Saturday, October 31, 2015

My Amazon review of Boris Johnson's The Churchill Factor

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, apart from avoiding to mention Churchill's views on IslamOctober 31, 2015

Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History (Kindle Edition)
I had previously read several biographies of Winston Churchill including those by Martin Gilbert, William Manchester, Michael Shelden and Paul Johnson, so I was skeptical when I was recommended Boris Johnson’s The Churchill Factor.

I was wrong. The book is excellent and does explain the essence of who Churchill was very well. The book is very readable and very informative and accurate, but evasive when it comes to Churchill’s views on Islam.

Boris writes: “On the other hand, it does not mean that Churchill was in any sense anti-Arab, let alone anti-Muslim”.

While it is true that Churchill was not anti-Muslim he was certainly not an admirer of Islam and this fact is completely ignored by Boris Johnson. I doubt that Boris Johnson was ignorant of this fact. It is just that the whole western civilization has been strangled by political correctness to the point that he just today cannot even write about what Churchill thought on the subject and therefore ignores it.

Page 26 of the Gathering Storm, VOL 1 of The Second World War;

"Hitler’s sentence was reduced from four years to thirteen months. These months in the Landsberg fortress were however sufficient to enable him to complete in outline Mein Kampf, a treatise on his political philosophy inscribed to the dead of the recent Putsch. When eventually he came to power, there was no book which deserved more careful study from the rulers, political and military, of the Allied Powers. All was there – the programme of German resurrection; the technique of party propaganda; the plan for combating Marxism; the concept of a National-Socialist State; the rightful position of Germany at the summit of the world. Here was the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message.”

Pages 248-250 The River War, original edition:

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome."

And then you have this observation by Boris Johnson:

“He can’t be blamed for the shameful way Israelis have treated Palestinians, nor for the generally woeful quality of Palestinian leadership”

What is shameful is the complete absence in western media of any reference to the what the Palestinians believe in and what makes them stab Israelis any place, any time:

Article 7 of the Hamas Charter reads:

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.

Article 7 is taken from Hadith Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177
and quotes the Prophet Muhammad:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."

Article 13 of the Hamas Charter reads:
There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.

And on October 9, 2015 Friday at the sermon delivered at the Al-Abrar Mosque in Rafah, the Gaza Strip, Sheikh Muhammad Sallah "Abu Rajab" brandished a knife, calling upon his brothers in the West Bank: "Stab!" "Oh young men of the West Bank: Attack in threes and fours," he said, and "cut them into body parts."

MEMRI: Rafah Cleric Brandishes Knife in Friday Sermon, Calls upon Palestinians to Stab Jews

I do not think that Churchill would have stood silent at this inversion of reality by the West

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Boy’s Discovery Rebuts Temple Mount Revisionism

Palestinians deny Jewish roots at the holy site, but a newly unearthed artifact confirms historical truths.


A 10-year-old Russian boy, Matvei Tcepliaev, recently made an extraordinary discovery in Jerusalem. Working as a volunteer in the Temple Mount Sifting Project, he found a 3,000-year-old seal—engraved limestone about the size of a thimble, with a hole at one end so it could be hung from a string—from the time of King David.

The artifact was nestled in the hundreds of tons of earth and rock that had been illegally excavated from below the Temple Mount in the late 1990s by the Muslim Waqf, a trust that retains authority over the contested site. The Temple Mount is sacred ground for Jews, Muslims and Christians, but Jewish historical claims are denied by many Muslims.

The sifting project in Emek Tzurim National Park in Jerusalem, started in 2005 and has uncovered several historically significant objects, but the seal may be the most important. Dating from the era of King David’s conquest of Jerusalem and the building of the Jewish First Temple by his son and successor, Solomon, the seal confirms the ancient Jewish presence in Jerusalem—more than a millennium before the Muslim Dome of the Rock was built above the ruins of the ancient temples.

If it is ironic that the Muslim excavation, undertaken to build an underground mosque, ultimately confirmed Jews’ historical claims, it is no less ironic than the fact that the Waqf came to rule the site at Israel’s instigation.

Following Israel’s extraordinary victory over its Arab foes in the Six-Day War in June 1967, which included capturing the entire city of Jerusalem, Israeli Col. Motta Gur proclaimed: “The Temple Mount is in our hands.” Joyous Israeli soldiers gathered at the Western Wall below and sang Hatikva, the national anthem. Shlomo Goren, a brigadier general and future chief rabbi of Israel, exultantly blew his shofar.
But Defense Minister Moshe Dayan had other ideas about Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount. A secular Israeli, he relied on a rabbinical consensus that Jews were forbidden to set foot on the Mount lest they risk desecrating the unknown site of the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the Jewish temple that housed the Ark of the Covenant.

After declaring that “we have reunited the city, the capital of Israel, never to part it again,” Dayan met with Muslim leaders inside the Dome of the Rock. An agreement was reached: The Waqf ban on Jews visiting the Temple Mount would be ended—even if many preferred to continue to observe the rabbinical prohibition—but Jews wouldn’t be allowed to pray there.

