Beyond the Cusp

April 4, 2014

News Roundup and Commentary in Bits and Bites

Some days offer either too many items of relative importance or simply lack any one item which offers sufficient angles for a complete article and the recent past has been a perfect example of both. The most pressing story is also the most sad as it combines the horrors of recalling past horrors with a similarly horrific series of events in the present. I am referring to the mass shooting at Fort Hood Texas where an emotionally scarred and unbalanced soldier presumably experiencing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) went on a shooting spree where he murdered three innocents and injured reportedly as many as sixteen others with nine requiring extended hospital treatment before turning his weapon on himself almost immediately after armed enforcement personnel appeared on the scene. This event occurring as it did at Fort Hood brought back the sickening memories of the “work place violence” committed by Major Nidal Hasan. Despite the United States Military classification of Major Hasan’s murder spree, many commentators and others expressed their belief that that shooting should have been classified as a terrorist attack, especially when reports revealed that the Major had been shouting “Allahu Akbar” as he murdered his victims. The one truth this horrific and senseless shooting spree will produce will be the inevitable references and comparisons between the two shootings which will hopefully not result in any excuses or insensitive statements minimizing the horrors and emotional tragedies attached to either incident.

 

Another crisis which is continuing on its rise in temperature and getting dangerously close to boiling over, emitting some loud and unignorable blasts this past week is the ever-present Korean peninsula’s low-grade war. It began in its usual fashion with the North Koreans informing their neighbors in South Korea that they planned on holding some military exercises. They cautioned the South Koreans to avoid approaching even the offshore maritime zones of North Korea. Once their war games began, predictably and unsurprisingly the North Koreans lobbed numerous shells and armed projectiles south of the demarcation lines between the two nations striking in South Korean waters. As has been the custom, the South Koreans responded with expressed indignation and stressed their displeasure with a few well-placed rounds into the North Korean maritime waters. The reason for alarm over what is not exactly a new occurrence is that the new, young, neophyte North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is still very much an unknown quantity. It has definitely not served to lower the blood pressure or lessened tensions with the recent revelations that Kim Jong Un had carried out a purge which included his hanging family members. This along with other signals that the new North Korean leader may be quite unstable and unpredictable leading many to fear that he may not be easily predictable and thus an unknown quantity which presents a far more troubling situation than the already problematic relations between North Korean and the rest of the world, and especially for South Korea. Just add one more possible war-mongering megalomaniac onto the list of such players on the world stage. Where Kim Jong Un will not be as threatening a potential menace as Russian President Putin, known in our office as Vlad the Invader, or as dangerous as the slowly ever reaching tentacles from China slowly eating up all the disputed islands in the South China Sea and other area off their coasts and included in their newly declared enlarged maritime borders; these rising threats make one question, who will represent a viable opposition to these opportunistic hegemonic imperialists.

 

There were reports of some last ditch efforts to resuscitate the Israel Palestinian peace negotiations. Reportedly, Israeli Chief Negotiator Tzipi Livni and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat met with United States Mediator Martin Indyk in what was described as a very stormy session where the two required repeated separating by Mr. Indyk as they exchanged threats, curses and excessively abusive language in efforts to allow them to cool their jets and hopefully calm their animosity and belligerence. Eventually Mr. Indyk called an end to the session as everything he attempted proved ineffective and the atmosphere was proving beyond rescue making any hopes for any reconciliation being obviously impossible. In other developments, the Palestinians released updated requirements, actually conditional demands, upon the Israelis if any chance would exist for them to return and extend the negotiations. Their demands for a building freeze remained the same, an absolute freeze on all Israeli building within Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem including any areas the Palestinians define as rightfully belonging to their future nation while their previous demand that the Israelis release four hundred additional terrorist prisoners above the final twenty-six from the original one-hundred-four that were to be released as a condition for the Palestinians to even attend any negotiations was increased demanding the release of one thousand terrorist prisoner with the release terrorists Ahmed Saadat and Marwan Barghouti heading their lists. Finally, the Palestinians added one last threat that should the Israelis be perceived to have taken any undesired actions concerning the Palestinians that they would “pursue the Israelis in all international forums and make sure they were branded as war criminals.” At the end of everything that has occurred since Israel initially postponed the final release of twenty-six Terrorist prisoners, Israel finally announced that they were officially cancelling the final release reacting to the application to fifteen United Nations and world bodies and agencies by Palestinian Chairman Abbas carrying out his threat to seek world affirmation to establish the Palestinian state. One wonders how such might eventually be resolved as even with all these memberships the Palestinians will still lack some of the requirements of an actual nation under the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States as stated in Article 1 which states, “The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a) a permanent population; b) a defined territory; c) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”

