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Friday, April 24, 2015

Hezbullah's drone airstrip in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley

Jane's Defence News reports that Hezbullah has constructed an airstrip for drones in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
Located in a remote and sparsely populated area 10 km south of the town of Hermel and 18 km west of the Syrian border, the airstrip was built sometime between 27 February 2013 and 19 June 2014, according to imagery that recently became publicly available on Google Earth.
It consists of a single unpaved strip with a length of 670 m and width of 20 m. Material has been excavated from a nearby quarry to build up the northern end of the strip so that it is level. It is built over a shorter strip that had been in existence since at least 2010.
The short length of the runway suggests the facility is not intended to smuggle in weapons shipments from Syria or Iran as it is too short for nearly all the transport aircraft used by the air forces of those countries. One exception could be the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC's) An-74T-200 short take-off transports, but landing one with a useful load on a 670 m strip in the mountains would be considered dangerous by most operators.
An alternative explanation is that the runway was built for Iranian-made UAVs, including the Ababil-3, which has been employed over Syria by forces allied to the Syrian regime, and possibly the newer and larger Shahed-129.
Hizbullah sources have confirmed to IHS Jane's that the organisation is using UAVs to support operations against rebel forces in Syria, particularly over the mountainous Qalamoun region on Lebanon's eastern border.
Hizbullah has operated UAVs from Lebanese airspace since at least November 2004, when it dispatched one that it identified as a Mirsad-1 for a brief reconnaissance mission over northern Israel. It then flew attempted to fly at least three UAVs into Israel during the July-August 2006 war.
Hizbullah said it was responsible for the UAV that was shot down over southern Israel on 6 October 2012. It said it used an Iranian-made aircraft that it had designated as the Ayoub for the incursion.
The Saudi Al-Watan newspaper claimed in March 2014 that Hizbullah had built a "military airport" for its UAVs in the Bekaa Valley. Lebanese media reports erroneously claimed the location was at Iaat in the central Bekaa Valley, apparently mistaking a long-abandoned Second World War-era Royal Air Force airfield for the Hizbullah facility.
What could go wrong?

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

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Surprise: Gazans preparing for war

What a surprise. The Financial Times of London reports that Gaza is once again preparing for war.
International donors, analysts, and political figures in Gaza say warning signs of a new conflict have appeared less than a year after last summer’s war, the bloodiest of three Israel and Hamas have fought since 2009. Dubbed Operation Protective Edge by the Israelis, it killed more than 2,200 people, mostly Palestinians, and ended without a long-term truce between the two sides.
On Thursday evening sirens sounded in southern Israel after a rocket was fired from inside Gaza, Israel’s military said, underscoring the tension at the border.
“Since the end of the recent aggression of the Israelis in Gaza, we have begun preparations for the next war,” a PFLP leader who calls himself Abu Jamal says at a café in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza. “We expect at any time that there might be an aggression on Gaza, especially in light of the changes in the Middle East and the result of Israeli elections where the extreme right wing gained popularity.” 
Six months after the international community pledged $3.5bn to rebuild Gaza, barely a quarter of the funds have been released and “further conflict is inevitable”, a group of 46 aid agencies warned last week. Donor fatigue with the conflict, and misgivings about a frozen reconciliation process between Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah, have stalled the rebuilding process.
According to Basil Nasser, acting head of the UN development programme’s Gaza office, only Qatar and Kuwait have begun paying in money to rebuild some of the more than 10,000 houses destroyed or severely damaged during the war.
“If something dramatic doesn’t happen in the Gaza Strip with regard to the reconstruction process, the probability of another violent round is higher,” says Kobi Michael, an analyst with the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
In addition to its training exercises at the northern border, Hamas has been rebuilding its arsenal and firing test rockets into the sea.
I'm shocked - just totally shocked.

By the way, when was the last time you heard about a terrorist leader sitting in a cafe in Iraq or Afghanistan? Must be those cruel Jews' fault for letting him out of his hole.

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Israel denies visa to S. African communist seeking to visit 'Palestinian Authority'

Israel has denied a visa to South African Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who wanted to visit the 'Palestinian Authority.' The denial has caused a row between the South African Communist party and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. This is from the first link.
A senior official in Jerusalem said that the reason that the minister's visa request was turned down was because he intended to pass through Ben-Gurion International Airport for the purposes of visiting the Palestinian Authority, rather than visiting Israel.
Another reason, the official said, was Nzimande's radically anti-Israel stance.
Nzimande is a communist who serves in the South African parliament as a member of the ANC coalition. In the past he has supported an academic boycott against Israel and on one occasion he demanded the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Pretoria.
Nzimande was invited to Ramallah by his Palestinian counterpart to promote research collaboration between the University of Johannesburg and Palestinian institutions in Palestine. He was due to be there from April 25 – 29.
The minister responded harshly to the decision not to give him a visa. "The Israeli government is trying to use all the means at its disposal to hide its atrocities against the Palestinians and to ensure that only the smallest number of people see what is really happening in the land under its control," he told the South African media.
Nzimande added that he would call on all higher education institutions in his country to immediately freeze their contacts with Israeli universities.
At this stage, Nzimande has not received the support of South African President Jacob Zuma or that country's foreign ministry. Until now, no government minister has come to his defense.
But the South African Communist party came to Nzimande's defense and that drew a strong reaction from Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.
“The wild attacks by the South African Community Party against Israel following our refusal to allow the higher education minister to pass through Israel en route to the Palestinian Authority is hypocrisy,” Liberman said.