Shakespeare, not the Bible or Quran, proclaimed: “What’s past is prologue.” Dayan’s concession prepared the way for conflict on the Temple Mount that continues today. The Palestinians’ Second Intifada erupted in September 2000 after Likud leader Ariel Sharonvisited the Temple Mount—not to pray but to assert the legitimacy of a Jewish presence at the most ancient Jewish holy site. He was widely castigated for asserting a historical truth.

A similarly tragic scenario is now unfolding in Jerusalem, and throughout Israel, as Palestinians attack Jews with bullets, knives and rocks. Although Secretary of State John Kerry absurdly attributed the bloody rampage to Palestinians’ frustration with Israeli settlement-building, informed observers note that the outbreak of violence has been stoked by false rumors that Israel is on the verge of rewriting the Temple Mount rules, including allowing Jews to pray there.

This may or may not be a prelude to a third intifada. What is clear is that for years the Muslim Waqf has continued to oversee excavations below the surface of the Temple Mount, with callous disregard for what archaeologists could learn about the Mount’s Jewish history in antiquity.

That policy is of a piece with Palestinian Authority PresidentMahmoud Abbas’s dismissal of any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. “Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet,” Mr. Abbas told activists at an Oct. 14 meeting in his Ramallah office, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Not that Jews ever doubted their religious roots at Temple Mount, but now they have a 10-year-old boy to thank for providing them with a three-millennia-old artifact that refutes modern propaganda designed to rewrite history. Just as the seal was used long ago as evidence of authority, so today it puts a stamp of approval on Jewish claims to their history at the holiest site in Jerusalem.

Mr. Auerbach is a professor emeritus of history at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass.

A breakout moment for Cruz and Rubio, but will GOP voters respond?

 For most of this year, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) have been lurking in the background of the Republican presidential campaign. On Wednesday night, they broke out into the open, delivering strong and forceful performances in a raucous and rambling Republican debate marked by squabbling and sharp elbows.

Both Rubio and Cruz have won modest plaudits for their performances in the first two debates, but there was a demonstrable difference in what unfolded on the stage at the University of Colorado. They outshone Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the leaders in the polls, and Rubio overshadowed his onetime mentor, former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Whether this was a unique moment for Rubio and Cruz or a foreshadowing of where the Republican nomination contest is heading is a matter of speculation, with the voters the ultimate arbiters starting early next year. But both candidates served notice Wednesday that they are ready for the next phase of a rapidly changing and increasingly fractious campaign.

Trump more than held his own, improving on his performance in the second debate, in which he faded during the final hour. He showed little of the frustration that has been on display lately on the campaign trail. Carson was typically low-key, a style that has benefited him during the campaign even as his ideas and background face increased scrutiny.
But in the end, the two first-term senators from two of the most-populous states in the country might have gained the most, in part because each is seen among many GOP strategists as poised to rise to greater prominence in the race.

In Republican circles, Rubio has been the focus of the most attention to date, despite relatively weak poll numbers and more potential than actual performance. He probably gained considerable credibility Wednesday night, particularly with fundraisers. Whether he can convert that into popular support remains the biggest question about his candidacy.

Rubio long has had the potential to become a crossover candidate, capable of corralling the support of mainstream conservatives and wealthy fundraisers, and able at the same time to tap into the frustrations of the GOP’s tea party wing. That remains his strongest calling card, if he is able to build from here.

Cruz occupies a different space in the GOP race: the hard-line conservative who has worn as a badge of honor his battles with Republican leaders in Washington and regularly espousing his belief that what the party needs is a nominee who can genuinely articulate the conservative principles that much of the base embraces.

Rubio arrived knowing he would come under attack, and he was well prepped. His strongest moment occurred when he was asked about his absenteeism in the Senate and his obvious disdain for a body he joined less than five years ago.

Responding to a question about an editorial in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that was headlined, “Marco Rubio should resign, not rip us off,” Rubio turned the issue back on the news organization by pointing to Bob Graham, John F. Kerry and Barack Obama, all of whom ran for president while in the Senate and missed scores of votes. Rubio said none of them drew the ire of the newspaper in the way he has.

“This is another example of the double standard that exists in this country between the mainstream media and the conservative movement,” he said.

Bush sought to piggyback on the question, claiming that Rubio was working “like a French work week” and that he owed his constituents much more. “You can campaign or just resign and let someone else take the job,” Bush said.

Rubio took Bush’s question and went on the offense, accusing his rival of trying to take him down to save his own campaign. “The only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you,” he said.

Cruz seized the stage a few minutes later with an attack on the CNBC moderators, claiming that the round of opening questions to Trump, Carson, Kasich, Rubio and Bush were biased and had nothing to do with the country’s problems.

“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz said. “This is not a cage match.”

Cruz also drew a contrast with the recent Democratic debate, saying those candidates had drawn only fawning questions. “Nobody watching at home believed that any of the moderators had any intention of voting in a Republican primary,” he said.

Attacks on the media have been a staple of past Republican debates, and Cruz’s sharp words drew huge applause from the audience inside the Coors Events Center and stirred strong positive reaction on social media and, no doubt, among the disgruntled conservatives whom he has courted almost from the moment he arrived in the Senate a few years ago.

