Daily Archives: February 2, 2012


Budding politician, shy to expose his views in the media, has been more forthcoming in correspondences on his official Facebook page.


Media personality-turned-politician Yair Lapid revealed a few of his political views on Thursday, indicating during a Facebook exchange that he opposed the division of Jerusalem, saying that the capital was “more than just a place.”

“Jerusalem belongs to the people of Israel and not to anyone else,” Lapid wrote.

When one Facebook user asked the former Channel 2 anchorman to give a straight answer, “not a politician’s one,” concerning the issue, Lapid said that, in these subjects, “I’m for sense – the politicians can go on evading.”

“As a citizen, I can tell you Jerusalem is not just a place to me, but it’s my history and national ethos as well and I think it belongs to the people of Israel and no to anyone else,” Lapid wrote.

Although wary about detailing his views to the media, Lapid has been quite active in expressing them on his Facebook page.

Last month, the budding politician promised “to fight the fight of the Israeli middle class with three tools: by changing the system of government; by abrogating the Tal Law [which regulates the conditions for ultra-Orthodox army draft deferrals and exemptions] and replacing it with a state national-service agency; and by waging an uncompromising war against vested interest groups, sector-based parties and tycoons, to change the distribution of resources.”

Also last month, Lapid held a conference in the upscale, centrally-situated community of Maccabim-Reut.

He told his audience he would never join Kadima, adding, “Just look at them.” Later, on his Facebook wall, he called the party’s Knesset members “a gang of cynical rejects from other parties who don’t have a clue about what, if anything, they believe, and there’s no way, no scenario in which I would join them.”

Also on Facebook, Lapid wrote that the Labor Party “traveled the whole way to the radical left,” in terms of both social policy and its policy regarding the Palestinians. At Maccabim-Reut, Lapid attacked Labor chairwoman, MK Shelly Yachimovich, personally, accusing her of being unfair to him. “She knows the truth but insisted on attacking me and claimed that [former Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert was my political consultant.”


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Wrong Message: New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is under pressure over a video with anti-Muslim messages that was shown to recruits.

Police Video Raises Questions About Group That Produced It


The New York Police Department is caught up in a tangled spat with the city’s  Muslim community and assorted liberal groups over counter-terrorism measures  that seem to have crossed the line into rank anti-Muslim bigotry. The  department’s chief spokesman has made matters worse by repeatedly offering  explanations of police actions that turned out to be false. Some critics are now  calling for his dismissal.

In a sense, it’s just the latest case — several cases, actually — of minority  rights versus over-zealous law enforcement, post-9/11. This case is more  complicated than most, however.

For one thing, the embattled police spokesman, Paul Browne, is an old and  trusted aide of the NYPD’s popular commissioner, Raymond Kelly. That raises the  political stakes.

For another thing, one of the flashpoints, the screening of a shockingly  anti-Muslim film at an NYPD counter-terrorism training facility, brings the  Jewish community into the dispute. The 72-minute film, “The Third Jihad,” is  produced and distributed by a small non-profit organization, the Clarion Fund,  that shares staff and an address with a well-known, Jerusalem-based Orthodox  outreach organization, Aish HaTorah. This adds a layer of volatility to  discussions of the film’s anti-Muslim bias.

There is such a thing as Islamic terrorism. Muslim discontent and terrorist  violence are linked in too many world trouble spots to ignore. Public probing of  the issue is often derailed, alas, by automatic accusations of Islamophobia  against the probers. On the other hand, there is such a thing as Islamophobia.  It is real, widespread and insidious.

But public probing of Islamophobia equally risks being hobbled by accusations  of anti-Semitism against the probers. In the end, both communities harbor their  own extremists and allow them to demonize the other side, while resisting honest  examination of their own.

Launched in 1974 as an outreach yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Old City, Aish is now  a multimillion-dollar international organization marketing a slick package of  Haredi theology and homespun spiritual teaching combined with a broadly  conservative political message.

Through the Clarion Fund, Aish combines efforts with neoconservative  ideologues on the Clarion board like Daniel Pipes, Frank Gaffney and James  Woolsey, whose hardline attitude toward Muslim discontent meshes well with the  messianic strain in Israeli Orthodoxy.

