Israel attacks Syria, stirs up Middle East

Israeli missiles hit Syria, which is stirring up talk of a broader war.  The Washington Post reports that the attacks may hasten the Obama administration’s decision about intervening on behalf of Syrian rebels (not with troops, but with weapons and possibly air support).  Should we? [Read more...]

Eugenics in Israel and America

You’d think the people who once were targets of racist eugenics would not practice that on others:

Israel has admitted for the first time that it has been giving Ethiopian Jewish immigrants birth-control injections, often without their knowledge or consent. [Read more...]

The Iron Dome

Hamas has been firing rockets and missiles into Israel, sparking Israeli retaliation.  The two sides have agreed to a cease fire.   Israel managed to shoot down virtually all of rockets thanks to a new anti-missile system called “Iron Dome.”  Based on American technology, this is the most successful technology to defend against missiles ever devised.  From Slate’s Sarah Tory:

The debut of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense shield has added a new element to the conflict, one that military officials are calling a “game-changer.” Why is Iron Dome such a significant addition to Israel’s military arsenal?

Iron Dome actually works. Israeli officials are claiming that the shield is destroying 90 percent of missiles and rockets it aims at that have been fired into southern Israel by Hamas. This level of success is unprecedented compared with older missile defense systems such as the American-made Patriot model used during the 1991 Gulf War. Israelis have almost always suffered far fewer casualties than Palestinians have, but Iron Dome has made that disparity even larger. As of Monday, Israel has reported three casualties, all of which occurred during a temporary malfunction in the missile-defense system.

The missile-defense system can detect rocket launches and then determine the projectiles’ flight paths. Iron Dome intercepts rocket or artillery shells only if they are headed for populated areas or sensitive targets; the others it allows to land. After pinpointing a rocket for destruction, Iron Dome fires a warhead that destroys the rocket within seconds. Currently, five Iron Dome systems are deployed in Israel. Most are located in the south, near Gaza, and each operates with a 45-mile radius.

Israeli officials point out that Iron Dome saves money despite the fact that the interceptors cost up to $100,000 each. The cost of rebuilding a neighborhood destroyed by a rocket attack—not to mention people wounded and lives lost—would be far greater than the cost of the interceptor. In addition, the system buys Israel time, allowing it to plan out an appropriate response without the political pressure that would be generated by hundreds of potential deaths. Experts have called Iron Dome’s success a crucial factor in deterring Israel from launching a ground assault on Gaza.

via Israel Iron Dome defense: How has missile defense changed battle in Gaza – Slate Magazine.

A powder keg

Tensions in Israel are building over Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  The USA has been trying to get Israel to stand down.  Meanwhile, a big fleet comprised of American, British, and other allied naval forces is assembling in the Straits of Hormuz for war games and to be there just in case war breaks out and Iran tries to shut off a major oil route:

Battleships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.

Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which passes around 18 million barrels of oil every day, approximately 35 per cent of the world’s petroleum traded by sea.

A blockade would have a catastrophic effect on the fragile economies of Britain, Europe the United States and Japan, all of which rely heavily on oil and gas supplies from the Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most congested international waterways. It is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point and is bordered by the Iranian coast to the north and the United Arab Emirates to the south.

In preparation for any pre-emptive or retaliatory action by Iran, warships from more than 25 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will today begin an annual 12-day exercise.

They will practise tactics in how to breach an Iranian blockade of the strait and the force will also undertake counter-mining drills.

The multi-national naval force in the Gulf includes three US Nimitz class carrier groups, each of which has more aircraft than the entire complement of the Iranian air force.

via Armada of British naval power massing in the Gulf as Israel prepares an Iran strike – Telegraph.

Should Israel strike at Iran’s nuclear sites?  If they do, won’t that spark a bigger war?  Should the United States try to prevent Israel from taking that step or just stay 0ut of it?  And, to consider another flashpoint, what should America do, if anything, while Syria’s government is slaughtering its citizens who are trying to over the Baathist regime?

Israel considering a strike against Iran?

Wars and rumors of war:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to rally support in his cabinet for an attack on Iran, according to government sources.

The country’s defence minister Ehud Barak and the foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman are said to be among those backing a pre-emptive strike to neutralise Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

But a narrow majority of ministers currently oppose the move, which could trigger a wave of regional retaliation.

The debate over possible Israeli military action has reached fever pitch in recent days with newspaper leader columns discussing the benefits and dangers of hitting Iran.

Mr Lieberman responded to the reports of a push to gain cabinet approval by saying that “Iran poses the most dangerous threat to world order.”