 

The Earth has been shaking all over with Chile suffering aftershocks and what was potentially a second earthquake yesterday registering 7.6 on the Richter Scale following a larger earthquake the previous day which measured a destructive 8.2 on the Richter Scale. Further north, Panama was struck by an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale. In the past day there were reportedly sixty earthquakes considered notable, 2.5 or higher on the Richter Scale, by the USGS (United States Geological Survey) with the most significant being: 4.6 Richter Scale in Nobeoka, Japan; in ascending order, 4.5, 4.6 (x2), 4.7, 4.8 (x4), 4.9 (x6), 5.0, 5.1 (x4), 5.2 (x3), 5.5, 5.6 (x2), 5.8, 6.2, 6.5, 7.6 Richter Scale in Iquique, Chile; 4.9 Richter Scale in Putre, Chile; 5.3 Richter Scale in Lambasa, Fiji; 4.5 Richter Scale in Gura Teghii, Romania; 5.6 Richter Scale in Bengkulu, Indonesia; 5.0 Richter Scale at the Southwest Indian Ridge in the Indian Ocean; and 5.6 Richter Scale in Kamaishi, Japan. The news covered the two major earthquakes near Iquique, Chile while mentioning there had been numerous aftershocks while the figures above shows how absolutely horrified the people living in the area have been suffering almost constant earthquakes and aftershocks since the initial jolt reported earlier this week. The one thing writing commentary and reporting news daily does is give you a perspective on how fortunate most of our lives are when we compare them to the miseries or disasters which strike so many fellow earthlings each and every day. It has given those of us who have this perspective reason to thank G0d that our lives have been blessed with a steady diet of what could be classified as boredom but is actually blessed calm and persistent quiet.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

March 31, 2014

Israeli Palestinian End Game Maneuvers Concerning Peace Process

The first step to understanding how the peace process led those involved to where they are is that on one side it is all about peace while the other side it is all about process. Going all the way back to 1993 and the start of the Oslo Accords a cursory investigation will reveal one glaring inequality where one side has made virtually all the concessions while the other side makes additional demands every time they manage to draw a concession to any one of their demands. This methodology has brought us from where the debates started with Israel expected to retain at least half of Judea and Samaria to where we are today where Israel is being pushed to the point where it would not be beyond reason to realize that with the addition of the Bedouins making claims on as much as a quarter of the Negev with assistance from the Palestinians that Israel may have even less land for her population that she had at the initiation of the peace process. The difference in attitude is easily stated and explained simply by pointing out that the Palestinians use the process of demands for concessions even to negotiate allows them to pocket concession after concession while Israel has willingly made concessions after concession seeking to find the magic formula which sufficiently satisfies the Palestinians demands allowing for a treaty establishing peace. The problem arises once it becomes obvious that the only concession which will satiate the Palestinians would be for Israel as the home for the Jewish People to cease to exist and be replaced with Palestine which they demand is free of any Jews. That brings us to the current presumed tragedy that has stymied the peace process for the immediate future.

 

The blame game will now go into full ahead with the accusations that the Israelis exploded what had been peace negotiations which were proceeding making progress towards reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. Of course that is not a true assessment of the peace talks leading up to this crisis. At the beginning of this round of negotiations the Israelis bending to American pressure offered the Palestinians a choice between two concessions; either they could have Israel enforce a building freeze on any of the areas in East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria including even those communities which both sides had presumably agreed upon Israel retaining as part of any peace agreement or they could have over one-hundred terrorist prisoners serving sentences since before 1993 most often for multiple terrorist acts resulting in the deaths of many Israeli civilians often including women, children and senior citizens. Almost every single one of the terror masters offered for release had Jewish blood on their hands yet Israel agreed to offer their release as an alternative to a building freeze. Many in Israel were adamantly against allowing any of these murderous terrorists to go free, especially those whose family and friends had been their victims. The crimes these terrorists had planned and often committed resulted in hundreds if not thousands of maimed and crippled for life victims in addition to those they slaughtered. The Palestinians chose to have their terrorists released in exchange for nine months of talks and, as they emphatically asserted, not one second longer.