“It was only a few days ago that a violent, racist attack was perpetrated against foreigners in Johannesburg,” the foreign minister said. “There was also vandalism and destruction of property. The end result was many deaths and wounded.”

“As part of the rioting, South African police fired rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades at other migrants from neighboring African countries,” Liberman said. “These events and others prove once again that South Africa remains a country with serious problems of racism and violence.”

“That’s why it would behoove the South African government and the Communist Party to stop preaching morality and attacking Israel, which is a great democracy that is exceptionally coping with threats and terrorist elements while making maximal effort to preserve human rights and international norms of behavior.”

If South Africa was forced to contend with Israel’s security predicament, “blood would be awash in the streets there,” Liberman said.

“In this light, it’s no surprise that the Communist Party prefers the Palestinians over Israel,” he said. “It is a case of like attracting like.”
I can think of some other politicians who think the same way as Nzimande. One of them is the President of the United States. But as I have said many times, no country is obligated to allow unfettered access to its borders. Certainly not Israel.

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A Jew murdered in Aghanistan... by Barack Obama

Barack Hussein Obama admitted on Thursday that contractor Warren Weinstein, an American Jew who was kidnapped because he was Jewish and was being held by al-Qaeda for ransom, was killed in a January by a US drone strike. Sadly, the US had no clue where Weinstein was. This is from the first link and was written by former Congressman Allen West (R-Fl).
As reported by USA Today, “President Obama expressed “grief and condolences” Thursday for a January drone strike against suspected terrorists in Pakistan that accidentally killed two hostages, including an American aid worker. Obama said he took full responsibility for the operation and apologized to the families of the hostages. “I profoundly regret what happened,” he said. The two Western hostages — one American, one Italian — were killed during a drone strike that targeted members of al-Qaida, the White House said. They were Warren Weinstein, 73, an aid worker from Maryland who was a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Giovanni Lo Porto, 39, an Italian citizen working for a German aid agency. Both were kidnapped by al-Qaida in Pakistan — Weinstein in 2011 and Lo Porto in 2012. The White House said the counterterrorism operation, and another this year in the same region, also killed two other Americans believed to be working with al-Qaida. In an extraordinary eight-minute statement to reporters, a solemn Obama halted at points during his brief remarks, looking down at notes. “I cannot begin to imagine the anguish that the Weinstein and Lo Porto families are enduring today,” he said.”
The first issue has to be, why is the family just now finding out about this fratricide by drone strike, which occurred in January? I thought this was supposed to be the most transparent administration in American history. 
I understand Clausewitz’s “Fog of War” but I also realize that something went terribly wrong in the decision-making authorizing this strike.
“The site of the attack had been under surveillance for hundreds of hours, and that surveillance was “near-continuous” in the days just before the attack, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. The spying used a variety of methods, including drone imagery, and discovered a known al-Qaida operative driving into the compound, said U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity. Based on that intelligence, Earnest said, intelligence analysts concluded with “near certainty” that al-Qaida leaders were present and that civilians were not.”
What is apparent is that HUMINT intelligence assets were not used to validate imagery. Then again, why would anyone want to support U.S. intelligence gathering in Pakistan after how this administration has treated Dr. Shakil Afridi who assisted in the identification of Osama bin Laden’s hideout?
The preeminent question must be, who granted approval? If we are restricting drone usage to the U.S. military, it is fairly easy to ascertain the chain of command in the decision-making for this engagement. But, if this was not within the military operational command chain emanating out of Afghanistan — then we have a bureaucratic, administration issue.
And based on the lack of transparency and length of time before this was revealed, — it leads me to believe this decision came from the latter, not the former. And that ladies and gents, is the reason why the president of the United States took the podium.
Josh Rogin reports that the US had no clue Weinstein was there. That's because - as West noted as well - the  US has no intelligence assets on the ground in the area.
One of the biggest questions following President Barack Obama’s startling revelation Thursday that a U.S. drone strike had killed Weinstein (and Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto) is how the intelligence community could have been unaware that he was at the al-Qaeda site where he became collateral damage in the effort to fight terrorism. A lack of human resources on the ground and a total lack of intelligence on Weinstein’s location contributed to the accident that now has the administration and Congress rethinking how the U.S. will conduct its secret war.
“We put a high priority in tracking and finding him and seeing what we could do to rescue him,” Dan Benjamin, the State Department’s ambassador for counterterrorism from 2009 to 2012, told me Thursday. “The trail went cold quickly and we didn’t know where he was.”
Several officials told me that Weinstein, who worked as a business development contractor for United States Agency for International Development in Lahore, was nervous about his security just before his capture. He had built a safe room in his house and told friends he was hoping to leave Pakistan soon.
In 2012 and 2013, al-Qaeda release several hostage videos of Weinstein begging the Obama administration to do more to retrieve him. Several officials told me that although U.S. authorities repeatedly raised his case with their Pakistani counterparts, there was no direct interaction with al-Qaeda about any ransom or trade and no real information on where the terrorist group was holding him for the three years he was in captivity.
“I don’t think there was any attempt to rescue him because I don’t think we had the slightest idea where he was,” said Rand Corporation’s James Dobbins, who was the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2013 to 2014. “I don’t believe there were any real leads.”
Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter said Thursday that Weinstein’s death was the result of a broken interagency process in which a Pentagon official, Jason Amerine, developed a plan for a trade that would have included the return of Weinstein along with Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was released by the Taliban in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban commanders being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“Warren Weinstein did not have to die," Hunter said in a statement. "His death is further evidence of the failures in communication and coordination between government agencies tasked with recovering Americans in captivity — and the fact that he’s dead, as a result, is absolutely tragic.”
But several officials told me today that a trade that included Weinstein was never seriously entertained by the interagency team tasked with retrieving him, which was led by the FBI and included the CIA, State Department and Pentagon.
“It never struck us as a plausible option,” Dobbins said, noting that Bergdahl was being held by the Taliban while Weinstein was being held by al-Qaeda. The U.S. had extensive negotiations with the Taliban over the years, but not with al-Qaeda, he pointed out.
This is why you can't lead from behind, and you can't pretend you're not fighting a war when your options are fight or surrender. 

