If the Oslo Accords Are Dead, Then So Might Be Mahmoud Abbas

October 20, 2015

by Avi Davis


When, two weeks ago, Mahmoud Abbas stood before the United Nations and declared the Oslo Accords dead, he was only confirming what had been obvious to Israelis ( if not the world)  for more than 15 years.  The Accords, signed with such pomp, ceremony and optimism 22 years ago at the White House  had long since been ignored by the Palestinian Authority for their primary purpose – building  the framework for a permanent peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians.  Rather, the  reversion to terror, the stock-in- trade of Fatah and its kleptocratic mafiosa who returned from Tunis with Yasser Arafat in 1993 – has been the only consistent policy of the Palestinian leadership over the intervening 22 years.

Mahmoud Abbas World Leaders Address the UN General Assmebly


So now arrives the 15th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second Intifada and almost on cue, a new round of violence has erupted in Israel  – this time without question instigated by the Palestinian leadership.  Anyone caring to read the highly reputable Palestinian Media Watch or the redoubtable MEMRI, both of which offer reports and translations of the statements of Palestinian leaders and the Palestinian media,  will find hard evidence of the incitement to murder and the lies of leaders such as Abbas and Erekat who have trafficked for years in the absolute falsehood that the Jews are seeking to change the status quo on the Temple Mount.

It is nothing new. Over the past 95 years, whenever the Palestinian leadership has sought to build political capital either domestically or abroad they have regularly resorted to the allegations of the Al Asqa Mosque’s defilement  as their casas belli. 

It happened in April, 1920 during the Nebi Musa riots in the Old City of Jerusalem; in August, 1929 prior to the Tarpat massacres in Hebron; it was a precursor to the Arab revolt of  1936 and to the War of Independence of 1948; and most recently in 2000 the allegation was used when Ariel Sharon decided to visit the Temple Mount. Each time, the war cry, carried vociferously over the airwaves and into every Palestinian home, was the threat of a Jewish takeover of the Dome of the Rock.  It galvanized thousands of young men to murder their friends and neighbors.

The accommodations that the Israelis have afforded the Arab leadership on the captured Temple Mount, the holiest location in Judaism  -yet a far less holy shrine to Islam – has been remarkably forthcoming, but in the end self-defeating.  The Arabs have repaid this generosity with murder, mayhem and an attempt to destroy any archeological evidence that verifies a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount.

Now Abbas ignites another Intifada, not out of hopelessness as so many in the Western media are pontificating, but out of calculation.  Having consistently dodged any attempt to resolve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict peacefully through open negotiation; having failed to unilaterally obtain U.N. sanction for a Palestinian state based on the 1949 cease fire lines, Abbas is following the model of previous Palestinian leaders –  the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al Husseini  and Yasser Arafat in leading a glorious revolt against the Palestinians’ so-called  Jewish oppressors.

But there should be deep caution in such an approach.  Both  al Husseini and Arafat set back the Palestinian cause years, if not generations, when they urged their followers to resort to violence.  Haj Amin al Husseini was eventually deported  by the British  and ended his life in exile in Egypt and Lebanon, where, for the remaining 35 years of his life, he exerted very little influence over the course of events in his homeland.

Arafat ended his life a virtual prisoner in his Ramallah compound, unable to do much but make ineffectual public statements that not even his own people paid much attention to. He died with his plans for winning his Palestinian state through war in ruins, thousands of his own people dead and with diminishing world sympathy.

Mahmoud Abbas now faces the prospect of  a similar fate. The Israeli leadership will not long tolerate a Palestinian leader who publicly incites his people to murder Jews and bestows his blessing on the perpetrators.  The irony is, of course, that Abbas has known for years that it is the Israeli military who keeps him safe and in nominal control of the West Bank. Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2006, has long plotted his usurpation.  In a Hobson’s Choice he has relied on the Israelis to prop him up, since his Palestinian ‘moderation’ is presented as a far more propitious alternative than that of a  genocidal monster licking its chops on the outskirts of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

But this may soon end. Seen as permanently abandoning diplomacy, the Israeli government may abandon him as well, and re- establish administrative control over the areas of the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority now reigns.  This is an uncomfortable and highly problematic choice for the Israelis, fraught with diplomatic peril, but in the end there may be no other means to ensure the safety and security of Israeli civilians.

Abbas’ fate in such a scenario is anyone’s guess.  But ending up in exile like al Husseini or in virtual prison like Arafat, might not be too bad an option when considering the alternative planned for him at the hands of Hamas.



Ann Coulter’s Helpful Gaffe

September 21, 2015

by Avi Davis

I have never been a big Ann Coulter fan. It has always appeared to me that her penchant for stirring political acrimony by name calling and ridicule was merely an attempt to mirror the same liberal tactic which so often offends conservatives. Maybe many among us welcomed the unbridled fury she unleashed against our liberal dominated institutions; but for me, her brand of populist rhetoric sank us into the same mire as our adversaries – reducing the debate to a mere game of mud slinging rather than a true struggle over ideas

So now we come to the high water mark of Coulterism: in a tweet during the second GOP Debate, she used an expletive to describe the candidates’ obsession with Israel, qua Jews. Immediately following and in the four days thereafter, her tweet unleashed a barrage of criticism from both the left and right, whose memberships now recognize that within our ranks lurk Buchananites whose support for Israel can never be taken for granted and to whom we must be wary lest we witness a recrudescence of the kind of isolationism which always brings with it the stench of antisemitism.

Coulter has spent a great deal of time trying to back pedal on her tweet but it hasn’t made much difference. The underlying animus remains and there is little chance for her now to disguise it.

But lets forget Coulter for the time being and answer her question:

Why is it that Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and most of the other candidates ( Rand Paul perhaps excluded) made and  make such a big fuss about Israel, mentioning the defense of Israel almost in the same breath as the defense of the United States?

