Israeli Exercise Directed at Iran?

By Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt
The New York Times, June 20, 2008

Edited by Andy Ross

Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iranís nuclear facilities.

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and over Greece, about the same distance between Israel and Iranís uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. The exercise also included Israeli helicopters and refueling tankers.

Israeli officials declined to discuss the details of the exercise. A senior Pentagon official said the exercise appeared to serve multiple purposes:

— To practice flight tactics, aerial refueling and all other details of a possible strike against Iranís nuclear installations and its long-range conventional missiles.

— To send a clear message to the United States and other countries that Israel was prepared to act militarily if diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium continued to falter.

Any Israeli attack against Iranís nuclear facilities would confront a number of challenges. Many American experts say they believe that such an attack could delay but not eliminate Iranís nuclear program. Much of the programís infrastructure is buried under earth and concrete and installed in long tunnels or hallways, making precise targeting difficult. There is also concern that not all of the facilities have been detected.

Iran is also taking steps to better defend its nuclear facilities. Two sets of advance Russian-made radar systems were recently delivered to Iran. The radar will enhance Iranís ability to detect planes flying at low altitude. Iran is also close to acquiring Russian-produced SA-20 surface-to-air missiles. Deployment of such systems puts pressure on Israel to act before the missiles are fielded.

AR  Good for the Israelis. No use waiting for others to defend them. God helps those who help themselves, so to speak.
But we should give them F-22s as soon as possible — today.

Is Britain Good for the Jews?

By Keith Kahn-Harris
Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2008

Edited by Andy Ross

Here in the UK we have faced a significant upsurge in recorded anti-Semitic attacks. There is a tendency for anti-Semitic rhetorical tropes to infect criticisms of Israel. Most upsetting is the recent decision passed by the congress of the University and College Union that "colleagues be asked to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions."

It is important to put British anti-Semitism in the context of other forms of racism in British society and in the wider world. While anti-Semitic incidents in Britain have been rising, they remain relatively small compared to the virulent racism that British Asians, Afro-Caribbeans and asylum seekers from various countries face in Britain.

Anti-Semitism in Britain has no advocates among senior political leaders and the Jewish community is legally well protected from most forms of discrimination. Anti-Zionism and strong criticism of Israel are espoused largely among marginal political groups and figures of the fringes of the major political parties.

The UK Jewish community has in fact never been healthier. Recent figures shows that the community's previous decline in numbers appears to have been arrested. All the research that has been done on the identities of UK Jews suggests a community that feels settled and comfortable.

In a recent research project I interviewed a number of senior British Jewish communal leaders. All of them felt that the Jewish community was in a healthy state. The fight against the recent manifestations of anti-Semitism in Britain should not take place in ignorance of the everyday reality of British Jews.

Keith Kahn-Harris is a sociologist based at Goldsmiths College, London. He is the convenor of New Jewish Thought.

AR  Glad to hear it. And not surprised.

Ramon: Truce 'triumph for radical Islam'

Jerusalem Post, June 17, 2008

Edited by Andy Ross

Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon on Tuesday reacted harshly to reports of an imminent Gaza cease-fire, calling it a victory for radical Islam. "I am against a truce, because it is another triumph for radical Islam. It won in Lebanon and now it is about to win in Gaza. So what is the point of being moderate? Why would Hamas be interested in a resolution?" said Ramon at a Haifa University conference.

Hamas PM Defiant

Jerusalem Post, June 12, 2008

Edited by Andy Ross

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh made a defiant speech Thursday, saying that Gaza gunmen were defending the rights of the Palestinian people and claiming that a request for a cease-fire came from the US and Israel, not Hamas. Haniyeh:

"Even if the blockade continues for a lot longer, we still won't recognize Israel."

"The Israel-American siege policy has started to crumble and our relations with the countries in the region and other Arab states are good."

"Not a week passes without a meeting between us and European officials and representatives from European international organizations."

"The Israelis are concerned that things will end like they did with Hezbollah and they understand that Hamas is not an organization made up of a few cells, but one with many wings and with a deep hold on land and on the Palestinian public."

AR  What are the Europeans thinking of, schmoozing with terrorists?

Taking Out Hamas

By Yaakov Katz
Jerusalem Post, June 7, 2008

Edited by Andy Ross

The Hamas-fired mortar shell that killed Amnon Rozenberg at Kibbutz Nir Oz on June 5 raised the death toll of Israelis in the battle of attrition with Hamas to eight this year. Rozenberg was the third Israeli killed by projectiles from Gaza in just three weeks. In all of 2007, ten Israelis were killed by rocket fire from Gaza.