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Brady skips White House ceremony

Israel's Football Team (I'm sure he didn't know they were called that) went to visit President Hussein Obama at the White House on Thursday. Obama's joke about Deflategate fell flat. But most important, star quarterback Tom Brady (in the sunglasses behind owner Bob Kraft and an IDF soldier from the Boston area a few years ago) didn't show up.
"I usually tell jokes at these events, but I was worried 11 of 12 of them would fall flat,” Obama joked during a ceremony honoring the Patriots' Super Bowl title on the South Lawn.
The crowd let out an audible groan at the president's jab. 
The president conceded that the "whole story got blown a little out of proportion."
The Patriots' championship run was clouded by allegations that a team employee deflated 11 out its 12 footballs during the AFC Championship game. 
Team owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and starting quarterback Tom Brady, who was not in attendance at the White House ceremony, have denied any wrongdoing.
In February, an NFL.com report found that only one football was severely deflated.
Good for Brady. Reminds me of another Boston sports hero who didn't show up at the White House during Obama's term.

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An Independence Day blast

As Independence Day came to a conclusion here in Israel, 'Palestinian' terrorists in Gaza fired two rockets between Sderot and Netivot, east of Beit Hanoun. In response, the IDF hit what Hamas claims is an empty building and the IDF says is 'part of the terrorist infrastructure.'
The IDF on Thursday night, shortly before midnight, launched an airstrike which targeted a “terrorist infrastructure” in northern Gaza, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.
According to the statement, the airstrike was in retaliation for an earlier rocket attack by Gaza terrorists on southern Israel. 
In addition, said the IDF, the entry of worshipers from Gaza into Israel will be prevented on Friday.
“The IDF will not permit any attempt to harm the security of the citizens of Israel,” the statement said.
The IDF confirmed earlier that at least one terrorist rocket had been fired from Gaza at southern Israel.
There were no reports of physical injuries or damage. The remains of one rocket were located in an open area in the Sha'ar Hanegev region.
The last time a Color Red siren was heard in the Gaza Belt region was in late December – four months ago.
 It starts again?

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

'Never has the threat been so high'

French Prime Minister Manuel Walls says that five Islamist attacks have been foiled in France since January's attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office and on a Paris Kosher supermarket.

French police have thwarted five attacks, including a suspected plan to target church-goers foiled in recent days, since the Islamist killings at a satirical weekly and Jewish food shop in January, Prime Minster Manuel Valls said on Thursday.
"Never has the threat been so high," Valls told France Inter radio, noting the fact that hundreds of French nationals were now in Syria where they risked being radicalized.

Valls was speaking a day after authorities said they had arrested a 24-year-old Algerian national in Paris suspected of the murder of a woman at the weekend and an aborted plan to launch an armed attack on at least one church.
These people don't seem to get that first they come for the Jews, but it never ends there. 

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Obama tells Jewish leaders Netanyahu not invited until Iran talks conclude

Talk about a closed mind. President Hussein Obama told Jewish leaders last week that Prime Minister Netanyahu will not be invited to the White House until after negotiations with Iran conclude, because... he doesn't want to hear Netanyahu's concerns about the impending deal.
He told the group that a face-to-face meeting at the White House would probably end with Mr. Netanyahu publicly venting his complaints about the president’s policies, particularly his efforts to forge a nuclear agreement with Iran, according to people familiar with the private meeting who would provide details about it only on the condition of anonymity.
So for now, the president said, he would speak with the prime minister over the telephone, and an Oval Office invitation would wait until after the June 30 deadline for negotiating the details of the Iran deal.
Instead, the White House is engaged in an aggressive effort to assuage the concerns of American Jewish groups and pro-Israel members of Congress over the nuclear agreement with Iran, and to limit the potential political fallout for Democrats of what has become a bitter rift in the American and Israeli relationship.
Haaretz adds:
Obama spent an hour with leaders of various major Jewish organizations during the day's first meeting, described by the Washington Post as "positive" and "very moving."
Among the attendes were representatives from civil defense groups like the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, umbrella groups like the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Federations of North America, pro-Israel groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and J Street, and the major religious streams.
One of the meeting's attendees told the Post that the president was "heartfelt about his connection to Israel."
Another said that “the president talked about how deeply he feels about Israel and the Jewish people and anti-Semitism. It was not just about Iran. It was much, much deeper in terms of the president sharing with us how he felt."
The New York Times article, the Haaretz article and the Washington Post article cited by Haaretz strike me as White House spin of this meeting, part of which is an attempt to make it sound less bad than it was by mixing it up with this meeting.

