Friday, September 30, 2011

Erdogan Means Business

Erdogan addresses the 66th session of the UN General Assembly. Photo: AP
This article was published in the popular Turkish English-daily Today's Zaman and The Jerusalem Post, found here and here.

By: Daniel Nisman

Meddling in the internal affairs of other nations, sending warships on provocative patrol routes, and threatening regional neighbors with war were, just a short time ago, actions which soley characterized the Iranian regime’s pursuit of regional domination. Amidst the sweeping changes brought about by the Arab Spring, Turkey has found a window of opportunity to demonstrate its competency and capability for assuming a lead role in the Middle East, effectively abandoning its previous “Zero Problems” foreign policy in the process.

The "Zero Problems" approach to foreign policy was spearheaded by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu when the AKP party first came to power in 2002. The term refers to Turkey's pledge to maintain peaceful relations with its neighbors, as long as they respect Turkey's interests in return.  For many years, Syria seemed to be the major benefactor of this policy even though the two nations almost went to war in the early 1990's over Assad's alleged support of Kurdish Separatists. Under the "Zero Problems" policy, Syria became one of Turkey's primary trading partners, and at one point the two nations were conducting joint cabinet meetings.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Finding Hope in the Durban Disgrace

Activists protesting against Israel at the Durban conference
in South Africa. Photo: IJSN
This article was featured in the Jerusalem Post, found here.

By: Susan Maishlish

Although the notion may seem counterintuitive at first, there is a silver lining to Durban III – the commemoration of the United Nations World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which originally took place in Durban, South Africa back in 2001.

The fact that Durban III occurs under the UN banner is an abomination, yes- but it also an unmistakable symptom of a pervasive and growing phenomenon that must be diagnosed in order for effective treatment to be prescribed. As in previous years, the most recent incarnation of the conference exposed the true, malicious intentions of entities that intentionally distort reality for the sole purpose of delegitimizing the State of Israel. However, the conference has also inspired those who truly advocate for equality, justice, and dignity - the stated goals of Durban - to organize efforts advocating for an authentic return to these guiding principles.

Instead of channeling efforts into constructive activities that would encourage a viable two-state solution - a constructive solution based upon mutual acceptance, empathy and economic cooperation engendering measurable benefits for all interested parties – the Durban conferences encourage the opposite by fueling the same age-old bigotry, hatred and misinformation about Israel and her social and political policies.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Misplacing Blame in the Afghanistan Quagmire

Taliban fighters preparing for an attack on NATO forces
in Afghanistan. Photo: Reuters
By: Alex Trafton

I am an avid reader of Salon, the influential online magazine by progressive journalist David Talbot. Recently, I read an article by Glenn Greenwald, a regular Salon contributor who has written on a multitude of topics, including the “war on terror,” Gaza, Bradley Manning, etc. In the article, Greenwald takes the United States to task – erroneously, I believe - for its foreign policy in Afghanistan. He proposes that American military operations in Afghanistan are the primary cause of Afghani animosity towards the US, and are responsible for the soaring recruitment figures amongst Afghani youth enlisting in terrorist causes across the country.

Greenwald states, “Of course, the goal of ridding Afghanistan of all those who want to fight us will never happen precisely because the American military presence in their country produces an endless supply of American-hating fighters.” 

Greenwald’s position is a common sentiment that has repeatedly emerged in criticism of American foreign policy in the Middle East. According to this perspective, the existence of radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan is the fault of the Americans currently engaged in a vigorous war against Islamic terrorism there. Indisputably, there is some truth in this assertion; insurgent groups definitely generate many recruits due to the extended presence and tactics of US forces in the country. However, is the volatile combination of errant foreign policy and a misguided military campaign the reason for the theocratic assault the United States is facing, as Greenwald insinuates?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rhetoric vs Reality: “Lawfare” and the Palestinian Statehood Bid

Palestinians hold a massive rally in Ramallah in support
of Abbas' UN statehood bid. Photo: AP
This article was featured in The Jerusalem Post, found here.

