Thursday, December 28, 2017

JP Editor’s Notes: Regime Switching

Toward the end of 1977, Rafi Eitan was summoned to the Prime Minister’s Office for a meeting. The regime of the shah of Iran was faltering, and Israel knew it was only a matter of time before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the exiled Islamic leader, would return to his country.

The 1970s was the honeymoon of Israeli-Iranian ties. Israel had an embassy in Tehran and enjoyed close military and intelligence cooperation with the shah and his pro-Western government, which, according to media reports, included the development of long-range ballistic missiles. Eitan was serving as prime minister Menachem Begin’s adviser on counterterrorism, and Jerusalem wanted to see if there was anything it could do to help stabilize its embattled ally.

Eitan knew Iran well. In his previous post as head of the Mossad’s operations department, Eitan flew frequently to Iran, visiting the country some 50 times in five years. At the time, he was tasked with helping the Iranians establish their own operations team. Until a few years ago, some of Eitan’s old Iranian counterparts still called him ahead of Jewish holidays.

Together with Uri Lubrani who was then the ambassador to Iran, Eitan came up with an idea to establish a special Iranian military force that would work to neutralize Khomeini’s primary supporters in the country. Together with the Iranians, Israel had marked a close-knit group of Islamists who were igniting public unrest in order to pave the way for Khomeini’s return after 14 years of exile. The thinking was that if these people were stopped, the revolution everyone saw coming would be stopped as well.

In the end, the initiative never took off. And despite the 40 years that have passed, Eitan believes Iran can still change and go back to the way it once was: pro-West, allied with Israel and a country that showed the world a moderate version of Islam, as opposed to the extremism it propagates today.

Eitan is something of a legend in Israel. Born in 1926 in a small kibbutz in northern Israel, he played a key role in Israel’s defense and intelligence community for over 70 years. At the age of 12, he joined the Hagana, the underground Jewish fighting force, and later became a member of its elite strike force, the Palmah. After World War II, he got involved in smuggling Jews into the country, at a time when it was controlled by the British.

One memorable escapade involved blowing up a British radar station used to detect illegal ships approaching Haifa Port. To reach the radar, Eitan had to crawl through an underground sewer, gaining him the nickname “Stinky Rafi.”

Eitan’s name often followed mystery and controversy. In 1960, in a daring operation, he led the team of Israeli agents that located and captured Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann in Argentina.

In 1968, and according to US government documents, he paid a visit to a nuclear fuel plant in the United States, from which 200 kilograms of enriched uranium later went missing, widely suspected of having been diverted to Israel’s highly classified nuclear program.

In 1981, while serving as Begin’s adviser, Eitan was appointed head of LAKAM, a shadowy organization that operated under the Defense Ministry and which was responsible for collecting – some might say stealing – scientific and technological know-how. Eitan was responsible for operating Jonathan Pollard as an Israeli spy within US Naval Intelligence, an affair that would strain Israeli-US ties for decades.

In 1987, after taking responsibility for the Pollard affair (now, he prefers not to say anything that could undermine the former agent’s chances of being allowed to leave the US), Eitan resigned from LAKAM, which was eventually disbanded. He then went into business, with a particular focus on agricultural projects in Cuba.

But in 2006, Eitan returned to the public eye, when he was asked to head the new Pensioners Party. The party was the wild card of that election and ended up in the Knesset with an astonishing seven seats and two ministries, placing Eitan inside Ehud Olmert’s government and security cabinet. The party lasted one election.

At 91, Eitan today is a wealth of knowledge, experience and obvious vitality, having returned just a few weeks ago from a long trip to Havana.

I went to see him to hear what he thinks needs to be done in order to ensure the Islamic Republic does not obtain a nuclear weapon.

As a member of the prime minister’s staff in 1981, Eitan was privy from the beginning to Begin’s plans to bomb the Osirak nuclear reactor that Saddam Hussein was building outside of Baghdad. And as a member of the security cabinet in Olmert’s government from 2006 to 2009, Eitan participated in debates on the best way to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.

