, Israel would have to contend with upgraded Iranian defense capabilities, including 29 new Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile systems Iran purchased from Russia last year in a $700 million deal.

Russia has so far not gone through with a proposed sale to Iran of S-300 surface-to-air missiles, an even more powerful air defense system than the Tor-M1. An Israeli defense official said the deal is still on the table, however. This is a big source of consternation for Israel because the system could significantly complicate a pre-emptive Israeli assault on Iran.

Military experts say an Israeli strike would require manned aircraft to bombard multiple targets and heavy precision bombs that can blast through underground bunkers — something Israel failed to do in its 2006 war against Hezbollah. It's widely assumed that Israel is seeking to obtain bunker buster bombs, if it hasn't already done so.

Elite ground troops could also be necessary to penetrate the most difficult sites, though Israeli military planners say they see that option as perhaps too risky.

America's ability to take out Iran's nuclear facilities is far superior to Israel's.

Unlike Israel, the United States has cruise missiles that can deliver high-explosive bombs to precise locations and B-2 bombers capable of dropping 85 500-pound bombs in a single run.

Yet the cost of an attack — by the U.S., Israel or both — is likely to be enormous.

Iran could halt oil production and shut down tanker traffic in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which could send the price of crude skyrocketing and wreck Western economies.

It could stir up trouble for the U.S. in Iraq by revving up Shiite militias there just as Washington is showing some important gains in reining in Iraqi chaos.

It could activate its militant proxies in both Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, from where Israel could come under heavy rocket attack. And it could strike Israel with its arsenal of Shahab-3 long-range missiles — something Israel is hoping to guard against through its Arrow missile defense system.

Perhaps most importantly, any strike on Iran — especially if it's done without having exhausted all diplomatic channels — could have the opposite of the desired effect, "actually increasing the nationalist fervor to build a nuclear weapon," said Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Israeli and expert on Iranian affairs.

Whether an attack on Iran would be worth its cost would depend on how long the nuclear program could be delayed, said Chuck Freilich, a former Israeli deputy national security adviser and now a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.

"A two, three-year delay is not worth it. For a five to 10-year delay I would say yes," he said.


Associated Press Writers Anne Gearan and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report from Washington.  



We're all in the same boat and it's sinking fast

Greg Bacon

Think the Bush/Cheney Junta only started its illegal domestic spying program AFTER 9/11?


Project Groundbreaker began within weeks of Bush assuming the purloined presidency, back in February 2001.

Washington, You're Fired

Still get misty-eyed when you hear someone sing "God Bless America?" So do I, but not out of some misguided sense of loyalty.

For, how can one have loyalty to a country, the USA, that no longer exists?

Between the heinous "Patriot Act," the "Military Commissions Act," the revised FISA law and the numerous Presidential Executive Orders that are eviscerating our freedoms, we no longer have a functioning Bill of Rights.

And without a Bill of Rights, there is no longer an "America the Beautiful."

What else can one say to presidential decrees that can strip away the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights on one person's dictate--Some Americans have already found out the hard way that rights guaranteed to We the People by the Constitution have been rescinded, one one man's whim, to prosecute his ill-named "War on Terror."

The only war that is being waged is a war against the Bill of Rights and our freedoms and so far, the other side is batting a .1000.

We're one more false-flag event away from completely losing the minuscule amount of freedoms the Bush/Cheney Junta have allowed us to still retain.

"Anyone is only worth the price of one bullet"

Freedom from warrantless searches?


Who knows, the government might have already slipped in to your house, unknown and installed spyware on your computer... Or worse, installed some kind of child pornography that they will use later to convict you of crimes you didn't commit, just to shut you the hell up.

Freedom of Assembly?


Unless you call being forced to protest a mile away from your desired site and being shut up behind barb wired enclosures, with heavily armed police goon squads patrolling the perimeter, ready and waiting to crack your skull for uttering such seditious chants as "Give Peace a Chance."

Free to apply for a writ of habeas corpus?


The Bush/Cheney Junta now have the Congressionally mandated right to toss you into to prison and deny you access to a lawyer and deny your petition to be freed pending trial. Hell, they don't even have to show you the evidence, since that is a "national secret" that would impede the "War on Terrror."

Freedom of religion?


Unless you're a member of your local synagogue or one of the knuckle-dragging, mouth breathers that slavishly follow that "Man of God," John Hagee, whose idea of spreading love is to drop a couple of 150 kiloton nukes on ME countries that he and Israel don't like.

Freedom from excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishments?


Just ask Sami Al-Arian, now in his sixth year of a hellish existence that has seen the feds go back on deals and lie to get Mr. Al-Arian convicted by any means.

His crime? He's a Muslim, and worse, a Palestinian that has had some success in combating the ignorance and prejudice in the ME debate.

Sami Al-Arain's main inquisitor? A federal prosecutor by the name of KROMBERG. Go figure.

When that next MOSSAD/CIA false-flag hits America--again--it will be goodbye to the Internet and Hello to the American Gulag.

But, don't worry about the Bush/Cheney Junta gang-raping the Bill of Rights.

Why, there's a special on Lindsey Lohan coming up on CNN.

Don't concern yourself with the Bill of Rights being used for toilet paper by the Boy King, Bush.

Why, I need to get to the store to buy the latest copy of "National Enquirer."

When your front door gets kicked down at 3 am, by machinegun wielding Blackwater thugs, don't worry.

After all, you're innocent, Right?

What if every email, every phone call; every time you surfed the Internet, your private communications were being siphoned into a gigantic dragnet funded by a forty-five billion dollar budget and carried out in cooperation with the FBI, AT&T, and Verizon? “Washington, You’re Fired” presents compelling first-hand testimony and whistleblower accounts, punching holes in the official "war on terrorism" excuse that has been used to dismantle the U.S. Bill of Rights and tip the scales of executive checks and balance in this country.


While Diplomats Dither, Iran Builds Nukes

August 5, 2008  

This weekend, yet another "deadline" passed for Iran to indicate it was seriously ready to discuss ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Like so many other deadlines during these five years of European-led negotiations, this one died quietly, with Brussels diplomats saying that no one seriously expected any real work on a Saturday.

The fact that the Europeans are right -- this latest deadline is not fundamentally big news -- is precisely the problem with their negotiations, and the Bush administration's acquiescence in that effort.

The rationality of continued Western negotiations with Iran depends critically on two assumptions: that Iran is far enough away from having deliverable nuclear weapons that we don't incur excessive risks by talking; and that by talking we don't materially impede the option to use military force. Implicit in the latter case is the further assumption that the military option is static -- that it remains equally viable a year from now as it is today.

Neither assumption is correct. Can we believe that if diplomacy fails we can still take military action "in time" to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons? "Just in time" nonproliferation assumes a level of intelligence certainty concerning Iran's nuclear program that recent history should manifestly caution us against.

Every day that goes by allows Iran to increase the threat it poses, and the viability of the military option steadily declines over time. There are a number of reasons why this is so.

First, while the European-led negotiations proceed, Iran continues both to convert uranium from a solid (uranium oxide, U3O8, also called yellowcake) to a gas (uranium hexafluoride, UF6) at its uranium conversion facility at Isfahan. Although it is a purely chemical procedure, conversion is technologically complex and poses health and safety risks.

As Isfahan's continuing operations increase both Iran's UF6 inventory and its technical expertise, however, the impact of destroying the facility diminishes. Iran is building a stockpile of UF6 that it can subsequently enrich even while it reconstructs Isfahan after an attack, or builds a new conversion facility elsewhere.