By: Josh Mintz

In February 2010, the IDF’s Chief Military Advocate General, Avichai Mandelblit, was quoted in this diplomatic cable as saying that a successful Palestinian Authority attempt to take Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes would be considered an act of war by the IDF.

The statement was perceived as rather bizarre for two reasons. First and foremost, the Palestinian Authority has no real ability to take any case to the ICC; its advances have been rejected every time and don’t exactly look set to improve with the breakdown of the PA’s unity deal. Secondly, and perhaps more alarmingly, the statement exhibits hostility towards the international legal system, which is certainly a worrying trait in relation to the IDF’s top legal position. Nearly one week ago, Danny Efroni replaced Mandelblit;  however, it is fair to assume that Efroni inherited a staff that possesses not-so-subtle traces of Mandelblit’s positions, ideals and political culture.

The problem with this outward hostility towards the recognized principles of international law is that, whilst Security Council vetoes may prevent full membership, the majority of states in the UN General Assembly have made clear their intentions to grant the Palestinian Authority non-member state observer status in the UN.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ehud Olmert: Peace Now, or Never

Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert meet with President
Mahmoud Abbas for peace talks in Jericho back in 2008
Ehud Olmert - the former Israeli prime minister who nearly succeeded in securing a comprehensive peace deal with Mahmoud Abbas back in 2008 - has written an excellent op-ed in the New York Times, entitled "Peace Now, or Never," found here. We've re-posted some specific excerpts from the article below, as many of us here at IC believe some of the main points Olmert makes are sound arguments.

However, it's important to emphasize that we realize establishing a peace agreement similar to the delineation Olmert provides here may not be practical or possible in the current political climate...or ever, perhaps. Regardless, it appears logical to us that the most plausible, comprehensive peace agreement would incorporate many of the elements found within Olmert's article.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

For Palestinians, Non-Violence Paves the Path to Statehood

Palestinians showing support for Abbas' statehood bid ahead of
the crucial UN vote. Photo: Hurriyet Daily News
Shortened versions of this article were published on Ma'an News Agency and Palestine Note, found here and here.

By: Daniel Nisman

Back in 2007, visiting the West Bank city of Nablus required passage through one of the most notorious checkpoints in the Palestinian Territories: Hawara. Named after a small Palestinian village located in close proximity to Nablus, Hawara was known to the IDF as a magnet for pipe bombs, stabbing attacks and suicide bombers on their way to assault targets inside of Israel. For Palestinians, the checkpoint was the cause of daily misery, crippling their freedom of movement and destroying their economy and livelihood.

In 2011, Hawara, along with hundreds of other checkpoints, was dismantled, enabling unrestricted freedom of movement to and from Nablus. As part of goodwill gestures to the Palestinian Authority, the IDF decided to gradually ease security measures in the area, despite the fact that Israel and the Palestinians are still deadlocked in a bitter conflict with no end in sight. Although a critical difference separates 2007 and today: the Palestinians ingeniously replaced their violent tactics for civil demonstrations and peaceful protests, a phenomenon that Israel seems increasingly unable to counter in an effective manner.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Illusion of Stability in the West Bank

PA security forces preparing to arrest Hamas militants in the West Bank
city of Qalqilya. Photo: Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters
This article was featured in The Jerusalem Post, found here.

By: Avi Yesawich

Last week, a few important misconceptions were shattered by the discovery of an extensive Hamas terror ring operating covertly in the West Bank: That the West Bank is a bastion of law and order, that Fatah retains effective control over the area, and that the potential for a Hamas takeover of the West Bank isn't real. The collaborative sting operation, conducted by the Shin Bet, IDF and Israeli Police, resulted in the exposure of 13 active terror cells and the arrest of dozens of Hamas members.

The extent of the terror cells’ network was startling: a complex, international operation involving extensive financing, money laundering, intelligence and weapons smuggling operations. The terror cell was plotting several attacks on Israel, and was responsible for the Jerusalem bombing last March which left 47 injured and one dead. Future attacks were to include suicide bombings in Jerusalem neighborhoods, kidnappings, and shooting attacks throughout the West Bank and Israel.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Foreign Embassies in the Middle East: A History of Violence

A protestor waves an Egyptian flag during an attack
on the Israeli embassy. Photo: New York Times
By: Alex Trafton

While watching the Israeli embassy in Cairo was assaulted by an angry mob of Egyptians earlier this week, the incident made me wonder: Is this an isolated event? Did the attack really occur because Egyptians resent the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty? Or is it part of a larger, unsettling trend?