During his meeting with regional council and community heads from the Gaza-belt area on Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared that a large-scale military operation in the Strip was closer than ever.

The IDF is prepared for such an incursion. Infantry, armor, artillery and other units have been training for it intensively over the past year, and commanders are already aware of their specific orders when the green light is given, including which area of Gaza to invade and which house to take over to set up their field command-and-control centers.

There are several plans, such as the Defensive Shield-level plan, which is basically the reoccupation of the entire Gaza Strip. A large-scale invasion would indicate that Israel has given up on the cease-fire and is out to eradicate Hamas. The smaller-scale alternatives would represent an Israeli desire to weaken Hamas and make it pay a price before a cease-fire is accepted.

Israel has not given up on the cease-fire proposal. Most of the issues involving a truce have already been finalized with Hamas via Egyptian mediation by Barak's top aide Amos Gilad. Hamas wants quiet in Gaza so it can solidify its regime and rebuild its armed wing. If the crossings are opened under the truce, it will also be able to take credit for lifting the siege of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli defense officials have warned that Hamas would use the quiet period to smuggle more weapons into Gaza and build up its military wing, raising the risk to IDF soldiers in a future operation. But Israel wants a cease-fire to provide the residents of the Gaza-belt communities with a little peace and quiet after almost a decade of daily rocket attacks.

With Israel and Syria holding peace talks, the chances that Damascus would go to war against Israel have dramatically dropped. President Bashar Assad last week ruled out Syrian participation in such a war. A cease-fire in Gaza could also take Hamas out of the equation and allow the defense establishment to give its attention to Iran.

AR  Keep the squeeze on Hamastan. Don't let the Gazans breathe free until Hamas is out of the picture.

Lame Ducks March Into Abyss

By David Eshel
Defense Update News Analysis, June 8, 2008

Edited by Andy Ross

In Jerusalem, U.S. President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert showered each other with embarrassing superlatives. At the same time, in Ashkelon, an Iranian rocket, fired by Hamas from Gaza, slammed into an infirmary, seriously wounding scores of innocent women and children.

The Hezbollah Blitz in Beirut clearly demonstrated Washington's dangerous lack of determination to meet such contingencies with an immediate show of force. The Ayatollahs in Tehran, Bashar Assad in Damascus, and their vassal, Hassan Nasrallah, are now convinced that they can get away with anything.

Recent events in Gaza, the West Bank, Baghdad, and Lebanon show how close the Bush administration's Pax Americana has brought the turbulent Middle East to the brink of total political chaos.

The situation in Iraq is dangerously gridlocked. Iran is still actively pursuing its nuclear program. Al Qaeda continues to threaten all Western values. The two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is still far from being implemented. The push for democratic elections has produced Hamastan in Gaza, a dangerous destabilization in Lebanon in favor of Iranian-backed Hezbollah, and even the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Washington's irresolute actions in the strategic Gulf Region have brought about a dangerous shift toward a Shi'ite bid for hegemony. If the next U.S. administration fails to rally the Sunnis in time, the Tehran Ayatollahs under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will no doubt make a massive onslaught on the Sunni Gulf region, extending the Shi'ite Crescent from Iran over southern Iraq, through Syria to Lebanon, and if not stopped by Israel, the Gaza Strip.

The Bush Administration allowed the participation of the terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah in democratic elections in the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon without insisting that they give up their arms, recognize Israel's right to exist, or renounce the killing of innocent civilians. Both Hamas and Hezbollah have already become major players in the Mid East power struggle.

Hezbollahís takeover of western and central Beirut, within hours, has added another link to the pro-Iranian chain encircling Israel. This may be a more damaging setback for Israelís national security than the Hamas seizure of the Gaza Strip.

This presents a challenge to Israel's national security. Only a highly convincing deterrent and determined leadership can prevent it. Unfortunately, Israelís prime minister, defense minister, and foreign minister are all too busy with the political fallout of the bribery case against Ehud Olmert. Time to wake up.

AR  If the baddies are clever, they'll take their chance while the lame ducks are in charge.

IDF Raptors to Hit Iran?

Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2008

Edited by Andy Ross

The F-22 Raptor (above) is manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, and can fly in enemy airspace without being detected. Israel has had its sights set on the F-22 since the 1990s.

To date, the US government has clamped an embargo on the sale of the aircraft to foreign countries. But on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly raised the issue with President George Bush in Washington.

According to defense sources, the Pentagon might allow a sale to Israel in light of the looming nuclear threat from Iran. If the ban is lifted, Israel could receive the plane within two years.

AR  Israel should get Raptors now, not in two years.