Perhaps it could be characterized as mere pandering to the heavy Jewish vote in their constituencies -those whom they believe might be disenchanted with the anti- Israel tilt of the Obama Administration and are looking for a realignment.   Or perhaps it has something to do with some of their rich Jewish backers – such as Sheldon Adelson – who can help prop up sagging campaigns.

Actually, neither of these explanations are either true nor accurate. Every one of these candidates has been on record for years expressing unconditional support for the State of Israel and its security needs – and it is for one glaringly simple reason: they believe Israel’s security vouchsafes the United States’ security. Making that connection may not be so patently obvious given the geographical distance between the two countries. But it is abundantly clear to anyone who has heard jihadist rantings in mosques from Oslo to Riyadh – the two countries are regarded as the hydra headed monster whose joint destruction is essential to paving the way for the re-emergence of the Caliphate.

Big Satan and Little Satan – there is really no difference in the minds of America’s enemies – except perhaps in determining which one should be eliminated first. Given this fact, it is perfectly sensible and reasonable to make common cause with an ally who is really on the front lines of the defense of what are essentially American values and whose military and intelligence services stand resolutely in support of U.S national security needs.

So, please, give Ann Coulter her due. She raised an important question that now has been resoundingly answered. And perhaps never again in this campaign will the issue of why we give support to Israel or why we give such untoward attention to Jewish interests, will be asked again. Those interests are clearly American interests and what a great relief to find that that these formidable Republican candidates almost to a man (and now a woman) understand it.

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of The Intermediate Zone



Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide by Michael B. Oren: A Review

September 1, 2015


by Avi Davis

It is interesting to conjecture what the history of America-Israel relations, written 100 years from now, will read like.  Will it paint the eight years of the Obama Administration as the very nadir in relations between the two nations, yet only a hiccup in a long and flourishing relationship that endured despite the pitfalls which almost upended it?   Or will it instead be seen as the commencement of a long and rapid decline to the point where successive U.S. administrations began  lining up against the Jewish state?

Whatever the judgement, it is inevitable that future historians will pay close attention to the words of Michael B. Oren, and his book Ally, a memoir documenting his four long years as Israel’s ambassador to the United States during the first years of the Obama Administration.

Oren, a renowned historian and author of two authoritative works on the Middle East ( Six Days of  War and Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East) possessed excellent credentials to assume his ambassadorial post in 2009.  A New Jersey born Jew, who had lived in Israel for 30 years, he had already acted as a kind of  ambassador-in-waiting, with numerous book tours and a role as a highly respected television commentator and editorialist for distinguished American newspapers and magazines.  A fervent Zionist, whose ideological commitment to the state had not wavered an inch from his teenage years, he also possessed  the added strengths of being affable, politically limber and remarkably self effacing, to the point where his superiors recommended him as a man without an ego.

Of course Oren does have an ego, and he is as susceptible to flattery and praise – honors he received in copious amounts, as any man.  Yet his book, which caused  a firestorm upon its publication in June this year, is a modest and careful appraisal of not only his own journey along the America – Israel divide in the first years of the Obama Administration, but of the rocky relations which characterized the relations between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, two men as different as chalk and water.

As a careful monitor of  the temperature of Washington political  life, Oren from the beginning projected that Obama would be a very different kind of American leader – expressing no particular love nor admiration for the Jewish state and instead determined to impose ‘daylight’ between the two long term allies in order to conciliate Muslim opinion.  He notes how Obama’s  Cairo speech in June 2009, in which he defended Israel’s right to exist on the basis of  the Jewish people’s persecution during the Holocaust and not on its 3,000 historical ties to its ancient homeland, gave an insight into  the President’s thinking.  The speech of course played directly into the prevailing Arab narrative which contends that the Jews are only recent interlopers with no historical ties to the land.

It was a statement that Obama was later forced to walk back;  yet, in a series of crises in Oren’s first year as ambassador, the new appointee quickly realized that the president’s attitude to Israel was, as he first suspected, far more born of ideology than of practical statecraft.

This became first evident in early 2010 when Obama sought to reignite the moribund peace process by insisting that Netanyahu order a 10 month long moratorium on all construction in the West Bank.  Such a decision would be politically risky for the right wing prime minister for whom the political support of West Bank residents and leaders was crucial.  Nevertheless, members of the Obama Administration convinced the Israelis that a good will measure such as this would jump start peace talks, build trust between Netanyahu and Obama and bring the Palestinian leadership back to the table.

But quite the opposite happened.  Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas weaved and dodged for the entire length of those ten months, refusing to meet Netanyahu unless conditions, which would be clearly unacceptable to the Israeli leader ( such as pre-commitments over borders and the status of Jerusalem as well as the right of return 0f Palestinian refugees) were met. When the ten month moratorium expired, Abbas turned his back on the prospect of talks altogether and would not consider returning to the table without for a renewal of the moratorium.

And so developed a consistent pattern: Obama would demand Israeli concessions and when given, Abbas would merely pocket them and walk away, with no consequences whatsoever for his recalcitrance.  Abbas would go much further over the course of those four years, applying for member status at the United Nations as well as applying for status as a member of the International Criminal Court, giving the Palestinians standing to sue Israel for war crimes, none of which he coordinated with the White House.  And even more egregiously, the Palestinians made a gambit, in September, 2013  to have a State of Palestine  recognized by the Security Council of the United Nations – a direct repudiation of the Palestinians’ commitments under the 1993 Oslo Accords.

None of this seemed to faze Obama nor his advisers who ordered a pro forma veto of the measures at the United Nations, but elicited no significant public reprimand or  rebuke of the Palestinian leader. Which naturally caused Oren to ask himself how the President could allow himself to be consistently kicked in the teeth by Abbas and yet remain so publicly oblivious and forgiving of the Palestinian leader’s transparent contempt.

