Sunday, February 18, 2018

Netanyahu in Munich on the differences between Nazi German and Iran: " Well, for one, one advocated a master race, the other advocates a master faith "

"This is a beautiful city. It's filled with impressive monuments, richly endowed museums, beautiful architecture. And due to this conference, over the past four decades, Mr. Chairman, Munich has become synonymous with security. That's important, because, as I said last night, without security, nothing is really possible—not freedom, not prosperity, not the peace we cherish and crave.

But for the Jewish people, two infamous things occurred in this city. In 1972, 11 of our Olympic athletes were massacred at the Munich airport. In many ways, this act of savagery heralded the rise of international terrorism, and we've all been battling it ever since.

And 80 years ago, another event took place here, with far ranging consequences. A disastrous agreement was signed here that set the world on a course towards history's most horrific war. Two decades after World War I, two decades after a war that claimed 60 million lives, the leaders who met in Munich chose to appease Hitler's regime rather than confront it. Those leaders were noble men. They thought they were fulfilling their highest responsibility to keep the peace. But the price of their action would soon become apparent.

The concessions to Hitler only emboldened the Nazi regime and facilitated its conquest of Europe. Rather than choosing a path that might have prevented war, or at the very least limited its scope and its scale, those well-intentioned leaders made a wider war inevitable and far more costly. Sometime after the war Roosevelt asked Churchill, how would he call this war? And he answered immediately without hesitation, the Unnecessary War. He said there was never a war more easy to stop.

In the wake of the Munich agreement, 60 million people would die in World War II, including a third of my own people, six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust by the Nazis and their collaborators. We will never forget and we will never allow the rewriting of the historical truth.

[Hebrew] We will not forget; we will not forgive; we will always fight for the truth.

Today we gather two-and-a-half years after another agreement was signed in another city in the heart of Europe. There too, noble men and women, high-minded leaders hoping to avoid war, signed an agreement that brutalizes its own people and terrorizes its neighbors. Let me be clear. Iran is not Nazi Germany. There are many differences between the two. Well, for one, one advocated a master race, the other advocates a master faith. Jews in Iran are not sent to the gas chambers, although religious and ethnic minorities are denied basic freedoms. And there are obviously many other differences. But there are also some striking similarities. Iran openly declares its intention to annihilate Israel with its six million Jews. It makes absolutely no bones about it. Iran seeks to dominate our region, the Middle East, and seeks to dominate the world through aggression and terror. It's developing ballistic missiles to reach deep into Europe and to the United States as well.

Henry Kissinger said that Iran must choose between being a country or a cause. Well, the regime in Iran has chosen to be a cause. The commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Ali Jafari, said, we're on the path to the rule of Islam worldwide. That means right here too. This is, in my judgement, the greatest threat to our world. Not just to Israel, not just to our Arab neighbors, not just to Muslims far and wide, but to you as well. Because once armed with nuclear weapons, Iran's aggression will be unchecked and it will encompass the entire world. Look at what they are doing now, before they have nuclear weapons. Imagine what they will do later if G-d forbid they'll have them.

Just as was true 80 years ago, an agreement that was seen as appeasement has only emboldened the regime and brought war closer. The nuclear agreement with Iran has begun the countdown to an Iranian nuclear arsenal in little more than a decade. And the sanction relief that the deal provided has not moderated Iran. It's not made them more moderate internally and it’s not made them more moderate externally. In fact, it’s unleashed a dangerous Iranian tiger in our region and beyond.

Through its proxies, Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthies in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, Iran is devouring huge swaths of the Middle East. Now, there has been one positive consequence of Iran's growing aggression in the region. It's brought Arabs and Israelis closer together as never before. In a paradoxical way, this may pave the way for a broader peace and ultimately also for a Palestinian-Israeli peace. This could happen. But it will not happen if Iran's aggression continues to grow, and nowhere are Iran's belligerent ambitions clearer than in Syria. There Iran hopes to complete a contiguous empire, linking Tehran to Tartus, the Caspian to the Mediterranean. For some time I've been warning about this development. I've made clear in word and deed that Israel has red lines it will enforce. Israel will continue to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria. Israel will continue to act to prevent Iran from establishing another terror base from which to threaten Israel. But Iran continues to try to cross those red lines. Last week its brazenness reached new heights, literally new heights. It sent a drone into Israeli territory, violating Israel's sovereignty, threatening our security. We destroyed that drone and the control center that operated it from Syria, and when our places were fired upon, Israel destroyed Syrian anti-aircraft batteries. Israel will not allow Iran's regime to put a noose of terror around our neck. We will act without hesitation to defend ourselves. And we will act, if necessary, not just against Iran's proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.