“The Third Jihad” purports to show that “radical Islam” is at war with the  West in a “battle for the very civilization and way of life that we believe in,” in the words of one on-screen expert, Walid Phares, a Clarion board member.  True, the film opens with a claim, in text on a blank screen, that it “is not a  film about Islam. It is about the threat of radical Islam. Only a small  percentage of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are radical.” But the rest of the  film undercuts that assertion with a barrage of claims about the irreconcilable  values and “relentless determination” of Muslims and Islam.

One interviewee says Christians and Jews are “persecuted” in “every one of  the countries where there is a Muslim majority.” Another claims “Islam is the  fastest growing religion in the world” and is “also thought to be the fastest  growing religion in America.” Another says “they do see the fertility rate as a  key element of conquest.” Yet another, Princeton historian Bernard Lewis, says “this is a global, cosmic struggle between religiously defined  civilizations.”

The film was produced by Raphael Shore, Clarion Fund founder, who is also  described in an Aish HaTorah publication as one of its rabbis. The Aish.com  website plugs two earlier films by Shore, “Crossing the Line: The Intifada Comes  to Campus” and “Relentless: The Struggle for Peace in Israel,” plus several  written works.

The dust-up over NYPD’s use of the film began in January 2011, when the  Village Voice reported the film being screened at a counter-terrorism training  facility. NYPD spokesman Browne responded dismissively, calling it a “wacky” movie that was screened just “a couple of times” to a few officers. Browne also  said on-screen appearances by his boss, Kelly, had been lifted from old  footage.

But a year later, on January 24, the New York Times reported in a front page  article that the film had been screened in a “continuous loop” for somewhere  between three months and a year, beginning in 2010, and seen by close to 1,500  officers. It cited documents uncovered by New York University’s Brennan Center  for Justice after a nine-month Freedom of Information Act struggle. A separate  report by the Associated Press said Kelly’s appearance did not come from old  clips but from an interview for the film.

The Times called Clarion’s financing “a puzzle,” citing federal income tax  forms showing about $1 million income per year “except in 2008, when it booked  contributions of $18.3 million.” Think Progress, however, posted a document  purporting to be a Clarion donor list. Among others, it shows $27,880 from the  New York Jewish Communal Fund in 2007 and $75,000 from the Jewish Community  Federation of San Francisco in 2008-2009. Other donors include bingo king Irving  Moskowitz and clothier Sy Sims.

The disclosures come at a bad time for NYPD relations with the Muslim  community. Last August, the department was reported to be conducting secret  surveillance within the local Muslim community, including of people who were not  under suspicion. Browne flatly denied those reports until documents surfaced  proving they were true. The new disclosures about the “Jihad” film thus surface  in an atmosphere already thick with rancor.

Tensions are likely to mount as more becomes known about how the film found  its way into the Police Academy. If the messianic, millennialist wings of Islam  and Judaism are allowed to turn New York’s public policy debate into their  battleground, everyone will suffer.


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Head of military intelligence Aviv Kochavi reiterates army estimates that Iran could further enrich that uranium it already has to create 4 atomic bombs.


About 200,000 missiles are aimed at Israel at any given time, a top Israel Defense Forces officer said on Thursday, adding that Iran’s ability to obtain nuclear weapons was solely dependent on the will of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The remarks by Military Intelligence Chief Major General Aviv Kochavi came after IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said on Wednesday that the threats facing Israel have increased and intensified in recent years due to regional instability.

Speaking to the Herzliya Conference, Gantz said that Iran’s nuclear program is a “global problem and a regional problem,” adding that Tehran’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons must continue to be disrupted.

On Thursday, Kochavi, speaking at the opening session of the Herzliya Conference’s closing day, spoke of the growing threats Israel was facing: “a more hostile, more Islamic, more sensitive Middle East, one more attune to public sentiment, less controlled by the regimes, and less susceptible to international influence.”

The chief of military intelligence then indicated that about 200,000 missiles were aimed at Israel at any given time, adding, however, that “Israel’s military deterrence is intact.”