 

Immediately after the negotiations resumed the Palestinians began demanding that Israel be forced to enforce a building freeze in addition to releasing the terrorist prisoners as why should the Palestinians be forced to demand only one concession when two were offered. Meanwhile, as the talks progressed, the Palestinians threatened repeatedly to walk away from the talks if Israel did not grant a particular point or just in order to go to the world at large and the United Nations and affiliated agencies to seek their declared statehood and have the world force their demands on the Israelis. The terror prisoner releases were scheduled to be made in four separate releases of twenty-six totaling one-hundred-four total prisoners to be freed. As each of the release dates came due the Palestinians would stress that they were solely negotiating to gain the release of their heroic freedom fighters unfairly imprisoned by the Israelis. They held victory parades and other celebrations with each release and gave these terrorist prisoners large cash rewards and positions within the Palestinian bureaucracy complete with very substantial salaries, often equal in amount to a command rank officer in the Palestinian Security Forces. Needless to point out, these celebratory receptions and the fanfare and exalting of the released terrorist murderers as role models for the Palestinian youth was simply rubbing salt in the emotional scars and wounds that resulted from the acts of these terrorists who were released.

 

After the third set were released and only the final twenty-six remained for release the Palestinian leadership almost to an individual declared repeatedly and openly that as soon as the final terrorists were released they would blow-up the talks and not even meet through April thus freeing themselves to seek statehood at the United Nations or by any other means available. The shrill repetition of this threat only became more intense and frequent as the end of March and the date for the final release approached. Still the United States through Secretary of State Kerry and Martin Indyk made certain that Israel would release the final set or else face the wrath due them for not making the necessary sacrifices for peace. Meanwhile, the Israeli citizenry were up in arms against any further releases as it had become obvious that the entire negotiations by the Palestinians was a ruse that made a farce of the entire process and showed how the Americans had been played and out-maneuvered by the Palestinians and used to gain the release of some of the worst of the worst of terrorist prisoners. These prisoners were the Israeli equivalent on the terror prisoners the United States held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp. Even after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu informed Secretary of State Kerry that making the final terrorist prisoner release would collapse his coalition, the United States still refused to mediate their demands for Israel to complete their concessions to the Palestinians and that the threat by the Palestinians to blow-up the talks once they received all their terrorists freed from Israeli prisons was not a worthy concern that might question the wisdom of making that final release.

 

What has to be remembered is that often throughout the twenty plus years of the Oslo Accords the Palestinians and even the United States, especially under President Clinton, had attempted to push Israel to such an extent that it would collapse their governing coalition. This was most often the tactic used when there was a Likud governing coalition in order to attempt to replace it with a Labor headed coalition as the Labor party was seen as more likely to roll over and allow themselves to be doormats meeting every demand despite any evidence that doing so was a useless attempt to satisfy the Palestinian hunger for destroying the Jewish state. Under President Clinton the United States, more accurately the Democrat Party, and even more accurately, the leaders of the Clinton election machinery not only was utilized to break the first term ruling coalition of Prime Minister Netanyahu, but were dispatched to Israel to assist the Labor Party and other leftist parties in defeating the Likud candidates who would have returned Netanyahu as Prime Minister. Their assistance did pay off as Netanyahu was defeated and Ehud Barak became Prime Minister. Even then with what was presumably a willing Israeli government the Palestinians refused to accept even the most generous of offers which was mostly written by United States President Bill Clinton and his staff. Prime Minister Netanyahu was not going to repeat the same mistake and allow the administration of President Obama to accomplish the same meddling in Israeli politics as was effectively enacted by President Clinton.

 