But he said Israel’s military options should not be a matter for public discussion.

The inside of reactor at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 1200 Kms south of Tehran, where Iran has began to unload fuel for the nuclear power plant

The reactor at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant where Iran has began to unload fuel for the nuclear power plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to report on the state of Iran’s nuclear capabilities on November 8, and that assessment is likely to influence Israel’s decision.

Western intelligence officials estimate that Iran is still at least two to three years away from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

Israel has long made it clear that it will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear capability that could threaten the Jewish State.

Publicly it is pushing for a diplomatic offensive against Iran – including the imposition of sanctions – rather than a military strike.

But prime minister Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that all options are on the table.

via Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu Considers Pre-Emptive Attack On Iran To Prevent Nuclear Capability | World News | Sky News.

For Iran’s saber rattling, threatening  both Israel and the United States should this happen, see this.

A Palestinian state

Have you noticed that the Republican presidential candidates are saying almost nothing about foreign policy, despite the huge problems overseas and the current administration’s bungling of so many of them?  And now the Palestinians have gone to the UN on Friday, seeking that body’s ratification of a Palestinian state:

The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, says he will go ahead with a request to the United Nations Security Council to recognise what amounts to a unilateral declaration of independence, despite warnings from the US that it would raise ”dangerous” false hopes and set back real self-determination.

Mr Abbas said in a televised address the Palestinians would seek recognition next week of an independent Palestinian state on the basis of the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as the capital. He noted that the US President, Barack Obama, said a year ago he hoped to see an independent Palestine join the UN at this time.

”Obama himself said he wanted to see a Palestinian state by September,” Mr Abbas said. He said he would not bow to foreign pressure and what he called attempts to ”buy off” the Palestinians.

”We are going to the Security Council,” he said. ”The world is sympathising with the aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

The defiant speech came amid a flurry of diplomatic activity by the US, the European Union and the envoy Tony Blair in Jerusalem and Ramallah aimed at trying to avoid a showdown next week at the UN Security Council, where the Americans say they will veto a Palestinian request for recognition of statehood.

via Palestinians warned on UN bid.

Do you think a Palestinian state might calm the region or make things even worse?  If the UN can create Israel, why can’t it create Palestine?  If this goes through, should the U.S. exercise its veto?  If so, what would be the consequences?   And what do you think Israel would do if a Palestinian state comes into existence on what was once Israeli-occupied land?

Obama wants Israel to go back to 1967 borders

President Obama’s peace plan for the Middle East calls for Israel to go back to its borders before the 1967 war.  In that war, the Arab states attacked Israel from all sides but were route.  Israel seized the rest of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and other regions–originally all the way to the border with Egypt, though much of that land has been given back.  But Israel has retained a buffer for its own security.

So are the Arab states less hostile to Israel now than they were in 1967?

 

Netanyahu, Obama and 1967 borders: Reactions to the speech – BlogPost – The Washington Post.

The Bible as oil prospector

A man believes that a Bible verse teaches that there is oil in Israel.  So he started Zion Oil & Gas Co. to find it.  And apparently he has.

Ask John Brown why he’s spent three decades looking for oil and natural gas reserves in Israel, and he has a simple answer: The Bible told him to.

That sounds a bit crazy, the chairman of Zion Oil and Gas Co. admits, especially because no one had ever found much oil there.

“In the first years, it was sort of bizarre to talk about oil and gas in Israel because there was none,” Brown said. “There’s an old joke that, when he came to the Promised Land, Moses should have turned left and gone to Saudi Arabia instead.”

These days, it looks like Brown, who will be in Nashville this weekend for the National Religious Broadcasters convention, may be on to something. Two years ago, a major natural gas field was found off the coast of Israel. And the rising price of oil and new technology have made oil shale, which Israel has in abundance, financially viable. Billionaire investors like Rupert Murdoch and George Soros are putting money into companies looking for oil in Israel.

Brown, whose company’s U.S. base is in Dallas, sees these new developments as signs of God fulfilling his promises in the Bible.

“I think it’s God’s blessing for the nation of Israel,” he said.

Zion Oil and Gas Co. was inspired by a passage in the Old Testament, Genesis 49:25: “Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under.”

Brown says the passage refers to oil. Biblical scholars aren’t so sure.

via Bible inspires hunt for oil in Israel | The Tennessean | tennessean.com.

So what do you think the verse is referring to?  Is this “rightly dividing the Word of Truth”?

May Israel defend itself at all?