The debate sprawled over economic and other topics, and other candidates had times when they sought to take the spotlight. Most of the candidates played to type Wednesday night. All could point to moments when they made their points effectively.

Bush stressed his record in Florida and said he would shake up Washington but do it in a way that brought people together. But he got the worst end of the exchange with Rubio, no doubt to his detriment.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich opened with a screed against Trump and Carson as unqualified to serve as president, and he said it was time to end the “fantasy” of what they were saying and look to people with records of accomplishment.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee continued their debate about the future of Social Security.

Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) railed against the new budget deal brokered by outgoing House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and the White House and pledged to filibuster it.

Carly Fiorina, who used two previous debate performances to raise her profile and, temporarily, her poll numbers, defended her tenure as chief executive at Hewlett-Packard and said she would be as tough on Hillary Rodham Clinton as any other potential GOP nominee.

Wednesday’s debate was at times unmanageable. Candidates showed only minimal respect for the rules, and the moderators provoked the anger of the candidates. Candidates spoke over one another repeatedly, especially in the early stages.

The third debate of the pre-primary season came at a time when two of the outsiders in the crowded field continued to dominate the Republican race. But it also came at a time of volatility and greater uncertainty than a month ago, as some national and state polls began to shift away from Trump and toward Carson.

With fewer than 100 days before the voting begins in Iowa in early February, the GOP contest has moved into a more intensive phase. For a number of the candidates lagging in the polls or performing below expectations, the sense of urgency was apparent on the stage Wednesday night in Boulder.
The Republican race has defied almost everyone’s expectations this year, and there is no consensus among veteran Republican strategists about what the future holds. Wednesday’s debate might have offered a preview of what’s to come.

Dan Balz is Chief Correspondent at The Washington Post. He has served as the paper’s National Editor, Political Editor, White House correspondent and Southwest correspondent.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Iran’s Indecent Proposal

Khamenei haggles over the price of American surrender.


The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—better known as the Iran nuclear deal—was officially adopted Sunday, Oct. 18. That’s nine days ago. It’s already a dead letter.

Not that you would have noticed by reading the news or tuning in to State Department or White House briefings. It’s too embarrassing to an administration that has invested all of its diplomatic capital in the deal. Also, too inconvenient to the commodity investors, second-tier banks, European multinationals and everyone else who wants a piece of the Iranian market and couldn’t care less whether Tehran honors its nuclear bargain.

Yet here we are. Iran is testing the agreement, reinterpreting it, tearing it up line by line. For the U.S.—or at least our next president—the lesson should be clear: When you sign a garbage agreement, you get a garbage outcome.

Earlier this month Iran test-fired a new-generation ballistic missile, called Emad, with an estimated 1,000-mile range and a 1,600-pound payload. Its only practical military use is to deliver a nuclear warhead. The test was a bald violation of the Security Council’s Resolution 2231, adopted unanimously in July, in which “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons” for at least eight years.

Then Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei weighed in on the nuclear deal by way of a public letter to President Hassan Rouhani. “The behavior and words of the U.S. government in the nuclear issue and its prolonged and boring negotiations,” he wrote, “showed that [the nuclear issue] was also another link in their chain of hostile enmity with the Islamic Republic.”

The Supreme Leader’s comments on the nuclear deal have been billed by some reporters as a cautious endorsement of the agreement. Not exactly. They are a unilateral renegotiation of the entire deal, stipulating that the U.S. and everyone else must accept his rewrite—or else.

The best analysis of Mr. Khamenei’s demands comes from Yigal Carmon and Ayelet Savyon of the Middle East Media Research Institute. Demand One: The U.S. and Europe must completely lift, rather than temporarily suspend, their economic sanctions, putting an end to any possibility that penalties could “snap back” in the event of Iran’s noncompliance. Demand Two: Sanctions against Iran for its support of terrorism and its human-rights abuses must also go, never mind the Obama administration’s insistence that it will continue to punish Iran for its behavior.

Next Mr. Khamenei changes the timetable for Iran to ship out its enriched uranium and modify its plutonium reactor in Arak until the International Atomic Energy Agency gives Iran a pass on all “past and future issues (including the so-called Possible Military Dimensions or PMD of Iran’s nuclear program).” So much for the U.N. nuclear watchdog even pretending to monitor Iran’s compliance with the deal. He also reiterates his call for a huge R&D effort so that Iran will have at least 190,000 centrifuges when the nuclear deal expires.

“The set of conditions laid out by Khamenei,” Mr. Carmon and Ms. Savyon note in their analysis, “creates a situation in which not only does the Iranian side refrain from approving the JCPOA, but, with nearly every point, creates a separate obstacle, such that executing the agreement is not possible.”

That’s right, though it doesn’t mean Mr. Khamenei intends to stop negotiating. Instead, like in some diplomatic version of Lord Beaverbrook’s indecent proposal—“Madam, we have established what you are; now we’re just haggling over the price”—Mr. Khamenei has discovered what the administration is. Now he wants to pocket the concessions he has already gained and wheedle for a bit more.

