Monthly Archives: October 2010

Syrian HQ at Ramallah in view?

the-exodus-1947-haifa-july-1947_RS A commonly obscured historical fact in the Middle East is that the territories occupied by Israel since 1967 are not Palestinian territories at all, but areas that were wrested at that time from the military control of Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, those nations having occupied the areas in question since the 1948 War of Independence.

An article I noticed last night by a former chief of Israeli security not only reminded me of that, but got me thinking about the possibility (or even likelihood) of those areas being reoccupied by one or more of those same powers in the event of the creation of a “Palestinian” state. Or we could possibly even see an Iran puppet state installed in the center of the Jewish nation–an Iranian (or Syrian, or Jordanian, or Egyptian) puppet state armed with any number of long and short range missiles. All the current talk of a two-state solution assumes that any Palestinian state created would have a great deal more stability than its neighbor Lebanon or even the occupied territory of Gaza. (Occupied by Hamas, that is.)

Oh, but there would be guarantees of international oversight, so this would never be a problem! Guarantees that, so far in recent history, have proved quite useless. Witness the impotence of UNIFIL in southern Lebanon, for instance.

The article’s author, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, wasn’t quite so blunt about it, but he does point out a few other matters that should grab our attention. Even if (big if) the area could be “demilitarized,” (at least on paper) the nature of the military threats posed have changed to where they’ve moved outside the range of activities that could reasonably be enforced under any demilitarization system currently in use. In the General’s words,

4LM_Final_day_of_the_war_sees_Katyusha_rockets_in_Haifa …the real threat comes not from tanks but from rockets, anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-tank missiles. The common denominator among all of these is the ease of smuggling and clandestine manufacture, as is taking place today in Gaza. No monitoring system that may be established will be able to prevent this.

General Eiland goes on to lay out further often-overlooked but major considerations, including tactical aspects as befits his expertise, but the upshot of it, from my inexpert perspective, is that things are not as we’re accustomed to perceiving them, and that our misperceptions could be very dangerous indeed.

Coffee, anyone?


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Love-hate triangle: Syria, Iran, & Lebanon

Is Lebanon about ready to collapse? Awaiting the outcome of the tribunal examining the 2005 assassination of then Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, some observers see a potential conflagration in that country if Hezbollah feels they’ve been put on the spot by being held responsible for the murder. Will Hezbollah use the occasion to assert complete control of the state? Will Syria take occasion to reassert the control it had largely relinquished the year of the assassination? Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is reported to have recently made aggressive statements to that effect. And what about Iran?

In case no one has noticed, I have used this blog more as a soap box than a platform for in-depth analysis, but sometimes that’s just not enough. I thank blogger IsraeliGirl for publishing an interview a couple of weeks ago with Lebanon expert Dr. Omri Nir of Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University and Ben Gurion University. As you might surmise, the interview covers the landscape in considerably greater detail than I am able to here. If I would dare begin to summarize Dr. Nir, I might say something about Iran having created Hezbollah nearly thirty years ago to serve a relatively straightforward purpose (to export the Islamic revolution to Lebanon), but that since that time Hezbollah has morphed into a hybrid creature, partly its own, partly Iran’s, partly Lebanon’s and maybe partly Syria’s, but not really anybody’s. Armed and aimless, and all the more dangerous. And unpredictable.

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While we’re discussing Iran, we have to wonder how it can think it has the energy to run matters in Lebanon or anywhere else when it is having to batten down the hatches at home. The West is well aware of the pressures from within forced by the street revolts following the 2009 elections; we might not be so well acquainted with the troubles Iran faces from internal jihad. (Yes, Virginia, there are Islamists who do not feel that the Islamic Republic is Islamist enough. It’s never enough for these folks. There were also published reports recently of a “terrorist attack” at an important Iranian missle base. Evidence suggests that it was not a terrorist attack at all—that Iran’s claim is merely an attempt to deflect attention from what may be the real cause of the blasts, like, say, maybe an Israeli sabotage hit. We won’t go there.)

But it’s apparently worse than that. The latest reports indicate that Iran feels it necessary to take aggressive action against the threats posed by such horrible things as the university-level study of law, management and human rights, not to mention the arts, cinema, music and books. It’s that bad. Read the details in IsraeliGirl’s report on the subject. “If a regime change will happen in Iran it will come from within,” she says. Or, if I may say, by books not bombs. If Stuxnet doesn’t do it, maybe social studies will.

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Bushher_gets_loaded_maybe_RS All right, since I brought up Stuxnet – a report two days ago indicated Iran’s scientists have fixed the problem and have begun loading the Bushehr reactor. I’m still not so sure. I mean, if it really was Israeli cyber sabotage, I suspect it won’t be that easy to stop them. Then again, while all fingers were pointing at Israel, Israel was saying, “Who, me?” As I keep saying, we’ll see.

See you around,


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Gross darkness in Rome; a hopeful light in New York

Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news? OK, here’s the bad news first.

Koenig_Pope_RS_1023 The Roman Catholic Church this weekend set the clock back about a hundred years on reconciliation efforts with the Jewish people by declaring that there is no Biblical basis for the idea of a “promised land.” That is, unless you mean something other than a promised “land,” but even then it’s not for the Jews, but for the Church. I won’t begin to fully explain all that here, but it  has to do with an aberration in Christian theology that thankfully has been in rapid decline over the past century. So why does the largest Christian denomination pick this line up now? For quite some time (centuries, in fact) the Roman Church has been not so much a church as a political entity on the world scene, and in that view we shouldn’t be all that surprised that with its latest policy statement it realigns itself with the prevailing lefterly (if I may coin a term) winds of geopolitics. We may be terribly disappointed indeed, but not so terribly surprised.