Second, delay permits Iran to increase its stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) -- that is, UF6 gas in which the U235 isotope concentration (the form of uranium critical to nuclear reactions either in reactors or weapons) is raised from its natural level of 0.7% to between 3% and 5%.

As its LEU stockpile increases, so too does Tehran's capacity to take the next step, and enrich it to weapons-grade concentrations of over 90% U235 (highly-enriched uranium, or HEU). Some unfamiliar with nuclear matters characterize the difference in LEU-HEU concentration levels as huge. The truth is far different. Enriching natural uranium by centrifuges to LEU consumes approximately 70% of the work and time required to enrich it to HEU.

Accordingly, destroying Iran's enrichment facility at Natanz does not eliminate its existing enriched uranium (LEU), which the IAEA estimated in May 2008 to be approximately half what is needed for one nuclear weapon. Iran is thus more than two-thirds of the way to weapons-grade uranium with each kilogram of uranium it enriches to LEU levels. Moreover, as the LEU inventory grows, so too does the risk of a military strike hitting one or more UF6 storage tanks, releasing potentially substantial amounts of radioactive gas into the atmosphere.

Third, although we cannot know for sure, every indication is that Iran is dispersing its nuclear facilities to unknown locations, "hardening" against air strikes the ones we already know about, and preparing more deeply buried facilities in known locations for future operations. That means that the prospects for success against, say, the enrichment facilities at Natanz are being reduced.

Fourth, Iran is clearly increasing its defensive capabilities by purchasing Russian S-300 antiaircraft systems (also known as the SA-20) directly or through Belarus. In late July, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and his spokesman contradicted Israeli contentions that the new antiaircraft systems would be operational this year. Assuming the Pentagon is correct, its own assessment on timing simply enhances the argument for Israel striking sooner rather than later.

Fifth, Iran continues to increase the offensive capabilities of surrogates like Syria and Hezbollah, both of which now have missile capabilities that can reach across Israel, as well as threaten U.S. troops and other U.S. friends and allies in the region. It may well be Syria and Hezbollah that retaliate initially after an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, thus making further strikes against Iran more problematic, at least in the short run.

Iran is pursuing two goals simultaneously, both of which it is comfortably close to achieving. The first -- to possess all the capabilities necessary for a deliverable nuclear weapon -- is now almost certainly impossible to stop diplomatically. Thus, Iran's second objective becomes critical: to make the risks of a military strike against its program too high, and to make the likelihood of success in fracturing the program too low. Time favors Iran in achieving these goals. U.S. and European diplomats should consider this while waiting by the telephone for Iran to call.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).


We lie and bluster about our nukes - and then wag our fingers at Iran

By failing to disarm and breaking the rules when it suits, nuclear states are driving proliferation as much as Ahmadinejad

The Guardian,
Tuesday July 29 2008

What is the Iranian government up to? For once the imperial coalition, overstretched in Iraq and unpopular at home, is proposing jaw, not war. The UN security council's offer was a good one: if Iran suspended its uranium enrichment programme, it would be entitled to legally guaranteed supplies of fuel for nuclear power, assistance in building a light water reactor, foreign aid, technology transfer and the beginning of the end of economic sanctions. The US seems prepared, for the first time since the revolution, to open a diplomatic office in Tehran. But in Geneva, 10 days ago, the Iranians filibustered until the negotiations ended. On Saturday President Ahmadinejad announced that Iran has now doubled the number of centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium. A fourth round of sanctions looks inevitable.

The unequivocal statements Barack Obama and Gordon Brown made in Israel last week about Iran's nuclear weapons programme cannot yet be justified. Nor can the unequivocal statements by some anti-war campaigners that Iran does not intend to build the bomb. Why would a country with such reserves of natural gas and so great a potential for solar power suffer sanctions and the threat of bombing to make fuel it could buy from other states, if it accepted the UN's terms?

Those who maintain that Iran's purposes are peaceful clutch at the National Intelligence Estimate published by the US government in November. While it judged that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons programme in 2003, it saw the country's civilian uranium programme as a means of developing "technical capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so". The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency notes that no fissile material has been diverted from Iran's stocks, but raises grave questions about some of the documents it has found, which suggest research into bomb-making (Iran says the papers are forgeries). Those of us who oppose an attack on Iran are under no obligation to accept Ahmadinejad's claims of peaceful intent.

Nor do we have to accept the fictions of our own representatives. The security council's offer to Iran claimed that resolving this enrichment issue would help to bring about a "Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction". But like every other such document, it made no mention of the principal owner of weapons in the region: Israel. According to a leaked briefing by the US Defence Intelligence Agency, Israel possesses between 60 and 80 nuclear bombs. But none of the countries demanding that Iran scraps the weapons it doesn't yet possess are demanding that Israel destroys the weapons it does possess.

This subject is the great political taboo. Neither Brown nor Obama mentioned it last week. The US intelligence agencies provide a biannual report to Congress on the weapons of mass destruction developed by foreign states, which covers Iran, North Korea, India, Pakistan and others, but not Israel. During a parliamentary debate in March the British defence minister Bob Ainsworth was asked whether he thought that Israel's nuclear weapons are "a destabilising factor" in the Middle East. "My understanding," he replied, "is that Israel does not acknowledge that it has nuclear weapons." Does Mr Ainsworth really buy this nonsense? If so, can we have a new minister? If Iran builds a bomb, it will do so for one reason: that there is already a nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, by which it feels threatened.

But we make the rules and we break them. The non-proliferation treaty (NPT) obliges the five official nuclear states, of which the UK is one, to work towards "general and complete disarmament". On Friday, the Guardian published the notes for a speech made last year by a senior civil servant, which suggested that the decision to replace the UK's nuclear missiles had already been made, in secret and without parliamentary scrutiny. Since then defence ministers have told the Commons on five occasions that the decision has not yet been made. They appear to have misled the House.

At the Geneva conference on disarmament in February, one delegate pointed out that the "chances of eliminating nuclear weapons will be enhanced immeasurably" if non-nuclear states can see "planning, commitment and action toward multilateral nuclear disarmament by nuclear weapon states" like the UK. If the nuclear states "are failing to fulfil their disarmament obligations", other nations would use this as an excuse for maintaining their weapons. Who was this firebrand? Des Browne, the secretary of state for defence. A man of the same name is failing to fulfil our disarmament obligations.

Browne claims that Britain must maintain its arsenal because of proliferation elsewhere, just as those proliferating elsewhere say that they must develop their arsenals because the official nuclear nations aren't disarming. With the exception of France, none of the other European states feels the need to deploy nukes. But the UK keeps preparing for the last war. Of course, no one is refusing to disarm; it's just that the task keeps getting pushed into the indefinite future. Opponents of British nuclear weapons maintain that a new generation of warheads would survive until 2055.

The permanent members of the UN security council draw a distinction between their "responsible" ownership of nuclear weapons and that of the aspirant powers. But over the past six years, the UK, US, France and Russia have all announced that they are prepared to use their nukes pre-emptively against a presumed threat, even from states that do not possess nuclear weapons. In some ways the current nuclear stand-off is more dangerous than the tetchy detente of the cold war.