Little wonder that Iran has upped the contempt factor since the agreement was signed. A day after the missile test, Iran convicted Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. On Monday came reports that Iran may have arrested an Iranian-American businessman in Tehran. Expect similarly brutish insults in the months ahead, all to underline how little Mr. Khamenei thinks of the American president and his outstretched hand.

As for the administration, it would be nice to imagine that it is starting to sense the Ayatollah’s disdain. But it isn’t. The missile test was met by a wan effort to take “appropriate action” at the U.N., whatever that might be. Mr. Khamenei’s letter has been met with almost complete silence, as if ignoring it will make it go away.

Perhaps none of this matters. For all the promises and warnings about the Iran deal, it is nothing more than surrender dressed up as diplomacy. The correlation of forces in the Middle East has shifted in the past year, and Mr. Obama will not lift a finger to restore the balance. Mr. Khamenei knows this, and he is not about to give the U.S. a dignified surrender. Then maybe Mr. Obama knows it, too. He doesn’t seem to mind the ignominy.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Off topic: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Interview from 1927

How do you take your mind off the grotesque situation we were pushed into these last few weeks when the Morlocks may stab you anywhere, any time? I could not continue with Michel Houlelbecq’s Soumission  .  Too close to home, and the French needed extra effort.  Should I try learning tensor analysis, something that was never covered in my college math and physics? Not in the mood. So the choice was between fleeing into the world of 16th century Florence and the enmity between Michelangelo and Leonardo in The Lost Battles, or rereading Conan Doyle.  I opted for the latter and spent the evenings last week in some 30 stories from the Adventures, Memoirs and Return of Sherlock Holmes. Perfect escapism!  

I was googling about the relationship between H.G. Wells and Conan Doyle when I stumbled across this interview with Conan Doyle from 1927. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Spy vs. Spy: Inside the Fraying U.S.-Israel Ties

Distrust set allies to snoop on each other after split over Iran nuclear deal; each kept secrets


The U.S. closely monitored Israel’s military bases and eavesdropped on secret communications in 2012, fearing its longtime ally might try to carry out a strike on Fordow, Iran’s most heavily fortified nuclear facility.

Nerves frayed at the White House after senior officials learned Israeli aircraft had flown in and out of Iran in what some believed was a dry run for a commando raid on the site. Worried that Israel might ignite a regional war, the White House sent a second aircraft carrier to the region and readied attack aircraft, a senior U.S. official said, “in case all hell broke loose.”

The two countries, nursing a mutual distrust, each had something to hide. U.S. officials hoped to restrain Israel long enough to advance negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iran that the U.S. had launched in secret. U.S. officials saw Israel’s strike preparations as an attempt to usurp American foreign policy.

Instead of talking to each other, the allies kept their intentions secret. To figure out what they weren’t being told, they turned to their spy agencies to fill gaps. They employed deception, not only against Iran, but against each other. After working in concert for nearly a decade to keep Iran from an atomic bomb, the U.S. and Israel split over the best means: diplomacy, covert action or military strikes.

Personal strains between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu erupted at their first Oval Office meeting in 2009, and an accumulation of grievances in the years since plunged relations between the two countries into crisis.

This Wall Street Journal account of the souring of U.S.-Israel relations over Iran is based on interviews with nearly two dozen current and former senior U.S. and Israeli officials.

U.S. and Israeli officials say they want to rebuild trust but acknowledge it won’t be easy. Mr. Netanyahu reserves the right to continue covert action against Iran’s nuclear program, said current and former Israeli officials, which could put the spy services of the U.S. and Israel on a collision course.

A shaky start

Messrs. Obama and Netanyahu shared common ground on Iran when they first met in 2007. Mr. Netanyahu, then the leader of Israel’s opposition party, the right-wing Likud, discussed with Mr. Obama, a Democratic senator, how to discourage international investment in Iran’s energy sector. Afterward, Mr. Obama introduced legislation to that end.

Suspicions grew during the 2008 presidential race after Mr. Netanyahu spoke with some congressional Republicans who described Mr. Obama as pro-Arab, Israeli officials said. The content of the conversations later found its way back to the White House, senior Obama administration officials said.

Soon after taking office in January 2009, Mr. Obama took steps to allay Israeli concerns, including instructing the Pentagon to develop military options against Iran’s Fordow facility, which was built into a mountain. The president also embraced an existing campaign of covert action against Iran, expanding cooperation between the Central Intelligence Agency and Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.

Mossad leaders compared the covert campaign to a 10-floor building: The higher the floor, they said, the more invasive the operation. CIA and Mossad worked together on operations on the lower floors. But the Americans made clear they had no interest in moving higher—Israeli proposals to bring down Iran’s financial system, for example, or even its regime.

Some covert operations were run unilaterally by Mossad, such as the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, according to U.S. officials.