Please don't fall for the spin.

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The parallels are striking: China estimates N. Korea will have 40 nukes by 2016 and 75 by the end of the decade

The parallels are striking.

In 1994, the Clinton administration signed a deal that it claimed would stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. The deal was negotiated by Wendy Sherman, the same Democratic party hack who is now in charge of the Iran file. North Korea abrogated the agreement when it felt able to do so, and has gone on to test nuclear weapons. Iran has participated in North Korea's nuclear tests.

Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that China, which is not known for being alarmist, says that North Korea will have 40 nuclear weapons - double the number it has now - by 2016 and 75 by the end of the decade.
China’s top nuclear experts have increased their estimates of North Korea’s nuclear weapons production well beyond most previous U.S. figures, suggesting Pyongyang can make enough warheads to threaten regional security for the U.S. and its allies.
The latest Chinese estimates, relayed in a closed-door meeting with U.S. nuclear specialists, showed that North Korea may already have 20 warheads, as well as the capability of producing enough weapons-grade uranium to double its arsenal by next year, according to people briefed on the matter.
A well-stocked nuclear armory in North Korea ramps up security fears in Japan and South Korea, neighboring U.S. allies that could seek their own nuclear weapons in defense. Washington has mutual defense treaties with Seoul and Tokyo, which mean an attack on South Korea or Japan is regarded as an attack on the U.S.
“I’m concerned that by 20, they actually have a nuclear arsenal,” said Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford University professor and former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who attended the closed-door meeting in February. “The more they believe they have a fully functional nuclear arsenal and deterrent, the more difficult it’s going to be to walk them back from that.”
Chinese experts now believe North Korea has a greater domestic capacity to enrich uranium than previously thought, Mr. Hecker said.
The Chinese estimates reflect growing concern in Beijing over North Korea’s weapons program and what they see as U.S. inaction while President Barack Obama focuses on a nuclear deal with Iran.
In Washington, some Republican lawmakers said the pending White House deal with Iran could mirror the 1994 nuclear agreement the Clinton administration made with North Korea. The deal was intended to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons capabilities, but instead, they allege, provided diplomatic cover to expand them. North Korea tested its first nuclear device in 2006.
“We saw how North Korea was able to game this whole process,” U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Iran had its hands on the same playbook.”
The pace of North Korea’s nuclear arms growth depends on its warhead designs and its uranium-enrichment capacity, Mr. Royce said: “We know they have one factory; we don’t know if they have another one.”
China, which is North Korea’s largest investor, aid donor and trade partner, has for most of the past decade underestimated Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities, nuclear experts said, including its capacity to produce fissile material.
Estimates of North Korea’s capabilities by Chinese experts began to align with those in the U.S. after 2010, and moved beyond after 2013, according to people familiar with exchanges on the matter between China and the U.S.
Until recently, the Chinese “had a pretty low opinion of what the North Koreans could do,” said David Albright, an expert on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and head of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. “I think they’re worried now.”
China’s foreign and defense ministries didn’t respond to requests for comment. Diplomats at North Korea’s mission to the United Nations didn’t respond to attempts to seek comment. The White House, State Department and Pentagon declined to provide U.S. estimates of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
“We have been and remain concerned about North Korea’s nuclear program and believe China should continue to use its influence to curtail North Korea’s provocative actions,” said Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council.
He said the U.S. was working with other countries to implement U.N. sanctions designed to press North Korea “to return to credible and authentic denuclearization talks and to take concrete steps to denuclearize.”
After all, that's worked so well until now. /sarc

In an email, the Israel Project's Omri Ceren breaks it down into politics and policy implications.
Politics -- why it will matter: The parallels write themselves. The Agreed Framework was negotiated by Wendy Sherman and the Iran deal is being negotiated by Wendy Sherman. The Agreed framework lasted a decade and the Iran deal is slated to last a decade. The Agreed Framework relied on IAEA verification and the Iran deal relies on IAEA verification. And now the North Koreans have a full-blown nuclear arsenal, which the Americans don't even know about ("U.S. officials didn’t attend the meeting but some expressed surprise when they were later briefed on the details"). It's a disaster on any number of levels.
Policy -- why it should matter even more: the Iran deal will flood the Islamic Republic with hundreds of billions of dollars, potentially including the $50 billion signing bonus. But in every meaningful sense, the North Korean nuclear program is an Iranian nuclear program, albeit beyond Iran's territorial borders. The Iranians pay for the program. The Iranians receive knowledge and technology from the program. The Iranians are on hand to observe every major nuclear and missile test. Etc. Seen in this light, the nuclear deal with Iran will become a multi-billion dollar jobs program for North Korean nuclear engineers, who will use the money to create and miniaturize more nuclear warheads, which they will then give back to Tehran. The deal doesn't stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. It finances the program.
What could go wrong?

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It's come to this: ROTC cadets forced to walk around campus in red high heels

How much has the American military been degraded by Barack Hussein Obama? This much.
Via the Washington Times:
Army ROTC cadets are complaining on message boards that they were pressured to walk in high heels on Monday for an Arizona State University campus event designed to raise awareness of sexual violence against women.
The Army openly encouraged participating in April’s “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” events in 2014, but now it appears as though ROTC candidates at ASU were faced with a volunteer event that became mandatory.
“Attendance is mandatory and if we miss it we get a negative counseling and a ‘does not support the battalion sharp/EO mission’ on our CDT OER for getting the branch we want. So I just spent $16 on a pair of high heels that I have to spray paint red later on only to throw them in the trash after about 300 of us embarrass the U.S. Army tomorrow,” one anonymous cadet wrote on the social media sharing website Imgr, IJReview reported Monday.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Definitely NOT pro-Israel

Is J Street really pro-Israel?