He is worth listening to.

On one hand, Eitan believes that nuclear weapons in the arsenal of Israel’s enemies – such as Iraq or Iran – pose an existential threat.

“Nuclear weapons in the hands of people that are willing to commit suicide in the name of Allah is a danger we cannot live with,” he said. “If you ask: ‘Who in the world today is willing to kill themselves to kill others?’ It is only the Muslims. I don’t know another religion or another place where a person is willing to take a bomb and blow up and kill himself.”

On the other hand, a military strike on Iran is not viable.

Israel and the rest of the world are also mistaken in focusing just on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program. It’s enough, Eitan said, to place a bomb in a shipping container and detonate it off the coast of Tel Aviv or Haifa and destroy both.

“So, how would you stop Iran?” I asked. “As the fate of the Iran deal remains in question – President Donald Trump decertified the agreement in October, but Congress has yet to propose an alternative – would you keep the deal in place or work to modify it, as Trump has said he would like to do?”

Eitan dismissed both options. The only real solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, he said, is for the world to invest more in overthrowing the ayatollahs.

Iran, he said, carefully studied the Israeli air strike against Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981, and understood that it not only needed to disperse its nuclear facilities, but also to bury them deep underground.

“The Iranians asked themselves who would oppose their nuclear program and who would potentially attack,” he explained. “The answer was Israel, and after studying Osirak, they dug tunnels to make it hard for our bombs to destroy their facilities.”

And while the Israel Air Force said it could destroy the openings to the tunnels and delay Iran’s nuclear program by a year, Eitan said such an operation would be a waste of time.

“The only real option to neutralize the facilities is with ground forces – to send soldiers in on the ground and destroy the tunnels,” he said. “This we could not do without the Americans, and there was no logic to use the IAF when the damage would just be for a year or two.”

While he doesn’t know for certain, Eitan believes that Iran already has enough fissionable material to make a nuclear weapon. In other words, he said, with a military strike not feasible and Trump unlikely to dramatically succeed in changing the deal, the only real way to stop Iran is to invest more in changing the regime.

“Iran’s citizens are against the ayatollah regime,” he said. “They are very similar to a Western country in their culture and the way they are as a people. They would prefer a more Western-like regime.”

Eitan doesn’t know how or when this might happen, but he is convinced that 39 years since Khomeini returned to Iran, another revolution is only a matter of time. Trump could try to renegotiate the Iran deal, but the Iranians will con him and ultimately achieve their goal of obtaining the bomb.

“The Iranians are devious and have advanced technological capabilities,” Eitan said. “They will stick to their goal and they will cheat Trump. The only real way to deal with Iran is to switch the regime.”


The Jerusalem Post first came up with an article by Hagay Hacohen which was later substituted on the same link by the present article written by Herb Keinon. If you compare the two, what immediately   pops up is that the words pact and secret have been dropped. 

Secret White House meeting leads to establishment of special US-Israeli work-group meant to prevent Iran from increasing in strength.

Israel and the United States have formed a pact to tackle the Iranian threat together, according to a report by Israel's Channel 10 released Thursday evening. Channel 10 stated that top members of the Trump administration confirmed that team-up was decided upon in a secret meeting between top security officials in both the US and Israel

The meeting was held on December 12, the Israeli team was headed by National Security advisor Meir Ben Shabat and the American team was headed by US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

The result of the meeting was the creation of a document in which the US and Israel agreed on a list of shared strategic goals both nations share. The document is meant to ensure that Trump’s Iran speech from a few months ago would become American policy.

According to the report, One work-group will be tasked with finding both diplomatic and covert means to halt or put a stop to the Iranian effort to gain nuclear capabilities. Another will deal with the ongoing Iranian effort to promote itself as a regional powerhouse in other countries such as Lebanon and Syria.

The group will also form policies and plans for the day in which the Syrian Civil War comes to an end.