The first Oval Office meeting between Messrs. Obama and Netanyahu, in May 2009—weeks after Mr. Netanyahu became prime minister—was difficult for both sides. After the meeting, Mr. Obama’s aides called Ron Dermer, Mr. Netanyahu’s adviser, to coordinate their statements. Mr. Dermer told them it was too late; Mr. Netanyahu was already briefing reporters. “We kind of looked at each other and said, ‘I guess we’re not coordinating our messages,’ ” said Tommy Vietor, a former administration official who was there.

In 2010, the risk of covert action became clear. A computer virus dubbed Stuxnet, deployed jointly by the U.S. and Israel to destroy Iranian centrifuges used to process uranium, had inadvertently spread across the Internet. The Israelis wanted to launch cyberattacks against a range of Iranian institutions, according to U.S. officials. But the breach made Mr. Obama more cautious, officials said, for fear of triggering Iranian retaliation, or damaging the global economy if a virus spread uncontrollably.

Israel questioned whether its covert operations were enough, said aides to Mr. Netanyahu. Stuxnet had only temporarily slowed Tehran’s progress. “Cyber and other covert operations had their inherent limitations,” a senior Israeli official said, “and we reached those limitations.”

Mr. Netanyahu pivoted toward a military strike, raising anxiety levels in the White House.
The U.S. Air Force analyzed the arms and aircraft needed to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities and concluded Israel didn’t have the right equipment. The U.S. shared the findings, in part, to steer the Israelis from a military strike.

The Israelis weren’t persuaded and briefed the U.S. on an attack plan: Cargo planes would land in Iran with Israeli commandos on board who would “blow the doors, and go in through the porch entrance” of Fordow, a senior U.S. official said. The Israelis planned to sabotage the nuclear facility from inside.

Pentagon officials thought it was a suicide mission. They pressed the Israelis to give the U.S. advance warning. The Israelis were noncommittal.

 “Whether this was all an effort to try to pressure Obama, or whether Israel was really getting close to a decision, I don’t know,” said Michéle Flournoy, who at the time was undersecretary of defense for policy.

Mr. Obama, meanwhile, was moving toward diplomacy. In December 2011, the White House secretly used then-Sen. John Kerry to sound out Omani leaders about opening a back channel to the Iranians.

At the same time, the White House pressed the Israelis to scale back their assassination campaign and turned down their requests for more aggressive covert measures, U.S. officials said.

The president spoke publicly about his willingness to use force as a last resort to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon—“I don’t bluff,” Mr. Obama said in March 2012—but some of Mr. Netanyahu’s advisers weren’t convinced.

In early 2012, U.S. spy agencies told the White House about a flurry of meetings that Mr. Netanyahu convened with top security advisers. The meetings covered everything from mission logistics to the political implications of a military strike, Israeli officials said.

Warning signs

U.S. spy agencies stepped up satellite surveillance of Israeli aircraft movements. They detected when Israeli pilots were put on alert and identified moonless nights, which would give the Israelis better cover for an attack. They watched the Israelis practice strike missions and learned they were probing Iran’s air defenses, looking for ways to fly in undetected, U.S. officials said.

New intelligence poured in every day, much of it fragmentary or so highly classified that few U.S. officials had a complete picture. Officials now say many jumped to the mistaken conclusion that the Israelis had made a dry run.

At the time, concern and confusion over Israel’s intentions added to the sense of urgency inside the White House for a diplomatic solution.

The White House decided to keep Mr. Netanyahu in the dark about the secret Iran talks, believing he would leak word to sabotage them. There was little goodwill for Mr. Netanyahu among Mr. Obama’s aides who perceived the prime minister as supportive of Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the 2012 campaign.

Mr. Netanyahu would get briefed on the talks, White House officials concluded, only if it looked like a deal could be reached.

The first secret meeting between U.S. and Iranian negotiators, held in July 2012, was a bust. But “nobody was willing to throw it overboard by greenlighting Israeli strikes just when the process was getting started,” a former senior Obama administration official said.

Israeli officials approached their U.S. counterparts over the summer about obtaining military hardware useful for a strike, U.S. officials said.

At the top of the list were V-22 Ospreys, aircraft that take off and land like helicopters but fly like fixed-wing planes. Ospreys don’t need runways, making them ideal for dropping commandos behind enemy lines.

The Israelis also sounded out officials about obtaining the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, the U.S. military’s 30,000-pound bunker-busting bomb, which was designed to destroy Fordow.
Mr. Netanyahu wanted “somebody in the administration to show acquiescence, if not approval” for a military strike, said Gary Samore, who served for four years as Mr. Obama’s White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction. “The message from the Obama administration was: ‘We think this is a big mistake.’ ”

White House officials decided not to provide the equipment.

Messrs. Obama and Netanyahu spoke in September 2012, and Mr. Obama emerged convinced Israel wouldn’t strike on the eve of the U.S. presidential election.

By the following spring, senior U.S. officials concluded the Israelis weren’t serious about a commando raid on Fordow and may have been bluffing. When the U.S. offered to sell the Ospreys, Israel said it didn’t have the money.

Former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who championed a strike, said Mr. Netanyahu had come close to approving a military operation against Iran. But Israel’s military chiefs and cabinet members were reluctant, according to Israeli officials.