Based on historical narrative, we can say with at least some level of certainty that this phenomenon goes beyond the sole issue of whether a predominately Muslim population decides to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel. It actually extends to a general intolerance of dialogue within the religious Islamic framework, and the ultimate cathartic action available is the destruction and immolation of the foreign embassies in question.

Embassy attacks in Muslim countries are hardly a new phenomenon. In 2005, a Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten, published 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. As a result of this “provocation,” a firestorm of anger erupted from Muslims around the globe, including Europe. In response to the public outrage, diplomatic representatives from several predominately Muslim countries came forth to request that Danish PM Jan Pieter Balkendende censor these newspapers, in a clear violation of free speech. A curious development, indeed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is Egypt Ready for Democracy?

Egyptians deserve freedom from tyranny, but are they ready for the
responsibilities  that comes with democracy? Photo by: Ben Curtis/AP
A shortened version of this piece was posted on Ynetnews, found here.

By: Daniel Nisman

This past weekend, Israelis watched in horror as an angry mob of Egyptians fervently destroyed the only physical representation of the Jewish State within their grasp. The hatred displayed by the young Egyptians evoked painful memories of the Ramallah lynching that took place in October 2000 at the beginning of the 2nd Intifada.

During that incident, two IDF reservists took a wrong turn into the Palestinian territories, where they were arrested and taken to a local police station. After word spread of their capture, a horde of angry Palestinians raided the station and proceeded to literally tear the reservists’ bodies apart in a repulsive act of bigotry and hate.

As I watched the scenario unfold last night, it sparked an overwhelming sense of fear that each forthcoming scene would reveal the lifeless bodies of Israeli security guards and consulate workers paraded shamelessly by the mob, as Egyptians struggled against one another for the opportunity to dismember the people they despise beyond sensibility. Luckily, the episode ended without any casualties, and the embassy staff being evacuated with the help of Egyptian Special Forces.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Site Re-Design: We Want Your Feedback

Dear IC Enthusiasts,

We recently implemented substantial changes to our website design, and we'd love to hear your impressions. Some of our readers mentioned that the heavy contrast between the black background/white text in our previous design made extended reading difficult on the eyes.

Feel free to e-mail us at israelicentrism@gmail.com, or post a comment below, to share your thoughts with us!

Best,

Avi and Daniel

Monday, September 12, 2011

First Egypt, Now Jordan

After the near-disastrous attack on the Israeli embassy in Egypt, organizers in Jordan are planning a "million-man march" to descend upon the Israeli embassy in Amman. The protestors' stated objectives are to emulate the Egyptians in breaking into the Israeli embassy and tear down the Israeli flag.

Although the protest leaders didn't specify explicit intent to harm Israeli diplomats stationed there, the previous incident in Egypt doesn't provide much optimism for peaceful protests or an absence of violence.

Unlike in Egypt, Jordan has already begun to implement significant security arrangements to ensure that a repeat of the Egypt debacle doesn't materialize in their own country. According to international law, a government must provide embassies with adequate security measures to ensure the safety and protection of foreign nationals residing in the host country in question.

Let's hope the Jordanians succeed where the Egyptians failed.

The full story can be found here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Are Democracy and Islam Compatible?

Egyptians demanding Mubarak's resignation during the uprising in February 2011. Photo By: Ravy Shaker
By: Alex Trafton

In the wake of the Arab Spring, several questions have arisen regarding the participation of Islamic political groups - often referred to as “Islamists” - in what could be the emerging democracies in the Arab world. Numerous issues come to mind when considering the inclusion of Islamists in the democratic process, including: how are we defining democracy, are the principles of Islam compatible with democracy, and what are the Islamists’ positions and beliefs about democracy - and can they be trusted?

