As the Obama administration tries to unbury itself from snowballing scandals, my apocalyptic thriller steadily crawls from fiction to fact. The Middle East is an insane place. And it's going nuclear. Yet too many optimists, isolationists, and self-deluded analysts think that rationality will prevail and keep us all safe.
Is it rational to take out the organs of a man you just killed and eat them on camera, as a Syrian rebel recently did? How about a senior Palestinian Authority official who recently, on Lebanese television, declared that the PA would nuke Israel if it had nuclear weapons? Jibril Rajoub, the deputy secretary of the Fatah Central Committee and the chairman of the PA Olympics Committee, apparently doesn't mind that the nuclear mushroom he wants over Israel would also kill millions of Palestinians, just miles away – the main goal is that Israel be nuked.
At best, one can say that there is a "twisted rationality" in the Middle East, as exemplified by Iran's former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. In a December 2001 speech, Rafsanjani said, "If one day the Islamic world [acquires nuclear weapons], then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality. Jews shall expect to be once again scattered and wandering around the globe the day when this appendix is extracted from the region and the Muslim world." more >>
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking announced this week that he would not be attending a major academic conference in Jerusalem in June as a way of showing "respect" for the Palestinians' academic boycott of Israel. In response, one rabbi said Hawking was joining the Church of Scotland in "demonizing" Israel.
"I was looking forward to hearing the iconic Stephen Hawking," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in an article for Fox News. "After agreeing to deliver the coveted keynote in Jerusalem, the highly unorthodox Hawking, who has visited Israel four times, has caved to the prevailing virulent anti-Israel orthodoxy among the United Kingdom's elite and announced he'll boycott because of Palestinian protests.
"It's interesting that Hawking, who is a principled atheist, has some kindred souls among theologians of the Church of Scotland." more >>
CBS "700 Club" host Pat Robertson has warned Secretary of State John Kerry that any peace agreement in the Middle East that results in Israel losing parts of Jerusalem will be calling on "God's wrath."
"I think this is headed for disaster for the United States," Robertson said on a video posted on April 9. The televangelist was responding to the latest news story concerning peace developments between Israel and Palestine, being moderated by Kerry.
"Each of them made very serious and well-considered, constructive suggestions with respect to what the road forward might look like," Kerry said while meeting Israel and Palestinian leaders this week in peace negotiations that are expected to last several months. A number of issues are being discussed, including how to restore economic stability in the Middle East and how to move forward on the question of land property that has historically divided the two nations. more >>
President Obama's recent charm offensive in Israel apparently had two aims: 1) lull Israel into forfeiting timely military action against Iranian nukes in the hope that Obama will stop them, and 2) convince Israelis that now is the time to revisit the land-for-peace formula. For years, the conventional wisdom – among Israel's peace camp and its proponents abroad (Obama included) – has been that if Israel just relinquishes enough territory to its enemies, peace will arrive. But on most of Israel's borders, history has revealed the naïve folly behind an idea that could just as aptly be called "land-for-war."
Consider Syria. From 1948 to 1967, the Syrians regularly fired artillery shells from their dominant positions on the Golan Heights down at Israeli border communities and Fatah used the territory to launch terrorist raids into Israel, until Israel captured it in 1967. But since the US-brokered talks between Israel and Syria began in 1999, peaceniks have posited that a full withdrawal by Israel from the strategic plateau in exchange for peace with Syria involved a risk worth taking. Their rationale was that – in an era dominated more by aerial threats (jets and missiles) than terrestrial ones (soldiers and tanks) – the territory was no longer vital to Israeli security and could be traded for a double boon: peace with Syria and elimination of Iran's greatest strategic ally.
Current events reveal the deeply flawed assumptions underpinning the land-for-peace-with-Syria paradigm. No Israeli territorial concession is needed for Iran to lose its only Arab ally; the Syrian civil war will ultimately accomplish that. Basher Assad's regime will eventually fall because the daily slaughter of one's own people (with over 70,000 dead) is unsustainable when each atrocity can be instantly uploaded to the Internet. Whoever replaces Assad will be no friend to those who armed, funded, and prolonged his massacres: Iran and Russia. Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have also been substantially involved in fighting the rebels on the ground, and thus will be distanced from post-war Syria far more than any Israeli-Syrian peace could have separated Iran and Syria. more >>
Judging from the televised images, President Obama's first state visit to Israel was a love fest. The Israelis literally and figuratively rolled out the red carpet, even giving Mr. Obama a medal to thank him for his friendship to the Jewish people. The President, in turn, literally and figuratively hugged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and repeatedly called him by his nickname, "Bibi," as though they had been best pals for years. The days of frosty, even frigid, relations between the two leaders seemed over.
But John Bolton isn't buying it. The long-serving American diplomat and national security expert, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, says behind the scenes there is still trouble in paradise.
I interviewed him by phone yesterday and his message was crystal clear. On the three critical issues facing the U.S. and Israel in the Middle East – dealing with the Iran nuclear threat, the implosion of Syria, and the peace process – Bolton says the President's objectives have not changed one iota. Netanyahu cannot count on this White House, he argues. And if Israel is going to strike Iran, they're going to have to do it this year, and on their own. more >>
During his trip to Israel, President Barack Obama stated that the Jewish state has "the unshakeable support" of the United States in its efforts to defend its country and make peace with its neighbors.
At remarks given Thursday at the Jerusalem Convention Center, President Obama spoke about the strong ties between the United States and Israel.
"Those ties began only 11 minutes after Israeli independence, when the United States was the first nation to recognize the State of Israel," said Obama. more >>