While keeping the Omani talks secret, U.S. officials briefed the Israelis on the parallel international negotiations between Iran and major world powers under way in early 2013. Those talks, which made little headway, were led on the U.S. side by State Department diplomat Wendy Sherman.

Robert Einhorn, at the time an arms control adviser at the State Department, said that during the briefings, Mr. Netanyahu’s advisers wouldn’t say what concessions they could live with. “It made us feel like nothing was going to be good enough for them,” Mr. Einhorn said.

U.S. spy agencies were monitoring Israeli communications to see if the Israelis had caught wind of the secret talks. In September 2013, the U.S. learned the answer.

Yaakov Amidror, Mr. Netanyahu’s national security adviser at the time, had come to Washington in advance of a Sept. 30 meeting between Messrs. Netanyahu and Obama
On Sept. 27, Mr. Amidror huddled with White House national security adviser Susan Rice in her office when she told him that Mr. Obama was on the phone in a groundbreaking call with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani.

Mr. Amidror had his own surprise. During a separate meeting in the Roosevelt Room, he told several of Mr. Obama’s top advisers that Israel had identified the tail numbers of the unmarked U.S. government planes that ferried negotiators to Muscat, Oman, the site of the secret talks, U.S. officials said.

Mr. Amidror, who declined to comment on the White House discussions, said that it was insulting for Obama administration officials to think “they could go to Oman without taking our intelligence capabilities into account.” He called the decision to hide the Iran talks from Israel a big mistake.

U.S. officials said they were getting ready to tell the Israelis about the talks, which advanced only after Mr. Rouhani came to office. During the Sept. 30 meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, the president acknowledged the secret negotiations. The secrecy cemented Israel’s distrust of Mr. Obama’s intentions, Israeli officials said.

Mr. Samore, the former White House official, said he believed it was a mistake to keep Israel in the dark for so long. Mr. Einhorn said: “The lack of early transparency reinforced Israel’s suspicions and had an outsize negative impact on Israeli thinking about the talks.”

Israel pushed for the U.S. to be more open about the Iran negotiations. Ms. Rice, however, pulled back on consultations with her new Israeli counterpart, Yossi Cohen, who took over as Mr. Netanyahu’s national security adviser, according to U.S. and Israeli officials.

In exchanges with the White House, U.S. officials said, Mr. Cohen wouldn’t budge from demanding Iran give up its centrifuges and uranium-enrichment program. Israeli officials said they feared any deviation would be taken by the U.S. as a green light for more concessions.

In one meeting, Mr. Cohen indicated Mr. Netanyahu could accept a deal allowing Iran to keep thousands of centrifuges, U.S. officials said. Soon after, Mr. Cohen called to say he had misspoken. Neither side was prepared to divulge their bottom line.

In November 2013, when the interim agreement was announced, Mr. Samore was in Israel, where, he said, the Israelis “felt blindsided” by the terms. U.S. officials said the details came together so quickly that Ms. Sherman and her team didn’t have enough time to convey them all. Israeli officials said the Americans intentionally withheld information to prevent them from influencing the outcome.

Listening in

As talks began in 2014 on a final accord, U.S. intelligence agencies alerted White House officials that Israelis were spying on the negotiations. Israel denied any espionage against the U.S. Israeli officials said they could learn details, in part, by spying on Iran, an explanation U.S. officials didn’t believe.
Earlier this year, U.S. officials clamped down on what they shared with Israel about the talks after, they allege, Mr. Netanyahu’s aides leaked confidential information about the emerging deal.

When U.S. officials confronted the Israelis over the matter in a meeting, Israel’s then-minister of intelligence said he didn’t disclose anything from Washington’s briefings. The information, the minister said, came from “other means,” according to meeting participants.

Ms. Sherman told Mr. Cohen, Israel’s national security adviser: “You’re putting us in a very difficult position. We understand that you will find out what you can find out by your own means. But how can we tell you every single last thing when we know you’re going to use it against us?” according to U.S. officials who were there.

Mr. Netanyahu turned to congressional Republicans, one of his remaining allies with the power to affect the deal, Israeli officials said, but he couldn’t muster enough votes to block it.

U.S. officials now pledge to work closely with their Israeli counterparts to monitor Iran’s compliance with the international agreement.

But it is unclear how the White House will respond to any covert Israeli actions against Iran’s nuclear program, which current and former Israeli officials said were imperative to safeguard their country.

One clause in the agreement says the major powers will help the Iranians secure their facilities against sabotage. State Department officials said the clause wouldn’t protect Iranian nuclear sites from Israel.

Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA, said the U.S. and Israel could nonetheless end up at odds.

“If we become aware of any Israeli efforts, do we have a duty to warn Iran?” Mr. Hayden said. “Given the intimacy of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, it’s going to be more complicated than ever.”


From Michael Oren’s “Ally”, page 276:

“Finally, after many months of attentiveness, I reached my conclusion. In the absence of a high-profile provocation – an attack on a U.S. aircraft carrier, for example – the United States would not use force against Iran. Rather, the administration would remain committed to diplomatically resolving the Iranian nuclear issue, even at the risk of reaching a deal unacceptable to Israel. And If Israel took matters into its own hands, the White House would keep its distance and offer to defend Israel only if it were counterstruck by a hundred thousand Hezbollah missiles.”   