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Speaking of setting the clock back, here is Iran’s latest entry in that game, according to a report on Israel Daily Alert:

Iran has imposed new restrictions on 12 university social sciences deemed to be based on Western schools of thought and therefore incompatible with Islamic teachings, state radio reported Sunday.   The list includes law, philosophy, management, psychology, political science, women’s studies and human rights. 

So the Islamic revolution and the Roman church are in agreement on at least two things: impede social and religious progress whenever possible, and oppose Israel at all costs. God help us; certainly no one else will.

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Oh, the good news? Yes, there is a ray of hope coming from the 15th Congressional District race in Manhattan, NYC. Former New York Jets lineman, unabashed Christian, and courageous defender of Israel Michael Faulkner is taking on the corrupt Democrat Charlie Rangel, and is swiftly gathering support from those who want to see something done right this time, including an endorsement in the New York Post (that’s the other major NY paper, not the leftist one).

Now there’s a lineman you can root for!

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Maybe it’s just not “news” unless it’s new

Did I just hear somebody say “well, duh!” out there? I remarked last week how amazing it is that the media will seem to drop coverage of something the very next day after it was front page news. I have to admit on second thought that it’s just the nature of the beast—that if there isn’t anything actually new to report, then you can’t expect the “news” to report it.

But that should not prevent us from keeping tabs on something important, even if it’s just monitoring it day by day without there being any significant changes. I still think the Stuxnet supervirus falls in that category, even though at least one cyber security center seems to be saying that it’s more hype than horror. Maybe I could make a better evaluation if I were much of a techie, but since I’m not, I just have keep my eyes open for what might be next.

And there are still bits and pieces popping up in the news about Wonder Worm; one of the latest items from Jerusalem Post says Iran now admits that they’ve been hit with cyber espionage at their nuke sites. Of course, at that point they go off on a tirade against the insidious West, but still that’s saying a little more than they were before.

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On the eternally ongoing subject of IDS (Israel Derangement Syndrome), an alert friend sent me an essay outlining yet another reason why Israel by its very existence bugs the heck out of the rest of the world: by some objective measures they’re the happiest nation on Earth.

Another key point made in the same essay is that:

The contrast of Israeli happiness and Arab despondency is what makes peace an elusive goal in the region. It cannot be attributed to material conditions of life. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia ranks 171st on an international quality of life index, below Rwanda. Israel is tied with Singapore on this index, although it should be observed that Israel ranks a runaway first on my life-preference index, whereas Singapore comes in dead last.

Even less can we blame unhappiness on experience, for no nation has suffered more than the Jews in living memory, nor has a better excuse to be miserable. Arabs did not invent suicide attacks, but they have produced a population pool willing to die in order to inflict damage greater than any in history. One cannot help but conclude that Muslim clerics do not exaggerate when they express contempt for life.

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BHO_Buddy_Abu Another ongoing matter has of course been the peace negotiations between Israel and the the puppet Arab entity known as the Palestinian Authority. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has been pulling every stunt in the book to keep from actually sitting down and talking. The latest reported ploy is to suggest bypassing negotiations altogether, just have a big player such as the US unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, and be done with it. Not that this is a brand new idea, but it may actually sound to them like a very simple way to make the whole problem go away. Except that it won’t. Israel is here to say, and the sooner we recognize that, the easier we’ll make it on ourselves. And that’s all I have to say about that.


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Not yet getting stuck on Stuxnet, but…

LeBron_cr One of the more amazing aspects of the way events are handled in the major news media is how a huge story will burst on the scene one day and practically disappear the next. Or how some personal situation (such as marital strife or new job offer) in the life of a major sports figure or other entertainer will push out coverage of matters that affect all of us, but aren’t so flashy. Or how we never hear of some things like significant violence in some forgotten corner of the world.

JPost_Bushehr_2Oct I had to wonder a little bit going into the weekend whether coverage of the Stuxnet computer virus was beginning to fall into that first category. Big news—really big news—on Wednesday, hardly a mention on Thursday, back again, more or less, on Friday.

And now we’re seeing a little more about it again. On Saturday, Iran admitted that Stuxnet had been found to be a problem, but they were saying that it had not affected the main plant at Bushehr. (At the same time Iran announced the arrest of several “nuclear spies,” but wouldn’t quite say what that had to do with the situation at hand.)

Others have noted that Iran is not the only country where the problem has appeared (China has been especially hard hit), but some have explained that away as a natural consequence of the method chosen by it’s authors (whoever they are) to ensure infection of the target. Or targets.

But then today we see  an admission coming from Iran that yes, indeed, significant delays at the plant have been specifically linked to the virus.

220px-Esther_haram_cr1 From another angle comes the suggestion that the computer code itself contains a reference to the Biblical Queen Esther – you know, the Jewish heroine who was key to her people inflicting a military defeat on their enemies in Persia (modern day Iran) hundreds of years ago. Which of course in turn implicates Israel as the point of origin. Maybe.

One of the more interesting commentaries I’ve seen today is from Caroline Glick. Though remaining among the sane voices still not ready to nail Israel on this, she points out the potential for a new cyber arms race, drawing a parallel with the way the nuclear arms race began some sixty-odd years ago. What is the world in for?

AhmmadinnerjacketYnetAs I read the various reports, especially those relaying Iran’s responses, the overall impression I’m left with is that this a serious problem, but not the end of the world. Iran is trying, it seems, to put a cool face on it, and the major media appear to me to be playing along. But I imagine that what we’re not seeing is a substantial amount of rage going on behind closed doors. I mean, here is Iran’s obvious (and stated) purpose of destroying Israel, the U.S. and the rest of the world (pretty much in that order), and they’re being seriously tripped up by a computer malfunction of all things! Now remember that they have a stark raving lunatic in charge, and well — need I say more?

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