The danger has been heightened by the US government's current offensive. Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, is demanding that other countries accept her plans to destroy the last remaining incentive for states to abide by the NPT. The treaty grants countries which conform to it materials for nuclear power on favourable terms. It's a flawed incentive - as the spread of civil nuclear programmes makes the proliferation of military material more likely - but an incentive nonetheless. Now Rice insists that India should have special access to US nuclear materials despite the fact that it has not signed the NPT and has illegally developed nuclear weapons.

If she is successful, this effort - and the concomitant US demand that India is recognised as an official nuclear power - will blow the NPT to kingdom come. The treaty which survived the cold war, and which remains the most important of the wilting guarantees against global annihilation, is being nuked for the sake of a few billion dollars of export orders.

Here's where it gets really depressing. The Bush administration's proposal has been supported by both John McCain and Barack Obama. The contrast between Obama's position on India and his statements on Iran could not be greater, or more destructive of the inflated hopes now vested in him.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's insistence that Iran enriches its own fissile material, and the guessing game he is playing with Israel, the atomic energy agency and the UN security council is irresponsible and staggeringly dangerous. But if I were in his position I might be tempted to do the same.



Faith, nukes, and the Promised Land`s borders

Zionism - on Monday, July 28, 2008 -

By: Shoher, Obadiah

Faith doesn’t require us to test God as Jews did at Meribah, though with relative success. Rather, we should expect that at some point God offers us an opportunity which we must seize. Leftists believe in reforming societies on grand scale; we, the true liberals, must be on lookout for mini-opportunities to further the goals supported by our faith.
It’s not a problem of Begin or Sharon. Jews just don’t believe in the burning bush anymore. And without a degree of faith the project of Israel is doomed. Secular Jews don’t believe the land is ours. Haredi Jews comfortably shrink into the prayer shawls and close their eyes to the world outside.
Faith of some is the only barrier to assimilation of all. Already in the eighteenth century – and probably much earlier – Jewish communities of Russia were striving for religious liberalization. Few people were living according to the rigid Shulhan Aruch laws, and observance was superficial for the most part. As a great Jewish writer Sholom Aleichem recalls, his grandma scolded his father for being irreligious even though he wore long hair locks. But the communities were kept Jewish by the immense spiritual power of a few rabbis. What was that power?
I think I know it because I’ve met a handful of such rabbis who made secular, even atheist Jews deeply religious after talking with them for an hour or two on unrelated subjects. It is faith. If the empty ideological zeal of communist agitators was contagious, faith is infinitely more so. People are not only bodies, but also minds; not only individual, but also collective.
In the age of fast-paced developments, when new orders crumble almost as soon as they appear, people long for simple and stable things. Faith is straightforward, stable, and provides an excellent sense of communal identity. No amount of extra-smart educational theories and seminars on Jewishness would make the Jews Jewish. By far the most rabbis – in fact, almost all of them – have long lost the power of persuading their flock because they are not persuaded themselves.
They just no longer believe in the simple truths that God physically revealed himself on the Mount Sinai, consumed animal sacrifices with fire, and commanded Jews to fight for the Promised Land. Too many of them don’t even believe in God as the super-intelligent being who listens to our prayers.
The communal is inherently irrational. No rational argument can convince people to stick with others whose ancestors also happened to be Jewish, in the tiny speck of endangered land among the sea of Muslim enemies. Rational analysis surely suggests to move out, or not to move in. No amount of rational argument, of books and discourses would ever make the fledging Jews Jewish. Only the personal touch of faith can do it, only the personal communication with the very few true rabbis. With every year, they are in lesser supply; the new generation just doesn’t produce these eyes anymore, these faces lighting with faith.
Salvation comes only through faith.
The opinions and views articulated by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Israel e News.


Israel's Debate Over an Iran Strike

July 25, 2008


Despite President Bush's insistence that the military option remains "on the table" for dealing with Iran's nuclear program, Israeli officials have recognized that a U.S. air strike on Iranian nuclear sites is increasingly unlikely in the waning days of the Bush Administration. The Israelis, along with everyone else, are now counting on European-led diplomatic efforts to persuade the Iranians to halt their uranium-enrichment program. But they know diplomacy may fail, which is why a debate now rages in the highest circles of Israel's government and military: If the Europeans fail and the Americans remain reluctant to launch another war in the Middle East, should Israel strike alone against Iran?

When President Bush visited Israel in mid-May, senior Israeli leaders came away from talks confident that the U.S. would attack Iran if it refused to stop enriching uranium. Says one top Israeli military planner privy to Israel's discussions with the U.S. on Iran, "We were under the illusion during Bush's last visit that he was much more determined to order a military action." No longer.

Last week's U-turn, in which the Bush Administration sent a high-ranking State Department official to join the European delegation meeting Iran's top nuclear negotiator, and the proposal to open a U.S. Interests Section to handle consular matters in Tehran - which would be the first U.S. diplomatic presence in Iran since its embassy was stormed in 1979 - has stunned Israeli officials. So dismayed were the Israelis by the latest U.S. moves, one military source told TIME, that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wrote to Bush complaining that Israel should have been forewarned about the White House's abrupt change of course towards Iran.

Just last month, Israel conducted a complex military exercise involving over 150 aircraft flying 900 miles over the Mediterranean Sea, that was widely interpreted as a rehearsal for an air strike against Iran's dozens of nuclear facilities. A top former officer from Mossad, the Israeli equivalent of the CIA, told TIME that Israel is mindful that an air strike on Iran would jolt the U.S. presidential election - probably rebounding badly on Republican contender Senator John McCain. Sources say that Israel sees a narrow "window of opportunity" for military action opening up between November and the swearing-in of the new American president next January. "No Israel leader wants to be blamed for destroying the Republican chances," says the former Mossad officer.

But will Israel really go it alone and attack Iran if talks break down, or is the threat simply a bluff aimed at prompting the U.S. and Europe to step up the pressure on Tehran? Until now, Israel has been using a "hold me back, or I'll do something crazy" tactic, concedes the ex-Mossad officer.

The Israelis do believe time is short. An Israeli military planner estimates that Iran will reach "the point of no return" in developing the capacity to build nuclear weapons by early 2009. The U.S. sees things differently, he says, calculating that Iran will have enriched enough uranium to weapons-grade to be able to build a bomb by mid-2010. Both scenarios, says the Israeli planner, "give them some leeway for negotiations, but not much."

Despite Israel's top-notch air force, launching a long-range strike against a multitude of hidden targets in Iran entails huge risks and uncertain rewards. At most, say Israeli intelligence sources, an attack - which Israel would only undertake with a nod and perhaps logistical support from the U.S. - is likely to stall Iran's program by only a year or two. And that makes the cost-benefit analysis weigh against an air strike on Iran, according to some senior Israeli officials who urge caution.

Active and retired Israeli intelligence officials interviewed by TIME tended to dismiss Iran's threats of retaliation against Israel and the U.S. Ephraim Halevy, the previous Mossad chief who now heads the Center for Strategic and Policy Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says, "Iran is not 10 feet tall." Halevy contends that a barrage of Iran's missiles on Israel would not do too much damage, since dozens would be shot down by Israel's advanced anti-missile system. (Iran staged a missile test recently in which the published photo had been doctored to hide the fact that one of the fired missiles was a dud.) Halevy claims that "the relative success" of the U.S. military's surge in Iraq has curtailed Iran's capacity for mischief among its Shi'ite brethren in Iraq. He also doubts that Iran's ally Syria, which has long-range missiles, or its Hizballah and Hamas allies would risk a major dust-up merely to exact revenge on Iran's behalf. Still, Halevy warns that the long-term effects of attacking Iran could be devastating for Israel, and the region. "This could have an impact on us for the next 100 years," he says. "It will have a negative effect on public opinion in the Arab world, and we should only do [a strike on Iran] as a last resort."