Referring to Israel’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Kochavi presented a relatively tame estimation of a possible timeline en route to an Iranian atomic bomb, saying that the project depended more on the will of Iran’s Supreme Leader than on any technological advancement.

“If Khamenei issues a command to achieve a first nuclear explosive device, we estimate it would take another year before that’s achieved,” the top IDF official said, adding that “if he asks to translate that ability to obtain a nuclear warhead, that would take another year or two.”

Kochavi also reiterated the IDF estimate that Iran is in possession of more than 4 tons of low-grade enriched uranium as well as almost 100 kilograms of uranium enriched at 20%.

“If those are enriched more, to a 90% level, that would be enough for 4 atomic bombs,” the IDF officer said.

The military intelligence chief added that the sanctions on Iran “are taking their toll. There’s 16% unemployment, 24% annual inflation, and practically no growth,” he said adding that “at this point the pressure isn’t leading Iran to a strategic shift.”

However, Kochavi added that “there’s a potential, with greater pressure, that the regime, interested first and foremost in its own survival, would reconsider its position.”

Speaking at the Herzliya conference on Tuesday, President Shimon Peres also referred to the Iranian nuclear threat, saying that Tehran’s “evil” leaders cannot be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.

“It is the duty of the international community to prevent evil and nuclear [weapons] from coming together. That is the obligations of most of the leaders of the free world, one which they must meet,” Peres said.


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Speaking at Herzliya Conference, Moshe Ya’alon calls the possibility of a nuclear Iran a ‘nightmare to the free world,’ says explosion at Iranian missile base targeted missile system that would have threatened the U.S.


All of Iran’s nuclear faculties are vulnerable to a military strike, Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Thursday, calling the potential of a nuclear Iran a “nightmare to the free world.”

At the closing day of the Herzliya Conference, Ya’alon referred to the many tools at the international community’s disposal that could serve to slow down or stop Iran’s advancement toward nuclear weapons capability: international pressure, economic sanctions, support of Iranian opposition, and military actions.

Speaking of the possibility of a military strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities, the vice PM said that “the West has the ability to strike, but as long as Iran isn’t convinced that there’s a determination to follow through with it, they’ll continue with their manipulations.”

“The Iranians believe that a determination isn’t still there, both in regards to military action and in regards to sanctions,” Ya’alon said, adding that “any facility protected by humans can be infiltrated by humans. It’s possible to strike all Iran’s facilities, and I say that out of my experience as IDF chief of staff.”

The vice PM’s comments seem to counter reported remarks by U.S. defense officials quoted last week by the Wall Street Journal, according to which the Pentagon was not in possession of conventional arms strong enough to destroy all of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Ya’alon reiterated the Israeli stance that a nuclear Iran was a global threat, saying that “if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, it would be a nightmare for the free world, a nightmare for Arab states…and of course a threat to the State of Israel.”

“We’ll see a more intense undermining of regional regimes and the acceleration of terror attacks against those regimes, as well as against Israel and western states, with the United States at the forefront,” Ya’alon said.

The former IDF chief also indicated that an explosion which virtually destroyed an Iran Revolutionary Guard missile base near Tehran late last year targeted a system “getting ready to produce a missile with a range of 10,000 kilometers, thus threatening the United States.”

“The Iranian threat is not a case of Iran Vs. Israel. Israel has never declared war on Iran, but the Khomeinistic regime has declared total war on the States of Israel’s very existence,” Ya’alon added, saying that Iran was interested in repelling a perceived western hegemony around the world and not just in the Middle East.

Ya’alon’s comments came after, earlier Thursday, Military Intelligence Chief Major General Aviv Kochavi said that Iran’s ability to obtain nuclear weapons was solely dependent on the will of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, adding that Israel was threatened by about 200,000 missiles at any given time.


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There has been altogether too much stuff in the media lately about how Iran is not really a threat to anyone and how even some prominent Israelis don’t really believe that they have to go to war (or have Washington go to war on their behalf). It was perhaps inevitable that there would be some pushback to again stoke the fires and make the case that Iran is indeed evil incarnate and on the verge of obtaining an apocalyptic weapon.

