Tag Archives: Jerusalem

The Smoking Gun in Syria

The Smoking Gun in Syria

 

Everyone morning when I turn on the television, I get a new episode of the Syrian story, relating more data on how many the government has killed of its own people. The survivors call for international help, but relief doesn’t come. The United Nations failed to stop the war. (Thanks to Russian and Chinese vetos) The lack of response only affirmed Israel’s belief that the UN cannot be counted on to prevent war and make peace. So, putting my newspaper aside, I ask myself, “Who owns the smoking gun in Syria?”

Surprise ! Surprise! It’s the Russians!

Like a chapter straight out of the old Cold War days, the Russians are once again standing behind the curtains, trying to act anonymous but not able to pull it off. The spot light is on Moscow.

Here’s the bottom line.

The Russians have been providing arms to Syria for years. Soviet-designed truck-mounted rocket launchers, rifles, self-propelled howtizers, etc. come in the front door everyday from Russia. During the attack on Homs, the American state department released statellite images of Soviet-era tanks and rocket launchers aiming at the city. Sure enough, Ivan the Terrible was at work again.

The fact is now clear that without Russia’s backing, including food, medical supplies, and equipment, the Assad regime would essentially be finished. Russian armaments are prolonging the war. Deputy Defense Secretary Anatoly Antonov insisted no Russian weapons were used against the resurgents  in Syria, but of course he offered no proof. Another old Cold War tactic.

What do the Russians get out of the struggle?  Rosoboronexport, a Russian state-owned weapons trading company, has been shipping to Syria while raking in a hefty income for Russia. Whether you call it rubles, dollars, or whatever, it’s big income for Russia.  A veteran security specialist at the Congressional Research Service noted that the value of Russian Arms more than doubled from 2007-2010 returning of $4.7 billion to Russia. No small potatoes there! More than two million Russians are employees in the arms production business. Can’t afford to offend that huge section of the electorate either!

We might note in passing that the only remaining military installation outside of the former Soviet territory is a naval station at Tartus in Northern Syria. Interesting.

Why have the Russians so forcefully resisted an arms embargo against Syria? That one’s not hard to figure out! Ivan doesn’t want anyone toying with his bank account. What raises the ante is that the Russians lost billions of dollars of arms business because of the sanctions against Iran and the fall of Libya. However, after the fall of Qaddafi, Syria increased purchases including buying Yak-130 light attack planes for $550 million.

What do we have here? That old smoke-filled backroom where the good old boys make deals is alive and well. Unfortunately, for Russia and Syria the world is fundamentally united against them. Even the Arab League opposes Assad’s actions. What’s next? I’m certainly not sure and I know of no one who is. However, you can bet the Russians will keep cranking the cash register.

The Soviet Union is gone, but the Russians remain the Russians. Smoking-gun and all.

Question:

Should the United States intervene and begin arming the rebels? If Russia continues to back the Syrian government, can we allow this balance of power to continue?

 

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Update on Jordan

UNDATE ON JORDAN

In a recent blog, I noted that King Abdullah had missed the target by 10 feet in some of his recent remarks he made about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Jordanian miscalculations are not a new experience. The Soviet Union had urged King Hussein, Abdullah’s father, to join the attack on Israel during theYom Kippur War, promising him full military support. The result was that Jordan lost the West bank, their portion of Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount. A miscalculation indeed!

In his statements a few weeks back, Abdullah blamed Israel for the failure of peace talks without mentioning that the Palestinians had pulled out, gone to the United Nations, and sought independent recognition for statehood. Of course, the Palestinian ploy has gone nowhere.

I felt it might be helpful to note how the situation in Jordan appears to be developing subsequently. Once again, King Abdullah may have, at the least, a portion of his head in the sand. The larger issue is his personal concern for his government’s survival. With the Arab spring breaking out across the Middle East, Jordan is not exempted. In America, springtime seems to be coming a bit early this year. I’ve got a hunch that Abdullah may be concerned about unexpected tulips springing up in his own front yard.

