1) Taking the lede in blaming Israel
A number of bloggers have commented on the anti-Israel remarks made by Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan last week. Fortunatly, Secretary of State, John Kerry and others rebuked Turkey.
Here's how the New York Times' anti-Israel blogger Robert Mackey provided context for the remarks:
The Turkish prime minister has expressed his anger with Israeli policies in blunt terms at international forums in the past, most notably at Davos in 2009. He stormed off the stage at the end of a heated discussion of Israel’s Gaza offensive, after telling President Shimon Peres, “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.”Mackey makes no mention of Erdogan's Islamism, which is the ideology that has led him to demonize Israel. He provided no context for Cast Lead. He provided no context for the Mavi Marmara raid - not even that the soldiers who raided the ship were acting in self-defense.
Relations between the countries suffered another blow in 2010, when Israeli commandos killed nine Turks during a bloody raid on the ship leading an effort to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza organized by a Turkish aid organization.
Of course, too, Mackey's description of the IHH as a "Turkish aid organization" ignores the organizations extensive documented ties to terrorist organizations.
Mackey's goals here are to justify Erdogan's remarks and minimize the fact that Erdogan radicalized his country.
Mackey doesn't like being characterized as anti-Israel, but his sorry record speaks for itself.
2) The long arm of Hezbollah
Articles last week in the New York Times
During a cross-examination, the operative, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, described himself as “an active member of Hezbollah” with the code name Wael, and said he had received a salary of $600 a month since 2010. Asked why he had a code name, he answered through an interpreter: “In general, the party is based on secrecy between members. We don’t know the real names of our fellow members.”and the Washington Post
Mr. Yaacoub said that his handler, a shadowy figure known only as Ayman, told him to track the landing times for an Arkia Israel Airlines flight between Tel Aviv and Larnaca, Cyprus. Ayman also asked him to look into the rental prices of warehouses, he said.
Now, seven months after that attack, new details emerging in Yaakoub’s case are providing chilling insights into what investigators describe as a far broader effort by the Lebanon-based militant group to lay the groundwork for killing Israeli citizens and perhaps others in multiple countries.describe how Hezbollah's international operations target Jews worldwide.
Some details have come from Yaakoub himself, who made his first public appearance last week during his trial in Cyprus. But a much fuller account comes from legal documents summarizing the Swedish man’s statements to police during weeks of questioning last summer and obtained by The Washington Post.
The evidence echoes discoveries by investigators in Bulgaria and prosecutors in Thailand, India, Azerbaijan, Kenya and other countries hit by a wave of attempted assassinations and bombings linked to Hezbollah or its chief sponsor, Iran. U.S. officials characterize the plots as part of a shadow war directed by Iran in part to retaliate for Western efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program. Evidence uncovered by investigators portrays a professional, well-funded effort by Hezbollah to recruit, train and position European-based operatives for what U.S. analysts describe as preparations for future terrorist operations.
Tony Badran shows how Hezbollah (especially in its operations in Lebanon) acts as an agent of Iran:
In the fact sheet explaining its designation of Shateri (Khoshnevis) for his role as the director of the Iranian Committee for the Reconstruction of Lebanon, the Treasury clarified that the designation exposed “Iran’s use of its state apparatus and State-run social service organizations to support terrorism under the guise of providing reconstruction and economic development assistance or social services.”Matthew Levitt recently argued:
Ironically, the provision of social services to Lebanese Shiites is precisely why many analysts have said we shouldn’t regard Hezbollah as an Iranian asset. However, the prominent and all-pervasive roles that the IRGC-QF continues to play in running Hezbollah operations only highlight how it has a direct say not just in Hezbollah’s military affairs, but also in its command structure as well as its finances. This should dispel any notion that Hezbollah is an autonomous organization. Rather, the Party of God itself is but an Iranian state-run organization.
In short, an EU designation is critical, not only to send Hezbollah a clear message that it can no longer muddy the waters between politics and terrorism, but also because it would empower EU member states to open terrorism-specific investigations into the group’s activities – something many cannot or will not do today despite the resumption of attacks in Europe. The Bulgarian announcement was just the first shoe to fall; next comes the Cyprus verdict. The EU must show Hezbollah that there are consequences for executing terrorist operations, raising funds, procuring arms, and recruiting operatives on European soil. Inaction or half-measures would only embolden the group to continue operating there as if it were business as usual.Still despite the efforts of some officials, the European Union hesitates to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Jeff Jacoby writes in Yes, Europe, Hezbollah is a terror group:
So what can explain the European reluctance to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and shut down its fundraising and logistical operations? As in Churchill’s day, cowardice and dishonor might have something to do with it.An op-ed in the New York Times recently asked Why is Argentina's President cozying up to Iran?
“There’s the overall fear if we’re too noisy about this, Hezbollah might strike again,” Sylke Tempel, the editor-in-chief of the German foreign affairs magazine Internationale Politik told the Times last month, as the Bulgarian government was preparing its report on the Burgas bus bombing. “And it might not be Israeli tourists this time.”