There is no real distinction between the functions of the state and religion in Islam’s canonical texts; the two entities are intertwined. The American "wall," as Thomas Jefferson once described it, between church and state isn’t necessarily feasible in a truly Islamic state. The reason for the perceived incompatibility is that Shari’a, the legal system of Islam, extends itself well beyond the religious realm, infringing on social and economic arenas as well. These are areas that typically fall under the jurisdiction of a civil state in modern democracies. It should be noted that the religion-state separation is a relatively modern, predominantly American phenomenon. Even in secular democracies such as Britain, the Queen remains both the head of state and the head of the Church of England, although her official functions in each are mostly symbolic and ceremonial.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why Can't Israeli Leaders Get Their Story Straight on Turkey?

By: Avi Yesawich

In the aftermath of the UN Palmer Report and Turkey's bold reactionary moves, Israeli politicians have managed to deliver uncoordinated and contradicting responses to the question of how Israel intends to handle the ongoing crisis with its increasingly estranged neighbor. Let's perform a brief review of some of the responses our top leadership has provided the international media regarding how Israel will shape its foreign policy towards Turkey:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu - Reduce tensions and strive for reconciliation. "Our policy is and will remain to prevent the deterioration of relations with Turkey and to pacify the tensions between the two countries."

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman - Punish Turkey, perhaps even finance Kurdish rebels. "We’ll exact a price from Erdogan that will prove to him that messing with Israel doesn’t pay off."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak - Eventual mending of fences is certain. "Ultimately this wave will pass. We recognize reality. They recognize reality."

Friday, September 9, 2011

All Eyes on Hezbollah

Thousands of Lebanese protest against Hezbollah's
massive weapons arsenals back in March, 2011. Photo: AFP

By: Daniel Nisman

Despite being in a favorable position of power in the Lebanese government, Hezbollah’s once positive image is collapsing both at home and in Arab world.

Following the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah was widely regarded as one of the last eminent Arab forces to successfully confront the Israelis - and seemingly defeat them on many fronts. The powerful images of destroyed Merkava tanks and Israeli funerals provided the predominately Sunni Muslim world with a new hero, despite the fact that Hezbollah is a Shia organization and a widely regarded as an Iranian puppet.  Even though the war devastated Lebanon, Hezbollah utilized the political capital it gained from the prisoner swap with Israel to topple the pro-western government then led by Saad Hariri, forcing his coalition into the opposition.

Despite holding a very favorable position in power, the events of the Arab Spring tarnished Hezbollah’s image in Lebanon and the Arab world.  Hezbollah’s staunch, vocal support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad throughout his brutal crackdown on pro-reform protesters suddenly placed the organization on the side of the oppressor.  Of course, Secretary-General Hassan Nassrallah had no choice but to support one of his primary suppliers of weapons, finances and support. It has been disclosed by the Syrian opposition that Hezbollah fighters are actually assisting in suppressing demonstrations, quite possibly in collusion with members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Are Israeli-Turkish Relations Beyond Repair?

Erdogan walks out on Israeli President Shimon Peres
at the Davos World Economic Forum in 2010
A shortened version of this article was posted on Ynetnews, found here.

By: Avi Yesawich

The findings of the UN Palmer report, coupled with Israeli determination to withhold an apology over the deaths of nine Turkish nationals on the Mavi Marmara, have influenced Turkey to follow through on a threatening ultimatum regarding a major downgrade in Israeli-Turkish relations. The Turks have effectively “resorted to Plan B,” even though the Palmer Report declared Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip is legal, a notion which inspired Turkish-backing of the Mavi Marmara in the first place.

So what is Plan B? In brief, it involves a major downgrading of diplomatic relations, expulsion of Israeli ambassador Gabbi Levy, Turkish support for those who wish to bring legal charges against Israel, full support of the Palestinian’s UN bid, an end to military and intelligence cooperation and significant trade sanctions and reduction of investment projects in Israel. Turkey has even threatened to send warships to accompany future flotilla efforts, a potentially game-changing provocation in its own right.