Not surprisingly, some of the latest pushback comes from the redoubtable Ethan Bronner ofThe New York Times in his article “Israel Senses Bluffing in Iran’s Threats of Retaliation,” which appeared on the paper’s front page on Jan. 26. Bronner, whose son has served in the Israeli Defense Forces, is the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief and covers much of the Middle East. He lives in Israel, and his objectivity has often been questioned, but the self-proclaimed ‘newspaper of record’ has refused to consider replacing him with someone less openly tied to Israel and its interests.

As a former intelligence officer, I am acutely aware of how easy it is to create and spread disinformation. Journalists are frail creatures with big egos who want to get an important story that no one else has. What could be better than to get something fresh from a well-placed, unnamed government source? Who cares if it is phony? Bronner, who has been in Israel for four years, is no doubt a confidant of a number of Israeli officials who perceive value in the careful cultivation of a New York Times journalist willing to hew closely to the Netanyahu government’s line. When Mossad sees Bronner walking their way, it’s like Hanukkah coming early.

All of that said, Bronner’s current agenda is clear right from the get-go, as reflected in his apparent endorsement of the view that Iran “has called for Israel’s destruction and … finances and arms militant groups on Israel’s borders.” He reports that “Israeli intelligence estimates, backed by academic studies, have cast doubt on the widespread assumption that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would set off a catastrophic set of events like a regional conflagration, widespread acts of terrorism, and sky-high oil prices.” Thanks to Bronner’s report, the whole world can no doubt breathe a sigh of relief. Attacking Iran will produce few or no consequences. And who is telling us that? No less than Israel andThe New York Times, one an interested party in minimizing concern over the damage that such a war would cause and the other a newspaper that prints all the news that fits its point of view.

Bronner actually cites one source by name to make his case. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a November speech that “the retaliation [from Iran] would be bearable.”And then Bronner is off to the races with “eight current and recent top Israeli security officials” who are, alas, unnamed. One opines,“Take every scenario of confrontation and attack by Iran…” before delivering his judgment that Tehran having a nuclear weapon would greatly complicate Israel’s possible responses. Excuse me, but even Bronner and his Israeli friends should realize that Iran has not been talking about attacking anyone — the threats to attack have all been coming from the Israeli side for the past five years and more recently from a gaggle of American presidential wannabes. Any “confrontation and attack” by Iran would be retaliation.

And then there is the support provided by the article about to be published by the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. An advance copy was graciously given to Bronner. The piece argues that the Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz is a bluff. Bronner does not mention that Tel Aviv University is state-run, and the Institute he cites advertises itself on its own website as having “a strong association with the political and military establishment.” The paper is the work of the former head of military intelligence and the ex-Iran expert from Israel’s National Security Council. So we have government and still more government confirming what the Israeli government itself apparently wants everyone to believe.

Why would Iran not retaliate in the strait? To avoid a confrontation with the U.S. Navy, according to Bronner’s Israeli experts. But what if Iran did not agree with that assessment? Bronner does not go there, but he does cite another think tank, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. Begin-Sadat is government-funded and is based at state-supported Bar-Ilan University. The Center conducts “policy-relevant research on strategic subjects, particularly as they relate to the national security and foreign policy of Israel.” Its non-nonpartisanship is reflected in its current promotion of a “recent important new study by Prof. Haim Gvirtzman, based on previously classified data, [that] refutes Palestinian claims that Israel is denying West Bank Palestinians water rights.” It has also published an article titled “Palestinians: Invented People” by Professor Michael Curtis.

The Begin-Sadat Center obligingly argues that “The threat to Israel of missile warfare is somewhat exaggerated, and public discourse on this issue should reflect realistic assessments. At this stage, missile attacks would be able to inflict only limited physical damage on Israel.” Bronner quotes an anonymous retired official who adds that Iran’s reaction “will be nothing like London during World War II.” That was the German blitz that killed 20,000 Londoners, so it is perhaps reassuring to believe that it will not be like that, but the analysis is based on what Saddam Hussein did in 1991 and the effectiveness of the 4,000 primitive Katyusha rockets fired by Hezbollah in 2006. The United States and Israel have both been claiming that Hezbollah now has nearly 40,000 rockets and missiles, including sophisticated Grads, that can reach any target in Israel with considerable accuracy, so who is fooling whom?

