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June 23, 2009: Turmoil and Confusion

July 23, 2009

You may have your own take on how things will turn out in Iran, and right now it seems to me that whatever you would project has no more or less validity than what the “experts” have to say. For very few agree on the prognosis for the rebellion that has been taking place, whether it will fizzle or is the beginning of the end for the current regime, etc.

Certain things are clear, however: Even if Mousavi were to become victorious (a possibility that is fairly moot at this point), this in no way would mean the world was home free. Nuclear development would continue, as he was part of the original plans for such development, and the mullahs would still be in charge.

As it is, the Iranian regime has come out against compromise. Today the electoral authority in Iran, the Guardian Council, announced that “no major fraud or breach in the election” had been discovered, and that “therefore, there is no possibility of an annulment taking place.” Never mind that the Guardian Council had previously acknowledged “irregularities” in the election.

There would need to be a genuine popular rebellion (some signs of which we are indeed seeing now — whether the rebellion succeeds currently or not) for there to be a change in policy. But what started with a protest over electoral fraud has become more.

There are conflicting forecasts: either that even if the rebellion fizzles now the seeds have been sown and things will never be the same there again, or that the regime will come down more repressively than ever, squelching all rebellious efforts.


In passing I note this, which is fairly obvious, but merits recognition: What a different world we live in today, when those rebelling on the street can send Internet messages appealing for help and updating the world with text and pictures. When there is Facebook and Twitter, and all the rest. Seems to me a rebellion can no longer be contained in quite the same way, no matter the repressive forces.


President Obama has pretty much fallen on his face with regard to Iran. It is not my wont to quote Shmuley Boteach, but he is right on the mark here:

“Of all the sins which a leader can be guilty, few are as egregious as the simple refusal to lead. Watching President Barack Obama’s at first deafening silence and then weak and hyper-cautious words on Iran has been disappointing and painful.

Our president must decide if he will serve as leader, or spectator, of the free world. This time no one is asking an American president to send in troops; no one is suggesting the deployment of laser-guided bombs. All it takes is a forthright statement from the leader of the free world: ‘The people of the United States support the people of Iran in their legitimate quest for democracy and freedom and will hold accountable any and all parties responsible for the bloodshed of nonviolent demonstrators.’

“Pretty easy, right? Our president doesn’t think so…

“…Forty-six years ago another young charismatic president went to the very symbol of Soviet oppression in Berlin and directly inserted himself into Soviet affairs by identifying himself with the people who were risking their lives for liberty. ‘All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words Ich bin ein Berliner.’

With every passing day I grow more concerned about what might be termed the Obama doctrine. What is it? As best as I can discern, it is a preservation of the status quo. As Obama himself put it, ‘America does not presume to know what is best for everyone.’

“Rarely before has an American president spoken out so forcefully in favor of moral relativism.” (emphasis added)



The supreme irony is that while Obama stands on his head to avoid what he calls “meddling” in Iran, the regime is accusing him of meddling.


It pleases me that our leaders have now decided to speak considerably more forcefully on Iran.

Yesterday Foreign Minister Lieberman called for involvement of the UN Security Council in the course of a statement that was clear and direct. In Ottawa to meet with Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, he expressed his position to the press:

…that what has been going on in Iran was the result “of a crazy regime (this man does not mince words) shooting at its citizen in the streets. Everyone needs to be clear about the danger of that type of regime holding nuclear weapons.

“…the events in Iran over the last few days obligate a clear response from the international community, first of all to convene an emergency session of the UN Security Council.”


PM Netanyahu, for his part, focused more on the positive. In an interview with the German newspaper, Bild, he said:

“What would be good news for Israel is a regime that stops crushing dissent, stops supporting terror, and stops trying to build nuclear weapons.

“It would mean a regime that stops denying the Holocaust and stops threatening Israel with destruction. There is no conflict between the Iranian people and the people of Israel and under a different regime the friendly relations that prevailed in the past could be restored.”

He further said that what the regime had done had “unmasked” them. “What we have seen in Iran is a powerful desire on the part of the people to be free…”


Tom Gross, writing on the National Review Online Blog, asks, “So were the Neo-Cons right all along?”

“President Bush said liberating Iraq would have a regional domino effect and give people a taste for freedom and democracy. Is this what we’re seeing now in Iran?”


Today Netanyahu started a three day visit — to Rome, first, and then Paris.

In his meeting with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, Iran was discussed at considerable length. Italy is one of the EU nations most kindly disposed to Israel, and interaction is warm and cordial.

What is startling is that Italy is also the number one European trade partner with Iran, accounting for 26% of the import-export trade between EU countries and Iran. Berlusconi said this would continue as long as the US approved.


On another score: Just days ago, PM Netanyahu, in his major address, advocated a “demilitarized state” for the Palestinians. I may return to this with further detail, but wanted to mention here that this concept is not being well-received. Obviously not with the Palestinians, who won’t hear of it, but in other quarters as well, notably with the Obama administration.

There is the issue of rendering the “Palestinian state” demilitarized, which means physically removing armaments from them, and then making certain they stay that way. Netanyahu has since expanded on his original statement, saying that he wasn’t asking for international forces to go in, but rather for their recognition that Israel would be able to do what was necessary in this respect, and that Israel would reserve the right to go into that state after its formation, if necessary.

It seems to me that the big problem here is that he decided, in a nod to Obama, to label this area he was proposing for the Palestinians a “state,” rather than using a term such as “autonomy.” Because what he is describing isn’t a state and now he is in a catch-22 situation of his own creation.