A revolution in Jordan might roll in like a spring tornado.

The truth is that Palestinians are discriminated against in Jordan. King Hussein ran Yassar Arafat and his followers our of Jordan and into Lebanon because they became a threat to the country’s solidarity. In public statements Abdullah has called on Jordanians to end class divisions that “have marginalized Palestinians citizens of the Hashemite Kingdom.” Unfortunately, the public statements don’t fit his private practice. Two former senior Jordanian officials have said Abdullah’s actual policy has been to sustain discrimination. One of the Wikileaks expose’s was statements from former prime minister Tahir Masri as well as one of Abdullah’s former senior adviser’s, Adnan Abu Odeh. They confirmed Abdullah’s discrimination policy.

Even though Abdullah’s wife is from a Palestinian refugee family, his discriminatory policies extended to withdrawing passports from Palestinians. Human Rights Watch Middle East Director Sarah Lean Whitson commented, “Jordan is playing politics with the basic rights of thousands of its citizens.” Additional issues and problems currently exist in Jordan.

Today the Palestinians constitute a majority in Jordan. In spite of his public comments, King Abdullah has private worries.  The Palestinian population could turn on him and knock his government into the stream flowing through the Arab spring. The truth is that Jordan’s Palestinians are fed up with him. Ant-Israeli rhetoric won’t heal the discontents of dispossessed people. He gets no exemptions from his problems by attacking Israel. King Abdullah has best keep his eyes on his backyard and make sure the gate stays locked. I bet he keep his personal body guards on high alert.

Stand by! The news from Ammon could heat up this spring!

Question:

Do you believe Jordan could experience an Arab upraising against the King and the Hashemite Kingdom like Egypt and other Arab countries have experienced? Would King Abdullah survive?

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ISRAEL CAN’T WIN REGARDLESS

ISRAEL CAN’T WIN REGARDLESS

Jews know what it feels like to have the press and public opinion against them. They’ve been faced with the problem forever.

France’s Dreyfus Case in the 1890’s sent Jewish Captain Alfred Dreyfus to Devil’s Island to live under hellish conditions. As the evidence demonstrated, Dreyfus was not guilty although convicted . In 1896, a French solider was discovered to be the real culprit. The anti-Semitism and injustice convinced Theodor Herzel that it was time to start a Jewish state and 50 years later Israel came into being.

Nothing new for Jews. Being blamed for something they didn’t do was an old story.

I’ve been following how events are reported internationally for over 40 years. After reading stories in the American press, I would turn to the Jerusalem Post (which I read religiously every week) and find a different view. I’m not promoting an attack on the press and I remain suspicious of people who react negatively every time a story comes out that they don’t like. However, I am pointing out that there has been a consistent misrepresentation of much that has happened in Israel. Often, it turns out that some journalist needed a story for headquarters and blews an anthill into a Himalayan mountain. I’ve been in Jerusalem and observed minor demonstrations in the Temple Mount area that were later reported as if they have been catastrophic warfare. My eyes told me a different story. Often a half-truth can be more destructive than an outright lie.

Recently, Jordan’s King Abdullah II blamed Israel for the deadlocked Mideast peace process. King Abdullah said the problem was Israel’s “unilateral policies.” He forgot to mention that Yassar Arafat had walked out of talks held by President Bill Clinton because Israel had offered him more than anyone expected, but Arafat knew the war would be over and he didn’t want to stop fighting Israel. Israelis left the Gaza Strip they had taken in battle and walked away. What did this offer get them? Rockets fired daily into Israelis cities. The PLO pulled out of peace talks this Fall and went to the United Nations in an end-around attempt to gain recognition as a nation. Israel didn’t pull out of the peace talks; the Palestinians did!