A disturbing column by Charles Krauthhammer on the global response to Israel’s blockade of Gaza:

Oh, but weren’t the Gaza-bound ships on a mission of humanitarian relief? No. Otherwise they would have accepted Israel’s offer to bring their supplies to an Israeli port, be inspected for military materiel and have the rest trucked by Israel into Gaza — as every week 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are sent by Israel to Gaza.

Why was the offer refused? Because, as organizer Greta Berlin admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian relief but about breaking the blockade, i.e., ending Israel’s inspection regime, which would mean unlimited shipping into Gaza and thus the unlimited arming of Hamas.

Israel has already twice intercepted ships laden with Iranian arms destined for Hezbollah and Gaza. What country would allow that?

But even more important, why did Israel even have to resort to blockade? Because, blockade is Israel’s fallback as the world systematically de-legitimizes its traditional ways of defending itself — forward and active defense.

(1) Forward defense: As a small, densely populated country surrounded by hostile states, Israel had, for its first half-century, adopted forward defense — fighting wars on enemy territory (such as the Sinai and Golan Heights) rather than its own.

Where possible (Sinai, for example) Israel has traded territory for peace. But where peace offers were refused, Israel retained the territory as a protective buffer zone. Thus Israel retained a small strip of southern Lebanon to protect the villages of northern Israel. And it took many losses in Gaza, rather than expose Israeli border towns to Palestinian terror attacks. It is for the same reason America wages a grinding war in Afghanistan: You fight them there, so you don’t have to fight them here.

But under overwhelming outside pressure, Israel gave it up. The Israelis were told the occupations were not just illegal but at the root of the anti-Israel insurgencies — and therefore withdrawal, by removing the cause, would bring peace.

Land for peace. Remember? Well, during the past decade, Israel gave the land — evacuating South Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005. What did it get? An intensification of belligerency, heavy militarization of the enemy side, multiple kidnappings, cross-border attacks and, from Gaza, years of unrelenting rocket attack.

(2) Active defense: Israel then had to switch to active defense — military action to disrupt, dismantle and defeat (to borrow President Obama’s description of our campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda) the newly armed terrorist mini-states established in southern Lebanon and Gaza after Israel withdrew.

The result? The Lebanon war of 2006 and Gaza operation of 2008-09. They were met with yet another avalanche of opprobrium and calumny by the same international community that had demanded the land-for-peace Israeli withdrawals in the first place. Worse, the U.N. Goldstone report, which essentially criminalized Israel’s defensive operation in Gaza while whitewashing the casus belli — the preceding and unprovoked Hamas rocket war — effectively de-legitimized any active Israeli defense against its self-declared terror enemies.

(3) Passive defense: Without forward or active defense, Israel is left with but the most passive and benign of all defenses — a blockade to simply prevent enemy rearmament. Yet, as we speak, this too is headed for international de-legitimation. Even the United States is now moving toward having it abolished.

But, if none of these is permissible, what’s left?

Ah, but that’s the point. It’s the point understood by the blockade-busting flotilla of useful idiots and terror sympathizers, by the Turkish front organization that funded it, by the automatic anti-Israel Third World chorus at the United Nations, and by the supine Europeans who’ve had quite enough of the Jewish problem.

What’s left? Nothing. The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals, and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons — thus de-legitimizing Israel’s very last line of defense: deterrence.

The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million — that number again — hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists — Iranian in particular — openly prepare a more final solution.

via Krauthammer: Those troublesome Jews.

The leftist/Islamist alliance

Dennis Mitzner tries to explain the odd alliance between the hard-core left and Islamic jihadists (evident especially in Europe), despite the latter’s attitude towards women, homosexuality, etc., etc.  An excerpt:

Since the left views Muslims as part of their struggle against Western hegemony, they are given a pass on their religiosity. Islam does not threaten the left in the same fashion as Judaism and Christianity. They look at Christians and Jews and see wealth; they look at Muslims and see poverty. It is common knowledge that the left is comprised of Marxists or Marxist-sympathizers, so viewing the world through a prism of one’s economic status is perfectly logical. . . .

Perhaps it is the Marxism that draws the political left to the Islamists and the usefulness of the political left that draws Islamists to the Marxists. However, there must be something deeper behind their collective fury. Maybe it’s anti-Semitism or maybe it’s something else.Clarity is what is needed in order to analyze their respective motives. Both the left and the Islamists see the two religions that produced the Western liberal order, Judaism and Christianity, as malicious influences on the world.

via Pajamas Media » European Progressives, Islamists: More Alike Than We Think?.