There was no greater evidence of the tectonic shift in the relations between Israel and the United States  than in  the intense private and public battle over the ongoing Iranian  negotiations. Although  Ally was published a month before the final agreement signed between the P5+1 ( the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany)  and the Iranian Republic in Vienna, Oren nevertheless details the painful confrontations between Obama and Netanyahu over Israel’s national security issues  and makes clear that Obama deliberately interfered in Israel plans to launch a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities and consistently argued that negotiations were the surest path to Iranian nuclear deterrence.  In the end, he concludes, Obama seemed  far more concerned with the consequences of an Israeli strike than he was with the likelihood of Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and that this has been the guiding spirit of his Iran strategy.

All of which begs the question regarding these confusing years – how did Obama’s statecraft, which placed such inordinate pressure upon its ally, the only democracy and stable polity in the Middle East,while more or less ignoring Palestinian malfeasance, advance America’s national interests? As the Arab Spring imploded and regimes increasingly hostile to the United States replaced long term allies in Egypt, Yemen and Iraq, Obama  and his Secretary of State John Kerry, seemed to become monomaniacal in their quest for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict   which proved only a mere side show to the real drama playing out in those countries.  The stark reality that the entire Middle East was fast falling prey to a barbaric brand of  Islamic fundamentalism seemed beyond them.

The tensions in the relationship should not, however, overshadow the more uplifting moments over the past seven years, such as when Obama reacted with immediate aid and concern after Israel suffered a catastrophic forest fire in 2011 and  when visiting  the Jewish state in 2013, delivered speeches which could have been lifted directly from the writings of  the fervent right wing Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

And this is not to mention the unparalleled cooperation which continues between Israeli and U.S. military and intelligence services –  reportedly more firmly set than at any time in recent history.

But the roller coaster ride which the author presents provides an alarming view of a White House which had arrogated to itself the right to assess its ally’s best interests, regardless of any input from the ally itself.  It represented a very dangerous, some might say catastrophic, descent into bickering, distrust and suspicion when one would have expected that the rise of  ISIS, the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and the prospect of a nuclear Iran, necessitated  the forging of even closer bonds.

Oren’s final chapter is titled ” Goodbye Ally” which  foreshadows a suggestion that a gulf between the two nations  has become so unbridgeable that further cooperation- at least on a diplomatic level -has become increasing problematic. However this is hardly his conclusion. The “goodbye” in the chapter heading refers to his own departure from his post rather than a permanent rupture between the two allies and the author goes to considerable lengths to point out the across-the-board support for Israel demonstrated in Congress as well as the generally favorable attitude towards the state among American citizens.

Yet for all this bubbly optimism, the reader is left with the discomfiting notion that the once impregnable alliance has suffered severe, although not fatal damage during the Obama years, with an administration which was given over to  the idee fixee ( not the first administration to believe it) of the Israel-Palestinian conflict as incontestably the root cause of instability in the Middle East. It paints the portrait  of a president whose confidence in his own intellect and powers of analysis  successfully rebuffed not only the opinion and advice of America’s friends and allies but the very facts on the ground.

Whatever the final judgement on Obama, the book provides a cautious warning to all statesmen – American, Israeli or other –  that they should deal with the world as they find it and not as they wish it to be. As Congress begins the debate on the Iran  deal in the second week of September that warning may carry a heady resonance.

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of  The Intermediate Zone.

Netanyahu Delivers a Warning

March 3, 2015


Netanyahu Flies into a Storm of Obama’s Making

March 2, 2015

By Avi Davis

As the time for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress rapidly approaches, the skies around him are beginning to darken in an ominous way.

Yesterday a report from a Kuwaiti paper alleged that some time in 2014 Netanyahu, in consultation with his general staff, had authorized a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities for fear that the United States and Iran had concluded a secret agreement which would have compromised Israeli national security.  Yet when informed of the prospective assault, Barack Obama warned that the U.S. military would shoot the Israeli planes out of the sky if they so much as dared to cross into Jordanian airspace.

While the story is almost certainly false (the U.S. army or navy has had a very limited capacity to interdict any squadron over Jordanian airspace – or even more likely Saudi Arabian airspace  – since the complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011) , the fact that so many people registered their alarm that U.S. and Israeli pilots might be involved in a real military engagement against one another, only illustrates its believability.  Relations have apparently sunk so low that the United States government now appears to view the State of Israel itself as the most significant obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

Such a view of course makes a convenient detour around both Islamic State and al Qaeda, both of whom possess a far more serious claim to that title.  Netanyahu might then be forgiven for a little exasperation with the U.S. President and his administration  – who do not seem to be responding to Israeli intelligence nor its analysis of the situation on the ground.

But the Israeli prime minister knows that he is dealing with an amateur in foreign relations, a leader who has demonstrated time and again a failed grasp of statecraft and whose stubbornness, even in the face of the most exigent facts, blinds him to the consequences of his actions and the catastrophic impact that they might have on the region.

Throwing caution to the wind is not a luxury afforded a tiny state like Israel, surrounded by hostile forces seeking its destruction.  But Netanyahu is not coming to Washington to represent just his own nation.   When he stands before the two house of Congress on Tuesday, he will, sotto voce, also be representing the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia , Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, all of whom have witnessed the United States’ abandonment of leadership in the region and its apparent willingness to appease a determined Iran, glowing with the satisfaction of having gulled and outsmarted the Americans.

For Netanyahu the gambit to address Congress, at the risk of raising the ire of the Obama administration, is a supremely dangerous one; Obama still has now a little less than two years left in office and during that time there are many measures he can take to either punish Israel or else continue to endanger Israeli security – a perilous position in which to be in, considering that Iran’s military advisers now sit virtually on Israel’s very doorstep on the slopes of the Golan Heights.