A third work group will deal specifically with the Iranian ballistic missiles program and the fourth is tasked with dealing with potential scenarios in which Iran will be involved in a regional conflict that might lead the entire Middle East into a boiling point.

Israeli officials were quoted as saying that “Israel and the US see eye to eye on the regional trends directions” and that both sides are ‘’very pleased” with these new understandings

Top US and Israeli national security officials reached an agreement two weeks ago in Washington on a joint work plan to counter Iranian activity in the Middle East, Channel 10 reported on Thursday.

The document marks the beginning of a new cooperative effort against Iran, a senior US official told The Jerusalem Post.

The document, characterized by a US National Security Council representative as an informal “framework,” follows on President Donald Trump’s speech in October outlining a new American policy approach to the Islamic Republic, where he announced that he would not recertify the Iranian nuclear deal.

“It’s more precise to say that it is a framework document, and not a done and dusted plan,” the US official told the Post. “It is a framework for future cooperation. It is not the end result of a process, it’s more of a beginning.”

The White House declined to comment on whether the agreement commits the US to coordinate its forthcoming strategy on the Iran nuclear deal with the Israelis. But “our goal is to deny Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon,” the official said.

“Obviously, there was a major strategy that was announced a few months ago, and there have been meetings subsequent to that shaped by that new strategy,” the official continued. “And obviously Israel is one of our closest allies.”

A spokesman in the Prime Minister’s Office, when asked about the report, would only say that “there was a meeting in Washington.”

The Israeli team was led by National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat, and the US team was led by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Senior defense, intelligence and diplomatic officials from both sides took part in the meeting.

According to the report, an agreement was reached on regional goals in the region and several working groups were set up, including one to deal with joint covert and diplomatic steps to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons and to monitor and verify that it is not violating the nuclear deal signed in 2015.

This group will also focus on placing additional pressure on the Islamic Republic through both covert and diplomatic steps.

Another group was set up to counter Iran’s activity in the region, specifically its support for Hezbollah. This group will also formulate a joint policy regarding Syria after the end of the civil war.

A third group is to work to counter Iranian ballistic missile development and the manufacturing of precision missiles in Syria and Lebanon, and a fourth is to address joint preparation for various scenarios of escalation in the region, be they with Iran or with Hezbollah.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Jerusalem Post: Jerusalem and the Nations

It is interesting to note that Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, Romania and the Czech Republic abstained. How come? Why did only these Eastern European countries abstain from voting against US President Donald Trump for having the courage to say that two plus two equals four by recognizing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and stopping the appeasement of Islam?

Douglas Murray, in his book The Strange Death of Europe, explains why Eastern Europe is different, by quoting Chantal Delsol: “‘I later became convinced that it was in these Eastern European societies that I should seek some answers to our questions... the divergences between us and them led me to the belief that the last 50 years of good fortune had entirely erased our sense of the tragic dimension of life.’ That tragic dimension of life,” writes Murray, “had not been erased in the East. And nowhere have the consequences of this been more clearly displayed than in the attitudes of Eastern Europe’s leaders, with the support of their publics, to the migration crisis.” Now this divergence has been confirmed in the UN General Assembly vote.


Too bad the Letters Editor never received my second letter which added Poland to the list and qualified the list to countries as members of the EU. Apparently, Bosnia-Hercegovina which is not a member of the EU also abstained. It abstained because there was no consensus between the Muslim Bosniak, Orthodox Serb and Catholic Croat population.

This was the corrected first paragraph of the second letter which the Jerusalem Post never apparently got.

It is interesting to note that among the EU, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Romania abstained. How come? Why did only these Eastern European EU member countries abstain from voting against president Trump for having the courage to say that two plus two make four by recognizing that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and stopping the appeasement of Islam? 

Friday, December 22, 2017

How come six Eastern European EU countries abstained in the UN GA vote on Jerusalem?