Later today you will hear from Mr. Zarif. He's the smooth-talking mouthpiece of Iran's regime. I give Mr. Zarif credit. He lies with eloquence. Last year at this conference, Zarif said that, I'm quoting: "Extremism is driven by lack of hope and respect."

Well, if that's true, why does the Iranian regime deny its people hope and respect by jailing journalists and activists? Zarif said, it was erroneous to label Iran radical. If that's true, what do you call a regime that hangs gays from cranes in town squares? Zarif said that conflicts in Syria and Yemen do not have a military solution. If that's true, why does Iran send fighters and arms to fuel violence precisely in those places? No doubt, Mr. Zarif will brazenly deny Iran's nefarious involvement in Syria.

Iran also denies that it committed an act of aggression against Israel last week, that it sent a drone into our airspace to threaten our people. Well, here's a piece of that Iranian drone, or what's left of it after we shot it down. I brought it here so you can see for yourself. Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should. It's yours. You can take back with you a message to the tyrants of Tehran: Do not test Israel's resolve.

And I have a message for everyone gathered here today too. I want you to support the people of Iran. I want you to support those in the region who want peace by confronting an Iranian regime that threatens peace.

I've been speaking to the people of Iran with video messages. The response is amazing. I saw this before the recent demonstrations. I asked our intelligence people to explain to me how it is that we were getting names of people supporting what I said, from Iran, risking their lives, their families. I said something is happening there. Those people want freedom. They want a different life. They want economic prosperity. They want peace. They don't want this far-flung Iranian aggression. And I've explained we have no quarrel with the people of Iran, only with the regime that torments them. And I take this opportunity to send our condolences of the families of the 66 Iranian civilians that lost their lives in the plane accident today. We have no quarrel with the people of Iran, but we are absolutely resolute in our determination to stop and roll back the aggression of Iran's regime.

Let us pledge today, Ladies and Gentlemen, here in Munich, not to repeat the mistakes of the past. reconciliation never works. The hour to prevent war is getting late, but it is not too late. I am convinced that one day this regime will fall, and when it does, the great peace between the ancient Jewish people and the ancient Persian people will flourish once again. When that happens, the people of Iran will breathe free, and the people in the region will breathe a sigh of relief. But today we must speak clearly, we must act boldly. We can stop this dangerous regime. We can roll back its aggression and by doing so, create a more peaceful, a more prosperous and a more secure world for our region and for our future."

Saturday, January 20, 2018

We’re being bamboozled

Jerusalem Post Letters to the Editor, January 21, 2018

With regard to “Trump cuts UNRWA funding in half” (January 17), how long are we going to permit ourselves to be bamboozled by UNRWA when, according to Dr. Daniel Pipes, 99% percent of “Palestine refugees” are fake? In his January 10 blog entry, Dr. Pipes writes: “And even if no one replaced US donations, denying UNRWA money does not get to the heart of the problem, which lies not in its sponsored activities but in its perpetuating and expanding population of “Palestine refugees” in three unique, even bizarre ways: allowing this status to be transferred without limit from generation to generation; maintaining the status after refugees have acquired a nationality (such as Jordanian); and assigning the status to residents of the West Bank and Gaza, who live in the putative Palestinian homeland. These tricks allowed UNRWA artificially to expand the refugee population from 600,000 in 1949 to 5.3 million now; an accurate count of real refugees now alive numbers around 20,000.”


Saturday, January 13, 2018

WSJ: Trump’s Iran Gamble

 The Wall Street Journal  

He issues a red line to rewrite the nuclear deal or reimpose sanctions.