A state has a right to sanctity of borders and a right to defend itself. And he is suggesting that we would be able to cross the borders of this “state,” and deprive it (this is all theoretical, of course) of the means for self-defense. It’s not going to play, I think. (Although Berlusconi endorsed it today.)


After Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beitenu) made a visit to the Temple Mount, the Islamic Wakf complained that this was a deliberate provocation and that the visit had not been coordinated with Muslim authorities in advance. MK Taleb A-Sanaa (United Arab List) said the purpose of the visit was to “inflame” the area, and Aharonovitch would “suffer the consequences.” Excuse me?

But Aharonovitch’s media advisor, Tal Harel, just shrugged it off, saying “There will always be such comments.”

The fact is that the purely routine visit indeed was coordinated with the Wakf and representatives of the Islamic presence on the Mount accompanied Aharonovitch.

I deplore the fact that the Muslims act as if our Temple Mount is exclusively theirs, and I wait for the day when their misimpression will finally be corrected. At least now I see some hope of this down the road.


State Department spokesman Ian Kelly yesterday, when responding to a question, said that the US demand for a freeze on settlements includes everything over the Green Line, even eastern Jerusalem. You understand, eastern Jerusalem is not just the Old City — which would be bad enough. We’re talking about Israeli Jewish neighborhoods in existence for many decades, such as French Hill and Ramat Eshkol. This is part of Israel proper — all of it.

In their dreams!


According to a State Department release of June 18, before he met with officials of Hamas, former president Jimmy Carter met with Near Eastern Affairs Bureau Deputy Assistant Secretary David Hale and National Security staff.

Does this mean the Obama administration implicitly sanctioned this meeting? Wouldn’t exactly be surprised.

According to Anne Bayefsky of Eye on the UN, the Obama administration has apologized for not attending Durban 2. Anna Morawiec Mansfield, Deputy Legal Adviser of the United States Mission in Geneva also expressed gratitude “to the many country delegations and senior UN officials who worked steadfastly to … re-focus the Durban Review Conference squarely on the global fight to eliminate racism and racial discrimination.”


I would like to share a radically different take from that of Ms. Mansfield. This, from Gerald Steinberg, of NGO-Monitor (and I’m delighted for the opportunity to write this):

The change in tone for Durban 2, Dr. Steinberg related in a recent talk at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was a victory for Jewish organizations.

We were blind-sided at Durban 1, for we had no idea what was about to take place there, especially in the NGO forum. What emerged was not just a declaration, but a strategy to be implemented — it was after Durban 1 that we heard about the “Apartheid wall,” and the “Jenin massacre.” Boycotts were initiated and charges of “collective punishment.” All with intent to delegitimize us.

A pattern emerged: an NGO makes a charge against us, the media pick it up, the UN makes a condemnation, and then academics come on board.


But for Durban 2 we saw it coming, and a host of major Jewish organizations (NGOs) did an astonishing amount of cooperative planning. Lobbying began early to convince nations not to attend; by the time of the conference, 10 countries had announced they weren’t going to participate. This immediately undercut the legitimacy of the proceedings.

At the same time, the Jewish community had learned to work the system. Jewish, pro-Israel groups registered for the conference and in the end outnumbered the anti-Israel NGOs present. This time no separate NGO forum was permitted, but the NGOs who were accredited for the conference could speak at the main event and hold side events.

And the presence of the Jewish groups reversed the atmosphere to a considerable degree. They brought in real victims of racism — such as from Darfur — to speak; Eli Wiesel was brought, as well. They brought in the French students who dressed as clowns during Ahmadinejad’s talk — disrupting it and making a pointed statement.

A proud effort which must be sustained in other venues.


This has come to me via several reliable sources and so I pass it along:

The specialty retail grocery chain Trader Joe’s is being targeted by anti-Israel groups for boycotts because it has refused to bow to demands to remove Israeli products from its shelves. Please, if you have a Trader Joe’s in your area, make a point of patronizing it as extensively as possible — and letting the management know why you are offering support. Additionally, buy Israeli products from the store and let the management know you are pleased that these are being carried.

You can find a list of store locations here: http://www.traderjoes.com/Attachments/EC_loc.pdf


From time to time I would like to present links to videos that you might find interesting.

Here is an absolutely amazing pro-Israel speech by NJ Senator Bob Menendez.


Watch it, and thank him for it — especially if you are in NJ.

http://menendez.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm Fax: 202-228-2197


“The Good News Corner”

It gives me special pleasure to write about this, announced by a spokesman from Rambam Hospital:

Lieutenant Asael Lubotzky, serving in the Second Lebanon War as part of the Golani Brigade, was seriously wounded by a direct anti-tank missile hit in the course of the horrific Battle of Bint Jbeil in July 2006. He was taken to Rambam Hospital with severe burns and injuries to both legs. Those tending him expected him to lose his right leg.

However, Dr. Alexander Lerner, Senior Orthopedic Surgeon at the hospital, was determined to save both of Lubotzky’s legs.

Lubotzky underwent 20 operations and a long rehabilitation. Dr. Lerner told him that one day he would break the glass (a traditional Jewish practice) under the chuppah (wedding canopy) and he would be there to witness it.

This past Sunday, Asael Lubotzky wed Avital Shimal, and under the chuppah he used his right leg to break the glass, on his very first try.

Dr. Lerner was there, of course, and said “the joy was very great.”






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