Democratic supporters of Israel in Congress, alarmed by the widening rift, have urged the Israeli prime minister to cancel the appearance.   After all, does he not know that Obama has repeatedly stated over the years that he would not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons ( recycling those very words at a press conference with David Cameron not three weeks ago)? And hasn’t Obama just as often stated the United States’ commitment to the defense of Israel  – implying that it would back that commitment with military assistance – if not force – if necessary?

Why is he doing it then?

The first reason is that the negotiations, conducted in camera in Geneva, have not involved the Israelis at all.   The country most threatened by Iranian aggression – in fact the one singled out repeatedly by the theocratic regime for annihilation, has also been the one not even consulted about the outcome of the talks.  The Israelis are well aware that this is no oversight.  And it must surely invoke the memory of the Czechs who were not invited to join the British, French and Italian leaders at their negotiations with Hitler at his Berchtesgarden retreat in September, 1938.  The Czechs were handed a fait accompli and thereafter completely abandoned by the Allies – forced to surrender a sizeable chunk of their territory while dismantling their formidable defenses.

And while drifting down memory lane, the Israeli leaders are no doubt recalling the events of November, 1956 and May, 1967.

On November 5, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower, enraged by the surprise joint, coordinated attack by British, French and Israeli troops on the Suez Canal – just recently nationalized by the Egyptian dictator Gamal Nasser, issued an ultimatum to the victorious armies – immediate withdrawal or face a Security Council denunciation at the United Nations.  The swift and sweeping conquest of the vast Sinai peninsula by the Israel Defense Forces relieved the country of a direct threat in the south from cross border fedayeen raids and Egyptian military insurgents and the Israelis were not about to give it up without something in return.  Eisenhower decided to give them a guarantee – that in the event of a future attack by Egypt in the south, an international  force would be stationed from now on in to help defend  the southern border.

Fast forward eleven years and Nasser was seen again threatening Israeli national security, this time mobilizing troops in the Sinai Peninsula and sabre rattling, in blood curdling national speeches, for the annihilation of the Jewish state.  Israel, pressed on three borders by hostile armies made urgent entreaties to President Lyndon Johnson, pointing to the guarantees offered by the Eisenhower administration.  Johnson hesitated, claiming his staff could not find the document but promising to organize an international flotilla to break the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba imposed by Nasser’s navy.  Weeks went by and no such flotilla appeared. Frustrated and alarmed, the government of Levi Eshkol realized it was truly alone – the U.S. guarantees were not worth the paper they were written on.  With nothing else to lose he authorized a pre-emptive strike on the Egyptian air force, a mission which was ultimately so staggeringly successful that it essentially determined the outcome of the war –  concluded in Israel’s favor within six days.

This history lesson can surely not be lost on the current Israeli leadership.  They see the writing on the wall – a President who takes their security concerns with a passive non-chalance; who believes that Iran, for all its 30 years of fostering terrorism and instability in the Middle East, can be transformed overnight into a partner for peace; a leader who cannot grasp that the ideological engine which fuels the nuclear ambitions of the Mullahs in Tehran is the same motor spinning in the minds of al Qaeda and ISIS.

Benjamin Netanyahu, a far more savvy and focused strategist than the American president, knows all of this and knows the limited time the Israelis now have to make to make their arguments- if not to the U.S. president who has ceased to listen, then at least to the American people through their representatives in Congress.

In doing so, Netanyahu will be making the case that the quashing of Iran’s nuclear ambitions is not just an Israeli interest, nor just an American interest – but an interest of the world community which must combine to recognize the most significant threat to world peace since the end of the Cold War and deal with in an unequivocal and final manner.

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance in Los Angeles and the editor of The Intermediate Zone.

The E.U.Contribution to Perpetual War Between Israelis and Palestinians

February 13, 2015

By Avi Davis

For many years the European Union’s involvement in the Israel- Palestinian peace process has been one of benign benevolence on the outside but a malevolent interventionism in reality.

Rather than contributing to peace, the European Union has often done quite the opposite – backing the Palestinians on their wayward policies which directly and unambiguously contravene their international commitments, funding  NGOs who foment anti-Israel sentiment and encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiation with Israel as a means of achieving statehood while pushing towards open conflict.

Now the pro-active stance of Europe has spiraled into an open conflict with the Jewish state.

The decision of the Swedish Parliament to unconditionally recognize a State of Palestine, with its borders marked by the 1949 cease fire lines was the first salvo. The parliaments of the U.K., France, Ireland and the Netherlands have followed suit with provisional recognition which the respective parliaments of these countries could convert into de jure recognition at the apprpriate time.

The European support of the Palestinian candidacy to the International Criminal Court was another attempt to circumvent the process.  The Palestinian Authority is legally proscribed from joining any international body until negotiations over the disposition of the territories is settled. Of course the Palestinians wish to use the court as leverage against the Jewish state – ludicrous when you consider how open to indictment it leaves the Palestinian leaders themselves.

Now comes reports of actual European Union settlements being erected in areas of the West Bank.  That is not Palestinian settlements just financed by the European Union but rather settlements stamped with the European Union brand.


Regavim, an Israeli non-governmental organization issued a report this week which detailed the construction of 400 homes in Area C of the West Bank, an area designated by the Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements where no  Palestinian construction could take place without prior Israeli approval.

According to the report, the structures are being built in the E1 area of the West Bank within the municipal boundary of the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, adjacent to and northeast of Jerusalem. They largely resemble prefabricated caravans.

But these are not your run -of- the-mill illegal settlements.  In order to stay the demolition of the houses, the report notes the village(s) fly the EU flag and the houses themselves sport the EU logo.