If completely realized, the downgrading of relations between the two countries may be a genuine nail in the coffin for Israel-Turkish relations on almost every front, including commerce, intelligence, security, and military and economic cooperation. Bank of Israel head Stanley Fischer remarked yesterday that the diplomatic row and damaged trade relations would pose severe consequences for the Israeli economy. Current trade relations between the two countries are set to amount to nearly $4 billion, or 3% of all Israeli trade.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hamas Deals a Critical Blow to the West Bank Fairy Tale

Last night, a special joint operation by the Shin Bet, IDF and Israeli Police exposed an extensive, international Hamas terror ring operating under the nose of the Palestinian Authority in Hebron and other aras of the West Bank. The network, which consisted of 13 individual terror cells, were in the process of planning various suicide bombings and kidnappings in Jerusalem.

The discovery of such a complex, international operation poses a serious challenge to the myth that the West Bank is a sanctuary of moderation, peace and security, or that Fatah maintains effective military and political control over the area.

We will be constructing an analysis piece on this development within the week. In the meantime, you can find the full story on Ynet here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Should Israel Feel Vindicated by the UN Palmer Report?

Former New Zealand PM Geoffrey Palmer, chair of the 
UN report on the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident

The British-Israel Communications and Research Centre has published a succinct analysis of the UN Palmer Report, which concluded that Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip is legal according to international law.

The report is certainly a diplomatic and political win for Israel, but the practical implications on many levels are virtually nil. The report will do nothing to slow down the vicious international boycott and divestment campaigns, nor mitigate the political and social support for the upcoming UN Palestinian statehood bid.

The full analysis can be found at the BICOM website.

White House Admits Al Qaeda Links to Libyan Rebels


A disconcerting fact has surfaced about the civil war in Libya: some of the "democratic" elements that comprise the Libyan rebel ranks are hardcore, fundamentalist LIFG fighters with extensive ties to Al Qaeda.

In the words of President Obama's Terrorism Adviser, John Brennan:

"Some members of the LIFG [Al Qaeda's Libyan Islamic Fighting Group offshoot] in the past had connections with al Qaeda in Sudan, Afghanistan or Pakistan. Others dropped their relationship with al Qaeda entirely. It seems from their statements and support for establishing a democracy in Libya that this faction of LIFG does not support al Qaeda. We'll definitely be watching to see whether this is for real or just for show."

Though it is way too early to predict what a post-Gaddafi Libyan government will look like, this does provide further evidence that the Arab Spring isn't exactly what it appears to be. Despite being a tyrannous madman, Gaddafi actually shared considerable intelligence ties withe US and Europe in their battle against Al-Qaeda militants in the region.

Additionally, Mr. Brennan should be a bit more cynical about the "statements" coming from such Libyan rebel groups. It certainly wouldn't be the first time anyone here possessed ulterior motives for their political and military struggles, especially in the Middle East.

The full report can be found on DEBKAfile.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Re-Examining the Arab Spring


Several of us here at IC recently had the pleasure of reading an excellent analysis piece on the repercussions of the Arab Spring by George Friedman at STRATFOR Global Intelligence. Friedman writes:

On Dec. 17, 2010, Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire in a show of public protest. The self-immolation triggered unrest in Tunisia and ultimately the resignation of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. This was followed by unrest in a number of Arab countries that the global press dubbed the “Arab Spring.” The standard analysis of the situation was that oppressive regimes had been sitting on a volcano of liberal democratic discontent. The belief was that the Arab Spring was a political uprising by masses demanding liberal democratic reform and that this uprising, supported by Western democracies, would generate sweeping political change across the Arab world.

It is now more than six months since the beginning of the Arab Spring, and it is important to take stock of what has happened and what has not happened. The reasons for the widespread unrest go beyond the Arab world, although, obviously, the dynamics within that world are important in and of themselves. However, the belief in an Arab Spring helped shape European and American policies in the region and the world. If the assumptions of this past January and February prove insufficient or even wrong, then there will be regional and global consequences.

We highly recommend our readers to check out the full analysis, which can be found here.

What Ceasefire, Exactly?

The Shin Bet, Israel's equivalent of the FBI, reported nearly 180 terror attacks in the month of August, the great majority - 134 - of which emanated from the Gaza Strip. Comparatively, 53 attacks were reported in July.

