Monday, January 29, 2007

Other news...

Scroll down to the very bottom of the blog but right above the site meter links. I've got a big surprise in store for much of you...

In other news, I will have an important statement up tomorrow around 4ish relating to a huge campaign that's coming up pretty soon.

Yossi Klein Halevi & Michael B. Oren wrote an interesting article featured in The New Republic titled Contra Iran.
The first reports from military intelligence about an Iranian nuclear program reached the desk of Yitzhak Rabin shortly after he became prime minister in May 1992. Rabin's conclusion was unequivocal: Only a nuclear Iran, he told aides, could pose an existential threat to which Israel would have no credible response. But, when he tried to warn the Clinton administration, he met with incredulity. The CIA's assessment--which wouldn't change until 1998--was that Iran's nuclear program was civilian, not military. Israeli security officials felt that the CIA's judgment was influenced by internal U.S. politics and privately referred to the agency as the "cpia"--"P" for "politicized."

The indifference in Washington helped persuade Rabin that Israel needed to begin preparing for an eventual preemptive strike, so he ordered the purchase of long-range bombers capable of reaching Iran. And he made a fateful political decision: He reversed his ambivalence toward negotiating with the PLO and endorsed unofficial talks being conducted between Israeli left-wingers and PLO officials. Rabin's justification for this about-face was that Israel needed to neutralize what he defined as its "inner circle of threat"--the enemies along its borders--in order to focus on the coming confrontation with Iran, the far more dangerous "outer circle of threat." Rabin's strategy, then, was the exact opposite of the approach recently recommended by the Iraq Study Group: Where James Baker and Lee Hamilton want to engage Iran--even at the cost of downplaying its nuclear ambitions--in order to solve crises in the Arab world, Rabin wanted to make peace with the Arab world in order to prevent, at all costs, a nuclear Iran.

Now, more than a decade later, the worst-case scenario envisioned by Rabin is rapidly approaching. According to Israeli intelligence, Iran will be able to produce a nuclear bomb as soon as 2009. In Washington, fear is growing that either Israel or the Bush administration plans to order strikes against Iran. In Israel, however, there is fear of a different kind. Israelis worry not that the West will act rashly, but that it will fail to act at all. And, while strategists here differ over the relative efficacy of sanctions or a military strike, nearly everyone agrees on this point: Israel cannot live with a nuclear Iran.

For over two decades, since the era of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the Holocaust was rarely invoked, except on the extremes, in Israeli politics. In recent months, though, the Iranian threat has returned the Final Solution to the heart of Israeli discourse. Senior army commanders, who likely once regarded Holocaust analogies with the Middle East conflict as an affront to Zionist empowerment, now routinely speak of a "second Holocaust." Op-eds, written by left-wing as well as right-wing commentators, compare these times to the 1930s. Israelis recall how the international community reacted with indifference as a massively armed nation declared war against the Jewish people--and they sense a similar pattern today. Even though the United States and Europe have finally awakened to the Iranian nuclear threat, Iran's calls for the destruction of Israel tend to be dismissed as mere rhetoric by the Western news media. Yet, here in Israel, those pronouncements have reinforced Rabin's urgency in placing the Iran situation at the top of the strategic agenda.

One of the men most responsible for doing precisely that is Labor Party parliamentarian and current Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, whom Rabin entrusted with his government's "Iran file." Like most in the defense establishment, Sneh doesn't believe Iran would immediately launch a nuclear attack against Israel. But, he adds, it won't have to actually use the bomb to cripple Israel. "They would be able to destroy the Zionist dream without pressing the button," he says.