Our present problem is facing up to the current critical situation as Iran continues to pursue building a nuclear arsenal. Regardless of the American government talk about pressing sanctions, Israel knows that the Obama administration will not order US forces to take military action to stop Iran’s journey down a path that will lead to catastrophe. Israel must face up to the situation alone and without American support.

Nothing new – but it is distressing to say the least.

My point? Will Rogers may only have known what he read in a newspaper, but we can’t settle for that today. I’m suggesting that you take a broader view. Look at many newspapers, including the foreign press. Turn off the politicians running for national office as they’ll say anything to get a few votes. Build up a back log of data to inform you on what is the truth. The world has come to our doorstep. We need to be ready to decipher the issues!

Question:

Is the media possibly prejudiced? How can Israel get a fair deal with the press? Do you believe everything you read in the newspapers of see on television?

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ROSA PARKS A JEW?

ROSA PARKS A JEW?

 

Was Rosa Parks Jewish? Let’s get real. Of course not.

 

But her heroic refusal to give up a seat on a Birmingham, Alabama bus and her rejection of white segregationists still rings out in Israel. You’d think the ultra-Orthodox boys on the back streets of Jerusalem would have heard the music.

They didn’t.

In December, the boys with curls hanging down to their chins tried to force a secular young Jewish woman coming home from work on a Jerusalem public bus to sit in the back. She told them to hang it on their noses. The war was on.

More properly called the haredim, the ultra-orthodox Jewish men thumb their nose at equal rights for all. These most “religious of the religious” believe women exist in a perpetual “come-on” state of being. Never mind, that these holy Joes have missed the fact that the problem of temptation is “in the eye of the beholder.”

Here’s an example.

In Beit Shemesh, a blonde 2nd grade girl’s regular school appearance didn’t reach the proper measuring stick length. The boys in black and white descended on the child spitting and calling her a prostitute. Does it strike you that calling a 2nd grader a prostitute might be a tad extreme? And spitting? It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to figure out which label you paste on these holy Joes.

Jews in America have already gone around this barn way too many times. In early January, the congregation of Beth El in northern New Jersey got another trip when a fire bomb was hurled through the Rabbi Nosson Schuman’s window, sending him and the family into the street. Up the road in Paramus, New Jersey, Congregation K’Hai Adath got the same bonfire treatment. The fire burned itself out; the worry didn’t.

What gives?

Periodically, I walk through Mea Shearim, the ultra-Orthodox quarter of Jerusalem. With my yarmulka firmly planted on my head, I remember that men walking with women is forbidden here. Oh pooh! Even walking with my elderly grandmother might get me in trouble. (Or her!)  Some of these folk would have carried Rosa Parks bodily to the back of the bus.

Women are considered perpetually seductive … oh yes, and inferior. Barbara Friedman will find that interesting. So, we find two different problems that are strangely similar. Prejudicial fire bombs in New Jersey; Prejudicial treatment of women and girls in Israel.

You ask again, what gives?

Though different in kind from the Haredi, far-right wing extremist made attacks in mid-December near Ramat Gilad. They slaughtered a holy cow in a most unkosher manner. (Holy cow, indeed!). Hit by a thrown rock, a Lt. Colonel felt the worst insult was being called a Nazi only a month after his grandmother died who had survived the Shoah. (Holocaust)

What gives is that gentiles must not let the nonsense reflect on Israel’s character. A small number of extremists don’t color the nation’s character anymore than nut cases playing with matches represent New Jersey. And here’s a sad footnote. Prof. Menachem Friedman, an expert on Jewish cults explains that the extremists are a reaction to the Shoah. Because they missed it, they feel they must take some public and extreme action to validate their Jewishness. Okay. But how about leaving 2nd grade children and hard working woman alone.

The vast majority of Israelis agree. They are now shouting, “Stop the nonsense!” Sounds good to me. That’s Israel at its best.

Can we allow people with divergent beliefs to force their opinions down our throat? Should Israel throw open its doors to the practices of the ultra-Orthodox even when they cause some people to stumble?

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