By  The Editorial Board

President Trump said Friday that he’s waiving sanctions related to the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal—for the last time. In essence he issued an ultimatum to Congress and Europe to revise the agreement or the U.S. will reimpose sanctions and walk away. His distaste for the nuclear deal is right, but the risk is that Mr. Trump is boxing himself in more than he is the Iranians.

Mr. Trump said in a statement that he is waving sanctions, “but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal.” He added: “This is a last chance. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately. No one should doubt my word.”

That’s called a red line, and it means that if his terms aren’t met within 120 days, Mr. Trump will have to follow through or damage his global credibility. Presidents should be careful about putting themselves in box canyons unless they have a clear idea of a way out and what his next steps are.

Does Mr. Trump know? It isn’t obvious. Mr. Trump rightly focuses on the core faults of the accord: major provisions start sunsetting after 2023; the failure to include Iran’s ballistic-missile programs; and inadequate inspections. He wants the European allies that also negotiated the deal—France, Germany and the United Kingdom—to rewrite it with the U.S.

But Iran is sure to resist, and so will China and Russia. French, British and German companies already have billions in business deals invested or being negotiated with Iran, and their political leaders will be loathe to jeopardize them. European leaders have been embarrassingly quiet amid the anti-regime protests in Iran. European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini hosted the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany, France and Iran this week. They expressed support for the deal and said little about Tehran’s protest crackdown.

If the Europeans resist a nuclear renegotiation, Mr. Trump would then have to act alone with U.S. sanctions. While those are potent, to be effective they will have to target non-U.S. companies that do business with Iran, including our friends in Europe.

Some fear Iran would use reimposed U.S. sanctions as an excuse to walk away from the deal and rush to build a bomb, but we doubt it. The more likely scenario is that Iran will continue to court European business and try to divide the U.S. from its allies and block a new antinuclear coalition. The mullahs will claim to be abiding by the deal even as the U.S. has walked away.

On Friday Mr. Trump also challenged Congress to strengthen the nuclear deal’s terms under U.S. law, most likely by amending the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. This will require 60 votes in the Senate, which means Democratic support. This will test the sincerity of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who opposed the deal. But in today’s polarized Washington, partisanship no longer stops at the water’s edge. Mr. Trump won’t persuade Europe if he can’t persuade Congress.

The question all of this raises, as British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson put it Thursday, is what is the policy alternative policy to the nuclear deal. The answer is containment with a goal of regime change. The people of Iran have again showed their displeasure with the regime, and the world should support them. We’d back such a strategy, but it isn’t clear that this is Mr. Trump’s emerging policy, or that he and his advisers know how to go about it.

The Treasury Department is moving ahead with sanctions against Iran for its ballistic missiles, including 14 more individuals and entities “in connection with serious human rights abuses and censorship in Iran.” The targets include the head of Iran’s judiciary and the cyber units trying to prevent protesters from organizing and accessing reliable news. But Mr. Trump has been reluctant to counteract Iran’s adventurism in Syria or Iraq, and a policy of regime change can’t be half-baked.

All of this is an enormous undertaking for an Administration already coping with the nuclear and ballistic threat from North Korea. The safer strategy would have been to keep waiving sanctions and let the nuclear deal continue while building support to contain and undermine Iran on other fronts. Mr. Trump can now say he has followed through on his campaign vow on Iran, but building a better strategy will take discipline and much harder work.

Darkest Hour vs. Five Days in London, May 1940

It may seem at first glance that this review has nothing to do with Iran.  But we are almost at the same point as in May 1940 

By Mladen Andrijasevic on January 13, 2018

Anthony McCarten has written an excellent book, well researched with extensive quotes from Churchill’s speeches and other sources, but I still disagree with his basic premise that on Sunday, May 26, 1940, during the third War Cabinet meeting between 5:00 pm and 6:30 pm, actually during the first 15 minutes of that Cabinet meeting for which there is no official record, Churchill came very close to accepting negotiations with Hitler. I read John Lukacs’s Five Days in London, May 1940, and compared it day by day to the account in Darkest Hour and John Lukacs’s interpretation to me is more credible.

In McCarten’s book I see no explanation as to what changed Churchill’s mind and strengthened his resolve from May 26, 1940 to May 27, 1940, which culminated with Churchill winning over the extended cabinet of 25 MPs on May 28 at his office at the House of Commons at 6:30 pm.

