Just prior to US President Donald Trump’s arrival in Jerusalem May 22, the virtual emergency sirens that had screamed in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office had toned down somewhat. The chances that Trump would present his diplomatic initiative here had lessened.
The danger still exists, but on a slightly lower scale; it is no longer a “clear and present danger” (an Israeli idiom often used in the context of an imminent terror attack). Trump has more important things on his agenda, headed first and foremost by his personal political survival. Nevertheless, Netanyahu was clearly nervous in the 24-hour period prior to the American president’s arrival. The prime minister got into arguments and altercations with some of his ministers, he blew up a session of the coalition heads and he conducted a very tense Cabinet meeting on the evening of May 21. Air Force One was due to arrive the next day, and Netanyahu still had no clue who — or what — would emerge from the plane to greet him.
There is much commotion behind the scenes (not just in the political system). There are those in Israel’s security system who are also breaking their heads over the possibility of the renewal of the diplomatic process. According to a senior Israeli security source, the new concept that is being bandied around in the halls and in high-security meetings is “a regional security alliance.” This concept should be the icing on the top of the much-spoken-about “regional process.” Such an alliance should serve as a collective insurance policy of the various players, the big prize desired by all the countries that belong — directly or indirectly — to the pragmatic “Sunni bloc.” The leaders of this group are the ones who listened very carefully to the president’s speech in Riyadh on May 21.
But in order for that to happen, Israel must advance on the Palestinian circuit. In other words, renewing negotiations toward the two-state solution and showing that Israel is serious about it. The Saudis, together with additional Sunni states (mainly in the Gulf), have already agreed to adopt symbolic gestures discussed in the past, such as opening up its airspace to Israeli planes. But the “real thing” is supposed to transpire only after real progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. And the “real thing” is a regional alliance involving Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, perhaps Kuwait — and Israel, of course.
This regional alliance would not constitute a traditional defense alliance — one that the United States will be a member of — yet it is clear that this regional alliance would be under American patronage and with full military and diplomatic American support. It would be an independent enterprise of those Middle East countries that fear the expiration date of the nuclear agreement the six world powers signed with Iran. When this agreement comes to its end, Iran will face a fortified barricade that will include Saudi-Gulf money, Egyptian military power and Israeli technological superiority. This is the dream of quite a number of secret regional heroes who are scurrying around the Mideast these days. The chances for realizing these plans now depend quite a bit on Trump’s determination and resolve. And the Trump who arrived in Israel on Monday was quite exhausted after two hectic days in Saudi Arabia.
The first to identify this possibility of a regional alliance was Ephraim Sneh, a brigadier general (res.) and former minister in various Israeli governments. Sneh, a recognized security figure in the Middle East, is known for his good relations with Israel’s Arab neighbors. After Trump’s victory in the elections, in the days when everyone buried the two-state solution and celebrated the end of the peace process, Sneh listened to an interview that Trump gave The Wall Street Journal in November 2016 in which the president-elect sang an entirely different tune. Trump talked about the “ultimate deal” that he wanted to achieve between Israel and the Palestinians. Sneh seized the opportunity and, several days later, published an article in The Huffington Post with a proposal for the same “deal” based on a compromise of the various proposals discussed by the Palestinians and Israelis over the years. He then added a pitch for a regional alliance into the deal.
Over time, the regional alliance concept made waves and circulated among the respective capitals. When attempts were made to establish a unity government in Israel with Zionist Camp leader Isaac Herzog, the regional alliance idea continued to flower. Personages such as Middle East envoy Tony Blair and other mediators also pushed forward the idea of establishing a unity government on such an initiative.
As of today, this regional alliance partly exists between Israel and the Sunni countries, in the combined efforts to halt the continued expansion of the Shiite axis under Iranian and Hezbollah leadership. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates are horrified about what will transpire on the “day after” the termination of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers. Intelligence information (from Israel and from Western intelligence organizations) shows that Iran is continuing full speed ahead on its ballistic missile program. The Saudis are concerned that Iran will be able to launch long-range nuclear missiles only a short time after the expiration of the nuclear agreement. At that point, they would need Israeli technology and experience in order to provide themselves with a respectable defense umbrella. Many in the region feel that Iran’s expansionist goals can only be counteracted by a unity of forces between Israel and members of the Sunni bloc.
This is the theory, but a great distance separates theory and implementation of the theory. The current Netanyahu government is simply not capable of making significant concessions. The maximum it can give is very far from the minimum that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could accept.
Until recently, the Saudis believed (and perhaps the Egyptians, too) that Trump could square the circle because he would scare the sides into flexibility. The problem is that today’s Trump is not like the old Trump. Even the compliment given to him in Riyadh (“a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible”) by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is more of a heart’s desire than a rational possibility.
Those in Netanyahu’s environs want to eat their cake and have it, too: They want to fudge the political process on the one hand, but strengthen the unofficial alliance with the Sunni bloc on the other. With regard to Trump, the euphoria has long since dissipated. The most interesting and promising option from Netanyahu’s point of view at this point in time is the possible impeachment of Trump and appointment of Vice President Mike Pence to the presidential role. Pence, as opposed to Trump, is a “real” Republican: a conservative and real friend of Israel, with an unwavering, well-formed worldview — which is exactly what Netanyahu wanted but did not receive.