Meir Javedanfar a respected, Iranian-born writer and analyst specializing in Israel-Iranian relations, warns that an Israeli attack would unite Iranians around their hawkish president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "This would guarantee that Ahmadinejad wins next year's elections," says Javendafari, who says that right now the incumbent's reelection is in doubt because of the economic hardship he has brought to Iran's middle classes.

Whatever the real prospects for military action, in the game of rhetorical brinksmanship, Israel has matched every hot-headed statement from Ahmadinejad with threats of its own. The Israeli press often compares Iran's bellicose, Holocaust-denying leader to Hitler. In the past few months, rightwing Israeli politicians, retired generals and pundits have ratcheted up rhetoric calling on Olmert to quash the "existential threat" from Iran. But lately, these war cries have been toned down, in part, to prepare the Israeli public for the possibility that it will not attack Iran on its own.

Says one former senior Mossad officer who served under Olmert, "Iran's achievement is creating an image of itself as a scary superpower when it's really a paper tiger." In Tehran, meanwhile, more sober heads among the clerical leadership whose authority is greater than that of the president's are reining in Ahmadinejad, says Javedanfar. After a public scolding in a conservative newspaper by a top aide to the Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ahmadinejad several weeks ago publicly declared that Iran has no intention of attacking Israel or anyone else unless it was hit first. Halevy concurs. "I don't detect an appetite among the Iranians to bring about a catastrophe." But, he cautions, "There's a narrowing gap of opportunity for negotiations."

The danger remains in this high-stakes game of brinksmanship that either Israel or the Iranians could push the other too far. But the Bush Administration's sudden overture towards Iran, and moves towards engaging it diplomatically in search of a solution to the nuclear impasse, makes it more likely that Israel will follow Washington's lead rather than striking out on its own. View this article on

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Friday, July 25, 2008

The Last Stand of the West

by Mary Katharine Ham

Note: America—and the West as a whole—cannot afford to ignore the battles waged, lessons learned and indignities suffered by the Israelis who share our values and fight to preserve them in the most inhospitable of climates.The following article is from the June issue of Townhall Magazine.  To subscribe to twelve issues of Townhall Magazine and receive a free copy of Andrew Learsy's Over a Barrel: Breaking Oil's Grip On Our Future, click here

In the hilltop neighborhood of Gilo in south-western Jerusalem, the chilly spring wind sweeps up through the town of Beit Jala below, bringing with it the stinging sands of the West Bank.

An eight-foot-high wall takes the brunt of the dusty breeze, as it wings harmlessly up and over the modern barriers of a conflict as ancient as the sand it carries. The wall was built in 2000 to protect Israeli children in their schools from sniper fire from the valley just 100 yards below.

In the days of the second intifada, Gilo was hit 400 times over a two-year period by Palestinian militants, injuring residents and causing major property damage. Palestinian terrorists, moved by Yasser Arafat’s call to arms, had forcibly overtaken the homes and schools of Palestinian Christians in the West Bank town of Beit Jala to send terror into Israel, as indiscriminately as the desert winds that whisper through the quiet valley.

Decorated by Israelis with cartoon animals and idyllic family scenes, the high, concrete sniper wall of Gilo embodies the struggle of a people to protect children while preserving childhood. The wall is a struggle to be both safe and free.

The struggle is the same in Metulla and Qiryat Shemona, where the goal of the Israeli Defense Forces’ Northern Command is to give Israeli citizens near the Lebanon border a “liveable life” within sight of the bright yellow flag of Hezbollah.

The struggle is in the small town of Sderot in southern Israel, where children play soccer on short fields, the better to rush to a bomb shelter. They have only 15 seconds to run when a Code Red alarm warns of another Qassam rocket from the Gaza Strip.

It’s in Tel Aviv, where parents let their children walk out the door, hoping they don’t walk into a club or a bus whose name will live in infamy, such as the Dolphinarium (21 dead, 100 injured in a suicide bombing, 2001) or Bus 5 (22 dead, 50 injured in a suicide attack, 1994).

A Shared Enemy

It is easy in this, the 60th year of Israel’s existence, to believe blithely that the Middle East’s tiny besieged bastion of Western thought will continue to endure simply because it always has. But, what four hijacked American jetliners brought home to the United States in a horrific, towering blaze of national tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001, is that we are engaged in the same struggle.

Radical Islamists had tried to send the message before: when Islamic Jihad bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983, killing 63, and bombed a Marine barracks killing 242; when Hezbollah killed 19 servicemen at Khobar Towers in 1996; when al Qaeda struck two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998; and when the same group drove a dinghy into the U.S.S. Cole, killing 16 in 2000.

We neglected to draw the line from Sayiid Qutb’s short educational stint in Greeley, Colo., in 1948 to the holy war waged against us in 2001. We did not see that the cranky Egyptian scholar observed American culture with disdain. It was, after all, the year Israel won its independence by defeating four invading Arab armies—the Arabic word for the war is “The Catastrophe”—that Qutb first developed his distaste for the West.

We did not know that his almost comic dyspepsia would eventually metastasize into a declaration of all modern society as jahiliyya—the unredeemed period of history before the founding of Islam—making it open season for jihad on Jews, Christians, Westerners and even secular Muslims complicit in the maintenance of modernity itself. Qutb’s “scholarship” boasted such famous acolytes as Ayman al Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, and fueled the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a branch of which now runs the Gaza Strip after wresting it violently from the more moderate Fatah party of the Palestinian Authority in summer 2007. That branch is Hamas, and it now smuggles tons of explosives per month into Gaza and has shot more than 2,700 rockets into the civilian population of southern Israel since disengagement.

Ayatollah Khomeini, the other father of radical Islamist thought and Qutb’s Shia counterpart and contemporary, founded an Islamic state in Iran that now unites the causes of extremist Islamists of all sects by funding the wars of Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel and the terrorism of extremists in Iraq against Iraqi and American forces.

This article is from the June issue of Townhall Magazine.  To subscribe to twelve issues of Townhall Magazine and receive a free copy of Andrew Learsy's Over a Barrel: Breaking Oil's Grip On Our Future, click here

President Bush has always advocated, wisely, taking terrorists at their word, famously using Osama bin Laden’s words in a 2005 speech to stress that among terrorists “there is no debate” about Iraq being central to the War on Terror.

In that spirit, these are the words of Hamas MP and Cleric Yunis Al-Astal preached on Al-Aqsa TV in April: “Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered. … Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics … this capital of theirs will be an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread through Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, and even Eastern Europe.”

Make no mistake, it is the same fight. From the craggy hills of the West Bank to the lush heights of Golan, Israel is a testing ground for their tactics, a proving ground for their martyrs and a potential foothold for their bloody philosophy. The West cannot afford to ignore the battles waged, lessons learned and indignities suffered by those who share our values and fight to preserve them in the most inhospitable of climates.

Close Quarters, High Stakes

As an American, standing in Israel in 2008, it is hard not to simultaneously despair at the conundrum of our ally and admire the determination of its people.

From the desert hills of the West Bank, one can see Jerusalem, the sky-line of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean Sea, a mere nine miles across the country from an area filled with its mortal enemies.