There is also no mention in McCarten’s book of two important facts. First, on May 24 at 11:42 a.m., Hitler issued the halt order, sent in clear, and instantly read in London, which stopped the advance towards Dunkirk and did not rescind it until late May 26, so on May 26, at 5 p.m. when the crucial meeting took place, Churchill already knew that there was a chance to use this pause to help evacuate the troops and indeed the order to initiate operation Dynamo was given a few hours after the fall of Calais the same day, whereas by May 27 the German tanks had continued their advance. So why would Churchill have been more resolute on May 27 than on May 26?

Second, the chiefs of staff came up with a paper on May 25 entitled “British Strategy in a Certain Eventuality “, which [from Lukacs’s Five Days in London, May 1940, page 107] ‘presumed the worst possible conditions - and, by 25 May, and increasingly plausible situation: the French making peace with Germany, Italy entering the war, Europe and French North Africa under German control and the loss of most of the British Expeditionary Force still struggling in northern France and Belgium . Still – even in these conditions Britain could hold out, if the United States would support Britain increasingly, eventually entering the war, and if the Royal Air Force, together with the navy, would remain in control over Britain and thus “prevent Germany from carrying out a serious seaborne invasion “’.

I personally believe that one of the main reasons Churchill did not give in is that in contrast to all the political class of the day (and almost all of the political elites of today), he knew whom he was dealing with. He knew what his enemy believed in. He had read Hitler’s Mein Kampf – “ the new Koran of faith and war”. [from The Gathering Storm, VOL 1 of The Second World War, page 26]. He knew what to expect from Hitler.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

JP Editor’s Notes: Regime Switching

Toward the end of 1977, Rafi Eitan was summoned to the Prime Minister’s Office for a meeting. The regime of the shah of Iran was faltering, and Israel knew it was only a matter of time before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the exiled Islamic leader, would return to his country.

The 1970s was the honeymoon of Israeli-Iranian ties. Israel had an embassy in Tehran and enjoyed close military and intelligence cooperation with the shah and his pro-Western government, which, according to media reports, included the development of long-range ballistic missiles. Eitan was serving as prime minister Menachem Begin’s adviser on counterterrorism, and Jerusalem wanted to see if there was anything it could do to help stabilize its embattled ally.

Eitan knew Iran well. In his previous post as head of the Mossad’s operations department, Eitan flew frequently to Iran, visiting the country some 50 times in five years. At the time, he was tasked with helping the Iranians establish their own operations team. Until a few years ago, some of Eitan’s old Iranian counterparts still called him ahead of Jewish holidays.

Together with Uri Lubrani who was then the ambassador to Iran, Eitan came up with an idea to establish a special Iranian military force that would work to neutralize Khomeini’s primary supporters in the country. Together with the Iranians, Israel had marked a close-knit group of Islamists who were igniting public unrest in order to pave the way for Khomeini’s return after 14 years of exile. The thinking was that if these people were stopped, the revolution everyone saw coming would be stopped as well.

In the end, the initiative never took off. And despite the 40 years that have passed, Eitan believes Iran can still change and go back to the way it once was: pro-West, allied with Israel and a country that showed the world a moderate version of Islam, as opposed to the extremism it propagates today.

Eitan is something of a legend in Israel. Born in 1926 in a small kibbutz in northern Israel, he played a key role in Israel’s defense and intelligence community for over 70 years. At the age of 12, he joined the Hagana, the underground Jewish fighting force, and later became a member of its elite strike force, the Palmah. After World War II, he got involved in smuggling Jews into the country, at a time when it was controlled by the British.

One memorable escapade involved blowing up a British radar station used to detect illegal ships approaching Haifa Port. To reach the radar, Eitan had to crawl through an underground sewer, gaining him the nickname “Stinky Rafi.”

Eitan’s name often followed mystery and controversy. In 1960, in a daring operation, he led the team of Israeli agents that located and captured Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann in Argentina.

In 1968, and according to US government documents, he paid a visit to a nuclear fuel plant in the United States, from which 200 kilograms of enriched uranium later went missing, widely suspected of having been diverted to Israel’s highly classified nuclear program.