My Amazon review of Michael Oren's "Ally"

Would any sane Israeli PM trust an American President who supports the Muslim Brotherhood and has capitulated to Iran?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Palestinian national movement turns monstrous (again!)

Watch what is happening on Israel’s streets. Listen to the rants from the imams, reporters, and Palestinian leaders.

 Palestinian gunmen in Shuafat carry weapons during a funeral march for a Palestinian terrorist, shot dead by police after stabbing two Israelis in Jerusalem’s Old City


When I am on the speaker’s circuit, I often upset right-wingers by saying that my Zionism, meaning my Jewish nationalism, helps me respect Palestinian nationalism. Just as I resent others who try redefining my nationalism for me – or delegitimize it – I won’t criticize others’ national consciousness or narrative. As these ardent Zionists squirm, students often react visibly to that statement, appreciating the nuance, enjoying the intellectual surprise, given that in the polarized, all-or-nothing demagoguery that passes for discourse in universities today they expect a Zionist activist like me to dismiss Palestinian nationalism.

Of course, the Palestinian national movement’s legitimacy doesn’t immunize it from criticism. Like any form of nationalism, it can tap the people’s potential, or unleash the people’s demons. Watching, experiencing, mourning the recent outrages, the Palestinian movement has turned monstrous – yet again.

I use the word “monstrous” cautiously. Being so disgusted by Palestinian incitement against Jews, I do not wish to incite against Palestinians. Being so aware of the history of people demonizing others, I do not wish to demonize Palestinians. But consult’s first four definitions of “monstrous.”

Watch what is happening on Israel’s streets. Listen to the rants from the imams, reporters, and Palestinian leaders.

Then see why the word “monstrous” does not apply to all Palestinians, but fits the mainstream of their movement now.

1. Frightful or hideous, especially in appearance; extremely ugly.

This wave of violence, in which kids as young as 13 are riled up in old-fashioned ways through religious sermons and through new-fangled ways on social media, is ugly – and their crimes are extremely frightful, hideous.

Slashing a 13-year-old boy bicycling around his neighborhood, forcing him to fight for his life when he should be preparing for his bar mitzva is despicable, as is killing a 51-year-old and a 78-year-old on a bus, running over a rabbi, ambushing a young couple with their four children in a car, and on and on and on.

2. Shocking or revolting; outrageous: monstrous cruelty.

If the crimes were not shocking enough, the justifications for them, the celebrations of them, the lies about them are even more cruel, revolting, outrageous. After a terrorist attacked the Beersheba bus station, Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza said of the murderer: “If he had weapons, he and some of his friends would have been able to liberate the entire area of Beersheba.”

Really? What kind of leader stirs his followers with such irresponsible idiocy? What kind of people call such a fool their leader? Of course, the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas is equally delusional, now rivaling his Hamas enemies in the rabble- rousing. His most recent outrage (when this article appears in print, more will have no doubt followed) was claiming that the 13-year-old Palestinian who stabbed the 13-year-old in Pisgat Ze’ev was innocent and dead, when he was guilty and alive. Abbas accused Israel of killing Ahmed Manasra in a “cold-blooded execution.”

When Ahmed was pictured resting comfortably having been treated by Israel’s angels of mercy in Hadassah Hospital – the official transcript of Abbas’ speech changed from “execution” to “shooting in cold blood” – although the young terrorist was not “shot,” he was hit by a car whose driver tried stopping him.

3. Extraordinarily great; huge; immense: a monstrous building.

On one hand, some perspective: even on the worst days, the hard-hit city of Jerusalem has endured three or four terrorist crimes a day. None is too many, but Chicago is still a more dangerous city. The “monstrous” immensity of Palestinian terrorism has to do with how large it looms in Palestinian society, how central it is to Palestinian hopes, and, how broadly the fear spreads over Israel – and over tourists who should visit now more than ever.

4. Deviating grotesquely from the natural or normal form or type.

Raising your children to stab other children, encouraging your people to shoot other people, celebrating death and suffering of others, is indeed deviant, unnatural, abnormal. All those who call for a state of Palestine should wonder about the day after. What would a state look like with people like that in charge? Why doesn’t the chaos in Gaza, in Syria, in Iraq, inhibit any American policymaker demanding a Palestinian state? Do we need another Middle East volcano? What are these people thinking? Unfortunately ours is a monstrous era, “deviating grotesquely from the natural or normal form or type.”

The reported that the US State Department deleted a tweet that first said Secretary of State John Kerry “addresses the tragic, outrageous attacks on civilians in Israel and West Bank.” Instead, State Dept. spin-meisters wrote: Kerry “addresses the recent attacks....”

I know it became a cliché, but Edmund Burke’s words still resonate: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Forty years ago, on November 10, 1975, a proud, courageous American diplomat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, saw an evil lie spreading at the UN and refused to do nothing. When the Soviets and the Palestinians propagated what Moynihan later called the “Big Red Lie” that one form of nationalism, Jewish nationalism, i.e.

