Beyond the Cusp

January 21, 2014

Which Would Have Worse Effect on Business in Israel?

A recent report told of around a hundred business leaders told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “The world is running out of patience and the threat of sanctions is rising. We must reach an agreement with the Palestinians.” Their claim is that Israel must bend to the demands of those behind the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, European leftists, Arabists, and the bevy of other many of whose hatred for Jews fuels their hatred of Israel all of whom befriend the Palestinian demands not because of any love or actual affection and concern for the Palestinian but because they wish to harm and possibly destroy Israel. But is their panic well founded or are their fears misplaced as the deleterious effect on business from threats of boycotts are mostly idle threats while surrendering to Mahmoud Abbas and those who support his maximalist demand would result in more than a worse situation for businesses but also endanger the entirety of Israeli existence. Perhaps a patient and reasoned discussion of the two potential sides between standing for the right of Israel and calling the bluff of those who threaten Israeli academics and industry or giving in to the Palestinians in order to placate those who are threatening the Israeli economy should be considered before any discussions are held at Davos.

 

These threats are nothing new as there has been ever growing threats to boycott Israeli business or refuse to exchange professors and other academics if Israel does not make peace with the Palestinians. Very few of these threats have ever taken hold and many that have are quickly disavowed and risk having many members divest from their affiliations in protest as was the recent result of the American Studies Association (ASA) call to boycott Israeli academics. There is one surefire way that Israel could combat all the threats of boycotts or sanctions of academic, economic and social aspects of Israeli interests by simply taking some of these threats head-on and enact a return threat across all aspects which were threatened. Israel could threaten to withhold future technological discoveries and inventions which Israel holds the rights to such as drip irrigation, numerous medical and agricultural revolutionary discoveries, computer software, industrial production techniques, generic drugs produced in Israel and anything else especially those item which Israel may be the sole or main proprietor of and see how quickly these threats cease. The major reason that these threats are made is because there is no price to pay threatening Israel while taking the Israeli side is wrought with threats from Islamic terror. If these nations or organizations were made to pay a price for taking a political stance which threatens Israel if they do not surrender completely to the Palestinian threatening demands, then they would have to rethink the consequences of their actions and would likely remain neutral at worst.

 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, try and imagine exactly how far Israel would have to bend in order to fashion a deal that Mahmoud Abbas would risk making peace. We have seen how no matter what Israel does, the Palestinians will always have one more demand ready and waiting. Israel made claim to Jerusalem and Jerusalem becomes a Palestinian red-line. Israel claims the necessity to have the IDF patrol along the Jordan Valley and the Jordan Valley becomes a Palestinian red-line. Israel claims the desire to retain the major settlement blocks and an exchange of lands and the strict enforcement of the Green Line as a border becomes a Palestinian red-line. Israel insists that the Palestinian state must be a demilitarized state and raising a Palestinian military with rights to hold training exercises with other Arab nations becomes a Palestinian red-line. Israel demands the right to be able to visit the numerous Jewish holy sites throughout Judea and Samaria and the denial of entry to even a single Jew becomes a Palestinian red-line. Israel could probably state they desire the sun to rise in the east and having it rise anywhere but the east might become a Palestinian red-line. The idea is the concept of allowing Israel to fulfill every demand of the Palestinians cannot be permitted to come true unless such surrender completely erases Israel as the state of the Jewish People. Actually, I am not even sure if the Israelis offered to surrender the entirety of Israel, may G0d forbid such a horrid sin from ever entering our leader’s minds, and have found and purchased some small islands in the Pacific Ocean; I would fully expect the Palestinians to claim their ancestral right to those very islands.

 

I would like to query these business leaders and the politicians who are supporting their demands and will accompany them to Davos for a weekend of hobnobbing with other select from among the pretty people, how far would you like Israel to bend to placate the Palestinian bloodlust, to the extent of great pain or past that until we break? Should we surrender the entirety of the Old City of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount and Kotel? How many millions of so-called Palestinian refugees should we admit to inside Israel? Should we believe United States Secretary of State Kerry that by flying drones over Judea and Samaria that this will prevent any terrorism or rockets from raining down on Tel Aviv and the heart of Israel? Where should we place the well over half a million Jewish refugees after we destroy the communities which Mahmoud Abbas demands we destroy so he can have a Judenrein Palestinian state? And when Hamas takes over Judea and Samaria and has assassinated Mahmoud Abbas and start raining rockets down on seventy percent of Israelis and even higher percentage of industry, businesses and infrastructure, will you join the IDF and help the rest of Israel do that which will have become a sad necessity or can we count on you to take a boat to Cyprus so you can safely fly to Davos and take a well-earned vacation from the carnage surrendering to Abbas and the Palestinians is sure to have wrought? There is no manner of making peace with the Palestinians which would allow for there to continue to be an Israel otherwise there would already be peace. Former Prime Minister Olmert made an offer that even totally satisfied United States President Clinton and the result was him watching the Palestinians turn their backs and walk out refusing to even honor a response. Then, in a move to respect the efforts that President Clinton had made, Olmert made one more last proposal that went even further and begged for a reply, a counter proposal for consideration and was rewarded with complete silence followed by the intifada. What more can we offer beyond the offer made by Olmert? Tell me what would force the Palestinians to make peace and allow Israel to remain my homeland? I await your proposal and am willing to bet that Abbas would find one more red line to demand. That’s just the way it is.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 27, 2012