In 1981, while serving as Begin’s adviser, Eitan was appointed head of LAKAM, a shadowy organization that operated under the Defense Ministry and which was responsible for collecting – some might say stealing – scientific and technological know-how. Eitan was responsible for operating Jonathan Pollard as an Israeli spy within US Naval Intelligence, an affair that would strain Israeli-US ties for decades.

In 1987, after taking responsibility for the Pollard affair (now, he prefers not to say anything that could undermine the former agent’s chances of being allowed to leave the US), Eitan resigned from LAKAM, which was eventually disbanded. He then went into business, with a particular focus on agricultural projects in Cuba.

But in 2006, Eitan returned to the public eye, when he was asked to head the new Pensioners Party. The party was the wild card of that election and ended up in the Knesset with an astonishing seven seats and two ministries, placing Eitan inside Ehud Olmert’s government and security cabinet. The party lasted one election.

At 91, Eitan today is a wealth of knowledge, experience and obvious vitality, having returned just a few weeks ago from a long trip to Havana.

I went to see him to hear what he thinks needs to be done in order to ensure the Islamic Republic does not obtain a nuclear weapon.

As a member of the prime minister’s staff in 1981, Eitan was privy from the beginning to Begin’s plans to bomb the Osirak nuclear reactor that Saddam Hussein was building outside of Baghdad. And as a member of the security cabinet in Olmert’s government from 2006 to 2009, Eitan participated in debates on the best way to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.

He is worth listening to.

On one hand, Eitan believes that nuclear weapons in the arsenal of Israel’s enemies – such as Iraq or Iran – pose an existential threat.

“Nuclear weapons in the hands of people that are willing to commit suicide in the name of Allah is a danger we cannot live with,” he said. “If you ask: ‘Who in the world today is willing to kill themselves to kill others?’ It is only the Muslims. I don’t know another religion or another place where a person is willing to take a bomb and blow up and kill himself.”

On the other hand, a military strike on Iran is not viable.

Israel and the rest of the world are also mistaken in focusing just on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program. It’s enough, Eitan said, to place a bomb in a shipping container and detonate it off the coast of Tel Aviv or Haifa and destroy both.

“So, how would you stop Iran?” I asked. “As the fate of the Iran deal remains in question – President Donald Trump decertified the agreement in October, but Congress has yet to propose an alternative – would you keep the deal in place or work to modify it, as Trump has said he would like to do?”

Eitan dismissed both options. The only real solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, he said, is for the world to invest more in overthrowing the ayatollahs.

Iran, he said, carefully studied the Israeli air strike against Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981, and understood that it not only needed to disperse its nuclear facilities, but also to bury them deep underground.

“The Iranians asked themselves who would oppose their nuclear program and who would potentially attack,” he explained. “The answer was Israel, and after studying Osirak, they dug tunnels to make it hard for our bombs to destroy their facilities.”

And while the Israel Air Force said it could destroy the openings to the tunnels and delay Iran’s nuclear program by a year, Eitan said such an operation would be a waste of time.

“The only real option to neutralize the facilities is with ground forces – to send soldiers in on the ground and destroy the tunnels,” he said. “This we could not do without the Americans, and there was no logic to use the IAF when the damage would just be for a year or two.”

While he doesn’t know for certain, Eitan believes that Iran already has enough fissionable material to make a nuclear weapon. In other words, he said, with a military strike not feasible and Trump unlikely to dramatically succeed in changing the deal, the only real way to stop Iran is to invest more in changing the regime.

“Iran’s citizens are against the ayatollah regime,” he said. “They are very similar to a Western country in their culture and the way they are as a people. They would prefer a more Western-like regime.”

Eitan doesn’t know how or when this might happen, but he is convinced that 39 years since Khomeini returned to Iran, another revolution is only a matter of time. Trump could try to renegotiate the Iran deal, but the Iranians will con him and ultimately achieve their goal of obtaining the bomb.

“The Iranians are devious and have advanced technological capabilities,” Eitan said. “They will stick to their goal and they will cheat Trump. The only real way to deal with Iran is to switch the regime.”