The moral stench of that rationalization is almost as repellent as its stupidity. Yes, Hezbollah’s foremost targets are Jews and the Jewish state — it has always proclaimed the destruction of Israel as its goal — but have Europeans still not figure out that while Nazis and the Nazi-like start by killing Jews, they rarely end with them? After 30 years of Hezbollah butchery around the world, can Europe still imagine that pretending Hezbollah is mostly “benign” will keep them safe? That if they feed the crocodile enough, it won’t eat them just yet?
But bizarrely, Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, abruptly switched course last month and reached an agreement with the Iranian government that would set up a “truth commission” of international legal experts to analyze evidence from the bombings. The agreement, which the Congress approved early Thursday, would allow Argentine officials to travel to Tehran and interview Iranians suspected of involvement in the attack.Even as more and more evidence emerges about the deadly nature of Hezbollah and its role as Iran's proxy, there are those who refuse to acknowledge its true nature. Is it because it focuses its energy on Israel and therefore many see its efforts as being justified? Or it just laziness or fear?
The problem is that any recommendations by the commission would be nonbinding; moreover, some of the suspects in the attack are now high-ranking Iranian officials — including the sitting defense minister, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi — and therefore untouchable. Indeed, Iran has repeatedly refused to cooperate with Argentine investigators and ignored international warrants for the arrest of senior Iranian officials believed to have taken part in planning the bombing.
Mrs. Kirchner’s decision to abandon Argentina’s longstanding grievances against Iran is particularly galling because it comes just weeks after Bulgaria, another country victimized by Iranian-sponsored terrorism, accused Hezbollah of staging a suicide attack on Israeli tourists in the Bulgarian town of Burgas last year. That attack, like the 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, was part of a shadow war against Jewish civilians across the world. Bulgaria’s government, unlike Argentina’s current administration, decided to stand up to Hezbollah and forthrightly accuse it of the crime.
Unfortunately, too, Hezbollah is not alone in escaping scrutiny and condemnation despite its terror.
There's another more serious point implied by all of this. In a number of quarters (notably the editorial pages - and even the news pages - of the New York Times,) Prime Minister Netanyahu was mocked as an alarmist and a war monger for focusing on the threat of a potential Iranian nuclear weapon. What's getting harder to deny is that Iran is engaged in a war - not only of words and even without nuclear weapons - against Israel and Jews all around the world. This war is accompanied by the genocidal rhetoric of Iran's leaders. What will it take for the world to take the Iranian threat seriously?
3) The mission of AIPAC
Last week, I linked to a couple of articles that criticized AIPAC for not fighting the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. Barry Rubin explains in Why, As President, Obama is a Disaster and Why, As a Country, Israel Should Applaud Obama:
By the same token, it is equally foolish for some to criticize, for example, President Shimon Peres for giving Obama a medal or Israeli leaders for lauding Obama on every possible opportunity. And the same applies to AIPAC not objecting to Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, never criticizing Obama, and inviting him to speak at its annual meetings. Whoever is president or secretary of defense, AIPAC and Israel will have to work with him.The American version of the Chareidi weekly, Mishpacha, presented a positive article about AIPAC, focusing on a Georgia politician and lawyer, Ashley Bell. While this article is not online another recent article, which mentions Mr. Bell, explains AIPAC's role nicely.
All of these people, then, are doing their jobs properly by avoiding entanglements in such internal American issues.
Israel needs good relations with the United States. Obama is the president of the United States twice elected by the American people and he will be president for the next four years. It is not the task of Israel’s government to interfere with America’s internally made choices. It is the job of Israel’s government to live as best as possible with those rulers, minimize the advantage, and wait out this period by agreeing, smiling, giving in on small things, and doing everything possible to protect the nation’s security.
The speakers explained how they came to be activists for the pro-Israel community, each with a different motivating story.Cultivating broad-based support for a cause is not always consistent with taking stands on specific issues.
County Commissioner Bell’s story was especially enlightening and affirming. During his visit to Israel with the African American Leaders Mission, they met with leaders of the PLO. In a candid conversation without AIPAC staff in the room, Bell asked one of the PLO leaders, “Do you think Israel has a right to exist?” When the PLO leader answered “No,” Bell realized that all other statements were suspect and there was no further reason to continue the conversation.
Attendees heard that while the Jewish state is facing a rapidly deteriorating security situation on all of its borders, what makes this moment in time different is the growing support for Israel across the diverse American spectrum. Hard work from not just the Jewish community, but through the work of the African American and Christian friends of Israel is making a difference. Many of the most important decisions affecting Israel’s basic security are being made in Washington, not Jerusalem. The relationship, which will need to be stronger in the future, is strong now for several reasons: supporters of Israel as a community are willing to stand up and be counted; as a community, supporters are willing to engage elected officials in exactly the way the Constitution prescribes, and because of that, supporters of Israel as a community have a real voice in Washington.
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