If one could look overhead and see the missile ranges of Israel’s neighbors painted red against a brilliant blue sky, they would be as inescapable as the sun’s blaze. Hezbollah’s Zelzal-2 reaches 130 miles, deep into Israel’s south where it meets up with the 12– to 24-mile range of Katyushas in Gaza. The entire country and surrounding regions are easily inside Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities and nuclear aspirations.

“You can literally fight a battle in the morning and pick up your kids from kindergarten in the afternoon,” said a lieutenant colonel in the Israeli Army.

Those are the stakes.

The proximity has advantages and disadvantages. Israeli forces have cultivated human intelligence of varying ethnicities and Arabic dialects for years. Today, U.S. Marines travel to Israel twice a year for desert warfare training with the IDF, and the two countries share both intelligence findings and techniques, but there have been times when the U.S. has not always learned the lessons it should have from its old friends.

Gideon Ezra, former Deputy Head of the General Security Services in Israel and a current member of the Knesset with the centrist party of Kadima, knows well the value of human intelligence and the dangers of operating without it.

“I knew when you went into Iraq, you didn’t have enough Arabic speakers,” he said, shaking his head ruefully. “Without intelligence, you can’t learn. Intelligence is No. 1. We know, personally, everyone there,” he said, referring to Israeli operations in the West Bank and Gaza.

When Israel makes a mistake, either in tactic or negotiation, the consequences are visited immediately upon its civilian population. Israelis don’t have the luxury Americans are sometimes accused of indulging in—“going to the mall while the Marines go to war.” The Jerusalem mall could become the front lines within seconds.

“The departure was three years ago and then our lives changed,” said Sderot resident Chen Abrams of Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005. “More than 60 missiles a day. … Life stops and it stops for a long time,” said the mother of one, who has decided to stay despite the barrage, though 10 percent of the town’s population has already left and more than 60 percent say they would if they had the means. Experts are afraid the ever-increasing threat of a nuclear strike from Iran could have the same effect on the entire country, effectively eliminating the state of Israel without having to nuke it.

In 2005, Israel ordered about 8,500 Jewish settlers to evacuate 21 settlements in Gaza, land occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967. The process was gut-wrenching, grown IDF soldiers weeping as they pulled fellow countrymen forcibly from their family homes. The cost was high, but the reward was a chance at peace.

Standing in Sderot today, one can see just two miles away the flat, dirt expanse left by the razing of Jewish settlements is now filled with Hamas training camps.

“Today, to say that Gaza Strip should be demilitarized, it sounds like a bad joke, ” said Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser of the IDF Reserves, with a bitter laugh.

Kuperwasser, after years of hopes lifted and crushed, has the same assessment of the West that Churchill had of Americans: It “can always be counted on to do the right thing ... after it has exhausted all other possibilities.”

In the north of Israel, civilians watched the same thing happen in Lebanon. When Israel withdrew to the internationally recognized borders from its security zone in southern Lebanon in 2000, it precipitated the arms build-up by Hezbollah that led to the 2006 war.

Though five weeks of fighting dented Hezbollah’s capabilities and sent Hassan Nasrallah to “live like a worm in the ground,” according to a major in the Israeli Army, withdrawal has allowed a build-up of rockets that will not go unfired.

This article is from the June issue of Townhall Magazine.  To subscribe to twelve issues of Townhall Magazine and receive a free copy of Andrew Learsy's Over a Barrel: Breaking Oil's Grip On Our Future, click here

Even so, news broke this spring that Israel, working through Turkey, may be willing to restart peace talks with Syria. The cost to Israel would be the Golan Heights, captured in the ’67 war, a strategic and aesthetic high point of Israel’s holdings. The reward, ostensibly, would be peace with a longtime enemy, though the outlook seems grim.

This is the twisted, exasperating road to peace in the Middle East, lined with potholes, corkscrews and roadside bombs, and Israel walks it because it must. They will not kneel in front of enemies, but they have determined they’ll be ready to sit down with them.

For most citizens, the withdrawal from Gaza illustrated Jewish willingness to endure pain for peace. The Left supported it at the time, the Right opposed it. Today, Left, Right and Center are joined in seeing the aftermath of disengagement as an illustration of Palestinian willingness to endure pain to prevent the very thing they claim to want.

Hamas regularly bombs border crossings where Israel ships humanitarian aid to Gazans. It attacks the fuel depot inside Israel, which supplies 70 percent of the power to Gaza. It threatens the Palestinian Authority’s grasp on the West Bank and renders negotiations meaningless.

The people we’re dealing with don’t believe in solutions,” Kuperwasser said. “There’s a game going on. Everyone has a role and reads from the script, but everyone knows it’s just a game.”

Winning Like Westerners

And yet, Israel continues to practice restraint with Palestinian communities and other Arab neighbors who seem more and more willing to cast off the two-state solution in favor of a single solution for the Jews.

The security fence between the West Bank and Israel is a counterin-tuitive example of their attempts to coexist. Israel’s critics call it the “apartheid wall” and bemoan the separation it causes between the people of the region. But it was not the wall that caused the rift.

The first suicide attack of the second intifada happened in December 2000. In March 2002, 100 people died at the hands of Palestinian terrorists, the worst an attack on a Passover seder at a hotel in Natanya killing 29 and wounding 140.

They sent the traditional murderers—angry young men, unemployed and marginalized—but they also sent 17-year-old girls to blow up supermarkets, two brothers of 12 and 8 to blow up a Gaza settlement. All of Israel stood agape at this new form of evil.

The assault was particularly shocking given that Prime Minister Ehud Barak had moved further in the direction of Palestinian demands at the recent Camp David talks than any of his predecessors, even putting the division of Jerusalem on the negotiation table. Palestinians refused sweetened deal after sweetened deal without even a pause in the violence. It was a barbaric gambit to bring the West to its knees by bringing death to its door.

By 2004, Israel had decided to block its doorway. Today, a 400-mile barrier prevents 95 percent of Palestinian terror attacks, according to Israeli Defense Force officials.

In the center is an electronic intrusion-detection fence, which warns the IDF of breaches.

When a would-be terrorist trips the fence’s detection system, the IDF is signaled and responds within minutes. In many cases, the tracking is done with the help of Bedouins and Druze, tribal desert denizens who are part of Israeli society and offer their ancient expertise in reading the desert’s clues to the modern task of counter-terrorism. Most recently, the Bedouin Desert Battalion foiled an attack from Gaza on Passover Eve.

A mere 4 percent of the barrier is made of concrete, though that’s the section of it you’ll see most frequently in news reports. The concrete wall is reserved for densely populated areas and along highways where motorists would otherwise be subject to sniper fire.

The struggle is constant to minimize its impact on Palestinians while protecting Israelis. The fence boasts 44 gates to provide Palestinian farmers access to their crops. Israel has replanted thousands of olive trees for Palestinian farmers, to protect them from the route of the fence.

The very route of the fence is open to petitioning by Palestinians. In 2004, the Israeli Supreme Court sided with eight Palestinian communities over the army, ruling that the fence had to be moved to prevent further interference with the lives of Palestinians. There was a legislative attempt to get around the ruling, but then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared, “There is a court ruling, and we shall will it out.”

Palestinians have access to the Israeli Supreme Court, to an almost ludicrous degree, in fact. An IDF legal adviser—the equivalent of an American JAG—tells the story of a 2 a.m. bombing of a suspected weapons cache in Gaza interrupted by a last-minute petition to the Supreme Court by the owner of the house to be bombed. IDF troops were on the ground, evacuating the area and wiring the building when a secretary of the Supreme Court called the legal adviser to halt the operations. A Supreme Court judge had to be roused from sleep to hear a telephonic brief about the target in question and decide whether to grant an injunction stopping the operation.