Consider this:
Definitely not pro-Israel.

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Illinois considering bills that would prohibit state agencies from doing business with BDS'ers

The State that gave us Barack Hussein Obama may be about to do something good for a change.
The Illinois House and Senate may vote by Friday, April 24 on HB4011 and SB1761, respectively. These bills would prohibit state agencies and state retirement services from entering into contracts or investing in companies that choose to boycott Israeli businesses ... including businesses based in [Judea and Samaria].
That would be awesome. 

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Too good not to share: Ted Cruz sworn in

Heh (Hat Tip: Jack W).

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It must have been the 'occupation': First Jewish victim of Arab terror was murdered in 1873

The Ministry of Defense reports that the first Jewish victim of Arab terrorism in Israel was Talmudic scholar Aharon Herhsler HY"D (May God Avenge his blood), who was murdered by Arab terrorists in Jerusalem in January or February 1873.
According to an account of his life provided by the official governmental site for terror victims, Hershler was a haredi yeshiva student who studied devotedly.
He was born in Hungary in 1850 to a prominent rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Shmuel Hershler, who served in the rabbinate of the city of Szabad. After immigrating to Israel, the rabbi was among the heads of the Ungarin Kolel, a Hungarian yeshiva in Jerusalem.
The Hershler family lived in Mishkenot Shananim, the first Jewish neighborhood built outside of the Old City walls.
The records note that in 1872 there were ample rains, meaning the Jews were not forced to buy water from the Arab residents of Shiloach (Silwan in Arabic). In response, the Arab residents evidently decided to target the Jews, breaking into their homes and robbing them.
Several Arabs broke into the Hershler home on January 1, at which point Aharon got up from his Torah studies to confront them, managing to scare them out of the house and proceeding to chase them.
The Arab terrorists, evidently fearing they would be identified, callously opened fire on Hershler, shooting 12 bullets into his body. He was brought to the hospital, where he died of his wounds four days later after great suffering.
Hershler left behind a bereaved wife and daughter, along with his grieving parents and siblings.
Does anyone actually believe that if we give them a 'state' they will stop trying to murder us?

No, it's not the 'occupation.'

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Unbelievable: ISIS executes Christians, Israel gets blamed

The link goes to this Haaretz article (who else in Israel would publish such a thing?). But when you read the story, blaming Israel doesn't exactly add up.
At least one of the three asylum seekers, T., was held in the Holot detention center in the Negev before leaving Israel. T.'s relative, Mesi, told Haaretz that the family identified him in the ISIS video. "He appears in the video and in the photographs, definitely," she said. "He had been in Israel since the end of 2007. He decided to go back after the [Israeli] Ministry of Interior told him he would be better off."
According to Mesi, T. "went back to Uganda or Rwanda – I think Rwanda – where they are not accepted. From there he went on to Sudan, and from Sudan to Libya." She said that he was not able to remain in Libya, and tried to reach Europe by boat. "I understood that the boat was returned to Libya," she said, "where they were arrested. Rumors have it that the extreme Islamic group snatched them from the jail itself." 
Mesi said she tried to dissuade T. from going to a third county. "They told him he would be better off if he flies. I asked him not to. He didn't tell us he had signed [papers] to leave." She added that she and other friends of T. tried to tell him things could change for the better, "that [asylum seekers] would be released from Holot."

Mesi added that she did not keep in touch with T. after he left Israel, but received updates from his brother, who resides in Norway. "He told me that T. arrived in Sudan and Libya and that he hadn't spoken to him in a long time because he was in Libyan prison." She said T.'s brother saw the images of ISIS' execution, but did not think his brother was among the group of Ethiopian Christians. 
So why is Israel being blamed? Who sent the boat back to Libya? Why isn't Uganda or Rwanda or Sudan blamed? Why isn't the United States blamed because President Hussein Obama led from behind to depose the Gadhaffi's? Why isn't ISIS blamed?

But wait, it gets worse. There's this hit job from the Daily Beast (the title is enough to tell you where this article is headed).
At least three of the victims were Eritrean refugees who had been deported from Israel. An Eritrean named Mesi Fashiya who works as a translator for The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, an Israeli NGO that advocates for Israel’s estimated 46,000 refugees, identified the victims.
Sadly, one was her relative.
Fashiya told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that her cousin, identified as “T.,” was deported from Israel “back to Uganda or Rwanda—I think Rwanda—where they are not accepted. From there he went on to Sudan, and from Sudan to Libya.”
“I recognized my relative, T., from the photos published by ISIS that appeared on Facebook before the video was released,” Fashiya told +972 magazine.
T. was sent abroad in a program that Israel initiated to deal with its burgeoning refugee problem. In a brochure obtained by The Daily Beast, the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority “offers foreign nationals from [Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, and Guinea Conakry], who entered Israel illegally, the option to leave the country voluntarily, in a fair and dignified manner.”
In the brochure, Israel offers to assist in the “arrangement of travel documents, purchase of airline tickets, and a financial grant in the amount of $3,500 per person, including children,” to asylum seekers who agree to leave.
While this may seem a fair deal, Israel’s record with asylum seekers and migrant workers is, for lack of a better word, awful.
Excuse me, but since when is little Israel responsible for solving the world's problems? Until ISIS came in, these people were economic refugees - what country in the world grants asylum to economic refugees? (Answer: The United States under Obama, but there are a lot of people who are unhappy about that, and it will likely change in 2017). The financial grant is quite generous for that part of the world. And note that Libya is not one of the countries on the list. These people could have gone to Eritrea or Ethiopia where they came from.