An antisemitic flyer found on the University of Houston campus on Tuesday. Photo: Michael Leone / Facebook
Dozens of flyers and stickers promoting neo-Nazi propaganda were found at the University of Houston (UH) this week, the latest incident associated with an increase in white supremacist activity on campuses nationwide.
The flyers, found on bulletin boards, walls, trash bins, and lamp posts at the university’s main campus on Tuesday, included phrases such as, “Beware the International Jew” and “Imagine a Muslim-Free America,” according to a statement shared online by UH’s chapter of the Young Communist League (YCL).
IDF soldiers make a blessing on the traditional Jewish custom of apple and honey to welcome Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. (ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) said they will provide $1.5 million in annual Rosh Hashanah “Fellowship Gift Cards” to 12,000 IDF soldiers marking the upcoming Jewish New Year.
The initiative, coordinated in collaboration with the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers and the LIBI Fund, will provide more than 10,000 lone soldiers and soldiers $140 gift cards. Another 2,200 soldiers will receive gift cards worth $100.
The cards “will allow the soldiers to celebrate the New Year without the burden of financial stress,” the organizations said in a statement Wednesday.
Gaza-based terror group says it will agree to Palestinian Authority conditions on forming joint government and holding elections
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, center, and spokesman Fawzi Barhoum attend a protest in Gaza City on July 22, 2017, against new Israeli security measures implemented at the holy site, which include metal detectors and cameras, following an attack that killed two Israeli policemen the previous week. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
For the past week or so, Iranian official media and social networks have been abuzz with anecdotes woven around a football match in Tehran between Iran and Syria and the light it might shed on a complicated relationship.
According to most accounts, a group of Syrians flown in by special charter to cheer their national squad in its bid for a place in the World Cup in Moscow staged an anti-Iran demonstration in the stadium. The Syrian contingent included young ladies who refused to wear the Iranian-style hijab.
Their presence in the stadium highlighted the fact that no Iranian woman is allowed to attend a football match after a fatwa by the “Supreme Guide” that women watching young men running around with bare legs might cause “undue excitement”
An Orthodox man passes a British guard in London, UK. (drserg / Shutterstock.com)
A new in-depth survey conducted by the U.K.-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) found that around 30 percent of the British public hold at least one anti-Semitic viewpoint.
The report noted, however, that most of the 30 percent polled also held some positive views about Jews.
Further, around 15 percent of the British public indicated they agreed with two or more anti-Semitic views presented to them, while two percent of British adults polled were found to be “hard-core” anti-Semites.
The survey was conducted by JPR senior research fellow Dr. Daniel Staetsky using face-to-face interviews and online polls.
That’s followed by the sounds of the terrorists assaulting a passenger.
“Please don’t hurt me,” he pleads. “Oh God.”
As the passengers rush the cabin, a Muslim terrorist proclaims, “In the name of Allah.”
As New York firefighters struggle up the South Tower with 100 pounds of equipment on their backs trying to save lives until the very last moment, the Flight 93 passengers push toward the cockpit. The Islamic hijackers call out, “Allahu Akbar.”.
The autumn of 2015 was unusual in almost every way on the north Aegean Greek island of Lesbos from which I am writing. There were tens of thousands of illegal migrants on the island, the native population of which was scarcely 100,000. New refugees arrived every day by the thousands.
One evening, the blue-gray sky grumbled shortly after sunset. The thick clouds blackened and rain poured down over the city with a roar. As I ran across the slippery pavement into a friend’s bar, I heard a group of five poor souls speaking Persian with a Turkic accent and running amok, seeking shelter under the eaves of a building.
While the criminal investigation is closing in on one associate after another, one advisor after another, in one of the most serious affairs in the State of Israel’s history, and perhaps the most serious affair, I find it hard to believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was driven by greed when he advanced the submarine deal.
There are doubts. There are associates being questioned one after the other. There are state’s witnesses. Nevertheless, Netanyahu likely wasn’t a partner in crime. He didn’t make decisions on the submarines in a bid to make a profit for himself or for his associates. It’s impossible, just impossible.
Regarding the question that forms the title of this article, I truly believe that the answer is “yes.” It is my belief that Christian Zionism is as obvious a sign of the beginning of the redemption of Israel as are the ingathering of millions of Jews to the land of Israel and the existence of the State of Israel itself. But there are many people who don’t share this perspective.
In the Jewish community, there are still many who are wary of Christian friendship and support. Many Jews are suspicious of an ulterior motive to convert Jews to Christianity that they fear underlies this political partnership.
Last weekend, the world experienced a petrifying “wake up call” when Pyongyang test launched a hydrogen bomb. According to Yukiya Amano, director of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), Sunday’s test represents “a new dimension to the threat.” Added Amano, “I think the North Korean threat is a global one now.
In the past, people thought it was a regional one, but that is no longer the case.”
Since 1994, when North Korea decided to pull out of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), there has been a huge history of attempts to chain the North Korean nuclear beast, including efforts for military cooperation, sanctions and, of course, negotiations.