“I think we play really safe,” the legal adviser said. “But even with all these limitations, we win.”

A “Liveable Life”

For Israel, that’s the bottom line: to defend itself while preserving its values, to win while remaining Western. Even the more cynical of Israeli military commanders will tell you as Kupperwassen does, “I believe in the West. I believe we will prevail.”

On the northern border, a major with the Northern Command is determined to provide a “liveable life” to the citizens in his charge. He looks to the hills of Lebanon and says that the second intifada had shown them the worst they could see, and they had survived.

In Jerusalem, a 17-year-old aspiring musician slumps in his chair over Sabbath dinner when he talks about putting his dreams on hold to serve his required stint in the Israeli Army. His mother shrugs her shoulders and explains that he was born into a world of war. When she took him home from the hospital, it was during the First Gulf War. The hospital provided her with a tiny baby gas mask for him.

They are not resigned to this life, but ready to live through it to another, more peaceful time. They are not inconsolable in the face of busted negotiations, but interested in reaching new ones that last. The struggle of Israel and the West in this fight is not about despair, but determination. It may also be about patience, a virtue about which the Jewish people have plenty to teach to other Westerners exhausted by seven years of bloody conflict against radical Islam.

As Yaacov Lozowick, Israeli scholar and archivist at Israel’s Holocaust Museum wrote in his, “Right to Exist:”

“My own opinion is that we have 150 years to go. The Muslim world resisted the Crusaders for 200 years until they finally gave up and left. From their perspecive, we are a second wave of Crusaders, uncalled-for invaders from West. … We have resisted their pressure for 50-plus years, which is more than they expected, but they remember that the first time around it took longer, and they can wait. Perhaps we will need to outlast the Crusaders before they begin to understand that we are another story—that for us, 200 years is as nothing when compared with 2,000. If that’s what it takes, so be it.”

For Americans, 200 years is all we know. In the years to come, when missiles may gain range, grievances may gain ground and enemies may gain new tools of destruction, we will see the lessons of Israel’s long struggle echoed in our tactics. We will see her technology echoed in our tools and her call for restraint echoed in our debates. And, if we are successful, we’ll always see the spirit of that colorful sniper wall in Gilo reflected in our determination to remain safe and free, to walk the frustrating line between security and freedom even when our enemies do not, and to do it well enough to win. Until one day, at long last, all the wind carries from Beit Jala to Gilo, from Gaza to Israel, from the Middle East to America, is sand.

Editor's note: Mary Katharine Ham's feature, "Last, Long Stand of the West," which appeared in the June issue of Townhall Magazine was written with information and interviews gathered during a March trip to Israel for American journalists paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation. The AIEF is a supporting charity affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  



July 24, 2008

Obama Expresses "Unshakable Commitment" To Israel

As he toured Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Sen. Barack Obama yesterday sought to reassure Israelis, and that nation's backers in the US, that he is committed to protecting their security. The AP reports Obama yesterday "professed 'an unshakable commitment to the security' of Israel, whether the threat comes from terrorists, Iran or elsewhere." Obama said, "The way you know where somebody's going is where have they been. And I've been with Israel for many, many years now." However, Obama "sidestepped a question of whether he would condone an Israeli attack to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

The Los Angeles Times reports, "With much of the fanfare of a visiting head of state," Obama "met today with top political leaders in Israel and the Palestinian territories." President Shimon Peres "urged Obama to strive 'to be a great president of the United States.'" The Washington Post adds that Obama pledged "to make peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians one of his highest priorities if he becomes president." The New York Daily News reports, "From all appearances, Obama's meetings with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres, went smoothly."

The visit received prominent coverage on the evening news programs, but less so than in recent days when it regularly led the broadcasts, being supplanted by coverage of Hurricane Dolly. ABC World News said, "This trip to Israel presented a number of pitfalls for Obama, for he has promised to make the search for a Middle East peace a top priority." In an interview with ABC, Obama said, "The main purpose of the trip from my perspective is looking at some of the most critical issues that the next president is going to have to deal with, and developing some relationships that I think can be useful about solving some of those problems." NBC Nightly News reported, "On a day filled with symbols, including a visit to Israel's Holocaust memorial, Barack Obama took a guided tour of the country's vulnerable borders to signal his support for Israel's security. With a message aimed both at Israelis and voters back home, he went to ground zero for Israel's conflict with Hamas Sderot -- barely a mile from Gaza. Until a ceasefire last month, it was hit daily by rockets and artillery shells from Gaza." The CBS Evening News adds Obama "did spend an hour with the Palestinian president, something John McCain did not do on his trip here. But the focus of the day was to try to reassure Jewish voters who are suspicious of him. It's an uphill battle."

The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal also both report on how the trip figures into Obama's efforts to woo Jewish voters at home. The Post says the visit "is a testament to the presidential candidate's ongoing concerns about the Jewish vote this November, and the extraordinary lengths to which" Obama "is going to ensure support from that traditional Democratic constituency." The Journal says Obama, "seeking to woo Israel and Jewish-American voters," took a "hawkish line on Iran's nuclear program." The Los Angeles Times notes that while Obama "is comfortably ahead of" McCain "in polls among Jewish voters," he's "running more than 10 points behind where Democratic nominee John F. Kerry was in 2004, according to several recent polls. He is nearly 20 points behind where Bill Clinton finished in 1992."

Tough Talk On Iranian Nukes The Financial Times reports Obama said, "Iranians need to understand that whether it is the Bush administration or the Obama administration, this is a paramount concern to the United States. A nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat and the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." McClatchy reports that Iran and its nuclear program "was a recurring theme throughout" Obama's "private meetings" with Israeli leaders.

Obama Erroneously Says He's On Banking Committee

McClatchy said Barack Obama "tried to boast about what he'd done to protect Israel" yesterday, saying, "Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee - which is my committee - a bill to call for divestment from Iran as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon." McClatchy adds, "Why that's wrong: Obama is not a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Ironically, a man who traveled with Obama to the Mideast this week, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., is a member of the committee." On Fox News' Special Report's roundtable, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard said the mistake "is something that certainly would have gotten John McCain in trouble," and noted that Obama didn't even vote on the bill.

McCain Says Obama Backs "Unconditional Withdrawal" From Iraq

ABC World News reported Sen. Barack Obama "may be out of the country, but he's not been out of range from attacks by" Sen. John McCain. ABC adds that "day after day," McCain "has challenged Obama's domestic policies and been quick to point out his inexperience in foreign affairs." McCain is shown saying, "So apparently, Sen. Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." ABC adds, "That's pretty strong language. Do you really think he's that craven?" McCain said, "I think that it's very clear that Sen. Obama has refused to recognize that the strategy in Iraq called the surge has succeeded." Fox News' Special Report reported the McCain camp is "now referring to Barack Obama's Iraq policy as 'unconditional withdrawal.'" McCain: "He still fails to acknowledge that we have succeeded, and he is in favor of an unconditional withdrawal." Fox adds, "Look for the buzz phrase 'unconditional withdrawal' to be in the lips of Republicans pretty much constantly between now and the Election Day."