Asked about the report, an EU spokesperson, Maja Kocijancic, denied any wrongdoing, insisting that construction had not  yet taken place:

“The EU’s funding will provide training and expertise, to help the relevant Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministries to plan and build new infrastructure and enable people to reclaim and rebuild their land there,” she said. “To date, no construction has started yet under these programmes. The EU is not funding illegal projects.”

But Shadi Othman, a spokesman for the EU in the West Bank and Gaza, told the Daily Mail  THAT construction was indeed taking place.

We support the Palestinian presence in Area C. Palestinian presence should not be limited Areas A and B. Area C is part of the occupied Palestinian territory which eventually will be Palestinian land. Palestinians have a right to live there, build schools there, have economic development,” he said. 

Hmm.  One would think that the EU would be better at coordinating the messages of its spokespersons.

But no matter.   There is plain evidence, gathered from its combined actions over the past 20 years, which provides solid proof of  the EU being a entirely prejudiced miscreant in the region, favoring the very organization whose supporters are now fomenting riots in their own cities, burning cars and plotting the next terrorist atrocity a la Charlie Hebdo.

The Israeli government will react to the construction of the EU villages with a demolition order – and probably, although not certainly, with a demolition;  which in turn, of course will spur more  West Bank protests and then further calumnies which will pour down on Israel from the august offices of the European Union in Brussels.

In this way the Europeans continue to fecklessly contribute to the downward spiral of relations between Israelis and Palestinians until open, violent conflict becomes inevitable.

The ultimate truth, of course, is that violent conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in this regard is really only a proxy war.  The Europeans long ago declared war on the Jewish state – having  now found just the right agents provocateurs to hasten the onset of a deadly confrontation.


Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of  The Intermediate Zone


Barack vs Bibi: And the Winner is……..?

February 4, 2015

by Avi Davis

One could ask many questions about Barack Obama’s outrage regarding John Boehner’s invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress before first having consulted the White House.

They include:

Why has the U.S. administration allowed the President’s contempt for the Israeli Prime Minister to seep into public view?

What does the Administration hope to gain by so publicly insulting Netanyahu (as well, it might be added, Congress) by characterizing the supposed breach of protocol as such a heinous act of betrayal?

When, exactly, was the White House actually informed about the invitation since Boehner’s office has now revealed that it notified the White House of its intentions many weeks ago?

How, in creating a storm of controversy around this issue, particularly when exactly the same set of circumstances occurred in 2011 without a peep of protest from the President, are the United States’ national interests truly served?

The open contempt Barack Obama so regularly displays for the Israeli Prime Minister often skirts the boundaries of credulity.  After all, Israel is the one stable democracy in the Middle East; its situation, given the rise of ISIS and a revitalized al Qaeda has given the United  States an unquestioned advantage in addressing the threats to both America and to the West from those insurgencies; and its sophisticated intelligence network is an invaluable ear to the ground in a war torn, violent area of the world, necessary for protecting not just Israelis but other Westerners and Americans too.

Should the U.S President, no matter what his personal rancor or feelings towards another head of state, really allow them to color and subsume his statecraft?

Since both men entered their respective offices in 2009, they have famously failed to see eye to eye.  Obama and his Administration seems fixated on finding petty and trivial matters with which to flay the Israeli leader while at the same remaining equally committed to loading him with full responsibility for the failures of any potential peace deal with the Palestinians.

Yet the Administration’s veiled threat to the Israeli prime minister –  that there are ‘consequences’ for abrogating protocol, coupled with the reminder that the President still has 24 months to serve in office – is a signal of the fear that the Administration possesses of being upstaged by the charismatic and silver tongued Israeli leader.

Perhaps it has good reason to fear.  Netanyahu seems to have taken the measure of  Barack Obama, knows that the President’s term is steaming towards a conclusion and realizes that the next president of the United  States may well be sitting among the gathered senators and representatives on Capitol Hill on March 3rd. Why waste time appeasing the wishes of a churlish, unreliable American leader, who has demonstrated a disturbing nonchalance towards Israeli security issues and has even suggested solutions which would leave the Israelis nakedly exposed?  The pressing existential demands of Israeli’s national security with the rise of a nuclear Iran, does not give this Israeli leader the luxury of attempting to mollify an American leader with juvenile antipathies.

Better, it would seem, to deal with an American representative body that has historically been extraordinarily supportive of the Jewish state, has looked skeptically at Arab promises of peace and has vowed to support its democratic ally in almost every crisis it has encountered over the past 40 years.

Is Obama’s petulance and open disdain for the Israeli prime minister then just the manifestation of a fear of irrelevance?

Not entirely. For there is another issue at play here, one that has much less to to do with the personal relations between the two men and much more to do with ideological differences.

And that is Obama’s visceral, deep seated uncertainty about Israel’s moral legitimacy.

Schooled in the politics of the far left, which since at least the Six Day War has traditionally seen the State of Israel as an imperialist force which draws its historical momentum from colonial power, he became emotionally invested in the Palestinian narrative at a relatively young age.   He now sees the Middle East, much as his bedfellows on the far left still see it, as a fine Arab tapestry whose interwoven threads were twisted into ugly knots by the intrusion of Zionism.  The dispossession of the Palestinians, a people who of course did not exist before 1965, is an international crime which weeps in his mind for justice  – and he won’t be deterred nor beguiled by eloquent Jewish statesmen who wish to read to him from another another chronicle altogether which contradicts the one with which he is already so familiar.