To be fair to Bronner, he does note here and there along the way in his article that some officials and “experts”disagree with the conclusions he is reporting, but the piece overall seems intended to promote yet another war that can be fought on the cheap. The underlying premises are that Iran can be attacked, that its nuclear program can be seriously damaged, and that Tehran will either not opt to or be unable to retaliate in any meaningful way. And even if it does retaliate, it will not be too bad for Israel, and the United States would be impacted even less.

To say that this is very dangerous thinking would be to understate the case, particularly as Bronner demonstrates that it appears to be what is driving the Netanyahu government. Fear-mongering is the name of the game when citing the underlying concern that Iran might be about to obtain a nuclear weapon and might then be tempted to use it, a “what if” piled on a “maybe” to justify a preemptive war. It is not merely coincidental that Bronner cites Netanyahu’s apparent belief that the so-called Iranian threat is equivalent to “the Nazis who tried to eliminate the Jews.” And the piece concludes with the Israeli prime minister speaking on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying, “I want to mention the main lesson of the Holocaust when it comes to our fate. We can only rely on ourselves.”

Someone should remind Bronner that while he is promoting an Israeli viewpoint he is writing for an American newspaper and audience and should address the serious question of what Washington’s options might be if Netanyahu does take action. Israeli self-reliance is a wonderful thing, if only it were true. The United States has been tied hand and foot to Israeli policies and would be drawn inexorably into anything that Tel Aviv starts. The confident assertion that Iran would be unable to retaliate effectively might prove as reliable as the claims made in 2002 that there would be a “cakewalk” in Iraq.


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by Keith Johnson


Amid all the hype and hysteria over the so-called “radical” and “violent” roots of Islam and its prophet Mohammed, Steven Spielberg is set to direct,“Gods and Kings,” a biopic based on the Old Testament’s most beloved homicidal maniac.

According to the National Ledger, “The movie will see Moses presented as ‘the warrior of all warriors’ and will follow him from birth to death.”

The article goes on to say, “[It’s] a movie like a Braveheart-ish version of the Moses story – him coming down the river, being adopted, leaving his home, forming an army and getting the Ten Commandments.”

It will be interesting to see how Spielberg spins this one. If he stays true to the first five books of the Old Testament (otherwise known as the Torah), we should expect to see the “chosen ones” doing what they did best: stealing land, razing cities, taking women and children as slaves, looting, raping, pillaging—and lest I forget—the wholesale slaughter of innocent men, women, children, cattle, sheep, donkeys, and anything else that had a pulse.

Gee, I wonder if any of these lines will make their way into the script:

Exodus 15:14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestine. Deuteronomy 2:25 This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.” Deuteronomy 2:34 At that time we took all his cities and completely destroyed them—men, women and children. We left no survivors. Deuteronomy 2:35 But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves.Numbers 21:35 So they killed him and his sons and all his people, until there was none left to him alive, and they possessed his land. Deuteronomy 3:6 We completely destroyed them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying every city—men, women and children.Deuteronomy 20:16 In the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Numbers 31:17 Kill all the boys [,] and kill every woman If you think I’m taking this all out of context, than I suggest you read your Old Testament, or follow this link to the first in an excellent series of essays on the subject:

Warrior Prophet: Moses or Muhammad

I’m sure Spielberg will work his movie magic in convincing us all that these Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites all had it coming, and that Moses was simply taking orders from the man up stairs.

Oh, and let’s not forget the casting. Expect to see the Arabs portrayed as dirty, dark-skinned, wide-nosed psychotics with bloodshot eyes. Of course the Israelites will have Caucasian features and swimmers physiques with a light coat of perspiration that glistens off the stage lighting as their slow motion swords slice the heads off their enemies.

HMMMM…I see a vision:

Brad Pitt: “Behold his mighty hand!”


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