With or Without Nukes, Iran Is a Mortal Threat

July 13, 2008

by Journo, Elan

Imagine that your neighborhood is overrun by a gang. These brutes are wielding crowbars, knives, and pistols in a frenzied spree of home break-ins and mugging and murder. Now suppose the police reveal that their grand strategy for dealing with this gang is to block them from getting submachine guns--as if without such weapons, the gang would no longer bother people.
Would you sleep soundly at night?
Or would you be outraged? Of course you would, because this gang--even without more powerful weapons--is already a serious menace that must be stopped.
Now, what would you say if this ridiculous what-if scenario resembled our actual response to the very real threat from Iran?
Ever since taking U.S. embassy staff hostage in 1979, the Islamist regime in Teheran has led an international spree of bombings, hijackings, and other terrorist attacks on Americans and Westerners. Now politicians and diplomats, who put up with Iranian aggression for years, are loudly promising to block Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.
On the campaign trail, for instance, the candidates debate how (i.e., with or without preconditions) they'd negotiate to dissuade Iran from pursuing a nuke--on the idea that without such a weapon in Iranian hands, everything will be hunky-dory.
But the uncomfortable truth is that if the mullahs got a nuke, Iran would not suddenly undergo a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation from a friendly neighbor into a rabid enemy. Iran long ago proved itself a threat that must be stopped; a nuclear arsenal would only make it a far worse threat.
For three decades the ayatollahs of Iran have been using proxies--such as Hezbollah--to carry out murderous attacks. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps helped create and train Hezbollah, which hijacked a TWA airliner and which kidnapped and tortured to death American citizens. Iran pulled the strings behind the 1983 bomb attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon and later the barracks of U.S. Marines, killing 241 Americans. Iran also orchestrated the 1996 car bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, where 19 U.S. servicemen died.
There's more: The 9/11 Commission found that "senior al Qaeda operatives and trainers traveled to Iran to receive training in explosives," and that "8 to 10 of the 14 Saudi 'muscle' operatives traveled into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001." During the Afghanistan war, Iran welcomed fleeing al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Today, according to the U.S. military, Iran is running training camps near Teheran for Iraqi insurgents, who return to Iraq to practice and train others in their bomb-making skills. There's also growing evidence that Iraqi insurgents get bomb technology from Iran. 
What's going on here?
A rational assessment of Iran would have to recognize that the mullahs in Teheran have been conducting a proxy war against America. The inspiration for this war is Iran's jihadist goal of imposing Islamic totalitarianism globally. Iran is a leading sponsor of jihadists and the self-identified role model for exporting its Islamic revolution to other countries. It is the sworn enemy of the West. We should take seriously its call to bring "Death to America!"--because it has already done so.
But too many American diplomats and commentators refuse to judge Iran. Instead, they regard its past hostility as a string of disconnected crises, unrelated to Iran's ideological agenda. They avoid naming the nature of the regime and behave as if its acquisition of a nuclear weapon would be the decisive event. But that particular weapon--despite its power--cannot be the whole story, since we don't worry about other countries, such as France and Britain, having nukes. The rarely admitted difference is that the regime in Iran would eagerly press the launch button.
This fear-the-weapon-not-the-killer mentality refuses to understand the threat posed by Iran right now. This view holds that only the concrete facts about Iran's arsenal have any practical significance, while its abstract, ideological goals and character can be disregarded with impunity. But whether Iran uses one nuke, or attacks with more conventional weapons, its victims are still dead.
Our leaders' narrow concern with Iran's nuclear capability cannot make the regime's longstanding hostility to America go away. Americans should face the real character and conduct of the Iranian regime, before it is too late.
The opinions and views articulated by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Israel e News.


by Julie Ann Dawson

"Maybe that's a way of killing them," McCain said

July 14, 2008 09:51 AM EDT

I guess this is some of that "foreign affairs experience" we here so much about.;_ylt=AvEB_dz81eyjlvdxRYEq6hpp24cA

Last week, McCain was asked about an Associated Press report that the U.S. exported $158 million worth of cigarettes to Iran during the Bush administration in spite of restrictions on U.S. imports.

"Maybe that's a way of killing them," McCain said. He then said that he was joking.

Now this is just a WTF? moment.  It's one thing when a candidate's advisors or spokespeople make ridiculous comments to reports.  You can sort of let the candidate himself pass sometimes because you can't control what is going to come out of someone else's mouth.  But you can...or shall I say should...control what comes out of your own.

Relations with Iran have not been this tense since the Iran Hostage fiasco.  We are being told by the government this country is trying to build nukes.  We have reason to believe Israel may be planning a pre-emptive strike that could drag us into yet another war.  And then McCain jokes to a reporter that exporting cigarettes to Iran might be a way to kill them all off?

Now this is the would be one thing to make an off-color joke in the privacy of your home or with a group of friends.  Hell, I have a somewhat morbid sense of humor.  I've said similar things in private to groups of friends.  But to say something like that to an ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTER, in direct response to a question regarding exporting goods to Iran, knowing full well it will be printed and reach the eyes of the Iranian government...

 This is the experience of being in Washington 26 years?



KUHNER: Bush's Iran U-turn

Sunday, July 20, 2008


The Bush administration's decision to send a top U.S. diplomat, William Burns, to meet with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator at a European Union-led meeting in Switzerland is a victory for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The White House insists the move does not signify a change in policy toward Tehran. Washington has vowed it will not negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program until it temporarily suspends uranium enrichment. The White House claims the meeting is "a one-time U.S. participation," and that Mr. Burns - the State Department's third-highest ranking diplomat - will only "listen, not negotiate." This is irrelevant.

The Burns mission gives Mr. Ahmadinejad the one thing he needs: time. Placing U.S. policy on a diplomatic track allows Mr. Ahmadinejad to prolong the negotiating process. This enables Tehran to obfuscate, deceive and confuse the international community. Iran is not interested in genuine talks; rather, it is using the guise of diplomacy - just as Adolf Hitler did to rearm Germany during the 1930s - to build a nuclear arsenal.

Mr. Ahmadinejad claims Iran craves nuclear energy for civilian purposes only. This is a lie. Tehran possesses the world's second largest natural-gas reserves and the fifth largest crude-oil reserves. It has no need for domestic nuclear power.

Moreover, if that was the regime's genuine intent, it would not have endured international isolation and crippling sanctions for the last six years. Iran would have allowed the United Nations full and immediate access to its nuclear sites.

The U.S. and its European partners have repeatedly stressed they support Tehran having peaceful nuclear energy. Instead of transparency, however, Iran has blocked the U.N.'s watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at every turn.

In May, the IAEA said Tehran's behavior remains bellicose and troubling: Its uranium enrichment program continues; it refuses to explain evidence of designs for underground testing facilities; it conducts tests of explosive detonators often used for nuclear weapons; it has revamped the Shahab-3 missile to be able to carry a nuclear warhead; and most ominously, it is employing nuclear scientists who are actively studying how America detonated its first plutonium bomb in 1945.

If Iran gets the nuclear bomb the results will be cataclysmic - for Israel, the Middle East and the United States. Mr. Ahmadinejad is a revolutionary Shi'ite mystic, whose goal is to create a global Muslim empire. He has vowed to "wipe Israel off the map." His dream is a "world without America." Like Hitler, Mr. Ahmadinejad is a fanatic. He sees himself as divinely ordained to bring about the 12th imam or the "Mahdi," which according to fundamentalist Shi'ite theology will usher in an apocalypse leading to a universal caliphate.