Repercussions From Obama Calling Israeli Fears Just Noise

The poll question after Yom Kippur ended on the Israeli English language internet news source, Arutz Sheva was “Can Obama Repair his “background noise” gaffe?” The choice of answers is what made this poll stand out as both of them made complete sense and could be given without any contradiction. These choices were, “Yes, because US liberal Jews agree with him” and “No, these are his true feelings.” What made this interesting is not at all what it says about President Obama but the huge chasm which has come to exist between Israeli Jews and their brethren in the United States. Do not take this to mean that there are no American Jews who care deeply and seriously about Israel and keep Israel close to their hearts or to claim that there are no Israeli Jews who would support President Obama in this disagreement over the current ruling coalition and especially Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. There are a measurable number of supporters of the far left in Israel who yet remain simply a significant minority, a loud and significant minority. There is a similar sized minority of deeply pro-Israel Jews in the United States, many of whom would admit that they will, under certain circumstances, place Israel uppermost in their consideration even above the United States. They would also point out that except for some very peculiar circumstances, what is good for Israel will usually also be good for the United States, even if the current President refuses to see Israel in such a light.

 

The horrifying point made apparent by this poll is the disconnect from Israel which has occurred within a large part of the American Jewish community. These Jews no longer keep most of the traditions and have nearly completely assimilated to the point that they likely do not even remember the words to Psalm 137, also referred to as By the Rivers of Babylon.  The first six lines to the Psalm contain the most relevant portion and are:

By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept
as we remembered Zion.
 We had hung up our lyres
on the willows that were there,
 when those who had taken us captive
asked us to sing them a song;
our tormentors demanded joy from us —
“Sing us one of the songs from Zion!”

 How can we sing a song about Adonai (G0d)
here on foreign soil?
 If I forget you, Yerushalayim (Jerusalem),
may my right hand forget her cunning!
 May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
if I fail to remember you,
if I fail to count Yerushalayim (Jerusalem),
the greatest of all my joys.

 

This verse is one of the many compelling verses from the Bible and one which I have always held dear to my heart, not to mention my right hand and tongue. One explanation for this change has been the result of many American Jews who held such strong feelings having made Aliyah and returned home, returned to Israel. The numbers tell a different story. The number of Jews living in the United States has remained relatively constant; around six million give or take. This precludes there having been such a large number of Olim (Jews) returning to Israel from the American Diaspora. My referencing Jews moving to Israel as returning home likely reveals my feelings, but that is the idea I was raised with and has never left me. As a Jew, it is supposed to be my dream, my overriding desire to move to Israel and to look upon such a move as returning home. This outlook comes directly from the celebrating of any of the Jewish Holy Days where, almost without fail, the closing prayer is a very simple prayer with but one sentence, “Next year, please G0d, in Jerusalem.” During the Passover Seder we are instructed to read about the Exodus saying, “It was this that the L0rd did for me and brought me out from bondage in the land of Egypt.” Add to this that there actually appears that in these days with so much increasing anti-Semitism in the world, even in the United States it has begun, that the L0rd is forcing Jews to return home to Eretz Yisroel, to Israel. That is what was so ominous about the two equally valid answers to this poll. It drove home the two separate houses in which Jews in the United States find themselves, those who are likely to soon be returning home and those whose assimilation is so close to complete that they will no longer be Jews in another generation or two. Maybe the time is rapidly approaching where every remaining Jew will need to decide whether it is more important to be a Jew or to live away from Eretz Yisroel. Maybe