Curiously, most of the attacks involved zero direct involvement from Hamas. But why delude ourselves into calling it a ceasefire? Furthermore, to assume that Hamas knew nothing about the splinter terror cells' intentions stretches the limits of plausibility. Although it's fairly clear that Hamas doesn't desire a full-scale confrontation with the IDF, it is discouraging that the authority in Gaza can't reign in problematic groups within its 140 square mile backyard.

Full story can be found on Ynet here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Libya Offers a Peace Deal with Israel? No Thanks.

Muammar Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, reached out to Israeli
officials with an unusual peace offer



According to media reports, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi - the son of Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi - reached out to Israeli MK Ayoub Kara and offered to sign a peace treaty with Israel in exchange for reduced involvement from NATO and the international community in the civil war currently raging in Libya. Apparently Saif was "willing to come to Jerusalem and give a speech like Sadat." Gaddafi's son also offered to negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit, as he is known to have intimate contact with Hamas' politburo chief, Khaled Meshaal.

An interesting development. However, the offer was bound to fail, and the Israeli government was correct in prohibiting any such deal from materializing. The Arab Spring has shown that making peace with dictators in the region is extremely risky business, a prime example being Egypt and the increasing public pressure its government faces to reconsider the 1979 Peace Treaty with Israel.

Furthermore, if Israel even explored such an arrangement, the outcome may have been disastrous. Let's assume Israel simply considered the gesture, and then Gaddafi's forces lost the war - a fact which is practically assured at this point. The Libyan rebels animosity toward Israel would have skyrocketed, as would their enhanced cooperation with our enemies. Israel would be seen as a collaborator with a maniacal, murderous tyrant, and the flow of weapons to hostile elements in Gaza and the Sinai would have increased tenfold. Kudos to the Foreign Ministry on this one.

For more details, the full story can be found at The Jerusalem Post.

Syrian Attorney General Quits in Face of Brutal Crackdown

By: Avi Yesawich


A powerful video (with English subtitles) by Attorney General Adnan Muhammad al Bakkour, who has resigned from the Syrian government in protest of the army's brutal crackdown in Hama, a hotbed of anti-Assad activity. The video was posted in response to the murder of 72 jailed protestors and social activists at Hama's central jail. A total of 500 people were killed and buried in mass graves in public areas of the city in 24 hours.

Internal opposition to the reprehensible Syrian crackdown continues to grow. Although high profile resignations such as Bakkour's have been a rare occurrence until now, hundreds of lower level officials in the Baath party have proceeded to resign since the Syrian uprising began. Bakkour's resignation is an encouraging sign, although I worry that officials such as Bakkour may face deadly consequences for their bold opposition to the Assad regime.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Turkish Opposition: Downgrade of Israel-Turkey Relations a Mistake

Turkish Opposition Leader Kilicdaroglu: "Erdogan messed up."

By: Avi Yesawich

The charismatic leader of the Turkish opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, recently lashed out against Ankara's downgrading of relations with Jerusalem over the findings of the UN Palmer Report. Commenting on the AKP's move, Kilicdaroglu claimed that, "no good can come of it and there is no need for us to risk our interest with petty actions."

In addition to the UN Report, Israel's refusal to issue an apology over the deaths of nine Turkish nationals during the raid of the Mavi Marmara contributed to the severance of diplomatic missions between the two nations. The UN commission noted that Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip was indeed legal and justified, although it condemned the IDF for using "excessive and unreasonable force." The report also suggested that Israel compensate Turkey for the loss of life.

While this is seemingly a positive development. the Turkish opposition, while formidable, does not significantly rival the AKP's popularity at this moment. The AKP enjoys popular support in both metropolitan and rural areas of Turkey, and Erdogan has been successful in his attempts to remove the once permanently embedded secular elements of the military, replacing the leaders them with Generals who are far more favorable to the ruling party. Although it seems as though "secular" Turkey is slowly declining, it is encouraging to see that there are forces in the country, such as Kilicdaroglu, who are fighting to preserve the countries secular principles and ideals.