The Israelis worked to retain their governing coalition they elected despite facing the Americans allying with the Palestinians and enforcing their demands to pressure the Israeli Prime Minister into a risky situation in return for absolutely nothing. We had pointed out here last week that it appeared that crashing Netanyahu and his coalition had become the main goal of the Palestinians along with their allies in that effort, the United States State Department. Now that Netanyahu has taken a stand and resisted the pressures that would have produced new elections in Israel, we will witness the blame game start with the Palestinians and likely the Americans pointing out that Israel destroyed any possibility for peace by refusing to release the last of the terrorist prisoners agreed upon as their concessions in return for the Palestinians pretending to negotiate for nine months. The Palestinians have already jumped on the blame train and are demanding that instead of the additional twenty-six terrorists to be released, they are demanding and claiming that Israel has agreed to and are thus obligated to release four-hundred terrorist prisoners. This claim has been forwarded not in any manner of seriously expecting it to actually be considered but has been stated so it can be utilized by the Palestinians in future pre-talks negotiations where the Palestinians state what bribe they require to pretend to hold peace talks. They will bring up that as they stated when Israel made the poisonous denial to releasing the final group of prisoners that there had been talk about the Israelis releasing four-hundred prisoners and that the Israelis are thus obligated to meet that number solely because it was mentioned during the days after Israel failed to meet obligations. The Palestinian have also claimed they might consider extending the talks if Israel would release more terrorist prisoner with Marwan Barghouti in particular as well as enacting a complete building freeze. There had been mention of also permitting the return of Palestinian refugees from all of the camps but that was backed off from fairly quickly. Expect that it might return if the Palestinians desire not to resume talking but wish to blame Israel for not meeting their obligations, the Palestinians’ word which actually denoted outrageous demand they knew Israel would refuse. We can expect the Arab League, the United Nations along with its numerous separate agencies, the European Union, numerous Arab and European governments, and very likely the United States State Department and even President Obama along with many of the developing nations who are members of the Arab dominated Non-Aligned Nations (NAM) group to all pile up and blame Israel for destroying what was obviously the greatest opportunity for peace in the Middle East. Of course this latest lost opportunity will only remain the greatest of all opportunities until the next round of Palestinian intransigence and demands coupled with forced Israeli concessions which will automatically gain the new title as the greatest opportunity for peace in the Middle East. There will probably be that select few who will go so far as to blame Israel’s not releasing the final group of murderers as being responsible for the continued strife in Syria as well as any other problem the world might be suffering. It would be a revelation if just once the Palestinians were pressed to make a single concession to persuade Israel to negotiate, but that will never come to pass. The next week or two bears watching the over reactions from the world and particularly the United States to the breakdown of the peace, more process than peace talks. Expect President Obama to find pressuring Israel more urgent a priority than addressing Russian President Putin threatening to reestablish the Russian sphere of influence back to the glory days of the Soviet Union by next swallowing the rest of the Ukraine. President Obama is not a fool and knows that it is far easier to pressure Israel to firm up his image as being competent regarding foreign policy than it would be to address the Russian’s continued threat and belligerence towards Eastern Europe. President Obama might even place the blame on Israel for Putin’s voracious appetite for his neighbors’ lands.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

April 5, 2013

Beware of Kerry Offering Peace Process Deals

When United States Secretary of State remained behind after accompanying President Obama on his recent trip to Israel and the Middle East in order to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to feel out both sides on his ideas for restarting the peace process, there were some ideas floated about where Secretary Kerry planned to go and what he was expecting from the two sides in order to gain some reactions and gage the amount of resistance or acceptance the initiatives would encounter. The proposals Secretary Kerry is expecting Israel to adopt were very similar as the usual ploys demanded of Israel, release some thus far undisclosed number of terror prisoners from Israeli custody and allow for restructuring Area B in Judea and Samaria to merge it into Area A giving complete and total control over even more lands to the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately, Secretary Kerry’s proposals for the Palestinians were also very similar to previous offers, to promise not to seek further gains through international agencies or courts and drop the Palestinian demand for a building freeze. So, here we go once more into the breach with the demands placed on Israel are cemented deeds of surrendering even more lands to Palestinian control for the use of launching terror strikes and other disruptions and releasing a significant number of the worst of the worst terrorists who will assist in facilitating the terror attacks and other demonstrations and lawlessness. Meanwhile the Palestinians are being asked to make empty promises which they will break just as soon as they have used Secretary Kerry and the full pressure of the United States State Department as well as President Obama’s support with all that such can entail to squeeze as much from the Israeli negotiators before walking out on the negotiations and starting the next round of violence. We have all seen this song and dance numerous times since the introduction of Oslo which was perhaps the biggest perpetrator of this scenario of evils.