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 16, 2012

Netanyahu and Obama Face Off

I had always thought that it was impossible for Israel to be any further from the United States than they are geographically. I mean they are virtually on opposite sides of the globe, but this weekend that distance is very short compared to the cavernous gap between their leaders over Iran. At one end of the argument we have Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is demanding that the United States find some common ground with Israel and define a red line which when crossed will activate the military option being taken from the table and implemented. On the other side we have United States President Obama who simply wants Israel to be patient and allow the sanctions placed on Iran to bring about a proper end to the Iranian drive for nuclear weapons, which President Obama holds is the only conclusion anybody can expect because he knows that the sanctions will have the desired effect. All one has to do is look back through the historical record since the United States made the first deliverable nuclear weapons and one can list all the nations who had sanctions levied against them to prevent their attaining nuclear weapons technology, let alone actual nuclear weapons stockpiles. There was Communist China who was not prevented. Then there was Pakistan who has a present nuclear answer to match India, well close enough for the MAD concept to work thus far. Well, at least sanctions brought North Korea’s nuclear to an end, well, actually fruition. Rethinking this, sanctions have never prevented any country from becoming nuclear armed anywhere on planet Earth. So, what will make Iran different? I doubt they can be considered more rational or reasonable and I doubt intimidation of more sanctions will get any reaction other than a snide laugh from the Mullahs. So, exactly when will we see the miracle of sanctions bringing Iran to join in the brotherhood of nations rather than continuing in their roguish manner.

The good news is that President Obama does desire to place a red line, or more accurately, a red light in the formula regarding Iran. President Obama has made it clear he has placed a red light before any Israeli military actions to destroy or at least cause considerable damage to the Iranian nuclear sites. The American President has made it clear through words and deeds that he will go to any lengths to prevent an Israeli military response to the Iranian nuclear weapons drive. No leaked information will be considered too damning, no placing of assets to intercept the Israelis will be overlooked, and no statement will be beyond consideration to cause Israel to forgo their military options on the Iranian nuclear program. Likely the most glaring is the United States program in Iraq where they are being supplied with a fleet of thirty-six US F-16I Block 52 interceptor combat aircraft, the exact same model supplied to Israel complete with specifications requested by Israel when they made their purchases. This arming of Iraq is being carried out in an accelerated pace moving the delivery date to March 2013 instead of the original September 2014 and all the while Iraq has been steadily and with an ever quickening pace moving into orbit around Iran much the same as Syria. These aircraft would most definitely be deployed in an effort to prevent an Israeli strike on Iran from using any route over Iraq and likely even any route close to Iraq such as northern Saudi Arabia. It is highly unlikely that the Iraqis, and definitely the Iranians, would consider such a triviality as an international border preventing them from intercepting an Israeli flight. Also, Saudi Arabian officials have informed Israel that they would not permit any overflight by Israeli aircraft on their way to or from a strike on Iranian targets. This is a complete reversal of their position from as recently as six months ago when they had told Israel unofficially they would very likely be recalibrating their air defense systems should Israel strike the Iranian nuclear sites. The only change in this time period has been the installation by the United States of missile and air interceptor installations such as Patriot Batteries and anti-aircraft systems. One could easily believe that the warning from Saudi Arabia was not so much a change in their position as it was a warning that they had been informed that these new assets being installed and manned by the United States would be used against any and all, likely especially including Israeli, overflight or other encroachment on Saudi or neighboring countries’ air spaces. One can also be assured that President Obama and his close confidant, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan, are in complete agreement on preventing any Israeli use of Turkish air space and the final country is the client state of Iran, Syria. When Israel had made clandestine arrangements with Azerbaijan for the use of two retired airstrips, somehow this information was unfortunately released to Foreign Policy Magazine which published an article by Mark Perry revealing this arrangement which caused it to be immediately rescinded.

As anybody who has been following this story is aware, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama had an one hour discussion concerning policies that the two leaders might be able to reach an agreement on concerning when certain actions would become necessary to interrupt if not destroy the Iranian nuclear drive. Prime Minister Netanyahu demanded a concrete, set in stone red line which would, when crossed, immediately activate a military response. President Obama wanted no part of any standards or requirements or anything set out as a definitive point of no return and instead insisted that Netanyahu accept his promise that in the end President Obama could be counted upon to prevent Iran manufacturing any nuclear bombs. If one were to choose to be flippant about this truly serious and frightening situation, they might ask what would President Obama do if Iran were to assemble, construct, or produce a nuclear bomb or would Iran manufacturing a warhead instead of a bomb be considered as the same or is a warhead permissible. In some ways, knowing how President Obama is said to be so careful and brilliant in the way he chooses his words that this might actually be a necessary line for clarifications. The one item which was made crystal clear is that Israel was not to commit to any military actions or other destructive measures without first garnering the approval of President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey and likely France, Britain, Germany, and whoever else might have an opinion. So, as things now stand, Prime Minister Netanyahu is in a military red light zone where no matter where he turns or what actions he might choose to adopt, he has been informed that every possible light is red and the entire world opposes his actions, any actions.