As it stands now, Turkey sounds increasingly belligerent in its tone towards Israel, and is working to strengthen relations with her Arab neighbors in the region.

We will be addressing these points in an extended piece later in the week, but I thought this article was interesting read. Find the full story on Ynet by clicking here.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Reminding the Defense Ministry How Deterrence Works

Ehud Barak seems to be in the business of making broken promises.
By: Scott Tankel

Why does Israel continue to show such immense restraint in the face of the terror attacks emanating from Gaza? The government’s relatively weak response following the recent Gaza flare-up proved to be a strategic blunder and a missed opportunity by almost every measure.

The escalation in the south repeatedly demonstrated the failure of the IDF to deter terrorist elements in the Gaza Strip from waging war on Israel’s civilians. Whatever sense of deterrence that was achieved during 2008’s Cast Lead has faded considerably, supported by the realization that Hamas and splinter terror organizations within the Strip slowly have reduced Israel’s ability to portray herself as a country that follows through on its declarations to protect her citizens by any possible means. 

The Defense Ministry’s response to the rocket fire and guerilla attacks clearly didn’t send a strong enough message to Israel’s enemies in the Strip. How many times will Netanyahu vow that Israel will “retaliate decisively against any attack on our citizens and soldiers,” only to launch limited airstrikes against empty fields, tunnels, or shacks?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Isolate the Lone-Wolf Terror Phenomenon

By: Avi Yesawich, Daniel Nisman

At this point, how Monday's terror attack unfolded is clear: a young Palestinian man from Nablus stole a taxi cab at knifepoint in his murderous attempt to mow down innocent pedestrians and police officers near a nightclub in southern Tel Aviv. After the attacker's car smashed into a police checkpoint, he jumped out of the vehicle and proceeded to execute a brutal stabbing spree against teenagers in the area. The attack left 8 individuals injured, one of whom is in critical condition. A horrific incident, no doubt.

Faisal Shahzad, lone-wolf terrorist implicated
in the 2010 Times Square bombing attempt
In contrast with their response to the attacks in the south, the Palestinian Authority issued a swift, clear condemnation of the attack, which the Israeli left quickly lauded. Politicians on the Israeli right cited the attack as another example of the direct consequences of anti-Israel hatred fostered by PA and Hamas institutions. As usual, both sides pandered to their audience by presenting half-truths in their positions.

The lone-wolf terrorism phenomenon - such as the recent attacks in Norway and Tel Aviv - is a significant threat that is nearly impossible to effectively prevent or eliminate, essentially because of the nature of the act itself. Unlike Norway, which suffered the worse single instance of violence since WWII, Israel has dealt with this type of terrorism quite often. In the past 18 months, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv residents have been subjected to multiple instances of attacks perpetrated by lone terrorists who have committed stabbings, rammed cars through crowded intersections and, most notoriously, used bulldozers to smash vehicles and murder innocent pedestrians.

Palestine: The Day After



A shortened, edited version of this article was posted on Ynetnews, and can be read here: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4115514,00.html

By: Avi Yesawich

In three weeks, a sovereign Palestinian state will almost certainly be welcomed as the194th addition to the United Nations – if not by the UN Security Council, then as a “non-member state” by the General Assembly. Established on the votes of a 140 or so nations, the UN will welcome Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, the PA and the Palestinian people into its concubine. Worldwide celebrations in honor of the long sought-after creation of a sovereign Palestinian state will undoubtedly take place. Unfortunately, such celebrations will be honoring a superficial development, an illusion of achievement. In reality, recognition of a Palestinian state in the current political climate will not resolve any of the outstanding issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, only exacerbate them.

Let me issue an ominous reminder: the UN will be recognizing a state whose government(s) maintains questionable legitimacy among its population (half, actually), suffers from bitter corruption and internal fighting, lacks control over terror cells that undermine all peace efforts, is crippled in enacting any significant legislation and reform, and whose economy is depressingly mismanaged, not to mention completely contingent on Israeli industry. The world will be voting into existence a welfare state that currently owes much of its sustenance to the donations of the international community and Israeli tax transfers.