This really gets to the root of the Obama Administration stance towards Israel – and no change of Israeli leadership is likely to alter it.   It would be the same attitude he would instinctively demonstrate towards any Israeli prime minister who makes clear that his first duty is the protection and security of Israeli citizens and insists on raising the roof about Iranian intentions.  In his weak policy towards the Iranian Mullahs and his concomitant lack of will in the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda, Obama has exposed his thinking that the Israelis need to pay for the grave misdeed of their country’s founding  which occasioned another peoples’ displacement and that their security concerns must take a back seat to his realist vision of a necessary accommodation of Iranian power.  If then their exposure is what is necessary to lead to a greater sense of regional security, it will be the price the Israelis will have to pay.

There is almost no doubt that Netanyahu understands this thinking and has ascertained that this most ideological of presidents cannot be moved.  He cannot afford to waste valuable diplomatic capital reeducating him on the realities of the Middle East and though he must know it will bring him into direct conflict with Obama’s own policies, he also knows he has no choice.

Barack Obama has created quite an art out of identifying the wrong enemies of the United States. Contrary to what you might read, our real foes are not oil barons, fracking exponents, Tea Party activists, the Koch Brothers nor Republican congressmen.  Our real enemies are the 7th Century barbarians wreaking havoc in the deserts of Syria and Iraq and the beturbaned Mullahs in Tehran baying for the blood of Jews and Americans.

The struggle between Obama and Netanyahu ultimately represents the contest between those who see the world as it is and those who see it as they want it to be.  Yet in the coming race to reach the moral high ground on this issue you will see that it is Benjamin Netanyahu who will ultimately triumph – supported by Congress and the majority of Americans.  It is this constituency which will come to view the animus of Obama towards Israel as strangely perverse when seen in the context of the decapitated heads and burning corpses left from ISIS’ rampages or in the roaring eliminationist rhetoric of an emboldened Iran.

They will recognize that the President of the United  States has allowed his personal animus and skewed biases to color his view of countries and their leaders whom the United States needs most to cultivate.  And history will not be kind to that legacy.

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of The Intermediate Zone

The U.S. Enters Uncharted Territory in Yemen

February 1, 2015
 By Avi Davis
On January 20th, just as Barack Obama was delivering his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, a key statement he had made about U.S. foreign policy was about to explode in his Administration’s face.

“I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.

First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.”

A central plank in that promise was the cooperation of the Republic of Yemen with which the United States was coordinating its confrontation with  al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group which claimed responsibility for the Paris massacre in the first week of January.

When the American-backed government of Yemen abruptly collapsed on that Tuesday, the  country was left leaderless as it became convulsed by an increasingly powerful force of pro-Iranian insurgents.
This collapse should not have been  unexpected.  The Houthi are a Ziadi Shia insurgent group operating in Yemen’s mountainous northern region. Originally a Shia oriented youth movement formed in the mid-1990s and attracting thousands of young, disaffected Yemenis, it soon developed a political wing which was distinctly anti- American and anti-Zionist.  It gained inspiration – and even financial support – from the Iranian republic.

In November 2011, Houthis were said to be in control of two Yemeni governorates and close to taking over a third, which would enable them to launch a direct assault on Saa’ana, the Yemeni capital.

By May 2012, it was reported that Houthis controlled a majority of  three more governorates, had gained access to the Red Sea and had started erecting barricades north of the capital Sana’a in preparation for new conflict.

In September 2014, the Houthis made their advance on the capital.   By the time Obama was stepping to the podium to deliver his  State of the Union address, the rebels had already taken the presidential palace in the capital Saa’ na and forced President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s resignation.

Yet the resignation of the president, prime minister and cabinet took American officials completely by surprise and heightened the risks that Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, would become even more fertile breeding ground for al Qaeda , which had claimed responsibility for hundreds of anti-Western attacks.

Now commentators are predicting that former President Saleh who had been ousted in a coup during the Arab Spring in 2011 is poised to make a comeback as an ally of  the Houthi.

But don’t hold your breath for that eventuality.  The more likely development is civil war, with the South, which is strongly Sunni, attempting to break away from the now Shia dominated north.

How could the Obama Administration have so cavalierly allowed this to happen?  Most Administration officials on the day after the attack seemed stunned by the developments, since they always seemed to believe that the Yemeni government was sufficiently in control to prevent America’s interests being compromised.

For Obama, Yemen has represented something like a real war – one he seemed willing, finally, to get behind.

In the course of his administration there have been over 130  drone attacks in Yemen on al Qaeda targets, as well as a further 15 U.S. strikes using other forms of weaponry such as cruise missiles.

Indeed, Obama vastly accelerated the drone campaign in Yemen in 2011 and 2012, just as CIA drone strikes in Pakistan began to slow. Forty-seven strikes took place in Yemen in 2012, marking the first time the number of drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan reached comparable levels.

One reason for the acceleration in drone strikes in Yemen may have been Obama’s authorization in April 2012 of the “signature” strikes that had been approved the previous year for use in Pakistan’s tribal regions. He must see it as effective military tool against AQAP. Indeed how the American born terrorist sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki was targeted and eliminated in September 2011.

 The U.S. bases and the drone strategy in Yemen are now in peril.  As of this writing, the Administration has yet to outline how it intends to cope with the new situation on the ground.  Its continuing negotiations with the Iranian regime only complicates its relations with Yemen, given the leverage the Iranians now exert over this area of the Arabian peninsula. Iran can, quite feasibly, hold Yemen hostage in exchange for generous terms in its agreement over  the disposition of its nuclear program.

Needless to say, this is not the most  comfortable situation for the United States to be in.

One then has to wonder exactly how much “smarter” this new version of American leadership is going to turn out to be.  Remember these words – “We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.” And then measure them in six months time against the U.S.’ ability to act in Yemen.

Perhaps then the ‘new American leadership’ will not look quite as smart as the President has presented it to be.

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of The Intermediate Zone

The Saudi Succession and its Impact on U.S. Foreign Policy

January 23, 2015

by Avi Davis

The Saudi Royal Family must be blessing the fact that polygamy has always been practiced so prodigiously in their country.

