Lest anyone have mistakenly imagined that my last posting about hope (which certainly exists now !) signaled a whole new ballgame, with problems instantaneously diminished on all fronts, I state unequivocally that I was not saying that this is the case. Whether Obama takes to heart the message of the voters remains to be seen, although prospects are dim. What we must remember, as well, is that all the old players are still in place: the new members of Congress don’t take their seats — and some who are already members, their new elevated positions — until January. Obama might see this period of time as a “window of opportunity” for advancing his agenda.
I refer to this in particular because of a new announcement from the Palestinian Arabs. PA president Mahmoud Abbas went to the Arab League a month ago to seek backing for his position on not returning to the table unless Netanyahu institutes a freeze. The League said they would give Obama a month to bring Israel in line before deciding what position to take. Time is now just about up.
However, unsurprisingly, the US is now being given two more weeks. PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat is in Washington and delivered this news to US envoy George Mitchell. According to the article in today’s JPost, “Erekat told reporters that American officials said they were working around the clock to find a resolution, but that it would probably take two or three more weeks to do so.”
Really, now? I’ve heard rumors — sometimes greatly varied in nature — predicting something happening after the election. And I’ve pondered why it would be after the election, when Obama so much needed this “diplomatic success” before the election. And I see two most likely answers.
One is that Netanyahu is considering caving on the freeze now, but deliberately stalled so as to not give Obama that victory. Unlikely, but indeed possible. In which case I say, good that there was not that pre-election victory for Obama — good that we saw a very solid Republican House victory. But chaval, chaval — how unfortunate that it might happen at all.
Two, and more probable, is that, now that the election is passed, Obama is prepared to lean on us harder. In this case all the strength we can muster will be required of us. No caving.
Very ominous is the report that outgoing head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen Amos Yadlin gave to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this week:
“The next conflict, even if it is limited in scale…will be much bigger, much broader, and with many more casualties than we saw in Operation Cast Lead or the Second Lebanon War.
“Such a conflict…will be played out on two or more fronts; moreover, Israel’s enemies believe that the only way to overcome Israel’s deterrence is through long range missile fire and improving air defense capabilities.
“…the cutting-edge anti-aircraft system that Syria has purchased from Russia could send the IDF and IAF’s capabilities back to their status in the 1970s Suez years…
“With the S-300, we are talking about relatively cheap missile but no less deadly…In addition…the Russians are upgrading older Syrian weapons systems to make them far more advanced.
“…the Syrians are conducting intense efforts to acquire extremely advanced weapons — so advanced that everything just off of the production line in Russia ends up in Syria.
“…Israel [has] detected the Iranians laying the groundwork for two new nuclear sites…”
I am, as should be obvious, not a military strategist. Nor do I have inside information with regard to military strategy. My own intuitive impulse, however, on reading this Yadlin report, is that at some point pre-emptive action is required. Do we sit here like sitting ducks, while the enemy (enemies? they’re all supported by Iran, finally) amass weapons and decide on the time for hitting us?
I am reminded of the citation from Barry Rubin, with regard to Obama’s policy, that I provided yesterday:
“…by appeasing, flattering, and engaging, Obama has avoided any open crisis or confrontation. This makes it possible to tell the American public that things are going well, they are not hated, and there is no new impending war.
“Of course, the problem with this approach is that a crisis postponed is a crisis intensified.”
L’havdil, G-d forbid that our government should function as Obama’s does. And yet, and yet… It’s easy to keep things quiet in the meantime, and lend the impression that all is relatively OK. Making a decision for a strike, or for war, that will bring Israeli deaths, is a difficult thing to do. But are we postponing a crisis that will only intensify?
Part of the problem, of course, is that we’re on our own, as the Obama policy has diminished US deterrence in this part of the world.
In doing research last year on what was called Dayton’s troops (the PA “security forces” being trained by the US, ostensibly to take on Hamas), I came to the very uneasy conclusion that in time these forces might yet turn on us. There was a precedent for this, and I saw two circumstances that could lead to it happening again:
First, if expectations were raised that there would be a Palestinian Arab state, and those expectations were then dashed. It would be presented by the PA as Israel’s fault, and the forces could well vent their frustration on us.
And then, if there were reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. How could it be, I asked in my report based on that research, that the US was strengthening forces to fight Hamas when it was not yet clear whether Hamas would ultimately have some influence upon or command of those forces.
Now we are, of course, seeing that not one, but both of these situations might yet evolve. A number of related news stories merit attention. I share two here.
 The Palestinian Arab news agency Maan reported yesterday that:
“Members of armed Palestinian groups will be protected under security arrangements that are a part of a planned unity agreement, a senior Fatah official in Gaza said Thursday.
“We are protecting resistance which is committed to the political decision.”
 The PA, alarmed by an increasing lack of discipline among the US-trained security forces (reportedly the result of an influx of younger men), is considering “Islamic indoctrination.” So far, PA officers have drafted a guidebook based on a publication used by the security forces in Saudi Arabia. (Saudi Arabia??) In addition, Muslim clerics may be brought in.
This, in particular, rings bells. Loud bells.
What was it Obama says about a democratic PA state?
In today’s JPost, Khaled Abu Toameh reports that Abbas, prior to reconciliation talks due to resume in Damascus, says that the PA will not share security with Hamas. There is no elaboration in this article of the Hamas response to this, but my guess is that shared responsibility for forces would be a Hamas demand.
Danny Seaman, who has served for years as Director of the Government Press Office, is a hero of mine because of his unabashed Zionist zeal and his actions on behalf of Israel. Now Seaman is leaving his position, although not of his own volition.
Please see the interview of Seaman by editor David Horovitz, in today’s JPost. His accusations are exceedingly serious and should be taken to heart.
Danny, I personally salute you and wish you well.
Shabbat is so very early at this time of year, and so all other news will have to wait for another day. I end with this moving and upbeat video that brought me to tears. What one brave and caring human being can do!
(With thanks to Ruth N.)