Funny how Israel is the only country blamed for this. Coincidence? I think not.

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Video: Ted Cruz interview from Fox News

Here's Fox News' Martha MacCallum interviewing Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx), who is officially a candidate for President, on Fox News on Tuesday. Cruz does a great job and makes a great impression.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Another Obama nuclear coverup

It's been less than a week since I reported that Barack Hussein Obama covered up a shipment of missile components from North Korea to Iran during the P 5+1 nuclear talks. Now, it turns out that wasn't the only thing Obama was covering up. Eli Lake reports that Obama  has known for years that Iran is three months from breakout. And he never told anyone.
Speaking to reporters and editors at our Washington bureau on Monday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz acknowledged that the U.S. has assessed for several years that Iran has been two to three months away from producing enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. When asked how long the administration has held this assessment, Moniz said: "Oh quite some time." He added: "They are now, they are right now spinning, I mean enriching with 9,400 centrifuges out of their roughly 19,000. Plus all the . . . . R&D work. If you put that together it's very, very little time to go forward. That's the 2-3 months."
Brian Hale, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, confirmed to me Monday that the two-to-three-month estimate for fissile material was declassified on April 1.  
Speaking to reporters and editors at our Washington bureau on Monday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz acknowledged that the U.S. has assessed for several years that Iran has been two to three months away from producing enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. When asked how long the administration has held this assessment, Moniz said: "Oh quite some time."
He added: "They are now, they are right now spinning, I mean enriching with 9,400 centrifuges out of their roughly 19,000. Plus all the . . . . R&D work. If you put that together it's very, very little time to go forward. That's the 2-3 months."
Brian Hale, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, confirmed to me Monday that the two-to-three-month estimate for fissile material was declassified on April 1.  
On Oct. 5 of that year, Obama contrasted the U.S. view of an Iranian breakout with that of Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who at the time said Iran was only six months away from nuclear capability. Obama told the Associated Press, "Our assessment continues to be a year or more away. And in fact, actually, our estimate is probably more conservative than the estimates of Israeli intelligence services." 
Ben Caspit, an Israeli journalist and columnist for Al-Monitor, reported last year that Israel's breakout estimate was also two to three months away.

David Albright, a former weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, told me administration officials appeared to be intentionally unspecific in 2013, when the talking points used the 12-months-plus timeline. "They weren't clear at all about what this one-year estimate meant, but people like me who said let's break it down to the constituent pieces in terms of time to build a bomb were rebuffed," he said. Albright's group released its own breakout timetable that focused solely on the production of highly enriched uranium, not the weapon itself. It concluded Iran was potentially less than a month away.
Liar, liar pants on fire.

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Amnesty International shows its true colors

Amnesty International has shown its true colors by rejecting a call to campaign against anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom.
The motion was table by Amnesty member Andrew Thorpe-Apps in March who said it was defeated at the International AGM on Sunday by 468 votes to 461.
Mr Trope Apps said: “It was the only resolution to be defeated during the whole conference.”
Amnesty International UK press officer Neil Durkin said: "After a really interesting debate where everyone condemned discrimination against all ethnic and religious groups, our membership decided not to pass this resolution calling for a campaign with a single focus.
Funny, they don't seem to have a problem with campaigns that focus solely on Israel.
Mr Thorpe-Apps said he put forward the motion because “I recently joined and I believe passionately about human rights.
“I was aware that the organisation has been outwardly pro-Palestine in the past but it hasn’t stood up for the Jewish population and I think it would be good if they did that.
“I’m not Jewish myself but I’ve been appalled by what I’ve seen in the press facing the Jewish community and an organisation like Amnesty should really add their voice to that as they do with other human rights issues.”
I think Mr. Thorpe-Apps has to find another outlet for his passions about human rights. Amnesty clearly doesn't make the cut.

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Miss Lillian speaks about her children

And we all wish she had.... (From here).

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The difference between us and them: Mohammed Abu Khadr designated a terror victim

The screen cap is from a web site that is dedicated to terror victims, who are to be honored as part of Wednesday's Memorial Day activities. It is the page honoring Mohammed Abu Khadr (link in Hebrew) who was dragged into the Jerusalem Forest and set on fire last summer, apparently by Jews.

It would be nice if his parents showed up to the ceremony honoring the terror victims. But I'm not holding my breath. It would be nice if his parents felt that they could show up at the ceremony without being ostracized by their neighbors. But I'm not sure they care about that.

Compare that with how the 'Palestinian Authority' relates to terrorists and their victims.

'Nuff said.

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For those who don't get it yet...