It is interesting to note that among the EU, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Romania abstained. How come? Why did only these Eastern European EU member countries abstain from voting against president Trump for having the courage to say that two plus two make four by recognizing that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and stopping the appeasement of Islam? 

Douglas Murray in his book The Strange Death of Europe  explains why Eastern Europe is different by quoting Chantal Delsol: “I later became convinced that it was in these eastern European societies that I should seek some answers to our question -- the divergence between us and them led me to the belief that the last fifty years of good fortune had entirely erased our sense of the tragic dimension of life” .  “That tragic dimension of life”, writes Murray “ had not been erased in the East. And nowhere have the consequences of this been more clearly displayed than in the attitudes of Eastern European leaders, with the support of their publics, to the migration crisis."   Now this divergence has been confirmed in the UN GA vote. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Do NATO, the US and the Europeans care at all what Turkish president Erdogan is saying?

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Abdullah Bozkurt

Dissident Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt in his tweets is drawing attention to what Turkish president Erdogan has been saying:

“#Turkey's president #Erdogan says "those who think they own #Jerusalem better know that tomorrow they won't even be able to hide behind trees" in a a reference to widely circulated prophecy of hunting down & killing every Jew.

Turkish president #Erdogan issues a veiled threat of killing each and every Jew with a shocking reference to apocalyptic prophecy of tree story.”

Below are the hadiths Erdogan was referring to.  At Davos, in 2009, Erdogan stormed out of the meeting when Peres quoted the Hamas Charter article taken from the same hadith.

Chapter : The Last Hour would not come until a person would pass by a grave and wish that he should have been the occupant of that grave because of this calamity.

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.

 Narated By 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."

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

Friday, December 8, 2017

Bret Stephens: Jerusalem Denial Complex

The New York Times

By Bret Stephens

If nothing else, Donald Trump’s decision on Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital shows how disenthralled his administration is with traditional pieties about the Middle East. It’s about time.

One piety is that “Mideast peace” is all but synonymous with Arab-Israeli peace. Seven years of upheaval, repression, terrorism, refugee crises and mass murder in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq and Syria have put paid to that notion.

Another piety is that only an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal could reconcile the wider Arab world to the Jewish state. Yet relations between Jerusalem and RiyadhCairoAbu Dhabi and Manama are flourishing as never before, even as the prospect of a Palestinian state is as remote as ever.

A third is that intensive mediation by the United States is essential to progress on the ground. Yet recent American involvement — whether at the Camp David summit in 2000 or John Kerry’s efforts in 2013 — has had mostly the opposite effect: diplomatic failure, followed by war.

Which brings us to Jerusalem, and the piety that pretending it isn’t what it is can be a formula for anything except continued self-delusion.

What Jerusalem is is the capital of Israel, both as the ancestral Jewish homeland and the modern nation-state. When Richard Nixon became the first American president to visit the country in 1974, he attended his state dinner in Jerusalem. It’s where President Anwar Sadat of Egypt spoke when he decided to make peace in 1977. It’s what Congress decided as a matter of law in 1995. When Barack Obama paid his own presidential visit to Israel in 2013, he too spent most of his time in Jerusalem.

So why maintain the fiction that Jerusalem isn’t the capital?

The original argument, from 1947, was that Jerusalem ought to be under international jurisdiction, in recognition of its religious importance. But Jews were not allowed to visit the Western Wall during the 19 years when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian occupation. Yasir Arafat denied that Solomon’s Temple was even in Jerusalem, reflecting an increasingly common Palestinian denial of history.

Would Jews be allowed to visit Jewish sites, and would those sites be respected, if the city were redivided? Doubtful, considering Palestinian attacks on such sites, which is one of the reasons why it shouldn’t be.

The next argument is that any effort by Washington to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would set the proverbial Arab street on fire and perhaps lead to another intifada.

But this misapprehends the nature of the street, which has typically been a propaganda tool of Arab leaders to channel domestic discontent and manipulate foreign opinion. And it also misrepresents the nature of the last intifada, which was a meticulously preplanned event waiting for a convenient pretext (Ariel Sharon’s September 2000 walk on the Temple Mount) to look like a spontaneous one.