One can likely easily predict what President Abbas will have to say when Secretary Kerry comes knocking on his door. He has already accepted the expectation that Prime Minister Netanyahu will release a sizeable number of Palestinian terrorists from serving out the rest of their sentences and the transfer of most if not all of Area B into Palestinian hands making them completely off limits to Jews who would pay with their lives for trespassing onto Palestinian lands. In return he will likely promise not to take Israel before any international court or agency and will agree not to press for an Israeli building freeze beyond the negotiations but will attempt to have Secretary Kerry demand that Israel impose a building freeze for the entire period while negotiations are being considered. For some unknown reason, I can see Secretary Kerry agreeing with President Abbas that a building freeze makes perfect sense and add that demand to the Israeli to do list. Expect to hear plenty of quotes from Mahmoud Abbas about how he is looking forward to negotiation and how he is ready to make the necessary sacrifices for peace and if only Netanyahu would show the same flexibility as the Palestinians have there would be talks and peace breaking out momentarily. Expect much of the world press to seek answers from Netanyahu about if he is ready to meet Abbas half way and if not why is it the Israelis refuse to even try to make peace and how long are the Israelis going to deny the Palestinians their rightful homelands. I foresee a wholesale assault on Netanyahu while the praises of Abbas are sung far and wide. I call it “The Adoration and the Beast.”

Abbas already knows exactly what he needs to do to come out looking like he is the man of the hour. All he needs to do is grin and shake hands with Secretary Kerry and make grand statements about his being anxious to get to the peace table and work with Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni to reach a fair and equitable peace. He will not need to deliver on any of his grand illusions; he just has to paint the picture of willingness and affability. Then when it all falls apart Abbas simply has to condemn Netanyahu and most of the world’s mainstream press will join in on damning Netanyahu while heaping praises on Abbas. In the meantime, Abbas, with the aid of the press, will be spreading the blame for the uptick in violence on Netanyahu and the Israelis for some offense such as Judaizing Jerusalem, using overly strong tactics against innocent Palestinian demonstrators, Being unyielding and refusing to take a chance on peace, obstinacy, and a the litany of other evils just as the act had been mastered originally by Yasser Arafat and nearly perfected by his protégé who was by his side when founding the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas. People tend to forget that next to Yasser Arafat from the beginning was the representation of the PLO as statesmen, the man who wore a suit, Mahmoud Abbas. Replace the suit with fatigues and a gun on his hip and take away his razor for a couple of days and you would have a second Arafat because the lying and underhandedness of Arafat is found just as deeply in Mahmoud Abbas, he just looks and smells better.

Meanwhile, what should be Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reaction to the trip into shame being planned for him by Secretary Kerry? Netanyahu has to know that there is nothing that will favor Israel in Secretary Kerry’s plans and that Kerry will ally and work to assist the Palestinians in every way he can as Kerry has proven by past actions and statements that he believes that the Palestinians are peace loving and that if only Israel could be brought to bend there would be peace. Kerry does not believe that the Palestinians have never desired peace but only wish to destroy the Jewish State of Israel. The Palestinians, including Abbas and Fayyad, have said time and time again that they will only accept a peace which will lead to the destruction of Israel even if it must be done in stages. So, what can Prime Minister Netanyahu do to prevent the field-day that the press is praying for at his and Israel’s expense? Other than meeting Secretary Kerry at the airport and handing him a fishing rod and requesting he go fishing elsewhere, is there a magic bromide which can be applied to save Israel from this trap? Yes, there is one item that Netanyahu can request that would end any attempts from Abbas and Kerry to demonize Israel. He would have to tell Kerry that should Abbas agree that he will give up the Palestinian right to violence against the presumed occupation for the duration of the peace talks he will release prisoners and transfer the land at the conclusion of the talks providing the peace has not been violated, not one stone thrown, not one knife wielded, not one tire set aflame, not one fire-bomb thrown, not one riot to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount, not a single provocation of any kind, that is what Israel demands. It probably does not seem like a very big demand and should be something easy to arrange, but in that rides the problem. If Abbas does manage to arrange the quiet and stops the attacks and rioting, then he is able to stop terror and he becomes responsible for any further act of terror. And if Abbas is unable to enforce calm then why negotiate with a person who does not even control the people he presumably represents? The request is a simple one that almost everyone would agree is righteous and noble and not out of the question. If anything it should be the easiest of requests to grant but Abbas would refuse to accept such a request and by doing so would have his façade stripped away. So, Prime Minister Netanyahu, just meet Kerry with a fishing rod and request that Abbas guarantee calm and a complete cessation to terrorism, riots, and lawlessness for the duration of the peace talks and ask that Kerry call him once he has that guarantee but in the meantime, tell him you are going fishing.

Beyond the Cusp

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