The ascension to the Saudi throne of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud (79), following the death of his 90 -year- old half brother King Abdullah on Friday, marks the fourth time a son of the Abdul Aziz al Saud, founding patriach of the Saud dynasty, has assumed power following the death of a brother.  Indeed, the fecundity of that first monarch, who had, over time, married close to 40 wives, should be noted for yet a fifth half-brother, Prince Muqrin, now stands in line as heir apparent.

Abdullah had been a capable king, steering his oil rich country into a close cooperative relationship with the United States, offering itself as a mainstay of moderate Arab power in the Persian Gulf.  His cooperation as regent for his ailing half brother Fahd during the first and second Gulf Wars were essential to American victories in Iraq and the kingdom has functioned as an oasis of stability in a time of tumultuous revolutions in the region.

That is not to say the Saudis are the most savory of our allies.  The kingdom, despite recent modernization and reforms by Abdullah, is still a despotic autocracy, ruled largely by personal fiat where sharia law enforcement police roam the streets, women are routinely stoned, journalists whipped and free speech severely repressed.  But the United States does not have the luxury of choosing its allies in the Middle East and the Saudis have generally come through on their commitments despite their trenchant resistance to American styled freedoms and deep seated hypocrisy.

But during the years of the first and second Obama Administrations, the strength of the U.S.- Saudi alliance has been shaken as the Saudis saw  a weak U.S. President buckle on his commitment to oust Iranian backed Bashar al Asad in Syria; an unwillingness to shore up a long term ally such as Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and the seeming intent to appease a belligerent and nuclear seeking regime in Iran.  Since 2011, the Saudis have therefore increasingly set their own course in determining how to confront their most pressing security concerns, even reaching a tacit, if diplomatically discreet agreement their avowed enemy – the State of Israel, in the event of that country’s need to launch a preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

A new complication now arises with the collapse of the American leaning government of  President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Yemen.   The coup of the Houthi, who represent an offshoot of Shiite Islam and are closely aligned with Iran, represents a dynamic shift in the balance of power in the Persian Gulf. For now we can speak of a Shiite archipelago in the Gulf with Iran linking with Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Asad Alawites in Syria and Hamas in Gaza.   This situation for the Saudis will be completely intolerable as their Sunni government will become an obvious target of  an emboldened Shiite Iran.

Given the geopolitical layout of the present day Middle East, the Obama Administration is looking increasingly flat footed.  The President’s insistence that the P5 +1  negotiations with Iran in Geneva must be allowed to run their course, without the imposition of any further pressure on the Iranians by way of increased sanctions, has infuriated U.S. allies in the region – which includes Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The recent decision of the Obama Administration to ignore Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the United States in early March only seems to fit an eerie pattern of nonchalance regarding the Iranian threat.  It leaves us with the most incomprehensible of scenarios:  the U.S. paying court to our country’s avowed enemy – a regime which has notoriously financed or else perpetrated the continuous murder of American servicemen and civilians for over 30 years  – while ignoring and snubbing those who are its most reliable supporters in the region.


The new king, the frail Prince Salman Ibn Abdulaziz is now presented with a troubling dilemma.  Without the guarantee of U.S. backing the Saudis will almost certainly need to strengthen cooperation with the more moderate Arab regimes in Egypt and Jordan while firming up its  relations with the State of Israel. It make look even further abroad  to China for superpower protection.   This should not exclude a likely decision to begin to construct its own nuclear facilities, leading to an arms race which cannot have a happy ending.   Such developments could leave the United States out in the cold as its policy of engagement with the Iranians falters and then collapses.

The other element which could play a decisive role in determining relations in the region is that of oil. As the price of oil has tumbled below $50 a barrel – and looks likely to go even lower – the Saudis and OPEC have defiantly refused to pull back on their own production levels which has in turn contributed to a world wide oil glut and driven prices down even further.  This has caused  many of the new U.S. shale oil producers to scale down production with an accompanying painful reduction in their profits.

But the Saudis should not be able to have it both ways.  They cannot strangle the U.S. oil producers while demanding U.S. protection from an aggressive Iran.  Here savvy statecraft on the part of the Obama Administration could have played to the U.S.’ advantage – forcing the Saudis to scale back their oil production in exchange for a tougher stance towards the Mullahs. Unfortunately that may beyond the abilities of this Administration and this President whose own linear thinking rarely takes into account the variability in relations between states.

Committed to one course of action, Barack Obama is unlikely to switch gears mid-course.  But that, unfortunately, may portend a crash which could take with it an alliance that successive U.S. administrations over 70 years have fought determinedly to maintain.

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of  The Intermediate Zone

Ominous Rumblings in Israel’s North

January 21, 2015

by Avi Davis

When Iranian Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi  was killed on the Syrian -Israeli border on Sunday, along with six Hezbollah operatives, the news faded quickly.  Military deaths in the Middle East are, after all, a dime a dozen in these times, so why would Allahdadi’s make any difference?

The answer might be that Allahdadi was no ordinary Iranian general. He was one of the highest ranking and longest serving military men in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
But it was the identity of one of the six Hezbollah operatives that may have had an even deeper impact.
The attack also killed 20-year-old Jihad Mughniyeh, a low-ranking Hezbollah fighter whose father, Imad Mughniyeh ( aka The Engineer) had been responsible for multiple bombings and suicide attacks in Israel for over 20 years before his assassination in a Damascus car bombing in 2008.
Imad Mughniyah.jpg
The elder Mughniyeh is venerated as one of the legendary fighters in Palestinian and Hezbollah hagiography.  Posters of his image can be found everywhere in the West Bank, Gaza and Southern Lebanon.
It perhaps explains why the junior Mughniyeh was buried with such fanfare when his funeral procession passed through Hezbollah-controlled territory south of Beirut on Monday.
Hezbollah and Iran have both vowed a quick and painful response to the Israeli attack with representatives quoted as declaring the attack a deliberate provocation.