Zionism, was a “form of racism,” he confronted the entire United Nations for embracing this monstrous lie.

Accused of picking a fight over the Zionism-is-racism resolution, he replied, “Damned right we did!” Four decades later, we need more Moynihans, we need more American leaders to slay the monsters, to express their outrage. Instead we have an administration filled with men and women doing nothing against these grotesqueries.

Passivity in the face of such evil is complicity, especially when you are a superpower subsidizing what’s called the Palestinian Authority but is acting like monstrous Palestinian Authorizers of Terrorism.

The writer is the author of The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s which was just published by Thomas Dunne Books of St. Martin’s Press. A professor of history at McGill University this is his eleventh book. Follow on Twitter @ GilTroy

Ten Deadly Lies about Israel


As Israeli civilians are butchered by Palestinian terrorists, the truth about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also being butchered by a campaign of vicious lies. Here are 10 of the most pernicious myths about the current attacks:

First: Israel is trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount.

False. Israel stringently maintains the status quo on the Temple Mount. Last year some 3.5 million Muslims visited the Temple Mount alongside some 200,000 Christians and 12,000 Jews. Only Muslims are allowed to pray on the Mount, and non-Muslims may visit only at specified times, which have not changed. Though the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site—where Solomon built his Temple some 3,000 years ago—Israel will not allow a change in the status quo. The ones trying to change the status quo are Palestinians, who are violently trying to prevent Jews and Christians from even visiting a site holy to all three faiths.

Second: Israel seeks to destroy al-Aqsa mosque.

False: Since reuniting Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has vigorously protected the holy sites of all faiths, including al-Aqsa. In the Middle East, where militant Islamists desecrate and destroy churches, synagogues, world heritage sites, as well as each other's mosques, Israel is the only guarantor of Jerusalem's holy places. Palestinians have been propagating the “al-Aqsa is in danger” myth since at least 1929, when the Palestinian icon, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, used it to inspire the massacre of Jews in Hebron and elsewhere. Nearly a century later, the mosque remains unharmed, but the lie persists.

Third: A recent surge in settlement construction has caused the current wave of violence.

False. Annual construction in the settlements has substantially decreased over the past 15 years. Under Prime Minister Ehud Barak (2000), 5,000 new units were built in the settlements; under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2001-05) an average of 1,881; under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (2005-08) 1,774. All three were hailed as peacemakers. What about under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2009-15)? Just 1,554. Some surge.

Fourth: President Abbas says that Israel “executed” the innocent Palestinian Ahmed Manasra.

False: Manasra is neither innocent nor dead. He stabbed a 13-year-old Jewish boy who was riding his bicycle. Manasra has been discharged from the same hospital where his victim continues to fight for his life.

Fifth: Israel uses excessive force in dealing with terrorist attacks.

False: Using force to stop an attack by a gun, knife, cleaver or ax-wielding terrorist is legitimate self-defense. Israeli police officers are subject to strict rules that govern the use of deadly force, which is permitted only in life-threatening situations. How would the American public expect its police to respond to terrorists stabbing passersby as well as police officers?
Sixth: The current violence is the result of stagnation in the peace process.

False: Israel experienced some of the worst terrorism in its history when the peace process was at its peak. The reason for Palestinian terrorism is neither progress nor stagnation in the peace process, but the desire of the terrorists to destroy Israel.

Seventh: President Abbas is a voice of moderation.

False: Abbas said on September 16 that he welcomes “every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem.” Abbas has not condemned a single one of the 30 terror attacks on Israelis over the past month. He and his Fatah movement continue to use the Web and the airwaves to incite the Palestinians to even more violence.

Eighth: International action is required to enforce the status quo on the Temple Mount.

False. Israel enforces the status quo. The international community can help most effectively by telling the truth and affirming Israel's proven commitment to maintaining the status quo. It can also help by holding Abbas accountable for his mendacious rhetoric regarding the Temple Mount.

Ninth: The reason the conflict and the violence persist is because the Palestinians don't have a state.

False: The Palestinians have repeatedly refused to accept a nation-state for themselves if it means accepting a nation-state for the Jewish people alongside it. In 1937, the Palestinians rejected the Peel Commission report that called for two states for two peoples; in 1947, they rejected the U.N. partition plan that did the same. In 2000 at Camp David and again in 2008 the Palestinians rejected new proposals that would have created a Palestinian state. The Palestinians rejected peace both before and after the creation of Israel, before Israel gained control of the territories in 1967 and after Israel vacated Gaza in 2005. The Palestinians have always been more concerned with destroying the Jewish state than with creating a state of their own. The core of the conflict remains the persistent refusal of the Palestinians to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people in any borders.

Tenth: Palestinian terrorism is the consequence of Palestinian frustration.

False: Palestinian terrorism is the product of incitement, which inculcates a culture of hatred and violence in successive generations. The biggest frustration of the terrorists is that they have failed to destroy Israel. They will continue to be frustrated

Ron Dermer is Israel’s Ambassador to the United States.