In an interview with Max Fisher, Michael Doran, who oversaw Middle East policy on George W. Bush's National Security Council from 2005 to 2007 and is currently a scholar at the Hudson Institute, explains why President Obama's agreement with Iran is a bad deal.
Max Fisher: Whatever the end strategic goal, certainly there may at some point be an agreement on arms control. And a goal of that is for Iran to surrender its ambitions for a nuclear weapon. That specific objective seems worthwhile, but is it achievable?
Michael Doran: I don't think it is achievable without a significant coercive component. I think this is one of the most faulty assumptions of the administration. What makes the administration believe Iran has made a strategic shift away from a desire to have, if not a weapon, then a turnkey capability?
I rarely see any attempt to analyze these negotiations from the Iranians' point of view and to ask, "What are their fundamental goals, and why do these negotiations make sense to them?" In that context, I don't believe they have made a strategic shift, and I don't see why the administration believes they have.
If the argument is that the very willingness of the Iranians to sit down and negotiate with us and to stick to the agreement over the last 18 months is proof of a strategic change of some kind, I don't buy it for a second. It's just proof to me that they want sanctions relief and they're going to get it, and they see that they're going to get it, and they will stick with this process as long as they get direct, immediate, and very desirable benefits from it.
Max Fisher: What is it about Iran, you think, that makes it so bent on a nuclear weapons program that it would take so much to deter them from that?
Michael Doran: First of all, there's just the record of what they've done. They have pursued this program doggedly and at enormous cost to themselves. They have been willing to take their economy to the brink of disaster in order to preserve this program.
They belong to a category of regimes, like the North Koreans, that calculates that if they can get this weapon then the world will treat them differently.
We need to look at the fundamental nature of the regime, the ideology of the Islamic Republic, and the mindset of the men who run it. They have a very well-known ideology that is hostile to the American order, that is hostile to the system in the region. They have a vision of Iran's place in the world, in the Islamic world especially, that they have not given up on.
If I were going to talk about basic assumptions of the Obama administration that are wrong, one is that Iran is a fundamentally defensive power. This reads Iran's nuclear program in a rather bilateral fashion, to think that a show of a desire to cooperate and find common ground on the part of the United States would generate an equal and opposite reaction on the Iranian side.
In fact, the starting point is that the Iranians want hegemony in the region, and they're reading American policy with respect to their regional aspirations. The goal of Iran's nuclear weapons program is not to defend against the United States or Israel — it's to advance its regional agenda.
From an American point of view, in 2011 or 2012 we had them in a very advantageous position. Because the sanctions were really biting.
Max Fisher: But the size of Iran's nuclear program was growing, the number of centrifuges was growing.
Michael Doran: But at a greater and greater cost to them, every step they took.
Max Fisher: I wanted to ask you about that, about coercion. Under any reading of what Iran ultimately wants, their incentive to stick to a nuclear deal would be the fear that if they cheat, they'll be caught and then they'll be punished for it.
Arms control analysts I've spoken to say the inspections regime described in the framework would be very effective at catching Iran if it cheats. But they acknowledge that the agreement is not going to talk about enforcement — it's not going to spell out what happens if Iran cheats — because that's just not how these agreements work.
So then you have this big question mark of what happens if Iran gets caught cheating. It's not just us wondering; the Iranian leaders are surely gaming this out, as well. And I honestly don't feel like I know what the answer is.
Michael Doran: First of all, I thank you for asking the question, because I think it is the crucial question.
The way the president has set this up, he has incentivized Iran to pocket huge benefits up front. This has put them in a position to be able to go for a bomb when they want in a position of much greater economic strength and diplomatic strength. Because the very process of the negotiation is destroying the sanctions regime we established, which is the greatest nonmilitary instrument we have for coercing them. This is the fundamental flaw at the heart of the coercion strategy.
He's going to use his waiver authority to free up all this money that is in escrow accounts across the globe that is going to pour into Iranian coffers nearly immediately. At the same time, the United Nations Security Council is going to bless the agreement, which is then going to free up the Europeans and others, including the Russians and the Chinese, to engage in commercial activity with the Iranians. And so we will have effectively gutted the sanctions regime.
Iran's status in the international community is going to be greatly improved, and then there's going to be an international commercial lobby and a diplomatic-military lobby, which includes the Chinese and the Russians, in favor of the new order in which Iran is a citizen in good standing in the international community that they can do business with.
Two comments: First, I am not as confident as Doran is that Iran is a rational actor that would scale back to suspend the nuclear program in response to crippling sanctions or a military strike. They didn't stop it for very long (if at all) in 2003 in response to the US targeting Saddam, and they didn't stop it in 2011-12 when the sanctions were at their most crippling.

Second, it bears pointing out that if Obama had not insisted against all advice and all rationality on withdrawing US troops from Iraq (a decision that he apparently made before ever receiving a national security briefing, although I'm not sure how much of a difference that would have made given Obama's inclinations and tendencies), there never would have been a situation where the US would have 'needed' Iran to control ISIS in Iraq. As I pointed out a couple of days ago, many of the people behind ISIS are former Saddam officials who were likely underground so long as there was a US presence in Iraq.

Read the whole thing.

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Israel finds its spinal cord: President Rivlin refuses to meet with Jimmy Carter

What's most amazing about this story is not so much that President Reuven Rivlin - a man of integrity - refused to meet with Jimmy Carter during the latter's upcoming trip to Israel. What's amazing is that Rivlin did so at the behest of Israel's mostly Leftist foreign ministry (Hat Tip: Gershon D).
President Reuven Rivlin has refused to meet with former US president Jimmy Carter during his upcoming visit to the region, due to his stances over recent years seen as "anti-Israel."