So, one might wonder exactly where does that leave the whole Iran situation. My bet is it is exactly where it was last week, just one week closer to an Iranian nuclear bomb and also one week closer to the first strikes using Iranian nuclear bombs, be it by Iran or Syria or Hezballah or any other of the available Iranian terror options. We are at the same place with the majority of the experts of the opinion that Israel has the most to lose should Iran complete their nuclear ambitions. These same experts are pretty much in agreement that the next target on the Iranian hit list would be Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni oil producing nation of the GCC. The experts feel that the United States has absolutely nothing to fear from an Iranian nuclear bomb as they are completely outside Iran’s ability to deliver such a device and anyways, Iran would not risk the kind of total destruction the United States could deliver if Iran were to act so unwisely as to use nuclear weapons on the United States. We tend to hold a different idea of how the Iranian list of targets goes.

Iran would realize that should they attack Israel they would most definitely reap horrendous destruction in the retaliatory strike as Israel would likely use a good measure of their total nuclear capabilities to assure that Iran would not be a threat ever in the future. Likewise, should they use their new found nuclear capabilities on Saudi Arabia they would face complete destruction at the hands of an American strike. There is also some possibility of an American retaliatory strike should Iran strike Israel, though it would simply be rearranging the rubble from the Israeli strike. Iran also would have to consider the capabilities of the Israeli anti-missile defenses which are becoming quite efficient. The one common denominator on an Iranian nuclear strike anywhere in the Middle East or in Europe would be an American counter strike of likely very devastating consequences. That means that there is no difference in the deterrence for a strike on Israel than a strike on Saudi Arabia or a strike on anywhere in Europe with making a strike on the United States. There is actually a chance that a strike on the United States would result in a lesser degree of damage from any retaliation that any other target would produce as the response is likely to only come from the United States if at all. That leaves the question of what an Iranian nuclear strike on the United States would look like.

First item is we need to assume a number of missiles or bombs that might be utilized in such a strike. For arguments sake, we will assume that the Iranians have sufficient missiles with nuclear warheads to strike twelve cities with sufficient numbers to cause near total destruction. The next question is a little more difficult as it also has to take into consideration how the nuclear devices would be delivered. We will assume that they have smuggled devices for use in two cities and the remaining ten strikes will be made from cargo ships off of coastal areas all around the United States. The coastal cities targeted would be Washington D.C., New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New Orleans, Miami and Atlanta. The two central cities would be Chicago and Cleveland. The Iranians have mastered firing their moderate range ballistic missiles off of cargo ships with each ship carrying between two to five missiles which would take on average five to eight minutes travel time to target. With these missiles being fired from within one thousand miles of their targets there would not likely be sufficient time to intercept many of them provided the timing was well coordinated, which can be expected as it is not that difficult. If Congress is in session on the date of the attack and both the President and Vice President are in Washington D.C., along with all of the President’s Cabinet and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then it can be assumed that the leadership of the United States would be decapitated and it would likely take at least two days to ascertain who would be in command of the government. And even then, how long would it take for order to be reestablished and the attacking nation to be identified, one week, two weeks, a month or even longer? Such an attack on the United States could allow for some time before any response would be forthcoming which would allow Iran time to then make other attacks on Saudi Arabia or Israel or whoever else is on their hit list. With evidence I have seen of the real ranking of targets by many in the Muslim World, such as al-Qaeda, the United States appears on the top of the list with Israel most often next followed by Britain. So, the belief that the United States might be the first target for the Iranian nuclear weapons is not as far-fetched as some would have you believe. We also need to keep in mind that the chants in Tehran, Iran every Friday go, “Death to America! Death to Israel!” Never pretend you know what is in your enemy’s mind and prepare for the worst and hope for the best. The truth is we do not know where Iran will strike first nor do we know for absolute certain how close to producing a nuclear weapon Iran actually is. Such doubts should make for more caution and less comfort that all is well and no harm is just around the corner. What would your red line be. The only statement I have heard from President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton or any State Department talking head has been that the United States draws its red line at building an atomic bomb. Isn’t that cutting it a little bit too close for comfort? The slightest error and just like with India and Pakistan the CIA will be once again caught with their proverbial pants down. Actually, when it comes to predicting when countries would become nuclear capable, the CIA has yet to get one right or even early, they are the most surprised people whenever some new country tests a nuclear weapon. Comforting, isn’t it.

Beyond the Cusp

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