In clipped tones that reveal his long military background, he outlines three repercussions of an Iranian bomb. To begin with, he notes, the era of peace negotiations will come to an end: "No Arab partner will be able to make concessions with a nuclear Iran standing over them." What's more, Israel will find its military options severely limited. An emboldened Iran could provide Hezbollah and Hamas with longer-range and deadlier rockets than their current stock of Katyushas and Qassams; yet, threatened with a nuclear response, Israel would have little defense against intensifying rocket fire on its northern and southern periphery, whose residents would have to be evacuated to the center. Israel already experienced a foretaste of mass uprooting in the Lebanon war last summer, when hundreds of thousands of Galilee residents were turned into temporary refugees. Finally, says Sneh, foreign investors will flee the country, and many Israelis will, too. In one recent poll, 27 percent of Israelis said they would consider leaving if Iran went nuclear. "Who will leave? Those with opportunities abroad--the elite," Sneh notes. The promise of Zionism to create a Jewish refuge will have failed, and, instead, Jews will see the diaspora as a more trustworthy option for both personal and collective survival. During the Lebanon war, Israeli television's preeminent satirical comedy, "O What a Wonderful Land," interviewed an Israeli claiming that "this" is the safest place for Jews--as the camera pulled back to reveal that "this" was London.

Even without the bomb, Iran's threat to Israel is growing. Working through Shia Hezbollah, Alawite Damascus, and Sunni Hamas, Tehran has extended its influence into Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian territories. As a result of Hezbollah's perceived victory in the Lebanon war and Hamas's ability to continue firing rockets at Israeli towns despite repeated army incursions into Gaza, Iran has proved it can attack Israel with near-impunity. Iranian newspapers are replete with stories gloating over the supposed erosion of Israel's will to fight and the imminent collapse of its "postmodern" army, as one recent article put it. Iran's self-confidence has been bolstered by Israel's failure to extract a price from Tehran for instigating the Lebanon war and for funding terrorist operations as far back as the early '90s, when Iran masterminded the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and, two years later, that city's Jewish community headquarters. Nor has Israel--to say nothing of the U.N. peacekeeping forces--managed to prevent Hezbollah from rearming. And, if Iran manages to overcome U.S. threats and U.N. sanctions and achieve nuclear capability, it will be seen throughout the Muslim world as unstoppable.
Oren recently authored Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present.

The Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism notes that prelimenary data shows that Anti-Semitism is on the rise.
The Forum, which represents the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization and the Foreign Ministry, pointed out that the second war in Lebanon sparked anti-Semitic outbursts, especially in countries with large Muslim and Arab populations.

"The Kafr Kana incident marked a peak in anti-Semitic outbursts," said Hermon, referring to the IDF bombing of a residential building which housed missile launchers aimed at Israeli civilian populations. These launchers were purposely positioned by Hizbullah among Lebanese civilians to maximize collateral damage.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Ze'ev Bielski, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Task Force Against Anti-Semitism Amos Hermon, and Shlomo Molla who holds the anti-Semitism portfolio in the World Zionist Organization presented the findings at a press conference at the Jewish Agency Sunday.

2006 was also a year of the proliferation of Holocaust denial. Iran hosted an anti-Semitic caricature competition in August, as well as a conference devoted to examining the veracity of the Holocaust.
Is it possible that relations with Iran could get back to where they were before the hostage crisis in the late 1970s? Anyway, here's this interesting piece of news relating to the Tehran Film Festival.
“Requesting the movie to Iran raises our tremendous success in the world by a thousand levels,” said Ziv Koren, the photojournalist whose story is followed in the film.

“This is an exceptional opportunity to show the Iranians a film about life in Israel. The film doesn’t deal with my work as a photographer. It serves as a mirror for Israeli society and presents my feelings as a human being who lives in Tel Aviv. I hope that the human message will get through.”

It was not immediately clear why the film was selected but its Israeli director, Solo Avital, suggested it might be a sign that there are growing voices in Iran who want to know more about Israel and don’t necessarily agree with the current regime’s policy.
John Edwards is set for an appearance at Wake Forest.

Mike Weaver officially filed to become a candidate for State Treasurer.

Sad news today in Israel as three people were killed in Eilat by a homicide-bomber. Sadly, the killer's family was very proud. I would like for President Carter to condemn the act of terror.

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