Since hostilities ended between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006  Israel’s  northern border with Lebanon has been relatively quiet. But that belies the devastating fire power buried by Israel’s most implacable enemy beneath the soils of the Litani watershed.

For in Lebanon, the Israeli army is faced with the prospect of 100,000 long-range rockets   – far more accurate and effective than the missiles used by Hamas in its confrontation with Israel over the summer and far more likely to cause damage to life and property than the former offensive.

Hezbollah is therefore the Hamas threat multiplied tenfold.

The 2006 conflict is believed to have killed at least 1,191–1,300 Lebanese people and 165 Israelis. It severely damaged Lebanese civil infrastructure, and temporarily displaced approximately one million Lebanese and 300,000–500,000 Israelis.

During that war, Hezbollah fired close to 4,200 rockets at a rate of more than 100 per day, unprecedented in any military confrontation since the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.

Iran Guard vows to punish Israel for general killed in Syria

About 95% of these were 122 mm (4.8 in)  Katyusha artillery rockets which carried warheads up to 30 kg (66 Ib) and had a range of up to 19 miles. A minor percentage (22%) of these rockets hit cities and built-up areas across northern Israel, while the remainder hit open areas. The attacks in that conflict included the Fajr-3 and Ra’ad 1 rockets both liquid-fuel missiles developed by Iran. It is now known that Hezbollah possesses the far more advanced  Fajr-3 and Fajr-5, with ranges of 27 and 45 miles; and a huge quantity of simpler 107mm and 122mm rockets with ranges up to 12 miles. These rockets are capable of striking many cities in northern Israel, such as Haifa, Tiberias, Afula, Nahariya, and Safed. In addition, Hezbollah has a cache of sophisticated antiaircraft and antiship cruise missiles which can significantly impede reconnaissance and deter attack.

This is not to mention the labyrinthine network of tunnels and deep underground bunkers Hezbollah has been constructing in the eight years since its last encounter with the IDF.  The IDF believes it likely that tunnels, extending for several kilometers, have been burrowed deep into Israeli territory allowing a rapid strike force to mimic the planned Hamas Jewish New Year attack on Israeli settlements in the south. The rolling topography of the north is of course of no benefit to a potential large-scale attack, but the capture of even a handful of IDF soldiers or civilians will become a great boon to the Hezbollah war effort.

To state that the recent military confrontations between Israel and the terrorist groups who occupy territory adjacent to it are mere proxy wars between Iran and the Jewish State is to underline the obvious but still bears repeating. Iran’s geopolitical interests lie in establishing a military hegemony of the region, intimidating much lesser military powers — Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Jordan — into effective neutrality, so as to free itself to deal with its only serious challenger to its regional supremacy. The ongoing development of Iran’s nuclear arsenal  — essentially unimpeded by negotiations with the West — acts as a clever strategic wedge for the theocratic regime which allows it to build its deterrent capabilities while intimidating its neighbors into quiescence. Seen in this light, Hamas’ recent confrontation with Israel may have been guided by Iran as a means of deflecting attention from its drive for status as a nuclear power and avoiding an eventual showdown with Israel. After all, Israel will be in no mood for another military confrontation so soon after its recent engagement with Gaza.

But if Hezbollah, the far greater asset, remains so useful to the Iranians, why wasn’t it then unleashed to wreak havoc on Israel’s northern border while hostilities ensued with Hamas in the south?

The answer may lie in the prospect of an imminent direct military confrontation between Israel and Iran. While Israel’s plans to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities are cloaked in ambiguity, most Israeli leaders are resigned to the fact that they will have to act unilaterally and decisively to severely retard, if not eliminate, Iran’s emerging nuclear clout. In the event of a strike against Iran, and threat to their own power, the mullahs may come to rely on Hezbollah’s arsenal’s retaliatory capabilities and perhaps even believe it acts as a significant deterrent against such an eventual attack.

Yet the Iranian strategy is now deeply complicated by the destabilization of both Syria and Iraq. The growing strength of ISIS in Iraq and its threat to the Baathist regime in Syria has presented a new challenge to a key Iranian ally in Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, who has proved himself indispensable to the fulfillment of Iranian objectives regarding Israel. If Assad in Syria falls, then the Iranian hold on Southern Lebanon and its ability to resupply its proxy Hezbollah is compromised. Alarmingly for the Iranians, the Lebanese Republic itself may now have come into play with ISIS’ taking of the Syrian/ Lebanon border town of Arsal on August 4th. Hezbollah may well have its hands full in the coming months not only attempting to reinforce Assad in Syria, but keeping ISIS from control of Northern Lebanon.

Signs of a strange realignment of interests and forces in the Middle East are therefore evident. It should surprise no one that the Israelis have been engaged in secret negotiations with the Saudis for years over use of Saudi airspace in the event of an Israeli strike on Iran; Additionally, the failure of any of the moderate Arab states to rise in support of Hamas’s recent actions (in fact there were outright condemnations in both the Egyptian and Saudi press) is another signal of a growing rapprochement between Israel and some of its former enemies.

Predicting future conflicts in the foggy and endlessly complicated Middle East is a risky business, to be sure, but a clearer picture may now be emerging with Israeli interests aligning with those of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt — and perhaps even Lebanon itself — in some kind of awkward but coordinated confrontation with Iran.  In this confrontation, Israel may well need to prepare itself for a neutralizing, preemptive strike on Hezbollah’s military installations in Southern Lebanon — just as the IAF is winging its way over Riyadh and into Iranian airspace.

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the Editor of  The Intermediate Zone


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