In recent years, Carter has become one of the most prominent critics of Israel, notably when during last summer's war with Hamas he denounced the IDF's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza as illegitimate.

An Israeli diplomatic official told The Jerusalem Post's Hebrew sister publication Ma'ariv that the Foreign Ministry recommended Rivlin not meet with Carter, in order to transmit the message that those who harm Israel will not meet with the president.

Carter is reported expected to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming weeks.
What I don't get is why we're letting the creep into the country at all. I don't see any difference between Carter and the many ISM 'activists' we have barred over the years. Maybe Carter has to arrive on a Gaza flotilla for people to get this man's deep hatred for Israel. 

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Our 'other' problem

Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens writes that Hezbullah is a more immediate threat to Israel than is Iran.
A nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranians would have a large-scale, negative geopolitical effect on the Middle East, but the probability that the weapon would actually be used is extremely small. However, the physical damage caused if it were to be used is essentially infinite. With the withdrawal from Sinai, Israel became a point target for a nuclear bomb. The product of the probability and damage incurred is, therefore, incalculable.
The probability of Hezbollah launching its reservoir of missiles and rockets against Israel is substantial. The theories discussed about our ability to deter them from taking such an action are not on very solid ground. Multiplying such a subjective probability by the damage that is likely to be incurred produces a result, which although indefinite, should be of grave concern to all.
Whereas the Iranian nuclear threat has been occupying our civilian and military leadership these past years – and constant efforts have been made to slow down the Iranian nuclear program – excepting civil defense programs conducted by the Israel Defense Forces Home Front, Israel’s answer to the Hezbollah rocket and missile threat has been limited to a reliance on a dubious theory of deterrence. The opportunity to destroy Hamas’ rocket capability in Gaza was missed during Operation Protective Edge last summer.
From year to year, Hezbollah’s rocket and missile threat has grown in numbers, range and accuracy. Despite the efforts that were made over the years to interfere with the supply of weapons to Hezbollah from Iran and Syria, the Shi’ite group’s capabilities to cause severe damage to Israel’s civilian population and infrastructure has continued to grow. It should be clear the hope that Israel will be able to deter Hezbollah from utilizing this capability cannot be considered an adequate strategy for Israel.
In other news from our northern front, 'our friends, the Saudis' have arranged for the Lebanese army to receive its first shipment of some $3 billion in weapons that the Saudis are purchasing for Lebanon from France.
Lebanon received the first installment of $3 billion worth of French weapons paid for by Saudi Arabia on Monday, part of a four-year plan to help arm Beirut in its battle against jihadi groups.
The handover ceremony held at Beirut's international airport was attended by Lebanese and French defense ministers and top army officers.
The deal aims to boost Lebanon's military as it struggles to contain a rising tide of violence linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria.
Iran also wishes to arm the Lebanese army.
Lebanon announced the surprise $3 billion grant from Saudi Arabia in December 2013. Since then, Riyadh's regional rival, Iran, also has said it is ready to provide aid to the Lebanese army. Many Lebanese view these offers as part of a competition for influence over their tiny country, which is riven by sectarian fissures.
The Lebanese army is generally seen as a unifying force in Lebanon, and draws its ranks from all of the country's sects.
Those 'sects' include Hezbullah (which is an Iranian proxy - makes you wonder why the Saudis are arming the Lebanese Armed Forces). In fact, Hezbullah is the dominant force in the LAF, and the IDF has been telling people that for years. You might recall that in the summer of 2010, the LAF murdered an IDF officer.

What could go wrong?

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Ayatollah Ali Khameni on why the West need not fear a nuclear Iran

Hat Tip: @friendsofbibi (who drew it).

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Iran reacts to nuke framework and to being removed from terror list

Imagine how they'll react to having a nuclear weapon.

PS Where are 'human rights watch' and 'amnesty'?

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Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt"l

My Rosh Yeshiva (head of the academy), Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt"l, passed away a short time ago.
Born in Paris on May 1933, shortly after the Nazi conquest of France in 1940 his family fled to the US, where he would eventually study under two of the Jewish world's leading rabbis: Rabbi Yitzhak Hutner and Rabbi Yoseph Soloveitchik.
He soon became a close student of Rabbi Soloveitchik in particular - considered the founder of the Modern Orthodox movement - studying for many years under his guidance at Yeshiva University in New York.
In 1959 Rabbi Lichtenstein was ordained by his mentor, and shortly after married Rabbi Soloveitchik's daughter.
In 1970 he was invited by Rabbi Yehuda Amital to co-head one of the first hesder yeshivot, which combine Torah study and military service - Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut.
Rabbi Lichtenstein took up the position a year later upon making aliyah with his family, and served as one of its Rosh Yeshiva until his passing, although in recent years he had scaled back his activities due to poor health.
May his memory be a blessing. He gave amazing Torah discourses. I still have (and have let my children use) the notes I have from my time in the Yeshiva 35 years ago. 

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Must read: Who is Islamic State?

They are led by former officers in Saddam's regime. They aren't very Islamic. And their spying techniques would put George Orwell's 1984 protagonists to shame.

Those are some of the tidbits I gleaned from this article about the inner workings of Islamic State.

Especially if you, like me, feel like you need a scorecard to understand what's going on in Iraq and Syria, read the whole thing.

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