Finally there’s the view that recognition is like giving your college freshman a graduation gift: a premature reward for an Israeli government that hasn’t yet done what’s needed to make a Palestinian state possible.

But this also gets a few things wrong. It will have no effect on whether or how a Palestinian state comes into being, whatever the current histrionics in Ramallah. And it’s not much of a bargaining chip, since most Israelis couldn’t care less where the embassy is ultimately located.

Then again, recognition does several genuinely useful things.

It belatedly aligns American words with deeds. It aligns word as well as deed with reality. And it aligns the United States with the country toward which we are constantly professing friendship even as we have spent seven decades stinting it of the most basic form of recognition.

Recognition also tells the Palestinians that they can no longer hold other parties hostage to their demands. East Jerusalem could have been the capital of a sovereign Palestinian state 17 years ago, if Arafat had simply accepted the terms at Camp David. He didn’t because he thought he could dictate terms to stronger powers. Nations pay a price for the foolhardiness of their leaders, as the Kurds recently found out.

Peace and a Palestinian state will come when Palestinians aspire to create a Middle Eastern Costa Rica — pacifist, progressive, neighborly and democratic — rather than another Yemen: by turns autocratic, anarchic, fanatical and tragic.

For the international community, that means helping Palestinians take steps to dismantle their current klepto-theocracy, rather than fueling a culture of perpetual grievance against Israel. Mahmoud Abbas is now approaching the 13th anniversary of his elected four-year term. Someone should point this out.

Hamas has run Gaza for a decade, during which it has spent more time building rockets and terror tunnels than hotels or hospitals. Someone should point this out, too. It is indicative of the disastrous political choices that help explain 70 years of Palestinian failure.

Meantime, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. For those who have lived in denial, it must be some sort of shock.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Imagine that! Two plus two make four! Jerusalem is Israel’s capital!

Freedom is freedom to say that two plus two make four. Jerusalem is Israel's capital. This is where appeasement of Islam ends. 

Thank you. When I came into office, I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking.

We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. All challenges demand new approaches.
My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city, and so importantly, is Israel’s capital. This act passed congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. And was reaffirmed by unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.
Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in.
After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.
Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver.
Today, I am delivering. I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process. And to work towards a lasting agreement.
Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this is a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace. It was 70 years ago that the United States under President Truman recognized the state of Israel.
Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem, the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times.
Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.
For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of State and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.
Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have by the a country where Jews, Muslims and Christians and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs.
Jerusalem is today and must remain a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the stations of the cross, and where Muslims worship at Al Aqsa Mosque. However, through all of these years, presidents representing the United States have declined to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In fact, we have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital at all.
But today we finally acknowledge the obvious. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.
That is why consistent with the Jerusalem embassy act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.
In making these announcements, I also want to make one point very clear. This decision is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement.
We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position of any final status issues including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.
The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement.
Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides. In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif. Above all, our greatest hope is for peace. The universal yearning in every human soul.
With today’s action, I reaffirm my administration’s longstanding commitment to a future of peace and security for the region. There will, of course, be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation. This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity.
Lifting our sights to what is possible, not pulling us back and down to the old fights that have become so totally predictable.
Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach it.
So today we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts. I repeat the message I delivered at the historic and extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia earlier this year: The Middle East is a region rich with culture, spirit, and history. Its people are brilliant, proud and diverse. Vibrant and strong.
But the incredible future awaiting this region is held at bay by bloodshed, ignorance and terror.
Vice President Pence will travel to the region in the coming days to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations.
It is time for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midsts. It is time for all civilized nations and people to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate, not violence. And it is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.
So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect. Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities.
And finally, I ask the leaders of the region political and religious, Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish and Christian and Muslim to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians and God bless the United States.

Thank you very much. Thank you.