Iran is a clerical, fascist state. It fosters state-sanctioned anti-Semitism. It supports Islamist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas. It seeks to destabilize Lebanon. It has transformed Syria into a political vassal. It funds and trains insurgents operating in Iraq in order to murder American soldiers and force a humiliating U.S. retreat.

The fatal flaw in the European Union's and State Department's approach is the assumption that Iran is a conventional Mideast power seeking the traditional objectives of enhanced geopolitical prestige and influence - a sort of revived Persian empire with a Shi'ite snarl. In fact, the very opposite is true: Iran is a revolutionary power bent on making the Middle East - and eventually, the world - safe for radical Islam. Tehran's aim is not only to dominate the region, but to annihilate its enemies.

If Iran obtains nuclear weapons, a regional arms race will be triggered. This will greatly increase the chances that Islamic terrorists will get their hands on weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, a military showdown with Israel will be inevitable. Mr. Ahmadinejad will not sit back and allow Tehran's nukes to serve as a strategic deterrent: He will use them in a devastating first strike against Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. His warped Shi'ite mythology demands that the Jews be driven out from the Middle East - even if millions of Israelis and Iranians are killed in the process.

America needs to put the military option front and center. Mr. Ahmadinejad should be offered a stark choice: End Iran's nuclear drive or face regime change. Nothing else will stop him from wreaking havoc on his people and the world.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist for The Washington Times.




Will Israel attack Iran? Consider the source.

Mon, 07/14/2008 - 9:37am
Over the weekend, Drudge and a good chunk of the blogosphere linked credulously to this story in The Times of London, written by one Uzi Mahnaimi. The story alleges that U.S. President George W. Bush has given Israel an "amber light" to attack Iran, according to a "senior Pentagon official."

Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you're ready," the official said.

If you read the entire piece, you'll see that it doesn't quite live up to its dramatic headline: "President George W Bush backs Israeli plan for strike on Iran." (The official is later quoted as saying, "If there is no solid plan, the amber will never turn to green," he said.)

The alarmism isn't entirely Mahnaimi's fault, since editors usually choose headlines. But our friend Uzi has a track record of breathless stories about alleged Israeli preparations to attack Iran. Here's one from January 2007 (using tactical nukes!), and another from December 2005. Or we could go back to July 2004. And remember that attack on Gaza? Mahnaimi is also notorious for reporting in 1998 that Israel was developing a biological weapon -- an "ethnic bomb" -- that would only kill Arabs.

The real story here is that the Israelis have developed plans to hit Iran's nuclear facilities -- did anyone think they hadn't? -- but the United States (correctly) thinks it's a bad idea. Read Jim Hoagland. He gets this story right.


Website exposes Israeli 'nuke secrets'


Leftist Israeli website claims to expose nuclear secrets published by foreign sources

Tal Rabinovsky

Israel News

Are Israel's nuke secrets available online?

The Armageddon website claims to sport vast amounts of information about Israel's nuclear program and its manufacturing and storage facilities, as published by various foreign sources.

The site is the brainchild of a large group of Israeli intellectuals, journalists and philosophers affiliated with an Israeli group advocating a Middle East free of atomic, biological, and chemical weapons; the organization says Knesset Member Dov Khenin (Hadash) is among its supporters.

According to the website's owners, the site is registered on an Israeli domain and is hosted on Australian-based servers. Armageddon's owners claim to be the proprietors of a second domain – – which they can use in case the Military Censor tries to take it of the air. The details of the second domain's owner are kept confidential – unlike those of the Israeli domain owner.

The group behind the website, backed by several organizations that oppose the distribution of weapons of mass destruction, decided that the topic of WMDs is not given its appropriate place in public debate and that its increasingly growing urgency in the Middle East calls for something to be done.


Website's homepage

According to the website, the venture is sponsored by British group CND – the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and found its Australian host with the assistance of Enzyme – a New-Zealand group that supports various progressive groups.

Gideon Spiro, a journalist and one of the site's contributing editors, told Ynet that "none of the information on the site is confidential, so we're not breaking the law. We simply think that when it comes to the nuclear program, the public was brainwashed by the government and doesn’t have any credible information."

MK Dov Khenin, rumored to be one of the site's supporters, denied Wednesday ever being approached by the site's editors: "I don't know the site so I can't relate to it… I'm an outspoken advocate for holding a debate on the nuclear (program) in both the political and public arenas. I believe that the longer these things get put off, the more difficult situation Israel may find itself in. I welcome any debate on the subject."

Israel, he added, has an honest interest in disarming the Middle East of any nuclear weapons. "One of our main needs is to demilitarize the region, Iran included… I think this should be one of the pivotal points in Israel's defense and foreign policy."

Spiro, on the other hand, is adamant about the fact the Khenin was indeed approached: "I spoke with him and got his consent to put his name on the site. Ideologically speaking, he opposes nuclear weapons, as does any environmentalist. The Hadash platform has a clause objecting to Israel having nuclear weapons. He must be committed to the idea."

Armageddon is not the only website detailing information about Israel's supposed nuclear capabilities: Surfing the internet for such information results in numerous websites that offer information about top secret units, tactical weapons and strategic measures held by Israel. The majority of information, however, is not available in Hebrew.

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit offered the following response: "The Military Censor is familiar with the website and is in the process of studying its content; it will make its decision in due time, regardless of the authenticity of the material posted on the website."

Niv Lillian contributed to this report,7340,L-3566189,00.html


India-US civilian nuke deal divides Muslim leaders
Tuesday, 8th July 2008. 2:41pm

By: Vishal Arora.

New Delhi: Even as the deal between India and the United States that allows Washington to sell civilian nuclear technology to New Delhi is expected to be operationalised in the near future, Indian Muslim clergy stand divided if the pact has anything to do with religion or their community.

While Muslim clerics from the well-known Islamic seminary Darul Uloom in the Deoband town in Uttar Pradesh state and the Jamiat Ulema e Hind organisation are saying the deal is only about India’s energy needs, sections of Muslim intellectuals and leaders of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) are of the opinion that the country’s partnership with the US will be unfavourable for the Muslim community given the US role in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The media on July 7 reported Maulana Abdul Khaliq Mohammad Islam of the Deoband seminary as saying that the deal was not against Muslims. Similarly, Jamiat secretary Kalimullah Khan Quasmi told the media that whether the deal was in national interest or not was for scientists and politicians to decide. “It is wrong to link the community with the controversy.”

The debate on the nuclear issue being pursued by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) national government began after Uttar Pradesh state chief minister Mayawati said it would hurt the sentiments of Muslims. Sections of the Muslim clergy and community leaders approved Mayawati’s statement, but others said it was wrong to give the deal a religious colour.

On July 26, 2006, the US House of Representatives approved the deal by a legislation that amended Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and thereby allowed the US to make an exception for India to keep its nuclear weapons without signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The amendment requires India to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities, and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect civilian facilities. After India’s first nuclear test in 1974, the US had imposed a ban on supplying nuclear fuel and technology to New Delhi.

Besides sections of the Muslim community, the Left parties that lend external support to the UPA government are opposing the deal. The Left front today withdrew support to the government. However, the government will survive, as Uttar Pradesh’s Samajwadi Party, which depends largely on the Muslim votebank, has surprisingly agreed to support the UPA on the nuclear deal.

A few days before the Samajwadi Party consented to support the deal, party general secretary Shahid Siddiqui had said in an interview that the pact was seen as a strategic alliance with the US and Israel in terms of military ties and even foreign policy outlook, and, therefore, Muslims would move away from all the parties that back the deal.